Monday, September 17, 2018

A Role Model for Charities

The other day, I was caught in an ethical dilemma. Someone was asking online if anyone knew of an English translation of Perek Shirah, because they need the famous segulah of reciting it for forty days. Aaargh!

After some agonizing, I replied that I do know of one, Nature's Song, which can be purchased at www.BiblicalNaturalHistory.org - but I added that there's no traditional basis for the notion that it's a segulah to say it for forty days, and that classical Judaism says that repentance, prayer and charity remove the evil decree, not saying Perek Shirah.

The person challenged me, asking on what basis I can declare this? I replied that, speaking as someone who literally wrote the book on it, I know of that which I speak. And that before I wrote the book on it, pretty much nobody had ever even heard of Perek Shirah - which shows that it can't be such an important part of Judaism anyway.

Despite my best efforts to sabotage my own book sale, the person bought it anyway. But for those of us who want to engage in traditional, classical Judaism, this is the time of year to be giving charity, not reciting Perek Shirah or swinging chickens. And as far as I've seen, there's no better charity than the Ramat Bet Shemesh-based charity Lemaan Achai.

The greatest form of charity is to make somebody no longer need charity. And that's also the smartest form of charity. Lemaan Achai makes this its mantra - "smart chesed." They have case workers and social workers (my wife used to be one of them) and financial experts figuring out exactly what problems the families are having, and how to get them out of these difficulties. Most charity organizations boast about how many families they help - Lemaan Achai boasts about how many families they no longer help.

So, if you're looking for a good charity, I strongly recommend donating to Lemaan Achai at this link. And I hope that it serves as a role model for how all communal charity organizations should operate.

28 comments:

  1. There's an old saying: If the prohibition against stealing was in a back corner of the Shulchan Aruch in really small print and started with the words "Some say..." then no religious Jew would ever dare to steal. But since it says it straight out in the Torah...
    Seems the same thought process at work here. If the Machzor put the Teshuvah, Tefillah v'Tzedakah line in the back among the optional piyutim that most congregations don't even know exist...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would be real careful before putting saying perek shira in the same sentence as waving a chicken, which is a custom dating back to the times of the Rishonim (Geonim according to some) and which the Rema says "ואין לשנות כי הוא מנהג ותיקין."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect the response will be the Rema was not a rationalist (he brings 'spooky stuff' the whole time and so his opinion is neither here or there.

      Delete
  3. c'mon it does work; someone said perek shira for 40 days and his wife had a baby!

    ReplyDelete
  4. One of the three things mentioned besides teshuva and tzedakah, is teffilah - in which category perek shirah probably falls under.

    These days doing anything consistently for 40 days is a pretty notable accomplishment...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In what way is perek shira considered tefilla?

      Delete
    2. You have to either have never opened up Perek Shira, or never opened up a Rambam to Hilchos Tefillah.

      Delete
    3. Prayer has three forms: Praise, Thanks and request. I suppose Perek Shirah could be classified as Praise of God - if not that then what?

      Delete
  5. Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.
    Don't teach a man to fish, and feed yourself.
    He's a grown man. Fishing is not that hard.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Please,write something against that pagan,ridiculous,pathetic sorcery called kapparot!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How about that the shulchan oruch described it as a 'foolish custom' and that this description has been censored since the 19th edition?
      the image below is from the 1564 venice edition of the shulchan oruch
      https://ibb.co/bR9Hwe

      Delete
    2. source: changing the immutable by marc shapiro

      Delete
    3. The title where it says that it is a foolish custom was censored. The content which says that you should not do the minhag wasn't censored.

      Delete
  7. How dare you ask for money for this charity while there are lone soldiers out there who have never tasted swordfish.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hear hear. It's pure paganism, ridiculous, tzaar baalei chaim...and accomplishes nothing but giving pain to a chicken. Jews, wake up! Stop kaparos and start focusing on the real stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Here you go!

    Rabbi Yonah Bookstein On Kapparot

    https://avrahambenyehuda.wordpress.com/?s=Chicken&submit=Search

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for the comments and links about kapparot!

    ReplyDelete
  11. About time someone wrote a book debunking all Segulos and Minhogim that have no Mekor. It would be a bestseller.

    E.g. Someone just showed me that R S Z Auerbach said there was no Mekor for a 12 yo to fast the 3 fasts before his Bar Mitzvah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure what your point is. If an Adam Gadol once gave it as good advice, it remains good advice.

      Delete
    2. Unless he was wrong...

      Delete
    3. Uri, you can't seriously be saying that. But on a more related note, growing up in Passaic, i recall R. Meir Stern sending a message via the principal to all of us Junior High kids that anyone under bat mitzvah was forbidden to fast, regardless of what your parents had told you. And the principal would enforce it

      Delete
    4. Israel...

      Do you have a hard time with emunas chachamim or not?

      Delete
    5. R. Uri, I just saw this response. Surely you realize that even our greatest rabbis occasionally say very foolish things, and more frequently just make plain old mistakes. I don't really grasp what your question is, as it implies that I made a statement regarding what you call "emunas chachomim." I did not. Although on that note I would ask you: what do you think "emunas chachomim" is? Why is it binding?

      Delete
  12. I see kapparos as nothing more than a way to focus on tzedaka and its importance and encourage yourself to give more. As someone who's not married and has almost no expenses, I give 10% of what I make, the tzedaka I give usually means nothing more to me than numbers on a screen. Once a year I move a check or mouse* around my head a few times and it gives me an opportunity to think about what it's actually accomplishing for the people I'm giving it to.

    I don't use a chicken, but I imagine that if it's actually going to a poor family it helps the person using it focus even more and inspires them to give more tzedaka. If it goes to waste then it's just a waste.

    * the wireless kind, right before I use it click the donate button on the organizations website. I don't use a living mouse!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Waving an animal over your head was an ancient pagan practice. Our tradition, from my great grandfather and grandfather two esteemed European litvak misnaggid Rabbis consisted of waving a sock of money over your head and giving the money to a worthy charity.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That's my minhag too! Though io Polish extraction, I'll consider myself an honorary Litvish misnaged!

    ReplyDelete
  15. . . . Teach a man to fish, and he'll spend all weekend out drunk in a boat.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "before I wrote the book on it, pretty much nobody had ever even heard of Perek Shirah - which shows that it can't be such an important part of Judaism anyway."

    You think too much of yourself. I must be nobody with a collection of sefarim on it.

    ReplyDelete

Comments for this blog are moderated. Please see this post about the comments policy for details. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED - please use either your real name or a pseudonym.

Dealing with the Deluge

It's that time of year again... so here is the slightly expanded version of my original post regarding the Deluge. Over the years I&...