Doors & Gates FROM THE OLD CITY of Jerusalem & Gutman Locks!

Doors & Gates

 There is an almost endless variety of doors & gates in the Rova (Jewish Quarter).

     For instance…





IMG_0045 IMG_0050














Guess whose door this is? The RAG’BAG lol

Check out Election 2012: A Jewish Perspective

Judgment and Its Application

Adapted from
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, p. 213;
Sefer HaSichos 5749, p. 666;
Sefer HaSichos 5751, p. 780ff

A Measuring Rod

Ever since his creation, man has felt the need to search for truth. Simultaneously, however, he has had to face the limits implied by his own subjectivity, and the awareness that the insights he discovers are thus limited in scope.

By giving the Torah, G-d provided mankind with an absolute standard of Truth. In contrast to our subjective insights, the Torah gives us objective values guidelines and principles that are applicable in all situations, in every place and at every time.

What is man’s responsibility? To judge. To subject himself and his surroundings to scrutiny and to determine the conduct prescribed by the Torah. He should then act upon that judgment and endeavor to modify his life and environment accordingly. In this way, he elevates himself and his surroundings, lifting them into a connection with G-d that transcends human conceptions of good.

At the City’s Gates

These concepts are reflected in the name of this week’s Torah reading, Shoftim, “judges,” and its opening verse:1 “Appoint judges and officers at all your gates.”

Placing judges at the gates of a city reflects a desire to have every element of the city’s functioning conform to the standard of Torah law. The judges will convey the Torah’s dictates, and the officers will take steps to ensure that these directives are applied.

In this vein, the Rambam2 uses this verse as a prooftext for the commandment to appoint judges and police in every city in Eretz Yisrael. In an extended sense, the verse also serves as a lesson that each person must act as a judge and an officer in his own home, structuring it according to the Torah’s standards.

This concept is further amplified by an interpretation3 of “your gates” as referring to the body’s sensory organs the eyes, ears, skin, nose and mouth. These serve as the “gates” through which we take in information from the environment. We are enjoined to “appoint judges” at these gates, so that even our physical perception will be permeated by the guidance of the Torah.

Moreover, the Torah uses the singular form of the word “your gates,” ????? , implying that these efforts are incumbent upon every individual. Every person is “a city in microcosm,”4 and should “appoint judges and officers” to control his interactions with the world at large.

The Need for Enforcement

The judges within our communities and similarly, the judgmental aspects of our own personalities cannot only look inwards. On the contrary, our Sages state5 that a judge must “gird his loins with bands of steel, lift his robes above his knees, and traverse from city to city. to teach the Jewish people.”

Nevertheless, this outreach contains an intrinsic drawback. What is a judge’s authority? The objective standard dictated by the Torah. And since the Torah is fundamentally above mortal intellect, people may have difficulty relating to the judge’s directives. Even when they acknowledge the truth of these directives and recognize that they should be obeyed, there may be a gap between such recognition and their own understanding. And this gap may keep such directives from being applied.

There are two ways to resolve this difficulty. The first is mentioned in the verse cited: the appointment of enforcement officers who will compel others6 to carry out the judges’ rulings.7

There is, however, a shortcoming to this approach. For although enforced compliance to the Torah’s standards ensures just conduct in the world at large, the person compelled to observe remains unrefined. He has been forced to conform to the Torah’s standard, but that conformity is merely external.

Internalizing Morality

A more comprehensive approach is suggested by a verse from Isaiah describing the Era of the Redemption:8 “And I will return your judges as in former times, and your advisers as at the beginning.” This implies that the standards which the judges dictate will be complemented by “advisers.”

An adviser does not issue mandates. Instead, as the name implies, he offers constructive suggestions. He is more or less on the same level as the person he advises, and speaks to him as a good friend, with whom he has much in common. The listener feels comfortable hearing this advice and accepts it, not on faith, but with the understanding that it will benefit him.

When “advisers” thus share and explain rulings delivered by the judges, the dictates of the Torah change not only a person’s conduct, but also his character.

The Spirit of Prophecy

The difference between these two kinds of observance that brought about by enforcement and that brought about by understanding and consent can be illustrated by comparing the function of a judge with that of a prophet a subject also mentioned in this week’s Torah reading.

In the Introduction to his Commentary on the Mishnah, the Rambam explains two functions served by a prophet:

a) to urge people to observe the Torah and its mitzvos, as the prophet Malachi called out:9 “Remember the Torah of Moshe, My servant;”

b) to give advice regarding conduct in worldly matters. “G-d granted us prophets in the place of astrologers, sorcerers, and diviners, so that we can ask them matters of a general nature, and those of a particular nature.” In this vein, King Shaul went to the prophet Shmuel to ask about his father’s donkeys.10

With regard to the determination of Torah law, the Rambam continues:

The Holy One, blessed be He, did not permit us to learn from the prophets, but rather from the Sages. It does not say: “And you will come to the prophet who will be in that age,” but rather “And you will come to. the judge who will be in that age.”11

Here we see a pattern resembling the one described above: Sages and judges teach the dictates of Torah law, prescribing modes of conduct. And the prophets convey G-d’s word on a level more closely related to people’s ordinary experience, encouraging them to make G-dliness a part of their daily lives.

A Fundamental Element of Faith

To emphasize the importance of prophecy, the Rambam states:12 “One of the fundamentals of [our] faith is to know that G-d sends His prophecies through people.”

Since this is a “fundamental of faith,” we can understand that it applies at all times. Our Sages state13 “that from the time the later prophets, Chaggai, Zachariah, and Malachi died, the spirit of prophecy departed from Israel.” Nevertheless, the word “departed” does not mean it was abolished completely. The spirit of prophecy did not cease, but rather ascended to a higher plane.14

Indeed, even after the era of the Biblical prophets, the spirit of prophecy permeated many people. For this reason, in the Mishneh Torah, the Rambam includes a lengthy discussion of the subject of prophecy,15 without mentioning the cessation of prophecy, or that the spirit of prophecy can flourish only in a specific time. And in hisIggeres Taimon, the Rambam speaks about several prophets in his own time.16

The Message of Our Judges and Prophets

These are not subjects for history texts, but concepts particularly relevant to the present era. As a foretaste of the fulfillment of the prophecy: “And I will return your judges as in former times, and your advisers as at the beginning,” in the age before Mashiach‘scoming, we have been granted judges and prophets17 to provide us with direction and guidance.18 And often these qualities have been personified in single individuals,19as manifest in the Nesi’im of Chabad until the present age.20

These leaders have, like judges, given us directives regarding the nature of the present time: to borrow an expression of the Previous Rebbe,21 “all the buttons have been polished,” and we are in the final moments before the Ultimate Redemption. And like advisers, they have provided us with the insight to anticipate the Redemption in our lives, and prepare an environment in which this spirit can spread throughout the world.

1. Deuteronomy 16:18.
2. Sefer HaMitzvos, positive commandment 177; Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Sanhedrin1:1.
3. Sifsei Cohen to Deuteronomy, loc. cit.; Or HaTorah, Shoftim, p. 822.
4. See Nedarim 32b; Tanya, ch. 9, et al.
5. Tanna d’Bei Eliyahu Rabbah, ch. 11.
6. Similarly, within one’s own personality, there are times when a person must enforce the law, even when it runs contrary to his natural tendencies and/or understanding.
7. This indicates that there is no independent purpose to having officers; the object is merely to supplement the judges’ power. The officers are given “a rod and a lash” to enforce rulings which the judges deliver.As such, the appointment of officers is not counted as an individual mitzvah in the reckoning of 613 mitzvos. Instead, it is included as part of the mitzvah to appoint judges.
8. Isaiah 1:26. A similar expression is used in the weekday prayers (Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 55): “Return our judges as in former times, and our advisers as at the beginning.”Significantly, in neither of these sources is reference made to officers. In that era, “the spirit of evil will be removed from the earth” (Zachariah13:2), and there will be no need to compel people to accept the Torah’s laws. Even in that era, however, the gentle encouragement provided by advisers will serve a purpose.
9. Malachi 3:22.
10. I Samuel 3:20. In his Introduction to the Commentary on the Mishnah, theRambam also mentions a third function of prophets: to convey commandments relevant to the immediate situation: e.g., Elisha’s command to Yehoram not to slay the soldiers of Aram which he had brought to Shomron (II Kings 6:22), or the command for the Jews not to return to Eretz Yisrael until the conclusion of the 70 years of the Babylonian Exile (Jeremiah 29:4-10).
11. Deuteronomy 17:9 (in the continuation of our Torah reading).In this vein, the commandment [Deuteronomy 18:15 (also in the continuation of our Torah reading)]: “G-d will set up for you a prophet from your midst, from your brothers, like me, and you shall hearken to him,” must be understand as applying to the particular directives a prophet conveys, and not to the determination of Torah law.
12. Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 7:1.
13. Yoma 9b.
14. This is the implication of the Hebrew word our Sages use for departed ?????. By contrast, in the same passage, they use the term ???? , which means “ceased.” There were certain spiritual influences that ceased. Prophecy, however, did not cease; it merely became elevated to a higher rung.
15. Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah, ch. 7-10.
16. A discussion of the potential for prophecy in the present era is also found inShaar HaKedushah ( authored by Rav Chayim Vital), sec. 3, ch. 7, and Rav Reuven Margolios in his introduction to Responsa From Heaven.
17. Note the Rambam’s statements in Iggeres Taimon that “as a preparatory step forMashiach’s coming. prophecy will return to Israel.”
18. See also the Rambam’s Commentary to the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 1:3), which states that the prophecy of this verse will be fulfilled immediately beforeMashiach’s coming, even before the Era of the Redemption.
19. As they will be in the person of Mashiach , who will be “a great prophet, approaching the level of Moshe” (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Teshuvah9:2) and also the supreme teacher of Torah law, teaching even Moshe and the forefathers (Tanchuma, Toldos sec. 14; Sefer HaMaamarim 5730, p. 210).
20. The Nesi’im have also served as “advisers,” providing counsel with regard to both spiritual and material matters.
21. Sichos Simchas Torah, 5689.

What Is a Rabbi?

By Yehuda Shurpin

The great Talmudic sage and physician Shmuel once visited Rabbi Yehuda the Prince, who was suffering from an ailment of the eyes. Shmuel wanted to insert medicine into the great man’s eyes, but Rabbi Yehuda said that he could not endure such a treatment. “In that case,” said Shmuel, “I will gently smear some of the medication on your eyes.” “I can’t endure that either” answered Rabbi Yehuda. Faced with this dilemma, Shmuel placed a tube of the medication under Rabbi Yehuda’s pillow, and sure enough, Rabbi Yehuda recovered.

Seeing that Shmuel was such a great expert in medical matters as well as a great sage, Rabbi Yehuda sought to ordain him as a rabbi. But every time he tried, he was unable to gather the requisite people to perform the ordination.1 Shmuel then said to Rabbi Yehuda, “Master, do not trouble yourself, for I have seen it written in the book of Adam Harishon2that “Shmuel Yarchinaah3 will be called a great sage, but shall not bear the title “rabbi…”4

It was not until the second century that “rabbi,” which literally means “my master” or “my teacher,” became an official title. Until that time even the greatest Jewish sages and prophets were not given an honorific.5 Over the centuries, the meaning of the title and the requirements for receiving it have evolved significantly. In order to understand what “rabbi” means today, let’s take a look at the history of rabbinic ordination, or semicha.

The Origins of Semicha

Although the title itself is a more recent development, the ordination of spiritual leaders began at the dawn of Jewish history. The original form of ordination was passed down from teacher to student in an unbroken chain reaching all the way back to Moses. Classical semicha ensured that the student was the next link in the Sinaic tradition and authorized him to judge cases which involved any sort of punitive punishment.6

The first to be thus ordained was Joshua. Moses placed his hands upon him, as the verse states: “And he placed his hands upon him and commanded him, in accordance with what the L rd had spoken.”7 (The word “semicha” literally means “laying of the hands.”) Similarly, we find that Moses ordained the 70 judges, albeit without any mention of “laying of the hands.”8

The physical laying of hands was not continued in later generations, and semicha came to be conveyed by simply addressing the person as “rabbi”9 and telling him: “You are ordained and you have the authority to render judgment, even in cases involving financial penalties.”10

Joshua and the 70 elders ordained others, and they in turn gave semicha to their disciples. This tradition continued until the Talmudic era, when the sages were able to trace a direct line all the way back to the courts of Joshua and Moses.11

Conditions for Classical Semicha

This first form of ordination could only be granted under very specific conditions:

● The one granting the semicha had to do so while accompanied by two others. For semicha cannot be conveyed by less than three ”judges.” However only one of these three, namely the person conveying the semicha, had to be ordained himself.12

● Both the ordaining rabbi and the one receiving ordination had to be present in the Land of Israel.13 But they were not required to be in each other’s presence. Ordination could be granted through an oral or written message.14

● While a person could be ordained to rule only in a specific area of Jewish law,15 he was required to be expert and qualified to rule in all areas.16 Ordination to rule in matters relating to kashrut was referred to as “Yoreh Yoreh,” “May he decide? He may decide!” To rule regarding monetary issues, one required “Yaddin Yaddin” “May he judge? He may judge!” 17

● Not only could a person be ordained to rule only in a specific area, he could also be ordained to rule only for a specified time period.18

● There was no limit on how many people could be ordained at one time. In fact, King David ordained 30,000 people at once!19

● Originally, whoever was ordained would in turn ordain his students. But during the times of Hillel the Elder (1st century BCE), as a gesture of respect to the remnants of the house of David, the sages instituted that semicha could be conveyed only with the express permission of the generation’s Jewish leader–the nasi.20

At the same time, the sages also instituted that the nasi should not convey semicha unless he was accompanied by the head of the rabbinical court, the av beit din, and that the av beit din should not convey semicha unless accompanied by the nasi. The other sages, however, could convey semicha by themselves after receiving license from the nasi, provided they were accompanied by two others.21

The First Rabbis

In the Mishnah and Talmud we find, for the first time, three titles: Rabbi, Rab and Rabban.22

Rabbi: The title “rabbi” was borne by the sages of the Land of Israel, who were ordained there in accordance with the custom handed down by the elders. As direct heirs to the Torah of Moses, they were granted authority to judge penal cases.23

Rab: The Babylonian sages, who received ordination in their own schools in the diaspora, went by the title “rab.” Since they were not ordained in Israel, their ability to rule was restricted and did not include cases involving punitive damages.

Rabban: This title was reserved for the patriarchate, the nasi or the president of the rabbinical court, the av beis din of the Sanhedrin.24

The first to be called “rabban” were Rabban Gamaliel the Elder25 (died around 50 CE), Rabban Shimeon his son,26 and Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai27 (died around 74 CE).

The first to be called “rabbi” were Rabbi Tzadok, Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov, and other disciples of Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakai: Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurkenus, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya, Rabbi Yossei HaKohen, Rabbi Shimon ben Nethanel, and Rabbi Elazar ben Arach.28

Keeping in mind that before these titles were used, even the greatest leaders and prophets were not called “rabbi,” it emerges that while the title “rabbi” is greater than ”rab,” “rabban” is greater than ”rabbi,” and the simple name without any title is greater than them all (provided of course that the person was deserving of an honorific).29

The Roman Ban and the End of Classical Semicha

At the time that these titles developed the Jewish nation was in turmoil. The first to bear them saw the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE, and the institution of an oppressive Roman occupation in Israel. After the failed revolution by Bar Kokhba (132–135 CE), the emperor Hadrian tried to put a permanent end to the Sanhedrin and to semicha, which he saw as the Jews’ persistent attempt at self-rule.

The emperor decreed that whoever performed or received ordination should be put to death. In addition, the city in which the ordination took place was to be demolished, and all within 2000 amah uprooted. The tradition of semicha would indeed have been completely lost at that time were it not for the self-sacrifice of the great sage Rabbi Yehuda Ben Bava.

Hearing the decree, Rabbi Yehuda took five students of Rabbi Akiva, the great sage who had just been martyred by the Romans, and sat between two mountains that served as the ”Shabbat boundary”30 between two large cities, Usha and Shifarum.

When the Romans discovered them, Rabbi Yehuda cried out to the students, “My children, flee!” The students replied “Our teacher, what will become of you?” He responded, “I am placed before them like a rock that cannot be overturned.” It is said that the Romans did not leave the spot where they had found Rabbi Yehuda Ben Bava until they had pierced him with three hundred spears, rendering him like a sieve. But by then, the newly-ordained rabbis were out of reach.

The names of the five students were Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehuda (bar Ilay), Rabbi Shimoen, Rabbi Yossi, and Rabbi Elazar ben Shamua. According to some, Rabbi Nechemiah was ordained there as well.31

Although semicha had been temporarily saved, it became increasingly difficult to fulfill all its requirements, particularly because a large portion of the sages were living in Babylonia, and as mentioned, a rabbi could only be ordained in the Land of Israel.

It is not clear exactly when the classical semicha ceased completely. According to some, it ended in the days of Rabbi Hillel the Second, who became the leader of the Jews around 359 CE. Rabbi Hillel foresaw the end of the classic rabbinic ordination, and, seeing that the method used to sanctify the new month, which required ordained rabbis, was in peril, he established the set calendar that we use to this very day.32

Others are of the opinion that some form of the classical ordination continued for many years after that. They point to letters from Rabbi Tzemach Gaon (9th century) and Rabbi Chaninia Gaon (10th century) which imply that in their days, punitive damages were still judged in the Land of Israel, something which only one withsemicha could do.33 Yet others point to letters from Rabbi Yehuda ben-Barzillai of Barcelona (11th-12th centuries) which seem to imply that even in his days there was some sort of semicha in Israel.34

Attempted Renewal of Classical Semicha

After the Spanish expulsion of 1492, many Jews remained in Spain, nominally accepting Christianity while practicing their Judaism in secret. Thousands of theseconverso Jews eventually escaped Spain, immigrating to Israel and other countries, where they could again practice Judaism openly. These Jews were haunted by the sins they had committed in their previous lives. Many were concerned that they might never fully atone for their more serious sins, some of which carried the punishment of karet–spiritual excision from G‑d.

In the year 1538, Rabbi Yaakov Beirav, the leading rabbi of Safed Israel and himself a refugee from the Spanish expulsion, came up with an original solution to this problem. He proposed the creation of Jewish courts that would carry out the punishment of malkos, lashes, which releases someone from the decree of karet.35

This punishment, however, could only be administered by a rabbi ordained with the original, classical form of semicha. As part of his plan, Rabbi Beirav sought to reinstate classical semicha based on a ruling by Maimonides that if all the sages of the Land of Israel consent to appoint judges and grant them ordination, the semichais binding. These judges may then adjudicate cases involving penalties and convey semicha upon others.36 37

After much deliberation, 25 sages of Safed ordained Rabbi Yakov Beirav with the newly-minted semicha. Rabbi Beirav then sent Rabbi Shlomo Chazan to Jerusalem to inform the sages there of the reinstitution of semicha and to ordain Rabbi Levi ibn Chaviv, (known as the Ralbach), with the same powers bestowed on him.

But Rabbi Levi ibn Chaviv rejected the newly established semicha, claiming, among many other things, that when they reinstituted the semicha, they did not have the consent of all the sages of Israel. A bitter exchange between the two rabbis ensued, and a passionate debate erupted between their two camps.38

In the midst of this debate, members of the opposition informed the Turkish government that by reviving the semicha, Rabbi Beirav intended to reestablish the kingdom of Israel and rebel against them. Fearing for his life, Rabbi Beirav decided to flee to Egypt. Before doing so, however, he granted semicha to four of his leading disciples:39 Rabbi Yosef Karo (author of the Shulchan Aruch), Rabbi Moshe of Trani, Rabbi Abraham Shalom and Rabbi Israel de Curial.40 Rabbi Yosef Karo passed this semicha on to Rabbi Moshe Alsheich, and Rabbi Moshe Alsheich later ordained Rabbi Chaim Vital (the prime disciple of the great Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, known as the Arizal)41.

There is no record of this renewed ordination proceeding any further than Rabbi Chaim Vital. And although there have been a number of additional attempts at renewing the classical semicha, none of them gained as much traction or included such prominent sages as this attempt by Rabbi Yaakov Beirav. It seems that Jewish leaders have not embraced these attempts in deference to the opinion that classical ordination will only be reestablished during the messianic era.42

It is clear that classical semicha does not–or cannot–exist nowadays. This brings us to the obvious question: We still have plenty of rabbis, so what exactly is the modern-day semicha? Who gets to be called a rabbi?

Rabbinical Ordination Today

Despite the cessation of classical semicha, rabbis continued to be ordained throughout the generations. This diminished form of ordination was necessary because it is forbidden for a student to establish himself as an authority in Jewish law without his teacher’s explicit permission.43 Thus rabbinical ordination came to mean simply that the student had received permission from his teacher to make halachic rulings.

Some are of the opinion that rabbinic ordination nowadays is a remembrance of the ancient classical semicha. Therefore they believe that when granting rabbinic ordination we should try to fulfill as many requirements of the original semicha as possible, such as the requirement that only one qualified to rule in all areas of Jewish law should be ordained.44

Most, however, believe that ordination nowadays has no connection to the original semicha. According to this opinion, there is no need to be qualified in all other areas of the law in order to receive a limited ordination.45 46

While one can receive permission to rule in any one particular area of Jewish law, nowadays, for the most part, there are two levels of ordination. The most basic one, called “Yoreh Yoreh,” authorizes the recipient to rule on matters of kashrut and similar areas of Jewish law that pertain to basic daily life. The more advanced level ofsemicha is called “Yoddin Yoddin,” and authorizes its recipient to rule as a dayan – a judge in financial matters.47

The Lubavitcher Rebbe strongly encouraged young men to study and receive at least the basic level of semicha, Yoreh Yoreh, before their wedding. This ensures that there is someone in each Jewish home who is able to answer the day-to-day halachik questions that are sure to arise.48

Finally, it should be pointed out that while many who use the title today are indeed qualified to give rulings and answer questions, “rabbis” have proliferated greatly over the last century. Nowadays the title may be used for one who has a very limited form of ordination (i.e. he can only rule in a very specific area of Jewish law) or simply as a title of respect for a person who is a teacher or has some position of authority. For this reason one should be careful when seeking guidance from a rabbi that he is truly qualified to render a decision in the area of Jewish law one is asking about.

Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin responds to questions for’s Ask the Rabbi service.
1. Because he was the Nasi (leader) besides for the regular requirement of having two other people join when ordaining someone, Rabbi Yehuda needed to be accompanied by the head of the rabbinical court, the av beit din.
2. The Talmud in Avoda Zarah 5a states that Adam was shown by G‑d all the sages and leaders of the subsequent generations. In a dream Shmuel was shown a book which recorded what Adam saw in order to convey to Shmuel that he should not be troubled when there were obstacles to his being ordained, see Ben Yehoyada on Bava Metzia 85b-86a.
3. He was called Yarchinaah, from the root word “Yerech,” ‘moon.’ Shmuel was called Yarchinaah on account of his great expertise in astronomy and the secret of intercalation.
4. Talmud Bava Metzia 85b-86a. Rabbi Reuben Margolies in Margolios Hayam on Talmud Sanhedrin 14a speculates that Shmuel was a descendant of the high priest Eli about whom the Talmud ibid tells us were cursed by G‑d that they will never be ordained to sit in judgement on the Sanhedrin.
5. See letter by Rabbi Sherira Gaon quoted by Rabbi Nathan bar Yechiel in Sefer Haruch, s.v. Abaye.
6. Talmud Sanhedrin 13b. The reason a judge required Semicha to judge in punitive cases is because the verses (Exodus 22:1-8) refer to the judge as ‘Elokim’ which the Talmud explains is a honorific meaning an expert and ordained Judge, see Rashi L’emeidan ibid (see also Talmud Sanhedrin 2b-3a; Rashi Elokim on Talmud Bava Kama 84b; Talmud Gitin 88b).
7. Numbers 27:23.
8. Numbers 11:16, 25. It is postulated that this is the source that in later generation the ordination need not be done by literally placing ones hands on the recipient, See Responsa Tzis Eliezer 16:54.
9. This was meant in the literal meaning of “my master,” or “my teacher, but not as a title.”
10. Maimonides, Hilchot Sanhedrin 4:2.
11. Maimonides, ibid 4:1.
12. Talmud Sanhedrin 13b-14a ; Maimonides, Hilchot Sanhedrin 4:5 . See however, the Yad Rama on Sanhedrin 14a where he is of the opinion that all three need to have been ordained themselves.
13. This rule only came into effect once the Jews entered the land of Israel for the first time. This similar to other laws that pertain to the land of Israel, for example, once the Jews entered Israel, it was prohibited to bring offering to G‑d outside of Israel (even before the Temple was built). It is for this reason that Joshua was ordained outside of Israel, see Rabbi Shmuel Tuvia Shtern in Sefer Chukas Olam 70 for an extensive discussion on this topic.
14. Maimonides Hil. Sanhedrin 4:6; Talmud ibid.
15. Talmud Sanhedrin 5a-b.
16. Maimonides ibid 4:8, See commentaries ad loc as to what the source for Maimonides assertion that person receiving ordination, regardless of whether it is only in a specific area of Jewish law, had to be qualified to rule in all areas. An example of a scneirio in which one was qualified to rule in all areas of Jewish law, but was nevertheless not granted permission to do so, can be found in the Talmud (ibid) in which Rabbi Yehuda the prince granted his student Rav to rule in all areas besides for whether a first-born animal is fit to be brought as an offering. The Talmud offers two reasons why he was not granted permission to rule in this area A) in order to increase the stature of another sage, Rabah bar Chanah who was granted permission to rule in this area B) Because of Rav’s great expertise in this specific area of discerning blemishes of animals, Rav may end up permitting a certain animal and others, not as expert as he, may not fully discern the reason he permitted it, and they too will permit erroneously a seemingly similar animal.
17. Talmud Sanhedrin 5a.
18. Talmud ibid 5b.
19. Jerusalem Talmud Sanhedrin 10:2. This is based on the verse in Samuel II 6:1 “And David continued [to gather] all the chosen of Israel, thirty thousand.” While in many edition of the Jerusalem Talmud it has the figure at 90,000, the figure 30,000 is based on the edition that Maimonides (ibid 4:7) had.
20. Jerusalem Talmud Sanhedrin 1:2.
21. See Jerusalem Talmud ibid and Maimonides ibid 4:5.
22. The following explanation of the terms as well as the listing of who was the first to be called by these titles, is from the letter by Rabbi Sherira Gaon ibid.
23. Already at this time the Sanhedrin – rabbinical court- had moved and it no longer sat in judgment on the Temple mount. Therefore, although one may have been ordained, he could not met out capital punishment.
24. The Tosefta to Ediyot 3:4 gives an alternative explanations of the titles “He who has disciples and whose disciples again have disciples is called ‘rabbi’; when his disciples are forgotten [i.e., if he is so old that even his immediate disciples belong to the past age] he is called ‘Rabban’; and when the disciples of his disciples are also forgotten he is called simply by his own name.”
25. See for example Avot-Ethics of our fathers 1:16. While the following sages are quoted many times throughout the Mishnah and Talmud, the advantage of citing Avot is that it is easy to discern the chronology of who came after whom.
26. Ibid 1:18 . Both Rabban Gamlial and his son Rabban shimoen were the Nossi.
27. Ibid 2:8. RAbban Yochanan served as Av Beis Din while Rabban Gamilal and his son were alive. Additionally, he also served as Nossi for a couple of years, See Seder Hadoros s.v Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakai.
28. See letter by Rabbi Sherira Gaon quoted by Rabbi Nathan bar Yechiel in Sefer Haruch, s.v. Abaye; Avot 2:9.
29. Ibid.
30. On Shabbat, one is not allowed to go more than 2000 Amot outside of the city they are currently residing in.
31. Talmud Sanhedrin 14a.
32. Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman, Nachmonidies, in Sefer HaZechus Talmud Gitin 18a of the Rif and his commentary to Talmud ibid 36a; Sefer Haterumah Shaar 45; Rabbeinu Nissim 20a of Rif to Talmud Gittin.
33. See Responsa printed in Kovets Shaarei Tzedek p. 29-30.
34. See Sefer ha-Sheṭarot p 132.
35. Talmud Makot 23a.
36. Maimonides laws of the Sanhedrin 4:11; commentary to the Mishnah, Sanhedrin 1:3. Maimonides explains that although it is possible to reinstate classical Semichah, the sages bemoaned the loss of semichah and with it the ability to judge penalty cases. They felt that the Jews are so dispersed, it’s not possible to get everyone’s consent to authorize a judge. However, If someone were to have already received semicha from an ordained rabbi, then he does not require everyone’s consent and he may judge penalty cases for everyone since he received semicha from a rabbinical court.
37. See ‘Kunteres hasemichah’ printed in Responsa by Rabbi Levi ibn Chaviv, Kunteres 1 – 3 and Igeres Hasemicha by Rabbi Yaakov beirav printed in Kunteres hasemichah.’
38. The following are some of the main point of their disagreement (see Responsa of Rabbi Levi ibn Chaviv, Kunteres Hasemichah). A)The re-establishment of semicha will result in the re-establishment of the Sanhedrin. This is considered to be hastening the final redemption, which is not permitted. B) Maimonides closing words, “This matter requires a final decision” show that he was not fully decided on this ruling. Therefore the halacha follows Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman Gerondi – Nahmanides in Sefer Hamitzvos, Aseh 153 C) If the Sanhedrin were to be reestablished, they would be required to set the Calendar for the months and festivals. Because most Jews were following the set calendar established by Hillel, this would cause needless divisions among the Jewish people. D) Even if Maimonides was correct, because the scholars of Jerusalem were not present, the election was invalid.

Rabbi Yaakov Beirav countered (Iggeret Hasemicha) that A) The re-establishment semicha is not hastening the process of redemption, rather it is simply the fulfillment of a positive mitzvah. B) Maimonides’ closing words “This matter requires a final decision” refer to a different legal matter. C) There was no problem leaving the Jewish calendar unchanged. D) The most learned scholars lived in Safed and that was sufficient; in Jewish law the word “all” means the “main part” not “everybody” See Kunteres Hasemicha ibid for a lengthy lively exchange between the two rabbis.39.As Rabbi Yaakob Beirav writes at the end of his Iggeret HaSemicha. See however Rabbi Gedaliya ibn Chiya in Shasheles Hakabbala where he list additional Rabbis that were ordained and says that in all there were ten Rabbis (although he does not list all ten).40.See Eretz Chaim by Rabbi Yosef Chaim S’thon, Choshen Mishpat 1 where he writes that there is a tradition that Rabbi Yaakov Beirav was referring to those four Rabbis.41.Birkei Yosef, Choshen Mishpat 1:7.42.Ramban, Ashe 153 (as understood by Rabbi Levi ibn Chaviv in Kunteres Hasemicha), Rabbi Sholomo ben Aderes – Rashba on Talmud Bava Kama 36b, Rabbi Yom Tov ibn Asevilli – Ritva, and Nemukei Yosef on Talmud Yevomos 122b. See also commentary by Rabbi Dovid ibn Zimra- Radbaz to Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Sanhedrin 4:11 where he writes that the reason this new ordination ceased was because of the opposition of Rabbi Levi ibn Chaviv.43.Maimonidies, Hilchot Talmud Torah 5:2-3; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreah Deiah 242:4.44.Respnsa by Rabbi Moshe Isserlis 24 and Rabbi Moshe Sofer (Chasam Sofer) Even Haozer vol. 2 94.45.Responsa by Rabbi Yitzchak bar Sheshet, Rivash, 271; gloss of Rabbi Moshe Isserlis to Shulcan Aruch, Yoreh Deiah 242:14; Arukh HaShulchan Yoreh Deiah 242:29. See also Responsa by Rabbi Meshulam Rothe, Kol Mevaser,1: 12 in which he notes the apparent contradiction between the two views expressed by Rabbi Moshe Isserlis (see notes 26-27) and explains that the view of Rabbi Isserlis’ that is found in the gloss of the Shulchan Aruch is his final say on the matter.46.Arukh HaShulchan Yoreh Deiah 242:29. See Aruch Hashulchan (ibid) where he goes further and writes that in addition, the primary function of Semicha nowadays is permission to serve as a communal Rabbi. And no one living in a city which has such an ordained Rabbi may render halachik rulings without said Rabbis consent.47.See Talmud Sanhedrin 5a. An additional type of ordination mentioned in the Talmud ibid no longer obtainable today, is called yatir bechoros and authorizes its recipient to rule on whether a first-born animal is blemished and no longer appropriate to offer as a sacrifice.48.See Shaar Halacha Uminhag vol. 4 p 104-5; sefer Haminhagim p. 75.

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3 thoughts on “Doors & Gates FROM THE OLD CITY of Jerusalem & Gutman Locks!

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    Good deed of the day – like our new and improved Jaffa Institute page
    Jaffa Institute
    Our programs are aimed at culturally, socially, and economically disadvantaged children and their parents from the areas of Jaffa, South Tel Aviv, Holon and Bat Yam. The Institute believes that educational enrichment alone is not enough. Lasting change is only possible when educational enrichment is…

  2. Elections 2012 -A Jewish Perspective


    Health Care
    Unemployment Benefits
    Social Security
    Fair Tax
    Income Redistribution
    Tax Cuts
    Separation of Church & State
    K Street
    Fair Tax
    School Choice
    Finance Reform
    Tax Policy
    P r e s id e n t
    State’s Rights
    Forced Vaccination
    Social Security
    Labor Law
    Wall Street
    Wall Street
    Illegal Alien
    Border Bureaucracy
    C on s e r va t i v e
    C a p i ta l i s t
    E l e c t i o n
    K Street
    Nation-Building Elections 2012 -A Jewish Perspective
    The modern government, whether of a city, state or country, uses its authority to tax its consƟtuents for money which it plans to
    spend on such things as defense and security, public works and
    social services. Much of the poliƟcal baƩles during the coming
    campaign, as in most campaigns, revolve around how much and
    in what way to tax and for which purposes and in what amounts
    to disburse the money collected.
    How did Jewish communiƟes understand their role in furthering
    the welfare of the people? In what way do Jewish law and values
    arƟculate the problems so that we can think about them well
    and thoughƞully proceed with effecƟve and ethical acƟons that
    will achieve a well-understood and well-conceived goal?
    Elections 2012 -A Jewish Perspective
    I. Tsedaka versus Charity
    Opening Discussion Point:
    Define the difference between charitable donaƟon and taxaƟon.
    Text 1
    The Hebrew for “charity” is not tsedaka but chessed…These two
    words have opposite meanings.
    Chessed, charity, implies that the recipient has no right to the giŌ
    and that the donor is under no obligaƟon to give it. He gives it
    gratuitously, from the goodness of his heart. His act is a virtue
    rather than a duty.
    On the other hand tsedaka means righteousness or jusƟce. The
    implicaƟon is that the donor gives because it is his duty. For, firstly, everything in the world belongs ulƟmately to G-d. A man’s
    possessions are not his by right. Rather, they are entrusted to
    him by G-d, and one of the condiƟons of that trust is that he
    should give to those who are in need.
    Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “Teshuva, Tefilla and Tsedakah
    Exercise: Where do we find menƟon of taxaƟon in Torah? State
    the instances that come to your mind.
    II. Too Taxing?
    Text 2
    And they placed sarei misim [taskmasters] over them…and they
    built storage-ciƟes for Pharaoh.
    Exodus 1:11 Elections 2012 -A Jewish Perspective
    Text 3
    And Samuel related all the words of the Lord to the people who
    asked of him a king.
    And he said, “This will be the manner of the king who will reign
    over you; he will take your sons, and appoint them to him for his
    chariots and for his horsemen, and they will run before his chariots. And he will appoint them as his commanders of thousands
    and commanders of fiŌies, and to plow his plowing and to reap
    his harvest, and to make his weapons and the equipment for his
    I Samuel 8:10-17
    Text 4
    He was in charge of raising taxes from Israel when they were
    needed to give to the soldiers or to execute [the king’s] policies.
    For that is the law for kings… and as the rabbis of blessed
    memory said: “It is permissible to tax them.”
    Rabbi David Kimchi (Radak), commentary on 2 Samuel 20:24
    Text 5
    If there will be among you a poor person – one of your brothers,
    in one of your towns, in the land that G-d your G-d is giving you
    – do not harden your heart and do not Ɵghten your hand against
    your poor brother. Rather, you should open your hand to him
    emphaƟcally and be sure to give him enough for all he lacks.
    Deuteronomy 15:7-8
    Discussion: Compare this verse to the previous verses speaking
    of taxes. What differences stand out? (Where did the funds go
    that were raised by these by these taxes?) Elections 2012 -A Jewish Perspective
    Where do we find the laws?
    How does this system differ from the way a modern democracy
    raises funds for its infrastructure, defense and social needs?
    What might be the advantages of a levy system in our age of
    governmental austerity? What might be its disadvantages?
    III – Tsedaka and Social Services
    A. Who gives?
    Text 6
    Everyone is required to give tsedaka. Even a poor man supported
    by tzedaka is required to give from what is given him.
    Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 248:2
    Discussion quesƟons: Do our government policies and societal
    norms stress this idea of everyone needing to give? Is it found
    in our tax structure? Is it found in any area of our naƟonal life?
    Could our policies be improved?
    Maimonides’ law code Shulchan Aruch
    Tax law part of Hilchot Shecheinim –
    Laws of Neighbors
    part of Hilchot
    Laws of Partners
    Charity law part of Hilchot Matnot Aniyim –
    Laws of GiŌs to the Poor
    part of Hilchot
    Tsedaka – Laws of
    Tsedaka and Hilchot
    Matnot Aniyim –
    Laws of GiŌs to the
    Poor Elections 2012 -A Jewish Perspective
    B. How much?
    Text 7
    It is a posiƟve commandment to give tzedaka according to one’s
    means… Whoever gives less than is proper may be forced by the
    court…unƟl he gives what they assess of him.
    Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 248:1, 2
    Text 8
    The amount one must give: If one has the means, one gives as
    much as the poor need. If one does not have means sufficient for
    that, the opƟmal way of performing the mitzvah is by giving one-
    fiŌh of one’s possessions. A standard donaƟon would be onetenth; giving less than that is considered sƟngy.
    Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 249:1
    Text 9
    Every city in which thirty Jews dwell is required to appoint wellknown and reliable people as tsedaka wardens. Their funcƟon
    will be to go around among the people from the eve of Shabbat
    to eve of Shabbat and collect from each one the proper amount
    of his assessment. They then distribute the money from eve of
    Shabbat to eve of Shabbat, giving to each food that will suffice
    for a week. This is called the kupa.
    Maimonides, Laws of GiŌs to the Poor, 9:4
    C. To Whom?
    Text 10
    Tamchui—food collected from the community—is distributed to
    the poor daily. Kupa – money for the poor —is distributed on Fridays for the whole week. The tamchui was available to any poor
    person, while the kupa funds were available only to the poor of Elections 2012 -A Jewish Perspective
    that city. City authoriƟes have the flexibility to transfer from one
    fund to another or to any purpose they see fit.
    Baba Batra 8a
    Text 11
    Whoever has food enough for two meals may not take from the
    tamchui. Whoever has food enough for fourteen meals may not
    take from the kupa. Whoever has 200 zuz and is not using them
    in a business, or if he has fiŌy zuz with which he is doing business
    may not take any tsadaka.
    Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 253:1
    Text 12
    There are those who say that these sums listed as eligibility requirements were said only for their day, but that today, someone
    can take unƟl he has enough for a sum [which he can invest in a
    business] and sustain his household from the profits. This is a persuasive posiƟon.
    Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 253:2
    Text 13
    It is elementary that someone who has a steady wage from
    which he can sustain himself comfortably may not take tsedaka.
    However, today, even someone with a steady wage sufficient to
    sustain himself will not find it enough to buy or rent an apartment in Israel – they are only possible to get at a high price. Accordingly, such a person could be considered poor with respect to
    housing and be permiƩed to take from tsedaka – he lacks today’s
    equivalent of 200 zuz. All is in accordance with the situaƟon, as
    halachic decisors have made clear.
    Rabbi Shlomo Halevi Woszner, Responsa Sheivet Levi 2:125 Elections 2012 -A Jewish Perspective
    SOURCE: Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 13, January 20, 2011, pp. 3637-3638
    Should the modern day qualifying figure include all the trappings of 21
    century American life? Which of the following
    should have their costs figured into the poverty figures:
    A car?
    Computer and Internet service?
    A cell phone? A smart phone?
    Cable TV?
    2011 Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines
    in Family
    48 ConƟguous
    States and D.C. Alaska Hawaii
    1 $10,890 $13,600 $12,540
    2 14,710 18,380 16,930
    3 18,530 23,160 21,320
    4 22,350 27,940 25,710
    5 26,170 32,720 30,100
    6 29,990 37,500 34,490
    7 33,810 42,280 38,880
    8 37,630 47,060 43,270
    For each addiƟonal
    person, add
    3,820 4,780 4,390 Elections 2012 -A Jewish Perspective
    D. The Best Way to Give
    Text 14
    My teacher and grandfather Maharich, of blessed memory, was
    the head of the rabbinical court here. His way was to direct those
    in charge of the tsedaka fund that whenever they wished to put
    someone on the list of tsedaka recipients, they were to invesƟ-
    gate if that person was able to do some kind of work or business.
    If so, he was to say to him that he would give him a lump sum to
    invest in his work or his business and so make a profit. The poor
    person would be able then to derive conƟnuous, ongoing benefit
    through the labor of his own hands. The congregaƟon would also
    profit by not having to make conƟnuous, ongoing outlays. Many
    tried this way and succeeded, and no longer needed the congregaƟon’s funds. All this I heard from my father and teacher Maharshach, of blessed memory.
    Examine carefully what our master of blessed memory wrote on
    Yoreh De’ah 249:6: “There are eight degrees of charity, one higher than the next. The highest degree, exceeded by none, is
    strengthening the hand of a fellow who has become poor and
    giving him a present or a loan or making a partnership with him
    or making a job for him so that he should be strengthened and
    not need others or have to ask for a handout. This is the meaning
    of Scripture: ‘You shall strengthen him…’”
    It was this superior level of tsedaka that my teacher and grandfather of blessed memory chose. And so it is proper to do, following
    in his footsteps, for the good of the poor and for the good of the
    congregaƟon, fulfilling the mitzva of tsedaka in the best and
    most proper fashion.
    Rabbi Moshe Kalaphon Hakohein, Berit Kehuna,
    Yoreh De’ah, p. 326 Elections 2012 -A Jewish Perspective
    Is the way our funds disbursed important? In what ways might
    modern governments implement the values set forth in this
    reading? In what way might they improve over simply cuƫng
    unemployment checks?
    E. SupporƟng Someone Who Won’t Work
    Text 15a
    Should you see your enemy’s donkey prostrate under its burden
    and [think you might] refrain from helping him – you must certainly help him [imo—literally, “with him].
    Exodus 22:5
    Text 15b
    This tells you that if someone wants to be with you in his work
    and wants to put it back upright together with you, you are required to help him. But if he sits down and says, “You alone obligated by the Torah to help; it’s your job to do it all” – that is the
    reason why the Torah says “refrain from helping him.” You are
    permiƩed to refrain from helping if he does not want to join in
    the work.
    This speaks to a few of our poor fellow Jews who throw themselves on the public and do not want to do any work even if they
    are able to work or feed their families in some other way. They
    cry, “Foul!” if their needs are not met.
    This, however, is not what G-d commanded; He said, “Help
    along with him,” “Raise it up along with him.” The poor person
    must do all that is within his power and if even that is not
    enough to meet all his needs, then every Jew is obligated to support him and to give him all he lacks—“azov ta’azov—even a
    hundred Ɵmes.”
    Commentary of Keli Yakar on Exodus 22:5
    Elections 2012 -A Jewish Perspective
    Text 16
    The poor man comes up to the rich man and says to him, “Give
    me mitzva [tsedaka]!”
    The rich man does not give… and he says to that poor man, “Why
    don’t you go and exert yourself at some work? Look at your legs!
    Look at your belly! Look at your fat flesh!”
    The blessed Holy One says, “It wasn’t enough that you didn’t give
    him a thing, but you had to put an evil eye on what I gave him?
    Therefore…you will not leave over a penny to your son, and you
    will cause a defect in yourself.”
    Vayikra Rabba 34:4
    How do we resolve the differing values taught in these last two
    Text 17
    If a poor person whom no one knows says, “I am hungry, feed
    me!” we do not invesƟgate to see if he is genuine, but rather feed
    him immediately.
    Maimonides, Laws of the GiŌs to the Poor, 7:6
    Text 18
    Someone who has a trade and the strength to work and does not
    is like a wealthy person who starves himself, and we do not give
    him his livelihood. However, it is forbidden to shame him, and it
    seems correct to give him a liƩle bit. If however he lacks the psychological stamina to work, we do give him his livelihood.
    Rabbi Elchanan ben Yaakov, Ma’asei Hatsedaka, 7:3 Elections 2012 -A Jewish Perspective

    Social Security
    Tax Policy
    P r e s id e n t
    C a p i t a l i s t
    E l e c t i o n

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