Can a Jew Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time?

As we mentioned on Friday, Daf Yomi is learning Arvei Pesachim, which deals with issues of Brochos and whether you have to say a new brocha when you change from one place to another. R’ Moshe Schwerd, the maggid shiur in Congregation Ahavas Yisroel in Queens on Sunday asked the following classic halachic question, “Can a Jew walk and check gum at the same time?”.

Here’s the explanation. The halacha is that if you change to a different location for eating, you have to say a new brocha rishonah (before brocha), if you are eating food for which you don’t have to go back to the place you ate for the brocha achronah (after beracha). This would be the case for all foods over which the brocha achronah is Borei Nefeshos (ie, fruits, vegetables, gum).

So if you say a beracha and begin eating an apple in your house and then go to the park and continue eating the apple, you would have to say a new brocha. But how about foods that you continually eat, like sucking candies and gum? In that case if you said the brocha in your house on the gum and continued chewing it, you would not need to say a new brocha if you walked outside.
Read more Can a Jew Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time?

Good Press for BTs

Over a recent Shabbos, I was shmooozing with a friend. (Those of you who know me personally, and especially my wife, won’t be surprised about that!) This friend is a voracious reader and he always checks out what I’m reading and often recommends books to me. On this particular Shabbos, he showed me a parsha sefer that he had recently purchased and was greatly enjoying. I read the introduction to Sefer Vayikra and the particular piece on the parsha that he had pointed out. I enjoyed them both very much. But it was something else about the book that really struck me, the back cover.
Read more Good Press for BTs

Some Torah Links For Your Pre-Shabbos Reading Pleasure

Beyond BT contributor, Ilanit Meckley brings to our attention a website called where people can register to be either be Shabbos hosts or Shabbos guests.

Here’s the link for Rabbi Goldson’s Aish article on Mishna 2.2:

“Rabban Gamliel the son of Rabbi Yehuda the Prince said, Torah study is good with a worldly occupation, because the exertion put into both of them makes one forget sin. All Torah without work will ultimately result in desolation and will cause sinfulness.

All who work for the community should work for the sake of Heaven, for the merit of the community’s forefathers will help them, and their righteousness endures forever. And as for you, God will reward you greatly as if you accomplished it on your own.”

Read more Some Torah Links For Your Pre-Shabbos Reading Pleasure

The World Stands Upon Three Things

Yossie from New Jersey

Al Sh’losha d’varim ha-olam omeid: al ha-Torah, v’al ha-Avodah, v’al Gemitut Chasadim

The world stands upon three things: on Torah, and on Divine Service, and on acts of kindness.
(Avot 1:2)

There is an amazing Maharal on this Mishna, in his brilliant commentary to Pirkei Avos, Derech Chaim. He writes that all of creation is dependent on Man, in whose service it was created. If Man doesn’t function as intended, the entire world loses its purpose. We see this from the Generation of the Flood, where it says, “And God said ‘I will eradicate man … from the face of the earth, from man to the animals to the crawling creatures to the birds of the sky'”.1 How does the decision to destroy man come to include destroying the animals and birds and all the earth’s creatures?
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Rabbi Dilbert

Perhaps it’s because Shema Yisroel is imprecisely translated as “Hear, O Israel” rather than “Listen, O Israel,” but we Jews have a lot of trouble listening. We didn’t listen to Moshe in the desert. We didn¹t listen to Shmuel when he warned us about the responsibilities of accepting a king. We didn’t listen to Yirmyahu during the last days of Jerusalem. We didn’t listen to Mordechai in Persia.

Today, however, the problem has acquired a new wrinkle. Our contemporary sages speak, and somehow the message fails to reach us at all, depriving us of even the opportunity to listen.

Our gedolim have issued proclamations concerning the excesses of multi-thousand dollar custom sheitels, but frum women continue to buy them. Our gedolim have spoken out against the message (prevalent in many high schools and seminaries) that a frum woman measures her success only by how many children she produces, but the attitude persists. Some gedolim have warned against (pardon me while I duck under my desk) the dangers of the internet, but rather than trying to understand their concerns many of us reflexively pass judgment that they are out of touch with the modern world. Fiscal irresponsibility, alcoholism, lack of business ethics, lack of decorum in shul, ad nauseum remain chronic problems despite the admonitions of our greatest sages, whose words seem to go unheard rather than unheeded.
Read more Rabbi Dilbert

Of Earrings and Kippas, The Sequel

Of Kippas and Earrings, The Sequel

Previously, I posted Of Earrings and Kippas. There is a postscript to the story that punctuates the power of sharing our experiences, a lot of what this blog is about.

My Father-In-Law was a member of an amud yomi chaburah (a group of people that jointly study one side of a talmud page per day). Each participant was asked to speak at a siyum (celebratory meal upon the completion of a section of Torah). My Father-In-Law was not looking forward to this. Even though he is fluent in English, it is his fourth language and he is, understandably, hesitant to engage in public speaking. That being the case, he fretted over what to say and how to say it. Finally, he decided to tell the “Of Kippahs and Earrings” story and somehow relate it to the gemorrah that the chaburah had finished.

The story went over well. Weeks later, someone unknown to him stopped my Father-In-Law and asked him if he was the one who told the story about how he started wearing his kippah at work. My Father-In-Law replied affirmatively. The gentleman profusely thanked him and said that the story inspired him to start wearing his kippah full time.

A Mother’s Story

My name is David and I became religious a number of years ago through JAM at UCLA. From my exposure to traditional Judaism I was inspired to share what I found and developed My family reacted in a rather unusual way to all of their kids becoming religious and I wanted to share that story with you. Here is a speech my Mom gave at a JAM function not so long ago.

I have 3 Orthodox children. I’m thrilled that my children are following the Torah.

How did this happen? We did not raise them like this! We are not Orthodox!

Please allow me to tell you a little bit about myself and the path that led us here……..
Read more A Mother’s Story

The Plan – An Open Letter to Yeshiva Bachurim – By Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Dear Yeshiva Bachur:

With the start of the new z’man, I would like to encourage you to properly plan for this zman – and for your future life. For those of you who may not have the patience to read this open letter in its entirety – or for those of you whose parents placed this in your hands, and said, “Please do me a favor and read this carefully,” :-) I can sum up this rather long letter in a few words:

Sof Ma’aseh B’machshava Techilah (‘Begin With The End in Mind’)

This means that you develop a clear idea of what your goals are and you create a mental image of yourself successfully reaching them. This is an integral component of your development as a ben Torah and a contributing member of our Klal. The difference between having a plan and not having one at all is like comparing putting together a jigsaw puzzle with or without the picture on the box cover to guide you. You might be able to do an OK job without that picture, but it is so much easier when you have it there.

I hope that you find this letter helpful.



May the personal growth generated by the dissemination of this open letter be a zechus for the neshama of my father, Reb Shlomo ben Reb Yakov Moshe Horowitz a’h, whose forty-third yahrtzeit will be observed this Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh Iyar.
Read more The Plan – An Open Letter to Yeshiva Bachurim – By Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Internalizing Tzinus

I was talking to someone the other day about the topic of tznius. She is newly observant and she asked me about the halachas of dressing in a modest fashion – now that the weather was getting warmer, she wanted to know what she could and couldn’t wear, and in observing others, she was a bit confused, because she saw that everyone did something a little different. I gave her a quick overview of the laws – covering elbows, knees and collarbone, wearing skirts and explained that when it comes to the rest of it, different people do different things and the best thing to do is to speak about it with someone you trust.

She then told me a story that blew me away. She told me that for a year, she had an eating disorder. She was obsessed with her body and her weight, and she became extremely thin, to the point where she could no longer find clothes small enough to fit her. Her friends and family were concerned and kept telling her that she was too thin, but she couldn’t see it.

She then learned about tznius and the philosophy behind it. She was taught about how the neshama should be able to shine from within, and that it is what is inside a person that is important. Her eating disorder disappeared as she focused on her internal image rather than her external one.

This woman, before even knowing the laws of tznius, managed to understand and internalize the underlying wisdom within the concept. I was awed by the fact that, instead of focusing on what she was wearing to be modest, she took it a huge step further and let the concept make an incredible difference in how she viewed herself.

Many people get caught up in hemlines, stockings, colors and sandals (and whether or not to wear any of the above). But tznius is so much more. It’s a way of life, of interacting with others, and of viewing oneself. It’s often a challenge to remember to focus on what is inside a person, to see their essence. It takes more effort and time to see someone for who they are rather than what they look like. But that is what tznius is all about – taking away the focus on outward appearance to give others the opportunity to look beyond. This woman has found it within herself. May we all follow her lead.

Being Proud of Your Past

I become orthodox in high school. I actually had the opportunity to go to a yeshiva high school after 8th grade before I was frum, but that would have meant a one-hour commute on the train in each direction. So, to my 8th grade rebbie’s chagrin, I opted instead for public high school. Given the caliber of students and the general atmosphere of the yeshiva I would have attended, I don’t know that I would have become frum had I gone there.

However, almost from the day I stepped into my public high school I started feeling my 8 years of yeshiva day school education trying to surface. That feeling combined with a two night a week learning program taught by one of my frum friend’s fathers, and my involvement with NCSY nurtured my teshuva process. I am, to this day, happy with my decision to go to public high school. I am proud of what I was able to accomplish there and appreciate the sensitivity I received from being exposed to, and yes even being friends with, a diversity of people.
Read more Being Proud of Your Past

Facing the Realities of an Orthodox Conversion

Rishonah recently posted this insightful comment on the Upgrading a Non Orthodox Conversion post.

For 10 years I lived as a Reform Jew (although I didn’t officially “convert” until I was 20 years old). It is one thing for a single ger/giyores to “upgrade” to a halachaic conversion and yet another thing when there is a non-observant partner involved (Jewish or not). When you go before a Beis Din who only follows the laws of the Torah and tell them you wish to convert; you are also implying that you will observe the 613 mitzvot as well as maintaining an optimal environment where you can observe the Torah’s precepts. It is very difficult, if not impossible to have a non-observant mate. I’ve ‘heard’ of stories where someone converted and lived as an Orthodox Jew and either their mate was not observant or went off the derech or something like that. But it becomes very problematic in relation to the validity of the conversion.

Both your cousin and his wife must commit to maintaining a fully kosher home; complete with being located in the community, taharas hamispacha, sending children to Orthodox day schools, etc. In some cases, the Beis Din will not even consider the non-Jew for conversion unless this two-fold commitment can be verified. It is one thing to have “Jewish knowledge” but quite another to be willing to give up many things simply because, “the Torah says so”.
Read more Facing the Realities of an Orthodox Conversion

Iggeres HaRamban and Anger

The following entry is Zecher Nishmas (in memory of) Rochel Bas Aryeh. Although I did not personally know her, a friend of mine relates that she was a very caring, thoughtful, altruistic and modest person – and an awesome listener. Even when she was very sick she continued with the same level of altruism, caring and concern for others. Her Yahrzeit is today and she always used to say over the Iggeres Ramban. Here is a the Iggeres HaRamban for anybody who would like to carry it in their wallet and read it regularly.

The Ramban begins by telling us that we should work on eliminating anger and then we will come to humility. From humility we will come to awe (fear) of Hashem which will keep us from aveiros and help us be happy with our lot. The Ramban then teaches that arrogance is a primary deterrent to coming close to Hashem and presents us with various tools to overcome arrogance.
Read more Iggeres HaRamban and Anger

Identity and Aircraft Carriers

From a recent comment by Yaakov Astor:

A wise man once told me identity is like being a jet on an aircraft carrier. You need the aircraft carrier to get you to a launching point but then need to be able to take off yourself. Too many get on the aircraft carrier and never take off (never realize they are jets with the ability to take off). They remain limited/grounded. Others never get on the aircraft carrier to begin with and are left stranded, never getting to complete their mission.

Of course, for some people their true identity and the purpose they are here is to service the aircraft carrier; they were never meant to be jets or helicopters that take off; and they’re happy to be part of the ground crew, as it were. That’s fine. If that’s what one is. And one realizes it.

The quesiton is: what if that is not what one is? Or what if one doesn’t know what one is? Or what if life has tossed one about, broken one’s moorings and turned one into a refugee from their identity?

I don’t think there are easy answers. You’ve got to be real, but you may have to concede and conform a bit in order to realize a perhaps higher form of self.

Fabricating Focus and Pruning your Personality

By Jade Topaz

Teshuvah-medicating your soul and medicating your personality have got to be two of the most complicated concepts around today (other than the Lakewood internet ban :) ) They are, though, sort of related in the higher scheme of things.

The warnings, side effects ,issues, questions and annoyances that often accompany experimenting with the teshuvah process are right in sync with the side effects and or questions, that often arise when experimenting with stimulant and non-stimulant ADD medications ie: Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, Straterra etc. With four difficult steps you can be on your way to a whole new spiritual personality or growth and perhaps cultivate some roses and zinnias with the weeds .
Read more Fabricating Focus and Pruning your Personality

Why I want to go to Yeshiva, Part 2 – Answers

A few months ago we posted and article Why I want to go to Yeshiva, Part 1 the Question. Today we bring you the sequel – Why I want to go to Yeshiva, Part 2 – Answers.

Now that the question’s been cleared up in my own mind, I think I can start to put down the answer for myself. And those two words are key – for myself. Because no matter what explanations I may come up with for this decision, ultimately if it’s something that I don’t believe in deeply then nobody else is going to accept it. And even if others aren’t going to accept it, I can feel a sense of pride and self-satisfaction in knowing I’m making the right decision.

As an Orthodox Jew, I have a sincere belief that there is an All-Powerful, All-Knowing Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. I also believe that this Creator wrote and transmitted directly to man what is known as the Torah – both Oral and Written – and furthermore that this Torah is not simply a history book or a set of tales, but rather it contains wisdom for living. It is a Divine instruction manual for how me are meant to lead our lives. These beliefs are not based, as many would assume, on “blind faith” but rather are a form of knowledge. They are the logical and rational conclusions at which I have arrived on my search for truth. I would be happy to share exactly how and why I arrived at these conclusions but that is beyond the scope of this post. So for the moment, we will just assume them to be true.
Read more Why I want to go to Yeshiva, Part 2 – Answers

Helping Baalei Teshuva Be Themselves

A few years ago Rabbi Ben Tzion Kokis, the Mashgiach Ruchani of Yeshivas Ohr Somayach of Monsey, and Rav of Congregation Zichron Mordechai wrote an article in the Jewish Observer titled Helping Baalei Teshuva Be Themselves.

Here is an excerpt. Please read the whole article and let us know what your impressions are.

This is one of the most crucial, yet painful, stages in a baal teshuva’s development: the realization that in the world of Torah he cannot follow his own hunches in deciding what is right and what is wrong. The average baal/baalas teshuva grew up in a culture where there were no, or precious few, moral absolutes. Very often, society places pleasure and gratification as the only criteria for choices in life. Even when a sense of moral correctness is sought, the main standard of judgment is the dictates of his own conscience: are you being true to your own sense of justice and decency? Suddenly, having made a commitment to a life of Torah, things are no longer so simple. He may very likely find that compared to the past, he is having a much harder time making decisions, because he no longer can think only in terms of what he thinks is appropriate, but rather what is really right, through the eyes of the Torah.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz – One Week Later – Time for Some Questions

By: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

It is almost exactly one week after the chilul Hashem in Boro Park where fires were set in the streets and a police car was torched after a respected 75-year-old man was roughly treated by police officers while being issued a summons.

I spent this past Shabbos in Boro Park celebrating a simcha in our extended family. Walking the streets and enjoying the tranquility of Shabbos in a predominantly Shomer Shabbos neighborhood, it was hard to imagine that such mayhem occurred in those streets just a few days past. Over the course of Shabbos, I spoke to many people who were in the vicinity during the melee. The vast majority of adults spoke of their horror and disgust at what happened. Several people told me that they found it to be the most embarrassing experience of their lives.
Read more Rabbi Yakov Horowitz – One Week Later – Time for Some Questions

Is it Possible to Really See Ourselves as Leaving Mitzrayim

We are taught in the Mishna in Pesachim and in the Hagaddah, “In every generation a person is obligated to regard himself as if he had come out of Mitzrayim”. The question is how can we fulfill this obligation if we didn’t really come out from Mitzrayim. Are we supposed to trick ourselves into believing that we did?

The Alter of Kelm makes the point that there is a big difference in impact between thinking about something and experiencing it. He brings down the statement of Chazal that the removal of Antichious’ ring to seal the decree against the Jews had a greater impact than all the exhortations of the Prophets to move the Jews towards Teshuva. He also shows from Rabbi Akiva’s statement when he was being killed that all his days he did not understand how he could serve Hashem with his life until he actually experienced it. His third example is the Posuk, “When you will lend money to My people, to the poor with you”, from which Chazal derive that you have to make yourself feel like you are experiencing poverty and then you will help the poor properly.

The Alter is teaching us that you might think that working yourself up and trying to arouse the emotions is not the proper mature approach and that an intellectual approach is more appropriate. But that is incorrect, the effect of a full emotional experience has a much greater impact and we must try to work up to that state to fulfill the mitzvah.
Read more Is it Possible to Really See Ourselves as Leaving Mitzrayim

Nirtzah (Step 15) – Bringing it all Home

Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz is a guest contributor and commentor on Beyond BT. Rabbi Simenowitz uses all his resources including his Organic Farm and his smoking electric guitar to bring Jews closer to Yiddishkeit.

Chazal teach us that the overarching theme of the Hagada is “maschilin b’gnus um’sayem b’shevach” -we start off ignominiously and conclude with praise. (what a delightfully appropriate subtext for the “Beyond BT” community!) So having just concluded our lofty, empassioned Hallel and essentially the entire seder, what’s left for us to do?
Read more Nirtzah (Step 15) – Bringing it all Home