Please enable JavaScript in your browser to experience all the custom features of our site.
Please Use Our New Website
still under constructions
to purchase safety books and educational materials

Mr. Harry Skydell, Chairman
Mr. Mark Karasick, Vice Chairman
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director
Rabbi Avrohom M. Gluck, Director of Operations
The first 1000 members will have a chance to win a
16 GB
with Rabbi Horowitz audio

Membership Benefits:

  • Save articles to your favorites folder.
  • Save and print selected articles in a PDF journal.
  • Receive emails containing the latest comments on your favorite articles.
  • Mark articles as "READ".
  • More member features coming soon...

Raffle Rules:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete the signup form and join as a member. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries shall become the property of CJFL. CJFL is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries.

The contest is open to the general public. Members need to be at least 18 years old. Identification must be produced on request. Employees of CJFL, its raffle sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this raffle. ALL PREVIOUSLY REGISTERED MEMBERS WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED INTO THIS RAFFLE. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Decisions of the raffle judges are final - no substitutions will be available. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness (first initial and last name) and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the internet and picture date storage) which CJFL may deem appropriate. In accepting the prize, the winner, acknowledges that CJFL may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. CJFL retains the rights, in its absolute and sole discretion, to make substitutions of equivalent kind or approximate value in the event of the unavailability of any prize or component of the prize for any reason whatsoever. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. CJFL reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this raffle at any time without prior notice. One entry per person.

Rabbi Doniel Staum - Parshas Ki Seitzei 5776 "Elevating Life"
by Rabbi Doniel Staum, LMSW

Not Rated Yet   |   Viewed 4308 times since 9/15/16   |   0 Comments
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size    [ Change Font Size ] Email This Article to a Friend


A special Mazel Tov to Rabbi and Mrs. Doniel Staum on the birth of their twin sons, from the Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES.

May they have much Nachas from them and their entire Mishpacha!




One day during the summer of 2011/5771, our family visited Quiet Valley Historical Farm in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. It is a historic farm preserved exactly as it was in the early 1800s after a German Lutheran family settled it in the late 1700s.

The tour was especially meaningful because so many concepts mentioned in the Gemara relating to agriculture and production of textiles came to life. Many of the 39 forbidden categories of labor on Shabbos are directly related to primitive methods of farming and making clothes. It is generally difficult to visualize those concepts in our world of modern technology when most people no longer live on farms. But as I listened to the guides discuss and demonstrate their way of life I saw the words of the Talmud come to life[1].

In one home the guide described the process of making clothes. She described how after they sheared the sheep, they dyed, combed, and spun the wool. She also described the process of making linen from the flax plant. The seeds are removed (rippling), the outer stalk is retted to get to the strong inner fibers. It is then crushed (scotching), and the fibers straightened by pulling them through a metal comb (hackles).

She then demonstrated how the wool and linen was mounted onto the loom, one as the woof, the other as the warp. At that point I asked why they preferred to use a mixture of wool and linen (called linsey woolseys). She replied that the linen provided greater strength while the wool provided greater warmth. Then she quipped, “Now I know some of you don’t mix plant and animal. But we German Lutherans do!”

It took me a moment to realize that she was referring to the Biblical prohibition of wearing sha’atnez: “You shall not wear combined fibers, wool and linen together.[2]” I was intrigued by the fact that she referred to the prohibition as being a mixture of plant (linen, a derivative of the flax plant) and animal (wool, which comes from sheep). I had never thought of sha’atnez in that manner and I wondered if any of the commentaries explained it as such.

I found it indeed explained in that vein by Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch. He explains that within man’s makeup there is an ‘element’ of plant and an ‘element’ of animal. A plant is a source of nutrition which contains within itself the ability to reproduce. An animal has the added ability of perception and mobility. An animal utilizes its unique capabilities of perception and mobility in its quest to gratify its vegetative desires of nutrition (food) and reproduction.

Man however, must subordinate his plant-like needs to his animalistic abilities. In other words, he must use his superior perception and mobility to control his base desires through his ability to understand, distinguish, and conceptualize. Rabbi Hirsch explains that man is a pyramid containing certain components of plants and animals. His goal is to elevate those components so he can stand upright before G-d. His plant-like abilities subordinate themselves to his animalistic capabilities, which he in turn subjugates to the fulfillment of his responsibilities as superior man.

The prohibition of sha’atnez symbolically reflects this idea. Wool represents the animalistic element within a human, while linen represents the vegetative element in man. In man, the animalistic abilities of mind and will power, must not be inclined toward the vegetative urges for reproduction and food (nutrition). Rather, these two components must be separated so that it is not used “downwards towards vegetative sensuality, (but) upwards towards the pinnacle of Mankind.”

Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner zt’l offered a beautiful explanation for the universal custom that a groom gives his bride a diamond ring: At the time of Creation, mankind was charged with the maintenance and furtherance of the world. “Let us make man in our image… they shall rule over the fish in the sea, the birds of the sky, and over the animal, the whole earth, and every creepy thing that creeps on the earth.[3]” When G-d initially created the world, “He saw that it was good[4]”. But after He created Man, “G-d saw all that He had made, and it was very good[5].”

There are four levels of life in the world: inanimate, plant, animal, man. Plant and animal serve Man by providing him with food and clothing. How do minerals and the inanimate serve Man? One way is that man wears precious stones and diamonds as ornamental jewelry. The beauty of the human countenance is enhanced by the evocative quality that gems and diamonds provide.

When man dons inanimate objects as jewelry it is the greatest demonstration of man’s ability and responsibility to elevate all of creation. It symbolizes that the highest level of being in this world elevates even the basest level of being in this world.

At a wedding the second of the seven special blessings recited is “Blessed are You… the fashioner of the Man.” When a man and woman bond in marriage they are embarking on a journey to produce the next generation of mankind. Therefore, at the moment when they agree to commit themselves to that process, he gives her a diamond to symbolize that through their marriage they have the ability – and responsibility - to elevate all of creation[6].

Twice a year – on Tisha B’av and Yom Kippur – it is forbidden for a Jew to wear shoes made from leather. What is the reason behind this prohibition?

Divrei Shaul[7] explained that man wears leather constructed from the hides of animals as a symbol of his dominance over animals. With every step he takes he asserts his superiority and dominance over all of creation.

However, during two days we are removed from that symbolic dominance. On Tisha B’av when the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed, and we were shamefully banished into exile, we lost our superiority over creation. Thus we remove our shoes to symbolize that loss of greatness and status. On Tisha B’av we forfeit our elevated status.

On Yom Kippur we seek to temporarily divorce ourselves from our physical selves so that we can spend the day focusing in spiritual meditation. On Yom Kippur we remove our shoes to symbolize that on this day our focus is not on dominating this world but on living an other-worldly life, divorced from our animalistic urges and drives.

In a sense on Tisha B’av our shoes were removed from us; on Yom Kippur we remove our shoes willingly[8].

A Jew is charged with elevating, not only the plant and animal components within himself, but also to elevate all of creation. He does so by adhering to the laws of the Torah and mitzvos. Through his deeds and actions the whole world merits blessing and prosperity.

May we indeed be the conduits to merit such blessing and goodness.

“You shall not wear combined fibers, wool and linen together”

“Let us make man… they shall rule the whole earth”

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW

Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead

Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – ASHAR

Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor

Sign up to receive Stam Torah via email each week at:

[1] When I mentioned this to one of the guides, she retorted, “You know, you’re the fourth person today to tell me that!”

[2] Devorim 22:11; also in Vayikra 19:19 “And a garment that is a mixture of combined fibers shall not come upon you.”

[3] Bereishis 1:24

[4] Ibid 1:4

[5] Ibid 1:31

[6] Note: he cannot give her a diamond ring under the chuppah because at that point she is agreeing to a halachic acquisition through her acceptance of the ring. She must therefore know about how much the ring is worth, otherwise she can claim that she only agreed to the marriage on the assumption that the ring was worth much more. To avoid this problem, under the chuppah she is given a ring which she has a relative idea of how much its worth. At the engagement however (or sometime thereafter), the custom us to give her a diamond because of its symbolism.

[7] Derush l’Shabbos Shuva 5631

[8] The Divrei Shaul utilizes this idea to explain why chalitzah is performed with the removal of the Yavam’s shoe.

To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.

Reader's Comments:      Rating & Comments Policy      Rate & Write a Comment!
 Average Rating:       Not Rated Yet
Subscribe to this Article
(by subscribing you will receive email notification
when new comments are posted)
There are no comments yet. Click above to write the first comment.
Dear Readers:

Please visit our Parenting Resource listing to learn about agencies and services that you can make use of. If you know of an agency that can be of assistance to others, kindly drop an email to our site administrator at and pass along the information to him.

I ask that you please consider supporting the work we are doing to improve the lives of our children. Click on these links to learn more about our teen and parent mentoring program that serves hundreds of teens and their families, or our KESHER program, now in 20 schools in 4 states. Your financial support can allow us to expand these services and help more children.

If you believe in the governing principles of this website – to help effect positive change through the candid discussions of the real issues we collectively face, please consider becoming a daily, weekly or monthly sponsor of this website and help defray the costs of it’s maintenance.

Working with Families and Educators on Behalf of our Children

This site is managed by The Center for Jewish Family Life, Inc., 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952
Project Y.E.S. was founded by Agudath Israel of America
The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES - 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952 (845) 352-7100 ext. 114 Fax: (845) 352-9593