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Read Parshas HaMan Today – Segulah for Parnossa (Income) During the Year!

Read Parshas HaMan Today – Segulah for Parnossa (Income) During the Year!

Today is the Tuesday of the week during which we read Parshas Beshalach.  Our sages teach us that it is an opportune time to read Parshas HaMan, which is not about Haman (from the Purim story), but is actually about the “man” – the manna that fell from heaven.

This is called a segulah, which is something one can do to invoke increase spirituality and change one’s mazal (natural fortune) for the better.  Certain segulot are said to bring about certain changes in one’s fortune on a spiritual level.  Reading Parshas HaMan today is said to increase parnossa (income or wealth).

If possible, read Parshas HaMan in Hebrew.  Read it twice mikra and once targum.  (You can find a good version of Parshas HaMan HERE.)  But if you can’t read Hebrew, don’t worry – just look it up in your English chumash and read it there.  You can find it in Exodus Chapter 16, verses 4-36.

Hashem should bless you and me and all of us with a year full of amazing and abundant parnossa!

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What is Sinat Chinam and How Can Jews Get Along better?


 I’m posting this because I think it is very important. I touch on this idea in my book ‘Freiing Out,’ and about the importance of respecting differences in others within a halachic framework.

 Also ‘Halach for Today’ is a great site to sign up to. You will receive a daily halacha. I’ve been receiving their email now for over a year and have found the content very interesting.


This solemn period in the Jewish calendar is a time for reflection of our relationship to one another, especially as it relates to “Sinas Chinam, baseless hatred”, the sin that brought about the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, the sin which the Talmud states is equal in severity to transgressing the three cardinal sins of idol worship, murder and sexual depravity.(Talmud Yoma 9b)

The Netziv, HaRav Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin (in Shu”t Mayshiv Davar Vol.1 Siman 44) famously expounds upon this “baseless hatred” and explains that it was not just a hatred towards people for petty iniquities, rather it included a hatred for any Jew who practiced their “Avodas Hashem” in a different manner than them

 If one saw another Jew relying on a Halachic leniency which was accepted in that person’s community, but wasn’t relied upon in their own circles, instead of accepting that “Eilu V’Eilu Divrei Elokim Chaim” (See Talmud Eruvin 13b) , that person was deemed a heretic and was baselessly hated to the point that people were attacked or even killed for being different!

All Jews who long for the arrival of Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash – and the Jewish nation- to its former glory, should try and rectify themselves during this period, especially in this crucial area of Sinas Chinam.




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Jewish Ideas and Conversations Publishes Article on Freiing Out

A while back I was contacted by if I could write an article for them based on my book ‘Freiing Out,’ which explores why people go off the derech. It was my first time hearing of the publication, and after reading through a few copies I found the content they provided very interesting. Rachel and I jointly wrote an article for them which was published in their last book and can now be read online here.

I won’t say that I agree with everything that and Conversations prints because I have not read everything. I do however like the way they think and their willingness to approach contemporary modern day issues that many others will not look at. For this I respect them. I won’t necessarily agree with all their conclusions but they approach everything from a Torah and hallachic stand which I feel is good.

‘Shivim panim l’torah’- there are seventy faces to Torah, meaning there are seventy ways to learn something and it is important for us as Jews to respect other peoples interpretations so far as they are within hallachic boundaries.

See here to read more:

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Do Jews meditate, and what is Jewish meditation?

Do Jews meditate, and what is Jewish meditation?
Rabbi Ben meditating as he looks out over the Pacific Ocean

Rabbi Ben meditating as he looks out over the Pacific Ocean

Meditation is a major part of most of the world’s religions.  Hindus and Buddhists believe their meditations can change the spiritual  vibrations of the world.  But in Judaism, we almost never hear meditation mentioned.  Why not? Does Jewish meditation exist? And if so, what is Jewish meditation?

To answer this question, you must first determine what meditation is.  There are many types of meditation.  Some meditation is simply quiet contemplation and some mediation is an attempt to reach spiritual realms.  These are totally different activities and are viewed differently by Judaism.

One of the most well-known types of meditation is transcendental meditation.  This is when people try to use meditation to reach a higher spiritual plane.  The Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke out strongly against this practice.  In Judaism we do believe in high spiritual worlds, but transcendental meditation is not the appropriate way to access them.  Transcendental meditation is used for avodah zarah (idol worship) and does not take G-d into account in the way that prayer does.  In Judaism, rather than engage in transcendental meditation, Jews should instead work on their prayer and study of Torah. In this way anybody is able to reach a higher spiritual level and those who work on themselves enough to become tzaddikim may even be able to access the higher spiritual worlds in a kosher manner.

But transcendental meditation is not the only kind of meditation.  Just because Jews should not engage in transcendental meditation does not mean they should not engage in any kind of meditation at all.  In fact, prayer can be a form of meditation.  Many of the traditional forms of meditation involve chanting a mantra or reciting a text.  There is nothing wrong with choosing a Jewish text to recite as part of a meditation or mantra. For example, reciting the Shema or saying over and over again “gam zu le tova” (everything is for the good) could be positive and fulfilling mantras and would aid in appropriate meditation.  In fact, someone who is very spiritually connected should view each of the daily prayers as an opportunity to connect to G-d directly and the text of the prayers should be like a meditation. As with a meditation, they should help clear the person’s mind and raise them to a higher level of spirituality and spiritual awareness.

There is another type of meditation we use in Judaism, which is called by the Breslov Hasidim “hibodedut.”  Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains that this is a personal prayer in which you can say anything you want to G-d.  He advocates going alone to the fields and forests to pray like this for an hour every day.  If this is not a type of meditation, I don’t know what is! This is your chance to talk directly to G-d using whatever words and spiritual energy you have.

Furthermore, simply sitting quietly and clearing one’s mind is a type of meditation.  This is certainly not a problem in Judaism, although perhaps prayer is preferable.

But one must remember not to get too caught up in meditation, or even in prayer. Judaism is a religion of action.  Even someone who is praying the shmona esrei (the most holy prayer) must stop what he is doing and run to help in certain situations.  And there are many situations where it is preferable to stop one’s prayers to go do an active mitzvah helping another person.  In Judaism, of the 10 commandments, 5 are between G-d and man, and 5 are between man and man.  This indicates that we should find a balance between these two relationships in our lives.  Meditation is good because it can connect us to G-d, if done in the right way. But our relationship with G-d is only half of what we must accomplish as Jews. We must be sure to also work on our relationships with our fellow men, too.

Hopefully, this has given you all something to… well… meditate on!

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Cleaning for Pesach: Guest Post from Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg

Rabbi Scheinberg has recently fallen ill and needs a Refuah Shleimah. We hope that learning his halachos regarding cleaning for Pesach will be a merit for him.

These notes are based on the responsa of Moreinu v’Rabbeinu HaGaon HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Shlita, Rosh Yeshiva Torah Ore, to questions posed by women attending his regular chizuk talks. They have been compiled by a group of his Talmidim.

In former times, wealthy people who had large houses also had many servants who did their every bidding, while poor people, who could not afford servants, lived in small homes with one or two rooms. Understandably, the pre-Pessach chores of the rich were performed by the servants, while the poor, who had only their one or two rooms to clean, a few pieces of furniture, a minimum of utensils, and some clothing, took care of their needs themselves. In those days, the cleaning was hard. Tables were made of raw wood, requiring them to be scrubbed or even to be shaven to ensure that no pieces of food were hidden in the cracks. Earthen or wooden floors also needed to be thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed.

Today, we seem to be caught in a trap. The average modern home is larger than formerly. Furniture, utensils and clothing are much more plentiful. The average home today could compare with the more affluent homes of previous generations. However, we do not have the servants that they had, so that, today, all the chores fall on the housewife. At the same time, she feels obligated to clean and scrub as they did formerly, even though she has laminated furniture and tiled floors, making this type of cleaning unnecessary.

As a result of this, the pressure of pre-Pessach cleaning has reached unnecessary and overwhelming levels. The housewife often becomes overly nervous, unable to enjoy the Simchas Yom Tov of Pessach and unable to perform the mitzvahs and obligations of the Seder night.

Pessach, like every other Yom Tov, must be enjoyed by every member of the family, including women. This is an obligation clearly defined in the Torah as explained by Chazal zt”l. We can understand a person dreading Tisha B’Av but Pessach is to be looked forward to and anticipated with joy. Every woman should be well rested, relaxed, and alert at the Seder table so that she can fulfill all the Torah and Rabbinical obligations and follow the Hagadah with the rest of the family. Clearly, the performance of her pre-Pessach duties must be balanced against her Pessach obligations.

Pre-Pessach cleaning is required to avoid the danger of transgressing any Torah or Rabbinical prohibition of having chometz in the house on Pessach. It is evident from the responsa of the Rosh HaYeshiva, shlita, that this need not be excessive.

It is not the intention here to abolish Minhagim which have been passed down by Klal Yisroel from generation to generation. Nevertheless, some practices adopted by women in the Pessach cleaning today, are not an actual continuation of the old Minhagim. For example, if a person does not sell his chometz, of course it is necessary to check his utensils and to wash off any chometz left on them, or render the chometz inedible. But, if the chometz is sold, then washing the pots and pans and dishes which are going to be locked away is not necessary. One might be tempted to insist on doing the extra work anyway-to be “machmir” (stringent). However, in these stringency’s lies the grave danger of causing many laxities and brushing aside many mitzvahs completely, Torah and Rabbinical obligations which women are required to do on Pessach and particularly during the Seder. Many women like to do more “cleaning” than the bare minimum, to such an extent, that some even incorporate their general “spring cleaning” into the required Pre-Pessach chores. These extra exertions should not prevent them from fulfilling their obligations on Pessach, and particularly, on the Seder night.

A. All property and possessions must be cleaned and checked to make sure that they are free of all chometz, except in the following cases:
B. If, during the year, chometz is not brought into a place, that place does not have to be cleaned out or checked for chometz.

C. Any article which is not used on Pessach does not need to be checked for chometz provided it is put away properly and the chometz is sold.

D. Crumbs which have been rendered completely inedible to the extent that they are not fit to be eaten by a dog are not considered chometz.

E. The general obligation to check for and destroy crumbs does not apply if the crumbs are less than the size of an olive (kezayis) and are dirty or spoiled enough to prevent a person from eating them.

F. The household cleaner mentioned below must spoil the crumbs slightly to the extent that people would refrain from eating them.

1. CLOTHING CLOSETS: If there is some significant possibility that chometz went into them, they should be checked for fully edible crumbs of chometz, besides large pieces of chometz foods. If the probability that chometz entered these places is remote, a Rav can be consulted to clarify the conditions under which they do not have to be checked. This includes chests, dressers, basements, and all other similar cases (See General Note E).
2. FLOORS: In our times we don’t have earthen floors with deep cracks in them. It is sufficient for tiled or covered floors to be swept and washed with a household floor cleaner. The small cracks do not have to be checked if the cleaning solution reaches into them.

3. FOOD CABINETS: If the cabinet is not going to be used on Pessach see General Notes C & E above. If the cabinet is going to be used on Pessach, take out all of the food, and wash it with a rag soaked in a household cleaner. Be sure the cleansing agent reaches into all the cracks and soaks into any crumbs that might be left there. The usual practice is to line the cabinets.

4. REFRIGERATOR: Take the food out, and wash it with a rag soaked in a household cleaner. The racks are usually covered. (It is advisable to leave holes for air circulation.)

5. KASHERING SINKS: Clean the sinks, and pour a kettle of boiling water into them and on their sides. Some people pour hot water mixed with bleach down the drain. The usual practice today is to line the sinks (e.g. aluminum foil, contact paper) or to use an insert—if not difficult, this practice should be followed.

6. FAUCETS (TAPS): Cleaning, without any other kashering procedure, is sufficient.

7. MARBLE AND STAINLESS STEEL COUNTERS: If they were used for hot chometz they should first be cleaned well. Then either boiling hot water should be poured on them, or they should be completely covered so that nothing Pesach’dik touches them. Some people do both.

8. TABLETOPS: Wash them with a household cleaner. The usual practice is to cover the tables.

9. KASHERING RANGE/OVEN/STOVE-TOP: Wash the top and side surface areas with a rag soaked in a household cleaner. Some people cover it with aluminum foil. Old grates can be kashered by first cleaning them and then lighting all the burners, raising them to their maximum heat, and preferably putting on a “blech” while the burners are on. This spreads the heat over the whole top and intensifies the heat on the grates. Let it burn for 5-10 minutes.

OVEN: If the oven is going to be used:

(A) Wash out any edible chometz with a rag soaked in a household cleaner. If you suspect that there are any inaccessible crumbs or particles of chometz, then clean the oven with any of the regular oven-cleaners (e.g. Easy-Off). (After using the oven-cleaner, there is no need for further cleaning). Then heat the inside of the oven by turning the oven on the highest temperature for about one hour. (On electric ovens it should be determined whether the highest temperature is on “roasting” or “broil” (“Grill”). However, if a closed oven insert for baking and roasting is available, this would be preferable. In this case, only washing and cleaning are necessary.
(B) Do not use the chometz-dik oven racks for Pessach. If this is too difficult, then one can kasher the racks with the same procedure as for the oven.

(C) Chometz-dik baking and roasting pans should not be used for Pessach. In a case of extreme difficulty, where one can not obtain Pessach-dik pans, the procedure for kashering an oven (see (A) above) may be used on the pans if they have not been used for 24 hours. However, care must be taken to clean any chometz which may be embedded under the lip or rim, etc. If the oven is not going to be used: None of the above is necessary. Just make certain that there is no edible chometz inside, tape it closed well and see below #10.

10. POTS, PANS, DISHES, & SILVERWARE (CUTLERY): Whatever is not going to be used for Pessach should either be locked up, or put away and sealed in a manner which will remind you not to use them on Pessach. If there is a possibility of actual chometz in them, the chometz should be sold (See Gen. Note C.). If you do not sell chometz, then they should either be washed or soaked in a household cleaner; it is not necessary to scrub them. (Concerning Kashering utensils for Pessach consult a Rav.)
11. FOOD PROCESSOR/MIXER: A Rav should be consulted.

12. DISH TOWELS: If one does not have a Pesach’dik set of dish towels, then one’s regular dish towels may be used if they are washed with detergent and no food remains attached to them. (It is customary to have a set of Pesach’dik dish towels).

13. PESACH TABLECLOTHS: These can be ironed with the same iron as is used during the rest of the year.

14. CLOTHES, BLANKETS, POCKETS, ETC.: If they have been washed in detergent or dry cleaned, then there is no need for them to be checked (see General Note E). Otherwise, they need to be cleaned and checked thoroughly by brushing or shaking them out well. However, if there is a possibility of crumbs between the stitches or in a hidden crevice which cannot be shaken out, then they must be wiped with a rag which has been soaked in a detergent. Clothes which will not be worn on Pessach do not have to be checked, but they should be put away and the chometz in them sold ( see General Note C. And Sec. 10 on Pots and Pans).

15. SIDDURIM, BENCHERS, SEFORIM, & BOOKS: If there is a chance that they contain chometz crumbs, then they should either be put away and sold with the other chometz utensils (See General Notes C.), or cleaned and checked well.

16. TOYS: If there is edible chometz, then it should either be removed, or rendered inedible (See General Notes E). There is no need to scrub them.

17. TECHINA AND OTHER KITNIYUS: May be used after the house has been cleaned for Pessach. They should not be cooked in utensils that will be used on Pessach, and certainly not on Pessach itself ( according to the Askenaz Minhag).

18. CHECKING THE ROOMS: If it is too difficult to check all the rooms on one night, then the work may be divided and done on other nights (according to all the Laws of Bedikas Chometz). No chometz should be left in any room that has been cleaned and checked properly. Since the brocha is not recited before the night of the l4th, therefore, at least one place that has chometz should be left unchecked. Then, the mitzvah of Bedikas Chometz can be performed with a brocha on the night of the 14th on that area. If the whole house has already been completely cleaned before the l4th, then the l0 pieces of chometz (according to the Minhag) should be hidden by somebody else so that proper bedikah can be made.

19. FOOD THAT FALLS onto a chair or onto the floor on Pessach should be washed off for hygienic reasons. The food does not become chometz even if the food is hot.

20. LAST MINUTE PREPARATIONS: For example, setting the table, etc., should be completed early enough in the day, so that you will be able to rest a little bit. Be ready to start the Seder immediately after Maariv, to ensure that the children won’t fall asleep at the Seder.

21. ENJOY PESACH! Try to make the Pessach chores easy for yourself. Don’t do unnecessary hard work. Don’t do unnecessary cleaning. YOU can be like a Queen and you must enjoy Pessach.


Some women have a habit of taking a bite of matzo, then running back and forth to the kitchen taking a few more bites in between. In this way, it takes them too long to eat the matzo, and they do not fulfill the mitzvah properly. The same is true about the wine, maror, korech, and afikomen. Therefore, do not leave the table until you have finished eating the required amount. Sit like a Queen! Relax and be calm while eating and drinking the matzo and wine within the time limit. The cooking can be checked after completing the mitzvahs. Remember..these are mitzvahs that can be done only once a year, so enjoy them and enjoy the whole Seder.
There are many laws about which there exist numerous opinions. It is beyond the scope of this pamphlet to encompass all of the opinions. Many people choose to be more stringent on various issues. Much can be written about each and every detail. The laws contained herein are the basic requirements to fulfill the Halachic obligations. If this is difficult, a Halachic authority should be consulted.

SIZE: The size of a kezayis is a measurement in volume equal to the volume of half an egg. There is a difference of opinion if our eggs are smaller than those at the time of the Talmud. According to the Chazon Ish zt’l the size of kezayis d’oraisa is 45-50 cc. And according to the Hagaon Harav A. Chaim No’eh zt’l it is 25.6-28.8 cc. According to the Mishna Brura for a Mitzvah d’Oraisa we should measure according to the larger shiur (size) and for a Mitzvah d’Rabbonon it is permissible to rely on the smaller shiur.
It is very hard to give an exact standard shiur for the amount of hand matzo that one has to eat for a kezayis d’Oraisa and a kezayis d’rabbonon; therefore a Rav should be consulted. However, one can rely on the fact that by breaking the matzo into small pieces an then filling up one’s mouth with as much as possible (remaining relaxed) leaving minimal room for chewing afterwards, one will have eaten enough to fulfill one’s obligation of the Mitzvah of eating Motzei Matzo.

It should be noted that:

1. Hand matzo should be used for Motzei Matzo, Korech, and afikomen. If this is impossible then a Rav should be consulted.
2. Korech is a Mitzvah d’Rabbonon and requires a kezayis of matzo and a kezayis of maror.

3. Elderly people or those unable to meet these requirements should consult a Rav.

4. Afikomen is a Mitzvah d’Rabbonon and requires a kezayis of matzo. It would be preferable to eat 2 kezaysim.

1. If possible it is preferable to try and swallow one kezayis at one time. Otherwise, it is preferable that the kezayis for the Mitzvah d’Oraisa of Matzo should be eaten within two minutes, or at least four minutes.
2. 5-6 minutes is acceptable by some Rabbinical authorities.

3. Relax, chew well and then begin swallowing. The time limit starts from when you begin swallowing.

4. Under very exceptional circumstances, 9 minutes is also acceptable.

5. If one encounters difficulty, a small amount of water may be sipped while chewing.

1. Red wine is preferable.

2. If one cannot drink wine he may use grape juice.

3. Those allergic to wine and to grape juice may use a “Chamer Medina”, for example tea and coffee.

SIZE: 1. The cup used must contain at least a revi’is.

To avoid drowsiness: (a) use a cup that does not exceed a minimum shiur (size). (When the Seder falls out on Friday night, a larger shiur or revi’is should be used for the First Cup. (B) One may drink a glass of water immediately after swallowing the wine. (The water should be on the table at the time that one says the brocha of Borei Pri Hagafen so that the water is included in the brocha on the wine.

2. Preferably, one should drink the entire cup.

3. If this is very difficult, then drinking most of the cup is sufficient.

Under exceptional conditions, drinking most of the revi’is is acceptable, even if the cup is much larger than a revi’is.

TIME LIMIT: Preferably, two swallows. If this is difficult then up to 4 minutes is acceptable. If necessary 5 or 6 minutes is also acceptable by some Poskim.

HAGADAH: The proper time for starting the Seder is right after tzeis hakochovim. Upon arriving home from Maariv one should start the Seder promptly in order that the children should not fall asleep before eating the Matzo and Maror and the meal. Therefore, one should say the Hagadah as quickly as possible, and save the commentaries for later on.

LEANING: The mitzvah of “Hasaivah”, is to give one a feeling of freedom; one must lean on the left side, however, one should not lean in an uncomfortable manner. The Minhag is that women do not lean.

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Parshas Noach: Halacha of Traveling by Ship

Parshas Noach: Halacha of Traveling by Ship

Most of the time, Rabbi Ben and I travel by land or air.  For long distances, air is simply fastest. For short distances, overland travel is most economical.  But sometimes we do travel by water.  I love the water and really enjoy taking short jaunts on boats.  Most of the time, travel by water these days does not take as long as it once did. Our ships are faster and more stable.  But sometimes, like on cruises, or for sailors, trips by sea take much longer.

I’ve also taken a couple of cruises through the Caribbean, although cruises are not my personal favorite. (I get what I call “golden cage” syndrome – the ship is to me like a big, fancy prison – I just want to be off and exploring!)  Of course, Jews traveling on cruises have to take many factors into account.  You are allowed to go on a cruise that will be afloat over Shabbat, although you should not depart too close to Shabbat – make sure it leaves on a Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday.  Chazal, concerned about the possibility of seasickness, determined that it is inappropriate to leave within 3 days of Shabbat.  If your trip is traveling on Shabbat, make sure the ship is neither owned nor operated by Jews, and that it runs on fixed schedules, regardless of the number of passengers.

Of course, once you’re already on the cruise, you can disembark if the ship docks on Shabbat.  Just be careful – there won’t be any eruv, so you can’t carry. This applies even if you have some sort of ID badge!  So if you need ID to get back on the ship, best discuss it with the staff beforehand.  Don’t worry about going through metal detectors or the like – as long as you are wearing nothing that will set it off, it is fine to walk through them.  And since you won’t be carrying anything, you’ll have nothing to put through the X-ray machines! But while you’re off the ship, be careful not to walk too far – only about 7/10 of a mile is permitted.

While you’re on the ship, you might encounter many of the same challenges as if you are staying in a fancy hotel.  If your hotel uses electronic key cards, you will have to have staff open your door for you.  If doors are electronic, you will have to wait for a non-Jew to pass through and open them up.  If lighting candles is forbidden, you will have to light electronic ones (without a blessing!).

You should also plan a few things before you go. Make sure that kosher grape juice or wine and challah will be available – even if you have to bring it yourself.  Also, you should either explain to the ship that you want your Shabbos lunch served cold, or you should ask them to serve you a meal that contains no liquid that might be heated.   And make sure they know not to cook anything new on Shabbos! (If a non-Jew reheats a meal consisting only of solids on Shabbos without being asked, you can still eat it – but not if it includes liquids, sauces, or if it was cooked on Shabbos!) Make sure to also pack the essentials: a kiddush cup, candle(s) for havdallah, and a small sachet of besamim.

Even when it’s not Shabbat, you still have to take care on a cruise ship, especially with things like kashrus.  Make sure to order kosher meals in advance. It is easiest if you don’t go with a company that cannot order them for you.  Otherwise, you can always double-wrap some potatoes and veggies in foil and bake them, or maybe even get some fresh fish filleted for you.  It is best, however, to make sure you turn on the oven or place it in yourself. Other than that, you can always wash and check some veggies for yourself – if they’re cut with a clean, cold knife and aren’t sharp (like onion or radish) then they’re usually okay (although check with your rav depending on how strict you are!). If the ship has a “kosher” kitchen, inquire as to the divisions and the mashgiach situation – otherwise, it might not be reliable.

This week’s parsha features a really giant ship that was at sea for 40 consecutive days and nights.  Noach wasn’t bound by keeping the Torah, but it did get me thinking.  Noach did not sleep the entire time the ship was afloat!  He had to spend all of his time caring for the myriad animals aboard.  So I guess if you find Shabbat restrictions on a cruise ship challenging or tedious, just think about poor Noach, shoveling all that elephant poo!

Shabbat shalom!

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