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Posts Tagged ‘Petah Tikva’

Men And Books

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011


It was in the summer of 1948. I was being transferred from a camp in the central sector of Israel to the northern front. On my way I had to pass through Petah Tikva. I considered visiting Rav Issser Zalman Meltzer. He had been wounded during the siege of Jerusalem and was convalescing in the home of his son-in-law Rabbi Y. M. Ben Menahem of the Beth Din of Petah Tivka.

 

I was reluctant.  Mentally I was not prepared for a visit to the Gaon.  At that time I was living in military camps, removed from the tenets of the Torah. Not the sefer, but the gun was the steady companion of the soldier. Once we had learned: “Kol Haosek BaTorah Balalla Whoever studies the Torah at night G-d endows him with grace during the day” (Chagiga 12b) now we were taught: “Surprise attack by night may bring victory at dawn.” Once, one had tried to make headway through the difficult pathways of a sugya – now we were trained to creep through the entanglements of barbed wire fences.

 

By the time I arrived in Petah Tikva I had overcome my reluctance and started out for the house of Rabbi Ben Menahem. In 1948, Petah Tikva, though already one of Israel’s largest towns, was much smaller than it is today, and everyone whom I asked was able to direct me to the house of the rabbi.

 

It was a humble and modest home, but full of warmth and friendliness. Rav Isser Zalman was reclining on a couch, his wounded leg resting on a pillow. Although he seemed to suffer some physical pain, his talk was affable and animated. His wife was sitting at the table. In front of her was a small pile of sheets of paper.  Some of the sheets had been used for wrapping purposes, and by smoothing them she made them suitable for writing. She was copying Rav Isser Zalman’s Torah, preparing for print another volume of the Even Haazel.

 

The cooperation of Rav Isser Zalmen’s wife in his work was well known. In the introduction to the Even Haaezel (vol. 3) Rav Issser Zalman expresses his gratitude to her for the invaluable help she had rendered him by copying and preparing his writings for the press and by supervising the printing and distribution of the books. However, “Eino Doma Shemia L’reiyaseeing it with your own eyes is different from reading or hearing about it. Since then I was often led to reflect: Rav Isser Zalman was the greatest and oldest Rosh Yeshiva of all Roshei Yeshivos, who had been a teacher in Israel for sixty years; did he really have to employ his wife to copy his chiddushim and help prepare them for the press.  He had hundreds, nay thousands of students, every one of who would have been happy and would have felt it a privilege to be able to assist him. Why did he not avail himself of their services?

 

Was it because he avoided at all times being served and waited upon by talmidei chachamim? These thoughts and memories came back to me not long ago while reading Rabbi Sh. Y. Zevin’s essay on Rav lsser Zalman Meltzer in the new edition of his book Ishim Vashitot. The first edition of the book contained essays on eight Gedolei Torah: The Netiv; Rabbi Chayim Brisker; the Rogachover; Reb Meir Simcha; Rav Kook; Reb Chayim Oizer; Reb Moshe Mordeche Epstein and Reb Boruch Ber. To the new edition, two essays on the Chazon Ish and Reb Isser Zalman were added. 

 

In Rabbi Zevin’s essays only little space is accorded to events relating to the outer life of the personalities he describes. In the main they present an exposition of their approach and method in the study of the Halacha. By analyzing their chiddushlm and baring the principles which underlie them, Rabbi Zevin brings to the fore the particular contribution of each Gaon to the understanding of the Halacha. Occasionally characteristic anecdotes illustrating in a more concrete manner certain basic attitudes of these Gaonim towards problems in halachos are interwoven with the exposition.

 

Written in the brilliant and lucid style for which Rabbi Zevin is famous, each of these essays is a masterpiece in the full sense of the word. 

My Fractured Pesach

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

When my wife and I were about to leave Israel after last Sukkos, our son and daughter-in-law told us they were expecting another child to be born about two weeks before Pesach. We realized immediately that it would be difficult for them to make Pesach at home. First our daughter-in-law would be going through a pregnancy and then taking care of a newborn, added to five little ones. So, we offered to take them to a suitable hotel for the Pesach holiday. After numerous e-mails and phone conversations, they agreed.

But where would we go?

After researching many regions and hotels, our children suggested the Kibbutz Lavi Hotel.

Three weeks before we were to fly to Israel to celebrate Pesach together with our family in Israel, I was walking on a rough piece of sidewalk in Brooklyn. I tripped, fell and fractured my right humerus – the long bone in the upper arm – at the top, very close to where it fits into the shoulder socket. After a long day spent in the x-ray and emergency rooms, I wound up with my right arm in a sling, to immobilize it and the shoulder for up to six weeks, while the broken bone healed.

On the following Motzaei Shabbos, our daughter-in-law gave birth to a boy. Attending the bris was not possible in my condition at that time. On Monday, now only two weeks before our scheduled flight for Pesach, I had my second set of x-rays taken, and my orthopedist was pleased with the way the comminuted fracture was healing. When we told him about our new grandson and our long-planned trip, he told us to go and enjoy both the new baby and the holiday, provided everything progressed as he hoped. I saw him on the Friday before we flew, and he gave his final OK.

On the advice of the orthopedist and many people who had endured similar fractures, I had been sleeping on my recliner. I found it impossible even to lie down in a regular bed. As my son was much too busy preparing for the shalom zachar and bris, I turned to my brother-in-law in Petah Tikva for help. I e-mailed and asked him to take on the responsibility of somehow getting me a recliner to use in my room at the Kibbutz Lavi Hotel. I suggested he contact the well-known Yad Sara organization that supplies durable medical implements such as walkers, wheelchairs, etc., to those who need them, for a nominal fee.

My brother-in-law Uri called the Lavi Hotel and spoke to Yitzchak Flanzer, the general manager. Mr. Flanzer and Uri tried all sorts of solutions, to no avail. Mr. Flanzer even had me speak directly by phone to a nurse on the kibbutz, to understand my needs exactly, so he could come up with a solution.

A friend of Uri was willing to lend me her recliner. He measured it, and Lavi manager, Flanzer said it would fit through the door of our hotel room.

Kibbutz Lavi has three industries from which it sustains itself: including a state-of-the-art milk farm with dairy cows and the widely-known hotel. But Kibbutz Lavi is perhaps best known for its third industry, the manufacture of shul furniture. The furniture is shipped and assembled by kibbutz members worldwide.

Within Israel, Lavi delivers the furniture using its own trucks. Fortuitously, (actually by hashgacha pratis) a delivery to a shul in Petah Tikva was scheduled for a few days before Pesach. Calls were made, arrangements were finalized, and the delivery truck returned to Kibbutz Lavi with a recliner for me.

As my son was checking our entire party into the Kibbutz Lavi Hotel on Erev Pesach, a man I didn’t know came up to me near the reception desk and addressed me by name. “Mr. Shapiro, I recognized you by the sling you are wearing on your right arm,” he said. “My name is Yitzchak, and I am the general manager of Hotel Lavi. The staff has been briefed about your problem and needs and will accommodate you. Feel free to call on any staff member for assistance.”

I thanked the manager and found throughout our stay that the staff was really very helpful.

We had a wonderful Pesach at the hotel – the davening, shiurim, lectures and other activities, especially for children, were great. And, best of all, I had a recliner in my room so I could sleep.

The hotel returned the recliner on the Sunday morning after Pesach in the same truck, as my wife and I were winging our way back to New York on El Al. I hope your Pesach was as good as ours.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/my-fractured-pesach/2006/05/24/

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