Latest update: April 23rd, 2013
Editor’s note: The My Machberes column, now being written by Rabbi Raphael Fuchs (who also writes the weekly Taste of Lomdus column for The Jewish Press) will appear every other week.
Satmar Rebbe Visits Israel
The Satmar Rebbe of Williamsburg, Rav Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, shlita, recently made his first trip to Eretz Yisrael – where more than 50,000 people greeted him – since he assumed the role of Satmar Rebbe. He attended the chassanah, which took place in Beit Shemesh, of one of his granddaughters.
The timing of his trip ironically coincided with the Israeli elections, in which he urges people not to partake. More than a thousand people accompanied him on his trip for the purpose of distributing money to the various establishments and organizations that do not receive financial aid from the Israeli government.
While in Eretz Yisrael, the Rebbe met with many rabbanim, admorim and prominent gedolim. He visited the home of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita; the two discussed several halachic issues, and the current efforts to draft haredim into the army.
The Rebbe also visited Hagaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner, shlita (mechaber of the Shevet Halevi), as well as Rav Yitzchak Zilbershtein (son-in-law of Hagon HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, zt”l), the Vishnitzer Rebbe, the Gerrer Rebbe, Hagaon HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, and many others.
The Satmar Rebbe also attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Satmar community in the Ramat Elchanan area of Bnei Brak.
Gerrer Rebbe Meets With Chacham Ovadia Yosef
Matzav.com reported that the Gerrer Rebbe visited Chacham Ovadia Yosef to discuss what action to take regarding the efforts to draft yeshiva bachurim into the Israeli army, the hotly-debated issue that is a prerequisite for the Yesh Atid party of Yair Lapid to join the next government coalition.
Following their meeting and a private one between Shas leader Aryeh Deri and Yaakov Litzman, head of the Agudat Yisrael part of United Torah Judaism (UTJ), it was announced that Shas and UTJ will present a uniform position to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the “sharing the burden” issue of IDF service for haredi yeshiva bachurim.
Those close to the parties said that Shas and UTJ share a common view on this pressing issue and have formed an unbreakable bond by combining the 18 seats they won in the elections to stand strong and united on this matter.
Belzer Rebbe Calls For True Achdus in Yahadut Hatorah
Yeshiva World reported that the Belzer Rebbe, shlita, held a meeting with members of Yahadut Hatorah in his home on Monday night, 17 Shevat 5773 (January 28). The meeting addressed the draft issue (referred to as “sharing the burden”) and related issues facing the haredi community. The Rebbe told the MKs that the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of the two factions, Agudat Yisrael and Degel Hatorah, should be merged into one rabbinic body.
The Rebbe explained that gaining a seventh seat in the upcoming Knesset was certainly a Kiddush Hashem, and said that it would be a fitting move to combine the rabbinic bodies. He acknowledged that it would not be an easy task, but nonetheless a most significant one.
The Belzer Rebbe stated that from his perspective the two bodies are equal. He feels that the advantage of a combined body would outweigh all other considerations. The Rebbe added that in last week’s parshah, the pasuk states: “…and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain” (Shemos 19:2). Rashi explains that we stood there with achdus – k’ish echad, b’lev echad. Therefore, achdus must be practiced.
Regarding efforts to draft bnei Torah into the IDF or national service programs, the Rebbe reflected back to the founding of the state and the siyata dishmaya that we were shown when the decision was made to permit bnei Torah to continue their studies. He said that while much has changed in Israel since that time, the siyata dishmaya has not changed. The Rebbe stressed the importance of spreading the word to the public in order to bring them to understand that those sitting in kollel or yeshiva are sharing the burden – for through the merit of the Torah do we exist.
Rav Eichler, the Rebbe’s representative to Yahadut Hatorah, asked the Belzer Rebbe to give a berachah to the faction members. The Rebbe complied and stressed the importance of achdus, placing an emphasis on bringing the rabbanim together, which he feels will undoubtedly add to the achdus of the MKs and the tzibur at large.
Yahrzeit Of Reb Yisroel Salanter
This past Tuesday, 25 Shevat, was the yahrzeit of Rav Yisroel Lipkin of Salant, commonly known as Reb Yisroel Salanter (1810-1883). He was born in Zager (near Kovno), Lithuania to Rav Ze’ev Wolf Lipkin, a descendant of the Vilna Gaon. Rav Yisroel became a close talmid of Rav Zundel of Salant, who influenced him to begin the study of mussar. In 1840, he became rosh yeshiva of the Rameillas Yeshiva in Vilna, and later opened a yeshiva in Kovno. One of his closest talmidim, Rav Yitzchak Blazer of Petersburg – commonly known as Rav Itzeleh – compiled many of his teachings and memorable stories about Reb Yisroel’s life in the sefer, Or Yisroel. Another one of his famous talmidim was Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of New York.
Reb Yisroel, considered a Torah giant, was most famously known for founding the Mussar movement. This movement focused on bettering the individual’s character traits. Many of his teachings remain the basis of learning mussar today. He taught that one must endlessly strive for perfection, and must never be content with his spiritual achievements.
Reb Yisroel faced much opposition when he initially began teaching mussar. However, his advanced level of scholarship helped him prevail and he succeeded in revolutionizing klal Yisrael – and founded the Mussar movement. On one occasion Reb Yisroel was to deliver a shiur to a large crowd. He had distributed mar mekomos that people could research prior to the shiur. In an effort to humiliate Reb Yisroel, several pranksters decided to change around the mar mekomos list and distributed a different list to the crowd. When Reb Yisroel reached the podium he noticed the switch of mar mekomos. He hesitated for a brief moment, and then proceeded to deliver a new shiur based on the new mar mekomos. Reb Itzeleh said that the reason why Reb Yisroel had hesitated was not because he was preparing a new shiur but rather because he was contemplating whether he should deliver the shiur at all, for he feared that this feat would impress the pranksters and perhaps be considered haughty.
On another occasion Reb Yisroel was asked to deliver a shiur to an audience that contained people who were opposed to learning mussar. At one point one of the big lamdanim asked a question and Reb Yisroel paused for a moment, then saying that the lamdin was right. Rav Elya Lapyan said that although Reb Yisroel paused he nevertheless had five different answers to the question that was posed to him. However, he knew that his solutions were not accurate. He also knew that if he would suggest his five solutions the questioner would accept his answers because he would not know why they were not accurate. But Reb Yisroel asked himself how he could sell emes with sheker. Thus he decided not to answer the question.
Here are a few quotes attributed to Reb Yisroel: “The Maharal of Prague created a golem, and this was a great wonder. But how much more wonderful is it to transform a corporeal human being into a mensch!” “A pious Jew is not one who worries about his fellow man’s soul and his own stomach; a pious Jew worries about his own soul and his fellow man’s stomach.”
Yahrzeit Of The Taz
This past Wednesday, 26 Shevat, was the yahrzeit of Rav Dovid HaLevi Segal (1586-1667). He is commonly known as the Taz, which is an acronym for the title of his commentary to the Shulchan Aruch, Turei Zahav. Although his commentary to Orach Chaim is titled Magen Dovid, he is referred to by the acronym of the title of his commentary to Choshen Mishpat, Even Haezer, and Yoreh De’ah, namely the Turei Zahav. He also wrote the Divrei Dovid a commentary on the Chumash. The Taz was born in Cracow, and was considered the unofficial rabbi of Posen for approximately 20 years. He headed the famous yeshiva at Ostro. His halachic rulings have become part of our mesorah of p’sak.
The Taz was a son-in-law of the Bach, who wrote a commentary on the Tur. There are several interesting stories about the relationship of the Bach and his son-in-law, the Taz. When the Taz married the Bach’s daughter, the Bach promised that he would support the Taz and provide him with meat on a daily basis to ensure that the Taz would have the strength to learn at full capacity. One day, the Bach sent liver instead of meat. There is a machlokes regarding this matter. Since the liver is primarily comprised of blood, some opinions hold that it is not fleishig. The Taz took his father-in-law to beis din to receive a judgment as to whether liver was considered meat. The Taz explained that he did so because he wanted to make sure that he would be able to keep his promise to learn at full capacity. He worried that if liver is not considered meat, he would lack the strength needed to learn at his highest capacity. If he would receive a p’sak that liver was considered meat, he would feel confident that he would be able to reach that potential.
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