What kind of man was Jacob? This is the question that cries out to us in episode after episode of his life.
The parents of Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk, Eliezer Lipman and his pious wife, Mirish, emanated from families that could trace their lineage all the way back to Rashi, Rav Yochanan Hasandlar of Talmudic fame and even King David. They lived in the townlet of Lapachi, not far from Tiktin.
Even before they were born, Jacob and Esau struggled in the womb. They were destined, it seems, to be eternal adversaries. Not only were they different in character and appearance, they also held different places in their parents’ affections.
Psychologists are always quoted in holiday-themed articles about the seasonal blues. We are stressed from our holiday preparations and we remember our loved ones who are no longer with us.
Abraham, the Sages were convinced, was a greater religious hero than Noah. We hear this in the famous dispute among the Sages about the phrase that Noah was “perfect in his generations,” meaning relative to his generations:
I was on a city bus as it stopped for a young boy frantically waving his arms, fearful the bus might not stop for him on this snowy February afternoon. As the boy, wearing a thin jacket, boarded the bus, he searched his pockets for bus fare, found nothing, and told the bus driver he had left his money at home. “Could you please let me ride this bus?” he asked. “I promise to give you the money tomorrow. It’s so freezing outside, and it’s such a long walk home.” The bus driver refused, ordering the boy to leave the bus immediately.
About 15 months after the Second Lebanon War, we were called up to reserve duty in the Gush Talmonim region, part of the Binyamin Regional Council. On the second Friday night, I enjoyed the privilege of leading the entire company in singing, "Shalom Aleichem." Although there wasn't even a minyan of shomrei Shabbat men, the soldiers pulled out their hats in honor of the song (a handful placed a hand on their heads), and all respectfully rose to their feet - including the Bedouin trackers.
For 10 years our front door was 35 feet from the busiest road leading in and out of Morristown, New Jersey. Zoom, zoom, zoom…one car after another going 40-50 miles per hour, not only during the morning and afternoon rush hours, but all week long. Even when we stood by our front door, we had to yell at the top of our lungs to call to our children who were playing in our tiny front yard.
Between the Flood and the call to Abraham, between the universal covenant with Noah and the particular covenant with one people comes the strange, suggestive story of Babel:
Two years ago Mrs. S. was divorced after an unhappy, childless marriage. Now in her mid-60s, she has no interest in finding a new husband. At this time, she told me, she is just beginning to discover herself as an independent adult, and she is reveling in the opportunity to make her own choices on everything from what to cook for dinner to what color to paint the bedroom.
Just when it seemed that the Jews could never recover from the ruinous events of the 17th and 18th centuries, their plight was worsened yet, by even heavier taxes imposed by the Polish government.
I live at Scharf's Ateret Avot, a residence for seniors. I get around via a motorized wheelchair. This gives me the independence to go where I choose.
I have a girlfriend I'll call Esti who works for a kiruv organization. During the summer semester, this organization offered an experiential history program. They taught a subject for a week, and then the next week toured the places they discussed in order to experience history firsthand. If they studied the First Temple era, for example, they would then visit the City of David.
It was an exceptionally hot and humid day in Toronto. I was driving the car with my bubbie sitting next to me, and baby Shmueli in the back. I suddenly remembered that I needed a small item at the local supermarket. I gently asked my bubbie if she would stay in the car with the baby while I ran into the store. My bubbie warmly replied, "Go, my shefele [sweetheart]."
Rav Yosef, shlita, born in Krakow in 1919, was 18 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland. He came from an illustrious Belzer family of talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars), dayanim (judges), and people renowned for their charity and kindness. He had the privilege of meeting the Belzer Rebbe, zt"l, a number of times, as well as spending yamim tovim in Belz. All this left a deep and holy impression on him.
It was a hot day in June 1997, the first day of summer vacation for many high school students. The Tel Aviv beach was packed with people. It was a perfect day for Motti Ashkenazi.
Are there any coincidences? I don't believe so. Everything that happens is preordained by Hashem.
It was a beautiful morning in May 1985 when I decided to take my tzedakah box to Lubavitch headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway. I did not know much about Chabad, and had to ask for directions.
In 2001, the year of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, my husband and I were both in mourning for close relatives. As a woman, I did not have the responsibility of attending a minyan to recite Kaddish. So I never realized how complicated it could get.
I have been living in Israel for many years, yet there are still special moments that catch me by surprise. A series of such moments occurred recently, reminding me of how very lucky I am to call Yerushalayim my home.