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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Rosh’

Protesters: Police in Cahoots with Arabs over Jewish Access to Mount

Monday, August 5th, 2013

The Joint Committee of Temple Mount Organizations has announced a protest vigil this Wednesday, August 7, at 7:30 AM, by the Mugrabi Bridge connecting the Western Wall plaza with the Mughrabi Gate of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

According to the organizers, which include journalist Arnon Segal and Women in Green founders Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover, the vigil will be held in response to an announcement last Tuesday by the Police official in charge of the holy sites, Commander Avi Bitton, that the Temple Mount would remain open only to Muslims and closed to Jews and to tourists at least until after the Muslim holiday of Idl-Fitter, next Sunday, the fifth of Elul or August 11.

This is breaking the rules, cry out the organizers, members of organizations promoting Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, warning that Jerusalem Police has already violated the long held status quo by shutting off the Temple Site to non-Muslims throughout the month of Ramadan.

This past month, the vigil organizers complain that on those few days when Jews were allowed to go up to the Mount, they suffered constant abuse by the Muslims and by the police.

Two weeks ago, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin was chased away from the Temple Mount by a crowd of Muslims. According to the vigil organizers, police did not intervene to prevent the “screaming and harassment and threats by the Muslims against Elkin and his family.”

But the biggest complaint of the organizers has to do with the fact that the Arabs have, apparently, discovered the surefire method of keeping the Jews off the Mount – all they have to do is threaten violence, and the police immediately folds, and rather than responding to the bullies by imposing law and order—a fairly basic expectation of our law enforcement agencies—they join forces with them to block Jewish access.

It’s been ten years, the protesters say, since the Temple mount was re-opened to Jewish visitors—not for prayer, mind you, God forbid—and now they fear the permanent sealing off of the holiest Jewish site bar none appears closer than ever.

“It seems the police is throwing a trial balloon,” reads the organizers’ email. “They try to see if the Temple Mount is important to a large Jewish population, or only to some ‘crazies.’ It is obvious that if this passes quietly, it will get worse for the Jews.”

And so the Joint Committee of the Temple Mount Organizations have decided to hold a mass protest vigil to remind the police, the politicians, and—most important—ourselves, that the holiest place for the Jewish People is not the Kotel, with all due respect, but the Temple Mount.

As one organizer put it, according to Matar, celebrating Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel and not on the Temple Mount is tantamount to celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, in the Knesset parking lot, while the building itself would be chock full of Arabs.

They invite “all to whom a Jewish presence at the Jews’ most holy site in the world is important, to wake up early Wednesday morning and come.”

Wouldn’t it be interesting if, this coming Rosh Chodesh Elus, Wednesday morning, all the Jews will find their way up to the Temple Mount, leaving down below only the Women of the Kotel?

Don’t forget to dip in the Mikvah first, in case they actually let everybody up.

Preempting The Death Penalty

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

In this week’s parshah the Torah writes about a prohibition on killing a murderer prior to his trial. As the pasuk says: “…v’lo yamus harotzeach ad amdo lifnei haeidah lamishpat – … so that the murderer will not die until he stands before the assembly for judgment” (Bamidbar 35:12). The same rule applies to anyone who commits an aveirah that is punishable by death; no one is permitted to kill him prior to his trial in beis din, including the witnesses that warned him and witnessed the aveirah. The Sefer Hachinuch (mitzvah 409) writes that if one kills a transgressor prior to his trial, he is regarded as a murderer.

Anyone who performs any aveirah l’hachis (a transgression to spite Hashem, not because of temptation) is rendered a mummar l’kol haTorah. The Rosh (Moed Katan 3:59) says that one who is warned by two witnesses that the action he is about to perform is prohibited and punishable by death and responds that he will commit the aveirah despite the warning, attains the status of a mummar l’hachis. The reason is this: one performing the aveirah because of temptation would not do so after being warned that his life is on the line. Rather, we can assume that he is acting to spite Hashem.

Reb Chaim Ozer Grodzensky (Achiezer 3:53) writes that he discussed the following question with his wife’s grandfather, Reb Yisroel Salanter, the gaon ohr yisrael: the Gemara (Avodah Zarah 26b) says that one may kill a mummar l’hachis. (This is brought down in several places by the Rambam, including Rotzeach 4:10, and in the Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 425:5.) This is known as “moridin v’eino malin – throw him into a pit and do not save him.” The view of both the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch is that if possible one should publicly kill the mummar with a sword. The Rosh (Teshuvos 32:4) says that one should only kill via a gramma (indirectly), i.e., throw him into a pit and remove the ladder.

Question: How can the Torah say that we cannot kill a murderer or any transgressor until after his trial in beis din, despite the fact that he was warned in front of witnesses? After all, according to the Rosh the transgressor has the status of a mummar l’hachis (since he is not acting out of temptation), thereby permitting anyone to kill him as per the halacha of moridin v’eino malin.

Reb Chaim Ozer suggested two answers, but believed that the question demands more analysis. His first suggestion is that the pasuk is teaching us that although one is permitted to kill the individual who sinned by means of moridin, the Torah nevertheless prohibited killing him in this case until after his trial in beis din. However, Reb Chaim Ozer rejects this answer for several reasons. One reason: Why does the Chinuch say that one who kills the sinner is regarded as a murderer? Since he could kill him from the halacha of moridin, he should not be considered a murderer. The Chazon Ish (Yoreh De’ah 2:17) maintains that the halacha of moridin only applies when the sinner cannot be tried in beis din due to technical problems, i.e., no witnesses. Therefore, in a case to be brought in beis din one may not apply the halacha of moridin.

The second solution is that the pasuk is referring to a scenario in which we know that the individual did teshuvah. Therefore he can no longer be killed under the halacha of moridin. However, teshuvah does not remove the death penalty from beis din. Hence, the Torah says that we should wait until he is found guilty at trial before killing him.

I would like to suggest that the question does not start. I was scared to say that I learned the Rosh differently than Reb Chaim Ozer and Reb Yisroel Salanter. But, Baruch Hashem, I found afterwards that the Chazon Ish (Yoreh De’ah 2:12) learns the Rosh as I did. I believe that the Rosh is being taken out of context. The Rosh is discussing the Mishnah that says that there is no aveilus for people who are killed by beis din. The Rosh explains that this is because since they were warned that their life was on the line but nevertheless sinned, they are obviously not acting out of temptation; thus, they are comparable to a mummar l’hachis. I think that the Rosh never meant to say that anyone who transgresses after being warned is a mummar l’hachis regarding the halacha of moridin; rather the Rosh is saying that regarding aveilus we consider him a mummar, comparable to a mummar l’hachis – whereby aveilus does not apply.

The Tremendous Heart Of Pinchas Daddy

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

We’ve just read the Torah portion about Pinchas, an amazing tzaddik who performed an unusual act instinctively and for the sake of Hashem and His honor.

About two weeks ago I was tidying my desk area and the shelves above it. Suddenly, on the floor, seemingly out of nowhere, I saw an old article from a major Hebrew daily, written the day after Sergeant Pinchas Daddy was stabbed in the heart by an Arab who had crept up and attacked him from behind.

Pinchas Daddy. How I loved him; how everyone involved at the Kotel loved him. I had a kiosk near the Kotel and he always greeted me – as well as all the Arab shopkeepers – with a gleaming smile. He was 38 but seemed older – wise and fatherly.

He was like a television cop, twirling his nightstick and helping children cross the street. I’m telling you we all cried, Jews and Arabs alike, when our Daddy was suddenly, and ruthlessly, taken from us.

I picked up the old yellowed article, looked at the photo of that beautiful man and said to myself, “I must call his family and tell them how much I loved and miss him.”

I dialed information and asked for the Daddy family in Talpiot. Moments later I was speaking to Mrs. Daddy. I immediately started crying and told her how I found the little article and picture. She probably couldn’t believe that out of the blue someone on the line was crying for her tzaddik husband.

She told me his 20th yahrzeit – this Thursday, erev Rosh Chodesh Av – will be marked by a ceremony on Mount Herzl. I assured her I would be there.

“Did you ever get remarried?” I asked.

“No,” she replied.

“Yes, I understand,” I said. “Who could ever replace a husband like yours? Pinchas was so gentle, so loving.”

“Our oldest son is a ramach [the abbreviated term for head of a division] at the Russian Compound police station,” she said, “and believe me, he emulates his father’s ways. Pinchas, I’m sure, is very proud of him.”

And now, in his honor, I present the secret power of Pinchas.

When we read in the Torah that Pinchas took the romach, the spear, with which he stabbed Zimri and his idol-worshipping girlfriend, the word romach is spelled without the Hebrew letter vav. Therefore it can be read as ramach, which we use for the number of positive commandments in the Torah.

Ramach is spelled resh (numerical equivalent: 200) mem (40), ches (8), which corresponds to the 248 organs in the body. Each positive commandment fixes and nurtures a different organ.

So the verse hints to us that Pinchas’s meticulous keeping of all 248 positive commandments gave him the strength to do what he did.

But I still didn’t have a proof for my theory until I walked into the Diaspora Yeshiva on the fast day of the 17th of Tammuz and heard Rav Goldstein, the rosh hayeshiva, quoting the famous Mussar sefer Shaarei Teshuvah, which deduces from a pasuk in Devarim that keeping all the positive commandments makes a person a yorei Shamayim – someone who properly fears Heaven – while a person who tramples even one positive commandment is not a yorei Shamayim.

Now it was clear to me that the verse reveals to us the true power of Pinchas – that it was his careful observance of the positive commandments that gave him the strength to avenge God’s honor.

Returning to our Pinchas, of the Daddy family, let’s remember that Rebbe Akiva declared that loving your neighbor like yourself is klal gadol b’Torah – equal to all the positive commandments and all the negative ones too.

Even though the human body contains 248 organs and 365 arteries that are fixed and nurtured by each of the 613 positive and negative commandments, the heart is essentially the most vital organ in the body, without which nothing will work. In police terminology, as mentioned above, the ramach is the chief of the department. So certainly the great mitzvah of loving your neighbor like yourself is klal gadol b’Torah – the heart of all 613 mitzvahs.

A year before he was killed, Pinchas Daddy had suffered a heart attack at the young age of 37. He recovered and was stationed at the holy Kotel, where he shared his heart with every human being, appreciating the importance of the heart to the body and to the mitzvah of loving your fellow man with all your heart – regardless of his color or religion.

Parshas Pinchas

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 28 5772
New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
July 13, 2012 – 23 Tammuz 5772
8:07 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sabbath Ends: 9:24 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Pinchas
Weekly Haftara: Divrei Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah 1:1-2:3)
Daf Yomi: Nidah 53
Mishna Yomit: Kesuvos 2:7-8
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 86:1 – 87:2
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Ma’aser chap. 7-9
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 4:30 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:19 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Pirkei Avos: 1

This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevarchim. Rosh Chodesh Av is one day, this coming Friday.

The molad is Thursday morning, 29 minutes, 6 chalakim (a chelek is 1/18 of a minute) past 12:00 a.m. (in Jerusalem).

Rosh Chodesh Av, Thursday Evening. At Maariv we add Ya’aleh VeYavo. However, if one forgot to include Ya’aleh VeYavo (at Maariv only) one does not repeat (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 422:1, based on Berachos 30b, which explains that this is due to the fact that we do not sanctify the month at night). Following the Shemoneh Esreh, the Chazzan recites Kaddish Tiskabbel followed by Aleinu, and Mourner’s Kaddish.

Friday morning: Shacharis with inclusion of Ya’aleh VeYavo in the Shemoneh Esreh, half-Hallel, Kaddish Tiskabbel. We take out one Sefer Torah from the ark. We read in Parashas Pinchas (Bamidbar 28:1-15), we call four Aliyos (Kohen, Levi, Yisrael, Yisrael), the Ba’al Keriah recites half-Kaddish. We return the Torah to the Aron, Ashrei, U’va LeTziyyon – we delete La’menatze’ach, the Chazzan recites half-Kaddish; all then remove their tefillin.

Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh, followed by Chazzan’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu, Shir Shel Yom, Borchi Nafshi and their respective Kaddish recitations (for mourners). Nusach Sefarad say Shir Shel Yom and Borchi Nafshi after half-Hallel. Before Aleinu they add Ein Ke’Elokeinu with Kaddish DeRabbanan.

Mincha: In the Shemoneh Esreh we say Ya’aleh VeYavo, followed by Chazzan’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu and Mourner’s Kaddish.

Birkas Hamazon: In the Grace after Meals we add Ya’aleh VeYavo as well as mention of Rosh Chodesh in the Beracha Acharona (Me’ein Shalosh) at all times.

Kiddush Levana: we wait until Motza’ei Tisha BeAv.

As we have now entered the Nine-Day period of mourning for the destruction of our Beth Hamikdash, we refrain from numerous activities, such as bathing with hot or cold water. We are proscribed from cutting our hair or nails. We do not launder clothing until after Tisha BeAv, nor do we eat meat or drink wine, with the exception of the Sabbath or a Seudas Mitzva such as a Bris or Siyum Masechta (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 549-569 for a complete review of the laws for this period).

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142. – Y.K.

Haredi Event On Internet Dangers Draws Thousands Of Participants

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

The sellout crowd that filled Citi Field on Sunday night wore black and white, not the New York Mets’ blue and orange.

And instead of jeering the Philadelphia Phillies or Atlanta Braves, they faced a foe that was, in their view, far more formidable: the World Wide Web.

“The Internet even with a filter is a minefield of immorality,” said Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, a haredi Orthodox lecturer. “This issue is the test of the generation. Your strength at this gathering will determine what Judaism will look like a few years from now.”

The rally, or asifa, to caution haredi Orthodox Jews about the dangers of the Internet, drew a crowd of more than 40,000 men to the stadium and an overflow of 20,000 more to nearby Arthur Ashe Stadium, most of them wearing black hats. In addition, there were more than two-dozen live hookups worldwide.

While news reports and social media had been buzzing with asifa-related topics, there was little mention of what the itinerary would be, and only in the days leading up to the event did spokesperson Eytan Kobre announce that the asifa was intended not to ban the Internet but to learn responsible use of technology.

An article in The New York Times noted that the group behind the event, Ichud HaKehillos LeTohar HaMachane, is affiliated with a firm that sells filtering software.

In Yiddish and English speeches, rabbis from haredi communities in the United States, Canada and Israel decried the access that the Internet gives haredim to the world outside their community. Speakers called the Internet “impure,” a threat to modesty and compared it to chametz, or leavened bread, on Passover.

Several speakers also lamented the Internet’s potential to distract men from learning Torah.

To a man, each of the rabbis who spoke said that Jewish law forbids Jews from browsing the Internet without a filter that blocks inappropriate sites. The speeches in Yiddish were broadcast with English subtitles on the stadium’s JumboTron.

Rabbi Yechiel Meir Katz, the Dzibo Rav, compared the threat of the Internet to the dangers that Zionism and the European Enlightenment posed in the past to traditional Jewish life.

“A terrible test has been sent to us that has inflicted so much terrible damage” on haredim, Katz said. The Internet poses a greater threat to haredim than secularism did, he said, because “in previous challenges we knew who the enemy was. Today, however, the challenge is disguised and not discernible to the naked eye.”

A long and impressive list of rabbis attended, with featured speakers including Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon, the Skulener Rebbe, Rabbi Don Segal, Rabbi Yechiel Meir Katz and Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman. Several speakers spoke emphatically about banning the Internet completely and in a video address from Israel Rabbi Shmuel Wosner ruled that the only acceptable use of the Internet was a filtered Internet in one’s place of business, and that schools should not accept children from homes with unfiltered Internet.

Rabbi Wachsman declared that anyone with unfiltered Internet forfeits his share in the world to come and in a message echoed by other speakers urged each person to take even a single step forward in his Internet vigilance.

Jewish Press columnist Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, one of the signers on the original asifa announcement, acknowledged that few concrete solutions were offered, but he called the three-hour event a resounding success.

“The asifa was a reaffirmation, saying that we need to deal responsibly with the Internet and everyone appreciated that,” he said. “Rosh yeshivas left their yeshivas. Major rebbes came from everywhere. Thousands devoted their time to make a public statement that the Internet must be handled with extreme caution.”

Others agreed that the asifa was a source of inspiration.

“The speakers emphasized that people weren’t going to learn anything new,” said Shaya Winiarz, a 21-year-old yeshiva student from Staten Island. “This was about chizuk and letting people know that this is an issue that we all face.”

Many, however, were disappointed by what they felt was a lack of clear guidance.

“The asifa was a tragically lost opportunity to deal with the growing challenges in a rapidly changing culture,” said Rabbi Gil Student, who runs the Torah Musings blog.

“We needed to hear from forward-looking thinkers who recognize that today’s challenges are only a hint of what lies ahead. Instead we heard yesterday’s solutions for last year’s problems. Our leaders failed to chart a course for the future and have abandoned each family to figure it out on their own.”

Q & A: Tying Knots On Shabbat (Part II)

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Question: My son recently stopped wearing a necktie and lace-up shoes on Shabbat. He explained that he doesn’t want to transgress the prohibition against tying knots on Shabbat. Is tying a necktie or shoelaces really forbidden?

“A Mother in Israel” (Via E-Mail)

Answer: The proximity of the mitzvah to rest and refrain from work on Shabbat to the description in Parshat Vayakhel of the construction of the Mishkan teaches us (says Rashi, citing the Mechilta) that the 39 melachot used for the Mishkan are forbidden on Shabbat. Among them is “hakosher v’hamatir – tying and untying a knot.”

The Mishnah (Shabbos 111b) states that the knots in question are those of camel drivers and sailors. Rashi explains that these are permanent knots. The Chayyei Adam (topic 26-27:1-2) states that any knot tied to last for a lengthy period is considered permanent, but some view a tightly tied knot as permanent as well (even if it is not tied to last a long time). The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 317:1) adds that knots similar to those of skilled craftsmen are also included. The Rema cites Rashi, Rabbenu Yerucham, the Rosh, and the Tur who disagree about the length of time a knot must remain tied to be considered permanent (24 hours to a week).

* * * * *

The Gemara (in Shabbos 74b) tries to determine the instance of tying in the Mishkan that serves as the source for the av melachah of “kosher – tying.” (The Hebrew word for tying, “kosher,” is spelled kuf, shin, resh. The word “kosher” in regards to food is spelled chaf, shin, resh.) The Gemara first proposes that workers tied the Mishkan curtain to pegs that held it in place. The Gemara, however, rejects this suggestion because the workers never intended for their tying to be permanent since the Mishkan was constantly being assembled and disassembled as the Jews’ encampment moved from place to place.

The Gemara, therefore, offers an alternative source for the melachah of tying. When artisans wove the Mishkan’s curtains, strings would tear necessitating that the two broken ends be tied together. The problem with this explanation is that we’re left with not knowing what the source for the melachah of untying is. The Gemara subsequently explains that if the weavers noticed two knots adjacent to each other, they would untie one and tie the other (Rashi s.v. “ve’katar chad” explains that they would leave the other tied as it was).

The Gemara rejects this explanation, though, as unseemly. (Rashi explains that there would be a visible hole remaining in that process as the threads used were thick; thus, a different process that involved longer strings must have been used so that knots did not occur close to one other.)

The Gemara ultimately concludes that Jews performed the melachah of tying and untying for the Mishkan in capturing the chilazon, the creature necessary for the techelet royal purple dye. Tying and untying was necessary to produce, use, and enlarge the ropes and nets that trappers used. (The Jerusalem Talmud [Shabbos 7:2], however, states that the source for the melachah of kosher lies in the process of weaving the curtains for the Mishkan.)

The Mishnah (Shabbos 111b) states that the forbidden tying and untying applies to knots of camel drivers and sailors since they exemplify the property of permanence found in the knots of the Mishkan. (The Mishnah does not mean that Jews actually tied camel drivers’ and sailors’ knots for the Mishkan.)

Do we know what sailors’ and camel drivers’ knots looked like? The answer is: not exactly. We do know that camel drivers’ knots included piercing a hole in a camel’s nose (similar to the piercings in ancient times for human nose rings). A short rope would be run through the camel’s nose piercing, which would form a sort of ring when knotted. To this, the camel drivers’ reins would be attached to enable leading or driving the animal. Similarly, the sailors’ knot involved attaching a rope through a hole in the bow of the boat, to which another rope or chain would be used for either mooring or anchoring the boat in place.

According to the Taz (Orach Chayim 317:1) explaining the Rambam and Rif, the knot must be firm and sturdy (tight) as well as long lasting. Tying such a knot on Shabbat is biblically prohibited. If the knot, however, is either not long lasting or not sturdy, then tying it is only rabbinically prohibited.

The Taz explains, though, that Rashi and the Rosh maintain that it matters not whether the knot is sturdy or not, but rather what the person’s intent was – i.e., did he expect the knot to remain tied indefinitely so that he need not retie it? If he did, then it is biblically forbidden to untie it on Shabbat. However, if he intended to untie it on the very same day that he tied it, he may untie it without incurring any violation, biblical nor rabbinical.

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/

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