Sunday, October 27, 2019

Was Koheles always smiling?

In the last few days I have encountered learned and frum Litvaks who claimed it was essential to be happy and smiling all the time And that truth didn't have any significance!

my simple response while that is the core religion of the present generation it is a major deviation from the Mesora

In what [sense] is the plain meaning of the text70 to be understood?71 — When R. Dimi came72 he explained: The congregation of Israel said to the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘Lord of the Universe, wink to me with Thine eyes,73 which [to me will be] sweeter than wine, and shew74 me Thy teeth which will be sweeter than milk’.73 [This interpretation] provides support for R. Johanan who said; The man who [by smiling affectionately] shews75 his teeth to his friend is better than one who gives bins milk to drink, for it is said in Scriptures, And his teeth white with milk,70 read not ‘teeth white’ but ‘shewing the teeth’.76

Cultural differences

while smiling is perceived as a positive emotion most of the time, there are many cultures that perceive smiling as a negative expression and consider it unwelcoming. Too much smiling can be viewed as a sign of shallowness or dishonesty.[9] In some parts of Asia, people may smile when they are embarrassed or in emotional pain. Some people may smile at others to indicate a friendly greeting. A smile may be reserved for close friends and family members. Many people in the former Soviet Union area consider smiling at strangers in public to be unusual and even suspicious behavior,[10] or even a sign of stupidity.[11]
Systematic large cross-cultural study on social perception of smiling individuals[12] documented that in some cultures a smiling individual may be perceived as less intelligent than the same non-smiling individual (and that cultural uncertainty avoidance may explain these differences). Furthermore, the same study showed that corruption at the societal level may undermine the prosocial perception of smiling—in societies with high corruption indicators, trust toward smiling individuals is reduced.
Tanach - Ecclesiastes Chapter 1

1. The words of Kohelet, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2. Vanity of vanities, said Kohelet, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
3. What gains a man from all his labor at which he labors under the sun?
4. One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides for ever.
5. The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to its place where it rises again.
6. The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north; it whirls around continually, and the wind returns again according to its circuits.
7. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; to the place from where the rivers come, there
they return again.
8. All things are full of weariness; man cannot utter it; the
eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
9. That which has been, is what shall be; and that which has been done is what shall be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.
10. Is there any thing about which it may be said, See, this is new? It has been already in the ages before us.
11. There is no remembrance of former things; nor shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those who shall come after.
12. I Kohelet was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
13. And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven; it is a hard task that God has given to the sons of man to be exercised with.
14. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.
15. That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that

which is wanting cannot be numbered.
16. In my heart I said, Behold, I became a great man and acquired more wisdom than all those who have been before me in Jerusalem; and my heart has seen much of wisdom and knowledge.
17. And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly; I perceived that this also was a striving after wind.
18. For in much wisdom there is much grief; and he that
increases knowledge increases sorrow.
    CHAPTER V Berachos


    GEMARA. What is the [Scriptural] source of this rule? — R. Eleazar said: Scripture says, And she was in bitterness of soul.15 But how can you learn from this? Perhaps Hannah was different because she was exceptionally bitter at heart! Rather, said R. Jose son of R. Hanina: We learn it from here:
But as for me, in the abundance of Thy lovingkindness will I come into Thy house, I will bow down toward Thy holy temple in the fear of Thee.16 But how can we learn from this? perhaps David was different, because he was exceptionally self-tormenting in prayer! Rather, said R. Joshua b. Levi, it is from here: Worship the Lord in the beauty
of holiness.17 Read not hadrath [beauty] but herdath [trembling]. But how can you learn from here? perhaps I can after all say that the word ‘hadrath’ is to be taken literally, after the manner of Rab Judah, who used to dress himself up before he prayed! Rather, said R. Nahman b. Isaac: We learn it from here: Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.18 What is meant by ‘rejoice with trembling’? — R. Adda b. Mattena said in the name of Rab: In the place where there is rejoicing there should also be
trembling. Abaye was sitting before Rabbah, who observed that he seemed very merry. He said: It is written, And rejoice with trembling? — He replied: I am putting on tefillin.19 R. Jeremiah was sitting before R. Zera who saw that he seemed very merry.
He said to him: It is written, In all sorrow there is profit?20 — He replied: I am wearing tefillin. Mar the son of Rabina made a marriage feast for his son. He saw that the Rabbis were growing very merry, so he brought a precious cup1 worth four hundred zuz and broke it before them, and they became serious. R. Ashi made a marriage feast for his son. He saw that the Rabbis were growing very merry, so he brought a cup of white crystal and broke it before them and they became serious. The Rabbis said to R. Hamnuna
Zuti at the wedding of Mar the son of Rabina: please sing us something. He said to them: Alas for us that we are to die! They said to him: What shall we respond after you? He said to them: Where is the Torah and where is the mizwah that will shield us!2

    R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai: It is forbidden to a man to fill his mouth with laughter in this world, because it says, Then will our mouth be
filled with laughter and our tongue with singing.3 When will that be? At the time when ‘they shall say among the nations, The Lord hath done great things with these’.4 It was related of Resh Lakish that he never again filled his mouth with laughter in this world after he heard this saying from R. Johanan his teacher.

THE CIRCLE DRAWER etc. Once it happened that the greater part of the month of Adar had gone and yet no rain had fallen. The people sent a message to Honi the Circle Drawer, Pray that rain may fall. He prayed and no rain fell. He thereupon drew a circle and stood within it in the same way as the prophet Habakuk had done, as it is said, I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower etc.3 He exclaimed [before God], Master of the Universe, Thy children have turned to me because [they believe] me to be
a member of Thy house. I swear by Thy great name that I will not move from here until Thou hast mercy Upon Thy children! Rain began to drip and his disciples said to him, We look to you to save us from death;4 we believe that this rain came down merely to release you from your oath. Thereupon he exclaimed: It is not for this that I have prayed, but for rain [to fill] cisterns, ditches and caves. The rain then began to come down with great force, every drop being as big as the opening of a barrel and the Sages estimated that no one drop was less than a log. His disciples then said to him: Master, we look to you to save us from death; we believe that the rain came down to destroy the world. Thereupon he exclaimed before [God], It is not for this that l have prayed, but for rain of benevolence, blessing and bounty. Then rain fell normally until the Israelites [in Jerusalem] were compelled to go up [for shelter] to the Temple Mount because of the rain. [His disciples] then said to him, Master, in the same way as you have prayed for the rain to fall pray for the rain to cease. He replied: I have it as a tradition that we may not pray on account of an excess of good. Despite this bring unto me a bullock for a thanks-giving-offering.] They brought unto him a bullock for a thanks-giving-offering and he laid his two hands upon it and said, Master of the Universe, Thy people Israel whom Thou hast brought out from Egypt cannot endure an excess of good nor an excess of punishment; when Thou wast angry with them, they could not endure it; when Thou didst shower upon them an excess of good they could not endure it; may it be Thy will that the rain may cease and that there be relief for the world. Immediately the wind began to blow and the clouds were dispersed and the sun shone and the people went out into the fields and gathered for themselves mushrooms and truffles. Thereupon Simeon b. Shetah sent this message to him, Were it not that you are Honi I would have placed you under the ban; for were the years like the years [of famine in the time] of Elijah5 (in whose hands were the keys of Rain) would not the name of Heaven be profaned through you?6 But what shall I do unto you who actest petulantly before the Omnipresent and He grants your desire, as a son who acts petulantly before his father and he grants his desires; thus he says to him, Father, take me to bathe in warm water, wash me in cold water, give me nuts, almonds, peaches, and pomegranates and he gives them unto him. Of you Scripture says, Let thy father and thy mother be glad, and let her that bore thee rejoice.7

    Our Rabbis have taught: What was the message that the Sanhedrin8 sent to Honi the Circle-Drawer? [It was an interpretation of the verse], Thou, shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee, and light shall shine upon thy ways etc.9 ‘Thou shalt also decree a thing:’ You have decreed [on earth] below and the Holy One, Blessed be He, fulfills your word [in heaven] above. ‘And light shall shine upon thy ways:’ You have illumined with your prayer a generation in darkness. ‘When they cast thee down, thou shalt say: There is lifting up:’ You have raised with your prayer a generation that has sunk low. ‘For the humble person He saveth:’ You have saved by your prayer a generation that is humiliated with sin. ‘He delivereth him that is not innocent:’ You have delivered by your prayer a generation that is not innocent. ‘Yea, He shall be delivered through the cleanliness of thy hands:’ You have delivered it10 through the work of your clean hands.

    R. Johanan said: This righteous man [Honi] was throughout the whole of his life troubled about the meaning of the verse, A Song of Ascents, When the Lord brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like unto them that dream.11 Is it possible for a man to dream continuously for seventy years?12 One day he was journeying on the road and he saw a man planting a carob tree; he asked him, How long does it take [for this tree] to bear fruit? The man replied: Seventy years. He then further asked him: Are you certain that you will live another seventy years? The man replied: I found [ready grown] carob trees in the world; as my forefathers planted these for me so I too plant these for my children.

    Honi sat down to have a meal and sleep overcame him. As he slept a rocky formation enclosed upon him which hid him from sight and he continued to sleep for seventy years. When he awoke he saw a man gathering the fruit of the carob tree and he asked him, Are you the man who planted the tree? The man replied: I am his grandson. Thereupon he exclaimed: It is clear that I slept for seventy years. He then caught sight of his ass who had given birth to several generations of mules;13 and he returned home. He there enquired, Is the son of Honi the Circle-Drawer still alive? The people answered him, His son is no more, but his grandson is still living. Thereupon he said to them: I am Honi the Circle-Drawer, but no one would believe him. He then repaired to the Beth Hamidrash and there he overheard the scholars say, The law is as clear to us as in the days of Honi the Circle-Drawer, for whenever he came to the Beth Hamidrash he would settle for the scholars any difficulty that they had. Whereupon he called out, I am he; but the scholars would not believe him nor did they give him the honour due to him. This hurt him greatly and he prayed [for death] and he died. Raba said: Hence the saying, Either companionship or death.


  1. Rav Yechiel Yacabson, Shlit"a, grew up in the original Bayit Vegan, basking as a child between Rav SZ Aurbach zt"l, Rav Yechezkel Avramsky zt'l, Rav Elia Lopian zt"l, the previous Amshinover Rebbe zt"l, Rav Saliman Sassoon, zt"l.
    He testifies to their constant joy, and to those of the many holocaust survivors who made up much of the neighborhood. He explored and confirmed this phenomena with many others of that period who defined this as an expression of their feeling of being a בן יחיד אצל הקה"ה, and that this was norm where they grew up in Europe before the holocaust.
    Note that the תוכחה explicitly predicates its background as lack of joy - תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה' א-לוקיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב מרוב כל

  2. are you claiming this as normative?!

  3. He most definitely is. Historically normative.

  4. not characteristic of Eastern Europe Russian or Aamerican rabbis

  5. The Alshich too speaks a lot of the misery of this world. However, this generation needs a happy lifestyle or it will seek joy in foreign pastures.

  6. This seems to be a matter not all perceive equally.
    I was not referring to American Rabbis. Eastern Europe had many kehillos and many rabbis...
    What about the posuk from the tochecho?

  7. The Noam Elimelech comments on one of the signs of the generation to receive the Moshiach - יראי חטא ימאסו - that the approach of service through fear will be despised by the generation

  8. You are right the majority of authorities clearly disagree with your view

  9. Kalonymus AnonymusOctober 22, 2019 at 9:33 PM

    Chassidism lite - the Litvishers have lost their clarity of thought and are dopting populist and simplistic ideas, mixed with Mussar which went of the rails after Rav Salanter passed away.

  10. so you agree with me that it is not essentially Jewish

  11. RavSalanter suffered from severe depression - he definitely wasn't smiling all the time

  12. Please present the complete list of authorities along with each of their views.

  13. Does smiling always mean happy?
    Does happy always necessitate smiling?

  14. was he bipolar by any chance?

    there are some gedolim who were always smiling, such as Rav SZ Auerbach ztl and Rav Hutner (as far as the few pictures I have seen of him).

    it also says to greet your neighbour with a happy face.

    But it is a bit cultish to inculcate this as a permanent trait. For that matter it is also cultish to negate anger, since righteous anger is a necessary requirement for certain mitzvot.

  15. It shouldn't be surprising that someone was "always smiling" IN PICTURES.

    They literally tell you to "Smile" and "say cheese" before they snap your pictures. People pose for pictures. It says nothing about what that person's demeanor was or how they felt even at the time it was taken.

  16. If they're not smiling, they won't publish the picture.

  17. that was the assumption of the people I talked with

  18. But there are a lot of photos without smiling.

  19. Please explain what you mean.

  20. Isn't the chiyyuv to be sameach bemitzvos? Rav Wolbe explains that simcha is not at all necessarily cheery; rather, it means closeness to God. Someone is sameach when they are confident of God's existence, presence, governance, etc. A navi needs such a trait to enter into navua. Pashtus: Yirmiyahu was in a state of simcha when he composed Eikha. I can't imagine he was smiling.

  21. It would be necessary to work through many sources to clarify this.

  22. Pictures of yesteryear don't prove anything.

  23. I haven't seen any justification/source for that assumption.

  24. I am referring to contemporary photos not from 100 years ago!
    I am also relying on people I personally knew

    It all adds up to a big change not based on legitimate Torah sorces

  25. Smiling for photos is a modern invention. Look at all the old photos and paintings from yesteryear. No smiling.

  26. Source that he had Severe depression???

  27. Tzahalasoi al panav Viayvloi Blibo

    His Happiness contentment of his face together with A mourning in his heart!

  28. also putting hand inside the waistcoat, was simply how they posed for photographs!

  29. "Was Koheles always smiling?"

    Is that the reason why Chazal tried to de-canonize this Book?







  36. Kalonymus AnonymusOctober 25, 2019 at 2:25 AM

    The Tzaddik haDor

  37. Kalonymus AnonymusOctober 25, 2019 at 2:25 AM

    the greatest Tzaddik

  38. he retained charge until 1857, when he left Lithuania and moved to Prussia to recover from depression. He remained in the house of philanthropists, the Hirsch brothers of Halberstadt, until his health improved. In 1861 he started publication of the Hebrew journal Tevunah, devoted to rabbinical law and religious ethics. After three months the journal had failed to garner enough subscriptions to cover its costs, so he closed it.

    simply google salanter depression

  39. man

  40. The only problem is if it is the same as a crucifix, which is avodah Zarah. The cross on such medals is not the same as a Christian X. Needs more research.

    and even if you think it did this law was an old law any way


    OR second Temple REB YOchanan Ben zackai going out in a coffin box to the enemy ! during WARTIME!

    or the bnai efriam punished and killed going out of eygpt early ! see Moshe Ra talking in Bishalach!
    or the fast of tzom Gidalia which was caused by not bowing to the subservient decree of hashem to respect the goyim conquerors and be suserviant to them

  42. Kalonymus AnonymusOctober 26, 2019 at 8:51 PM

    What nonsense you write, you have no knowledge of Tenakh or even of Halacha. I trust Rav Chaim vital more than anyone in satmar ET al. He cites the arizal as saying the oaths expired 1000 years after churban sheini.
    I'll bring the disproofs From Jeremiah later on.

  43. Kalonymus AnonymusOctober 26, 2019 at 9:12 PM

    Gedaliah was murdered by Ishmael. He was warned by the secret service that Ishmael was planning to kill him, but he refused to listen, and refused to observe hilchot rodef.:


    } 13 Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, 14 and said unto him: 'Dost thou know that Baalis the king of the children of Ammon hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to take thy life?' But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam believed them not. 15 Then Johanan the son of Kareah spoke to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly, saying: 'Let me go, I pray thee, and I will slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man shall know it; wherefore should he take thy life, that all the Jews that are gathered unto thee should be scattered, and the remnant of Judah perish?' 16 But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah: 'Thou shalt not do this thing; for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael.' {P}

    Sadly, gedaliah did not accept the truth, he was too brainwashed in his yeshiva, about loshon hara. If he had accepted the information, he could have killed Ishmael first, as Halacha requires. So your comments are a red herring.

  44. Kalonymus AnonymusOctober 26, 2019 at 9:30 PM

    In Jeremiah 42, he speaks with nevuah from G-d, telling the people to stay in Israel and not fear Babylon.
    The people reject this and, like you, falsify his nevuah. He was actually giving a Zionist message, but the rabble wanted to go to Egypt, so they made up nonsense.

  45. Yirmiyahu was lowered in the pit by the officers, who didn't like what he said. Zikiyahu was a two faced king, who feared the masses more than Hashem. The oaths are a drush, based on song of songs., however These events are based on prophecy, and the lack of faith in Hashem.
    Jeremiah received various prophecies, both of doom and renewal and geula. The people never listened to him.
    In bait sheini, there were no prophets, and no nevuah. Even chazal didn't have nevuah. They lost the temple, for reasons that are unclear. Bar kochva /rabbi Akiva sadly was a disaster.

  46. a very good point. Furthermore, we are told to smile to make others think we are happy with them - i.e. it is an act, not necessarily portraying what we really feel.

  47. 1. You overlook "kalte litvak".
    2. There is an oil painting of a group of rabbonim walking, including the Chatam Sofer. Don't have it scanned in my computer now. The book cover you have is a generic photo.
    3. Early photos required much time to expose, so subjects had to be sitting . Later, didn't take that much time, but still subject had to be still for a while, do hand in jacket would be appropriate.
    Today, rebbe's are looking to promote themselves, so they have to smile, and or present a good image. Photographers oblige.

  48. Expired or not, they are not relevant in halacha relating to Jews living in the 20th and now 21st century regardless of what your Satmar rebbe said.

  49. "After the The miraglim and gezarah of 40 years in midbar when many still wished to go up "vayafilu" tried to go up to Israel early they were all killed !"

    After the 40 years, that gezarah ended, (I know you don't read tanach past Sefer Devarim, but trust me on this one), and they went up under the leadership of Joshua and kicked lots of Canaanite behind.

    The commandments are eternal. That 40-year gezara was not.

  50. yes the flag of israel is still killing Jews physically and aborting jews ten thousand each year and worse spiritually killing tens of thousands by failing to teach them true jewish concept torah and belief thereby knowingly making them into non believers or apikorisim who deny the torah and all the precepts( like yourself) by educating them to shmad or non belief

    A movement Worse then reform said reb Chaim Brisker the reason for Zionisim is Shmad Ultimately its true intention and reb Chaim Solvetchik said the Zionists dont even deny this just look at their writings and read their speeches !

  51. idiotic statement

    Christians also observe the 10 commandments, does that mean you should violate them?

  52. “Was Koheles always smiling?”
    Koheles was fearful of doing even one sin. “Wisdom is more valuable than weapons of war [emendation yields everything precious] מכלי קרב, but a single error וחוטא אחד destroys much of value טובה הרבה.” (Ecclesiastes 9:18).
    קהלת פרק ט פסוק יח
    טוֹבָה חָכְמָה מִכְּלֵי קְרָב וְחוֹטֶא אֶחָד יְאַבֵּד טוֹבָה הַרְבֵּה:
    Kiddushin 39b:
    “Mishnah. He who performs one precept is well rewarded [lit., good is done to him], his days are prolonged, and he inherits the land [i.e., the future world.], but he who does not perform one precept, good is not done to him, his days are not prolonged, and he does not inherit the land [the Mishnah is explained in the Gemara].”
    Kiddushin 40:
    “Our Rabbis taught: A man should always regard himself as though he were half guilty and half meritorious. If he performs one precept, happy is he for weighting himself down in the scale of merit. If he commits one transgression, woe to him for weighting himself down in the scale of guilt, for it is said, but one sinner חוטא אחד destroyeth much good [Ecc, IX, 18]: [i.e.,] on account of a single sin which he commits much good is lost to him [viz., his meritorious deeds, being now outbalanced]. R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon said: Because the world is judged by its majority, and an individual [too] is judged by his majority [of deeds, good or bad], if he performs one good deed, happy is he for turning the scale both for [lit. of] himself and for the whole world on the side of merit; if he commits one transgression, woe to him for weighting himself and the whole world in the scale of guilt, for it is said: but one sinner וחוטא אחד, etc. on account of the single sin which this man commits he and the whole world lose much good.”
    According to R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon the world is judged according to the majority how they behave and the individual is judged the same, after the according to the majority how they behave majority. R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon bases this on Kohelet 9:18. Wow. Kohelet is very afraid because each every sin can be just the sin to bring the majority to sin. This is R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon’s explanation of the Mishnah. The Mishnah is considering the case of the world exactly balanced between sin and merit. Kohelet has the attitude that the world is exactly balanced between sin and merit and so is extremely fearful of anyone doing even one sin. With such an attitude how can he smile all the time?

  53. "is only Christianity which reads the Written Law without the benefit of the Oral
    Law that could come up with the theology that would birth the concept
    of Modern Zionism."

    there are also Jews who read the Written Law without the Oral law, they are known as the Sadducees or Karaites.

    However, whilst the Karaites decided to return to Israel 1000 years ago, Ramban also returned, as did many waves of Gedolim, including the Arizal, Josef karo, Chaim Vital etc. They were believers in the Oral Law too. Guess what? a) The SHulchan Aruch does not list the 3 oaths as halacha - hence your claims are irrelvant, and b) Rav Chaim Vital already cites the Arizal as having said the oaths expired after 1000 years.

    Indeed, Rambam also doesnt classify them as halacha, and in his Iggeret Teiman, he only includes the aspect of claculating the end as being forbidden, which he also says in his MT. Pity you don't actually study halacha, or you would know these things.

  54. the tzadikim came to the land completely subservient to the Turkish government then its a mitzvah

  55. Berel, you're a really poor propagandist, and so is whoever's pages you are copy and pasting. Bold print and capslock doesn't make untrue statements magically become true.

  56. Kalonymus AnonymusOctober 28, 2019 at 1:03 PM

    Kibush is a mitzva d'oraita.
    Perhaps you say the Torah is not binding after the churban?

  57. Kalonymus AnonymusOctober 28, 2019 at 1:19 PM

    Interesting, the Turkish occupation ended by the Brit-ish, who then passed the Balfour declaration. The tzaddik hador was Rav Meir simcha of dvinsk, and he said there is no longer any fear of the oaths.

  58. Berel is obviously not aware of the San Remo conference where the World Powers unanimously agreed (in legally binding fashion) the land of Israel is designated for a Jewish state. Conveniently ignored by his hero from Satmar in the strange attempts to link an obscure midrash to present day lemaaseh reality.


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