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Heights Jewish Center Synagogue Posts

Shavuos is coming up

Shavuos is fast-approaching!
I think that the shul should have its own learning taking place on Leil Shavuos.  After all, Rabbi Schur is the one who introduced Shavuos-night learning to this neighborhood.  If anybody has any ideas for shiurim, I would love to hear them.  And please let me know if you would be coming to Heights Shavuos night. 
Enjoy the rest of Lag B’Omer
Rabbi Davidovich
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Chagigah – closing thoughts

I have noticed a tension, some might even say a dialectic tension, in masechta Chagigah.  These last few pages highlight a real division within Klal Yisrael in that last century of Bais Sheini.  Besides the Torah-mandated division between the Priestly caste and the non-Cohanim, there appeared a stark contrast between those who were well-versed in the many complex rules of Tahara and Terumah and those who could not keep it all straight.  People could not touch other people’s things, food could not be shared, even by those who were trusted on the sheer kashrus of their food. 
People like me who have been involved in Kiruv know how important it is to have an open house to invote people over for Shabbos, Yom-Tov, picnics, luncheons etc.  Can you imagine a Klal Yisrael where Talmidei Chachomim are not allowed to have less learned people into their own homes? 
But as the last pages of chagigah point out, during Yom-Tov an exception was made to the rule.  It was only motzoei- Yom Tov that everything in the Beis Hamikdash and elsewhere was toiveled and repurified.  It sounds all very nice and Jewish-unity centered, if you like that cliche. But how could they ignore halacha?
I think the response is that they were not ignoring the halachos of tahara.  Remember, when an Am Haaretz is considered tamei, it means that the Halacha gave them a presumption.  If it was more than that, thatis, if I knew for a fact that a Jew was tamei, I would have no right to close my eyes.  The Rabbis created that presumption.  Yom-Tov comes along and the Rabbis say “don’t presume”.  To use a modern catchphrase, “Don’t ask, don’t tell”.  That is a different attitude than shutting your eyes to halachos.  It is choosing not to notice other people’s shortcomings!  What a concept!
Holidays are called “Chag”.  A chug, Ches-Gimel, is also a circle.  Rav SR Hirsch says that this is the imperative of the Chag, to be joined together in a circle, where all points are equidistant from the center.  So much of halacha creates divisions, hierarchies between people.  Those are important to maintain.  Halacha is not egalitarian.  Life is not egalitarian.  I say “Shelo Asani Goy, Shelo Asani Aved, Shelo asani Isha” every day.  Even among men, halacha and life form many barriers to true unity. 
Then Yom Tov comes.  As the first pages of Chagigah say, the Torah says “Kol Zechur’cha”, all your males should come see Me, says Hashem.  There should be no tours or times where only certain people go up because of side considerations.  Either all may go, or none need to go.  After Yom-Tov, we will revert to some or most of the old patterns, but for a week here and there, Chag Hamatzos, Chag Hashavuos and Chag Hasuccos, we re-enact K’Ish Echad B’Leiv Echad, not only in a mushy touchy-feely way, but in a concrete halachic sense as well. 
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Announcements and Schedule

The times for this Shabbos and the upcoming week are below the announcements.
  • Mazel Tov to Rabbi and Mrs. Appel on the Bar Mitzvah of their son Elazar Simcha this Shabbos.  Mazel Tov to the grandparents Harold and Faige Males.
  • Mazel Tov to our Yomim Noraim Chazan, Rabbi Simcha Mann and his wife, on the upcoming wedding of their daughter Dassah this Sunday evening. 
  • One may get a haircut and shave today l’kovod Shabbos even though Lag B’Omer is not until Sunday.  The other Sefira customs are only lifted on Sunday morning. 
  • Mincha this evening is at 6:50 PM.  As this time, there is no later erev Shabbos minyan.
  • Note to those who don’t show up on Shabbos morning at 9AM sharp: Morning Z’man Krias Shema is at 9:51AM this Shabbos and getting earlier and earlier now.
  • The Shul’s Lag B’Omer picnic is taking place behind the shul this Sunday May 6, from noon to 3pm.  We would love to see you there.
  • Mincha-Maariv during the week is at 8:15PM.  Daf Yomi precedes it at 7:30PM.
  • This Shabbos at Shalosh Seudos there will be a siyum on Masechta Chagigah and Seder Moed. 
  • The Daf Yomi shiur will be starting Masechta Yevamos (and Seder Nashim) on Sunday morning at 7:15AM. 
Have a wonderful Shabbos and Lag B’Omer.
Rabbi Davidovich
Friday evening, May 4   
 Early candle lighting 6:59 PM 
 Regular candle lighting 8:09 PM 
 Mincha-Kabalas Shabbos 6:50 PM
Saturday, May 5 (Emor)
 Parsha class 8:30 AM 
 Shacharis 9:00 AM 
 Latest Shema 9:51 AM 
 Navi class 7:30 PM 
 Mincha-Shalosh Seudos-Ma’ariv 8:00 PM  
 Shabbos ends 9:18 PM 

Sunday, May 6 (Lag B’Omer)   
 Daf Yomi catch-up 7:15 AM 
 Shacharis 8:00 AM 
 Daf Yomi 7:30 PM 
 Mincha-Ma’ariv 8:15 PM 
Monday-Thursday, May 7-10   
 Gemara class 6:15 AM 
 Shacharis 6:55 AM 
 Daf Yomi 7:30 PM 
 Mincha-Ma’ariv 8:15 PM 
Friday, May 11   
 Gemara class 6:15 AM 
 Shacharis 6:55 AM 

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Daf Yomi – Chagigah 24 – Tumah-Chometz comparisons

Learning these gemaras about one hand being tamei while the other hand is tahor, u’kidomeh, I cannot help but remember the tension of the two weeks before erev Pesach, when parts of the house were Kosher L’Pesach, while other areas were full of chometz. The tension involved in getting the children to understand those boundaries, not to mention their father, is by far my least favorite part of the entire Passover experience. In fact, Pesach becomes easy and enjoyable once everything is Pesachdik. Imagine going through all of YomTov with this half-and-half existence! I simply cannot imagine how much more tense this Tahara experience described in Chagigah must have been.

I can truly believe that the people who lived in that era were of a higher spiritual stature, if they could go through a YomTov in Yerushalayim, follow these rules, and still experience Simchas YomTov and come away uplifted and in one piece.

(I realize that this insight says more about me than it does about the Gemara in Chagigah.)

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Daf Yomi – Chagigah 23

The Daf discussed Chazal’s occasional tendency to enact a decree in reaction to specific mess-ups. 
What is the purpose of enacting such rules?  Let’s take the Parah Adumah incident.  There was once a man who took a vial of Parah Juice on a boat across the Jordan river.  A human bone was found on the boat, and the vial was rendered Tamei.  The Rabbis reacted by either decreeing that Parah Adumah ashes or water may not be transported over a body of water unless it’s on a bridge, with feet firmly planted on the ground.  According to R. Chananyah ben Akavya, the decree only forbade transporting the ashes on a boat, on the Jordan river, exactly like the incident that motivated the decree.
How does such a decree prevent future occurrences?  How would R. Chananyah see any deterrent power in his version of the decree ?  
It seems that the “why” is overlooked.  I know it is not common to ask those kinds of questions when analyzing a sugya.  And when we were learning the daf, I did not really pause to look into it.  But as I mentioned with regard to the Chaver vs. Am Haaretz sugya, it’s something that merits further study, even if not in the conventional Yeshivish style.  Perhaps it’s a question for academic Talmud scholars to delve into.  But it does fascinate me, and I shall chalk it up as another perplexing gemara.
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Daf Yomi – Chagigah 22

The sugya currently under discussion is that of “Chullin She’Naasu Al Taharas Hakodesh”, ordinary non-sacrificial food that is prepared and eaten with the strict guidelines of Kodoshim.
Why would anyone want to impose those complex rules upon himself?
Rashi offers an explanation at the bottom of 19B.  He suggests that there are people who frequently eat Kodshim and wish to remain in the habit so that their families will be careful to maintain the Taharah required to eat Korbanos.
I can understand that Kohanim would wish to maintain this standard.  Why would people outside of Yerushalayim or after the Churban want to keep these rules, which are elective?
Furthermore, why would the Chachamim ratify this chumrah by giving it halachic parameters? 
There is much history that must go into answering all these questions.  Other issues that need to be addressed is how such a massive sub-stratum of society as the “Am Ha’Aretz” group came to be.  These people were ostensibly observant in all other respects of halacha except for Maaser and Taharah.  This division between Chaveirim, those who were knowledgeable in the laws of Taharah, and Amei Haaretz who were not, must have been jarring.  Imagine a group of Jews who refuse to come anywhere near other Jews.  This goes beyond not accepting certain hechsheirim, which is the closest modern manifestation of the Perushim-Am Haaretz divide. 
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Shabbos Parshas Acharei-Kedoshim 5767

We had a wonderful Shabbos. 
At the 8:30am Chumash shiur, we spoke about the relationship between the deaths of Aharon’s sons to the rest of Acharei Mos, namely the Avodah of Yom Kippur, the prohibition against offering korbanos outside the Ohel Moed, serving satyrs, drinking blood and incest. 
The drasha covered the sefira-timely topic of Netzach, and man’s role in the universe to be proactive and decisive even though the world can be so patently unjust, according to the Medrash Rabba on the parsha.  We have two options.  1) Doing something about the injustices that upset us or 2) doing nothing.  Either one is a choice, and there is no room to complain beyond some necessary comfort.  When we are forced into option #2, then we grin and bear it. 
The afternoon Navi shiur started Yehoshua Chapter 18.  We spoke of it as the beginning of the end of Yehoshua’s reign and the prelude to the dissolution of Klal Yisrael into a loose confederation. 
At Shalosh Seudos, we discussed Shimon Hatzaddik’s revolutionary role in establishing priorities for the Jews in the shadow of Alexander’s conquering of Eretz Yisrael.
Shavua Tov
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Shul Info: April 27 – May 4.

Hello everyone,

The schedule for the coming week follows the announcements. Please read the announcements. It’s not just the usual.

  • Early Friday evening davening begins this week. Mincha this Friday is at 6:45pm sharp. Please remember to count sefira at home after dark.
  • Mincha-Maariv throughout the week will be at 8:05PM, preceded by Daf Yomi at 7:20PM. We would love to see you there. Why daven elsewhere?

  • The shul is having a Lag B’Omer picnic this year, on Sunday May 6 from noon to 3pm, at Purvis Park behind the shul. Please, please, PLEASE leave a message at the shul office at 382-1958 or email the office at to make your reservations. Invite a friend too. The people who are preparing everything need a tally by Monday April 30 to get a sense of what they need to buy. Great food for sale and music, activities and games for the kids.

  • The shul’s website is up and running, with information updated constantly by the shul’s webmaster, Neil Parks.

  • Halachic good news: Since Lag B’Omer is on Sunday this year, one may get a haircut on Friday May 4; two days earlier, L’Kovod Shabbos. (SA OC 493:2 Rama)

  • Thinking ahead to Shavuos: Of course, the shul is open Shavuos night for learning. I would love to hear from anyone who has ideas for topics for Shiurim. Please email me any suggestions you may have.

Have a Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Davidovich


Friday evening, April 27
Early candle lighting 6:53 PM
Regular candle lighting 8:01 PM
Mincha-Kabalas Shabbos 6:45 PM

Saturday, April 28 (Acharei Mos-Kedoshim)
Parsha class 8:30 AM
Shacharis 9:00 AM
Latest Shema 9:56 AM
Navi class 7:25 PM
Mincha-Shalosh Seudos-Ma’ariv 7:55 PM
Shabbos ends 9:10 PM

Sunday, April 29
Daf Yomi catch-up 7:15 AM
Shacharis 8:00 AM
Daf Yomi 7:20 PM
Mincha-Ma’ariv 8:05 PM

Monday-Thursday, April 30-May 3
Gemara class 6:15 AM
Shacharis 6:55 AM
Daf Yomi 7:20 PM
Mincha-Ma’ariv 8:05 PM

Friday, May 4
Gemara class 6:15 AM
Shacharis 6:55 AM

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First real post

Welcome one and all to HJC’s new blog. It will be a mixture of shul announcements and personal thoughts, the occasional dvar Torah and insight on whatever interests me. Thanks to Neil Parks, the shul’s webmaster, for his work on the website and this new blog. Your comments are welcome at

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