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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘chassan’

Daf Yomi

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Sorrow And Joy
‘Proclaim Your Troubles So That Your Friends Pray For You’
(Niddah 66a)

Our Gemara discusses women who have difficulties and menstruate immediately after immersion. R. Yochanan suggested that such women should announce their difficulty to their friends so that they may pray for mercy on their behalf.

In a collective sense, the Jewish people are likened to a menstruant woman due to the destruction of Yerushalayim and the Beis Hamikdash. The Gemara (61b) states that after the destruction of the Temple, Chazalprescribed that chassanim not don crowns and brides not wear gold or silver crowns as it is not fitting to show excessive joy while our Temple remains destroyed.

‘Mazal Tov’ At A Chupah?

Among the many customs designed to remember the destruction of the Temple is the widespread custom to break a glass at a chupah (Kolbo, cited by the Rema in Shulchan Aruch O.C. 560:2). In our era, it is customary that the audience shouts, “Mazal tov!” immediately after the chassan breaks the glass.

However, some authorities regard this custom disapprovingly. The Sdei Chemed (Y.D. ma’areches zayin, os 12) writes: “For many ignorant people, mourning has become a joy and when the glass is broken, they laugh aloud and cry out, ‘Mazal Tov.’ They do not know that where there is joy, there should be trembling to remember the destruction of our Temple, and what is this joy doing here?”

The Shulchan Ha’Ezer (II, p. 3) tries to justify the common custom by explaining that the cries of “Mazal tov” stem from the wish to end the marriage ceremony with a good siman. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, explained further that perhaps once the memory of the destruction of the Temple and Yerushalayim has been mentioned, it is permitted to observe the mitzvah to rejoice with the groom and bride, which is why the cry of “Mazal tov” follows immediately after breaking the glass. Nonetheless, Rav Auerbach writes that he has yet to understand this custom properly (Yismach Lev, p. 159).

The Vilna Gaon (Beiur HaGra on Shulchan Aruch, ibid.) writes that breaking a glass at a wedding is not related to the churban. Rather, its purpose is so that attendants not be too joyful and appear rebellious. The Gaon cites Berachos 31a, which recounts that an amora once broke an expensive glass at a party when he thought the rejoicing excessive. Tosafos write on this Gemara (s.v. “Aisi”), “From here they have the custom to break a glass at a wedding.”

Some note that according to the Vilna Gaon, we should not wonder why people shout “Mazal tov” after the chassan breaks the glass since this custom, after all, has nothing to do with the destruction of the Temple, and there is nothing wrong, therefore, with proclaiming a thundering blessing of “Mazal tov” afterwards.

Returning to our Gemara: Perhaps breaking a glass at a wedding is a way of proclaiming our sorrow at the destruction of the Temple (like the menstruant woman who proclaims her sorrows) so that everyone at the wedding will pray for Hashem’s mercy – which at so solemn an occasion they will surely do. With these assurances, we then turn to the mitzvah at hand of simchas chassan v’kallah and call out with joy, “Mazal tov!”

Meoros Hadaf Hayomi Newsletters are published by the Sochachover Kollel of Bnei Brak, led by Rabbi Chaim Dovid Kovalsky. Meoros Hadaf Hayomi Newsletters, in Hebrew and/or English, are available for simcha and memorial dedications and are distributed by e-mail, dafyomi@hadaf-yomi.com.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass and Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Six: A Wagon of Worries

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Overnight, it became clear to the Jews of Branosk that there was no future for them in their village shtetl. Who could predict when the Czar’s soldiers would return to continue their wanton destruction? Nonetheless, with the optimism which eternally beats in the hearts of the Jews, there were villagers who wanted to stay and rebuild their razed homes. Others decided to pack up their belongings and seek their fortunes elsewhere, some to western Russia where the pogroms had not as yet reached, others to Germany and Poland. Only a handful of Nachman’s companions volunteered to join the Zionists on their journey to Eretz Yisrael.

One had the nickname Goliath. A woodcutter by trade, he towered several heads above Tevye. His real name was Alexander, and while he certainly wasn’t a scholar, he was fiercely devoted to Nachman. He even called the young Torah prodigy his rabbi. Another friend, Shmuelik, was like a brother to Nachman. They had grown up together, studied Gemara together, and dreamed of going to the Land of Israel together. When they were just children in heder, Shmuelik would collect sticks in the forest, hand them out to his companions like rifles, and lead them on make-believe attacks, as if they were Maccabee soldiers fighting for the freedom and honor of Israel. Always keeping an eye out for husbands, Tevye reasoned that Shmuelik might prove to be the right man for Bat Sheva, who with every passing day was becoming more enamored with the gallant Ben Zion and his bombastic speeches.

Their other new traveling companion was Hillel, an accordion player by trade. He was older than the others, with streaks of gray hair in his short scraggly beard. He walked with a limp, as if from the weight of his accordion which he lugged with him wherever he went. “Be happy today,” was his motto, “Because tomorrow you could be food for the worms.” It was a philosophy which Tevye shared. Hillel was a man he could talk to. Though he didn’t have a lucrative profession, Tevye thought that the musician might be a match for his Tzeitl. After all, with two children, she wasn’t exactly a new cow in the market.

But a greater mitzvah than marriage lay before them at the moment – the mitzvah of burying the dead. Tevye took a shovel from his wagon and helped in the work of digging graves for the corpses. His daughters helped with the wounded. Ruchel volunteered to assist Nachman’s mother and sisters in the kitchen of Nachman’s house, where with his brothers and sisters, he had to sit shiva, the traditional week of Jewish mourning. People came to offer their condolences all through the day and the evening, and Ruchel kept busy baking cakes for the guests. Though she rarely exchanged a word with Nachman, a deep bond was building between them. She felt that they communicated even without speaking, and he felt it too. When the elders of the community urged him to stay on and inherit his father’s position, the young scholar was uncertain where his greater obligation lay, as a guardian of the Torah in the exile, or as a builder of the Promised Land. Ruchel vowed to stand by him whatever he decided, even if it meant saying good-bye to her family. The dutiful son had qualms about leaving his mother, but his older brother and sisters promised to watch over her. After several days, he arrived at an answer.

“Our future is in the Land of Israel,” he said.

To pass the time while Nachman was observing the week of mourning, Tevye and the Zionists pitched in with the work of repair. One afternoon, as Ben Zion and Peter were out strolling through the woods to get away from the pious shtetl, they came across Hevedke, who had kept out of sight in the forest ever since the night the Cossacks had raided the village.

“Well, look what we have here,” Peter whispered to his friend.

“Hiding out in the woods like a spy,” Ben Zion answered.

“You think he’s like all the rest of the anti-Semites?” Peter asked.

“I don’t know, but for Tevye’s sake, let’s teach him a lesson.”

Ben Zion raised his hand in salutation and called out with a smile. “Hey, Hevedke! Over here!”

The Russian waved in a good-natured greeting. He was happy to see them. He hadn’t spoken to a soul in two days. He was running low on food, and he was beginning to feel profoundly unhappy walking around in endless circles to fight off the boredom and chill.

Smiling, Ben Zion walked up to him and reached out to shake his hand. Only he didn’t let go. He twisted Hevedke’s arm behind his back and held on to him tightly as Peter punched him hard in the stomach. When the Russian doubled over in pain, Ben Zion released him and added a shove of his own. Hevedke stumbled, but he didn’t fall down.

“Let’s see you fight!” Ben Zion shouted.

The poet refused to raise up his fists.

“Fight!” Peter yelled, hitting him again. Hevedke collapsed to his knees.

“Make sure we never see you again,” Ben Zion told him, leaving him on his knees in the forest, as if he were praying in church.

When the week of mourning was ended, Nachman packed his father’s Chumash and Siddur into his sack along with a few other books, kissed his blind mother good-bye, and joined Tevye’s family and the Zionists as they set off down the road.

“Don’t you worry about me,” his mother told him, as if reading his thoughts. “The Lord will be gracious. In His kindness, He has stricken me with blindness to spare me from seeing the horrors which are befalling our people, and in His kindness, He will send the Mashiach to bring all of us back to Eretz Yisrael.”

“May it be soon,” Nachman said. He kissed his mother one last time on the forehead and ran tearfully off to catch up with the others.

The voyage took almost three months. After having hurled fire and rain in their path, the Almighty dispatched a late winter snowstorm which covered their boots up to their knees and made traveling treacherous and slow. With heads lowered to escape the biting wind, the group trudged eastward toward the port of Odessa. For miles on end, blinded by the snow, they could barely make out the road. Only the instincts of the horse kept them on course. During the height of the blizzard, the wagon had to be pushed, and finally, as the wheels became buried in drifts, it refused to budge at all.

A feeling of despair fell over their endeavor. Hillel tried to cheer them up with a tune on his accordion, but his fingers were too frozen to manipulate the keys. Then, as if to dash their hopes completely, a group of Zionists coming from another evacuated region told them that a roadblock of soldiers a mile up the road was preventing Jews from entering the province which led to the port of Odessa. When the leader of their group had tried to break through the roadblock, the soldiers had shot him dead on the spot. His comrades were carrying his body to a proper Jewish cemetery and postponing their journey until more favorable conditions prevailed.

“What are we going to do now, Tata?” Bat Sheva asked.

“Haven’t our Rabbis told us that three things are obtained through suffering?” he philosophically answered.

“I suppose they did,” Bat Sheva responded. “They had something to say about everything.”

“What three things?” Hava inquired.

“Tell them, Nachman,” Tevye called, wanting to show off the wisdom of his learned groom, his daughter Hodel’s chassan.

“The Torah, the World to Come, and the Land of Israel,” the scholar responded. “They are the most precious things a man can attain, and to achieve them, he has to be willing to suffer.”

“In what tractate of Talmud can the teaching be found?” Tevye asked.

“The tractate Berachot.”

“On what page?”

Nachman blushed. He wasn’t a braggart, and it embarrassed him to be put on display. “Page five,” he responded.

“What’s the use of memorizing a lot of ancient history?” Ben Zion asked. “If you want to read a truly important book, you should read ‘The Jewish State,’ by Theodor Herzl. He was a prophet who spoke to the Jews of today.”

“The Lord has many messengers,” Nachman answered. “In our time, God chose Herzl to bring the message of Zion to our exiled people. But it wasn’t Herzl who invented the Zionist movement. It comes from our holy Torah and the Jews who have been following its call for thousands of years.”

“But how can we continue?” Bat Sheva asked. “The road is blocked by soldiers.”

“We’ll go through the woods and over the mountain,” Ben Zion answered. “Though my version of Jewish history differs from the young rabbi’s, our destination is admittedly the same.”

All eyes turned to the snow-covered mountains which loomed up on both sides of the road. “What about the wagon?” Tzeitl asked.

“The girl has a point,” Tevye said. “We can’t take the wagon over the mountain.”

“Hevedke can drive the wagon,” Hava said. “There is no reason for the soldiers to stop him.”

Everyone stared at Tevye, who sat in the wagon perplexed. Hevedke, as usual, was trailing behind them. Every few miles, he would appear like an apparition out of the snow. If Tevye gave in, it would be a victory for the Russian and arouse Hava’s hopes. But if he said no, they would either have to turn back, or abandon the wagon out on the road. What would become of his Golda? He couldn’t shlep her coffin over the mountain. Nor could he bury her in the snow. He turned to stare back along the tracks of the wagon. Down the road, a snowman stood rigid in the winter landscape. Tevye had to give the Galagani some credit. For a gentile, he was as stubborn as a Jew.

With a grumble, Tevye lay down the reins and climbed off the wagon.

“You go talk to him,” he said to Ben Zion. “But I want everyone to know – it’s only for the success of the journey.”

“This is insane,” Naftali argued. “We can’t be climbing mountains in this weather. I say we find shelter and wait for the storm to subside.”

“He Who formed the mountains and causes the winds to blow will give us the strength to succeed on our journey,” Shmuelik said.

“If you people are on such good terms with Him, why doesn’t He make the mountain disappear altogether and save us the effort?” Peter asked.

“According to the effort is the reward,” Shmuelik answered.

Like Nachson ben Amminadav, the first Jew to brave the mighty waters of the Red Sea when the children of Israel stood frightfully on its banks pursued by the chariots of Egypt, the faith-filled youth from the village of Branosk started out up the snowbound ascent. It was agreed that Hevedke would meet the group on the other side of the mountain. Wrapping the children in blankets, they set out on the arduous trek. The climb took most of the day. When the children tired, the men took turns carrying them up the rugged incline. Tevye’s beard turned white with snow. Several times, they had to pause and wait up for Tzeitl. Her feet were frozen, her legs felt like stones, her teeth chattered, and sneezes racked her thin body. By sunset, she was so weak Tevye had to lift her and carry her in his arms. He staggered forward beneath his precious load. Her eyes were feverish, and through her heavy clothing, Tevye could feel her body shivering with each raspy breath. Several times, she inquired after the children, then fell into a deep sleep in his arms. Gradually, the winds and snow stopped. At nightfall, they reached the summit. Clouds drifted apart over their heads, revealing patches of stars. Ben Zion wanted to camp for the evening and make the descent at dawn, when they would have a better idea of their bearings. But Tevye kept walking. He wanted to get Tzeitl to a lower altitude, where it would be warmer, and even try to meet up with the wagon that night. The girl needed a doctor. With a prayer on his lips, he hoisted his bundle over his shoulder. His legs carried him forward down the slope of the mountain. Shmuelik walked at his side. Nachman followed with Ruchel. Soon, everyone fell into line. After an hour, Tevye’s muscles were depleted of strength. With a groan, he sank to his knees in the snow. Gently, Goliath reached down and lifted Tzeitl into his arms. Nachman and Shmuelik helped Tevye to his feet, and the weary hikers continued on down the mountain.

When they reached the road, the wagon was nowhere in sight. Tevye gazed up to Heaven. A man was not supposed to rely on miracles, but the gates of prayer were always open to pleas from he heart.

“My dear and gracious King, have You brought us this far just to turn us into pillars of ice in this tundra?” he called. “Save us. If not for the sake of this miserable wretch of a milkman, then for the sake of his saintly wife, Golda.”

Tevye took his unconscious daughter from the arms of the giant, and once again the group started off in the darkness. Then, to everyone’s joy, around the first bend in the road, Tevye’s prayer was answered. Hevedke sat waiting in the wagon.

With shouts of triumph, the hikers ran forward. Tevye quickly lifted Tzeitl into the back of the wagon. The rest of his daughters climbed aboard. Goliath sat up front beside Hevedke who continued to drive. The others were to meet them in the next town along the road. The Russian whipped the reins and urged the horse onward into the night. Everyone’s thoughts were on finding a doctor for Tzeitl. Within a short time, the houses of a village appeared in the distance. Hevedke pounded on the first door they came to. The doorpost, Tevye noticed, lacked a mezuzah. The Russian peasant who answered pointed the way to the house of the local doctor. Tevye asked him if there was a Jewish doctor in town. The man shook his head, no. There weren’t any Jews in the village at all.

Once again, at the doctor’s, Hevedke did all of the talking. He said that his sister was sick. Reluctantly, the sleepy, night-gowned physician invited him into his house. Soon the small salon was crowded with Tevye’s snow-covered family. Like a guard, Goliath waited outside with the wagon.

Tevye set Tzeitl gently down on a bed in the doctor’s examining room.The physician quickly dressed, put on his eyeglasses and glanced from the dark, bearded Jew to the tall, blond Hevedke.

“I have to charge more for night visits,” he said.

Hevedke nodded, reached his hand in his pocket, and showed the doctor some rubles. Hava stood watching as the doctor examined her sister. Little Hannie cried for her mommy until Bat Sheva rocked her to sleep. Hevedke spoke to the doctor’s wife in the kitchen and convinced her to warm up a large samovar of tea. After a short while, the doctor reappeared. Tevye’s worries proved accurate. The girl had pneumonia and the doctor had given her some medicine which would bring down her fever. Hava was toweling her down. The patient would have to stay in bed for a few days and drink lots of hot tea. Tevye knew the rest of the story. What would be, would be. Tevye had known of people who had recovered from pneumonia, and others who had died, God forbid. Like Tzeitl’s poor husband, Motel, who had coughed himself into the grave.

Tevye prayed and followed the doctor’s orders. In the meantime, their journey was postponed. The Zionists arrived and went straight to the town inn to rest. Hevedke rented a room for Tzeitl and her family in the house of an old widow. Every day, he escorted Nachman and Ruchel to the market to buy fresh vegetables for soup. For the sake of his sick daughter, Tevye relied on the poet’s help, but he was careful to keep him a safe distance from Hava. Since there was no kosher meat in the town, Tevye bought a chicken and slaughtered it himself. If the doctor’s medicine couldn’t cure his daughter, certainly some chicken soup would.

It was agreed that Ben Zion would continue on to Odessa, another three days away, to arrange for ocean passage to Palestine. Tevye handed him a sizable share of the money he had received from the sale of his house, so that Ben Zion could buy them tickets. Before their departure, the Zionists returned to the inn for one last, hearty non-kosher repast.

Goliath said he was staying behind to travel with Tevye. Though the giant wouldn’t admit it, he had fallen in love with Tzeitl. Carrying the sick woman in his arms through the snow had stirred his big heart. Though he had barely exchanged a word with her, he felt like her guardian angel, duty bound to protect her. He played with her children and took them on rides through the woods on his back. At night, instead of sleeping in the warm corner which Shmuelik, Hillel, and Nachman had found in a barn, he slept on the porch of the old widow’s house, just to be closer to Tzeitl.

Although in principle Ben Zion shunned alcohol as the brew which kept the Russian peasantry content in their servitude and squalor, before setting out on the next leg of their journey, he allowed himself several glasses of wine during lunch. His head was happily spinning when his comrades led him out of the inn. Bat Sheva stood across the road, waiting to wish him good-bye. Catching a glimpse of her, he told his friends that he would rendezvous with them at the outskirts of town. Then with a wink, he walked off toward the girl.

“I came to say farewell and to wish you good luck,” she said.

“Don’t tell me farewell,” he said. “Tell me L’Hitraot. It’s Hebrew for `Until we see each other again.'”

“Do you really want to see me again?” she asked.

“What kind of question is that?” he answered. “Listen. I have something to tell you. But wait, we can’t talk here on the street. Come with me now.”

Quickly, he led her away from the houses and into the woods. When they were out of sight of the village, he took her hand and pushed her against the trunk of a tree. He looked into her eyes with a gaze so bold that it made her gasp for breath.

“I have a confession to make,” he told her.

Bat Sheva stood paralyzed, waiting for him to continue.

“I have the feeling that… I am falling in love with you.”

“I feel the same way,” Bat Sheva answered.

“Our beliefs are so different,” he said.

“They are not so different as you think,” she replied, blushing under his gaze.

“If you mean that, then show me. Let me give you a kiss.”

Bat Sheva trembled. A kiss was sacred. A kiss was a gesture of love. Just being alone with a man was forbidden. Her heart pounded so loudly, she felt certain that the whole village would hear. Before she could say no, Ben Zion bent his head down and he kissed her. When their lips touched, she tasted the pungent sweetness of wine.

“You’ve been drinking,” she accused, pushing him away.

“Since when is drinking a sin?” he retorted, grabbing her and kissing her again.

“Do you really love me?” she asked.

“Yes, yes, I love you madly,” he vowed.

“Will you marry me?” she asked

“Yes, yes,” he promised. “I will marry you a thousand times over.”

“You swear?” she asked.

“On the Holy Bible,” he told her.

“Oh, Ben Zion, I’m so happy,” she said.

“Well I’m not,” a deep, husky voice interrupted. It was the voice of her Father.

Tata!” she cried.

Tevye seemed to tower above them, clutching a stick in his hand. When Ben Zion looked up, all he saw was a shadow standing in front of the sun. The stick slammed into his back. Whack! Whack! Whack! Crying out, the Zionist raised his hands to block the blows to his head. Bat Sheva cried out and wept.

“I’ll kill you!” Tevye bellowed. “I’ll kill you if I ever catch you with my daughter again!”

Tevye landed a kick to Ben Zion’s butt, and the Rasputin ran off like a thief. When Tevye turned to his daughter, his eyes were ablaze.

“Is the Almighty blind that He doesn’t see what goes on in the forest?” he shouted. “Your dead mother is shamed!”

Red in the face, the girl couldn’t look at her father.

Tevye growled. The Zionists be damned. Maybe he was making a dreadful mistake in following them so blindly. A cloud of worry filled his head. What would become of his daughters?

Tzvi Fishman

My Machberes

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Bus Transportation For Yeshivas

In 2007 the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) of the New York City Department of Education took a giant step forward in serving our yeshivas. Rabbi Moshe Ausfresser, assistant principal of Yeshiva Toras Emes Kaminetz, was appointed transportation coordinator for the yeshivas and Bais Yaakovs served by OPT.

In October 2007, representatives of more than 125 yeshivas in New York City attended a meeting at Yeshiva Toras Emes Kaminetz, called by the OPT to improve its communication processes and to develop a smooth problem solving relationship. Rabbi Ausfresser chaired the meeting, with senior OPT executives giving valuable presentations.

At the bus meeting

That was the start of a beneficial relationship for our yeshivas. Presently, more than 84,000 children are transported to and from school on more than 2,000 buses every day. OPT aims to ensure that all eligible students receive safe, clean and timely daily transportation to and from school and field trips for both public and non-public schools. This is ensured through the provision of either student MetroCards or yellow school bus rides.

Services are customized and individualized with a high dependence on accurate data and coordinated logistics planning. Schools have the opportunity, at the beginning of every new route, to personally meet with “their” drivers in order to forge a better understanding of the needs of each child.

More than 200 people gathered recently at the annual General Education Transportation meeting to engage in a forum hosted by OPT. Senior OPT staff joined yeshiva principals, school transport coordinators and school bus vendors to discuss new developments within OPT designed to facilitate continuous smooth service for the yeshiva community as well as various potential provisions to enhance future service.

Rabbi Moshe Ausfresser

Eric Goldstein, CEO of support services for the Department of Education, opened the event by welcoming everyone and inviting them to take advantage of the opportunity to ‘‘meet the team” and reminding them that effective dialogue coupled with strong teamwork is the best way to ensure a continuously improving service. Mr. Goldstein is a stalwart friend of yeshivas, whose transportation officers know he will give them his full attention.

After a brief welcome by Fred Kreizman, assistant commissioner in the Office of the Mayor, Rabbi Yehuda Oelbaum of Machon Beis Yaakov gave a short speech stressing the importance of hakaras hatov and comparing OPT to a malchus hachesed that must be recognized for its instrumental in the well being of Klal Yisrael.

Rabbi Naftulie Weiss, director of Livnas Ha’Sapir, gave credit and expressed appreciation to every person in the system and remarked that “We must treat our job as if we are transporting expensive wine and if we drive too fast, our bottles will break.”

Alexandra Robinson, the new executive director of OPT, thanked everyone for attending, introduced OPT staff members, and reassured participants that safety and inspections team are working on delivering a high standard of service with a quick response time. She also highlighted key issues involving the Customer Service unit (and encouraged schools to call in with information, complaints and concerns) and praised the Inspection Unit for its dedication in ensuring the condition of buses and the competence and professionalism of bus drivers and attendants.

She was followed by Deputy Executive Director of Special Education John Mulligan, who advised that in order to ensure superior routes and circumvent delays, parents should bring all relevant information to the initial meeting with CSE.

Rabbi Ausfresser, who coordinated the event on behalf of OPT, focused on key points for transport coordinators, including ensuring that two-weeks advance notice is given for field trips. MTA passes are available through OPT for field trips that require subway transport. Weekend certificates are available through the Youth Board.

Rabbi Ausfresser announced there was still a final opportunity, on Brooklyn-Queens Day, Thursday, June 7, for a late field trip. He also noted that in case of weather emergencies there is a new system in place that allows a school, using a designated e-mail address, to notify OPT from 7:30 p.m. the prior day of a school cancellation.

As a follow up to the meeting, OPT confirmed that the calendar for next year has already been approved and that the half day for Kindergarten will now be on Thursdays rather than Fridays. In addition, OPT Director of Training Ed Jacobsen reminded everyone about upcoming training sessions in NPSIS, the Non-Public Calendar Application use as well as the correct use of the OPT 199 application.

Postscript To The Asifa

In calling members of the observant community to attend last week’s asifa at Citi Field and Arthur Ashe Stadium, a two-page broadside, titled “Kinus Klal Yisroel for our Future Generations,” was prepared.

Pictures of contemporary leading chassidishe rebbes, rosh yeshivas and rabbis were added along the borders of the placard as an indication of their endorsement and encouraging attendance. The poster carried a banner in Hebrew proclaiming “And They All Came Together In Unison…” Among those pictured were both Klausenburger Rebbes, both Bnei Brak Vishnitzer Rebbes, and Rabbi Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe.

The broadside was published in chassidishe Yiddish newspapers, including Der Blatt, the official publication of Satmar chassidim who follow Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe. Possibly, the broadside’s intention was not limited to proper handling of the Internet but also at working toward and achieving achdus, ahavas Yisrael and ahavas chinam, especially in these times of great challenges.

Nikolsburger/Hornsteipel Shidduch

On Wednesday evening May 16, 40th of the Omer, Yitzchok Yosef Twersky became engaged to marry Esther Jungreis, daughter of Rabbi Mordechai Zev Jungreis, Nikolsburger Rebbe in Boro Park and Woodbourne. The chassan is the son of Rabbi Benzion Yehuda Leib Twersky, Hornsteipler Rebbe and noted psychologist. The engagement was celebrated at the Nikolsburger Beis Medrash on 16th Avenue in Boro Park.

Nikolsburger Rebbe on Lag B’Omer

This simcha followed that of the wedding of Yitzchok Dov Jungreis to Tziporah (nee Friedman), daughter of Rabbi Alexander Zusha Friedman, at Ateres Chaya Sarah Hall in Monsey. The chassan is a son of the Nikolsburger Rebbe. Sheva berachos were held at Beth El Hall on 15th Avenue in Boro Park in order to accommodate the larger participation of chassidim, family, and friends at the tefilos, tisch, and kiddush led by the Nikolsburger Rebbe. (The Nikolsburger Rebbe’s lineage was detailed in the February 2 My Machberes column.)

The Nikolsburger celebration of Lag B’Omer has evolved into the largest in Boro Park. The Nikolsburger celebration takes place on 16th Avenue at 50th Street and the Stolin Karlin celebration takes place on 16th Avenue at 46th Street. The two celebrations seemingly merged and drew thousands of participants.

Skolya Chassunah

On Thursday evening, May 31, Yechiel Mechel Goldstein will marry Basya Channah Hendel Katz, daughter of Rabbi Eluzer Mendelowitz, member rabbi of the Tartikover Kollel; son-in-law of Rabbi Chaim Yehuda (Chaim Leib) Katz, Serdehaler Rav in Boro Park. The wedding will take place in the Tiferes Mordechai Hall in Boro Park.

Skolya Rebbe

The chassan is the son of Rabbi Rafael Goldstein, Skolya Rebbe; son-in-law of Rabbi Boruch Rabinowitz; son of Rabbi Dovid Yitzchok Isaac Rabinowitz, zt”l (1898-1979), Skolya Rebbe and author of Tzemach Dovid; son of Rabbi Boruch Pinchas Rabinowitz, zt”l (1874-1920), Skolya Rebbe and author of Imrei Boruch; son of Rabbi Eliezer Chaim Rabinowitz, zt”l (1845-1916), Yampola Rebbe who first visited the United States in 1890 and is considered the first chassidishe rebbe to set foot in America.

The kallah is the granddaughter of Rabbi Yehoshua Katz, zt”l (d. 1985), Sombotheily Rav; son of Rabbi Asher Anshel Katz, zt”l Hy”d (1881-1944), Serdehaly Rav and author of Ule’ashar Omar; son-in-law of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Ehrenreich, zt”l Hy”d (d. 1944), Shomloyer Rav and author of Lechem Shlomo. Rabbi Chaim Leib is also a grandson of Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Pollack zt”l, Woodkerter Rav.

The aufruf was celebrated on Shabbos Bamidbar, erev Shavous, at the Skolya Beis Medrash on 18th Avenue. The forshpiel took place on the second day of Shavous and included, after Maariv, music and flaming torchlights.

Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

My Machberes

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Prelude To The Satmar Wedding

In pre-Holocaust Europe it was a custom that in advance of a chassunah in the family of a chassidishe rebbe, visits were made to the gravesites of grandparents, great-grandparents, etc., to invite them to the wedding. The belief that the souls of ancestors attend and enjoy the chassunah of their descendants is embraced in chassidishe communities. Before the Holocaust, when the burial places of forbears were never too far away, such visits were routine and inexpensive. The chassan, whether a son or a future son-in-law, would usually be included in the visits. Increasingly, the practice is again being upheld.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Teitelbaum, Williamsburg Satmar Rav.

On Monday, May 7, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Teitelbaum, Williamsburg Satmar Rav, returned from a group trip to Eastern Europe where he visited holy gravesites and consecrated places. The eldest son of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe, the Williamsburg Satmar Rav went to pray at the gravesites of his ancestors and to invite them to the forthcoming wedding of his son, Yekusiel Yehuda (Zalman Leib) Teitelbaum, who will marry Rivka Weisz, the youngest daughter of Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Weisz, Boro Park Spinka Rebbe. They were engaged in the middle of the summer of 2011. The lineage of both families was detailed in the August 5, 2011 My Machberes column.

The shidduch was proclaimed at Camp Imrei Yosef in South Fallsburg, where Rabbi Dovid Dov Berish Meisels, Boro Park Satmar Rav and grandfather of the chassan, delivered divrei Torah honoring the event. Dozens of buses brought participants from the Satmar bungalow colonies in Monticello. Simultaneously, hundreds of chassidim joined the Satmar Rebbe, paternal grandfather of the chassan, at Beis Medrash Machazikei Hadas in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, celebrating the simcha. In addition, the Satmar camp in Liberty, where the Williamsburg Satmar Rav was for the summer, celebrated the shidduch.

Praying And Singing In Cemeteries

The Williamsburg Satmar Rav departed for Eastern Europe on Monday afternoon, April 30. Together with immediate family members and a select group of chassidim they landed in Frankfurt on Tuesday morning, from where they continued on to Krakow, Poland.

There, they immersed in the mikveh at the Eden Hotel and davened Shacharis at the Remuh shul, built in 1557 and presently led by Rabbi Boaz Pash. The Remuh shul, the smallest of Krakow’s eight surviving synagogues and its only active one, is named in honor of Rabbi Moshe Isserles, zt”l (1525-1572), who authored the preeminent commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch and whose yahrzeit is on Lag B’Omer. His commentaries are accepted by Ashkenazic communities throughout the world. After Shacharis, the group visited both nearby Jewish cemeteries and prayed at the gravesites of great rabbis.

They group then traveled to Brigel, to the gravesite of Rabbi Aryeh Leib Lipshitz, zt”l (d. 1850), rav of Vishnitza, author of Aryeh D’bei Ilouie and son-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, zt”l (1759-1841), Uheiler Rebbe, author of Yismach Moshe, and founder of the Sighet and Satmar Chassidishe dynasties. From there the group went directly to the ohel of Rabbi Chaim Halberstam, zt”l (1797-1876), venerated Sanzer Rebbe and author of Divrei Chaim, where they prayed. The next stop was Dinov, where they spent the night.

At each gravesite the Williamsburg Satmar Rav recited divrei Torah authored by the tzaddik buried there. On their way to the burial place, the Rebbe would retell tales and stories concerning the tzaddik about to be visited. At some gravesites, inspirational songs attributed to the tzaddik and his followers were sung. Inside the ohel of the Divrei Chaim the group heard the Williamsburg Satmar Rav learn aloud from the tzaddik’s sefer.

On Wednesday morning, May 2, after prayers in the ohel of the tzaddikim of Dinov, the eternal resting place of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Rubin, zt”l (1740-1803), Linsker Rebbe and founder of the Ropshitzer dynasty, the group proceeded to the two ohels in Rimanov. At the gravesite of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Turim, zt”l (1745- 1815), Rimanover Rebbe, the Williamsburg Satmar Rav movingly intoned Tehillim chapters 23 and 24, verse by verse, which were repeated by the assemblage.

The next stop was Reisha, at the burial places of Rabbi Elimelech Weissblum, zt”l (1817-1849), Rudniker Rebbe, and his son Rabbi Elazar Weissblum, zt”l (1838-1910), Reisha Rebbe who was raised by the Divrei Chaim, had a special gift of healing, and authored Mishnah Lemelech. In honor of the Reisha Rebbe a charity collection was made for Kollel Toldos Elazar in Jerusalem. The group then went to Lijensk, where they immersed in its mikveh and davened Minchah. The Williamsburg Satmar Rav then conducted a L’chaim Tisch before entering the ohel of Rabbi Elimelech Weissblum, zt”l (1717-1787), Lijensker Rebbe and author of Noam Elimelech. The prayers there were exceptionally inspirational, especially during the recitation of the Tefillah Kodem HaTefillah, authored by the Noam Elimelech. This was followed by a verse-by-verse recitation of Tehillim 130.

Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

My Machberes

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Chassidim Elected To Public Office

Yidel Perlstein (left) and City Councilman David Greenfield.

The election on March 28 of Yidel Perlstein as chairman of Community Planning Board 12 in Brooklyn is an indication of unfolding voting patterns that are changing the face of local governance. His election follows the November 2011 election of Aron B. Wieder to the Rockland County Legislature, representing its 13th District.


Aron B. Wieder

Wieder, running on the Democratic, Republican, and Independence lines against an incumbent, won a resounding victory, garnering 79 percent of the vote. He has since been appointed to four important Rockland County Legislature Committees: Economic Development; Government Operations; Public Safety; and Environmental. The appointments are an affirmation of the respect and confidence he has earned from his colleagues and of his viability as a public servant.

Rabbi Jacob Z. Goldstein

Perlstein was elected with an impressive 75 percent of the vote. He had received the endorsement of several elected officials. Community Board 12 represents more than 200,000 residents. He succeeds Alan Dubrow, a member of the board since 1978 and chairman since 1990. Perlstein joins Rabbi Jacob Z. Goldstein, another chassidic elected official, who has served, with distinction, as chairman of Community Board No. 9 (Crown Heights) since 1979.


Who Might Be Next?

Of course, being elected to public office is no easy matter. We can laugh at Mark Twain’s comment, “Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress – but I repeat myself.” But the reality is that getting elected to any public office is a noteworthy achievement. One must have the intuitive understanding to effectively communicate to the people whose votes are necessary for being elected. Being elected by a constituency that extends beyond the walls of one’s beis medrash is to be truly admired.

Our community has an impressive number of individuals worthy of public office. But they have to be encouraged and persuaded to run for office. Few, however, rise to the towering level of Rabbi Aaron Lewin, zt”l Hy”d (1879-1941), Reisha Rav and author of Hadrash Veha’iyun. Grandson of Rabbi Yitzchok Shmelkes, zt”l (1828-1905), author of Beis Yitzchok, Rabbi Lewin served in the Polish Sejm (parliament) from 1922 until the Nazi invasion of Poland in September of 1939. He was murdered in the Holocaust.

The internationally renowned attorney Nathan Lewin is a proud grandson of the Reisha Rav. Nathan Lewin is the son of Rabbi Yitzchok Lewin, zt”l (1906-1995), Agudath Israel Leader.

The Reisha Rav was extraordinarily unique. Nonetheless, there are individuals in our communities who are worthy of serious consideration. One name that immediately springs up is that of Chaim Israel. He was instrumental in the work of SEBCO over the last 35 years in stabilizing the neighborhood known as Boro Park West (the lower numbered avenues and streets), which thrives today. The same principles were applied to other neighborhoods. Those successes have received national attention.

Chaim Israel, back row, fourth from right.

Chaim Israel is well respected by administrators at Maimonides Medical Center and other area hospitals. He organized Vaad Refuah and propelled it to the forefront of Bikur Cholim challenges. In that capacity he leads volunteers from all walks of life: attorneys, businessmen, health care professionals, rabbis, real estate developers, men and women from yeshivish and chassidish backgrounds, all dedicated to improving the health and the delivery of health care services to our community.

He is the son of Rabbi Avrohom Meir Israel, zt”l (d. 1995), late rav of Honiad and author of Vaya’an Avrohom and Imrei Avrohom, and ybch”l Rebbetzin Chava Israel. Rebbetzin Israel (may she have a speedy recovery and be restored to full health soon) is the ideal bikur cholim practitioner, having made countless visits to patients during her decades of daily rounds of visits to every bed in area hospitals.

Surviving the Holocaust, Rabbi Avrohom Meir Israel served as chief rabbi of Vienna and was a key figure in guiding the resurgence of religious life in postwar Europe. He worked alongside post-Holocaust Torah leaders such as Rabbi Boruch Leizerowski, zt”l (d. 2000), Lodzer Rav and author of Taam Boruch who survived Dachau and Auschwitz and was appointed chief rabbi of Munich and later served as chief rabbi of Philadelphia.

Rabbi Avrohom Meir also worked shoulder to shoulder with Rabbi Eliezer Paltiel Roitblatt, zt”l (d. 1998), Shenitzer Rebbe, who was appointed rav of Shenitza, Poland, in 1935. He was the last surviving rav who served in Poland before the Holocaust. Surviving the Holocaust, Rabbi Eliezer Paltiel was appointed rav of the displaced persons camp in Lintz-Weigsheid and was instrumental, together with Rabbi Avrohom Meir, in freeing many agunahs whose husbands were murdered in the Holocaust but had no absolute proof.

Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

My Machberes

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

(L-R) Mark Meyer Appel, Rabbi Yosef Blau, and Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum at model Seder.

Voice Of Justice Model Seder: Event With A Message

On Thursday evening, March 29 a model Seder was held at B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Boro Park. The special event was conducted by the Voice of Justice, directed by Mark Meyer Appel. The organization gives moral, psychological, financial and safety support to victims of child abuse. Attendees at the event included victims, advocates, and supporters.

Chaim Kiss Singing at the Seder.

Chaim Kiss, renowned chazzan and singer, filled the air with a mood of celebration. Delicious foods were served, and the atmosphere reflected the Pesach mood of liberation and freedom. Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani of Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchanan, and this writer, as rav of the host shul and Igud director, sat at the dais. Dr. Asher Lipner, a psychologist and leader in the fight against child abuse, read aloud a proclamation from the Assembly of the State of New York extolling the event and its sponsors, which included Met Council (Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty), The Jewish Press, Maimonides Medical Center, the Vos Iz Neias website, Zev Brenner and TalkLine Communications, the Rabbinical Alliance of America-Igud Horabbonim, and the Coalition of Jewish Advocates for Children.

Spirited dancing and camaraderie.

The camaraderie and singing reached emotional heights and the participants, swaying with the music, rose from their seats and joined in communal dancing. Young men, some in modern garb and others in chassidishe attire, rhythmically ran back and forth. A feeling of freedom and security permeated, as though massive burdens were lifted off the shoulders of a newly freed people.

Just a few years ago, reports of child abuse were routinely covered up. No one wanted to even think about it, much less discuss or report it. If the authorities investigated or arrested someone from our community for child abuse, the authorities were condemned for, in effect, embarrassing the entire community.

Today, we are light years beyond that Neanderthal way of thinking. Today, there are shouts condemning the authorities for not doing enough to keep molesters off the streets and our children safe. Books are published for children, on their level of understanding, concerning what to watch out for and how to act in threatening circumstances at home or outside. Today, our leading organizations have child safety on their agendas. Meetings on how our institutions must protect children are held behind both closed and open doors and fully reported. Of course, more has to be done. One case of abuse is one case too much.

The Voice of Justice Model Seder was another step in the effort to combat child abuse. It followed last year’s Seder, as well as numerous conferences held throughout the five boroughs of New York City and in cities with observant communities across the United States.

The list of names of those who have given of themselves in this successful battle is too long for this space. The names will be published and honored in future columns. As the battle continues, we must focus on winning the war, something that is within our grasp. That day, we all pray, will be very soon.

Kol Koreh Against Handmade Matzahs

One would assume that a kol koreh proclamation that storms against, of all things, handmade matzahs, must have some explosive reasoning. What could be more genuinely representative of our Jewish heritage? Handmade matzahs, everyone readily agrees, were eaten by our ancestors as they fled Egypt and slavery. Handmade matzahs are what our forefathers ate at family Seders throughout the millennia.

One might think the posters against handmade matzahs focused on the method of grinding the wheat kernels. The members of our observant communities that are ultra-meticulous in preserving traditions and in having their matzahs handmade actually require that the wheat be ground manually. This takes much effort and envelops those in the process in clouds of wheat dust. Matzahs made by hand from wheat that is manually ground, needless to say, are labor intensive and quite expensive.

However, this declaration focuses on the method of manufacturing the handmade matzahs. Actually, those matzahs targeted by the broadsides are not handmade at all. They are manufactured by machine. The matzahs in discussion are machine made “hand-made,” which of course is an oxymoron. Actually, machine made “hand-made” matzahs amount to a consumer fraud if the mode of manufacture is not fully disclosed.

Rabbi Shmuel Wosner, revered author of Shevet Levi and universally accepted posek, traveled to the establishment of production and confirmed that the machines being used are the very same type used in regular square machine matzahs. However, the machines were reconfigured to produce imperfect roundish matzahs that have the appearance of being made by hand. Rabbi Wosner confirms that the machines are, in principle, exactly the same.

Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

Hashgachah Pratis: Readers Respond (Continued from Last Week)

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

I have been sharing personal testimonies on the subject of hashgachah pratis, chosen from a plethora of letters that have reached my desk. Each of these stories reflects a different challenge ranging from problems of health, parnassah, shidduchim and loss of dear ones (some of which I have yet to publish). These difficulties, to one extent or another, at one time or another, have challenged all of us.

In all these stories, in every aspect of our lives, G-d’s hashgachah pratis – guiding hand – is evident. We need only open our eyes to see it all. More saliently, these stories testify that the best therapy, the best tranquilizer, the best anti-depressant, cannot guarantee that which simple tenacious emunah, faith in Avinu Shebashamayim, our Heavenly Father, can accomplish.

In every aspect of our lives, Hashem’s hashgachah pratis is obvious; were it not for our highly pressured, crazed society that creates blockage in our hearts and minds, we would all be aware of it. But the din and noise of our times keeps us running so fast we do not know who we are. Blindly we forge ahead and cry out to the emptiness in the dense darkness of night.

During the Yom Tov of Pesach, as we relate our story at the Seder, we are reminded of G-d’s open intervention in our national and personal lives. It is He who enabled us to break loose from the iron chains of Egypt and go forth to Sinai.

Alas, we no longer see or hear the Voice of G-d whispering to us and prodding us along our path. We are citizens of the 21st century. Our lives are complex, we don’t have time, we have to keep running – and even if by some chance we would hear that Divine whisper, see that Heavenly Hand, the continuous noise that pounds away at our minds and hearts does not give us time to contemplate or consider the covenant we sealed at Sinai. It never occurs to us that there is something more to our lives and that G-d is forever holding us, even in our most painful moments.

In last week’s column I shared a letter written by a mother whose daughter had undergone the most horrific suffering. Three days before her wedding, she received the ominous news that the wedding was off. Her daughter’s intended chassan decided he couldn’t go through with it. The shock to the family was devastating, but obviously the one hit hardest was the daughter, the kallah – the young innocent girl who had counted every day until she would come to the greatest moment in her life, her wedding.

How, the mother agonized, could her daughter pick up the pieces? And it didn’t stop there. Apart from the personal suffering, there were a thousand and one challenges that had to be dealt with: How to break the nightmarish news to relatives, friends and acquaintances. How to inform the more than 350 guests who were planning to attend. How to deal with the wedding hall and caterer, to whom substantial deposits had been made. Could something be salvaged?

And then there was the wedding gown. Just two weeks earlier her daughter had her final fitting. “She looked like a vision,” the mother wrote, “joyously twirling and dancing in front of a mirror. That gown was now carefully stored in a special closet. My daughter glimpsed at it several times a day. The wedding gown that had evoked joy and gladness now evoked tears of pain.”

These little things, the mother added, had become symbols of sadness. And then there was the challenge of facing people, hearing the gossip, the innuendo, the whispers. “Did you hear?…Do you know what really happened?…What a rachmanis – how will she ever find a good shidduch again?”

With all that, she continued, “The greatest challenge was protecting our daughter from a total meltdown. The cry that came forth from the depths of her soul was so painful that I don’t think I will ever forget it. How could my daughter face her friends? How could she ever pick up her head? We tried to comfort her. We took her for therapy, but nothing could pick her up. Every day, every night, no matter what we were doing, that nightmare hung over us like a sinister shadow.

“Our beautiful daughter had always been a warm, easygoing, smiling girl. Now she was depressed and had no desire to talk to anyone. It took a while before she was ready to date again, and then we discovered yet another problem: there weren’t too many options for a girl who had a broken wedding on her resume. Every time a good shidduch was recommended, the parents of the boy would respond: ‘That girl – isn’t she the one…..’ and that was the end of it.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/hashgachah-pratis-readers-respond-continued-from-last-week/2012/04/04/

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