web analytics
July 29, 2016 / 23 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘rav’

Azkara Held For Rabbi Yoseph Oziel

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

The Shul of Bal Harbour, 9540 Collins Avenue in Surfside, held an askara (commemoration) marking seven days since the passing of Rabbi Yoseph Oziel on Tuesday, July 10. Minchah services were followed by divrei Torah from prominent rabbis and concluded with Arvit.

Rabbi Oziel was the beloved and highly regarded spiritual leader of Hechal Shalom-Sephardic Congregation of Surfside. The rabbi was a respected talmid chacham and rav and had opened a kollel in his synagogue only two months ago. He was 42 years old.

Rabbi Oziel is survived by his devoted wife and eight children. His wife is expecting their ninth child.

The grief-stricken community is trying to put together a trust fund for the family. Please contribute by mailing your check to: Young Israel of Bal Harbour, POB 545985, Surfside, Florida 33154. Please make a notation that you wish this contribution to go the Oziel family.

Shelley Benveniste

Q & A: Tisha B’Av And Mourning

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Editor’s note: We interrupt our “Chazzan and Congregation” series for this timely discussion on Tisha B’Av. Part IX of “Chazzan and Congregation” will appear next week.

* * * * *

Question: I was taught that due to our state of mourning on Tisha B’Av, we are not allowed to learn or discuss Torah – a topic that makes us happy and weakens our mournful state. Why, then, are we allowed to read from the Torah at Shacharit and Mincha on Tisha B’Av? Also, does the halacha of not learning apply to a regular mourner as well?

Menachem
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: Yoreh De’ah 384:1 (based on Mo’ed Katan 15a) states, “During the entire seven-day period [of mourning], a mourner is forbidden to read from the Torah, Prophets, Writings, Mishnah, Gemara, halachot and aggadot – except if people need him to teach them. In such a case, it is permissible.”

We also find a similar ruling regarding Tisha B’Av, our national day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, as the Mechaber notes (Orach Chayim 554:1).

The reason behind the prohibition, according to the Shach (Orach Chayim ad loc.), is the verse in Psalms (19:9), “Pikudei Hashem yesharim mesamchei lev, mitzvat Hashem barah me’irat eynayim – The commands of Hashem are right; they gladden the heart. The commandment of Hashem is of such clarity that it enlightens the eyes.” Torah has the power of offering unique enjoyment and pleasure. A mourner in his bereavement is not supposed to enjoy this delight.

It is interesting to note that this Shach is at variance with the Mechaber who gives a different source for this halacha. He cites Mo’ed Katan 15a, where we learn that a mourner is prohibited to utter words of Torah since Hashem stated (Ezekiel 24:17), “He’anek dom – Sigh in silence.” Hashem only precluded Ezekiel from any manifestation of outward sorrow. All other people were supposed to publicly mourn, explains Rabbenu Chananel, explicating the position of our sages.

The Gemara (in Ta’anit 30a) states that all customary restrictions on an ordinary mourner during the seven days of mourning apply to the community as a whole on Tisha B’Av. However, there is a difference. On Tisha B’Av, one is prohibited from eating and drinking (Rashi s.v. “asur be’achila uvi’shetiya” explains that these two restrictions apply only to the mourning for the Temples’ destruction).

The Gemara in Ta’anit explains that one is prohibited from (washing and) anointing, donning (leather) shoes, and engaging in marital relations. One is also forbidden to read from the Torah, Prophets, Writings, Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, as well as halachot and aggadot. However, one is permitted to read material that he usually does not read. (Rashi s.v. “be’makom she’eino ragil likrot” explains that since this material is beyond the mourner’s familiarity and understanding, it actually causes him distress.) One may also read Kinot and Job and the elegies in Jeremiah.

Young schoolchildren – tinokot shel beit rabban – should remain idle (i.e., we do not study with them on Tisha B’Av), in accordance with the verse (Psalms 19:9), “Pikudei Hashem yesharim mesamchei lev – The commands of Hashem are right; they gladden the heart.” R. Yehuda disagrees and states that the learning restrictions apply even to material that one is unfamiliar with. The only exceptions to the no-learning rule, he maintains, are Job, Kinot, and the elegies in Jeremiah.

In any event, we see that both verses apply: the verse from Ezekiel as well as the verse from Psalms.

Regarding the reading of the Torah in shul on Tisha B’Av during Shacharit and Mincha, the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 554:4) writes as follows: “One is permitted to read the complete order of the day [i.e., the order of the daily prayer service] as well as the portion of the korbanot, the Mishnah of Ezehu Mekoman (Tractate Zevachim, chapter 5) and the midrash of Rabbi Yishmael (Beraita, in Sifra). (The latter three constitute the portion of tefillah referred to collectively as korbanot.)

The Rema adds that one is allowed to review the parshah on Tisha B’Av. However, both the Ba’er Heiteiv and Mishna Berurah (ad loc.) note that this applies only to the chazzan, who reads the Torah publicly for the congregation. His reading and advance preparation are obviously considered tzorech ha’tzibbur (a public need).

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

The Evil Inclination

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Rav Tzvi Hirsh Levin, the rav of Berlin, was an extremely clever and sharp individual and possessed a remarkable sense of humor that he used well in his attempts to get across Torah views.

Rav Tzvi Hirsh was first rav in a very small city – Halberstat. Halberstat was a poor place but the people were very pious and observant. He then moved on to become the rav of London and finally, spiritual leader in Berlin.

In describing the differences between the three places, he once said:

“I will illustrate the differences with a story. Once when I was in Halberstat, I passed an inn and I heard from within a mournful sound.

“The sounds were so tragic that I thought that the person who was making them must surely have suffered some terrible tragedy. Walking inside I saw in the corner an emaciated and hungry looking fellow sitting at a table with his head in his hands, giving vent to his woes.

“ ‘What is the matter sir?’ I asked him. ‘Why do you mourn so?’

“ ‘I am the yetzer hara [evil inclination],’ he replied. ‘Never have times been so bad for me as they are in this city of Halberstat. No matter how hard I work at trying to get these Jews to commit sins, no matter how I run about attempting to tempt them, my efforts are in vane. I will starve to death in this city, business is so bad!’

“I left the mournful soul,” continued Rav Tzvi Hirsh, “and went on my way. I soon forgot about the incident and the years passed. I left Halberstat and moved on to London where I became rav.

“One day, as I was walking along a busy street, I saw a familiar figure running toward me. It was the evil inclination.

Has No Time “ ‘Hello there,’ I called. ‘It has been many years since I last saw you. What are you doing in London?’

“ ‘I have no time to stop to talk now,’ replied the evil inclination. ‘There is so much work to do here that I am exhausted. I have to run about persuading people to sin and business is extraordinary.’

“Away he went,” said Rav Tzvi Hirsh, “and disappeared from sight on his way to do business.

“The years passed by once again, and I forgot about him until I went over to Berlin. There I met him again. As I was passing a tavern, I heard loud laughter. A man was singing and sounded like the happiest, most contented of people.

“Looking through the window, I saw that it was my old friend, the evil inclination.

“ ‘Hello there,’ he cried out drunk but happy, ‘come and join me in a drink.’

A Pleasure “ ‘What are you doing in Berlin?’ I asked. ‘And look at you. You have grown so fat and ruddy of complexion. Why aren’t you at your work?’

“ ‘Ah, my friend,’ he said with a smile. ‘There is no need to work in Berlin. In Halberstat I worked like a dog and showed nothing for it. The were impossible to tempt.’

“ ‘In London, there was plenty of business but I had to run around drumming it up. Here in Berlin however, it’s a pleasure! I don’t have to do a thing. The people are ready to do immoral and evil acts without my having to push them.’ ”

The “Good Angel” The Chofetz Chaim’s good virtues and wonderful character had their beginnings when he was yet a little boy.

In the little town where he lived was a poor man who earned his meager living by drawing water from the wells and springs and selling it in town.

He used to leave the pails with which he drew the water outside his front door because there was simply not enough room for them in the little hut that he called his home.

Some of the mischievous and thoughtless children in the town decided to play a practical joke on the poor man and they filled the pails with water. In the bitter wintry night the water quickly froze and the man had all manner of difficulty in the morning.

Admonishes Them Little Yisroel Meir (that was the name of the Chofetz Chaim) felt very bad for the poor man and he admonished his friends:

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Getting Serious About Get-Refusal

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

It’s human nature to hide our heads in the sand. That may be because we are mostly optimistic. We believe everything will be all right even when we know we are taking a chance.

On the flip side, it’s emotionally very difficult to admit we have a problem. We are worried about how others will regard us. Moreover, addressing a problem entails gathering strength to go about solving it. It’s so much easier to hide our heads in the sand.

About ten years ago, at a rabbinic convention in Israel, I was introduced to a well-known American Orthodox rabbi as a to’enet rabbanit – rabbinical court advocate. The rav politely asked me what I do. I briefly explained how I work with dayanim in Israeli batei din on cases of Get-refusal they have difficulty resolving. I stressed my focus on prenuptial agreements to prevent the agunah problem from arising in the first place, through the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel.

“Oh, I know all about prenups” the rabbi replied. “My daughter just got married but I didn’t tell her to sign one. We don’t need these things.”

This rav, one of the most effective leaders in the American Orthodox world, did not recognize the very real agunah problem in his community. In fact, I have received cries for help (even though I am in Israel) from women who belong to every manner of Orthodox community in the U.S., from chassidishe and haredi to Modern Orthodox and everything in between.

Truth be told, it is difficult for a rav to admit publicly to a problem of Get-refusal in his community when no one is admitting it in the other communities. It is more comforting to imagine that should an agunah case arise, the community will take care of it. However, individuals who begin to tread the path of a me’agen are becoming more and more resistant to communal pressure or even rabbinic influence.

By recognizing the potential for the problem and arranging the signing of prenuptial agreements for its prevention, communal and rabbinic influence can be restored. The problem needs to be prevented from taking root in each individual case before it is too late.

Nevertheless, the practice is to hope for the best, rationalizing the agunah problem with statistics. “What,” we think, “are the chances of this happening to me or to my daughter?”

And yet our communities have overcome deep-seated reluctance in order to deal with other widespread problems. To cut down on the number of cases of genetic disease afflicting the Orthodox community, for example, practical yet dignified solutions were found. The community needed to find a way to assist individuals on a communal level and so now many Orthodox educational institutions routinely bring professionals into twelfth-grade classes to administer blood tests.

In this manner, the individual understands the implicit stamp of approval by the rabbanim and the fear of “what will others think?” is erased, since all are working toward the prevention of the problem.

Similarly, the leadership of each of the various Orthodox communities can make practical arrangements for prenup education with every educational institution – high school, yeshiva gedolah, seminary or college.

A service should be provided whereby every student, man or woman, who becomes engaged is called in. The school’s rabbi or counselor can present the couple with a halachic prenuptial agreement together with an explanation, and arrange for notarization services in the school’s office. In this manner the community will quickly understand that all are expected to sign a prenuptial agreement. It will become “automatic” – one of the things you have to arrange before you get married.

Even those who marry later, while no longer under the aegis of educational institutions, will remember to sign a prenuptial agreement since it will have become a standard part of the shidduch process.

Twenty-one rabbanim of one of Americas’ Orthodox communities – roshei yeshiva of Yeshiva University – recently signed a (second) kol koreh calling on all rabbis and the Orthodox community to promote the standard use of a halachic prenuptial agreement. They were spurred to do so by the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot. There are those who may feel YU or ORA is not their derech, but that does not relieve them of the responsibility to address the agunah problem in their own communities.

Dr. Rachel Levmore

A Unique Iranian Custom

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Question: It is known that some sephardim generally arrive at a simcha a few hours subsequent to the time noted on the invitation. Is there any logic behind this custom?

Answer: Years ago, while serving as a rav in Los Angeles, I, together with my wife, went to a bat mitzvah celebration at the home of a prominent Iranian friend. The event was called for 7 p.m. We arrived shortly after 7:00 and were escorted to the backyard of the venue where there were tables and chairs for at least 500 people. Yet, to our shock and amazement, not a single person was there.

Thinking that we had come on the wrong date, I informed the person who had escorted us that I had probably made an error and that we were departing. As we were about to leave, I was told that the party was in fact taking place that evening.

Noticed my puzzlement, the host himself came forward to speak with me. He said that the satan visits every happy event in order to create an ayin hara and mar the simcha. To counter this, all invitations announce the simcha for at least an hour prior to the time when the event is really scheduled to begin. When the satan arrives at the scheduled time and sees no one there, he figures he is wasting his time – it’s a “no-show party” – and leaves. The guests, however, know in advance that the event won’t begin until at least an hour after the official time and therefore only arrive after the satan has already departed.

Not wishing to provide the satan with an opportunity to mar the simcha, my wife and I departed and returned two hours later – just in time for the beginning of the festivities.

Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, is the author of several works on Jewish law. His latest, “Jewish Prayer The Right Way” (Urim Publications), is available at Amazon.com and Judaica stores.

Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen

Title: Rav HaKolel, A Biography Of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Title: Rav HaKolel, A Biography Of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef
Author: Rabbi Yonah Landau
Publisher: Rabbi Yonah Landau

In the 1880s, a substantial immigration of Jews poured into New York from all parts of Europe, Russia, and Galicia. They were eager to escape the hard life of poverty and lack of peace back home, but the reality in America was not as they had expected it to be. It was hard to find work; it was a struggle for mere existence.

Some of the leaders and rabbonim became very distressed about the religious state of affairs. It was difficult to observe Shabbos and the kashrus situation was not good either. The meat wholesalers in stores could not always be trusted.

At that time, many communities did have distinguished rabbonim. In New York City and several of the smaller towns outside of New York, the rabbonim and leaders of the communities, after much consideration and meetings, came to a conclusion that the best solution would be to find a great talmid chacham capable of influencing and inspiring leadership. He would be appointed as the Rav Hakolel (chief rabbi) and be supported by the community.

Much of the initiative came from a large synagogue on Norfolk Street known as the Beis Medrash Hagodol. At that time, there were about100,000 Jews living in New York and only ten percent were shomrei Shabbos. After lengthy negotiations, an organization was established to include all synagogues that agreed with the decision to hire a chief rabbi.

Rabbonim in Europe were consulted for their advice and recommendations. At one time, they considered the Malbim, the rav of Lodz. After protracted deliberations, the committee agreed to offer the position to R’ Yaakov Yosef, the maggid of Vilna, known to be a gaon, a scholar, a great orator, a ba’al chesed and a ba’al tzedaka.

After much deliberation, in 1888, the rav finally agreed to come to New York. One of the conditions that Harav Yaakov Yosef made was that the community hiring him should pay off the considerable loans he had borrowed for his tzedakah work.

When he finally arrived in New York, the community was elated. They were confident that a new era would begin. On the first Shabbos, the shul was jammed with an overflow crowd. However, it didn’t take long for some of the enthusiasm to fall off.

The rav’s first concern was to investigate the whole kashrus situation in New York City. He appointed a beis din to assist him and that was where he ran into the first opposition – a powerful butcher’s union, which did not look with favor upon his intent to raise the standards of kashrus. Many of the stores had no hashgachas up to then.

As time went on, the opposition became stronger and more resistant. Within a short time, the attitude towards the rav changed and the glow was beginning to dim. There was also opposition from local rabbonim, jealous of the position of chief rabbi. The Rav Hakolel did everything in his power to stop these issues. By his nature he was an extremely kind and reasonable person, but it was to no avail. Within three years, it all changed.

It reached a point where the organization of rabbonim did not have enough backing and could not pay his salary. The aggravation of the overall situation drove him to illness. He became bedridden and after several years of pain and suffering, passed away. His tragic passing suddenly caused the community to realize what they had lost.

More than 100,000 people came to the levaya and thousands watched from their windows. At that point, the full impact of what they had lost hit them.

And then came the final tragedy. As the funeral procession proceeded to Williamsburg, they were assaulted by hundreds of employees from a large printing company called Hoes, known for their anti-Semitic attitude. They pelted the procession with stones and metal and eventually with boiling water, causing injury to many people. The police were understaffed and not prepared for such masses of people at the funeral. This terrible event made the frum community realize how wrong they were and many felt it was a punishment for the way they treated the rav.

Rabbi Avraham Kelman

The Taste Of Love

Monday, June 4th, 2012

“I think I’m going to stay alone for Yom Tov,” I said, shivering with the frightening finality of the words.

The rav sprung into action. He pulled open the fridge and pulled out a small tin of sliced gefilte fish. He pulled open the freezer and pulled out a pan of roasted chicken.

“Yitzy!” he called, “go down to the basement and bring me a box, please.”

Cooked potatoes were sliced and added to the pan.

“Sruly!” he called. “Go downstairs and get two bottles of wine from the Pesach room.”

The Rebbetzin’s tins were covered and stacked and arranged into the box. Two bottles of wine were deposited neatly on their side.

My heart shivered with the finality of it as the possibilities slipped from my fingers. It was set; I would be alone. I had options, but I felt too insecure and threatened in a home anywhere but this one. And they could not have me for Yom Tov. It was my decision. But I was afraid.

Sruly came up the stairs once more, carrying a silver plate and kos in his hands. A big smile crossed his face. “I got this for you,” he said.

I took the dishes from his hand. They were plastic, but looked like real silver. The black-silver shine sparked in my hands, ignited a twin spark in my heart. My face dropped the anxiety and twisted naturally into a smile. “Whose idea was that?” I asked. My heart paused its fluttering.

“Mine,” he responded easily.

This time I grinned. “Thank you so much, Sruly!” I carried my becher into the kitchen and placed it carefully in the box.

The Rebbetzin turned from the stove and returned my smile. “It really was his idea,” she confirmed.

The spark in my heart grew in strength, slowly warming my cold veins.

Hasty best wishes were sent my way, the taxi was called… it was time to leave. I lifted my box and walked out the door.

It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done.

The box was much heavier than its light weight. Only the silver, shimmering in my mind, helped me open that heavy door, walk down the path, and slide into the car that would take me away.

I placed my precious burden on the clean floor of my kitchen. The silver plate was there, shining happily, but there was no kos. I looked frantically for it, lifted out the tins, checked through my bags… It wasn’t there. Later I would find out that the baby had toddled over and lifted it from the box in the minutes before I had left.

At the moment, I felt devastated, cut off from the one tie that sparked a connection of caring… an extra special unnecessary something that came with a big smile crossing a small face.

The Yom Tov food and the small silver plate would be my consolation.

I did my best to set up nicely for Yom Tov, to make this festive night special.

It was hard. All I felt was sadness, and anxiety, and the fear of the unknown. When one is so small inside, it is hard to be alone.

The silver plate lay on the white china dish on the white lace tablecloth. I was exhausted, completely gone… Thoughts came and went, tormenting thoughts, of fear and threat and helplessness and sadness and aloneness and – and what do I do, and why am I left alone… why am I left alone??? Tears of anger and pain rolled down my cheeks.

Just make Kiddush, Tirtza… just make Kiddush.

I poured the wine and raised the clear plastic cup. There was the silver plate, shining to me in a beacon of shimmering connection. In the mirrored surface shone the murky depths- of people, far away perhaps, who could not be with me, but who sent me strength, and caring-

There was depth in the shimmering mirror, even if my foggy mind could not fully grasp its meaning.

Yom Tov was hard, but I pushed, pushed beyond my felt abilities – because I knew I was not alone.

This Shabbos I was alone again.

Not just by myself. Alone. This time I felt totally… bereft, abandoned…. I had not been able to hear from my support and I was… all alone.

Tirtza S.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/teens-twenties/the-taste-of-love/2012/06/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: