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Ask the Rabbi #99

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Ask the Rabbi

9 March 1996; Issue #99

  • Wheat Futures
  • Kabbalah
  • Yiddle Riddle
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    Wheat Futures


    GANZ wrote:

    Dear Rabbi,

    As usual I enjoyed another one of your responses, this time to Philip Americus about 'Scalping Tickets.' Your logic is commendable. However, could you reconcile for me your advice of not using tricks to get around a law, with the practice at Pesach of selling one's chametz - or even more astute - locking them up in a cupboard and selling "futures" to someone who will never pick them up.

    Confused in California

    Dear Confused,

    Selling your chametz before Pesach is not a trick, but a legally binding sale. When you sell your chametz it belongs to the buyer who has every right to use it.

    In a certain community, all the chametz -- including the kosher pizza shop -- was sold to a police officer. During Pesach, a burglar broke in to the pizza shop. The policeman, who happened to be on duty at the time, entered the pizza shop, arrested the robber, and exclaimed, "You're robbing MY business!"

    And it's told of a whiskey producer in Europe who sold his entire business for Pesach. After Pesach, the buyer decided he wanted to own the business permanently, and so he refused to sell it back.

    But you're right. Both buyer and seller should take the sale seriously and realize that it's not a 'trick.' I know of a Rabbi who, in order to show his congregants that the sale is no joke, told the buyer to enter a home during Pesach and ask for his chametz!


    • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 448:3



    Binyomin Altman wrote:

    I recently read the following statement of the Vilna Gaon: "The ultimate redemption of the Jewish People (Geula) will come about only through learning Torah; And primarily through learning Kabbalah [Torah's deep secrets]. Since I don't learn Kabbalah, is my Torah study insignificant with respect to bringing about the final redemption?

    Dear Binyomin,

    Kabbalah certainly has 'redeeming' qualities. But it has dangers as well. On his death-bed, the Arizal (preeminent Kabbalist, 16th century Safed, Israel) told Rabbi Yitzchak Hakohen: "Tell the disciples in my name that from today they are to stop studying Kabbalah." He warned that they might misunderstand it and thus come to harm.

    I spoke to Rabbi Shlomo Fisher, shlita, about this statement of the Vilna Gaon. He explained it as follows: Learning Kabbalah requires an exceptionally high spiritual level. The Geula will come when the people at that high level learn Kabbalah.

    As far as the 'significance' of your studies in bringing the Geula, the Talmud says that Torah study helps us survive the exile. And were the whole Jewish people to learn Torah, the Geula would come immediately!


    • Even Shleima 11:3
    • Shivchei Rabbi Chaim Vital pp. 25b-26a

    Yiddle Riddle


    Triplets and their cousin are born within a 2 hour period, yet the brit milah for each of the four takes place on four consecutive days. They are all healthy - i.e., no jaundice or other health problems. How can this be?

    (Based on a riddle sent in by Shlomo Steinhart)

    • Written by Rabbi Moshe Lazerus, Rabbi Benzion Bamberger, Rabbi Reuven Subar, Rabbi Avrohom Lefkowitz and other Rabbis at Ohr Somayach Institutions / Tanenbaum College, Jerusalem, Israel.
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    • Production Design: Lev Seltzer
    • HTMIL Design: Michael Treblow

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