Secular Music

27 10 2010
Excerpted from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller’s Question and Answer series on

Achieving Balance:  Class #4

I grew up listening to secular music (rock, among other genres) and I still enjoy it. I can’t stand most of the modern Jewish music available.  Do I need to deprive myself of listening to what I like?


I understand what you mean about modern Jewish music, but there’s a lot more out there than you think. I don’t think being frum means depriving yourself. I think we have to be selective. The lives of people involved in secular entertainment are not good lives. It’s not as black and white as you think. Wholesomeness and good-heartedness don’t come from listening to rock. There’s invisible power woven into music that can have both a positive and a deleterious effect on us.

Elevate your musical experience with pure and holy melodies. Listen to real music. I mean the Chassidic melodies of two hundred years ago such as Chabad, Belz, and Breslov. These are classics that are moving and beautiful. Try to get people in yeshiva to record a Simchat Beit Hoshevea or get a cassette of a Simchat Chatan V’kallah. This kind of music is stirring and inspiring and will uplift your soul in a way that secular music never will.

Tu B’Av and the Essence of Marriage

25 07 2010

Based on a shiur on Tu B’Av by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller

Tu B'Av and the Essence of Marriage

The  Ohr Hachaim states that everything in this world has both male and female aspects.   The male aspect gives forth and the female aspect receives, builds, and gives birth. People live fragmented lives and then become whole through their interaction with others. Fragmentation is inherently necessary. Hashem is the only being that is completely male without any female element. He does not need to be provided for by anyone. He is the male of the world and all humankind is the female. Man receives and builds in accordance with His will. Hashem is manifested as Chochma-the momentary flash of creative inspiration which is called Abah. Humankind is Binah- containment, as we take that flash and develop it further so that it takes on form and structure. This is called Imah. The combination of Chochma and Binah creates Daat-the unborn child, which is the ability to make moral decisions. The world is a meeting place for Chochma and Binah.   Malchut and Tiferet work in tandem with Chochmah and Binah. The trait of Malchut means committing to making something happen on Hashem’s terms. This comes together with Tiferet to create an elusive wholeness.

Tu B’av is an auspicious day to think about marriage and what it truly means. It involves reaching towards that sheleimut of Tiferet and Malchut. This means approaching the dating scene with the attitude of, “I am in this to give and build,” instead of, “What can I receive?” A young woman needs to ask herself, “What can I do with my desire to build and with whom can I build?” The young man needs to ask, “Can she receive and build with what I will provide?”  There has to be an elevated vision rather than just a desire  for pleasure, honor, and filling ones practical needs.

A time of destruction is also a time of rebuilding. In order to achieve actualization as a people we need a period of mourning, of seeing what we are not and what we don’t have. The decrease in joy creates a yearning for the redemption. Similarly, one should enter the shidduch process with the recognition that one cannot build by oneself and one cannot give meaningfully if there is no one to receive and build with it.  There is a profound yearning for completion. The ultimate marriage is the combination of chochma, binah, tiferet, and malchut.

One should marry with the goal to make Hashem known in the world and to reveal goodness in each other, the world, and future children. A woman needs to look for a future husband whom she can revere and who will treasure her and provide the goodness with which she can build. A man needs to look for a woman who is credible, committed, and who will respect him and potentially be able to build what he wants to see built.

Tu B’av is meant to be a joyous day.  Happiness comes from being able to say, “I am building, not receiving.” The most exhilarating moments of a person’s life are moments of achievement intertwined with connection. Unity means when both parties stop seeing themselves without the other, when self actualization becomes the actualization of “us”.   Let us strive to reach this level of supreme joy, selflessness, perfection, and true unity in our marriages.

The Jewish Perspective on Being a Vegetarian

5 05 2010

Excerpted from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller’s Question and Answer series on


I would like to know if being vegetarian is acceptable for an observant Jew.

There are basically two reasons why people become vegetarians.  One is related to health and the other is a feeling of repulsion at the concept of consuming animal flesh.

If you think eating meat is not optimal for your health, by all means be a vegetarian. However, if you have difficulties understanding how the Torah can permit the slaughter of animals, or you don’t want an animal in you because you see yourself as a spiritual being, or you assume all animal consumption is a product of animal pain, those are different issues.

The Torah not only permits eating meat, but in a certain way encourages it. During the Temple era, there were some sacrifices that were offered in their entirety on the altar. Other animal sacrifices had specific portions of meat that were given as gifts to a kohen to eat. Some of these sacrifices would not be valid offering unless the kohen ate the meat.

Korban comes from the root word karev, to draw near. A person can come closer to Hashem when he eats an animal sacrifice, which is a symbol of the animal self in its elevated state.  If a person eats with the proper intentions, thinking how he will positively use the strength drawn from a meat meal, he sanctifies both himself and the animal. There is tikun atzmi and tikun olam.

The Torah states that shechita is acceptable and appropriate. Hashem permits it and He does not allow brutal treatment of animals. Therefore, shechita is not considered cruel. Hashem says animals should not be tortured, but they are in no way like humans.

You may feel that you want to overcome the animal in you. Because of this, you may maintain that eating an animal draws you down. As proof some people note that Adam before the sin was not allowed to eat meat. However, the Torah view allows, and in many instances condones, the consumption of animals. Therefore, proper consumption of meat cannot cause you a negative spiritual affect.

Questions and Answers for Today’s Jewish Woman with Rebbetzin Heller, Part 9

3 06 2009

It’s Here! Part 9 of the Question and Answer series entitled ‘Rebbetzin’s Perspective: Balancing Life’s Challenges’ with Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller is now available at in streaming video as well as for download in mp3 and ipod video formats.

Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller discusses contemporary challenges facing Jewish women today, as she responds to questions sent in to her from Naaleh students around the world.

This specific class discusses complex family relationships, the Torah’s perspective on worldwide tragedies, tzniut, husbands and wives on different spiritual levels, and understanding why we were created, among other topics.

To view this class check out the following link:
Questions and Answers for Today’s Jewish Woman, Part 9