The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
This week we read in the parshah about a tzaddik who changed the world forever.
Yes, one man can change the world.
What kind of man? A man who understands so strongly that God is real that he is not afraid of anyone or anything. He is not afraid to proclaim God’s Name and talk about His greatness. As King David says (Psalm 116), “How can I repay God for all His kindness to me? I will raise the cup of salvations and invoke the Name of God. My vows to God I will pay in the presence…of His entire people….”
Our father Abraham enters the world stage this week in Parshas Lech Lecha. He had the colossal courage to leave the world of idolatry and respond to the call of his Creator. He went willingly to a land and a lifestyle that were unknown to him, but he trusted God.
Abraham is the progenitor of the Eternal Nation, Am Yisrael. With all our foibles and frailties, we have followed his footsteps throughout history, and we have blazed a trail of Kiddush Hashem. No other nation is like us; we have brought the presence of God into this mixed-up world, light into darkness. Our father Abraham taught us how to do it.
* * *
On Wednesday night, October 14, in Seattle, Washington, a tzaddik left this world. His name was Joe Russak.
I knew Joe Russak.
We first met in the summer of 1983, when I traveled to Seattle with a relative who was suffering from a dangerous illness. We had an appointment with a renowned physician at 1 p.m. on a Friday, and there was no way we were going to be anywhere but Seattle for Shabbos. So our rabbi, Rabbi Meshulam haLevi Jungreis, zt”l, (who later became our mechutan) called his colleague in Seattle. Where should our friends stay for Shabbos? The rabbi replied, “The premiere address for hachnosos orchim in Seattle is the home of Joe and Adina Russak.”
And so, two inexperienced young men flew to Seattle. We walked into the Russaks’ home at 10 o’clock Thursday night and I can still remember the aroma! Adina was making tongue with raisin sauce for Shabbos. These two holy people took us into their hearts. I was so impressed with Joe, a famous businessman with illustrious acquaintances, but Joe had no airs. He bought a bottle of Chivas Regal “in our honor” and we had a memorable Shabbos.
That was twenty-six years ago. Joe and Adina became our friends. I called him every erev Yom Tov since then. When my wife and I went to speak in Miami, we stayed with Joe and Adina in their apartment. When my first book, From Central Park to Sinai, came out, Joe believed in it, and made some amazing contacts for me, people who helped me greatly and who themselves have since become my valued friends.
Joe had a heart as big as this world. He was an extremely generous philanthropist, whose name you will find, along with the names of his beloved family, on the Dedication page of the Third Volume of the ArtScroll Tractate Sanhedrin.
He never stopped talking about his beloved family, his children, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He never stopped talking about how every one of his descendants was Torah observant. That is what he cared about. He would tell you over and over that every one of his descendants observed the mitzvos. He lived for that.
His beloved partner, Adina, passed away a few years ago. Joe was a fighter, and he told us he was going to keep going, but he was always fighting back a tear. He missed her so much. They were in it together, for life. The hachnosos orchim, the chesed, the tzedakah, the beautiful and holy family – they were in it together.
A few months ago we were in Seattle and had a beautiful visit with Joe. He was still going to work at the age of 90. Who knew we would never see him again? I called him erev Rosh Hashanah and he sounded fine. And then….
A tzaddik really changes the world. It’s not just that he makes people feel good and gives generously of his resources. A tzaddik literally brings the presence of God into this material world. He elevates the world, because those who come in contact with him become aware of their eternal neshamah and realize that they can connect with the Source of all life.
About the Author: Roy Neuberger's latest book, “2020 Vision” (Feldheim) is available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Russian, and Georgian. An e-edition is available at www.feldheim.com. Roy is also the author of "From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul” (available in English, Hebrew and Russian, and Georgian) and “Worldstorm.” Roy and Leah Neuberger speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com. Roy and Leah Neuberger speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at email@example.com or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com.
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We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.
During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai
20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse
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She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes
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The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
Jews thank Hashem at every step. We thank Him for our most basic physical existence. We thank Hashem for every step, for every breath, for every aspect of our elevation from the dust.
In the recent Gaza war and its aftermath, we saw a totally illogical reaction from the world.
Our rabbis told us it’s going to be very difficult before Mashiach comes. Should we fool ourselves?
The unwarranted hatred among us that caused the destruction of the Second Temple clearly still plagues us.
At the end of the harvest, winter begins. The earth becomes cold and hard, nights are long, and the sun seems far away in the southern sky. The sap ceases to flow in the trees. But in this season of temporary “death” Hashem sends down harbingers of coming life in the form of tal u’matar livrachah – dew and rain for a blessing – upon the earth.
“Logically” speaking, after the millennia of hatred and destruction directed against us, there should not be one Jew in the world today who still keeps the Torah.
They were lining up for gas masks in Israel.
Apparently, at the very time of year we are supposed to be full of simcha, Hashem wants us to be aware of the possibility of danger. Indeed, during the Yom Tov of Sukkos, we read cataclysmic haftaras dealing with the ultimate war, the Milchemes Gog Umagog. Where does that war take place? In the Holy Land, of course, where the eyes of the world are always focused.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/thoughts-on-a-tzaddik/2009/10/28/
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