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What is a MItzvah (good deed) and other questions by Yeshiva.org.il

Yeshiva.org.il is a great site to ask your questions.Visit them,they dont even know that I suggest their site for advice.Of course the best is always to find your own ”TORAH ORTHODOX RABBI’ , NOT reform, not conservative and the reason is that MOSES CAME DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN WITH ONE SET OF LAWS TO ALL THE PEOPLE ”ONE PEOPLE ONE NATION”

Question: What is the definition of a Mitzvah? How many are there? And how much does one have to observe them?

Answer: The Hebrew root of the word ‘Mitzvah’ is ‘Tzivah’ which means ‘to command’. The Mitzvot (plural form of Mitzvah) are the commandments found in the Torah (Five Books of Moses). We also refer to Rabbinical enactments as ‘Rabbinical Mitzvot’.

There is a tradition that G-d included 613 commandments in the Torah. Of these, 248 are positive (a command to perform an action), while 365 are negative (command to refrain from an action). Many of these Mitzvot, however, deal with the laws of purity and sacrifice, and were thus only applicable when the Temple stood in Jerusalem. Therefore, of all the commandments, only 369 apply today (126 positive, 243 negative). Even of these, however, many only pertain to special cases or circumstances. The total number of commandments which apply to everyone under all conditions is 270 (48 positive, 222 negative). According to Jewish tradition, when the Messiah comes and the Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem, all 613 Mitzvot will be restored.

Sincerely,
Rabbi Ari Lobel

Question:
Rabbi Blass,
Someone asked you if Ishmael was Jewish, and you answered “no”. Isn’t it true that Isaac wasn’t Jewish either? In fact, isn’t it true that Abraham wasn’t Jewish? Didn’t Abraham’s grandson Jacob (Israel) form the nation of Israel through his twelve son’s, and the descendants of the southern nation of Judah and Benjamin become known as the Jews, and the descendant’s of the northern nations became known as Israel?

Answer:
The patriarchs were not “Jewish” in the sense of having accepted the Torah at Mt. Sinai since they lived before the giving of the Torah. However, they were not “non-Jewish” inasmuch as they were “Israel- in- the- making”. Chazal (see for example Yoma 28b) teach that the forefathers kept the mitzvot even before they were given- which mitzvot, where (only in Israel or also outside of Israel), in what form- is a question debated by the rabbis over the generations: see Maharal Tifereth Yisrael ch. 19-20 and Sefer Parashat Derachim of the Mishne L’Melech who discusses at length to what extent the patriarchs conducted themselves as Jews. Ishmael was outside of this tradition.

Question:
Dear Rabbi,
As Bnei Yisrael left Egypt, it is mentioned that a mass of others left Egypt and came with them. In all the counting of Bnei Yisrael and the tribes, there is no mention of them. What happened? Where did they go?
Many thanks

Answer:
I understood your question that you are referring to the “Erev Rav”. The Erev Rav are mentioned only once in the entire Torah.(Shmot 12:38) However, in the Midrashic literature they are mentioned many times.(see for example Shmot Rabba 42:6) Their attachment to the Jewish people is viewed negatively by Chazal. Their intentions for joining the Jewish people were not sincere and therefore they were troublesome. They caused the Jewish people to sin with the Golden Calf and were a stumbling block in other trials during the wandering in the desert. It seems that once their negative affect upon the Jewish people became clear they fell into twilight and receive no more attention. However, according to the Zohar there were be traces of the Erev Rav in every generation and will only cease to be whem Mashiach comes.

Question:
Rabbi Blass,
Someone asked you if Ishmael was Jewish, and you answered “no”. Isn’t it true that Isaac wasn’t Jewish either? In fact, isn’t it true that Abraham wasn’t Jewish? Didn’t Abraham’s grandson Jacob (Israel) form the nation of Israel through his twelve son’s, and the descendants of the southern nation of Judah and Benjamin become known as the Jews, and the descendant’s of the northern nations became known as Israel?

Answer:
The patriarchs were not “Jewish” in the sense of having accepted the Torah at Mt. Sinai since they lived before the giving of the Torah. However, they were not “non-Jewish” inasmuch as they were “Israel- in- the- making”. Chazal (see for example Yoma 28b) teach that the forefathers kept the mitzvot even before they were given- which mitzvot, where (only in Israel or also outside of Israel), in what form- is a question debated by the rabbis over the generations: see Maharal Tifereth Yisrael ch. 19-20 and Sefer Parashat Derachim of the Mishne L’Melech who discusses at length to what extent the patriarchs conducted themselves as Jews. Ishmael was outside of this tradition

Question:
Shalom, I just found out today that a friend, a convert to Judaism who has been very helpful to me in the past, has become a karaite, along with her boyfriend. How is an ordinary, “mainstream” Jew supposed to relate to a karaite? I would appreciate it if you would be as specific as possible.
Thank you very much, and Kol Tuv.

Answer:
If your friend had an Orthodox conversion, then she is a Jew who no longer observes the mitzvot and who has abandoned many of the most basic principles of Jewish belief. As Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi explains at length in Sefer HaKuzari, it is impossible to be faithful to Judaism while forsaking the Oral Law. Because the divorces of Karaites are not halachically acceptable, a question arises regarding second and third generation Karaites who may be products of second-marriages that halachically would be seen as adulterous. If I understand your e-mail correctly, your friend has not arrived at this problem yet. Try to get your friend to speak to a rabbi who can explain to her why the Karaite belief is so untenable as to be hypocritical.

Dear Rabbi,
As Bnei Yisrael left Egypt, it is mentioned that a mass of others left Egypt and came with them. In all the counting of Bnei Yisrael and the tribes, there is no mention of them. What happened? Where did they go?
Many thanks

Answer:
I understood your question that you are referring to the “Erev Rav”. The Erev Rav are mentioned only once in the entire Torah.(Shmot 12:38) However, in the Midrashic literature they are mentioned many times.(see for example Shmot Rabba 42:6) Their attachment to the Jewish people is viewed negatively by Chazal. Their intentions for joining the Jewish people were not sincere and therefore they were troublesome. They caused the Jewish people to sin with the Golden Calf and were a stumbling block in other trials during the wandering in the desert. It seems that once their negative affect upon the Jewish people became clear they fell into twilight and receive no more attention. However, according to the Zohar there were be traces of the Erev Rav in every generation and will only cease to be whem Mashiach comes.

 

 Question:
Dear Rabbi,
As Bnei Yisrael left Egypt, it is mentioned that a mass of others left Egypt and came with them. In all the counting of Bnei Yisrael and the tribes, there is no mention of them. What happened? Where did they go?
Many thanks

Answer:
I understood your question that you are referring to the “Erev Rav”. The Erev Rav are mentioned only once in the entire Torah.(Shmot 12:38) However, in the Midrashic literature they are mentioned many times.(see for example Shmot Rabba 42:6) Their attachment to the Jewish people is viewed negatively by Chazal. Their intentions for joining the Jewish people were not sincere and therefore they were troublesome. They caused the Jewish people to sin with the Golden Calf and were a stumbling block in other trials during the wandering in the desert. It seems that once their negative affect upon the Jewish people became clear they fell into twilight and receive no more attention. However, according to the Zohar there were be traces of the Erev Rav in every generation and will only cease to be whem Mashiach comes.

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Yeshiva.org.il

The Torah World Gateway

Birthpains of Mashiach
Rabbi David Samson

Question:
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, religious Zionists like yourself have been saying that this is the promised Redemption. Now, after two years of Intifada and hundreds of terrorist killings, Israel is once again facing the threat, G-d forbid, of Iraqi missiles armed with all kinds of warheads raining down on Tel Aviv. Not only that, but Israel’s economy is ailing, the country’s leaders haven’t any answers, and the rabbis are held in contempt. I ask you, where is the Redemption in this?

Answer:
Your concern over the situation in Israel is understandable, but the fact that there are problems in Eretz Yisrael does not in any way negate the great Redemption which we are witnessing in our time. In fact, the opposite is true. The tribulations and wars which we are experiencing are signs that Mashiach is on the way.

The Sages of the Talmud, in tractate Sanhedrin, describe the terrible suffering which will accompany the advent of Mashiach[1]. The national anguish, economic chaos, and spiritual decline surrounding the messianic era lead the Sages to say that they would rather not be around when it comes. Foreseeing the economic hardships, Rabbi Chanina says: “The son of David (Mashiach) will not come until a sick person will ask for a fish to eat and there will be none to give him[2].” Rabbi Simli says in the name of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, “The son of David will not come until judges and public officers are no more[2].” “Rabbi Yochanan says: If you witness a generation where the influence of Torah lessens and lessens, expect the Mashiach to come[3].” And he adds: “If you see a generation where great tribulations sweep over it like a river, expect the Mashiach to come.”

While no one likes war, military engagement is an integral part of the process of Israel’s salvation and triumph over its enemies. The Talmud states that, “War is also the beginning of Redemption[4]. There, the Talmud explains that Mashiach comes after a period of struggle and war.

The Midrash teaches that if you see the nations of the world waging war against each other, you can expect the “footsteps of Mashiach[5].” In our daily prayers, G-d’s hand in the blueprint of Israel’s Redemption is clearly laid out as a gradually developing process: “The Master of Wars, the sower of righteousness, Who causes Salvation to sprout….[6]”

An interesting Midrash, fitting for our times, describes a future when all the world is at war: “Rabbi Yitzhak stated, the year in which the King Mashiach comes, all of the kingdoms of the world are at war with each other. The King of Persia attacks the King of Arabia…and all of the nations are confounded in fear…and Israel is in panic and trembling and says, ‘Where shall we flee to and where shall we go?’ And Hashem says to them, ‘My children, fear not. All which I have done, I have done for your sake alone. Why are you frightened? Fear not. The time of Redemption has come[7].’”

Rabbi Kook, in his classic work, “Orot,” writes that “When there is a great war in the world, the power of Mashiach awakens[8].” In retrospect, we can see that World War One and World War Two were the instruments G-d employed to reestablish the Jewish People in Israel. In the aftermath of WWI, the Balfour Declaration recognized the right of the Jewish People to establish a homeland in Israel. The result of WW2 brought another step forward in the Redemption of Israel – the establishment of Jewish State.

G-d directs the world in a natural, historical fashion, achieving His aims through the vehicle of nations and kings. “He dethrones kings and raises kings up[9].” To return the scattered Jewish People to Israel, G-d had to rearrange the world map. Since nations are reluctant to surrender their territory, this can cause war.

Rabbi Kook refers to the uprooting of tyrants as “the time of the songbird.” In writing about this aspect of Israel’s Redemption, he uses an allegory from Shir HaShirim[10] for springtime and rebirth which is indigenously connected to the songbird of Eretz Yisrael.

“The time of the songbird has come, the weeding of tyrants. The evil ones are obliterated from the world, the world becomes perfected, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our Land[8].”

The uprooting of the world’s Saddam Husseins, Arafats, and Bin Ladens brings cleansing to the world. Little by little, like the shining of dawn[11], the light and righteousness of Israel shines forth from out of the darkness – precisely through the Hand of G-d wondrously working in these very wars[8].

Therefore, don’t let current events overwhelm you. The Jewish People are still on course. G-d is directing the ship. If we do our share by fervently increasing our commitment to Torah, prayer, and the settlement of the Land, then G-d will do His part.

“The Master of wars, the sower of righteousness, Who causes salvation to sprout, the creator of cures, awesome in praise, Master of Wonders…cause a new light on Zion to shine, and may we all speedily be privileged to enjoy its light[6].”

May the missiles of our enemies all backfire and explode on their heads.

Amen.

1. Sanhedrin 97A-98B.
2. Ibid, 98A.
3. Ibid.
4. Megilla 17B.
5. Bereshit Rabbah, 42:4.
6. Morning blessing, “Yotzer Ohr” recited before the Shma.
7. Yalkut Shimoni, Isaiah, Remez, 499.
8. Orot, 2:1.
9. Daniel, 2:21.
10. Shir HaShirim, 2:11-12.
11. Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot

Rabbi David Samson is one of the leading English-speaking Torah scholars in the Religious-Zionist movement in Israel. He has co-authored four books on the writings of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook and Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook. Rabbi Samson learned for twelve years under the tutelage of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook. He served as Rabbi of the Kehillat Dati Leumi Synagogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem, and teaches Jewish Studies at Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva Institutions.
Tzvi Fishman was a successful Hollywood screenwriter before making Aliyah to Israel in 1984. He has co-authored several Torah works with Rabbi David Samson and written several books on Jewish/Israel topics.

Teaching Non Jews Torah
Rabbi Jonathan Blass
Question:
Under what conditions may one teach non Jews Torah? Does it matter if it is written or oral Torah? halacha , hashkafa etc..? What if one’s job depends on it [i.e. a professor, a “chaplain” who must speak to Jewsh and no Jewish inmates, patients all at once ?

Thank you

Answer:
You can teach a non-Jew the laws of the Torah specific to his observing the seven Noachide laws or those moral obligations that are universal to all mankind. It would seem reasonable that these should be the subjects addressed by a chaplain speaking to a mixed audience. You are also allowed- in defense of the Torah- to answer a non-Jew’s questions or criticisms regarding Judaism (Shu”t Yabiya Omer 2 Yoreh Deah 17). If you are teaching a Jew Torah it is unnecessary for you to break off if you see that a non-Jew is listening in

Rabbi Jonathan Blass

Question:
In an earlier post you said “The Mashiach- a king descended from King David- gathers in the exiles, fights the wars of Israel, enforces the Torah and rebuilds the Temple (=Beit HaMikdash).”

I only wanted to clarify, does the Mashiach regather only the Jews or all the tribes?

If He regathers all the tribes, how would this effect present day Israel?

Answer:
All the tribes of Israel- Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda etc. are ALL JEWS. There are NO gentile tribes. The Mashiach gathers all of Israel, all the Jews, back to the Land of Israel.

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