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The True Life

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

A childless man once pleaded to the Almighty, “Creator of the world! Please send me a son so that I may teach him the Torah.”

The Almighty heard the prayer and sent him a son whom the father named Shaul. When Shaul was old enough his father began to teach him Torah and, thus, they continued for many years.

When Shaul was 25 years old he became known as a talmid chacham. A short time later his father passed away, leaving behind a large sum of money. His mother said to him, “My son, your father has left a large sum of money. Take it to the market, perhaps you can find some business to enter.”

Shaul left for the market in search of a livelihood. Once there, he keenly observed what was going on about him. Some of the merchants were stealing and others were swearing falsely. In disgust he left for home without inquiring about any business.

When he arrived home his mother anxiously asked him, “Well, my son, what have you done, have you become a merchant?”

“I don’t really care to be a merchant,” Shaul answered. “It is not a good profession, because most of the merchants cheat and lie.”

Later as he was walking in the street he saw people carrying a bier on its way to the cemetery. Shaul went back into the house and told his mother, “I want to go to this funeral and thereby fulfill a great mitzvah.”

Meets Eliyahu

On the way home, Shaul saw a man farming a plot of land that was situated alongside the road. Shaul called to the man, “Peace be with you, my son,” replied the man.

Shaul did not realize it but this man was none other than Eliyahu HaNavi, who had disguised himself as a farmer.

“What kind of work are you doing?” asked Shaul.

“My son,” answered Eliyahu, “I plow this land to secure enough food to sustain myself, my wife, and my children. I also hope to grow enough grain to enable me to support the poor and to be able to give the cattle, the wild animals and the birds something to eat.”

“This is the kind of life that I have been looking for,” said Shaul.

Eliyahu, revealing his true identity, said, “I will give you everything that you need.”

“My master,” answered Shaul, “the Lord has already given me Torah. I now need a wife who will be gentle, good and pious.”

“My son,” Eliyahu replied, “I know of just such a woman. She lives to the west and her name is Chana. She is your predestined wife. If we leave now it will take us three days to reach her place.” Eliyahu and Shaul set out on their journey. Along the way Eliyahu left him and made his way swiftly to Chana. Upon entering her house, he said, “I have a bridegroom for you. Will you take him?”

“If it is so destined I can have nothing against it,” was her reply.

Thereupon, Eliyahu returned to Shaul and brought him to Chana’s house. After taking care of various formalities Eliyahu married the pair. At the wedding’s end they began to celebrate the customary seven days of feasting. Towards the end of the seventh day Eliyahu decided that he would visit them.

Sold For A Slave

Upon entering the house Eliyahu found them sitting, talking and idly passing the time. He angrily said to Shaul, “Is this how you waste your time, after all I have done for you? You have forsaken the study of the Torah and have forgotten the true life. Therefore, since you have wasted the seven days of feasting, your punishment will be to serve as a slave for seven years.”

With these words Eliyahu left, leaving the new bridegroom in great anguish. Chana, who had not heard the prophet’s words, asked her husband, “Why have you suddenly become so sad? Is it that you don’t like me? Perhaps you don’t have any money? Here, take all my money and all my possessions. Or is it that you miss your mother? If so, let us both go and visit her.” Shaul, not wanting to tell Chana what was wrong, agreed to the trip. They saddled their mules, prepared wagons to carry their belongings and took their servants with them.

Along the way they passed a large river. The young wife said to her husband, “Let us stop here and eat.” Before they sat down to eat, the pious Shaul went to the river to wash his feet. Eliyahu immediately approached Shaul, lifted him up and carried him away to a faraway land. There Eliyahu sold him for a slave.

Chana, seeing that her husband did not come back, realized that this was the work of Heaven. She decided not to move along but rather to settle on that spot. She immediately summoned her servants and ordered them to build a large house for her and she told them to farm the land surrounding the house. On this farm they began to grow many different crops.

Victims of Toulouse School Shooting Buried in Jerusalem

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Thousands of mourners attended the funeral of four Jews murdered in the shooting attack at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin were among those that arrived at Givat Shaul’s Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning to lay the victims to rest.

Juppe, speaking at the funeral ceremony, said “You can be confident: France is doing everything to ensure so that there will be full safety in schools and synagogues, so that nothing like this tragedy ever happens again.”

Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, his two children – Aryeh and Gavriel- and another child - Miriam Monsonego – were killed in cold blood by Mohammed Mera, a 24 year-old French Muslim who has links to Al Qaeda and spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rivlin expressed disgust for the attack in his eulogy, and said that it was inspired by “wild animals with hatred in their hearts.”

“Anyone looking to justify hate must know that hate is senseless.” Rivlin continued. “The murder of the school children in Toulouse was senseless, as was the massacre of infants in Itamar,”

The younger brother of 8 year-old victim Miriam Monsonego also gave a heartwrenching speech, and fought back sobs as he said he could not bear the pain and just wanted it to end.

PM Binyamin Netanyahu met with Juppe after the funeral and expressed his appreciation for the French Government’s “clear and decisive stand…against this horror.”

Alluding to EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton’s controversial comments on Monday, Netanyahu said: “I believe that the struggle against terrorism requires greater clarity…There is a substantial difference between such deliberate attacks against civilians and children and unintentional strikes against civilians that are part of legitimate actions to fight terrorism. If we do not make this distinction, if we allow such a mendacious analogy, then the terrorists will have won.”

Calls are also being heard from French expatriates and Israeli politicians alike encouraging the Jewish community in France to make Aliyah.

Live Coverage: Rabbi Scheinberg Funeral in Jerusalem

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012


Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Bnei Brak Passes Away

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, passed away late Tuesday night.  He was 95.

Hareidi Jews around the world were called upon to pray for the recovery of Rabbi Hager – Rav Moshe Yehoshua ben Margalis – after his health deteriorated over the weekend due to an infection and difficulty breathing.

Rabbi Hager is reported to have been surrounded by family and loyal followers at the time of his death, as the group said prayers traditionally recited prior to death.

The funeral will begin at 1:00pm Wednesday at the Vizhnitz Beit Midrash Torah study hall in Bnei Brak, in coordination with the municipality of Bnei Brak and Magen David Adom emergency services.  Vizhnitz followers will shut their businesses during the funeral, which is expected to be attended by tens of thousands of people from all Jewish backgrounds from around the country.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed sorrow over Rabbi Hager’s passing, releasing a statement that said, “We have lost a dear man, an exemplar, a great leader, one who led one of the largest and most important communities in the Jewish world – Vishnitz Hasidim.  He has thousands of students who will carry on his legacy for generations to come.  Having devotedly led thousands of people, his passing is a major loss for ultra-orthodox Judaism and for the entire Jewish People.”

Rabbi Hager is survived by son Rabbi Yisroel Hager, the leader of Vizhnitz during his father’s illness, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, the head of the Beit Din of Vizhnitz in Bnei Brak, and four daughters – the wife of Rav Dovid Twersky – the Skverer Rebbe, the wife of Rabbi Yissochor Dov Rokeach – the Belzer Rebbe, the wife of Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum – the Chief Satmar Rabbi of Kiryas Joel, New York, and the wife of Rabbi Menachem Ernster – Rosh Yeshiva of the Vizhnitzer Yeshiva in Bnei Brak.  He is also survived by his brother Rabbi Mordechai Hager, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Monsey, New York.

The Rebbe’s brother, Rav Mordechai Hager, is the Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Monsey.

During his life, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua served as the President of the Council of Torah Sages, the body to which the Agudath Yisrael hareidi political party  turns for religious decisions and guidance.

Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua was born in Romania in 1916 to the fourth Rebbe of Vizhnitz, Rabbi Chaim Meir.  He served as the Grand Rabbi of Vizhnitz in Bnei Brak for 40 years.

Funeral of Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager of the Viznitz hassidim

North Korea Buries Kim Jong-Il

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

North Korea buried “dear leader” Kim Jong-Il on Wednesday in a massive national funeral.

A long, snowy funeral procession in the capital of Pyongyang featured a funeral cortege, marching soldiers with bared heads in mourning, and Jong-Il’s successor and son, Kim Jong-Un, crying in the hearse. Jong-Un will be the third member of the family to run North Korea.

Civilians lined up to pay homage to the “dear leader”, crying “father, father” as the hearse passed by.

Syrians Bury Dozens of Suicide Bombing Victims

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Thousands of mourners took part in a mass funeral for 45 people killed in twin intelligence agency compound bombings in Syria’ capital city of Damascus on Saturday. The attacks involved suicide bombers, the first such attack since opposition to President Bashar Assad’s rule arose in March.

An additional estimated 166 people were wounded in the attacks.  One took place in Damascus’ upscale Kfar Sousa district at 10:30 on Friday morning, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden car outside a military intelligence building.  The second attack took place a minute later at the gate of the General Intelligence Agency.

Relatives and friends of the deceased, loyalists of Assad’s regime, wore black garments and carried Syrian flags and pictures of the dead, chanting “Martyr after martyr we want no one but Assad,” according to a report by the Associated Press.  Coffins were draped with Syrian flags at the Omayyad Mosque, built in the year 715, the burial place of Crusader nemesis and former ruler of Jerusalem, Saladin.

All but six of the remains were identified.  Most of the victims were civilians, though some were security officers.  State television broadcast the funeral live on-air.

Assad’s administration responded to the attacks by saying preliminary investigations point to al-Qaida, further suggesting that the current battle with opposition forces was not a battle with reformers, but rather with al-Qaida terrorists.

For its part, opposition members said Assad himself could be behind the attack, which took place the day after a team of Arab League observers arrived in country to investigate Assad’s crackdown on resistance.  Anti-Assad forces also expressed concern that the recent attack would lead to a massive onslaught in central Syria.  Furthermore, reports from rebels indicate that Assad is inhibiting the work of the observers and causing delays for the team.

On Saturday, at least three people were killed in Baba Amr by shelling, with homes and stores set on fire.  Another four bodies were found dumped on the streets of Houla in the volatile Homs province, with indications they had been tortured.

One Good Deed

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

One Good Deed

A person should always strive to do good, for one good deed alone may assure him the rewards of Gan Eden. For Rabi Yehudah HaNasi would say, “One may acquire Gan Eden in a single hour while another may acquire it after many years [over a lifetime].” (Avodah Zara 10b).

One such incident occurred many years ago in the town of Koritz wherein lived a tailor who made a special effort to violate every precept of the Torah. No respectable Jew would deal with him.

One day the tailor died and as was the custom of the time, the gabbai of the town called upon the people to attend the funeral of a fellow Jew. But no person would attend the funeral of this evil person.

The gabbai then approached the home of the Gaon Reb Pinchas. Imagine his surprise when the Gaon took his cane and started out for the funeral. When the gabbai next visited Rav Yakov, and told him that Reb Pinchas was attending the funeral, he expressed surprise.

“I must see why Reb Pinchas is attending the funeral of such a sinner,” he said and he too started out for the funeral.

Everyone Attends the Funeral

When the people of the city saw these two pious rabbanim attending the funeral of the sinner, they became intrigued and they all began to follow the entourage. Eventually the entire city turned out to pay homage to the tailor.

On the way home from the funeral, the crowd surrounded Reb Pinchas and demanded to know why he had attended the funeral.

“I will tell you the reason,” said the Gaon. “Two months ago I was trying to raise hachnassas kallah funds. I finally succeeded in raising sufficient money to arrange for the wedding. But at the last hour the groom backed out. He said he had been promised a new suit by the bride’s parents and unless he received it, he would call off the wedding.

“In desperation the bride turned to me for help. As I had already approached every resident of the community for money, I had no choice but to turn to the tailor for help. That night I entered his home and told him the story. He gave me a ruble. But as I started to leave he called me back and said, ‘Rebbe, if I give you all the money for the entire suit will you promise me the future world, Olam Habah?’

“Yes,” I said. “He then gave me fourteen rubles and I was able to perform the wedding ceremony. Now that I heard that this tailor died I decided to attend his funeral and see the results of his charity.

“Would you believe it,” continued the Rabbi before the multitude of people, “over the coffin I saw a shining halo of a suit and angels dancing around the coffin waiting to escort it into Gan Eden. Therefore you can see how great is the mitzvah of tzedakah. One mitzvah alone saved this man and assured him a place in the next world.”

Hospitality To Strangers

Being hospitable to travelers is one the cardinal mitzvos of our Torah. The Talmud tells us: Rabi Yehudah said, “Hachnassas orchim is greater than even welcoming the presence of the Shechinah” (Shabbos 127a). Rabi Yochanan said, “Hospitality to strangers is as great as the early attendance at the Beis Hamedrash” and Rabi Dimi of Neharea said, “It is greater than the early attendance at the Beis Hamedrash.” Therefore every community in the small towns in Europe, would have a gabbai whose duty it was to assign travelers to the various homes in the community for Shabbos. When a stranger would arrive in town he would seek out this gabbai who would then place him in one of the well-to-do homes.

One Friday, very late in the afternoon, a merchant entered the town of Altuna. As the gabbai had already exhausted all of the host’s homes, he was in a quandary where to send the poor man for Shabbos.

“You better see the rav, the Gaon, Rav Yonason Jonathan Eibschitz,” he said. “Perhaps he may have a place for you. Although he himself has already taken more of his share of people, he may have a suggestion.”

They both went to the Gaon’s home where ,as usual, there were more than a dozen guests and absolutely no place for another person.

“Tell me gabbai,” asked the Gaon,” Does Reb Lazer have any guests for this Shabbos?”

“That skinflint,” snorted the gabbai, “He is the wealthiest man in town and yet he will never allow a stranger to enter his home. He is too sick to entertain guests, he claims.”

“I have a plan,” replied the Gaon. Calling the merchant over to him he said, “If you will follow my instructions to the letter I can assure you that this wealthy miser will welcome you with outstretched arms.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/kidz/tales-of-the-gaonim/one-good-deed/2011/12/15/

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