web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism

An Interview with Rabbi Moshe Zuriel

Yeshiva Merkaz HaRav

Yeshiva Merkaz HaRav
Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash 90

Did you ever wonder how someone becomes a Torah scholar? I don’t mean just any old neighborhood rabbi who is able to quote a few sources (which for me is still very impressive) but rather someone who has an in depth understanding of the underlying ideas that all the various sources are trying to convey. Although this may sound like a trivial matter, the truth is there are few people who really acquire such an understanding.

One such person I’ve had the privilege of knowing for several years is Rabbi Moshe Zuriel. Although his appearance could cast him as just another “black hat” haredi rabbi living in Bnei Brak, the Rav (Hebrew for Rabbi) is anything but that. For starters he’s an ardent Zionist and strong advocate of Jewish settlement anywhere in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel). For many years, until health slowed him down, he would periodically give lectures in various communities throughout Judea and Samaria in order to strengthen the morale of the people living there. In addition, he’s penned one of the more well-known books on the works of Rabbi Avraham Kook, a five volume set called Otrzot Ha-Ra’ayah. For anyone who is familiar with Israel, this in itself separates the Rav from most of the residents in Bnei Brak since in the haredi world Rabbi Kook is more or less a persona non grata.

A prolific writer known, amongst other things, for both providing indexes to some of the most difficult material (ie. an index for the Vilna Gaon’s commentary on the Tikunei Ha-Zohar) as well as for collating tremendous amounts of scattered sources (in Otzrot Emunah he provides 170 different books as reference material for over a hundred topics of Jewish religious thought), the Rav has written roughly thirty books on a wide variety of Torah subjects as well as countless articles. Although fluent in English as a result of spending most of his youth in America, all of his published works are in Hebrew. For anyone interested, many of his articles can be found on the Beit El Yeshiva site.

In order to better understand how he acquired such vast knowledge as well as hear his story firsthand (everyone has a story), I recently made a long overdue visit to the Rav in his Bnei Brak apartment.

From Germany to Cuba to America

Yoel Meltzer (YM): It’s good to see you Rav Zuriel, I haven’t been here in years. I want to go back in time with you and hear your story. If I’m not mistaken, you were born in Germany in 1938. If so, how did you get out of Germany?

Rabbi Moshe Zuriel (MZ): My father was a Polish citizen and my mother was German born. My father was thrown out of Germany as a foreigner half a year before my mother was also ejected from the country. She was placed on a train with four children and a few hundred other Jews, all of us deported to Poland. We were the last train before the border was closed. The Poles however didn’t want any more Jews, which turned out to be a godsend since otherwise we would have ended up in a concentration camp. At the same time, however, the Germans didn’t want us back as well. So we were stuck on the train for two days, all of us crushed together. Being a small infant, only six months old, I fainted from hunger. My mother told me that someone gave me half a banana which in turn kept me alive.

The Germans then decided to let us come back for two weeks to make preparations for leaving. They didn’t care where we went as long as we left Germany. However, since no country in Europe was ready to accept a few hundred Jewish refugees we decided to hire a ship, at our own expense, and set sail for South America in the hope that some country would let us in. My father, who until then was in Switzerland, was also with us on the ship.

Similar to the case in Europe, no one in South America wanted us and we were rejected by nine countries – Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, etc. We were on the ship for about two months until finally some wealthy Jews in New York gave serious bribe money to the leadership in Cuba in order to convince them to let us stay in Cuba. They agreed and we were there for two years with all of our expenses being paid by the same New York Jews.

YM: And after two years, where did you go?

MZ: We were then allowed into America and we settled in New York (Brooklyn). I grew up there and as a youth I was involved in the Bnei Akiva youth movement where I developed my love for Israel. Eventually I studied at the Ner Yisrael Yeshiva in Baltimore during the day while at night I studied at Loyola University in order get a degree in education. I wanted to be a teacher in Israel so I needed to get a degree.

About the Author: Yoel Meltzer is a freelance writer living in Jerusalem. He can be contacted via http://yoelmeltzer.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “An Interview with Rabbi Moshe Zuriel”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The Port of Oakland, without any docked cargo ships. Is this its future?
Port of Oakland Loses as ZIM Moves to Friendlier Shores
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

More Articles from Yoel Meltzer
Photo: Naftali Bennett

In less than three months time the Jewish Home Party, formerly known as the National Religious Party (NRP), will be holding its first ever internal primaries.

Ayelet Shaked

The co-founder and former chairman of the MyIsrael (Yisrael Sheli) national movement, the recipient of the 2012 Abramowitz Israeli Prize for Media Criticism and a close associate of Naftali Bennett – the two worked together in the office of Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the 2009 elections – Shaked is raising some eyebrows due to the fact that she, unlike Bennett, is a secular candidate for HaBayit Hayehudi -a traditionally religious party.

On his attempt to hijack an airplane in 1970 to bring attention to the struggle of Soviet Jewry: “Sometimes it happens in your life that you simply feel it’s the right thing to do.”

“We need to work on instilling a good strong Jewish-Zionist identity in all of the children in Israel and not only in the religious ones. In other words we need to stop looking inward and start focusing on all of Am Yisrael.”

Rabbi Zuriel: “With the ingathering of the exiles, we need a Sanhedrin to implement various changes since Judaism is a developing matter; it’s supposed to be dynamic. He showed me in one of his works twenty items that the Tosafot changed. Today however, he added, we’re like the Karaites, we don’t want to change.

For anyone who is sick of the lies and hypocrisy – be it in Israel or the world – and really wants to work for change, it’s not enough to simply stand on the street corner and shout the truth. How something is said or how someone looks while performing an act frequently has more impact than anything else in the eyes and ears of the viewer.

Most Israelis understand that the funding of Israeli organizations by foreign governments is a way to enable these governments to advance their agenda of delegitimizing Israel.

Commenting on the role the sovereign nation-state plays in the western world compared with the Islamic world, the late Samuel P. Huntington, in his classic study The Clash of Civilizations and The Remaking of World Order, wrote: “The structure of political loyalty among Arabs and among Muslims generally has been the opposite of that in the modern West. For the latter the nation state has been the apex of political loyalty.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/an-interview-with-rabbi-moshe-zuriel/2012/04/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: