Volume 16 Number 62
                       Produced: Fri Nov 18  8:38:23 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Channuka gelt
         [Andrew Weiss]
Channuka Gift Giving
         [Aryeh Blaut]
Isaac, etc.
         [Zvi Weiss]
Lessons learned from Story of Eliezer
         [Elad Rosin]
Yaakov and Lying (V16n57)
         [Mark Steiner]
Yaakov's Deception
         [Moishe Kimelman]
Yaakov's deception


From: Andrew Weiss <aweiss@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 1994 14:07:33 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Channuka gelt

Shimon Shore asked if there were any connections between Channuka gifts 
and X-mas presents. I heard from A Rebbe of mine A couple of years ago 
that the idea Channuka gifts was around before X-mas preasents. the 
purpose of the gifts were almost a bribe to get the children to learn 
more Torah. According to this reason I assume it is best to give the 
child whatever would encourge him to learn better. About giving every
night that, I do not know A reason to do either way.

Andrew Weiss   


From: Aryeh Blaut <ny000592@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 94 21:54:52 -0800
Subject: Re: Channuka Gift Giving

>>From: Steven Shore <shore@...>
>Is the giving of gifts on Channuka a Jewish thing or is it just a
>reaction to Xmas gift giving?  Is it preferable to give Channuka Gelt
>(money) as opposed to giving gifts?  What is the source of the tradition
>some people have of giving a gift every night as opposed to one gift or
>all of Channuka?

I remember learning that there was a custom of rewarding the children at
Hanuka time for the Torah that they learned during the year.  There was
also a custom to give a gift to their Rebbe as a tokin of appreciation
for teaching their child.  I do not remember the source.

Aryeh Blaut


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 1994 14:05:30 -0500
Subject: Isaac, etc.

Basically, the Meforshim have 2 key assumptions:
a. that when the Torah states that Avraham found out about Rebecca after
   the Akeida (at the end of Va-Yeira), it was through Ru'ach Hakodesh and
   it measn that she was born right at the time of the Akeida.
b. The age of Yitzcahk at the time of the Akeida was 37 years of age.  Cf. 
   Rashi (I think) for the age calcualtion of Yitzchak.

Based upon the above, if Yitzchak was 37 at time of Akeida and Rebecca
was born just at that time, then if Yitzchak was 40 when he married,
then his wife was 3 years old.  The Torah states that Yitzchak was 60
when she gave birth.  The reason for a 20-year lapse was (a) to allow 10
years for REbecca to "physically mature" and be capable of getting
pregnant and then (b) 10 more years of waiting for conception before
"Especially" praying for a child.



From: <3QJ5ROSINE@...> (Elad Rosin)
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 1994 20:41:04 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Lessons learned from Story of Eliezer

     In parshas Chaya Sarah we find Eliezer is sent to find a wife for
Yitzchak, the son of his master Avraham.  The Torah relates to us the
circumstances of his journey and how miraculously just as Eliezer asked
for the sign to be, the future wife of Yitzchak gives both him and his
camels to drink from the well.  Eliezer is shown the way to the house of
Besual, the father of Rivka and he bows to and blesses hashem for
helping him be successful in his search.  After Eliezer is shown into
the house of Besual, we find that the Torah (posuk 33:24) tells us that
they put down food in front of Eliezer and Eliezer says he will not
accept the food until he finishes speaking to them about the purpose for
which he came.
     On this posuk the Ralbag explains in the tenth lesson, that a
lesson we learn from this occurrence with Eliezer is that it is proper
that if a person has a certain goal he should not be lax in attaining
it, but should put every effort possible into the realizement of it
until it has been reached.  This is seen from the actions of Eliezer,
that he refused to accept the food until he had stated his objective and
secured Rivka as a wife for Yitzchak.  For if Eliezer had accepted the
food then psychologically he would have lost a certain edge in the
bargaining which he had before accepting a favor from them.  By the fact
that Eliezer was being as zealous as possible in accomplishing the
mission he was sent to do he was not able to accept the food from his
          When the scenario in which the Ralbag is saying pshat is
analyzed we will see an amazing novelty.  Eliezer has come on a mission
for Avraham.  Miraculously his trip which should have taken three days
takes only one day.  Subsequently he asks Hashem for a sign to show him
which girl is the right one that he should find for Yitzchak, and almost
immediately he finds her, and she is from the family of Avraham as
Avraham specified.  With everything going so well and miracles taking
place before his eyes one would think that eating first before making
the deal would not have been a breach in his efforts to complete his
mission.  Yet we see from the Ralbag that if Eliezer would have taken
part of the food first he would have been lacking in some measure of
     A similar lesson can be seen from Megilas Esther.  When the king is
reminded about how Mordechai saved his live and desires to repay him he
tells Haman to get Mordechai, dress him in the clothes of the king and
lead him about the city on the horse of the king saying, "so shall be
done to the man who finds favor with the king".  One can only imagine
the great expectations Mordechai might have felt.  Haman wanted to
destroy the entire Jewish people yet Mordechai was now in favor with the
king.  One might think that now Mordechai could now be somewhat
confident about the fate of the Jewish people, considering that the hand
of Hashem was quite evident.  Yet the Midrash in parsha 10, paragraph 6
of Megila Rabba, comments on the Megila that when it says, "And
Mordechai returned to the gate of the king.", that it means he returned
to his sackcloth and fasting, to teach you that one should not remove
his sackcloth or stop fasting until his request is fulfilled.  Once
again we see the necessity to be steadfast in our efforts to accomplish
our goals and not let ourselves be lulled into complacency by a
fortunate turn of events or the clear display of divine guidance.

This mussar discourse is based on a mussar discourse given by Rabbi
Avraham Boruch Rauch, Rosh Yeshiva of WITS, the Wisconsin Institute for
Torah Study.

Elad Rosin
Any comments or suggestions are much appreciated.


From: Mark Steiner <MARKSA@...>
Date: Thu,  17 Nov 94 11:30 +0200
Subject: Re: Yaakov and Lying (V16n57)

     What to tell children about Yaakov and Esau?
     By ordinary standards, the blessing belonged to Isaac in this first
place, since Esau not only sold, but despised (va-yivez) his birthright.
Thus, first of all, the deception was what was called in the days of
Tammany Hall "honest graft"--i.e. lying to get what you deserve in any
     But the real point that the Torah makes is that Yaakov was forced
to suffer his entire life for this deed, mida keneged mida [measure for
     1.  The nuptial scene, where one sister is substituted for another
by Lavan where Yaakov cannot see whom is he marrying is identical to the
previous scene in which one brother is substituted for another by Rivka,
when Yitzhak cannot see.
     2.  Lavan continues to deceive Yaakov in business, and Yaakov is
forced to commit further deceptions, including running away after twenty
years with Lavan.
     3.  Rachel steals Lavan's idols, and Yaakov unwittingly is forced
to tell another lie, that he doesn't have the idols.  Note Yaakov's use
of the verb "haker lecha"--an echo of "velo hikiro," said of Yitzhak.
     4.  Yaakov's sons (Yehuda particularly) deceive him by selling
their brother and dipping his coat in animal blood, saying "haker-na"
(cf. 3).  The use of this term by the Torah is not coincidental, as the
Gemara in Sota points out that Tamar's use of the term in confronting
Yehuda with his seal, staff, etc., is not at all coincidental, but
signifies the subliminal message of mida keneged mida.
     5.  Shimon and Levi perpetrate a massacre in Schechem "bemirmah"
(with deceit), causing Yaakov no end of trouble.

     The Torah does not usually moralize explicitly in its stories;
those who learn with depth can find the morals if they will.  Here the
moral is obvious--even if the deed was justifiable, Yaakov had to
struggle against deceit (his and others') his entire life, lest the
stain of dishonesty linger in his soul.


From: <kimel@...> (Moishe Kimelman)
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 1994 22:20:14 +1100
Subject: Yaakov's Deception

In #57 Yitzhak Cohen asked:
>What do we tell our children about *lying*, WRT the incident in which
>Yaakov, albeit reluctantly, deceives Yitzchak, at Rivka's insistence,
>such that Yaakov receives Yitzhak's blessing instead of Esav?

I did not see it myself, but I was told that in the "Hamodia" newspaper
last year this question was dealt with.

Apparently, Reb Aryeh Levin - the renowned Jerusalem tzaddik - once
chanced upon a sick and elderly man in an old age home.  Due to the fact
that the man had no family, and to the work load on the staff, the man
was neglected and suffered greatly.  Reb Aryeh went to the head nurse,
and after introducing himself, asked why his realtive was being less
well treated than the other patients.  Having heard of Reb Aryeh, and
being aghast that Reb Aryeh's relative should be treated this way, the
nurse promised to ensure that in the future the "realtive" would be
given as good a treatment as possible.  This promise was kept for as
long as the "relative" lived.

Now we know that Reb Aryeh had told a lie, but surely we all agree that
under the circumstances it would have been criminal not to.  The same is
true with Yaakov.  He told Yitzchak a lie - that he was in fact Esav -
but knowing what harm Esav would wreak were he to succeed in receiving
his father's blessings, it would have been criminal for him not to.

It is interesting to note that in the eyes of our sages Yaakov
epitomizes truth.  The pasuk says "Titten emet l'Yaakov" - Grant truth
to Yaakov.  It seems, we are told in holy sefarim, that in "alma
d'shikra" (this world of falsehood) even lies must occasionally be used
to find the truth.

From: <ask@...> (a.s.kamlet)
Date: 17 Nov 1994  17:41 EST
Subject: Re: Yaakov's deception

<COHEN@...> (Yitzhak Cohen) writes:
>What do we tell our children about *lying*, WRT the incident in which
>Yaakov, albeit reluctantly, deceives Yitzchak, at Rivka's insistence,
>such that Yaakov receives Yitzhak's blessing instead of Esav?

Well, on the simple level you can point out that as Jacob deceived
his father, Jacob's father-in-law deceives him.  tit for tat.

But the real question is about lying.  By which I'll include
deliberately misleading, and withholding important information.

As we read Breisheit we come to realize that just about everyone
lies, or is said to lie.

The serpent asks Eve what did G-d tell her, and she says: don't
touch the fruit of the tree -- not true!
Then the serpent tells Eve:  G-d lied;  that if she eats the fruit
of the tree she will not die, contrary to what G-d told her.  And
they eat and are still alive.  (h"v that anyone would think I am
saying G-d lied).  And G-d asks them what have you done, and they
say the [ woman | serpent ] made me do it.

We haven't left Eden yet, and already the lies show up. When G-d
asks Cain where is Able, Cain says: I don't know!

Abraham says Sarah is his sister; Isaac says Rebecca is his sister;
Lot's daughters say, here dad, have a few drinks.

Jacob says he is Esau; Lavan says Sure you can marry Rachel; Leah
says I do.   Rachael says, Idols, what idols?

Joseph's 10 brothers say he was killed; Joseph says Benjamin
is a crook; Simon and Levi say, Sure, let's join families, just a
little physical ceremony first, though.  And Potiphar's wife, well!

Onan says yes to Tamar, but reneges; Judah says yes to Tamar:  Just
wait a few more years to marry my son; but reneges.  Tamar says: Hey
stranger, want a quickie?

I'm sure I've left out more lies, but Breisheit is the book many
kids learn as their first book.  So they learn people tell lies.

Some lies are  OK, some are questionable and some are outright
wrong.    The challenge is to know which is which.
It is said when we die and appear before the heavenly court, the
first question they will ask is not: Did you keep the Sabbath;
it is not Did you lein tfillen;  it is not Did you keep kosher?

The first question to be asked will be:   Were you honest
(in your business dealings.)
Some say Abraham and Isaac were right to say their wives were their
sisters, as they might have been killed otherwise, and lying to
save a life is always OK. Others disagree that Abraham and Isaac
did the right think.   They are mixed over Jacob's lie to Isaac.
They all agree Potiphar's wife was wrong.

The Talmud tells us there are times to lie. One can lie for the
sake of peace. (Yev 65b).  Hillel said one may lie to one's wife
and say she is beautiful even if she is not (Ket 17a) although
Shammai, as expected, takes another other view.

It is permissible to lie for the sake of peace. And certainly for
pekuach nefesh.

And some say a lie is never prohibited.  (these lies are not sworn
testimony, not statements made under oath.)

I think you have asked a very simple but very complicated
question, almost as complex as Job's questions.

Art Kamlet   AT&T Bell Laboratories, Columbus   <ask@...>


End of Volume 16 Issue 62