web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rosh Yeshiva’

New Netanyahu Coalition Govt All Cobbled and Ready, Maybe

Monday, March 18th, 2013

On Monday evening, the Knesset will host the swearing in ceremony for Israel’s 33rd government, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s third term—second consecutive—as prime minister (his first term ran from June 1996 to July 1999).

Immediately after the ceremony, Netanyahu will convene a brief cabinet meeting, with a toast. Then the bunch (22 ministers and 8 deputies) will travel to the presidential residence, for the traditional group picture.

The Knesset session will open with the selection of the Speaker of the House. It will likely be Likud MK Yuli Edelstein, who will replace the former Speaker, Reuven Rivlin, who wanted very much to continue in his post but, unfortunately, had committed the ultimate sin of criticizing the Prime Minister’s anti-democratic tendencies, not the kind of slight which Netanyahu’s wife Sara easily forgives.

As usual, Netanyahu never shared with Rivlin his plan to depose him. In fact, as far back as a year ago, he assured the popular Speaker—who is also closely associated with the Settlement movement—that he’d have his support for the post of President when Shimon Peres completes his 7-year term, 2014.

Yuli Edelstein’s life’s story is fascinating: Born in the Soviet Union to Jewish parents who converted to Christianity (his father is a Russian Orthodox priest), Edelstein discovered his Jewish connection through his grandparents. He studied Hebrew back when that was considered a subversive act, for which, in 1984, he was sent to Siberia (the charges were drug related, but everybody knew it was the Hebrew thing). He made aliyah with his wife, Tanya, served in the army, and entered politics, ending up in the Knesset in 1996. He has switched between several parties, until finally landing in the Likud, and has held several ministerial portfolios. And if he doesn’t catch Sara’s ire, he could become as memorable a Speaker as Rubie Rivlin.

But the biggest losers, without a doubt, are the Haredi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism. They were almost literally kicked out by Yair Lapid, who stated openly that, should he be seen in the government group picture with the Haredim, his voters would abandon him. Surprisingly, Naftali Bennett, his newly found brother from a different father (Yair’s father, the late MK Tommy Lapid, was a true hater of the religion), supported the dubious position that, in order to truly help the Haredi public, government had to first be cleared of Haredi partners.

Shas, a party that depends completely on patronage for its very existence, is seething with anger over Bennett’s “betrayal.” It’s hard, however, to take seriously the victimized self-pity of Shas, whose spiritual father Rav Ovadia Yosef dubbed the Jewish Home party a “Goy Home.” Altogether, it appears that, perhaps counter intuitively, the National Religious leaders as well as the rank and file, have been harboring heaps of resentment against the Haredim. The Haredi slights of several decades, including their occupation of the Ministry of Religious Services and the Chief rabbinate, doling out jobs to Haredi officials who reigned over a population that looks nothing like them—those slighted chickens have been coming back to roost.

Take for instance Rabbi Hayim Drukman, who responded to both the Haredi pols and to Netanyahu, who accused the Lapid-Bennett axis of “boycotting” the Haredi parties. Rabbi Drukman Argued that “the Haredi public are the biggest boycotters, boycotting for years the Torah of the national religious public.”

“Any Haredi apparatchik who gets elected to the Knesset, immediately becomes a rabbi, while the real rabbis of the national religious public are noted in the Haredi press by their first names (without the title ‘Rabbi’). Is this not boycotting?” Rabbi Druckman wrote in the Saturday shul paper “Olam Katan.”

Inside Shas, the short knives have already been drawn and they’re aimed at MK Aryeh Deri, the former convict who came back from the cold to lead Shas into a glorious stalemate (11 seats before, 11 after).

“We were very disappointed in Deri,” a senior Shas pol told Ma’ariv. “He did not bring the votes he promised Rav Ovadia, there was no significant change in seats, and, in fact, Deri is responsible for our failure.”

In United Torah Judaism they also seem to regret their alliance with Shas, it’s highly likely that, in a few months, they’ll opt to enter the government without Shas.

My Machberes

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Satmar Shidduch

In the midst of preparations for the grand Satmar chassunah held on Wednesday, October 17, another grandchild of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe, became engaged. On October 15, Zvi Hersh Meisels was engaged to the daughter of Rabbi Naftali Meir Babad, Tarnopol Rav in Kensington and Tartikov Rosh Beis Din; son of Rabbi Asher Aleksander Babad, zt”l (1910-1985), Tartikover Rav, and son-in-law of Rabbi Kalman Pinter, zt”l (d. 2009), Sulzberger Rav.

The chassan is the son of Rabbi Shimon Zev Meisels, Rav of the Beirach Moshe district of Kiryas Yoel and author of Sefer Binyan Shimon. The chassan is the grandson of Rabbi Yekusiel Yehuda Meisels, Seagate Rav, as well as of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe. The engagement was formalized in the home of the kallah’s father in Boro Park. In Kiryas Yoel, long lines led to the home of the Satmar Rebbe where well-wishers gave their joyous mazel tovs.

Women And Hatzolah

Rachel Freier, an attorney representing women in the greater Boro Park community, had long felt there was a need for emergency services for women in labor to conform to our community’s level of modesty. The idea “has nothing to do with feminism, it has to do with the dignity of women and their modesty,” said Mrs. Freier.

Though turned down by Hatzolah, she was careful to avoid framing the proposal as a critique of the widely praised organization, whose work she respects greatly. Instead, she said it was a matter of reclaiming a “job that has been the role of women for thousands of years [that of a midwife].” We are proud of Hatzolah,” she said, adding, “Hatzolah leaders do not fully understand what a woman feels like when she is in labor.”

Ezras Nashim, Hebrew for “women’s section,” the name of the new organization, is modeled after a program created two years ago in New Square. Hatzolah’s four-member rabbinical board released a memo for members saying they would not engage in discussions on the matter. A similar proposal had been rejected some 25 years ago.

Mrs. Freier had attempted to reach Hatzolah’s leaders to arrange a meeting. “The initial plan was for me to meet with Hatzolah and explain the need for women to join,” she said. “However, I was told that the policy of women not joining Hatzolah was set years ago…. We’re just trying to make a great organization even better. We’re not filing a complaint. We’re coming with a suggestion.”

On February 26 of this year, Mrs. Freier opened a recruitment drive for Ezras Nashim and a number of women indicated strong interest in joining. In total, Ezras Nashim had at its outset more than 200 women with various levels of medical training in its ranks. Mrs. Freier continued discussions on the matter with rabbinical leaders in the community. The new organization has the blessing of several rabbis.

Women And Burkas

In Israel, small groups of women living in some observant neighborhoods have chosen to wear burkas (a loose garment covering the entire body worn by Muslim women) in order to achieve maximum tznius. Not one recognized rabbi has endorsed burkas for Jewish women. On the contrary, several leading rabbis have strongly expressed their opposition to the strange behavior.

On Sunday, October 14, one of the “shawl women” was in the throes of childbirth and refused to be taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital for fear of chillul Shabbos.

The story began when a man rushed into the shul on Avraham Ben-David Street early Shabbos morning calling for assistance for his pregnant wife. A member of Ichud Hatzalah of Bnei Brak went with the man. As they were running to the apartment, an ambulance was summoned.

The husband, however, told the Hatzolah member to cancel the call, explaining that his wife would refuse an ambulance since it was Shabbos.

The husband and the Hatzolah member were met by a second the Hatzolah member when they reached the apartment. They tried persuading the mother to travel to the hospital by ambulance, but she refused.

The first Hatzolah member called his mother, a midwife, and the delivery took place at the apartment. After the delivery they again attempted to persuade the new mother to be taken by ambulance but she remained obstinate.

The Road Paved with iPhones

Monday, September 10th, 2012

I wish I could say that I am perplexed by what happened at a wedding hall in Jerusalem last week. Because that would be the normal response by someone who had heard that a Rosh Yeshiva disqualified an individual designated as a witness to sign a Kesuva (the Halachic marriage contract).

It would be shocking to most people that a witness was disqualified because he owned an iPhone But the way things are going now, I am not shocked or even perplexed by it at all. From YWN:

As the kesuva was being written, Rabbi Yosef Ze’ev Feinstein, Rosh Yeshivas ‘עמלהשל תורה’, the mesader kedushin, asked to meet the Eidim (witnesses). He asked them to see their cell phones. One pulled out a kosher phone. The second an iPhone. The latter was disqualified as a witness.

There are many Halachic reasons to disqualify a witness. But owning an iPhone is not one of them. And yet this Rosh Yeshiva decided that owning an iPhone is so bad that it is enough to… not only disqualify someone from being a witness, but enough to embarrass him in doing so in front of those who designated him as such and those who watched this happen.

This is the state of the extremism that runs rampant in certain Charedi circles in Israel I guess. While I don’t think anyone has yet been disqualified as a witness in America for owning an iPhone, it can’t be that far off. In the never ending chase to be seen as the frummest (more observant), what happens in Israel… doesn’t stay in Israel.

There is always someone here who will take up the cause and be the first to be the “Frummest”! It happened with the devaluing of Limudei Chol (secular education) and it will easily happen to iPhone owners.

I know all their arguments. The internet is pure evil – worse than anyone can imagine! If you have any device that can access it… YOU are evil! Especially if it is a hand held device where one can hide access and pretend to be “holy”.

And now, post Internet Asifa, one is in direct violation of the edict against the internet imposed by someone who many consider the Posek HaDor. An edict about which a key speaker said that violating a public Psak by such a Posek causes one to lose their place in Olam Haba. This was not contradicted by any of the many rabbinic leaders who attended that Asifa.

So this poor ex-witness who very likely does not use his iPhone for illicit purposes has not only lost his status as a Kosher witness, he may very well have lost his portion in the world to come too. Nebech!

But… perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps the Rosh Yeshiva was doing us all a favor. This witness will now realize the evil of his ways; throw away his iPhone; and do Teshuva. And the rest of us will now take heed of how terrible owning an iPhone is.

I’m sure glad to know that the worst thing anyone can do is own any device that can access the internet. (I will now forever spit every time I say the word “internet”.)

I hope Rabbi Nechmya Weberman is paying attention. He can rest easy now knowing that compared to owning an iPhone, sexually molesting numerous young women – teens and pre-teens – who came to him for guidance and “therapy” wasn’t so bad. At least not compared to owning an iPhone.

I’m sure if he were one of the witnesses at that wedding he would have passed with flying colors. I hope the judge in his case takes note of the fact that Rabbi Weberman does not own an I phone. And never would! Chas V’Shalom! If not I hope his character witness point that out. I can almost guarantee there will be numerous character witnesses at his trial testifying to what a Tzadik he is.

Good to know where the Torah world’s priorities are heading.

Visit the Emes Ve-Emunah blog.

Ki Seitzei – Kiddush Clubs Beware!

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

You will not have much time this week for your gathering – the haftorah is very short, only ten pesukim.

(Let me be clear. I most certainly do not support Kiddush Clubs for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the what should be obvious lowliness of leaving a shul minyan to go and have a whiskey party, and not being able to wait until after davening. Despite efforts to combat these gatherings, I know they still exist and figured I would warn “the guys” about the brevity of this week’s haftorah.)

Short, yes, but very sweet. HaKadosh Baruch Hu has sweet things to tell us about the rebuilding of Yerushalayim after the destruction and exile.

One message that immediately jumps out at us comes from the third and fourth pesukim whose phrases we should all recognize.

Ki yamin u’smol tifrotzi. . .al tiri, ki lo seivoshi ve’al sikalmi – for you will spread out to the right and to the left. . .do not fear, for you will no longer feel embarrassed nor humiliated.” (Yeshaya 54:3-4)

I hope you know where in the davening these phrases are mentioned. Correct! They are in the Lecha Dodi we sing on Friday night at Kabbalas Shabbos forming the theme of two stanzas:

Lo sivohsi velo sikalmi mah tishotchachi umahtsehemi, bach yechesu aniyei ami vinivnisah ir al tilah – Do not be embarrassed, do not be ashamed! Why be dejected? Why moan? All My suffering people will find comfort in you and a city will be rebuilt upon the hill!”

Yamin u’smol tifrotzi ve’es Hashem ta’aritzi, al yad ish ben partzi, venismecha venagila—to the right and left you will spread out and you will praise Hashem. Through the hand of the descendant of Peretz (Moshiach), you will then be joyous and cheerful.”

Thus, the Navi Yeshaya fulfills the role of comforter, telling us of the amazing times we will yet experience with redemption and the coming of Moshiach. This is why this section of Navi was chosen by Chazal to be one of the “sheva d’nechamta,” one of the seven haftoros after Tisha B’Av whose design is to console us over the destruction of Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash.

So, we encounter these themes in the haftorah this week, but we also meet them during each Kabbolas Shabbos, which leads us to the following question: What in the world do these themes have to do with Shabbos? Why are we singing about Yerushalayim in Lecha Dodi?

In fact, analyze this.

Did you ever wonder why it is that the majority of the stanzas in Lecha Dodi do not discuss Shabbos at all? The first two stanzas are directed toward Shabbos but, beginning with the third stanza of “Mikdash Melech” and continuing all the way to “Bo’ee BaShalom”, Shabbos is not the theme; rather, the destruction of Yerushalayim and the hope of its renewal and rebirth with Moshiach is the topic. Why?

In addition, we know that we are not supposed to mention anything on Shabbos that could bring feelings of sadness. Why then do we sing about the destruction of Yerushalayim in the middle of Lecha Dodi? In fact, for this very reason, amazingly, there are some Sefardic siddurim that do not list the stanzas in Lecha Dodi that bring up the destruction of Yerushalayim (Asifas Gershon Shabbos, page 194). Why then is this appropriate when strictly speaking, it would appear to be improper to bring up the tragedy of the Churban Bais HaMikdash at this juncture on Shabbos? How do we explain most of Klal Yisrael reciting these stanzas?

The Vilna Gaon in his commentary on the Siddur explains the following famous midrash:

“Shabbos came before the Ribbono Shel Olam and complained, ‘Each day of the week has a mate (ben zug). But I have no mate!’ Hashem replied, ‘Klal Yisrael will be your ben zug!’”

What exactly does this Midrash mean? How does each day of the week have a mate? And how is Klal Yisrael the mate of Shabbos?

Answers the Gra, on Sunday, light was created, but the creation of light only became complete on Wednesday, when the sun, moon, and stars were formed. Hence, Sunday is a ben zug with Wednesday. On Monday, the waters above and below were separated by the rakiah, firmament, but the creation of water was only completed when Hashem created the fish on Thursday and placed them in the waters below. Thus, Monday’s ben zug is Thursday. On Tuesday, Hashem separated the sea from the dry land. This was concluded on Friday when Hashem made the animals and man to inhabit the land. Tuesday partners with Friday. Shabbos was indeed alone, without a ben zug, until the Ribbono Shel Olam made Klal Yisrael the partner of Shabbos. But how is Klal Yisrael the mate of Shabbos?

Birth Of A Leather-Kippah Jew

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

“Let me be honest with you,” the rosh yeshiva began.

It was not a good sign. I was sitting for a farher, an entrance interview, with the rosh yeshiva of a well-known yeshiva in Jerusalem, and it was about to go very badly.

I was, to be fair, a very unusual applicant. I had just graduated from law school. My classmates and friends were headed off to prestigious clerkships or to seek their fortunes. I had other plans. My secular learning had now outpaced my Torah learning, and it was time, I believed, to catch up.

So I applied to a yeshiva renowned for its commitment and the dedication of its students. I prepared thoroughly and was sure my learning – my scholarship – was up to par.

I hadn’t gotten the look down quite right, I knew. My suit was too blue; my shoes too un-scuffed; my black hat somehow at the wrong angle. But surely, I told myself, these things didn’t matter; my commitment, my dedication and my ability were what mattered most.

The rosh yeshiva was about to disabuse me of my innocence. Time seemed to slow down. I took a deep breath, glanced at the magnificent golden Jerusalem stone outside, and leaned in to hear the unpleasant truth.

“You’ve been to university, no?” the rosh yeshiva said, more statement than question.

“Acutally, law school,” I responded confidently. That couldn’t be a problem.

“Ah, law school,” he nodded back. “Noch besser. We don’t take students here who have gone to university.”

I sat there, stunned. I wasn’t getting in. My ability and my commitment weren’t what mattered after all. I was of the wrong caste. I was unsuitable.

But I had traveled a long way and sacrificed a great deal to be in that room, so I wasn’t going to give up so easily. A note of desperation crept into my voice. I nearly begged: “But I’ll follow all the rules. I’ll keep all the sedarim!”

“No, no, no!” came his excited reply. “That would be worse!”

He grew animated, as earnest in his convictions as I was in mine.

“You see,” he continued, his voice rising, “we teach our students that university is chazer treyf. Chazer treyf! If you kept the sedarim, if you followed the rules, that would just become confusing to our students. I’m sorry, but it’s out of the question; you cannot come to this yeshiva.”

The interview over, I shuffled out of the room, passing by the beis medrash to which I had just been denied entrance. I glanced in and recognized some old friends. That was when the realization really hit me. It was me he was rejecting. My old friends sitting in that beis medrashhad also gone to college.

* * * * *

With hindsight, I was able to decipher what the rosh yeshiva was saying, what it was about me in particular he wouldn’t – couldn’t – allow in. He was telling me I was “modern.” He was telling me that, unlike the other college graduates, when I went to law school I hadn’t just learned a trade – I had also absorbed its values.

The rosh yeshiva was right. In three years of law school I had come to believe that Washington and Lincoln were important men; that the American Revolution and the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement were important events; and that free speech, democracy and tolerance were important ideals. They weren’t Torah, to be sure. But the values of Madison and Jefferson and Hamilton had become my values as well, and those values were “modern.”

The problem was I didn’t want to be “modern.” I had shown up at that yeshiva’s doorstep because I had, in my earlier yeshiva days, developed a great love for the life of the yeshiva. The modern world seemed devoid of spirituality while the world of the yeshiva provided a wonderful spirit, from the simple activities of its daily life to the fiery passion of Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur.

The modern world seemed barren of ethics; the yeshiva provided access to a life of ethical purity. The modern world seemed lacking in intellectual honesty; the yeshiva was committed to the purest, most honest of intellectual activities.

Stamford Hill Haredi Community Shocked by Drowning of Rosh Yeshiva

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The Haredi community of the London neighborhood of Stamford Hill has been shocked by news of the drowning of one of its prominent members in the ocean.

The website BeHadrei Haredim reported that Rabbi Chaim Breisch, 65, one of the deans of the Mesivta yeshiva in London, died from drowning, and one of his students, Rabbi Yitzhak Beigel, in his 30s, was lightly injured and was hospitalized.

Rabbi Chaim Breisch, a Satmar Chassid, is the son of Rabbi Shimon Breisch from Zurich, switzerland, and a brother-in-law of Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Soloveitchik, Dean of Brisk yeshiva, and of Rabbi Chaim Feinshtein, Dean of Beit Yehuda yeshiva.

Rabbi Chaim Breisch reportedly has not been feeling well recently, and went on a short vacation at the home of his brother-in-law Rabbi Shmili Berger, in Kent, England. On Monday morning he took a swim in the ocean, along with his student, Rabbi Beigel. Rabbi Breisch decided to get into the water despite the stormy weather. His student tried to stop him but it was too late and Rabbi Breisch began to drown. The student attempted to go after him but was injured.

Local police detained the student for questioning and then released him. The body is still in the possession of the police. The local Hevra Kadisha are waiting for the conclusion of the investigation so they can release the body and begin burial preparations.

Rav Soloveitchik Siddur Available

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Receive special offers and updates direct to your email from Koren Publishers Jerusalem

The Koren Mesorat HaRav Siddur, a new Hebrew/English prayer book with commentary based on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, has just been published by Koren Publishers Jerusalem in partnership with the OU Press. This long-awaited prayer book presents for the very first time Rabbi Solovetichik’s insights on Jewish prayer.

 

Rabbi Soloveitchik, widely known as “The Rav,” was one of the twentieth century’s most influential Jewish figures. A brilliant scholar and philosopher, he served for almost a half-century as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, where he ordained nearly 2,000 rabbis. He was a role model for countless Jews, and a key figure in the resurgence of Orthodox Judaism in America.

Rabbi Solovetichik left behind few published works. Instead, his theology is preserved in recordings and transcripts of his many lectures. The editorial team of The Koren Mesorat HaRav Siddur, headed by Dr. Arnold Lustiger, Rabbi Gil Student and Rabbi Simon Posner, culled through hundreds of those lectures to uncover gems of Rabbi Solovetichik’s thoughts on prayer and to organize them into a Siddur commentary.

The Koren Mesorat HaRav Siddur features extensive introductions to Rabbi Soloveitchik’s thought by devoted students who went on to become influential religious leaders in their own right: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth and Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion and son-in-law of Rabbi Solovetichik. Rabbi Sacks also provided the English translation for the Siddur.

Koren Publishers Jerusalem and the OU Press previously partnered on the bestselling Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, a Tisha B’Av prayer book with commentary by Rabbi Soloveitchik that won the National Jewish Book Award. Koren also recently published a newly revised edition of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s classic philosophical work, The Lonely Man of Faith, through Maggid, its division for books on contemporary Jewish thought.

 

The Koren Mesorat HaRav Siddur is available online and from Authorized Koren Booksellers everywhere.

We Mourn And They Mourn

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

They rise early and we rise early. We rise early [to study] words of Torah, they rise early for wasteful things. We toil and they toil. We toil and receive reward, they toil and do not receive reward. We run and they run. We run to a life in the World to Come, they run to a pit of destruction. – Berachos 28b

The morning of November 8 (11 Cheshvan) was an unusual one for me. I had awakened early in preparation for a flight out of town to deliver a presentation at a teacher in-service program in the New York area. I scrolled through my inbox only to learn that Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, rosh yeshiva of Mir Jerusalem, had passed away hours before.

I was devastated by the news, as were so many others. An estimated 100,000 mourners attended the funeral. Many thousands more mourned – individually and collectively – throughout the world.

My relationship with the rosh yeshiva was not particularly close, at least by conventional measures. By the time I arrived at Mir in October 1993, the yeshiva boasted an enrollment of over three thousand students (a number that would double in the subsequent two decades). I had been studying in a smaller “American” yeshiva elsewhere in Jerusalem for the previous three years and was a bit overwhelmed to be making the transition to this citadel of Torah study.

I had decided that in order to make a place for myself in the yeshiva, I would do what I could to be in the main beis medrash as much as possible (at that time, securing a seat there for either of the two primary sedarim was nearly impossible). One commitment I made was to daven each morning with the yeshiva in the beis medrash, and to sit in the front.

Naturally, the front row was where the rosh yeshiva sat. But accessing his corner seat adjacent to the aron kodesh was not as simple as one would think. Each night, the cleaning crew serviced the beis medrash, which held many hundreds of wooden shtenders (lecterns). In order to clean the floors, the crew placed the shtenders on top of the benches and left them there overnight.

As you can imagine, the task of clearing this corner of the shtenders was not insignificant, particularly for an older gentleman who had suffered for years from a severe case of Parkinson’s disease. I took it upon myself to arrive early each morning to arrange the space so that the rosh yeshiva could sit comfortably.

I was humbled to have this opportunity to help the rosh yeshiva begin his day with a bit more comfort and ease. The rosh yeshiva expressed his appreciation each morning as I walked past him on my way out of the beis medrash. He even agreed to learn with me a few times b’chavrusa during Elul zman. It was an honor and a privilege I will never forget.

Rabbi Finkel was known for his unique combination of Talmudic erudition and gentility. Despite the ever-growing size of the yeshiva, his physical frailty and a challenging learning and travel schedule, the rosh yeshiva never made anyone feel as if he were an imposition. He warmly encouraged each student to approach him in conversation and to seek his counsel.

These were the thoughts that crossed my mind as I read the news of the rosh yeshiva’s passing.

But there was another thought that ran through my mind that day as I made my way to and from the conference. The night before, the world had lost an individual who had gained international fame in the late 1960s and 1970s: Joe Frazier, who went toe to toe in three epic battles against Muhammad Ali.

I had to do a lot of driving that day, to and from both airports. In the many hours I spent in the car, conversation on the radio centered on Frazier. And while he was widely extolled as a great person in addition to being a great fighter, I could not help but contrast their mourning to ours.

Even in his heyday, “Smokin’ Joe” impacted the world from a ringed-in space of no larger than 20 feet squared, and for no more than a few hours at a time. He was a man who had sacrificed his body, and perhaps his mind, to the art of beating another man into submission. For this contribution, he was being mourned throughout the world.

By sharp contrast, the Jewish people had just lost a Torah giant, a man who had also sacrificed his body for his craft. But the rosh yeshiva was a very different kind of champion, a champion of spirit who demonstrated, day after day, year after year, what true mesiras nefesh looks like and what Hashem truly demands from us. If he, racked with pain and convulsing routinely, could immerse himself fully in the study of Torah, how could we do any less?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/we-mourn-and-they-mourn/2011/11/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: