Rav Azriel Auerbach Visits Lakewood
In his first trip outside Eretz Yisrael, Rav Azriel Auerbach, one of klal Yisrael’s leading gedolei Torah, traveled to Lakewood last week to attend a Lev L’Achim asifa. The renowned Rav Azriel is a son of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, and a son-in-law of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, zt”l. He is the mara d’asra of the Bais Medrash Chanichei Hayeshivos of Bayit Vegan.
Upon his arrival in the United States, Rav Azriel first visited several communities in New York. He addressed the Lev L’Achim asifa at Ateres Chana Hall in Lakewood. During his Lakewood visit, Rav Azriel’s schedule was packed with visits to numerous yeshivos and homes, where he delivered words of chizuk.
Rav Azriel, hosted by Rabbi Menashe Frankel, visited the homes of Reb Michoel Bauman, Rabbi Yonason Sanders and Rabbi Yossi Halpern. Among the chadorim he visited were The Lakewood Cheder, Yeshiva Toras Aron, Yeshiva Ketana of Lakewood, and Yeshiva Orchos Chaim. He also visited Khal Ateres Yeshaya, Rav Simcha Bunim Cohen’s shul.
He also attended a kabbalas panim at the home of Rav Malkiel Kotler, rosh yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha. And he visited the yeshiva, as well, where, accompanied by the roshei yeshiva, he received a tour of the batei medrashim. Rav Azriel then delivered a shiur on Perek Lo Yachpor in Maseches Bava Basra, which the yeshiva is learning.
Poland Bans Shechitah
On Friday July 12 the Polish Parliament’s lower house voted against a government plan to reinstate the shechitah of animals. Lawmakers rejected the plan in a 222-178 vote. Until January, Poland was exporting kosher and halal meat to Israel and Muslim countries. Animals’ rights groups pressured lawmakers to ban shechitah because they say it causes unnecessary suffering due to the fact that the livestock aren’t stunned before being killed.
This ban was upheld despite costing 6,000 jobs. It will result in less revenue and overall funds in an economy that is suffering from an approximate unemployment rate of 13 percent.
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) condemned the parliament’s decision.
EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor said, “This decision puts into question the ability to maintain normative Jewish life in the Republic of Poland, and its ability to conform with the basic norms of freedom of religious expression as a member of the European Union. For a country which saw the annihilation of virtually the totality of its Jewish population, within living memory, to now say that Jewish life is to be constrained, that Jews are being prevented from practicing their religion, is shocking in the extreme.”
The EJC called on the Polish government to immediately introduce new legislation that maintains citizens’ right to freedom of religious expression as enshrined in the Polish constitution and European law.
Poland’s chief rabbi and the president of the Union of Jewish Communities of Poland issued a statement stressing their disappointment with the Polish government’s decision. They pointed out the hypocrisy in the law, as Polish law permits hunting for pleasure. And they emphasized that it is completely untrue that shechitah is cruel. This idea gained popularity in Europe in the 1930s under the influence of Nazi propaganda, which led to the banning of shechitah in Norway and Sweden. Poland will now be the first EU member state whereby such a ban will not be the consequence of Nazi-era regulations.
This law directly infringes on the basic rights of the country’s Jewish and Muslim populations, which will now be forced to either buy more expensive imported meat, or endorse an enforced vegetarianism.
Mayor Honors HaRav Chaim Kanievsky
Rabbi Shmuel Epstein, zt”l, the father of HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky’s driver, Rav Yeshayahu Epstein, was niftar during the early morning hours of Thursday, July 11, 4 Menachem Av. He was 84. The niftar maintained a special relationship with gedolei Yisrael, especially with HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita. Those who knew the Rav speak of this special connection, one that he maintained throughout his life – first and foremost with the Steipler, who he served as driver, and then with his son, Rav Chaim Kanievsky. Of late, the niftar’s condition weakened and he was hospitalized in Bnei Brak’s Mayanei HaYeshua Hospital. Rav Kanievsky visited him there a number of times.