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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘TORAH’

Israel Inspired: An Epic Journey from Paganism to Judaism [audio]

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

In this rare interview, new convert to Judaism Ben-Tzion Mandela shares his journey from a Pagan village in Kenya to being a Jewish Krav-Maga fighter studying Torah in a studying premier Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

The Land of Israel

The Yishai Show: Biblical Game of Thrones [audio]

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

On this week’s show: Kings, Prophets, Priests, and Necromancers all compete for power – but who is top dog?? And is there a separation of Shul and State? Rabbi Yishai is joined by Rabbi Mike Feuer to discuss the Torah’s system of Israeli governance and how to balance Biblical politics with the commandment to walk simply with God. Plus, how to keep the fruit trees from being harmed in a time of war. Prepare for Shabbat with Spiritual Cafe!

The Land of Israel

Israel Inspired: What’s the Story with these Torah Observant Gentiles? [audio]

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

As Jeremy returns from his cross country tour, he and Ari discuss the historically unparalleled phenomenon of Torah studying gentiles who love Israel and the Jewish people. What is at the core of this movement? What is the motivation? Tune in as Ari and Jeremy address both the harmony and the tension that this revolution is bringing to the world.

The Land of Israel

Yearning For Torah

Friday, August 5th, 2016

A tzaddik is measured by his deeds, by the manner in which he translates his knowledge into action. Not only does he learn the theoretical mitzvot, but he acts on them and sanctifies his life with deeds of goodness and mercy.

Such a man was the great Rabi Elazar ben Charsum, who was blessed with vast amounts of wealth and who, nevertheless, valued Torah and good deeds above all else. His charity, his modesty and his piety should serve as models for us all.

Rabi Elazar ben Charsum possessed flocks of sheep and cattle, owned towns and villages together with fields of wheat and barley and ships that sailed the seas trading in exotic goods. But his trade took up too much of his time, and his Torah learning suffered.

This bothered Rabi Elazar very much. “It is not good that I be continually bothered with business. I must disguise myself and go to a place where they do not know me so I can sit and learn Torah day and night,” he thought to himself.

He then appointed several people to watch over his business and instructed them as follows: “I am turning over the affairs of my business to you. One thing, however, you must do. Any poor person in need who comes seeking aid must be given bread to eat and clothing to wear. Do not turn away any person who needs assistance.”

 

The New Town

Having arranged his affairs, Rabi Elazar left Jerusalem and went to a town far away. There he rented a house and sat day and night with great joy to learn Torah. For many days no one bothered him and he was able to diligently gather Torah knowledge.

One day, however, as he sat immersed in study he had a sudden thought: “I wonder if the people to whom I have entrusted my wealth are carrying out my wishes and distributing alms and food to the poor.”

The question bothered him very much and he decided to go to the town square where all the poor were gathered and ask them.

“Are any of you from Jerusalem?” asked Rabi Elazar when he had reached the town market place.

“We are,” answered two of the paupers.

“What do you think of the people there? Do they treat you well?”

“We were guests in the house of Rabi Elazar ben Charsum and his servants took us in and gave us food to eat and wine to drink. They allowed us to sleep overnight and as we left they filled our sacks with food for the road.”

When Rabi Elazar heard these words he was very happy and he smiled with joy.

Suddenly one of the paupers cried out: “Why does our master attempt to disguise himself from us? I lived in Jerusalem for many years and I know that you are indeed the great Rabi Elazar!”

Rabi Elazar was stunned by the discovery and in his great humbleness he shouted, “I am not the man whom you call Rabi Elazar.” He fled from the town lest the word spread and the people come to pay him homage.

 

His Own Town

He traveled until he reached a small town that he owned. After a few days, several men who did not recognize him accosted him thinking that he was a beggar who had come to seek food and alms.

“You come to the town of Rabi Elazar to live off his generosity for nothing,” they said. “Come and earn your keep by working.”

They seized him and forced him to work repairing the roads and digging wells. Rabi Elazar saw that they would not let him go and he would have no opportunity to learn Torah, so he cried out to them: “I beg of you to let me go and I will leave this town and not partake of your hospitality.”

Rabbi Sholom Klass

The Soul of Israel: The Journey That Never Ends [audio]

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

We are taught that everything we go through in our lives is found in the text of the weekly Torah portion. How fitting it is to finish reading the fourth book of the Torah, the book of Numbers, which reminds us of all the journeys we have walked, and continue to walk on. Rabbi Shlomo Katz and Ari Abramowitz discuss the question, how does one learn to walk the streets of the world?

The Land of Israel

The Nozyk Genizah Of Warsaw: Historic Torah Fragments Discovered In Poland

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

More than seven decades after the devastation of the Jewish community of Poland, there are still new discoveries being made on a regular basis.

The genizah before examination.

The genizah before examination.

Recently a genizah of old Torah fragments called yeriot was discovered in the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw. The Nozyk Synagogue was the only synagogue out of some 400 in Warsaw to survive the Shoah because the Germans decided to desecrate it by turning the beautiful, sacred place into a stable for their horses.

“We don’t know the exact origins of the genizah,” said Rabbi Moshe Bloom, rosh kollel of Nozyk, “but we can conjecture that after the Shoah the Nozyk Synagogue was returned to the Jewish community of Warsaw and it became a magnet for all things Jewish.

“Over the years, non-Jewish Poles would at times approach the synagogue, sometimes to honor lost friends, sometimes out curiosity, sometimes out of guilt. Some brought with them artifacts that they had kept hidden in their homes and felt a responsibility to return them. The Torah fragments were collected for eventual burial as prescribed by Jewish law.”

Special embellishments found on the last words of the Torah.

Special embellishments found on the last words of the Torah.

When I was recently in Warsaw Rabbi Bloom asked if I would be able to raise money to bury them with proper kavod and ceremony.

I wondered whether anybody had examined them.

“Why?” he asked.

Because, I told him, Torah scrolls from the pre-Shoah period had often been used for hundreds of years and therefore might have unique characteristics that are no longer in use. I asked Rabbi Bloom if I could examine the scrolls. He gave me permission to look them over and even photograph them.

A fragment showing unique tagim in Az Yashir.

A fragment showing unique tagim in Az Yashir.

The genizah consists of about 30 fragments (there are no complete scrolls), some only one or two columns and others much larger. Some showed signs of fire or water damage, slashes from knives, and other ravages of age and war. Almost all sections of the Torah are represented in the collection, from Bereishit to the end of Devarim.

Upon examination, I found that most of the fragments were very similar to those one would find in any synagogue today. A few of them looked to be over five hundred years old due to some of the variant letter shapes and tagim (crowns) that are no longer used.

When I returned to New York I visited with Rabbi Traube of Bais Hastam on 13th Avenue in Boro Park. An expert in the laws, and lore of Torah scrolls, he helped me understand some of the history behind the strange letter forms.

He explained that tradition tells us that the form of the Torah we have today was copied by Eli HaKohen off the stones that Joshua had set up when he brought the Jews into the land of Israel after the death of Moses.

A burnt Torah fragment from the genizah.

A burnt Torah fragment from the genizah.

For thousands of years these letter forms were the way all Torah scrolls were written; it was only about 400 years ago that they began to be used less and less frequently. The Chatam Sofer in his Teshuvah 265 says that Jews stopped using them after a Torah scroll from Tzefat was found without them. He explains that the special letters and tagim were used to remind people of certain lessons in the Torah but since we do not learn from Torah scrolls (other than during prayers) they should no longer be used.

There are many books that describe the different letters and tagim. Torah Sheleimah by Menachem Mendel Kasher covers many of the letter forms and lists many sources. Sefer Tagi lists different letters and reports that the letter peh with the special shape can be found 191 times, the letter lamed 26 times, and the letter ayin eight times.

A fragment with the peh lafufa in the Torah portion describing the fight between Jacob and the angel.

A fragment with the peh lafufa in the Torah portion describing the fight between Jacob and the angel.

The final disposition of the Nozyk genizah is still being decided. Many of the badly damaged yeriot will be buried while some of the others will be put on display thanks to generous support from Monika Krawczyk of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (www.fodz.pl). The proposed exhibit will be located in the synagogue in the town of Leczna and hopefully include the complete story of stam — the writing of Torahs, mezuzahs, and tefillin.

Rabbi Traube of Bais Hastam was excited about the exhibit and is looking forward to making a special trip to Poland to examine the fragments for himself.

“It is rare enough to find a genizah,” he said. “We would be lucky to find one or two interesting items in a genizah but here they have so many it is truly a historic find.”

 

Editor’s Note: For more information, to organize a lecture, or help support the genizah project, contact Shmuel Ben Eliezer, who serves as the project’s director of research and development, at nozykgeniza@aol.com.

Shmuel Ben Eliezer

Yael Eckstein: Fierce Fighter For Torah Values

Monday, August 1st, 2016

One look at her face reveals Yael Eckstein’s passion for a world of kindness. Her face also reveals her fiery resolve to help make this world, especially the Jewish world, more embracing and generous. Her methods are manifold: teaching in schools, lecturing to international audiences, personally visiting the elderly and providing vital supplies to the needy.

Yael is the daughter of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which provides great financial assistance to Israel.

From among three sisters, Yael was picked and groomed by her father to assume a leadership position in the Fellowship. In 2010 she was appointed director of program development and ministry outreach. In 2011 she was promoted to senior vice president.

Yet, she considers motherhood a top priority among her activities.  Yael is a mother of three and lives in Jerusalem with her husband and children, where, although she is admired as a high-ranking leader of a major organization and a published writer, she delights in living a family life. As an academic, teaching Judaic Studies, she exclaims with joy: “We not only study the Bible here in Israel, we get to see it come alive.”

Yael Eckstein put into writing her ecstasy at having made aliyah. Her book Holy Land Reflections (2012) is a collection of inspirational insights. Two years later she wrote Spiritual Cooking with Yael (2014).  “Any physical act can be transformed into a spiritual experience with the proper thoughts and intention. In this book you will get the simple and healthy recipes to all of my favorite dishes, and learn how to integrate Bible verses, teachings, and meditations into the seemingly mundane act of cooking. After experiencing this new spiritual cooking experience, not only will cooking become an enjoyable and meaningful experience for you, but the food that you make will be embodied with good and holy energies,” Yael declares with enthusiasm.

In addition, she regularly blogs and writes op-eds for The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Yael had an amazingly extensive education both in Jewish and secular studies from American and Israeli institutions. She took Jewish and sociology classes at Queens College in New York, and biblical studies at Torat Chesed Seminary and Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

As senior vice president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Yael Eckstein oversees all ministry programs and serves as the international spokesperson for the $100-million organization. She has also addressed international events, including a Briefing and Panel Discussion on Religious Persecution in the Middle East in Washington, D.C.

In 2014, Eckstein was named “One of Israel’s 100 Most Influential Women” by Makor Rishon, a conservative Israeli newspaper, and in 2015 she was featured on the cover of Nashim, a prestigious magazine.

“Yael Eckstein is a uniquely gifted professional who has been called to be an ambassador for The Fellowship, an advocate for those in need, and a passionate voice for the vision and mission originally bestowed upon Rabbi Eckstein, the IFCJ’s founder and president, some three decades ago,” said board chairman John French.

Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/impact-women-history/yael-eckstein-fierce-fighter-for-torah-values/2016/08/01/

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