Please see the attached flyer announcing the AHAVAS YISRAEL RESPONSE - our response to the Meron tragedy.
The AHAVAS YISRAEL RESPONSE is a 45 day initiative to activate your community and communities around the world to start and join Ahavas Yisrael discussion groups for women. Each week, a pre-prepared lesson will be emailed to group leaders to read with their group. It will include an Ahavas Yisrael topic, a relevant story, a few discussion questions and a bite-sized "stretch of the week" in Ahavas Yisrael.
Women are encouraged to host groups on Shabbos, but any day of the week can work. You can even start a group via zoom!
This initiative is associated with the original Ahavas Yisrael Project, founded by Rebetzin Tziporah Harris in 2008.
Ladies, we need you to answer the call! Forty five (מ"ה) kedoshim were taken from this world on Lag Baomer. We have to respond! WHAT can we do? What can YOU do?
Start a group. Join a group. It's that simple! Sign up, invite your friends and neighbors and receive weekly emails to be read aloud in your group. Then, experience firsthand the power of connecting and growing with a chaburah!
Join by Thursday, May 20th ( 9th of Sivan) so you can be connected with all the other groups during this 45 day initiative.
One group member said the following, after just 2 lessons:
"At the beginning, when one of my neighbors launched the idea of starting a group in our neighborhood, I was skeptical. I didn't think change could really happen within a group and especially, with such a diverse group of women. But I still signed up, as I wanted a shiur or something... to fill my Shabbos afternoons.
From week one, I saw the power of a chaburah, of group work and the effect of small things that can change your whole mindset. Because your focus is on the practical task all week, your mindset is different and positive, and you start to change and improve in Ahavas Yisrael.
I truly recommend this project as an opportunity for growth in a practical and exciting way! It goes without saying how much I gain from meeting women I wouldn't have met before and I enjoy connecting with them in a more meaningful way." - a Ramat Beit Shemesh Resident
(See the attached short video from Rebetzin Heller-Gottlieb about this initiative.)
Our goal is to have Ahavas Yisrael groups on every street, in every neighborhood! Please forward this message to neighbors, friends, family.. every woman you know! :) Sharing this message is just one more effort you can make towards increasing Ahavas Yisrael!
This initiative is dedicated: לעילוי נשמת קדושי מירון ז"ל; לרפואת יוסף עזריאל בן חיה מיכל; לרפואת אלעזר בן ראומה
(You can host a group in your home in the merit of someone that you know that needs a yeshuah!)
If you can't host a group in your own home, then please encourage one of your neighbors to host. And share, share, share this message with other women!
Tizku l'Mitzvos! And in the merit of our efforts, may we all merit the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days!
With love ,
THE AHAVAS YISRAEL RESPONSE
*LETTER WRITTEN BY THE SAVARANER REBBE, RAV YITZCHAK MEIR HAGAR SHLITA In the aftermath of the Tragedy in Meron, Lag B’Omer 5781 (2021)
It’s human to cry and sob when you hear of what happened to all of us, here in EY.
Please wake up! Let each person leave his evil path.
Perhaps if we do tshuvah, Hashem will relent and move beyond His wrath, and we will not perish.
Dread and terror replaced the joy and celebration, leaving us with remorse and fear. How can you look past what has happened? Hashem has made each of our hearts tremble when you think about the overwhelming horror. Hashem turned the holy celebration of the great lofty tannah, Rashbi, into the valley of death flowing with rivers of blood.
Unless you are cruel, and have no heart, you have a real obligation to think deeply, and really contemplate, why our lives have been forced to change, and why the entire country has been stricken. Rashbi’s merit is great enough to save everyone from severe decrees. What we see is that the severity of the decree was greater even than anything that his great merit could have averted. Hashem chose to turn around our simchah to tears, dancing to mourning, joy to heartbreak and fear.
The reason that the plague that had stricken Rabi Akiva’s students who were held accountable for not having treated each other with sufficient respect stopped on Lag B’Omer is because they changed. The envy and hatred stopped, as explained in the sefer Yismach Yisrael.
But now they are back.
The victims of the tragedy are not the guilty parties. They no doubt are with Rashbi. You have to be honest. Their deaths were not caused by stone throwing, or iron. It wasn’t caused by bombs or accidents. It happened by people stepping on each other and crushing each other. It is a reflection of what happens on a daily basis- people eat each other alive. Each person thinks about what he needs, what will benefit him. He is willing to cause untold pain and aggravation to his neighbor in order to gain some advantage (sometimes a really petty one). He is only aware of his own feelings, and blocks out what his choices do to others. Apologizing is seen as weakness, and forgoing an advantage is seen as a flaw.
We are experts in making excuses. He knows all of the “reasons why” it is “assur” to give in. After all, right is right, and wrong is wrong, and he is right. In fact, he will even think that he is walking the extra mile to be decent. If someone has the nerve to correct him, he is ready to get back at him, and his anger is only a step away from murder- more actual murders would take place if we didn’t have a basic fear of being apprehended and having to pay the price. You may think that I am exaggerating. We should all be ashamed of the sad reality, which is that I am not.
Rabi Shimon’s merit could have protected us, but when we create a society in which people push each other down and crush them, even this merit is not enough.
If someone has a path in Yiddishkeit that is different than yours, you may have come to a point where you even think that it is a mitzvah to hassle him day in and day out.
You may think that I am using this kind of language to justify my opposition or to ‘get back’ at this one or that one. This is not at all true. My only hope is that if even one person in the entire world does tshuvah, and begins to respect his neighbor, and endear him by looking at him more positively, and improve his ways, that is enough to change the fate of the entire world.
May it be Hashem’s will that His mercy, which is the source of all mercy, be awakened, and that all severe decrees upon us, and upon all of Israel be changed. May Hashem send comfort to His people, and to the families who have had their lives broken by the tragedy and loss that they have experienced.
May Hashem comfort Tzion by ending the galus in our days, amen.
I am speaking with great and deep sorrow, the way I would if I were a bereaved father, with a broken heart and spirit,
Yitzchak Meir, ben Yisachar Dov of Savaran.
*Note: THIS IS A FREE TRANSLATION (meaning changed in regard to language to some degree).
“When I was in prison, the officers and the guard would routinely goad me and try to humiliate me by asking me, ‘Did I think I would ever come home, here [in Israel]; would I ever be with my wife Esther,'” Pollard said. “And I always answered them the same way: I would ask them, ‘Do you believe in G-d?’ and most of them would say yes. And then I would ask, ‘Do you believe that G-d can perform miracles?’ and they would say, ‘Sure, of course.’ Well, here we are.”
These words were spoken by Jonathan Pollard.
They weren’t just words spoken in gratitude to Hashem for bringing him home to Eretz Yisrael. These words were spoken when he donated a Sefer torah to the kever of Yosef HaTzadik. There in Shchem, he closed a circle. Like Yosef, his story of heroism in prison will always inspire us, and his faith will always be one of the greatest gifts anyone can give to Am Yisrael.
In this week’s parshah the laws of lashon hara are narrated. Intuitively most people don’t see lashon hara as all that severe. Most of the time the victim doesn’t even find out what has been said about him. Since the halachah defines lashon hara as being true information that is either negative or harmful, many people will assume that as long as what they say is true, there is nothing wrong in saying it. In fact repressing negative feelings or information is often perceived as repression rather than of piety.
The truth is far more complex. Having a cynical, bitter view of life is not rare according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, in 2018:
o Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of over 48,000 people.
o Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.
o There were more than two and a half times as many suicides (48,344) in the United States as there were homicides (18,830). The rate of suicide in the United States is growing. It has increased 35% since 1999.
The way you see life is influenced by many factors. Arguably the most influential factor is your self-talk. If you see your life as worthless, if you see rejection as inevitable, if you feel that your achievements have no meaning, it is hard to maintain a positive attitude towards life. A great deal of self-talk is determined by the social environment you live in. If you hear denigration of others, you have every reason to anticipate rejection. If you hear that the world is meaningless, that people are uncaring, that there are never pots of gold at the end of the rainbow, you have every reason to anticipate living a life that just doesn’t get better.
Lashon hara is a killer.
The Talmud tells you that it kills three people; the speaker, the listener, and the victim. Of the three, the one who is scarred most severely is often the listener. The victim often never even finds out what was said behind his back. The speaker knows that what he says is touched by his own agenda. The listener thinks that what he heard is the way “it” is. Unlike physical harm, which is confined to the area that is attacked, lashon hara can move from one end of the world to the other, especially via today’s media.
The opposite takes place when you hear words that tell you that every moment of life is real, full of purpose, and that connection to Hashem can happen to you or to anyone else moment by moment. If you hear stories of heroism, you learn that social acceptance, success, or rejection isn’t the only way that the value of your life is determined. You learn that no matter where you are, with whom you find yourself, whether or not you have talents that are known and expressed and appreciated, you can still reach out to the place where hope, aspiration, and heroism live.
Jonathan Pollard and his wife, Ester, have done us all a great service by being who they are.
If for whatever reason, you have self-talk that colors the world black, envision the way their faces looked at Kever Yosef, and choose a new color.
Shechem is a place where many tragedies have occurred. In fact, when Avraham entered the Land, he built an alter there because he could foresee the future events that would take place there. He saw Yosef’s brothers selling him to itinerant merchants, Dina his daughter being abducted, and the division of the Jewish kingdom into two segments (interestingly and tragically, when entering the mishkan you would enter through the east. North and south (which is the way the kingdom was divided) the south being loyal to Shlomo’s son Rechavam, and the North rebelling under the leadership of Yeravam ben Nevat, parallel right and left in the mishkan. Yes, the first division of Israel took place by the right and the left separating leading to irreparable tragedy. When you look at today’s Israel, heading to a possible 5th election, the bitterness and divisiveness between the right and left seem to be a replay of our early history.). You would think that Shechem was a place to be avoided. The Sfas Emmes points out an entirely different perspective that you can choose. The word Shchem is an acronym for “Shaim Kavod Malchuso” which means that this is the place of Hashem’s kingdom. This tells you that here, in the place of tragedy is where you choose to let Hashem rule. Or not.
Jonathan Pollard chose to bring hope into darkness. Let his word touch your heart and change your self-talk
All the best,
First of all, how are you all? I really like to hear from you, and haven’t heard much lately (which is usually either a very good sign-life is going smoothly, or a not so good sign-you feel like there is nothing new to write, which is actually the same thing as the good sign, life is going smoothly in a basic sense, but you may feel that it is colored by a sort of grey film that sometimes makes life feel ordinary, a feeling that makes it impossible to feel really enthusiastic and animated about being here. You can find yourself not knowing what to write not just out of normal indolence, but because life seems to be an exercise in passive resistance to minor (and sometimes major) Issues (note the caps. If you don’t live in a cave, you will know that in this century, Issues are what life is about ).
In Orchot Tzadikim there is a list of 30 items that he recommends putting on your hard disk so to speak. The very first is that existence itself is a gift. Is this how you see it?
Avraham no doubt saw it that way. The question that was almost his heartbeat was, “Who is the master of the palace”? He understood the art, and spent his life making connection with the Artist, which means that he found meaning and discovery as he did what you do-eat, drink, etc. The physical world, its order and precision live right alongside its never-ending list of surprises. It’s an astounding place to be. The joy of minute to minute discovery in existence is often clouded over by the feelings of disappointment, loss, and failure that are also part of life’s drama.
It’s hard to stay engaged with the wonder of life; it’s easier to worry about what to do if you discover that the elevator isn’t’ working, or that your appointment was cancelled, or that the scale never lies.
One of the things that you can do to stay awake to what life really is, is to bring people into the picture. It’s true that we ae all mixed bags (as it says, there is not tzadik in the land who does good but no evil), but every so often things happen that make you feel the wonder of being a choosing, thinking, and most of all sensitive person. Look at the people who got past the Greys.
I heard the following story just recently.
It was after the war. Like many other people, Efraim Greenfeld and Yechiel Weinberger had no one left. The two young men, barely out of their teens found comfort in their friendship. When the authorities who ran the DP (displaced persons) camp that they called home after they were released from Auschwitz made an announcement. They told them that it was now possible to fill out forms requesting I and migration to Canada, and that there was a good chance at being accepted. They wasted no time. When the responses came in, they found out that only one of them was given a positive reply. Efraim Greenfeld was presented with travel documents, a visa and instructions as to how to find the Jewish organization that sponsored him. Yechiel was turned down. He had typhus, and the government of Canada had no interest in taking in a person who would inevitably just be a drain on their economy. He was distraught. He saw time and life as an endless expanse, peopled by Others, people who had friends, family, and a future. When the day came to escort Efraim to the dock, he couldn’t hold back the stream of words and tears that had become one in a pain laden attempt at saying goodbye. “We will never see each other again”, he said again and again, “I have no one” There was nothing Efraim could say. It was very possibly true; Yechiel’s name was on the Bad List. He was marked off as an unwanted remnant of a war no one wanted to think about too deeply. Instead of speaking, he went to his vest pocket, and quietly handed Yechiel h is travel documents, tickets, and address book. “From now on, your name is Efraim Greenfeld. No one will ever know the difference”
Years later, Efriam Greenfeld, who was known by everyone he had met since that fateful afternoon as Yechiel Weinberger, began to ask himself some questions. He decided to address the questions to the Rebbe of Vizhnitz in Monsey. He told him the story and asked, “should I change my name back to Efraim Greenfeld. Efraim is the name I was given at my bris. Greenfeld is the name my family carried. It will take some effort, (I imagine that he meant with all of the formal and legal issues involved in changing your name), but if it’s right, that’s what I’ll do”.
The Rebbe’s answer was succinct, and passionate. “Don’t change it. Whenever anyone calls you by the name you used to save a life, Hashem hears it as defense of the Jewish people. You have no idea of what you may be achieving”.
You may be wondering what this story has to do with you.
You have made all sorts of choices. Some are dramatic and some aren’t. The yetzer ha ra will devalue the choices that you made. He won’t let you see that your existence here on the planet called earth may be so significant that it would justify not only your existence, but the existence of all of may those you touch. The yetzer hara will demand drama. He will also demoralize you by making you “forget” the moments of meaning.
This week’s parshah or more correctly, one of this week’s parshiot (there are two), is kedoshim. It begins by Hashem telling us that we can be holy. It also tells you why you can be holy. The text tells you that the reason is, Because He is.
You are in His image.
The parshah continues with one perek (16) listing many of the interpersonal mitzvot. One of the observations that you may find meaningful is one that Maharal made in Netivot Olam, his chapter on loving your neighbor. The most available way to “learn” Hashem is by seeing His image through the prism of loving your friends, seeing their greatness
And perhaps seeing your own while you’re at it.
Let’s go back a couple of weeks to the week before Pesach. Mike enters his boss’s office with the usual trepidation that he feels whenever he opens the cage to feed the lion. Mr. Levine looks at Mike, and says, “Yes?”. Mike looks at his nails, and finally says, “It’s two days before Pesach. I need to take off some time to help my wife”. Mr. Levine’s reply was immediate. “There’s no way that you can take off time now”. Mike’s entire demeanor changed. His face opened up into a sunny smile, “Thanks Mr. Levine. You’re a real friend. I knew I could count on you”.
Mitzvot can feel like work, and you can find yourself itching for a vacation. You are not alone. One of the major poskim (specialists in halachic law) would sometimes answer his phone with the word, “permitted”. If you asked what he means, he would say, “look. That’s what you want to hear, so why beat around the bush” (okay, his terminology was more formal, but the idea came through).
The kosher laws are especially hard. They prevent you from eating out with nonobservant or non-Jewish people. They require that you learn the symbols that tell you that the food item you are looking at makes the grade in kashrus. You have to learn how to examine some greens and grains for bugs instead of going into denial and eating them along with your lunch (I guess you would be fleishig forever). The Torah spells out the restrictions in this week’s parshah, Shemini.
The word Shemini means “the eighth”. The reference is to the final day of inaugurating the sanctuary in the desert, and feeling and seeing the miracle of Hashem’s presence descending. The number eight is often used as a symbol of transcending nature. The world was made in 6 days, the number 7 tells you that the world has an inner, spiritual dimension, but the number 8 takes you a step further.
The laws concerning the mishkan and the laws of kashrus have something in common. They are hard.
The Jews worked hard at building the mishkan-they gave their gold silver and much more to Moshe and from him, to the artisans who made it. They needed extraordinary skill and inspired insight to follow the design that Hashem revealed. Each thread, each piece of metal, each beam of wood, had an address. What was the extreme attention to detail.
The word for forbidden is “assur”, which literally means “tied down”. Hashem structured the world by creating animals, situations, etc. that are ”assur”. They don’t reveal anything of Hashem. They are tied down to being just what they look like, purely physical. What are they for? They are there not to be uplifted, but to give you the opportunity to uplift yourself, by learning to say no to your base instincts.
Meyer Birnbaum was a soldier in the American army during World War 2. The mood in America in those years was very different than it is today. Multiculturism had not yet emerged. The goal that almost any young person had was to enter the melting pot and become a “real American”. His mother taught him that whatever else he is, he is always a Jew. This meant that kosher is kosher in the army, just as it is in mom’s kitchen. He managed on raw fruits and vegetables, occasional meals given to him by Jewish families and faith in Hashem. One of his favorite treats was hard boiled eggs, cooked in his battle helmet. Those eggs were not only not “assur”, they were “muttar” which means “released”. They weren’t just food for his body, they were food for his soul.
The beginning of the parshah is about the holiest moment that we had ever experienced, the moment when the Shechinah descended. The end of the parshah is about the kosher laws. These are not two separate ideas. They are two ends of a bridge. One end, is the material world in which you live, and the other end is Hashem’s infinity flowing down to earth. As Jews we know that both ends are connected.
These ideas are not new to some of you. The underlying problem for you may not be intellectual, but in bringing these ideas home to your heart. You are not alone. There is no road as long as the one from the head to the heart.
The first one to walk the bridge was Avraham. Even as a child he looked at the world and realized that the things that the saw didn’t make themselves. He had questions and sensitivities, but no answers. His parents took him the circular route. They worshipped idols that represented various natural forces, and encouraged him to do the same. At some point he realized that all of the forces of nature are creations, and that there is a Creator who made the natural forces just as He made the animals and plants that seem to be their “offspring’s”. As he grew older, he debated the people of Ur Kasdim, and was perceived as a threat by their king, Nimrod. He was sentenced to death by fire if he refused to recant his belief in Hashem, and survived the ordeal. None of this is new to you. The next question that I will ask, may be new.
What was it like to be Nimrod the next day? If the trial by fire was on Monday, for instance, and he saw the miracle with his own eyes, there was no way for him to escape into denial. What was he thinking when he got out of bed on Tuesday?
I have no way of knowing the answer. I can just tell you what he wasn’t thinking. He didn’t consider the implications of knowing that there is a creator who not only brought the world into existence, but who is aware of human choices, and is capable of breaking his own natural law to intervene for the sake of Avraham. He stayed on one side of the bridge. Crossing the bridge takes effort, but each step you take moves you from assur to muttar and finally to being able to find Hashem wherever you look.
So much enslavement seems to have taken place over this past year.
To one degree or another we were all enslaved to our bodies. No one could escape from the increasing awareness of how frail we humans are. The daily toll of Covid touched all of us to one degree or another.
Here in Eretz Yisrael it feels (at least for now) that the clouds have parted. Over 7 million people have been vaccinated, and so far of those who have had both doses the number of people showing signs of infection has been about 2%, and of that number so far the cases have either been asymptomatic or with very light symptoms.
The question remains in many of our minds. How do we absorb the huge impact on our lives? I write ahead for Hamodia, so the Haftorah that I saw today will only be read by you folks in over a month. One of the images that left an impression upon me was that we choose slavery. The problem is that we are “imprinted” to be enslaved to Hashem, but instead we enslave ourselves to all sorts of other masters.
I was in Hadassah Har Tzofim yesterday. Thank G-d it was nothing really serious. I tripped and cracked a bone (actually the doctors remained unsure as to whether it was a small crack or a small break). The results are that I have to be relatively quiet for a few days, schlepping around with a walker in the house.
In order to leave the hospital I needed a release document for kupat cholim. A doctor had to sign the pre-printed paper. He was on the phone. So was everyone else I saw who was sitting.So were all the people on line. The hallways were close to silent.
We are enslaved. Humans need connection, achievement, and a sense of belonging. I guess that the rhetoric of the anti-media Rabbanim was somewhat overstated. No more.Freedom is so, so sweet! On Pesach night we were all really free. Free of external slavery, pain and estrangements. Most meaningful to me is that perhaps for the first time in our history, we were all free on the inside. Some of us were not. They didn’t want to leave Mitzraim. The darkness that choked them and blinded them was a physical manifestation of their inner reality. But there were those who wanted out!
When you go outside and see the renewal of life orchestrated by what we call nature, but is really Hashem wearing enough of a disguise to let us see Him, and feel His life force in everything that surrounds us, you can begin to feel free. There’s no need to open the phone in order to feel real, at least for a few moments.
Enjoy the freedom that you can feel at the seder,
Purim is behind you and Pesach is in front of you! I haven’t been in touch for the longest time because I am busy keeping my head above water. Baruch Hashem I am busy!!!!
Years ago, I lived on a tiny Moshav in the north; my kids were babies and toddlers. They lived in babyland, and kept themselves occupied with their constant game of Search and Destroy. I found myself with empty hours. Some of them were spent walking through the Land, with a baby on my back and another strapped to my chest with an army pack, and a Big Girl holding each hand. The pace was very slow, and offered me the opportunity to really see the leaves as well as the trees. Other hours were spent at home, with my washing machine providing the only sound. I made a resolution. If Hashem would offer me a full menu of people to observe, hear, learn from, and give to, I would take them. I wanted the stress of making Shabbos for a full table, with adults, old people, people in need, people who are unusual, and people who are distressingly normal and regular. I would never complain about being busy. I learned that I love being awake and doing. Did I keep my side of it? More than I imagined, but less than I should have.
At times, however, I realize that the price isn’t cheap. I don’t always manage to keep the people I treasure the most in my life. I miss you (all of you -y'all as they would say in the South). When I write to y'all I see you in my mind’s eye, not necessarily as you are today. Some of you are grandmothers but I knew you when you were 19 and 19 you remain. Some of you are new, and in the process of figuring yourselves out. I don’t know if I will recognize you when you evolve into the Person You Want to Be.
I do manage to make time for Pesach.
Pesach is busy, and pre-Pesach us busier, I am fully aware that much of what I do is unnecessary. Every year I ask why I wash the walls, take down the paintings to wipe away a year’s worth of dust… Go through the pictures still again. The answer is that I want a new beginning, fresh, spic and span-New Start
Like our ancestors
Who turned their backs on everything that was choking them with familiar falsehoods?
Who threw away fantasy
All of this came to a head at Pesach, a time that in some ways is an unexpected crack in the wall of the familiar. Why in Nissan? Wouldn’t Tishrei be more natural?
Rosh Hashanah celebrates the creation of the world. The world came with an unwritten book of instructions. The name of the book is Nature. Its rules are pretty much inviolable. They reveal Hashem. To Avraham the revelation led to a passionate desire to find the Artist. It awakened his sense of being part of the picture, and he longed to find his place. He did so by learning to feel the connection to the Creator by being directly involved in showing love to His creations.
When Hashem turned us into a nation, at Pesach, He made His presence far more visible. The plagues were a resounding slap in the face to nature’s consistency. In order to be worthy of all of this revelation. If we weren’t really “there”, we would have been like deaf people at an opera watching the drama without understanding its meaning. If you were there, you would have found a way to show that we are willing to bring Hashem’s presence into the world. Maybe you would be like the wise son, who knew that there are pathways that lead you to where you want to go. Perhaps you would be like the simple son, who stood aside in wonder. Would you be like the wicked son, who engaged in meaningless wars of words to defend his passivity in the face of miracles. If you know him (or someone like him), keep him from trivializing what he saw. “Ground his teeth” by sharing your own experiences with him. Perhaps you would not even question the miracles that so easily become “normal” and let you close your heart to your souls
You would have been there when Hashem commanded us to keep Rosh Chodesh. This mitzvah tells you that it is up to you to discover the power of renewal.
You can do this in any life situation, in any place, and at any time in your life.
Begin by getting rid of the old assumptions; the chometz of your life. Move towards looking at the way Hashem reminds you of His presence by nature’s renewal. Here in Israel everything is green and very much alive. It seems that covid is taking less room and Hashem is giving us more inner and outer space to experience More.
Purim was a time of redefinition. Nothing played out according to plan. Here is another part of the story; Haman’s descendants converted and ended up teaching Torah in Bnei Brak!
I spoke to you a while ago about a family that I would very much like to help.
The father of the family was my daughter in law Bilha's brother. He was a melamed, much beloved by the kids he taught. One of his less usual features is that he always seemed to be in a good mood, regardless of what was going on around him. Death sometimes seems to love surprising us. His was sudden-he was gone within 4 days.
He has kids at home, some of them are teenagers, good girls innocent and sweet the way BY girls can be. There is of course the overworked and overwhelmed young wife, who hasn't had a moment to breathe and who hasn;t (at least as far as I know) said a word of anything that can be construed as a complaint.
I am enclosing the Vaad HaRabbanim form for them.
I am sure whatever you can do to help out can only bring you simchah and brachah,
Fund # 5542
Reb Yehoshua Luber z'l
קרן 5542 - ר' יהושע לובר זצ"ל
לשיווק ותמיכה: 03-7630543
This really feels like the best of times and the worst of times.
The terrible news of death after death is too big, to overwhelmingly painful to ignore. Last week one day left the world so much emptier than it was the day before. The Rosh Yeshiva of Brisk, Rav Dovid Soloveitchik was once a neighbor of sorts. We lived on Ovadia, and he lived on Amos the street that ran perpendicular to mine. His first-floor apartment faced the street, and because of the crowding in his living room, I sometimes saw the inside of his shiur room when the porch door opened because of the crowding. It’s intensity and feel for torah was what I envisioned when I see another world, a world that is no more. He would walk back and forth with his sons, who were young at the time, between minchah and maariv. I found myself back there when I heard his will read at the funeral, appointing his oldest son as the new Rosh Yeshiva.
I didn’t know Rav SHeiner, the Rosh Yeshiva of Kamenetz. I heard more than once of his mixture of erudition and warmth. Imagining this coming out of Pittsburg of close to a century ago is mind boggling. There was nothing there; no yeshivas or Bais Yaakov’s and it would have been very easy for him to settle into the complacency and comfort of being the biggest fish in the small fish tank just by keeping Shabbos and kosher in a world that was still taken up with the American dream. He blossomed, and became something no one could have predicted.
The third loss was that of Rabbi Dr. Avraham Twerski. Did you ever read any of his books? You must have. There were about 60 of them. He is reputed to have once said, “I really only wrote one book. It’s about helping people find the place within themselves that can be held in high esteem.” There are limitless versions of the way self esteem changes lives, and there are many ways in which you can pull yourself out of the mire that is caused by low self-esteem/ Rabbi Twerski came from a home that was a virtual oasis-his father was a Rebbe in Milwaukee of last century. Instead of becoming a Rebbe, he decided to make a move that in many ways was also like the kind of Chassidic master of 200 years ago. He learned psychiatry and reached out to addicts, people who had nowhere to go in their endless desire to escape themselves. He opened Gateways, and was deeply involved in promoting the 12 step programs in the frum community for those who needed the support and structure of this method. Oh right. He did this while authoring the 90 books. He had tremendous presence and dignity. His white beard, Chassidic clothes and compassionate eyes gave him the look of a tzadik and could easily have scared off those of us who would feel small in his presence. He compensated by wearing a tie with Charlie Brown characters on them. How afraid can you be of a man who wears Snoopy?
The Kabbalists tell you that what makes you human is your mind, your heart, and your liver. Rav Soloveitchik was the mind of a generation of yeshiva students. He was the only member of the Brisk dynasty to write books, and by doing so to leave something of the sharp analysis of his ancestors to those who will only know them in print. Rav Sheiner brought his heart with him wherever he went, his warmth, lack of pretension, and genuine caring. Rabbi Twerski spent his life helping countless people learn to do what the liver does-reject what is toxic and harmful, and learn to nourish themselves.
Their passing made the world somewhat less human in the deepest sense. Having this all take place in one day was overwhelming. Then this morning, my dear friend Dina sent me a clip. It showed the picture of beautiful dates. What makes them unique is that the tree from which they were harvested is the “daughter” of a tree that was planted from a seed that was found in Masada. Yigal Yadin, a famous political leader and general was also an accomplished archeologist and was very involved in excavating Masada. He found a handful of seeds. He gave them to be studied and then planted. Their approximate age, according to the scientists involved is 2,500 years. That means that they were from the time of the second temple. The particular kind of seed became wide spread even earlier. They planted the seeds and
And grew into a tree
That declares the message of hope with its every leaf
And tells us
That there are always
Rebbitzen Tziporah Heller