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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Rav Yisroel Salanter’

Shlomo Zakheim: Exemplar Of Chesed

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Rav Yisroel Salanter explains that the Asseres Yemei Teshuvah begins with Rosh Hashanah because Hashem knows that in order for us to do teshuvah we need “shock treatment.” For many of us this year, though, our shock came on Motzaei Rosh Hashanah with the news of the petirah of Reb Shlomo Zakheim, zt”l. So hopeful that the New Year would bring a yeshuah, the news simply crushed us.

On Rosh Hashanah every human being passes in front of Hashem in din. At Shlomo’s levayah this past Sunday, the mashgiach of Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, Rav Matisyahu Salomon, shlita, suggested that perhaps the reason why Hashem took Reb Shlomo on Rosh Hashanah was to silence the keteigurim (prosecutors) who were testifying against klal Yisrael. Hashem had to bring them one person who could silence them all. He chose Reb Shlomo.

Ish Elokim” was the title that Rav Salomon bestowed on Reb Shlomo. Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, shlita, said, “Reb Shlomo walked with Hashem.” He stressed that this was done with both feet on the ground. Shlomo was very normal, a regular guy; yet so extraordinary was his love for klal Yisrael. He would help any Jew in need. And Shlomo’s youngest son, Moshe, pointed out that although his father was involved with countless individuals, he always made time for his family. He said that his father was never too busy to speak with him or his siblings when they would call.

Many of the speakers described the vast chesed that Reb Shlomo performed on a daily basis. Shlomo arranged for medical procedures for regular people who needed them. He would find the only doctor in the country who could perform the procedure and then fly the patient to the doctor. He paid for all the expenses, including the surgery. This was done anonymously, as were all of his acts of chesed.

A throng of people gathered outside Shomrei Hadas Chapels in Boro Park to pay respects to Shlomo Zakheim.

A throng of people gathered outside Shomrei Hadas Chapels in Boro Park to pay respects to Shlomo Zakheim.

Shlomo did chesed that most others were not involved in. As Rabbi Reisman mentioned, Shlomo did not fit the cookie-cutter mold of a regular person. Shlomo made it his business to visit Jonathan Pollard, Robert Manning and others in prison on a regular basis. He arranged for teams of urologists and moelim to perform thousands of brisim on Jews in Russia, Eastern Europe and South America. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, said that Shlomo arranged for more than ten thousand brisim – and that Eliyahu Hanavi is thus going to greet him.

Shlomo was a great supporter of Chai Lifeline and Camp Simcha. Rabbi Simcha Scholar of Chai Lifeline recalled that when Shlomo first became connected to Chai Lifeline, Rabbi Scholar asked their mutual contact how he could retain Shlomo’s support. The response: “do not give him kavod.” But following his petirah, Rabbi Scholar added, we can all give him kavod.

Shlomo continued to supply helicopter rides to the children of Camp Simcha even in his weakened state of health – just several weeks before his petirah. These incredible selfless acts of chesed will surly silence the keteigurim.

We do not know about the myriad acts of chesed that Shlomo always participated in because he never spoke about them, not even to his family. And Shlomo always refrained from speaking lashon hara. One of the speakers at the levayah asked if anyone could remember a derogatory word ever coming out of Shlomo’s mouth. His closest of friends all testified that Shlomo indeed never spoke an ill word about anyone.

Mourners carrying the aron.

Mourners carrying the aron.

In many instances of Shlomo’s discreet assistance to others, his tremendous acts of kindness only became known accidentally. This is why we will never appreciate the full loss that klal Yisrael experienced with his petirah. This was because, as his son Rav Azriel said, his father acted with true hatzne’ah leches im Hashem Elokecha (walk humbly with your God). Rav Azriel explained that his father was able to accomplish this because of his awesome level of emunah in Hashem. He called him the “posek hador in emunah.”

Rabbi Raphael Fuchs

Rabbi Simon Joshua Glazer (Part II)

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

   The first part of the life of Rabbi Simon Joshua Glazer was sketched in last month’s Glimpses column. In his youth Rabbi Glazer received a first class Torah education. At the age of 18 he was ordained by Rabbi Alexander Moshe Lapidus, a lifetime friend of Rav Yisroel Salanter. In 1897 Rabbi Glazer immigrated to America where he devoted himself to mastering the English language and acquiring secular knowledge.

   After four years of study he possessed an unusual combination of skills for his time, namely, he was an Orthodox rabbi who was at home both in the Torah and secular world. “He was able to appeal to a wide range of people. He became an outspoken proponent of the use of English in sermons, and criticized Eastern European rabbis who did not learn this skill.”1


His first rabbinical position was in Des Moines, Iowa, starting in 1902, just after his marriage. By 1904, he had published his first book, a history of the Jews of Iowa.2 One must consider that this book, whatever its deficiencies, was the product of a man who had been in America for less than a decade. [See last month’s Glimpses column for information about this publication.] Moreover, he also began editing an English-language Jewish newspaper in Iowa, the Jewish Herald.3


   In 1905 Rabbi Glazer become a Rov in Toledo, Ohio, where he edited the Anglo-Jewish newspaper The Jewish Compromiser. In 1907 he published in English The Sabbath School Guide, a textbook designed for use in Jewish Sunday schools. While Rabbi Glazer certainly felt that a once-a-week Jewish education was not at all ideal, he realized this was the only religious education that many Jewish children received. Until the appearance of his book, most Sunday religious schools used books prepared by reform rabbis. Rav Glazer felt he should provide an alternative that presented Judaism from the standpoint of Orthodoxy.


The Move to Montreal
           In 1907 Rabbi Glazer and his family relocated again, this time to Montreal, where he became the rabbi of the United Synagogues, a consortium of some of the city’s congregations.

Rabbi Glazer was an activist in the area of labour relations. He was, apparently, a supporter of the organization of the Jewish Butcher’s Employees Association of Montreal in 1909 and instrumental in getting this association recognized by other Jewish labour organizations. He also intervened in other labour disputes involving Jewish workers, in one of which he incurred the wrath of one of the manufacturers for having denounced him in a sermon.4

Rabbi Glazer lectured widely outside of Montreal, including in his journeys Ottawa and Toronto. He spoke publicly in English as well as in Yiddish. Thus in 1911, to celebrate the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary, a special thanksgiving service was held in the Chevra Kadisha synagogue in which Rabbi Glazer was advertised as speaking in English.
Rabbi Glazer was interested in looking beyond the immediate controversies within the Montreal Jewish community in which he was constantly engaged. He had begun an attempt to chart the future of North American Jewry and to influence what American Orthodox Judaism was going to look like. To this end, he wrote a very interesting book during his years in Montreal, publishing it in 1917. Its title was The Guide of Judaism. The Hebrew subtitle, much to the same effect, was Moreh ha-Yahadut.
Glazer designed the book to be a systematic work for the study and instruction of Judaism in its entirety. It takes its general structure from Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, which was designed as an all-inclusive work on Judaism. Rabbi Glazer’s guide to Judaism is completed in approximately 180 pages. From his preface, it is possible to understand not merely that he wrote in English, but also the high level of his English writing.
He stated: ” the vis vitae of Judaism in the New World, its renaissance and its progress is possible only in this generation of patriotism and consciousness of self. The bricks of the great edifice of European Jewishness are being carried over the Atlantic. One Jewish center was always built upon the ruins of another. Such is our history and its philosophy. The problems confronting Israel today are: How shall, or rather, how can Judaism be perpetuated in the face of Western civilization? Is Judaism really in danger because of its Oriental origin?
“Eliminating Reform as a factor in solving these problems, the question arises: What alternative have the spiritual leaders in Israel to offer to the growing generation which is both free and cultured?
“Judaism, since the last quarter of the eighteenth century, continued to develop among the great masses of European Jewries along three distinct lines: the Mendelsohnian School, the Israel Baal-Shem School, and the Elijah Gaon School. Frankfurt, Warsaw and Wilna fairly illustrate the characteristics of the intentions of those schools. Will it be possible, or, facing conditions as they are, is it desirable to perpetuate the divisions and create a Hassidic Chicago, an Ashkenazic Philadelphia, or a Pilpulistic New York?
“By means of observation during two decades among various types of communities, and alongside Reform colleagues and radical agitators, it is my firm conviction that the problems of Judaism in the New World can, and will be solved by only one means – by means of EDUCATION.
“And, as an avant propos, I dedicate this work to American Israel, to the growing and grown generation.”

Gazer was thus a man who did not merely know English (and at least a smattering of Latin and French); he was also able to write a powerful essay, which expressed some very interesting ideas, and, indeed, a unique vision of Judaism’s future in North America.5


   Rabbi Glazer left Montreal in 1917 for a pulpit in Seattle, Washington. In 1920 he became the chief rabbi of eight Orthodox congregations in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. In 1923 he came to New York, where he served as the rabbi of several congregations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. His activities in New York will be the focus of next month’s column.


1. “The American Rabbinic Career of Rabbi Gavriel Zev Margolis” by Joshua Hoffman, Masters Thesis, Bernard Revel Graduate School, Yeshiva University, July, 1992, page 92 (unpublished).
3. Rabbis and their Community: Studies in the Eastern European Orthodox Rabbinate in Montreal, 1896-1930 by Ira Robinson, University of Calgary Press, 2007, page 37.
4. Rabbis and their Community, page 44.

5. Ibid., pages 48-49.



   Dr. Yitzchok Levine was a professor for 40 years in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.

Dr. Yitzchok Levine

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Muslims And Double Standards


   When an obscure Danish newspaper published a caricature mocking Muhammed, the Muslim world erupted in violent protest and effigies of anything Danish were burned.
   When Pope Benedict cited a critique of jihadism from the 14th century, Muslim fundamentalists called for his head and churches across the Middle East were torched.
   Last week during Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day celebrations, Iran’s president, a proud Holocaust denier, renewed his call to wipe Israel off the map and extended the threat to European nations that recognize the Jewish state. The reaction from the Muslim world: deafening silence.
   Where are the so-called moderate, peace-loving Muslims? Does it not border on hypocrisy when caricatures and outdated quotes warrant mass demonstrations, while calls for the mass slaughter of the modern-day descendents of Abraham, Moses and Jesus – commonly referred to as “People of the Book” in the Koran – are wholeheartedly ignored?

Peter Subissati

Montreal, Canada


Monitoring Erlanger
   For too many years, anti-Israel media voices were able to get away with their duplicity, much like unlicensed drivers running red lights until the cops move in. So cheers and bouquets to Jewish Press Senior Editor Jason Maoz, who in his Media Monitor column keeps a sharp eye on the misinformation spread by the liberal media, headed of course by the haughty New York Times. Mr. Maoz’s latest effort, his Oct. 20 column on the disinformation spread by Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Steven Erlanger – who never seems to notice the deceit of Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular – is essential to understanding how the super-liberal media operate.

Jerry Boris

Philadelphia, PA


On Her Own?


   Cheryl Kupfer is certainly entitled to her opinion (On Our Own column, Oct. 6). But I wonder if I missed something. Has The Jewish Press allied itself with the Reform movement? The mere suggestion of altering one of the brachos in the Shmoneh Esrei should have stopped the presses.
   The tefilah that was formulated by the Men of the Great Assembly, the holy Anshei Knesses Hagdolah, is as timeless as our holy Torah. In fact, there is an injunction in the Shulchan Aruch against amending any of the brachos of the Silent Prayer.
   As for Ms. Kupfer’s misgivings, she should be comforted by the reality that the only one being blessed is Hashem. The words are straightforward and crystal clear: Blessed are you Hashem, the God of our forefathers.Blessed are you Hashem, the Protector of Avraham.
   With all due respect to a generally grounded columnist, Ms. Kupfer should not have been allowed On Her Own with this one.

Rachel Altman

(Via E-Mail)


Personal Prayers


   I, too, have misgivings about certain tefilos, particularly the one mentioned by Ms. Kupfer in her column. What I do is whisper the words of the siddur while in my mind I use a formulation I feel is more relevant to my own present-day reality.
   Frankly, I see nothing wrong with this. Isn’t prayer supposed to be intimate, personal communion with God? By relying exclusively on the words of the siddur and being fearful of deviating one iota from something written centuries ago, don’t we risk making that intimate, private communion nothing more than meaningless recitation by rote?
   And yes, I’m a frum woman who would never even enter a Conservative or Reform house of worship.

Helene Brill

New York, NY


Looking The Part


   Re Dr. Yitzchok Levine’s Oct. 20 front-page essay, “Frum or Ehrlich?”:
   It is so true that we as a society confuse frumkeit with ehrlich behavior. Frumkeit these days seems to be based on a dress code rather than on middot. The parking-lot incident Dr. Levine wrote about certainly is a scandal, but he should stand on lines in supermarkets in heimish neighborhoods right before Shabbosim and Yom Tovim – talk about a sociological study of non-ehrlich behavior in frum clothing!
   Too many of us look the part – but whether we truly act the part is a question worth pondering. Thanks for publishing Dr. Levine’s insightful article.

Gisele Strauch

Brooklyn, NY


Slow Daveners
   In his excellent front-page essay last week, Dr. Levine drew attention to the importance attached to consideration of others by Rav Yisroel Salanter, zt”l, the founder of the Mussar school now predominant in the yeshiva world.
   This made me think about something that is quite common among some of the yeshiva world’s products – davening an excessively long Shmoneh Esrei. Before I elaborate, I should first state that I am not advocating a quick davening on autopilot and have no objection in principle to anyone davening at great length.
   The problem arises because one may not sit within the davener‘s daled amos (about 6 feet) or walk in front of him. When such a person is near other mispallelim who may not be able to stand so long, this creates a serious issue. Of course this situation could be avoided if the lengthy davener would choose to stand in a corner away from the rest of the tzibbur, but that is not always practical.
   The problem is compounded when a lengthy davener comes late and davens in front of the door. While anyone who has to go through could push past him, most people are too polite to wish to disturb him. He is thus, truly, a bur birshus harabbim.
   Even worse is the case of a rav who davens at great length but expects the tzibbur to wait for him not just before chazoras hashatz but at every stage in the davening. On weekdays, when ba’alei battim have to go to work, this can be a major problem. Yet such rabbonim seem oblivious to this and think their shul should operate like a yeshiva.
   What would Rav Yisroel Salanter have said about these graduates of his system?

Martin D. Stern

Salford, England




A Former Refusenik’s Disillusionment
      I arrived in Israel exactly 19 years ago – on the same date, in fact, that I write these words – from the USSR, where Zionist life was thriving. I had come to the land of my dreams not as a refugee seeking a small place under the sun in whatever country was available, but as someone who knew why and for what purpose I had paved – for over 17 years and often at risk to my life – the road to Israel for myself and for many other Jews who shared my feelings and aspirations.
      Israel’s mass media, Jewish Agency publications, and Voice of Israel radio all declared that every Jewish citizen of Israel lived on his or her land with dignity. All too soon, however, I discovered that most of the proclaimed advantages of the Jewish state belonged to its glorious past.
      The word Zionism has acquired a negative connotation in Israel. The mass media, i.e., the country’s intellectual elite, inspire hatred between Jewish immigrants from different countries and obstruct the revival of a homogenous Jewish people after 2,000 years of dispersion.

      The disdain of the weak and poor is actively and cynically cultivated by the mass media. Schools actively practice selection of children according to their families’ material means.

      The national bureaucracy hinders the integration of young people into Israel’s economic life and thus pushes them to leave the country.
      After 2001, when mention of national identity was removed from Israeli IDs, the word “Jewish” virtually disappeared not only from official documents but also from the pages of newspapers. Even the anti-Semitic Soviet regime was never able to deliver such a blow to the national dignity of Jews.
      In the last decades of the 20th century, the interests of Jewish national revival and those of Israel’s national bureaucracy came into real conflict – one that endangers the idea of the Jewish national home. We have witnessed how a persecuted and humiliated people’s glorious dream of a resurrected Israel has been reduced, by the national bureaucracy, to a venal vision of nurturing as many millionaires as possible.
      The same individuals sit in the Knesset for decades. The intellectuals are concerned only with their personal success, while the mass media have turned into a mass brainwashing machine targeting poor, semi-literate and politically na?ve citizens. New millionaires are appearing at a striking rate, while the reverse process of mass impoverishment is also accelerating. The middle class is gradually vanishing from the country’s economic life.
      A few days ago the world learned of this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – a Bangladeshi millionaire banker who, at his own initiative and in spite of bureaucratic obstacles, began fighting poverty and illiteracy in his country. His hard and devoted work has won him well-deserved worldwide acclaim.
      This great citizen of a poor country has saved from poverty six million of his compatriots and has given them a chance for a dignified life. It looks like a fairy tale – a kind and resourceful wizard arriving to make the poor people happy.
      It turns out that even a lone millionaire, providing he is a genuine patriot, can solve a national-level problem. Instead of making money on poor people’s misfortune and gaining 400% annual profit – as often is the case in Israel – he disdainfully puts the bureaucracy aside and addresses the problem himself.
      The myth of unemployment being impossible to eliminate has been debunked by a one-man initiative. Can such a thing happen here in Israel, among our people who declare their mission to be one of bringing light and justice to humankind?
      In light of the Bangladesh phenomenon, the economic and moral morass in Israel appears more than ever to be attributable to Israel’s national bureaucracy and political leadership.

Ida Nudel

Karme Yosef, Israel

   (Editor’s Note: Ms. Nudel is a former Soviet Prisoner of Zion and a winner of the Jabotinsky Prize.)

Letters to the Editor

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