One day, the Hecht children were gathered around the computer, working diligently and secretly on a new project. Their goal was a new magazine for friends and family, complete with divrei Torah, games and informative articles. Upon seeing the fine product that was produced, I suggested that they do not limit their efforts to our immediate surroundings but that they share their efforts with the entire Nishma community...
And thus NISHMA JUNIOR was born.
The fact is that the idea for NISHMA JUNIOR has been floating around the Nishma offices for some time now. Too often children do not recognize the exhilarating nature of the challenge of Torah study and its relevance in the various facets of life. That is why NISHMA JUNIOR will deal with the Torah perspective on issues that affect a young person's life, such as owning a pet or the role of television. But, as part of Nishma, NISHMA JUNIOR's objective will not be to simply give the answer but to challenge its young readers to think and thereby, on their level, to truly appreciate
Torah study in all its strength and beauty.
NISHMA JUNIOR, I believe, promises to be entertaining and informative. Its Torah-related games, will provide interesting tid-bits of knowledge that may even stump teachers. Its interviews with different professionals will provide a glimpse of what it truly means to be an observant Jew in the work force. And just to make sure that there is something for everyone, the Junior Junior section assures that even younger members of the family also have a place.
And finally, although NISHMA JUNIOR began with the Hecht children, it hopefully will not stay solely with them. Others are invited to get involved, to submit ideas and undertake some of the assignments. We believe that this issue of NISHMA JUNIOR will prove to be an excellent starting point into the world of Nishma.
Rabbi Benjamin Hecht
Founding Director, Nishma
From the Editors
We have worked very hard to share with you the information contained within these pages. All of the writers put their minds souls and time into what you are about to read. We advise you not to skip anything.
Enjoy this first edition of NISHMA JUNIOR and please feel free to send in articles, that might be included in later issues. NISHMA JUNIOR is for children by children, so, in fact, we children await for you children to send in your letters and articles. Any advice, questions, or comments you might have will also be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Dodi-lee and Chai Hecht
Editors, NISHMA JUNIOR
Your Future Career and Torah
Norman Winter is a lawyer practising in Toronto, Ontario. He is a yeshiva graduate and is a member of the Board of Directors of Nishma Canada.
NISHMA JUNIOR was represented by Tikva Hecht (age 11) and Chai Hecht (age 13).
NISHMA JUNIOR: How long have you been a lawyer?
NORMAN WINTER: Over 14 years.
NJ: How long does it take to become a lawyer?
NW: I went to university for 2 years, then law school is 3 years. In Ontario, you then article, which is really a type of apprenticeship, in a law firm for 1 year. Then there is the Bar Admission Course, which is six months, where they teach you practical aspects of the law as opposed to law school where they teach more theory and background and philosophy of law. During that six month period, you have about a dozen tests in different subjects. If you pass, its called "called to the bar" and you become a lawyer.
NJ: Do you like doing law?
NW: Less and less so. There are parts that I enjoy but the law that I practice is not as intellectually challenging as law can be.
NJ: What law do you practise?
NW: I practise business law, which we call "corporate, commercial, real estate". That's helping people who are in business or want to get involved in business.
NJ: What do you do if court is on wca?
NW: Court is never held on wca although on Fridays it sometimes runs late. All my lawyer friends who do go to court in Toronto, never had any problem telling the judges that they were Orthodox Jews, had to leave early and therefore request an early dismissal. I have never heard of anyone having a problem.
NJ: Do your clients ever get upset because you have to stop on wca?
NW: No. Jewish clients are usually aware of wca and know that I'm Orthodox but even non-Jewish clients, if anything, respect it. I don't think I ever had a problem.
NJ: What would you do if you did have a problem?
NW: It would be their problem, not mine.
NJ: What do Jews do if they're witnesses and they have to swear in?
NW: In Ontario, you can say that you don't want to swear, you would rather affirm, and you don't have to put your hand on the Bible. You don't even have to say why you don't want to swear on the Bible.
NJ: Do you have any halachic problems in law?
NW: There are. If you're representing Jewish clients there can be potential problems. For example, you know we have a halacha that you're not allowed to charge interest to another Jew. So what do you do if you have a client who is Jewish who wants to deal with another Jew, and wishes to get involved in a deal where he will charge the other interest? That presents a potential problem.
NJ: Did that ever happen to you? What do you do?
NW: Very often. There is a halachic way in getting around that problem, and it's called a heter iska. It is a certain type of contract or agreement between the people which would allow them to achieve the same results without necessarily charging interest to one another.
NJ: What happens if they don't want to go along with the heter iska?
NW: That presents a difficult situation. I've spoken to different Rabbis about this matter, but I don't have a clear answer. Some have said that it is not my responsibility; others have said that it is not so clear. Other questions that the Orthodox lawyer faces - in cases of wills or family law, for example - present equally challenging problems.
NJ: Did you ever think it wasn't right to be a lawyer being an Orthodox Jew?
NW: No, I believe that, as Orthodox Jews, we should be integrated into our society. If anything I think being an Orthodox Jew can help you being a lawyer.
NJ: How does being an Orthodox Jew help you be a lawyer?
NW: I can't think of anything specific but if you have values that I think an Orthodox Jew should have: honest, being sensitive to other peoples needs, understanding other peoples needs, being open minded about other points of view and opinions - that's part of what I think being a Jew is - and I think it helps you in practising law as it does in anything.
Owning a Pet
Almost every child at some point in his or her life, dreams about owning a pet. Whether the request is for a dog or a cat or even a hamster, parents have to consider a child's request for an animal companion. As Jews, the question of purchase goes far beyond care or financial concerns; we must consider the halachic concerns. Here are a few prominent ones that should be addressed.
In the Talmud, there are two references to women suffering miscarriages because they were scared by dogs. Rabbi Natan in Baba Kamma 15b states that anyone who keeps an evil dog in his household is breaking the mitzvah of lwhcc ohns ohaw tku, "don't put blood in your house" (Devarim 22:8). What is an "evil dog"? One defines it as a dog that barks; another claims it is one that bites; others claim it is both a dog that bites and barks. If one owns such a dog, a solution offered is to keep the dog chained at all times. Owning an animal means being responsible for that animal.
The question may be asked: why is a dog singled out over any other animal? To some commentators it seems the answer lies, partially, in the fact that a dog is usually a pet. What is a pet? Why would a pet be viewed any differently than the barnyard animals which many Jewish farmers and country dwellers own? One difference is that a pet serves no function vital to livelihood or sustenance. In other words, unlike cows or chickens, a pet does not give anything, besides affection, for the care, food and shelter you give it. Thus damage by a pet can be viewed in a harsher light. With a pet you have no economic need for this animal; in effect, if a pet causes harm, you have caused unnecessary damage to another. This is an important consideration. (For further information on this point, see Rabbi Howard Jachter, Halachic Perspectives on Pets, The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, Number XXIII.)
Another issue may be the improper emotional attachment to pets. Many people consider their animals intelligent parts of the family, secret confiders and companions when lonely. Animals, though, should not take the place of spouses, children or friends. In addition, many people find it heartbreaking to hear about starving dogs and would gladly give money to the Humane Society but there might be a halachic problem with this considering all the starving and dying human beings that must be foremost in our minds. Animals are just animals and while we must be considerate of them, they should never become more important than human beings. Putting a pet in its proper place is important. The greater difficulty may be defining that place. (To begin a study of the Torah view of the animal kingdom, one may wish to look at Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvah 545.)
On the other side, another problem may be that the very owning of an animal as a pet is inherently cruel to the animal itself. Is it fair to breed cats so that they can't survive in the natural habitat their ancestors lived in because we want something soft to hold in our laps? We can also ask if it is right to keep dolphins in marinas because we wish to watch their shows when, in freedom, they roamed the oceans. Is this cruel or not? Is it a cruelty that the Torah would forbid under the prohibition of tza'ar ba'alei chayim, causing unnecessary pain to animals? One interested in further studying this topic may wish to begin with the famous teshuva of the Noda B'Yehuda (Yoreh De'ah 2:10) regarding hunting.
Owning a pet may be enjoyable but it also does raise some interesting halachic issues. Within each of the above points, you may find many differing views and much Torah for discussion. We have also not even touched upon the many practical halachic questions involving such matters as kashrut and Shabbat. If in the end, though, you determine that pets are halachically permissible and decide, within the Torah parameters, to take this step, I wish you much luck with your pet.
Dodi-Lee Hecht (age 14)
The Matching Game
It's In The Genes
Match the famous father to his famous son.
Answers at end of page
NAME: Rav Moshe Chayim Luzzatto
KNOWN AS: The Ramchal
PLACE OF BIRTH: Padua, Italy
LIFE SPAN: Hebrew: 5467 - 5506
English: 1707 - 1746
OCCUPATION: Kabbalist; Writer; Poet
FAMOUS S'FORIM: Mesilat Yesharim
BIOGRAPHY: The Ramchal was born into an important family in Italy. He was evidently a genius from childhood. At the age of 20, Rav Moshe asserted that he was revealed secrets from Heaven by a type of angel called the maggid. This caused a great commotion and at 28, four years after his marriage, he was forced to leave Italy. When Rav Luzzatto was 36, three years before he died, he moved to Israel.
T o r a h
P u r s u i t
1. How many times will a person daven Chatzi Hallel in 5757?
2. Who is the only person in the Torah whose birthday is mentioned?
3. What is Moshe's real name?
4. Besides the Cohen Gadol, who else can go into the Kodesh Ha'Kodeshim?
5. Which wife of David Hamelech was a prophetess?
Answers at end of page
A3; B4; C2; D1
1. Twenty three.
Source: Any Jewish calender for 5757 (NOTE: We don't say any Hallel on Rosh Chodesh Tishrei and we say a full Hallel on Rosh Chodesh Tevet because of Chanukah).
Source: Bereshit 40:20.
3. Any one of the following would be sufficient: Tov (Miriam's name for him); Yekuthiel (Yocheved's name for him); Yered (another of Miriam's names); Avi Zanoach (Aaron's name for him); Avi Sokho (Moshe's nurse named him this); Avigdor (Kehath's name for him); Shemaya ben Nathanel (the Israelites that knew what was to happen to him called him this).
Source: Yalkut Me'am Lo'ez "The Torah Anthology" Book 4.
4. Any workman that has to repair something.
Source: T.B. Megillah 14a.
NISHMA JUNIOR is a presentation of Nishma, an international research, resource and educational network devoted to the advancement of Torah thought. If you are interested in your family receiving NISHMA JUNIOR or require information about our other publications and programs, please contact the Toronto Nishma Centre at (416) 630-0588 or 1-800-267-NISHMA(6474).
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