A DAILY DOSE OF HALACHA
June 30, 2015
Beis Moshiach in #979, Interview

Rabbi Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Mara DAsra and member of the Badatz of Crown Heights, has been producing a daily video, for the past year, with a practical halacha. * The video is one minute long and can be heard on the phone, watched on an Internet site, or can be subscribed to and received via email. * There is a weekly brochure with the halachos and detailed sources. * We spoke with RBraun and his production team about the behind the scenes of this fantastic initiative.

Chaim is a Lubavitcher young man who does not stand out in any way. He goes with the Chassidic flow. If you would have asked him this past year how he feels about himself spiritually, he would have answered in one word, “great.” He grew up in a Chassidic home and after marrying he brought into his new home all the good practices he saw in his parents’ home. He also tried to behave like his friends from his yeshiva years.

When his wife once asked him about a certain item of clothing, whether he thought it was modest enough, he immediately used the instinctive yardstick and asked: Are your friends wearing things like that? When she said yes, he said, if everyone is wearing that, then it seems to be okay, because her friends were very Chassidish. If it was good enough for them, it was certainly good for her too.

One year ago, when he and his wife were at home Friday night and the light suddenly went off, he did not think much about it but went downstairs to find a goy and ask him, in a roundabout way of course, to turn on the light. After all, that’s what everyone does.

Sunday morning, he got a WhatsApp message from a friend with a video clip called “One Minute Halacha a Day.” He watched the video, curious as to what halacha can be taught in one minute, and was shocked to hear that the Alter Rebbe paskens in Shulchan Aruch that you may not ask a goy to kindle a light for you, even if you do not ask him directly, and even if this will mean you will eat the Shabbos meal in the dark.

“How can so many people be remiss in this area?” he wondered. He got the answer in the continuation of that daily halacha: The Alter Rebbe says that when you see people doing it, don’t reprimand them – not because it’s okay, but since many people won’t listen in any case, “better they should be inadvertent sinners than deliberate sinners.”

That one minute halacha preoccupied Chaim for the next 24 hours. How was it possible that everyone transgressed a clear p’sak of the Alter Rebbe, he wondered over and over. He suddenly realized that if you want to live a Jewish life in accordance with halacha, you cannot rely on what you remember from home, nor on what everyone does, even if all your friends are G-d fearing people.

You simply have to learn the halachos and do what it says in Shulchan Aruch, not what “everyone” does.

At the end of the video there was an option to sign up to receive the daily video and Chaim decided that’s the first thing he needs to do, to learn at least one halacha a day, to make sure his life is lived in accordance with Shulchan Aruch.

An entire year passed, in the course of which he was surprised dozens of more times when he heard the daily halacha and discovered additional details of his life that were not in accordance with explicit halacha, whether being too lenient and sometimes even being too strict not in the right place and not in the right way. Time and again he saw that one just cannot rely on what everyone else does. Chaim appreciated far more what Chazal say, which he said every morning toward the end of davening, “Whoever learns halachos daily is guaranteed to be a Ben Olam Haba.” Of course, after learning the daily halacha, you are less likely to trip up.

The one behind this one minute a day halacha is Rabbi Yosef Yeshaya Braun, the Mara D’Asra and member of the Beis Din of Crown Heights. R’ Braun comes from a well-known family of rabbanim, many of whom dealt and deal with rulings on halachic issues. His grandfather, R’ Shlomo Zalman Braun, published a series of s’farim called Sh’arim Metzuyanim B’halacha on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and in his later years he started writing a new series on Masechtos in Shas. His father, R’ Chaim Elozor Braun, continued his grandfather’s s’farim. After his father died, his brother, R’ Moshe Shmuel, is continuing the family tradition and is writing additional volumes in the series. This is in addition to the rest of the family who are involved in halacha and serve in rabbinic positions.

R’ Braun said that in order to produce One Minute a Day he needs an entire team of people. In addition to R’ Braun, we also interviewed two young men who lead the team that produces the daily video and the weekly brochure.

HOW THE PROJECT BEGAN

The interview took place in R’ Braun’s living room. The walls are adorned with bookcases packed with thousands of s’farim, most of them on halacha. In addition to R’ Braun, R’ Levi Yitzchok Stolik and R’ Yosef Yitzchok Teleshevsky were present.

I asked R’ Braun: Where did this idea of producing a daily halacha come from?

R’ Braun: I credit my father, R’ Chaim Elozor a”h, who passed away two years ago. During the year of mourning, when I said Kaddish D’Rabbanan at the end of the davening, I noticed that often the participants in the minyan did not really listen to the Mishnayos that are said out loud before the Kaddish. That bothered me because Kaddish D’Rabbanan is said after learning in a minyan. True, there are opinions that hold that even if one learns and ten listen you can say Kaddish D’Rabbanan, and this is what we do, but you have to ensure that they are all listening.

In the Seifer HaMinhagim Chabad it says that our custom is to say Mishnayos out loud and to be particular to use a learning tune, but many people are unaware of this and they do not properly listen to the Mishnayos that the mourner says.

During the year of mourning I davened Shacharis at the K’sav Sofer shul, under the leadership of R’ Nissan Mangel. I asked him whether we could review a short halacha before Kaddish so the congregants would join in the learning. He was agreeable.

Every day I reviewed a short halacha and the people took an interest and listened. When I said Kaddish D’Rabbanan afterward, it was definitely after learning in a minyan.

When I saw how people enjoyed it and were interested in a daily halacha, I used the idea for Mincha too, which I davened with the students of the eighth grade in Lubavitch Yeshiva. When I told the principal, R’ Yosef Yitzchok Simpson, he was enthusiastic about the eighth graders learning a daily halacha and even made photocopies of the sources.

Toward the end of the year, I thought the daily halacha idea needed to continue, maybe l’ilui nishmas my father. I told R’ Levi Stolik, who has long been passionately concerned with the topic of practical halacha. Many years ago, he started producing a booklet called HaMaaseh Hu HaIkar in which he compiled the practical directives from the Rebbe’s sichos.

R’ Stolik: When I started HaMaaseh Hu HaIkar in 5755, I looked for a good name for it. I asked dozens of people but couldn’t decide on a name. It was late at night in 770, I think it was a Friday night and I still did not have a name. I asked R’ Braun (then a bachur in 770) and R’ Yosef Chaim Ginsburgh (now the rosh yeshiva in Ramat Aviv). Both of them said: HaMaaseh Hu HaIkar. So that’s the name I used. Nearly every week I would go to R’ Braun and he would help me come up with the wording for the headings. I feel that working with him now is a continuation of that project.

THE REBBE SAID TO LOOK IN SHULCHAN ARUCH AND ACT ACCORDINGLY

R’ Teleshevsky: When Levi told me about the rav’s idea, he asked me whether I could video record him reading the halacha over the course of a minute with my cell phone, and then publicize it on WhatsApp. I thought that was easy enough since the duration of each segment is only a minute long.

As far as the project itself, I really connected to it because engraved in my mind is a video in which you see my father passing by the Rebbe in Tishrei 5750 and asking: In light of what the Rebbe said last Shabbos, that we need to unpack the packages (of the month of Tishrei), what should I do?

My father was preoccupied with this for he did not understand what the Rebbe wanted them to actually do, so in the yechidus for Machne Yisroel he took the opportunity to ask the Rebbe directly.

The Rebbe said to him: “One must look in Shulchan Aruch and conduct oneself in daily life as it’s written in Shulchan Aruch. When you will accomplish this, it is enough.”

Since then, my father is very particular about learning Shulchan Aruch and this was the chinuch we got at home. It should be mentioned that since that yechidus, even after so many years, my father lives with that yechidus, to the extent that nearly every time he meets a rav or new mashpia who comes to town, he clarifies with him how to carry out the Rebbe’s ratzon even better.

In recent years, a response from the Rebbe on this topic was publicized: As for what you wrote, speak to and ask your mashpia to explain the saying of our Rebbeim that after Tishrei you need to unpack the packages received in Tishrei.

From my father I learned that the best way to “unpack the packages” is by learning halacha daily.

From a technical standpoint, I decided not to suffice with video recording with my phone and I bought good equipment that would enable us to send out a quality video that is a pleasure to watch.

The results are fantastic. R’ Braun has been able to distill many halachic concepts into one minute. After the fact though, I realized that much more time is involved, because in order to produce professional results you need to put in a lot of time before and after the video recording, but I was already involved …

We started distributing the finished product in a number of ways: on WhatsApp (you send a request to subscribe to 347-456-5665 and save that number in your phone), on an Internet site we started – you can get the video file, and on the phone (347-696-7802) you can hear the daily halacha. Those who subscribe via email (send a request to halacha2go@gmail.com) get video, audio and text files.

Naturally, production and promotion on all these media take a lot of time, much more than I thought it would at first, but the enthusiastic feedback that I get encourages me to continue. When someone writes me that this minute is the center of his Jewish life or that it’s his “Jewish infusion,” I become energized.

HALACHA – ON THE INTERNET TOO

Disseminating the video on WhatsApp and an Internet site have raised some eyebrows in light of the fact that R’ Braun himself, along with Beis Din member, R’ Aharon Schwei, like other Chabad rabbanim around the world, publicized a sharply worded letter against using the Internet and said it can be used only for parnasa and the like, and even then only with a filter and outside protection.

How can you disseminate the daily halacha on an Internet site – doesn’t that contradict your position on Internet usage?

R’ Braun: At the same time that we fight against using unfiltered Internet and against using the Internet except for parnasa, we cannot ignore the fact that people use the Internet and refrain from teaching them halacha.

In the Rebbe’s sicha of Shabbos Parshas Naso 5746, he says it is forbidden for rabbanim to wait until people go to them with questions. The responsibility is theirs to guide their flock, as the members of the Sanhedrin were told that they need to make the rounds of Jewish towns and teach people what they need to know.

The Rebbe adds a line which sounds like it was said to answer your question:

“Sometimes it is necessary to go to places that are in a state of foulness etc., the opposite of k’dusha. A rav might think: how can I go to places like that? My place is the four cubits of holiness, a shul and beis midrash, and at most – to go out even to the street and make the rounds of Jewish towns, but to a place of filth, G-d forbid!

“The answer to this is: How can you ignore those Jews in those places? They also need to be drawn close to their Father in heaven. You would like to sit in your four cubits of Torah and holiness, wonderful, but not at the expense of the danger to life to lost Jews who are in these places.”

We also know the sichos about radio and television where, along with the prohibition to bring a television and the like into one’s home, the Rebbe encourages broadcasting shiurim on the radio and television for those people who use them.

In light of what the Rebbe said, we decided to disseminate the daily halacha on the Internet and WhatsApp, in addition to the phone of course, which does not necessitate an Internet connection.

In the weekly brochure, where it lists the various ways of hearing the daily halacha, it states that disseminating the halacha via WhatsApp does not give a “hechsher” to using WhatsApp.

R’ Dovid Zirkind, who teaches in Lubavitch Yeshiva, set up our phone system. In his free time he became an expert at setting up and running complicated phone systems. He set up the phone system for Kol HaShas and Heichal Menachem and lately greatly improved the phone system for the One Minute Halacha.

HALACHOS ON A VARIETY OF PRACTICAL TOPICS

A few weeks ago, the project posted the 300th halacha! A quick glance at the hundreds of halachos shows an amazing variety of topics, most of which are practical.

“The first time I went to videotape R’ Braun,” said R’ Teleshevsky, “he had prepared some halachos on Kiddush. After I recorded some halachos, I said that if you want people to watch the halacha every day, there had to be variety. It’s not good to have a bunch of halachos on the same topic because if the topic doesn’t interest someone, he will drop out. R’ Braun agreed. By having a different topic every day, people look forward to seeing something new.”

As for the parameters in picking halachos, R’ Braun said: I decided that most of the halachos have to be on practical topics that pertain to most people in daily life. I occasionally veer from this rule and present interesting—though less practical—halachos, like the halachos of peter chamor.

I go from topic to topic. So on one day we learn a halacha in Orach Chaim and the next day, a halacha from another part of Shulchan Aruch. On Erev Shabbos, the halacha is usually about Hilchos Shabbos and so too for Erev Yom Tov – halachos for Yom Tov. Throughout the week there can be halachos on t’filla b’tzibbur, chuppa, and whether one can be a toein rabbani.

Many don’t know this but the Beis Yosef, who wrote the Shulchan Aruch, had a plan in which he wanted people to learn Shulchan Aruch as part of a daily schedule so that the whole Shulchan Aruch would be finished every month! We are too puny nowadays for that, in addition to which, since then, so many elucidations and commentaries were added that makes it near impossible to finish Shulchan Aruch so quickly.

The Alter Rebbe in his Shulchan Aruch did not include all halachos. We see that in Yoreh Deia and Choshen Mishpat he included only a partial collection of necessary halachos, in contradistinction to the format in Orach Chaim. What we see from this is that the goal was, and still is, to be proficient in practical halacha throughout Shulchan Aruch and not only Orach Chaim.

In a note that was “handwritten by a copyist” and published in Migdal Oyz we see that the Alter Rebbe made “learning programs” for those who find it hard to learn all of Orach Chaim and he prepared a narrow list as to which simanim you need to be proficient in to cover all relevant halachos. In our Halacha a Day we try to follow this approach so people know what to do.

We know that the Rebbe was very pained by the neglect of the study of halacha in yeshivos and in general. The Rebbe’s letters and sichos are replete with a plethora of expressions like, “the absence of knowledge in this is shocking,” or “If I had the power, I would institute this learning in all the mosdos chinuch starting from preschool and concluding with yeshivos and kollelim,” and “a commotion must be made and everything done” so that they learn Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim (in general, this subject appears in the writings of the Mitteler Rebbe as well as in the introduction to the Shulchan Aruch HaRav and other places). Our goal is to “restore the crown to its glory” so that everyone will be proficient in halacha as in the Beis Yosef’s original plan and as the Rebbeim wish.

Another rule in choosing halachos is to balance the lenient rulings and stringencies. We usually record eighteen shiurim once in three weeks. We try to see to it that some of the daily halachos deal with matters that people often don’t know that we need to be stringent about, and in halachos that people don’t know we can be lenient.

For example, in one shiur we spoke about “shok b’isha erva,” and mentioned details that people don’t know are forbidden al pi din. A few days later we spoke about the prohibition of “do not be to him like a demanding creditor” and how today it is nearly impossible to transgress this prohibition, since today most people own things that are worth more than “what he needs to stay alive” and as such, there is no prohibition to mention the debt.

There are also days in which the daily halacha is not about forbidding or permitting but about explaining a halachic concept. For example, we recently spoke about the significance of the question the Kohen asks at the pidyon ha’ben ceremony, “Which do you prefer?” People err when they think the father has two options, either to give five coins to the Kohen or to give the Kohen his firstborn son. The second option does not exist. In the daily halacha we brought three explanations as to why the Kohen asks that even though the father of the baby does not have a choice [in the sources for the daily halacha we provided detailed sources with many other explanations].

Do you consider this work of disseminating halachos as a type of shlichus?

Definitely. Obviously, as Chabad Chassidim we try to emphasize those areas which the Rebbe emphasizes and to connect them to daily halacha. This is in addition to the fact that often the daily halacha is connected to the daily Rambam. On 11 Nissan we posted the halachos of a birthday and on 27 Nissan we had halachos about anticipating the coming of Moshiach. On Lag B’Omer we spoke about the mitzva of “yichud Hashem,” briefly mentioning the views of the Rambam and the Smag and concluding with the explanation of Chassidus.

In the weekly brochure with sources, we expanded on the topic of “the unity of G-d” with the maamarim of the Rebbeim. Thus we also fulfill the “spreading of the wellsprings,” in addition to what the Rebbe once said that disseminating the piskei halacha of our Rebbeim is included in “spreading the wellsprings outward” – when people in other neighborhoods, Boro Park, Flatbush, Kiryas Yoel, Monroe, etc. who subscribe to the daily email (and the brochure is distributed in shuls in those communities as well) become aware of concepts taken from the world of Chassidus.

MEDIA STORM

Sometimes, the daily halacha addresses timely issues, including matters of public controversy. For example, when a storm erupted over prenuptial agreements in the attempt to resolve the problem of agunos, R’ Braun spoke about it and presented the halachic position which is that these agreements are problematic, and those who are lenient regarding them are likely to cause serious gittin problems and consequently, the birth of those who cannot marry into the Jewish people.

“When R’ Braun paskens on these issues,” pointed out R’ Teleshevsky, “I get many requests from people who want to subscribe to the daily halacha, because people discuss the rav’s p’sak. That gives this project added publicity.”

There are other types of storms. When the meteorologists were warning of a blizzard to hit New York, R’ Braun spoke about the halachos of snow on Shabbos. That was in continuation to the long letter that the Badatz publicized in anticipation of one of the biggest storms to hit the East Coast. By the way, that letter was quoted in the Israeli media who called the letter “Hilchot Sufa” (Storm Laws). The Israeli journalists were amazed by the fact that halacha addresses storm conditions.

Just recently, when the frum world was buzzing about the so-called Kosher Switch, a unique way of turning lights on and off on Shabbos, R’ Braun addressed it and said it is absolutely forbidden.

There are also times that the daily halacha causes an uproar. R’ Levi Stolik, who receives all the email feedback, says that when R’ Braun said that in cases when someone knows about child molestation, he must report it to the police and there is no prohibition of “mossering” (tattling) involved, the video went viral. Here is where you can see the power of halacha videos, for this p’sak is not new and several great rabbis already wrote piskei halacha about this, and the Badatz of Crown Heights publicized a lengthy and reasoned p’sak on this years ago, but when the same thing is said on a short video, it gets publicized within hours all over the world.

“In one of the responses I got,” said R’ Stolik, “a woman wrote that she posted the video (the one about blowing out candles on a birthday cake) on her Facebook page and within a short time, it had over 1000 views! On Chabadinfo.com they post the daily halacha on current topics, with catchy “news” headlines and we see the impact by the speediness of the feedback. Once the wrong file was sent by mistake and within seconds our email was flooded by dozens of complaints and comments.”

HALACHA IN HASHGACHA PRATIS

Although in Shulchan Aruch and works of the poskim there are thousands of halachos that can be spoken about, not every topic can be condensed into one minute. Since the daily video is no longer than a minute, it’s very limiting. I asked R’ Braun:

How do you manage to find so many interesting halachos that can be summarized in one minute?

He said: Every day I receive dozens of questions (as a member of the Badatz) and many of the daily halacha videos are based on questions people ask. For example, a preschool teacher contacted me Erev Shabbos and said she made challa with the children and forgot to separate the portion of challa. It was half an hour before Shabbos and she didn’t have time to inform all the parents about the problem before the onset of Shabbos. What should she do? After I answered her, I thought this would be an interesting topic for the daily halacha project.

We had another halacha video that discussed that when preparing dough with children in school and giving each child a piece of dough so that no individual has the proper amount to separate challa, the entire dough does not require hafrashas challa. Many teachers are unaware of this, so too for those who organize Challa Bakes and Chabad houses that have a challa baking activity. They make a bracha in vain since when the dough is divided up, a bracha is not said.

Another time, someone called and said his wife needed to urgently be matir neder (cancel a vow) but she was unable to get to a beis din. Since I was on the way to a bar mitzva, I said I would call back in ten minutes and would do hataras nedarim over the phone. In an emergency, you can be matir neder that way. When I got to the bar mitzva and asked two men to join me to be matir neder, one of them, a ben Torah, maintained that this could not be done over the phone. I saw this was an unknown and definitely interesting halacha, and it became one of the daily halachos.

***

Levi Stolik pointed out that sometimes people send emails with a list of halachos and ask for R’ Braun to speak about them. Most of the time, these are halachos which those people encountered and they want to know the rav’s p’sak, and sometimes it’s an argument with a friend and they want the rav to resolve it. But as mentioned before, many halachos consist of numerous details that cannot be distilled into a minute and he cannot oblige.

A MINUTE WORTH HOURS OF LEARNING

You don’t need to be a big talmid chacham to realize that behind every minute of video there are hours of Torah study. When R’ Braun paskens a halacha, he needs to take into account all the possibilities and halachic conditions. So the final product is one that is very carefully thought out and contains all possible details.

A few months ago, by popular request, R’ Braun began writing sources for the daily halacha, thus revealing a bit of the tremendous complexity and scope of knowledge necessary to produce just one daily halacha. The detailed sources that cover the topic from every angle display R’ Braun’s vast knowledge in all the sifrei ha’poskim, Rishonim and Acharonim.

The weekly brochure, which has the text of the daily halachos, was first distributed in shuls in Crown Heights and lately has been distributed in other religious parts of New York. R’ Stolik, who distributes the brochure, says there are shluchim who request that the brochure be sent via email and they print it out to distribute in religious areas.

R’ Stolik: Producing a brochure is no less complicated than producing the videos. It’s amazing how the entire process is done voluntarily by men and women who feel it’s important to promote awareness of halachos and are willing to invest their time and money. The editing is done by Mrs. Esther Rachel Elkayam who types the halachos from the video and edits for style. After R’ Braun reviews the text, the file is then sent to Mrs. Esther Tauber (daughter of the poet, Tzvi Yair) who reworks it from a style that works in verbal communication to one that works for reading. After the rav looks it over again, the file is sent to R’ Shraga Dovid Homnick, the technical editor who ensures that even the casual reader will understand it and won’t misconstrue the halacha. After R’ Braun inserts the necessary corrections, the text undergoes a final polishing by Mrs. Tauber, and only then is the brochure sent for formatting. It often happens that the text undergoes more than ten revisions before it is finally ready. This is halacha l’maaseh and R’ Braun tells us we must be very careful so that nobody misunderstands something because the wording is ambiguous.

After hearing from R’ Stolik that every Monday night R’ Braun sits up till all hours of the night to prepare the final text of the brochure which has to be ready for publishing on Tuesday morning, I asked R’ Braun:

Where do you get the strength to continue with this complex project that takes so much of your time?

R’ Braun: This project is huge and demanding. I need to deal with the spiritual needs of the community and since this is a large community (as a member of the Badatz of Crown Heights, R’ Braun deals with the spiritual needs of the largest Chabad community in the world, with over 3000 families) there is a lot to do and dozens of queries every day. I often thought of stopping, but each time I think, can I stand before the Rebbe and report that I stopped this necessary project?

Another thing which gives me the strength to go on is, not many know this, but the Chida wrote over a hundred s’farim, some of them very deep, in the style of drush, pilpul, and kabbala, etc. But the crowning glory of all his works is Moreh B’Etzba in which he brings practical practices for Shabbos, Yom Tov, and the months of the year. Why do I mention this?

Here is what R’ Chaim Palagi wrote in the introduction to his seifer, Moed L’Chol Chai (which is similar in format to some of the halacha works of the Chida) in the name of the Chikrei Lev: “Seeing the great wisdom of the teachings of the great and famous rabbi Chida z”l, in whose holy s’farim which are numerous on the body of laws, pure sayings, precious homilies, I am not envious of him except for his small s’farim like Moreh B’Etzba and Lev Dovid and those like that which are musar and dinim and all can relate to. Both the wise man and simpleton read it, and the balabatim (working men), each can carry it in his pocket and it will be with him and he will read it when he travels on sea and land etc. And he would praise these compositions far more than the other awesome compositions, because in them are the rebuke of kings and the laws that guide a person to fear of heaven and to serve Him sincerely, and above all – great is the reward for those who bring merit to the many.”

This matter of bringing merit to the many is what the Rebbe said to my grandfather at “dollars” in connection with his halacha s’farim: I have used them a lot. May Hashem help, as someone who brings merit to many, that it be fulfilled that he wants 200, to write more and to publish more.

In writing and editing halachos, to be disseminated in many forms of virtual media so that “balabatim, each can carry it and it will be with him and he will read it when he travels on sea and land,” there is a rare z’chus of providing merit to the masses with “laws which guide a person to fear of heaven and to serve Him sincerely,” and this is in addition to the unique matter of learning a halacha every day, in which case “he is assured that he is a ben Olam Haba.”

Boruch Hashem, the daily video and daily text are seen by thousands of subscribers, many of whom pass them along to family and social groups. Since the video is that accessible and is sent from group to group, we ourselves don’t know how many actually see the daily halacha. It has gotten so big that I don’t know whether I am allowed to stop.

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

After hearing all this, I was curious to hear plans for the future, success stories as well as failures.

As far as success goes, R’ Yossi Teleshevsky says imitation is an indication of success: Since our WhatsApp initiative, others started producing daily Torah WhatsApp postings. Yagdil Torah v’yaadir. The same thing happened when R’ Braun began publishing impressive booklets with a day-by-day schedule for the halachos of Yom Tov.

There is another measure of success, says Levi Stolik. In a HaYom Yom that we learned recently, the Rebbe writes that the chiddush of Chassidus is that the Rebbe is no longer alone and the students are no longer alone. If there was once a certain disconnect between rabbanim and members of the community and the rav was turned to only when questions arose, today the rav is in constant touch with his constituents. The rav steps out of his own space and enters into the world of his constituents. R’ Braun not only has a telephone line, and even email, to answer questioners, but he reaches out to them and every day he has a message for that day. When I see young people, even children under bar mitzva, excited by the brochure and coming to ask for it when it hasn’t arrived yet, that is success!

The Rebbe says: A rav and mora horaa cannot sit at home and wait to be asked questions. He needs to go out of his house and find Jews to teach the ways of Hashem and what they need to do.

Both the video and the weekly brochure are available in English, and the video is now being produced in Lashon HaKodesh. The hope is to have it translated into other languages as well, but that requires additional funds. If someone is willing to support the translation, it can happen. Another plan is to publish the daily halacha in book form, b’ezras Hashem.

The Internet site for the daily halacha has a forum in which it allows viewers to discuss the daily halacha and receive answers to questions. The forum is active but someone is needed to take charge of it and run it so it is more successful.

In the booklets that R’ Braun produces before Yomim Tovim, he has a section for halachos that will be practical when Moshiach comes. That is the plan for the best future R’ Braun can wish for himself, that all the daily halachos will deal with the special laws of Yemos HaMoshiach after the hisgalus of the Rebbe MH”M immediately, now!

WHEN THE REBBE ASKS A QUESTION

R’ Braun told the following story that happened when he brought his grandfather’s first volume on Shas to the Rebbe:

After my grandfather finished publishing the series Sh’arim Metzuyanim B’halacha on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, he started a series on Shas. After he published the first volume, I spoke to him about “bringing bikkurim” to the Rebbe as he had done previously when he went for dollars with one of the s’farim he published. He had given it to the Rebbe and the Rebbe said he used his s’farim.

My grandfather did not like that photos were taken when he gave the Rebbe his seifer and said he did not feel comfortable going again, but if I wanted to, I could be his proxy. When I stood on line for dollars, I thought about what to say to the Rebbe in the briefest possible way. It wasn’t enough for me to say “my grandfather sent the book,” for I had to say that my grandfather was the author, but then the sentence would be too long. And just to say “the author of the book” wasn’t enough, because what connection did I have to the author?

As I deliberated, my turn came and I chose to say, “My grandfather asked me to give the Rebbe the seifer.” The Rebbe took it and as though reading my earlier thoughts he asked: The author? I said yes and the Rebbe asked: Is it a new book or a new edition of a book previously printed? I said, it’s new. I added, on Shas, to emphasize that it was a new series.

As a bachur, I had never spoken like that to the Rebbe. I had received a dollar and hurried on. Here the Rebbe was asking for another detail and another detail… I thought I should move on but the Rebbe went on to ask: And not on Shulchan Aruch? I felt uncomfortable saying no but since to the best of my knowledge the seifer dealt with laws brought in Shas and not in Shulchan Aruch, I said: No.

Then the Rebbe gave me three dollars, one with blessings for bracha and success, one as thanks for the book, and a third, “to be given to tz’daka for your Zeide, he should have length of days and good years.”

It was only afterward that I discovered how precise the Rebbe’s wording was, even in a seemingly incidental question. For in this book which was on halachos in Shas, there was a “kuntres toras horaa” on the proper approach to determine rulings from Shulchan Aruch!

 

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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