Ask The Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi - 175

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Ask the Rabbi

10 January 1998; Issue #175

  • This Year in 1000 Oaks. Next Year...?
  • Edible Oinkers - Will Ham be "LegitiMeat?"
  • A Blessing on your Neck
  • Today, I am a Man
  • Answer to Yiddle Riddle
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  • This Year in 1000 Oaks. Next Year...?


    Dov Ben Essine from 1000 Oaks, California wrote:

    Dear Rabbi,

    Why is it that we are still saying "Shana Haba B'yerushalayim - Next Year in Jerusalem," since any Jew can now go there and live there of his own free will? Thanks for your answer.

    Dear Dov Ben Essine,

    The story is told of a poor man, Shmelke, who lived in a small village. The town folks wanted to support him, but without him feeling like he was accepting charity. So they came up with a plan: They hired him to sit at the city gates and wait for the Mashiach.

    One day, a traveler approached the city and asked Shmelke what he was doing. "This is my job," Shmelke said. "My job is to wait here to greet the Mashiach."

    "Does it pay well?" asked the traveler.

    "Not really," said Shmelke, "but it's steady work."

    When we say "Next year in Jerusalem" we mean that all Jews should actually be in Israel and in Jerusalem (not just as tourists!). We mean Jerusalem as it is ideally meant to be - with the Temple, the Sanhedrin and a Jewish Monarch. We're still waiting. Even we here in Jerusalem say "Next year in Jerusalem!"

    Edible Oinkers - Will Ham be "LegitiMeat?"

    Dvora from New York, New York wrote:

    Dear Rabbi,

    I have heard that it is mentioned somewhere in the Talmud that in the future, pork will no longer be trefah - unkosher. I find this hard to believe! Is there anything you can find to back this up?

    Dear Dvora,

    The Sages say, "Why is a pig called 'chazir?' Because it is destined to 'chazor' - return - to a state of purity." It's not clear if this is literal or allegorical. Either way, the idea is this: Everything, even evil, is ultimately rooted in holiness. The good is merely hidden and covered up. In the future, when Hashem "slaughters the evil inclination," evil will vanish and everything's inherent good will be revealed. Even pig, representing everything "not kosher," will find its proper place.


    • Shelah Pesachim 504
    • Kohelet Rabba 1:9

    A Blessing On Yourk Neck

    [Name and e-mail withheld] from Alabama wrote:

    Dear Rabbi,

    Would you please tell me what the writing is around the neck of the tallit (prayer shawl)? Could you please write it in English and in Hebrew/English? I'm not sure I worded that correctly, but what I mean is that I can't read the Hebrew writing too well. Thanks!

    Dear [Name and email withheld],

    Before putting on a tallit, we say the following blessing: "Baruch Ata Ado-noi Elo-heiynu Melech ha'olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hitatef batzitzit" which means "Blessed are You L-rd, our G-d, King of the universe, Who made us holy with His commandments and commanded us to wrap ourselves in a tallit."

    Recently, some people began writing this blessing on the neck of the tallit. This has a practical advantage for someone who doesn't know the blessings by heart: He can hold up the tallit, read the blessing and then put it on. Traditionally, however, the tallit has no writing on it. Indeed, Maimonides in one of his letters maintains that it is forbidden to embroider verses from the Torah and blessings on a tallit. One reason he gives is that a person may inadvertently wear the tallit in a place like a bathroom, where it is forbidden to bring written words of Torah.

    Today, I am a Man

    Sharon from Chickasha, Oklahoma wrote:

    Dear Rabbi,

    My son and I are trying to research the Biblical age of accountability and the Bar Mitzvah. We would appreciate any help. Thank You.

    Dear Sharon,

    The age thirteen for a boy is derived from a verse about Yaakov's son Levi. Referring to Shimon and Levi, the Torah says "each man took his sword ...." At that time Levi was thirteen years old. He is thus the youngest person the Torah calls a "man." The Torah specifically referred to him as a "man" in order to imply that thirteen is the age of male adulthood.

    By age thirteen, it can be assumed that a boy has reached physical and mental maturity and is therefore responsible for his actions. For a girl this is at age 12. By Torah law, a 12 year-old girl or a 13 year-old boy can enter into legal contracts, incur legal obligations and must observe all the commandments, like keeping kosher and observing Shabbat.


    • Rashi Tractate Nazir 29b
    • Tractate Sanhedrin chapter 8

    Answer to Yiddle Riddle


    Last week we asked:

    "Here's a Yiddle Riddle my son Dovid is submitting: Which person in Tanach was born before his mother ever was, died before his father, and is buried in his grandmother?"

    Chaim Salenger


    Hevel [Abel]:

    Born before his mother ever was - his mother, Eve, was never "born."

    Died before his father Adam - Hevel was killed by his brother.

    Buried in his grandmother - his father, Adam, came from the earth, so the earth is his "grandmother."

    The Public Domain
    Comments, quibbles, and reactions concerning previous "Ask-the-Rabbi" features.


    Re: "Watching the Detectives" (Ohrnet Vayeitzei) concerning the New York police detective who feels guilty about extracting confessions from violent criminals by feigning friendship:

    Would you please forward my sincere appreciation to this cop. I'm a Dutch trainee police-officer and I have struggled with the same issue for a long time.

    Arthur Swart from Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Re: "Subway Psalms" (Ohrnet Toldot) about saying Tehillim [psalms] in the subway:

    You probably should have mentioned to him that when he says Tehillim he should make an effort not to arouse any "bad feelings" by his neighbors on the subway (See Orach Chaim 1:1 MB 5).

    Micha Males

    Re: "Every rule has an exception" (Ohrnet Toldot):

    This rule is, in fact, self-contradictory! What would be the exception to this rule? A rule without exceptions. If such a rule exists, then the "rule" that "every rule has an exception" is false!

    The Ziskinds, Cannery Row, Monterey, Cape Town <> The Ziskinds, Cannery Row, Monterey, Cape Town

    Even if there are no rules without exceptions, then this rule itself is the exception.

    Re: Parsha Q&A - Vayeitzei

    I love your publications! But I was shocked that you quoted the Daas Zekainim about the discussion between Yaakov and Leah without any explanation! Someone could have assumed that Yaakov and Leah were just having a petty argument, G-d forbid. Rabbi Yochanan Zweig, Rosh HaYeshiva in Miami, explained that Leah was telling Yaakov that at the time that he took the birthright (and the blessings that went along with it) from Esav, he also switched his "zivug"- "soul-mate"- and now that he is the "firstborn" it is only proper that he should marry Leah.

    Ahron S.

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