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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Parshas Kee Saitzay



Parshas Kee Saitzay

In this week's Parsha, Kee Saitzay, we are warned against cross-dressing: "The garment of a man should not adorn a woman, and a man shall not dress in the smock of a woman, for it is blasphemous to the Aimishteh..." (Devarim, Perek Chuff Bayz, Pasuk Hay).

The Bais Yoiseph asks an obvious question: Why is the Toirah so damned uptight? He answers that Moishe Rabbeinu was clearly a terrible homophobe. Referring to a famous Medrish, the Bais Yoiseph suggests that Moishe's homophobia was due to Moishe's famous lisp, which was always perceived by others as a gay characteristic and for which he was always mocked at the gym.

However, the RAIVID disagrees vehemently. He points out that not all cross dressers are homosexuals, and that most homosexuals are not cross dressers. Indeed, the RAIVID himself always wore a long black Bekesheh, a Shtreimel, and an extra long Gartel whenever he went cruisin' for Yeshivah Buchrim.

Rather, the RAIVID cites a Medrish about Moishe which reports that while in exile in Midyan, the very heterosexual Moishe Rabbeinu once went into a bar and hit on someone with nice round buttocks, but, alas, the person turned out to be a guy. Says the RAIVID, that left Moishe with life-long hard feelings.

However, the Pri Megadin holds farkhert: he interprets a line in the Zoihar as suggesting that in Midyan Moishe Rabbeinu dated a man for six months, but was left bitter after a harsh breakup.

The Klay Yukkur suggests that the RAIVID and the Pri Megadin spent far too much time in the Mikvah together. Rather, to clarify the Toirah's strong antipathy towards cross dressing, he points to the proximity of the banning of cross dressing to a subsequent commandment stated in the Toirah. He notes that the Mitzvah immediately following is Shiluach HaKan, the biblical injunction decreeing that a mother bird must be chased from a nest before its eggs or babies are confiscated for culinary purposes. Of course, Rabbinic literature has always equated this strange law with the commandment to honor one's father and mother, since the Biblically promised reward for both is the same -- long life.

Commenting on the juxtaposition, the Klay Yukkur suggests that the Toirah is trying to tell us that we are required to honor our father and mother, even if one of them is a cross dresser. However, the Chayay Adam disagrees, holding that if your mother is a cross dresser you should still honor her, but if your father is a cross dresser he should be chased away with great haste.

I would humbly like to offer my own interpretation. The injunction against cross dressing is consistent with many other commandments raised in this Parsha which all deal with issues of human sexuality:

-- Laws of marriage and divorce
-- Laws of suspected wifely infidelity
-- Laws of premarital relations
-- A warning against marrying the wife of one's father
-- The commandment that one recently married should not go out to war.

I would like to suggest that Moishe Rabbeinu, standing on the mountain addressing Klal Yisroel for many days, summing up the wisdom and accomplishments of his 40 or so years of leadership, was feeling a "little randy", if you know what I mean. It was hot; women in the crowd were dressed in highly suggestive flowing sheets, and Moishe had only one thing on his mind. Who knows when the last time was that he had done his "special mitzvah." He was ready, and his Taivah was all he could think about.

Indeed, in the same Parsha, Moishe Rabbeinu also mentions the laws of bondage. Though these commandments refer to slaves, in Moishe's anxious state this set of rules may also have been particularly pressing on his mind.

And as he looked down into the crowd, the further Moishe looked in the distance the harder it was to distinguish between the men and the women. This upset him so much, he made up the anti cross-dressing legislation on the spot, so that in the future it would be easier to "check out the talent."

Indeed, a Medrish in the Sifre notes that Aroin Hacoihain, the Minuval, shared this very concern. Prior to his death, Aroin decreed that all Mishkan and Temple practices be performed with men and women separated. This was intended to make it easier for Coihanim performing the service to spot a hotty in the crowd, and then later pick her up by asking if she would like to play "hide the Korban Toidah" with him.

I am reminded of the early days of marriage to my Bashert, Feige Breinah. We had just been married, and two weeks into our marriage, when I suggested to my Bashert that we try accomplishing a Mitzvah in the backseat of the car while parked outside St Patrick's Cathedral, I was sternly told that while the suggestion was admirable, the timing was quite bad, for it was not "hunting season." I pleaded. I argued. I threatened to tell her father that while in Bais Yankif, her nickname was "Feige The Sword Swallower." All to no avail.

I stormed upstairs to take matters into my own hands, if you know what I mean. As I thought about this incident, I focused on the Biblical and rabbinic injunctions that bar marital relations at given times of the month. Who do they serve? Are they harmful or healthy for the relationship long term? Why does the Aimishteh even care, what, with the economy the way it is and with a presidential election coming up.

But I believe that the Toirah is trying to teach us a harsh lesson in this Parsha. You may be tempted to try on your wife's clothing, because, my Rebboinoisheloilum, she spends so much damn money on her wardrobe. However, cross dressing is strictly forbidden. Rather, Hakadoshboruchhu prefers that you direct your energies towards more critical efforts, such as chasing mother birds from their nests, so you can ensure for yourself a long life of frustration...err, wisdom and fulfillment.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval

Friday, August 24, 2012

Parshas Shoiftim



Parshas Shoiftim


Reading this week's Parsha, Shoiftim, left me confused and bleary eyed. So many topics to cover, so little time. True testimony. False testimony. True prophets. False prophets. Magicians. Conquest. Egla Arufa. Moishe Rabbeinu must have had one too many cappuccinos that morning. I suspect he might have even been on speed, Chass V'Sholom.

In this week’s Parsha, Moishe Rabbeinu tells us that a defendant can be convicted of a crime through the testimony of either two or three witnesses. But the Parsha tells us this law in two separate places. What's Pshat?

According to a Mishnah in Yuma, Moishe repeated himself because he was showing signs of early Alzheimer’s.

But according to a Gemarrah in Yevamois, the first mention of the rule about witnesses refers to legal testimony and the judicial system. But the second mention of the rule is brought down by the Toirah to teach us something not about law, but about marital relationships: While marital relations between two people, a husband and a wife, are sanctified in the eyes of the Aimishteh, He doesn't mind if every once in a while you bring in a third partner to "spice up the cholent."

Commenting on this Gemarrah, Toisfois points out that the second reference in the Parsha to the rule requiring two or three witnesses is juxtaposed to the rules of conquest: In the section immediately following the second mention of the rule, the Toirah tells us that when you conquer a foreign land, you should slay all the males, but keep the women and children for yourselves. Says Toisfois, the Parsha wants to teach us an important lesson: When you do have a third person join you in your marital relations, the Toirah suggests she be a hot shiksa. And the Toirah teaches this within the context of discussing military conquest so we will know that a little Bondage and Discipline is okay.

The RIF, however, holds, that a little S and M may be in order as well, as long as it does not lead to bloodshed, which would instantly raise up a Chashash of Nidah and spoil all the fun, Chass V'Sholom.

However, the Bais Yoiseph holds that the entire Gemarrah of Yevamois must have been written when the Amoraim were having a "bad day," and that Toisfois and the RIF were too busy thinking with their Bris Milahs.

The Bais Yoiseph holds that the reason the Toirah repeats itself on the rule about witnesses is to warn us that if we hire two false witnesses to testify in our favor during a tax fraud hearing, we should always hire an extra witness, just in case one of the witnesses turns states evidence. He brings as proof the whole, strange Halacha of the Egla Arufa.

As the Toirah states, if an unidentified dead body is found between two towns, and a murderer is not identified, the elders of the towns must sacrifice a lamb as part of a proclamation of the towns' innocence. According to the Bais Yoiseph, this is clearly a situation involving a cover up, and the Toirah is encouraging you to have some false witnesses up your sleeve who are willing to testify against some unwitting scapegoat.

But the Hesech Hadaas (B. 1280 -- D. ?) states that the Egla Arufa has no link whatsoever to any other topic in Parshas Shoiftim. Indeed, he holds that the Egla Arufa really belongs in Shmois, following the drowning of the Egyptian Army in the sea. He holds that the Egla Arufa symbolizes the random victimhood that characterizes human existence. The Jews in Egypt. The Egyptians in the sea. Klal Yisroel. Amalek. Midian. Basically, all of humanity. According to him, the Egla Arufa is a reminder that life is one big crap shoot. One day you are lying on the beach with a beautiful woman at your side. The next day you are stuck in some Bais Medrish studying Gemarrah with a bearded guy named Laizer who hasn't quite figured out how to use deodorant and who showers once a week whether he needs to or not...

I am reminded of a Maiseh Shehoyo. Many years ago I was traveling to China with my Rebbe, the NPOJHARTHA. We were on a mission to determine if the messages in fortune cookies were written by a wise elder Kabbalist residing in inner Mongolia, or a seventeen year old complete ignoramus. As we traveled though the wilds of Lanzhou Province, we were approached by the army of the Communists, who were in the midst of their war against the Nationalist army. "Fight on our behalf, or die" we were told, the muzzles of their rifles pointed at our faces. I wanted to resist, but was reassured by my Rebbe that everything would turn out alright.

One evening, as the troops sat around the campfire drinking homemade slivovitz and eating General Tso's cocker spaniel, NPOJHARTHA began a Niggun. He sang slowly at first, and more loudly as the Communist troops learned the tune and joined in. After 45 minutes, NPOJHARTHA and I went to the side to Daven Maariv.

Suddenly the Nationalist forces launched a surprise attack against our comrades. But the spirit of Chairman Mao was upon us that day, and we repelled the capitalist dogs, routing them to the last man.

After the fighting subsided, NPOJHARTHA and I were imprisoned for cowardice, since we Davened in our bunker throughout the battle. I asked NPOJHARTHA, "Why does the Aimishteh punish us so? We were Davening, fulfilling His commandments, yet we are forced to suffer."

"Fool!" NPOJHARTHA responded. "Do you think He hears our prayers? We are in the middle of freaking nowhere, surrounded by a billion pagans. What do you think he has, radar?"

Just as we were randomly punished, so too the Egla Arufa is a response to a random crime against an anonymous victim. Not so that the Aimishteh is mollified, but so that we can feel a little less guilty after rummaging through the dead man's pockets and stealing his wallet and personal effects.

Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fifty Shades of Toirah



Fifty Shades of Toirah


I cannot believe I am about to share this with you, my beloved Talmid, but my conscience requires it.

I am the scion of a great Rabbinic family, whose commitment to Toirah goes back many generations. Through my descent from my great, great, great grandfather, the Kutsker Ruv, I am strongly committed to the practice of Shnayim Mikra VaEchad Targum, reviewing the weekly Toirah portion twice prior to Shabbos Koidesh. In truth, the vast majority of my contemporaries review the Parsha out of a simple Chumash, sitting in the Bais Medrish or on a train, or while looking at their iPhone Toirah App while waiting on line to pick up a dozen lottery tickets.

But not me. I have inherited from the Kutsker a grand tradition -- Shnayim Mikra VaEchad Targum must be performed using a Klaf, a literal Sefer Toirah, to bring about the true closeness between Klal Yisroel and the Aimishteh who hovers above us at all times.

It is with this background that I describe a unique episode that occurred last week. I was visiting the Bais Medrish of Chofetz Chaim in Queens, and was somewhat surprised at the haste with which the Talmidim abandoned the Bais Medrish in order to watch the men's gymnastics competition at the Olympics. I was all alone. And I needed to complete my family Minhag, as Shabbos Koidesh was only one day away.

With no one in sight I approached the Aroin Koidesh, slowly pulling back the curtains to reveal a five foot Toirah peeking out at me, covered in a maroon velvet dress. I reached into the Aroin, at first teasing the taut embroidery, circling it slowly with my fingers. I then lightly put my hands around the Sefer Toirah, gently feeling around its curves, and slowly but delicately lifted it out of its location by its underside. As it became freed from its restraints, I brought the Toirah close to me, holding it near to my chest, the exhalation of my very breath depositing moisture on the tip of the velvet cover.

I hugged the Toirah in the crook of my arm as I slowly and cautiously carried it to the Bimah. This was a beautiful Toirah, soft to the touch, with a clean, earthy scent. After gently laying the Toirah down, I leaned over and kissed its center, its belly, feeling a little give as each of two scrolls parted slightly at my touch. As the Kabbalists tell us, as much as the calf wants to suckle, the cow wants to give of its milk. And I sensed the longing of the Toirah to open itself to me.

With a slow but steady hand I began to remove the Toirah Deckel, the cover, tugging it up slowly as it willingly yielded to my touch, ultimately allowing it to fall to the floor. The Sefer Toirah was now completely exposed, save its belt, whose role was to modestly preserve the holy works of the Rebboinoisheloilum.noiiiThe parallel rolled scrolls on either side were interlocked at the top and the base. My right hand drifted, lazily sliding from the top of the scroll to the belt, and I felt the smooth, cool, tightly wound parchment against my palm, which had begun to perspire slightly.

My hand reached the belt, the elasticized velvet sash linked at the center by a metal buckle. I unlatched the buckle with a deft flick of my finger, a move I had employed countless times before. I carefully slid the belt out from under the Toirah’s back, letting it, too, slide to the floor.

With its girding no longer in place, the scrolls parted softly. I gently nudged them apart, encountering little resistance. With a little more push on the handles, the scrolls opened for me completely.

A rush of excitement came over me as I saw my ultimate goal: The busy, curved black and white patterns of ink on parchment, a contrast that thrills me as much today as it did the first time I beheld a Toirah up close as a young Yeshiva Bucher.

I started by focusing on the first Aliyah. I took my Yad and gently followed the lines, left to right, left to right, left to right. They Toirah responded to every touch of my Yad, offering give when I applied slight pressure, heaving slightly up as I pulled my Yad back.

At that very moment, the world around us had melted away This was the Toirah’s purpose, this was my purpose – a delicate dance, a coupling oHhf Toirah and Scholar.

The gentle interplay continued for nearly thirty minutes. As I completed the first Aliyah, the second Aliyah, the third… my focus on the Toirah intensified, and I found myself rushing to complete the Parsha, while trying to no go too fast.

As I neared the end of Shviyi, my concentration was broken, as one of the Yeshiva Buchrim reentered the Bais Medrish with a handful of tissues and proceeded to diligently wipe down his Shtender. He suddenly looked up and asked, “Why are you touching that Sefer Toirah?”

“It is my Minhag”, I exclaimed, suddenly feeling self-conscious. I tried to disguise my embarrassment and frustration, unsuccessfully.

The Bucher walked over to the Bimah and stared, first at me, then at the Toirah Deckel and belt on the floor, and finally at the Toirah itself. “But that Sefer Toirah is Passul!” he declared, as he ascended the Bimah and reached down to pick the velvet cover and belt off of the floor.

“But I must finish!” I insisted, my face growing redder by the minute.

The Bucher tried to push me aside, using his body to shove me out of the way. But my anxiousness had reached a fever pitch. Using my right arm I blocked the Bucher’s access to the Toirah. With my left arm, I reach for the nearest object I could find, in this case a copy of the Artscroll Siddur for the Baal Tefillah. I lifted the oversized volume and used it to strike the Bucher in the head, knocking him off of the Bimah. As he fell back, he struck his head on a copy of Mesilas Yesharim lying on the table next to the Bimah and fell to the floor, unconscious.

I took the next few minutes to hurriedly complete my session with the Toirah, breathlessly finishing my review of the Parsha with an awkward flurry. Pausing for a moment to recover, I then quickly redressed the Toirah, and gently placed it back in the Aroin Koidesh.

Shnayim Mikra VaEchad Targum. For some it is a burden. For others, it is a labor of love.


Undoubtedly some of my readers may have taken offense to my anecdote for its erotic echos. However, those readers are complete Neveilah ignoramuses. Yiddishkeit is filled with erotic imagery when describing Klal Yisroel’s relationship to Hakadoshboruchhu and to the Toirah, and to human relations between men and women. We see this throughout the Toirah. In Shir Hashirim for example, “Smoiloi Tachas LeRoishi, ViYiminoi Techabkaynee”, “Let his left hand be under my head, and his right hand embrace me.” (Shir Hashirim, Perek Baiz, Passook Vuv).

Or in many references in the Zoihar. One example:

"… just as a Lulav does not grow (and bear fruit) unless the male be planted by the female, so the Tzaddik cannot flourish save when husband and wife are united, when the male aspect of Tzaddik is united with the female aspect of Tzaddik, as with Avraham and Sarah" (Zohar, Bereshit 82a).

Ours is a religion for adults, male and female. But if you cannot handle the adult nature of the Toirah, I suggest you give up studying Gemarrah or performing Shnayim Mikra VaEchad Targum, and instead focus on reading The Little Midrash Says, or Mesilas Yesharim.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, you Minuval

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Hilchois iPhone



Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Hilchois iPhone


Over recent months I have received many Shailas from my Talmidim. I love you all, because of your permanent thirst for Toirah, your ongoing quest for Mitzvois, and your ceaseless zest for looking down at the rest of humanity.

I could of course write long, academic Teshuvois for each of you. But, alas, my iPad is at the shop, and I no longer have a printed Shas, Shulkhan Oiraich, Igrois Moishe, or other Rishoinim and Acharoinim. I have gone paperless, thanks to the Shass App from Artscroll, the Rishoinim App from Google, and the Acharoim App from The National Enquirer.

So instead I will write brief responses, leveraging my extensive memory of Kol HaToirah Kooloh Baal Peh gained over years of study in the Bais Medrish, plus the guidance of a Magic 8 Ball I bought at Target on sale for six dollars and 50 cents.


Rav Pinky, this might be a Shailah you might consider answering.

I just Davened Maariv from my phone. Question: Should I kiss my phone
before quitting the App or turning my phone off?

Your Talmid,
Mordechai Hatzadik

Reb Mordechai,

I am delighted that you have asked me such a critical Shailah, a Shailah I have often been asked via text message. Unfortunately, I only check my text messages when I am sitting in the Bais HaKeesay, and so am not in a position to respond, since I type with my left hand, which is usually busy at that time.

We live in a new age, an age where our smartphones play multiple roles – not just as telephones, but as portable music players, video devices, GPS, handheld games, players of multiple Apps, Siddurim, Machzorim, Gemarras, and other Sefarim, and as portals to an astounding world of porn, including straight, gay, Thai, Russian, fetish, and amateur granny fatties. Kenainah Harrah! The smartphone and the Internet in general have democratized Yiddishkeit, along with making porn accessible to everyone! What an achievement!

Your fundamental question relates to the notions of Kedushas Hashem and Kedushas Sefer – the sanctity of the Divine name, and of holy books that contain words of Toirah. Once upon a time, the written Toirah, Toirah SheBichsav, was the only form of Toirah available, and it was handwritten on parchment or other such materials. Koolay Alma Loi Pligi, everyone agrees, that the holiness of a Toirah scroll compels one to kiss the Toirah as it passes down the aisle at Shul, as long as you do not try to get to second base on the first date. However, the remainder of Toirah, Toirah SheBaal Peh, the Oral Law, was passed down verbally from generation to generation, all the way back to the time of Har Sinai, Mount Sinai, when the Oral Toirah was first dictated by the Reboinoisheloilum to Moishe Rabbeinu and recorded by his holy parrot, Mean Mister Mustard.

However, as Klal Yisroel began to forget the Oral Toirah, they began to commit it to writing. Hence, the publication of the Mishnah by Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi, the writing of the Zoihar by Rabbi Shimoin Bar Yoichai, and the recording of the Baba Kama Sutra by Rabbi Eliezer Ben Coitus. This led to a fundamental Machloikess about whether the written text of Toirah SheBaal Peh contains the same degree of Kedusha as Toirah SheBichsav.

This debate became further complex with the development of the printing press. Does the mass produced printed word carry the same holiness as hand written scrolls? On this point there is debate amongst the Rishoinim and Acharoinim, with most Rabbis holding that you should kiss every religious Sefer ever printed, including Siddurim, volumes of Shas, and the collected works of Mendel the Mouse.

However, in our Dor, this issue has become even more complex. Does digital information constitute actual print, requiring you to kiss it? Or are the binary bits and bytes that blend to become online Bibles, Benchers, and Mishnah Berurahs by their very nature only temporary, and therefore do not constitute the Kedusha of the actual printed word?

To answer this question, we must look not at the format, but at the usage. A Sefer Toirah while it is in the Aroin Koidesh, hidden out of sight, is not bringing Klal Yisroel closer to Hakadoshboruchhu. But an iPhone App for a Siddur or other Sefer introduces holiness to a smartphone or tablet, and enabes Klal Yisroel to perform Avoidas Hashem anywhere at any time, even when they are looking at their iPhones while waiting on line at McDonalds for their bacon double cheeseburgers.

Consequently, smartphones and other personal electronic devices are the ultimate form of Toirah, and have a virtually endless amount of Kedusha! Combined with the fact that your smartphone also offers you a virtually endless amount of porn, I do not understand why you are not kissing your cellphone or your iPad right this minute, you Minuval!

To what is this similar? According to Rav Shmiel Kalbasavuah, smartphones are like your Bashert. In the morning she provides you with sustenance. Throughout the day she creates a Bayis Ne’eman BaYisroel, a faithful Jewish home, brightening your life and household with Toirah and Mitzvois. And at night, after she takes off her Tichel, her Shaytel, her white long sleeve blouse and her ankle length skirt, her petticoats, and her off-white padded brazier, she gets on top of you and rides you like you are Shlugging Kaporois with a Cornish game hen.

So, indeed, just as you are compelled to modestly kiss your wife at appropriate moments, you are indeed required to kiss your iPhone, your iPad and other personal electronic devices after you close your Apps for Shacharis, Minchah, and Maariv, after you close your Daf Yoimi App, and especially after you close your App featuring amateur granny Thai fatties.


Dear Reb Pinky,

I am troubled with a Shaila.  Perhaps you have already given your Talmidim the answer and, as usual, I was sleeping during the Shiur.  If so, I apologize for interrupting your Choshuva studies.

I have recently obtained a smartphone and immediately downloaded the full complement of T'filois.  One day as I was on my "Kisay Ha'Kovod" I realized that I had my virtual Siddur in my hand. Is this permissible?  Later as I was deep with Kavanah during Mincha I realized that the sacred name was scrolling on my screen then off my screen, on and off, on and off. Had I erased the holy word?  This is a troubling thought.  If it is an Aveira, how do I do Kaparah?  Should I Toyvel my iPhone?  Shlug Kaporois with it?  Boil it in water?  Bury it in the ground for a year?  Have I voided my warranty with the Abishter?  Must I leave my phone outside of the throne room?

Reb Pinky, I am very confused by the new technology.  What would Moses do?

Your Talmid,

Shmeil Shmelka


Reb Shmeil,

As cited in the Raisha of this e-mail, a smartphone such as an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, a Nokia Lumia, or a Blackberry, Chass V’Sholom, enjoys a special status, since it can serve as the platform for learning Toirah and performing Mitzvois, as well as help you comparison shop for a lower price for toothpaste as you are standing in the dental hygiene aisle in Walgreens. But your Shailah is less about the device than it is about the electronic imaging technology used for presenting data: bits and bytes and electrons that one moment may be presented on the screen as Kiddush Levanah, and the next moment be blank, and the following moment be used to present that latest escapades of the Kardishian sisters, Koutney, Kim, Chloe, and Shifra Malka.

What is digital technology, and what is the long term impact on a device of a short term digital display?

As mentioned above, a device itself is akin to a human being who leads a multi faceted life, including learning Toirah, performing Mitzvois, making a Parnassah, Chass V’Sholom, and engaging in intimacy with his or her spouse, significant other, or a quickie Tefillin date.

But if the device is similar to a human being, the words and images presented on a digital display must be similar to the actions committed by that human being. We are told in a Mishnah in Avois that even the holiest man has moments of sin, while the cruelest of men may commit one act that earns him Oilum Habbah, a portion in the World to Come. Take Esuv HaRasha. He may have wanted to kill Yankif Avinu, steal his wives, and make his sons into slaves. But we are told in the Medrish that he was rewarded by Hakadoshboruchhu for his practice of Kibbud Uv V’Aim, as well as for always wearing a fourteen carat gold Chai around his neck. And Yankif Avinu was himself punished for the exploitation of his brother and the deception of his father by having his chosen bride denied to him on his wedding night, and by being told by his sons that Yoisaiph Hatzadick, his favorite son, was eaten by wolverines, penguins and armadillos in the desert.

Consequently, the behavior of an individual is fleeting. One day Reuvain’s actions make him beloved, and the next day they may render him despised. The behaviors, characteristics, and habits of a human being ultimately define him far more than his physical presence. In that sense, a human being is like the hardware, and his actions and behaviors are like the software, the Apps.

Here is a question for you, you Mechutziff: When we discuss Moishe Rabbeinu, do we describe his height and his hair color? Or do we talk about his accomplishments as the Eved Hashem, his great Anivus, and his marriage to a hot African Shiksa. However, even the great Moishe Rabbeinu, of whom we say “Loi Kum B’Yisroel K’Moishe Oid”, had mundane moments as well. He slept. He ate pancakes for breakfast. He occasionally washed the dishes. Not every moment of his life was filled with Kedusha.

So too with the digital displays on a smartphone. At the moment that Divrei Hashem are displayed on the screen, the smartphone achieves its Kedusha potential. But unlike a printed Sefer or a written Klaff, a digital image is fleeting. So its fundamental impermanence ensures that the device itself is not subject to the restrictions of Sifrei Koidesh, and may indeed be brought into the bathroom.

So the next time you are in the Bais Hakeesay with your iPhone, do not worry about your Siddur App. Take advantage of the brief moment of privacy to Google your ex-girlfriends, check stock prices, or go on JDate to find a hot Tfillin date for Moitzee Shabbos.

Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval


Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess