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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Sheva Berachos’

‘Hurricane Season’

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

It’s been a rough few weeks. It began with the news of a heinous crime just blocks from where I live on Manhatan’s Upper West Side: a nanny viciously took the lives of her two young charges. Hurricane Sandy came next, contributing additional loss of life and financial devastation of a magnitude never before experienced by our East Coast brethren. A week later many in our community were disappointed with the decisive outcome of the presidential election and the realization that we are truly a minority both in number and outlook within the United States. Finally, there was the precarious situation in Eretz Yisrael, hundreds of rockets raining down on daily and the threat of another major war. The saying goes, “when it rains, it pours.”

The book of Beraishis focuses on our Avos. Avraham is the trait of chesed or kindness. To me, this is an illusion to the first month of the Jewish calendar. Tishrei is all kindness from Hashem, His accepting our teshuvah, cleansing us and allowing us to sit in the sukkah under His watchful eye.

Then we shift to the stories of Yitzchak and the aspects of judgment or intensity of his persona as exemplified in the Akeidah experience. The letters of “Yitzchak” spell “Ketz Chai” “or end of life as he represents the transition into a higher world and the finality and magnitude of death. Yitzchak reflects the period that we most recently have experienced the endless flow of disappointment, anguish and pain.

We now transition to the parshiyos of Yaakov Avinu, with a prayer in mind – that Hashem be inspired by the Yaakov’s trait of tiferes. That Hashem look toward the integration, balance and synthesis Yaakov created and use it as a model of tempering His strict justice, din, with divine mercy, rachamim. Just as Yaakov integrated the chesed of his grandfather and the din of his father, we pray that by the end of Beraishis, Hashem will also integrate mercy within His judgment.

We live in an “age of anxiety” and that was even before the recent flow of events. Many of us strive for an equanimity or psychological stability in our lives. This goal has been made most difficult to achieve by the ongoing economic ills and the general challenges of living in the technological age. There is a quiet tension that lurks inside many of us. If I have emunah, faith, so why all the anxiety? I think that’s like asking, if I have yiras Shamayim, why do I ever sin? The answer is we all have lapses, but we add to our stress levels when we are self-critical, thinking that we aren’t authentic or genuine in our avodah. We often forget that many great people have had these common setbacks and challenges.

I saw an insight regarding Sarah Imeinu that resonated deeply considering the challenging backdrop in which we are living. The Reszher Rav, Rav Aaron Levine, commented on the life of Sarah being 127 years and the fact they were, as Chazal teach, “all equally for the good.” He suggests that she was an archetype for balanced, emotionally healthy living. She remained even-keeled despite numerous challenges: She is uprooted from her homeland and abducted by a foreign king. Yet, she also experiences great affluence and is the recipient of an enormous and miraculous Divine gift via the birth of Yitzchak. Amazingly, her basic decency and humanity isn’t impacted by either course of events. As Rudyard Kipling famously wrote, she “walks with kings without losing the common touch.” All her 127 years were “equally for the good.”

This maybe explains why death and marriage, a re births of sorts, as reflected in a wedding day being Yom Kippur for both the chassan and kallah. This is echoed by the sevens in Sheva Berachos and Sheva Yemi Aveilus and well as the juxtaposition of the burial of Sarah and the finding of a wife for Yitzchak. A wholesome spiritual life requires equilibrium. At the wedding, the pinnacle of joy, we reflect on the Churban, the destruction of the Temple. In mourning, we have limitations that don’t expand beyond a year. We balance and temper all emotions because when we are out of sorts, we can’t service the Divine in the requisite inspired fashion.

My Machberes

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The 33rd Satmar Yahrzeit

On Tuesday, August 14, Satmar chassidim commemorated the 33rd yahrzeit of Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, zt”l (1886-1979), revered Satmar Rebbe and author of Divrei Yoel.

On that day, only men were permitted into the Kiryas Yoel cemetery. The same restriction applied the preceding evening. On Monday, August 13, the cemetery was open exclusively for ladies from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Men marking the yahrzeit on Monday of a close relative buried in the cemetery came before or after the restricted period. (Inside the ohel, ladies are restricted from entering the men’s side at all times, even if the chamber is empty.)

After the passing of Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, zt”l (1914-2006), late Satmar Rebbe and successor to the Divrei Yoel, the previously monolithic Satmar community effectively became divided. Elder son Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe headquartered in Kiryas Yoel, and Rabbi Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe headquartered in Williamsburg, lead the two halves of Satmar, each of which is independent and immense.

Rabbi Aaron’s following in Williamsburg is quite large. He occupies the important pulpit his venerated great-uncle, the Divrei Yoel, founding Satmar Rebbe, established in the 1970s.

In addition to their presence in Kiryas Yoel, followers of Rabbi Aaron maintain an expanding and entirely separate school system along with a number of shuls in Williamsburg that function under his leadership. Both rebbes have widespread followings – in Boro Park, Monsey, Kiryas Yoel, Lakewood, Montreal, Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, and elsewhere.

Rabbi Zalman Leib, Satmar Rebbe residing in Williamsburg, occupies the pulpit originally established by the Divrei Yoel upon his arrival in America in 1947. The successor to that pulpit upon the passing of the Divrei Yoel was his nephew, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, zt”l (1914-2006), late Satmar Rebbe and author of Beirach Moshe. Rabbi Zalman Leib’s following in Kiryas Yoel is considerable and they too have established a growing school system and string of shuls there.

The Asifa and Satmar

The two brothers visited the ohel at different times and held separate yahrzeit commemorative meals. Rabbi Aaron delivered a fiery address in which he proclaimed fealty to every directive of the Divrei Yoel.

The controversy within Satmar with regard to the Asifa – the rally on the dangers of the Internet held at New York’s Citi Field in May – went public when it was reported that Rabbi Aaron not attend while Rabbi Zalman Leib did.

Rabbi Aaron declined to participate because some of the speeches were in English. Rabbi Aaron conducts himself in strict adherence to the psak din resolutions adopted at Michalowitz in 5626 (1865) that separated Hungarian Orthodoxy from other streams of Judaism. The psak din was ratified by the overwhelming majority of Hungarian Orthodox rabbis and was exactingly adhered to by the Divrei Yoel.

Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe

One of the tenets adopted at Michalowitz was the prohibition of rabbis speaking publicly in shuls or at Jewish forums in languages other than Yiddish. Rabbi Zalman Leib, together with other leading chassidishe rabbis, felt the enormous threat to Yiddishkeit posed by unrestricted use of the Internet demands that Orthodox Jews unite to fight it. Among the chassidishe rebbes who participated in and encouraged attendance at the Asifa were the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe, the Skulener Rebbe of Boro Park and the Pshevorsker Rebbe of Antwerp.

The Daf Yomi Siyum and Satmar

Though agreeing with the importance of the Asifa and its message, many within Satmar, particularly followers of Rabbi Aaron, vigorously faulted Satmar’s participation. If people were permitted to attend the Asifa, they feared, many would feel they could likewise attend the Daf Yomi Siyum HaShas. They felt Satmar must adhere to its principles of separation. They noted that the Kasho Rebbe directed his students and followers to step away from the seating area during the English speeches and that Rabbi Todrus Silber, Yavushna Rav, left his seat during speeches in English, returning only when speakers spoke in Yiddish. They also pointed out that Rabbi Shlomo Leib Weinberger, Satmar Dayan, put his hands over his ears during the English speeches.

The opponents of compromise point to the Siyum HaShas as “proof” that compromise is a slippery slope bringing G-d-fearing Jews to Zionism. They say the invitation to Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, chief rabbi of Tel Aviv and former chief rabbi of Israel, is proof of that. The Vishnitzer Rebbe instructed his followers not to attend the Daf Yomi Siyum because of the honor given to the chief rabbi – this despite Rabbi Lau’s being descended from Vishnitzer chassidim and from relatives of Rabbi Meir Shapiro, zt”l, the originator of Daf Yomi.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 12/26/08

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Dear Rachel,

Less than a month into our marriage we were already experiencing some tension. The source of the discord originates with some friends we invited to our wedding. The invitation card we sent out asked the invitees whether they were coming alone or with a guest. Some of my friends wrote that they were coming alone but nevertheless brought friends along. Did they expect us to provide extra seats in advance for uninvited guests?

To really raise the level of chutzpah, some of these friends and their uninvited companions did not bring checks or gifts! How do they expect us to pay for the wedding? They know that my wife and I are currently students with only part-time jobs and that we do not come from wealthy families.

To avoid the familiar “Bar Kamtza” situation, my wife and I happily danced with all the guests, gave some of them honors, and also attended the sheva berachot dinners that our friends had offered us.

Within days of the wedding, my new wife asked me why I am still friendly with those who brought uninvited company to our wedding and failed to pay for themselves and their guests. Some of these people have been my close friends for years, and I am willing to forgive them. I consider my friends to be good people, each with his own flaws.

At the same time, I too am upset to see folks in black hats and suits − pious on the outside, but sorely lacking in middot and hakarat ha’tov. As the Yamim Noraim approached, I expected my friends to apologize for causing this tension in our marriage but didn’t hold my breath.

Should I call my friends and inform them of their faux pas, or just move on and let it go? Should I continue to trust them as friends, or cut off all contact with them? My priority is my marriage, but I don’t want to lose my longtime friends. Please help me!

A loving (new) husband

Dear Loving,

Your friends are young and − chances are − not serious enough to have considered the ramifications of their behavior. Bringing uninvited friends to your wedding was irresponsible on their part, but the reality of the situation is that they merely wished to be mesameach chassan v’kallah and meant no harm. (Unfortunately, in many instances ignorance turns out to be not so blissful.) You did the right thing by not allowing your displeasure to show and mar your simcha.

As to your suggestion that they ought to have paid for their dinner, guests should never be expected to pay for your choosing to dine and wine them at a feast to which you have invited them. Many couples and their families, while planning their elaborate affairs, irrationally count on the “checks” they will be receiving to help offset their wedding expenses. Such rationale is delusional.

While it is proper to give the bride and groom a gift (which needs not be cash), it should not be taken for granted. Furthermore, where is it stipulated that a guest is obligated to pay the cost of his/her host’s affair? In fact, the only prerequisite for partaking of a wedding feast, at least in our circles, is to participate in making the bride and groom rejoice. If one has no intention of doing so and merely stands by as an onlooker, s/he has no right to partake of the seudah.

Regarding your own personal conflict, you and your wife should consider that just as you have the need to be frugal, your friends might also be of moderate means. Having many affairs to attend may make it difficult to purchase all the gifts they would love to give yet cannot afford. (You mention Sheva Berachos made by friends; in their way, they may have considered this as their gift.)

To sever the friendship with your long-time buddies due to this incident would be foolish. Feeding guests you hadn’t counted on was an act of hachnassas orchim on your part. Provoking ill will or creating an embarrassing situation is not our way. Eventually, as your friends mature, they will realize they did wrong and may even one day admit to their error and express their regret at your dinner table.

By choosing to ignore the discomfort you were caused, you will evoke Hashem’s rachamim and He will look the other way where your own missteps are concerned. Chanukah is an auspicious time for arousing Hashem’s mercy. Hachnassas orchim and ahavas chinam infuse our lives with a glowing light and lasting warmth. May you share many happy and fulfilling years together.

* * * * *

Dear Readers: Speaking of gifts, Chanukah in our day has evolved into an elaborate gift-giving/exchanging occasion. This practice places an unnecessary monetary burden on many a household, not to mention the “s/he/they already have everything − what do we get ?” hassle.

How about good old-fashioned Chanukah gelt* for the kids (in affordable style) and homemade goodies for the adults who love to party or entertain? The current economic meltdown is a great excuse for curbing extravagance, and setting a new precedent for our children will certainly not hurt.

*Chanukah gelt was originally intended for use in the playing of dreidel, which is meant to facilitate the teaching of the story of Chanukah to young ones, via the letters on the spinning dreidel.

Dear Rachel,

We enjoy reading your weekly column and find it most informative and enlightening. Therefore, we seek your guidance regarding the following matter.

We are a well-established religious, loving and devoted couple in our 40s and are interested in domestic adoption.

If you know of a birth mother we could contact, please call us at 718-336-2021 or e-mail dlivitin@netzero.com. (We called Ohel but they have older kids and foster care.)

Thank you so much for your time and effort.

B&M

Dear B&M,

One never knows so I’m putting your message out there. May you be granted the de’light’ of a child in your lives.

Happy Chanukah!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-129/2008/12/24/

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