Rabbi David Walk, Education Director

Congregation Agudath Sholom | 301 Strawberry Hill Ave | Stamford, CT 06902 (203)-358-2200 www.agudathsholom.org

Friday, January 11, 2019

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Walk Article



Rabbi David Walk 


Ahh, the honeymoon is over. All the wonderful stories about bravery and devotion, miracles and love are giving way to HALACHA. From the beginning of Breishit until the twelfth chapter of Shmot, we have story after story which stir our imaginations and move our hearts only to give way to Jewish Law. The romantics can go home til next year, as the lawyers step to the plate. In this particular case, 'plate' is a double entendre. Of course, there's the baseball reference coming up to bat, but this week there's the also the literal plate of food, with instructions about how to cook, serve and eat the KORBAN PESACH, the Paschal Lamb. There are many rules and regulations about how to prepare and consume this holy offering, but there's one particular rule which sounds more like etiquette than law. Call for Emily Post. 

There are rules for how to cook the lamb: roasted over the fire, with unleavened cakes; with bitter herbs they shall eat it. You shall not eat it rare or boiled in water, except roasted over the fire its head with its legs and with its entrails (Shmot 12:8-9). There are regulations for how to consume it: And this is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste (verse 11). Of course, there were even more rules for the lamb in that first year back in Egypt, like painting the blood onto the doorposts of the home. But I'm concerned with one particular law: It must be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the meat out of the house to the outside, neither shall you break any of its bones (verse 46). 

Really, you can't break any bones? This is one of the first mitzvot that God gave the Jewish nation. Personally, I would have opted for something a bit more spiritual, like 'worship the Lord with all your might' or 'be holy'. But I'd be wrong. 

Why this concern for the bones of the Pesach offering? A simple explanation is that by the time we eat the meal we should feel like free people. Only slaves and the very poor break the bones to consume those meager calories within. However, over the years many commentaries have found more profound approaches to this issue.    

The great exposition on mitzvot, Sefer Hachinuch, makes the most famous attempt to put this rule in its proper perspective:  Why did God give us so many mitzvot to commemorate the Exodus? Couldn't one commemoration have been sufficient?...Understand well that people are influenced by their actions. One's intellectual and spiritual life are conditioned by one's actions. Consider well, then, your actions, because you will be influenced by them and not vice versa (Mitzvah 16).  

Nechama Leibowitz adds: In other words, religious training should not proceed from mind to deed...Rather as the Rambam observes in his introduction to Pirkei Avot, 'A person should cultivate good deeds in order to improve one's character and forgo evil deeds for undesirable traits to disappear. Know well that good and bad qualities can only be cultivated by repetitive acts.' Mrs. Leibowitz then, chillingly, reminds us, 'for a moment recall those concentration camp officials, and remember how ordinary folk, who were neither angels nor devils, became brutalized as a result of the savage actions to which they had been assigned.' Look at photos of Adolf Eichmann, he looks more like an accountant than a mass murderer. Behavior made him a beast. 

Back in Breishit we were informed that our behavior during meals is important. When Ya'akov prepared the diner of lentil stew for his brother Esav, we're told that Esav, 'ate it, drank, got up and left, therefore he denigrated the birthright (Breishit 25:32).' How did he 'denigrate' the birthright? Perhaps, by the way he ate, drank, got up and left. I believe that we're being taught that we are not 'what we eat', but that we become 'how we eat'. 

The Maor V'Shemesh (Harav Kalonymus Kalman Epstein, 1753-1825) discussed this issue when writing about all the instructions about how to eat the Korban Pesach. He observed that the only commandment given to Adam and Eve was about eating, because 'they were being taught to resist the desire to eat out of lust for sweetness and appearance, but to appreciate that eating should be for sustenance. Eating should be appropriate to sufficiency for Divine service.' 

A neighbor of mine here in south Jerusalem, Dr. Reuvein Schwartz, wrote a wonderful book combining psychology with spirituality in the area of weight loss, called Holy Eating. There are many helpful pieces of advice for improving our attitudes in the realm of food consumption, but I want to point out just one: Visuals. We can better manage our food intake with one simple expedient, use smaller plates. He cited a study (p. 71) where half liter and full liter bowls were available for a buffet of ice cream. You guessed it! The people who took the larger bowls also took 34% more ice cream and calories (about 200 calories for 100g of ice cream). The Torah is setting the visuals for the Seder table. Don't voraciously attack the meat! Leave the bones intact and neat. 

Nechama Leibowitz called her essay on this mitzva, Actions Shape Character, and she concluded: The profound implications of this event (the Exodus), through which the Almighty acquired us as His people, were engraved on the historic memory of the Jewish people through countless symbols and precepts applying to every facet of our existence.' 

So, as we begin our annual journey through the unfolding of the Torah's long litany of mitzvot, it's very important for us to remember that not only are actions louder than words, but that our actions ultimately define who we are. We become what we do.  

Monday, January 7, 2019

rabbidavidwalk.blogspot.com's impact on internet security

Hello there,
My name is Adam and I am doing some research online regarding free security tools for a project.
Your page helped me a lot with finding stats so I wanted first to say thanks!
(This is the page I refer to http://rabbidavidwalk.blogspot.com/2018_06_24_archive.html )

As I dig in a bit more, I found this source that was published just now, and I figured you might want to add to your page so your users would have some fresh figures.

Again, thanks for being the first step in my research, and I hope I returned the favor.
Adam Roger
Security Expert @ SecurityPrivacy.org

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A Jewish Mother in Need of Your Help..

I am writing this letter with a broken heart.
We Just Want Her Home!
Many sleepless nights passed before I dared to put my feelings in writing.
I am a mother of children who is very ill. It all started a few years ago. I had a simple virus, and my body went into septic shock. All my organs shut down; I was not amongst the living. I miraculously survived, B"H. But my life since then has been anything but simple.

The past few years, I went through more than two dozen surgeries, And it so happened that every surgery came with complications. if there were awards for people with the most physical pain, I would come in first place with flying colors.

I've suffered two strokes and spent almost 2 ½ months in rehab. I have spent a few summers in the hospital and in rehabs, while there I was unable to give my children the love they so much needed. Just this Winter I spent 6 weeks away from my family in another treatment.
Now, I go every week for outpatient therapy. I am constantly in pain, and sometimes I feel that my middle name is "Pain."

My husband helps me in every way he can, takes care of our children, take me to doctor's appointment, and works in a retail store trying to make ends meet. However, because of him taking off so much time from work, he does not bring home as much.

I am currently waiting for a procedure to be done, which is not covered at all, and they won't see me before paying $9500.00. And just recently, after some test done by my doctor he scheduled me for a 8-12 hour surgery on my stomach.

The bills have kept piling up throughout the years, a mountain which I have no idea how we'll scale. And unfortunately I can't sleep at night... or I cry myself to sleep. The financial pressure is crushing, and we are on the brink of collapse. Being disabled in a wheelchair making it unbearable to cope. There are times that we can't put food on the table to feed our children, pay utility bills, rent & tuition, because all the money is going to my medical expenses. We still have so many old bills to pay. {more then $70,000.00} My husband runs from Gemach to Gemach to pay debts, and just recently took out a big loan that we have to pay back very soon.

We are collapsing from all this pressure and our children are suffering greatly. Anyone who donates to this campaign will not only be saving my life, but our children's as well, you'll be giving them back their futures!

Please have an open hand and heart and help us. In return, may Hashem, in His infinite mercy, bless you all with life, health, and every kindness and may you always be Zoche to be on the giving end!

I desperately need your love, support & help, now more than ever. Please, Please, please give generously.

You will not regret having taken part in this incredible mitzvah.

I would appreciate it so so so much.

Thank you from the bottom of my shattered heart.

Please be so kind and share this campaign with family and friends.

Tizku l'mitzvos!