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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Mazal Tov’

Peres Sends ‘Mazal Tov” to Kate and William

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

President Peres sent a special message of congratulations on Tuesday in honor of the birth of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s new baby.

He also sent a special gift of a baby suit with an embroidered message on it – “From Israel with Love”

“From Jerusalem, Israel, I want to express our happiness and prayers for the young prince,” President Peres wrote. “Never in my life did I see the people of the world so united in happiness. It was a demonstration of where royalty helps democracy and where the people have shown what a true democracy is. The streets were full and smiles were on everybody’s face.

“I am happy to see the whole world so happy with the birth of this young boy. I am 90 years old, so I saw his father when he was a young boy and now I hope we shall see this newly born prince, doing his job in the most democratic and royal manner. The world became richer with this event.

God bless the Queen, From Jerusalem, Mazal Tov!”

‘Personally Unique’

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Phil and Mike were part of a team of construction workers building a skyscraper in the middle of the city. When it was time for their lunch break they sat down together with their feet dangling twelve stories from the ground. Phil opened his lunch box and peered in, “Peanut butter and jelly?! Again peanut butter and jelly! I have had enough! If I get peanut butter and jelly again tomorrow, so help me I’m going to jump right off this structure.” Mike then opened his lunch box and peered in, “Tuna fish?! Again Tuna fish! I can’t take it anymore. If I have tuna fish for lunch one more time I’m going to jump off with you.”

The next day when it was time for their lunch break, the duo sat down together and opened their lunch boxes. Phil was aghast, “Peanut butter and jelly again! That’s it!” With that he leapt off the building. Mike then looked in his lunch box. “Tuna fish again! That’s it!” And before anyone could stop him, he too jumped off the building.

The families decided to hold a joint funeral for Phil and Mike. Before the eulogies began Mike’s wife walked up to his casket sobbing, “Michael, I didn’t know you didn’t like peanut butter and jelly. If I would have known I never would have given it to you for lunch.” With that she walked away crying bitterly. Then Phil’s wife walked over to his casket, “Phillip… you made your own lunch every day!”

It sounds like a silly inane joke. But perhaps there is more truth to the joke then it may seem. The sefer Sha’ar Bas Rabim[1] relates a powerful insight: He explains that every person wants to be created exactly as he/she is created. Before a soul descends into the body of a newborn baby, it is shown what it needs to rectify and what its unique role will be while it is alive in this world. The soul then decides what it requires – i.e. its familial, social, economic, intellectual, and physical state, and G-d responds accordingly.

Thus when challenges arise in life and one questions G-d, “Why me? How could You do this to me?” the question is really misdirected. In truth it is not G-d who has determined the situation, but rather the person himself, from the pure vantage point of heaven, before descending into this world. Essentially, we make our own lunch.

The Torah instructs (22:5), “A woman shall not wear the garments of a man, and a man shall not wear the dress of a woman, for it is an abomination of Hashem, your G-d, anyone who does these things.”

Targum Yonason explains the verse: “The clothing of tzitzis and tefillin, which are affixed for men, should not be donned by women… for it distances one from before Hashem, your G-d, anyone who does these things.”

Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz zt’l commented that the Torah is reminding us that each person has his own mission to fulfill in life. For one person performing a certain task can be extremely holy, while for another person performing that same task can be considered an abomination. Every person needs to foster feelings of joy and appreciation for his own uniqueness and abilities. How can one compare himself to another if his role is so vastly different? A man needs the constant spiritual injections of holiness that are garnered through wearing tefillin and tzitzis. A woman however, does not require those measures[2], and therefore for her to wear tefillin and tzitzis can be deemed an abomination.

There are many conscientious students in school who struggle with the notion that their peers have superior scholastic acumen than they do. They work and struggle much harder for grades and do not score as well as others who achieve high grades with minimal effort. Those students must be taught that G-d gives every person what he needs. [Truthfully, those who are trained to struggle and expend effort to reach levels of success are better suited and prepared for the challenges of life. Often it is the students who did not have to work hard during their formative years who are in for a rude awakening when they step into “the real world.”]

Carriers Of The Talmudic Torch

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Earlier this month the London Games were all the rage. Tens of thousands descended upon Great Britain’s crown jewel to witness the Olympics and cheer for their respective countrymen.

Curious onlookers would have their questions answered about whether a Jamaican runner would set the fastest sprint time ever recorded, or if an accomplished American swimmer would take home more career gold medals that any other Olympian in the history of the games.

Of course, there was also much speculation as to whether the current version of the Dream Team could match the original and bring home this nation’s assumed birthright, a gold medal in men’s basketball.

Coverage of the games was incessant. Thousands of media members packed into The Big Smoke to catch all of the action and transmit it live to their respective viewers and listeners worldwide. And as the storylines became more compelling, the ratings increased, to the point where the daily medal count actually occupied more news time than the ongoing bickering and political jabbing between our much-maligned president and his affluent but not particularly transparent antagonist.

Concurrent with some of the athletic hoopla was another event that packed stadiums and theaters. That celebration, however, was not attended by roaring crowds wearing face paint and waving colorful flags.

Rather, those buildings – which included New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, Yad Eliyahu Stadium in Tel Aviv, Binyanei Ha’Umah in Jerusalem, theaters in Chicago, Los Angeles, London and other large Jewish communities – as well as satellite hookups in shuls and social halls throughout the world drew individuals who had either completed an entire cycle of the Talmud or were demonstrating their support for those who had.

While the differences between those who filled the stands at the 30th Olympiad and the more than 150,000 individuals who attended a siyum haShas were plain to see and will be discussed at greater length below, there were some noteworthy parallels between the Olympic athletes and those who had spent the past seven and a half years completing their study of the Talmud.

Success on the Olympic level requires many things. One, naturally, is abundant talent and skill. Another is the fortune of having someone (parent, coach, etc.) to help the athlete achieve his or her dreams through advocacy, guidance and financial support.

But talent and advocacy alone are almost never sufficient to bring home the gold. For someone to reach and succeed on the world’s largest athletic stage, he or she must develop and maintain a comprehensive plan for success, committing to an ongoing regimen of hard work despite the many invariable challenges and setbacks.

These same qualities, l’havdil, are required for sustained success in the realm of limud haTorah. Rabbi Yissochor Frand spoke eloquently on this point at the MetLife siyum. He referenced the great late Mirrer rosh yeshiva, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt”l, who achieved international renown for his saintliness and continuous devotion to Torah study despite a lengthy bout with Parkinson’s disease.

The rosh yeshiva would challenge people, even those well into their retirement years, to develop rigorous personal plans for Torah study and achievement. Applying this idea to the siyum, Rav Frand noted that it was impossible for any participant to achieve this tremendous accomplishment without going into the process with a clear plan about how to achieve his goal. He also needed to secure the support and advocacy of the siyum’s unsung heroes, his wife and children, for this to happen. And now that he had finally accomplished his goal, it was time to establish a new, improved plan, one that would raise the bar even higher, through a greater level of study and review.

But of course the differences between the Olympics and the siyum far outweighed the similarities in a classic “we run and they run” dichotomy. In the latter instance, the audience was not a band of raucous bystanders whose sole role was to offer moral support for their favorite team and take in the action. Here, the audience and the “performers” were one and the same, assembling to celebrate their collective achievement, receive inspiration from some of the Torah world’s most accomplished scholars, and strengthen each other in the quest for more spiritual gold in the years ahead.

Will Your Children Sign a Halachic Prenuptial Agreement?

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Did you know that in the United States, the probability of a first marriage ending in divorce is between 40%-50%, while in the United Kingdom, one in every three marriages that took place between 1995 and 2010 ended in divorce? In Israel the divorce rate is at around one third. Unfortunately, these figures have only grown in recent years. Therefore, when a couple gets married, the possibility of a future divorce is sadly neither impossible nor unrealistic.

With this in mind, when I recently wished a friend “Mazal Tov” on his daughter’s engagement, I broached the issue of prenuptial agreements in accordance with Jewish law. Though I discuss the topic all the time (not only with my kids, letting them know it’s a requirement as far as I’m concerned), I had never tried to encourage a rabbi, let alone a rosh yeshiva, of its importance. I was so relieved when my friend, a rosh yeshiva, turned to me and said, “Of course they’re signing one. People who don’t sign halachic prenuptial agreements are stupid.” I wish all my conversations on the subject were so easy, but the halachic prenup has not yet been accepted in all circles.

The purpose of the specific document, which must be done in accordance with Jewish law, is to make sure that no one person can blackmail another in order to receive a get, a Jewish divorce decree. Unfortunately, I have seen cases of this type of blackmail in my capacity as a financial advisor, so I know it happens. Such stories can be heartbreaking, with one side caught in limbo sometimes for many years.

So if you have a child getting married, make sure that he or she has a halachic prenuptial agreement signed well before getting to the chuppa. Even if your kids are too young to be in the dating world, start talking to them about it now, so it becomes just one more thing to check-off on the wedding to-do list.

For details on a halachic prenuptial agreement in Israel go to www.youngisraelrabbis.org.il/prenup.htm and in America go to www.theprenup.org/prenupforms.html.

Mazal tov, and may the bride and groom live happily ever after!

Mazal Tov, Mama Rhino!

Monday, June 18th, 2012

After an 18 month pregnancy, Tendra the rhinoceros gave birth to a healthy calf at the Ramat-Gan Safari on Friday, June 15.

This was the second successful birth for 20-year-old Tendra. Congratulatory messages have been streaming in from zoos all over the world.

White Rhinos are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity and every successful birth is vital for the prservation of this species.

Tendra’s first calf, Timor, is the only other white rhino born in the Ramat-Gan Safari in the past 20 years. Judging by past experience, Tendra is expected to be a good mother to the new baby rhino.

It has not yet been determined if the newborn is a boy or a girl rhino.

Mazal Tov, Rabbi Mattisyahu Kos

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Chag Hasmicha is a celebration honoring newly ordained rabbis. This past week saw a number of yeshivas celebrating the event, including Yeshiva University with 180 new rabbis. While every new ordination is worthy of note, one Chag Hasmicha in a small yeshiva in Monsey, N.Y., stands out.


Rabbi Mattisyahu Kos has a special calling to the rabbinate. He comes from a place most people think of as being empty of Jews, or, if any are there, a place they have no business living.


Rabbi Mattisyahu Kos was born in post-Holocaust Poland under the Communist regime, at a time when religious practice was looked down upon and Judaism was a culture more then a religion. Most Jews hid or even denied their religion for fear of anti-Semitism.


In 1989, with the fall of communism in Poland, the small Jewish community started to rebound. It hired Rabbi Pinchas Joskowitch, a Gerer chasid from Jerusalem and a survivor of Auschwitz, as the first chief rabbi of Poland since the war. He was active until his retirement, when Rabbi Michael Schudrich took over.


While Rabbi Joskowitch worked with the aging community, Rabbi Schudrich worked in developing the younger generation’s religious connection through kiruv, reaching out to the Jews born after the Shoah who did not know what it was to be Jewish. One of his early students was Matti Kos, whose first encounter with Torah Judaism was through the Lauder Foundation educational programs led by Rabbi Schudrich.


“Matti was an amazing young man,” Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser said at the convocation. “He was only a young man when I first met him, and his zeal and enthusiasm for Judaism left a great impression on me. I could tell then that he was special.”


Matti became an integral part of the fledging community, and he was honored by being the first one to celebrate a bar mitzvah in post-Shoah Poland.


He continued to be active in the community and eventually started working with the Lauder Foundation in setting up the summer learning retreats and other educational programs alongside his mentors, Rabbi Yonah Bookstein and Rabbi Joseph Kanofsky.


It was four and a half years ago that Matti decided to come to America to get a Torah education not available in Poland. He joined Yeshiva Ohr Sameach on a full scholarship and immersed himself fully in the depths of Torah learning.


Ohr Sameach, located in Monsey, is well known as a baal teshuvah yeshiva that reaches out to disenfranchised Jews around the world to instill in them a love of learning and the true Jewish life. “The student body,” one of its rabbis said, “can compete with the UN in its diversity. We have students from Israel, America, Argentina, South Africa, Germany and Poland, with most of the graduating class returning to their countries of origin to serve in the scattered Jewish communities.”


Yeshiva Ohr Sameach was uniquely suited to Matti, as he is known to his fellow students. He joined the other talmidim in their studies and as he progressed into the field of rabbinic studies he learned to transform the techniques of learning as a baal teshuvah into those needed for the teaching methods of an outreach rabbi.


Rabbi Schudrich has always said that he can’t wait for Poland to have a home-grown rabbi again. “It used to be, before the Shoah, that Poland was the source for most of the rabbis in the world. But since the Shoah every rabbi serving in Poland has had to be imported. from somewhere else.


“A rabbi born in modern day Poland has a deeper understanding of the needs, attributes shortcomings and even the language of the community than any imported rabbi can ever achieve. With the smicha of Rabbi Kos, Poland can again lay claim to a home grown rabbi,” he said.


At the Chag Hasmicha, Rabbi Kos had the largest delegation of guests, with his family coming from Poland and others coming from New York, Philadelphia, California and Canada. During the interview after the ceremony there was a constant stream of his fellow students as well as the rabbis of the yeshiva coming over to say how special a person Rabbi Kos is and how great a future they see for him.


Matti Kos, even on this proudest of days, was full of humility. He said that he is a product of The Ronald S. Foundation, without which there would be no Judaism in Poland today, as everybody else had abandoned them. He hopes in the future to work closely with the Lauder Foundation in furthering and enriching Jewish life in Poland.


Rabbi Chaskel Besser, who is considered by many as the father figure and true chief rabbi for the community in Poland, was especially proud of one of his protégé‘s achieving smicha. He had witnessed the heights of pre-Shoah Poland, the depths of the Holocaust and the darkness of the Communist era, and now is proud to see the fruits of his labors. He wished Rabbi Kos much mazel and bracha.



In the immediate future, Rabbi Kos will be continuing his studies and serving as an intern with Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser in Brooklyn to get practical experience in leading a Jewish community.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/mazal-tov-rabbi-mattisyahu-kos/2006/03/29/

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