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October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘rabbi’

Rabbi Kahane’s Grandson Arrested Again

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Rabbi Kahane’s grandson, Meir Ettinger, was arrested at his home Monday morning for questioning, by detectives of the Judea and Samaria police, Honenu legal aid society reported.

According to the report, Ettinger is being interrogated over “an old affair” to which he denies any connection.

In early July, Ettinger was freed after 10 months of administrative detention. He had been arrested without trial, thrown into Eshel prison, and held in solitary confinement for those 10 months, after former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon abused the anachronistic, anti-democratic administrative detention regulations left over from the British Mandate.

The question now is, will Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman sign new administrative detention orders against Ettinger, sending him back to prison without trial, or will the rightwing leader show more respect for democracy.

David Israel

Rabbi Brutally Beaten in Zhitomir, Ukraine; Community Asks for Prayers

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

Rabbi Mendel Deitsch, a longtime Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in France and more recently in Israel, was brutally attacked at Zhitomir’s central train station early Friday morning, where he was discovered and transported to a local hospital. The Jewish Community of Zhitomir was alerted to the attack hours after Deitsch was admitted to the hospital; his condition is considered extremely critical. The motive for the attack remains unknown. Violent anti-Semitic attacks in Ukraine are rare, and there is no indication at this time that it was anti-Semitic in nature. Chabad Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm, chief rabbi of Zhitomir, is asking people to pray for Rabbi Deitsch. Read more here.

Jewish Press News Briefs

The Influence of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in America (Part II)

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Editor’s Note: This column contains excerpts from Dr. Levines “Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch and America – an Historical View,” which appeared in The World of Hirschian Teachings, An Anthology on the Hirsch Chumash and the Hashkafa of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch (Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer Foundation, Feldheim, 2008, 199- 210).

Last month we outlined how Rabbi Dr. Bernard Drachman (1861-1945), who was one of foremost spokesmen for Orthodoxy in America during his lifetime, was influenced by the writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. This month we discuss two other rabbinical personalities who were influenced by Rav Hirsch.


Reb Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz (1886-1948)

The name of Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz is inextricably linked to Yeshiva Torah Vodaath and Torah Umesorah. Mr. Mendlowitz, as he insisted upon being called, was a pioneer educator who played a key role in laying the foundations of yeshiva education in America. He came from a chassidic background and studied in Hungarian yeshivas. Some may not realize that he was deeply influenced by the philosophy of Rav Hirsch.

Early in his life Reb Shraga Feivel decided he would devote himself to strengthening Orthodoxy in the face of the onslaughts of those who would undermine Torah Judaism.

For the impending battle, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch became the model. Rav Hirsch’s success in arresting the rush to Reform in Germany served as an example of what one man could do. His ability to speak the language of modern man – the product of the Enlightenment and the scientific worldview – while remaining entirely rooted in classic Jewish sources and thought was something Reb Shraga Feivel explicitly sought to emulate.

Rabbi Hirsch had not been intimidated by 19th-century thought or the rapid advance of science in his day, and neither would Reb Shraga Feivel shy away from the challenges of the 20th century. Having identified Rav Hirsch as one of the exemplars of what he hoped to achieve in life, Reb Shraga Feivel pored over his vast corpus of writings.[i]

On one occasion, while he was attending the shiurim of Rabbi Simcha Bunim Schreiber, a grandson of the Chasam Sofer and the author of Shevet Sofer,

Reb Shraga Feivel found himself the object of criticism when he was seen studying Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s works. Because Rabbi Hirsch wrote in German vernacular, his works still occasioned suspicion within the deeply conservative Hungarian yeshiva world of the day. Reb Shraga Feivel was summoned to appear before the yeshiva administration. At his “trial” he enlisted the assistance of an old Jew living in Pressburg, who testified that thirty years earlier, when his first wife’s mental disability forced him to seek permission from one hundred rabbis to take a second wife, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz had advised him to travel to Frankfurt-am-Main to obtain the signature for Rabbi Hirsch, telling him, “What I am to Galicia, he is to Germany.”[ii]

Reb Shraga Feivel often utilized ideas from RSRH in his classes.

He was alive to every facet of genuine Torah expression. “Some souls,” he used to say, “drink from Tanya. Others from the Ramchal. Still others from Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. I drink from all of them, though at any given time, I might drink from one in particular.” He had the genius to draw from every strand of authentic Jewish thought, to place those various strands in relation to one another, and to see each of them as simply another path to knowledge and service of the Divine…


Rabbi Dr. Yosef Breuer (1882 – 1980)

Rav Breuer was, of course, a foremost proponent of Hirschian ideology. He influenced thousands through his many years of leadership of Khal Adath Jeshurun, his classes, speeches and writings, and his bringing the Torah of Rav Hirsch to English-speaking Jews by having the writings of RSRH translated into English. He built a model kehilla, which others would do well to emulate. Anyone who came in close contact with members of KAJ could not help but be impressed by how the beautiful legacy of Rav Hirsch was steadfastly preserved and practiced.

One area in which Rav Breuer excelled was his insistence on consistency in all aspects of life. For him there was no dichotomy between religious observance and “mundane” activity. Let me illustrate this with an example.

The commentary of RSRH on the Chumash is more that just an explanation of the Torah. It is filled with gems that explain what Torah Judaism really is or, at least, should be. On verse 19:2 of Vayikra, “Speak to the entire community of the Children of Israel and say to them: Be holy, for I, God, your God, am holy,” Rav Hirsch writes:

Self-mastery is the highest art a man can practice. Self-mastery does not mean neglecting, stunting, killing, or destroying any of one’s powers or faculties. In and of themselves, the powers and faculties – from the most spiritual to the most sensual – that have been given to man are neither good nor bad. They all have been given to us for exalted purposes – that we may use them to do God’s Will on earth. The Torah sets for each of them a positive purpose and negative limits. In the service of that purpose and within those limits, all is holy and good. But where a person strays from that purpose and exceeds those limits, coarseness and evil begin.

As in any other art, virtuosity in this, the highest moral art can be attained only through practice – training one’s moral willpower to master the inclinations of the heart. But this training is not to be undertaken in the realm of the expressly forbidden, where any slip would result in wrongdoing. Rather, moral resolve must be tested and strengthened in the realm of the permitted. By learning to overcome inclinations that are permitted but related to the forbidden, one gains the power of self-mastery and thus makes all his powers and faculties subservient to the fulfillment of God’s Will. Each person, according to his own unique qualities, should work on his inner self; and he should train quietly, in a manner known only to himself.

That is just one example of how relevant Rav Hirsch’s writings are to our times. We live in an age of great emphasis on externalities at the expense of commitment to the quiet, private practice of Judaism. Our society is obsessed with packaging at the expense of substance, and, sadly, some have been duped into thinking that this is also true when it comes to their Yiddishkeit. Rav Breuer elucidated this when he wrote:

Genuine chassidic Jewishness strives for chassiduth which in itself is a lofty achievement on the ethical ladder which the Yehudi must attempt to climb. This is demonstrated for us by R. Pinchas ben Yair (Avodah Zarah 20b): Our highest duty is Torah and its study; this leads to carefulness which in turn leads to active striving; to guiltlessness; to purity; to holiness; to modesty; to the fear of sin; and finally, to chassiduth. Accordingly, a chassid is a Jew who gives himself in limitless love to the Divine Will and its realization and to whom the welfare of his fellowmen constitutes the highest source of satisfaction [see Hirsch, Chorev, Ch. 14]. Thus, in the Talmudic era, the title “chassid” was a mark of highest distinction and this is what it should be today.

The so-called chassid who confines his Avodah to prayer does not deserve this title if this “Avodah of the heart” does not call him to the Avodah of life where he must practice and apply the precepts of chassidus.

He does not deserve the title if he is particular regarding the kashruth of his food but fails to apply the precepts of conscientiousness and honesty to his business dealings.

He does not deserve this title if his social life is not permeated by love and the deep interest in the welfare of his fellow men; if he does not shun quarreling, envy, or even abominable lashon hara; if he does not earnestly strive to acquire those midoth for which Rav Hirsch (in his Chorev) calls so eloquently.

Certainly the mere exhibition of a certain type of clothing or the type of beard worn or even the adornment of long sideburns do not entitle the bearer to the title of honor – chassid. These may be marks of distinction but they must be earned to be deserved.[iii]

Rav Breuer lived his life as a true chassid, setting an example for thousands to follow. His uncompromising approach to yashrus in all his activities, whether sacred or chol, is something every Jew should strive to emulate.


[i] Reb Shraga Feivel, the Architect of Torah in America by Yonoson Rosenblum, Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 2001, page 38.

[ii] Reb Shraga Feivel, the Architect of Torah in America by Yonoson Rosenblum, Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 2001, pages 34 – 35.

[iii] Rav Breuer, His Life and His Legacy by David Kranzler, Feldheim, 1998

Dr. Yitzchok Levine

Former Chief Rabbi of France Joseph Sitruk Dead at 72

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Rabbi Joseph Haim Sitruk, who served as Chief Rabbi of France from June 1987 to June 22, 2008, passed away at age 72. Born in Tunis, Sitruk graduated with an ordination from Seminaire Rabbinique of France in 1970, and was appointed Rabbi of Strasbourg. In 1975, Joseph Sitruk became Chief Rabbi of Marseille. He was later given the post of assistant to the Chief Rabbi of France, Rabbi Max Warchawski, and in 1987 was elected to the post of Chief Rabbi as successor to Sephardi Chief Rabbi René Sirat. Sitruk was only the second Sephardi chief rabbi of France. He was elected to serve three 7-year terms altogether, until in 2008 he lost his bid for a fourth term to Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, who had previously run against him in 1994 and failed.

In 2001 Rabbi Sitruk suffered a stroke and after his recovery took the additional name Haim, following the traditional Jewish protection against illness by altering or changing one’s name.

Rabbi Sitruk left a wife and nine children.

Stéphanie Le Bars wrote in Le Monde back in 2008 that despite his being Orthodox, which means he did not hold religious and a moral authority over all Jews in France, his charisma earned him a certain reverence, especially among Sephardi Jews.

David Israel

The Danger Zone – 9/11 With Rabbi Aryel Nachman [audio]

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

This episode of the Danger Zone was recorded on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and we had the honor of having Rabbi Aryel Nachman Ben Chaim join us for an interview. Rabbi Nachman is the co-creator and artist of the Jewish comic strip, 4 Corners. He is also the author of “Zeyde and the Hidden Mine” which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He founded the world’s first interactive online synagogue, http://sevenbeggars.com/ and sat down for a candid discussion about terrorism, antisemitism and the world around us.


Israel News Talk Radio

Rabbi Abramchik Retires After 45 Years In Jewish Education

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Rabbi Elchonon Abramchik, the founding principal of Sha’arei Bina Torah Academy for Girls in North Miami Beach, decided to retire at the end of the past school year after 45 years in Jewish education.

Rabbi Abramchik is a man who believes in planning. His wife Harriet, a”h, was the same way. Together they had decided she would retire at age 62 and the rabbi would retire shortly thereafter. Harriet retired on schedule but the rabbi was not ready to leave the world of chinuch.

Rabbi Elchonon Abramchik

Rabbi Elchonon Abramchik

Unfortunately, his wife soon passed away. Working as a principal, with talented administrators and a dedicated faculty, helped fill the void and ease the loneliness of being a widower.

“I continued to work for three years after my wife’s passing” said Rabbi Abramchik. “I wanted to retire almost immediately but was advised not to make major life decisions in a state of emotional stress. Actually, I’m glad I took that advice. I don’t know if the healing process would have taken place were I to have retired as planned.”

“Retirement means a plan to do something else,” he added. “For me it never meant to just do nothing. It means shifting gears. One should learn Jewish texts every day. I am planning to learn in the morning at the Miami Beach Community Kollel and offer my service as an educational consultant to schools locally and around the country.”

The Greater Miami community wishes Rabbi Abramchik hatzlacha rabbah in his future endeavors. He can be contacted at 786-247-3961.

Shelley Benveniste

Rabbi Arrested for Plotting to Murder Get Refuser in Kiryas Joel

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Rabbi Aharon Goldberg, 55, and Shimon Liebowitz, 25, were arrested in Central Valley, NY, Tuesday, when they were meeting to plot the kidnapping and murder of a husband who is refusing to give his wife a get, federal officials said Wednesday. They were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder for hire.

Prosecutors said the Liebowitz belongs to the Satmar community in Kiryas Joel, NY, and Goldberg, originally from Bnei Brak, Israel, is “a prominent rabbi in Kiryas Joel.”

The FBI said Goldberg and Liebowitz contacted an individual in early July to kidnap the husband and force him to give a get to his wife, on penalty of death. The man they recruited then contacted the Bureau about the plot and began recording his conversations with the two suspects. The code name for the plan was “Wedding.” They discussed kidnapping, torturing and forcing the get from the husband, either in the US or when he was on a trip to Ukraine. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Goldberg and Liebowitz paid the FBI informant about $55,000 for what he called a “chilling plot.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney Jr. stated in a press release: “As if the plan to kidnap the victim and force him to divorce his wife in this alleged conspiracy wasn’t bad enough, the plotters allegedly decided halfway through the arrangement to go a step further and add murder to the list of their planned crimes. Our country protects freedom of religious beliefs and practices, but no one is allowed to plot a kidnapping and murder regardless of their motivation.”

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rabbi-arrested-for-plotting-to-murder-get-refuser-in-kiryas-joel/2016/09/08/

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