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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Torah Vodaath’

My Machberes

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Rav Belsky’s Homecoming

On Thursday, May 31, a joyous event unfolded in front of a modest home in Kensington, Brooklyn. The roshei yeshiva, administrative staff, and students of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath gathered to welcome home Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Belsky, shlita, revered rosh yeshiva of Torah Vodaath; kashrus authority for the OU; one of America’s foremost poskim (to whom questions of halacha are directed from all over the world on a daily basis); author of Shulchan Halevi, Einei Yisroel, and Piskei Halachos; and rav of Camp Agudah.

Roshei yeshiva waiting at Rabbi Belsky’s home.

His recovery from a serious illness had been accompanied by the earnest tefillas of all of Klal Yisrael. The crowd burst into song and dance upon Rabbi Belsky’s appearance.

On Monday, June 4, at 11 a.m., the roshei yeshiva, maggidei shiur, chavrei hakollel, bachurim and young talmidim were all in front of the yeshiva to greet Rabbi Belsky with music and dance as they escorted him back into the beis medrash. The intensity of emotion was overwhelming. Many cried tears of joy as they sang and danced.

* * * * *

Late Motzaei Shabbos Yisro, February 11, Rabbi Belsky had undergone corrective surgery for a ruptured esophagus and collapsed lung. Tehillim and tefillas were recited for Yisroel ben Chana Tzirel.

Thursday, February 16, was designated by the yeshiva as a day of learning dedicated to the recovery of the rosh yeshiva. Due to complications, additional surgery had been scheduled for that day. The special learning seder in the yeshiva that had been designated for that evening as a zechus l’refuah now assumed even greater importance. A special phone line was set up for information regarding the rosh yeshiva’s recuperation.

Talmidim at the steps.

On February 22, based on the news that Rabbi Belsky’s condition had become critical, an emergency call to all of Klal Yisrael was issued for everyone to immediately be mispallel. The 24-hour period that followed was critical and carefully monitored.

On Thursday, February 23, the Torah world was gratified to learn that the rosh yeshiva had experienced a stable night. His condition remained critical and everyone was urged to continue davening and to perform mitzvahs as a zechus for a complete and immediate refuah.

On that Thursday morning, at kriyas haTorah, the name Chaim was added as the traditional hoped-for harbinger of a full recovery. Tehillim and tefillas were thereafter continuously recited for Chaim Yisroel ben Chana Tzirel in yeshivas and shuls throughout the world. Every step of recovery was shared and celebrated.

That evening, a special Tehillim teleconference was arranged through the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation. An urgent kinnus Tehillim was held at Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin (Agudah of Avenue L). Immediately prior to the Tehillim recital, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, rav of the shul, and Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, rosh yeshiva Torah Vodaath and rav of Agudas Yisroel Zichron Chaim Zvi of Madison, delivered messages of inspiration.

In Israel, talmidim of the yeshiva gathered together on Friday morning, Rosh Chodesh Adar, February 24, at the Kosel HaMaaravi to recite all of Tehillim for a refuah for Rabbi Belsky. A call was issued for as many people as possible to join the Tehillim event. Rabbi Efraim Glassman, s’gan menahel of the yeshiva, was in Israel at the time and helped organize the kinnus. Simultaneously, Lakewood alumni of Torah Vodaath gathered for Tehillim and learning.

The rosh yeshiva speaks to well-wishers.

On Motzaei Shabbos Terumah, February 25, Khal Bnei Torah (Rabbi Benzion Schiffenbauer’s shul) held a Tehillim kinnus and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation had a Tehillim teleconference led by Rabbi Lazer Ginsberg. In addition, kinusei tefillah for a refuah shelaimah were held at Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin (Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, rav); Beis Medrash Ohr Gedalyahu (Rabbi Dovid Stamm, rav); Khal Bnai Avrohom Yaakov (Rabbi Moshe Bergman, rav); Khal Bnei Torah (Rabbi Benzion Schiffenbauer, rav); and Kollel Bnei Torah (Rabbi Yosef Eisen, rav)

On March 2 a report circulated concerning real progress in Rabbi Belsky’s condition. The community was encouraged to continue being mispallel that the rosh yeshiva would have a speedy and complete recovery.

The yeshiva’s Purim chagiga, ordinarily a lively affair, was held after Ta’anis Esther instead of Purim night, “reducing somewhat the level of simcha in light of the medical condition of the rosh hayeshiva.”

My Machberes

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Torah Vodaath Melaveh Malkah Yeshiva Torah Vodaath will hold its annual melaveh malkah on Motzaei Shabbos Parshas Va’eira, January 21, at Ohr Hachaim Viznitz Hall in Boro Park. The evening of chinuch and recognition will be graced by the presence of distinguished rabbonim and Torah leaders and honor the following friends of the yeshiva:

Yaakov Hirsch

Mr. And Mrs. Yaakov Hirsch will be the Guests of Honor. R’ Yaakov was a parent at Torah Vodaath for many years. Today the yeshiva is proud to have several of his grandchildren in its Yeshiva Ketanah. A devoted askan and businessman, R’ Yaakov, together with his wife Eleanor, have built a beautiful home of Torah and chesed. In addition to their full time dedication to bikur cholim and other chesed achievements, they welcomed orphans into their home and brought them under the chuppah.

The Mesivta Parents of the Year Award will be presented to Mr. and Mrs. Menachem Levitin. R’ Menachem was a talmid of the yeshiva from his earliest years. When it came time to be mechanech his sons, he and his wife chose Torah Vodaath to help mold their boys in the derech of which they are so proud. R’ Menachem and his wife, Chaya, embody the goals and ideals of the yeshiva.

Mr. And Mrs. Yitzi Weis will be recognized as Yeshiva Ketanah Parents of the Year. Yitzi spent many years b’koslei haYeshiva as an outstanding talmid. His wife, Simi, is heavily involved in the yeshiva’s PTA, serving on its presidium, devoting many hours to the yeshiva. They are very involved in the chinuch of their children and praise the hanhalla of the Yeshiva Ketanah for all the efforts that are extended on behalf of the talmidim.

Shmuel Avigdor Finkelman, z"l

This year’s melaveh malkah is dedicated to the memory of a special and unique couple, Mr. And Mrs. Shmuel Avigdor and Selma Finkelman. R’ Shmuel Avigdor became mekushar to the yeshiva as a young talmid, a relationship that continued throughout his life. The Finkelmans were the first shomer Shabbos family to move onto their block in Kensington, just to be close to the then-new campus of Torah Vodaath. Their sons were all talmidim of the yeshiva. Their children, Rabbis Mordechai, Shimon, and Dovid Finkelman, Rabbi Mordechai Anteby, and Rabbi Yaakov Mandel are all well-known mechanchim in the metropolitan area and remain close to the yeshiva. They are dedicating the melaveh malkah in the memory of their parents who were devoted heart and soul to the Yeshiva.

A special tribute will be made in memory of Mrs. Zlata Uhr, a”h. A dedicated employee of the yeshiva for more than six decades, Mrs. Uhr cared deeply about the talmidim, rebbeim and the yeshiva. Mrs. Uhr was also well known for her decades of service in Camp Bnos and had a special relationship with its staff and campers. Her sudden passing several months ago left many in the yeshiva stunned and saddened.

Building on the success of previous years, an informative and exciting program will be presented. Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman, mashgiach ruchni of Yeshiva Ohr Hachaim, will deliver a special address titled “Powerful Positive Chinuch Lessons in Turbulent Times.” To keep the presentations brief and focused, the rest of the evening’s presentations will be presented via pre-recorded video.

For more information on the melaveh malkah, contact the yeshiva at 718-941-800 or mm@torahvodaath.org.

Skverer Rebbe Visits Los Angeles

The Skverer Rebbe was scheduled to arrive this week in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening, January 11. The last Shabbos the Rebbe conducted in Los Angeles was in February 2006. The Rebbe will be returning to New York on Thursday, January 19. The hachnosas orchim hotline (323-424-4147) is receiving a large volume of phone calls from those seeking and offering lodging, all being handled by the hachnosas orchim committee.

Sholom Dov Fishel, president of the Skverer Kehilla, assumed the enormous task of organizing the Rebbe’s visit. The Rebbe will be received at the airport by the committee. From the airport, the Rebbe will be brought to the family home of Yesochor Dov (Berel) Weiss, 151 S. McCadden Place, where the Rebbe will be stationed.

Hundreds will be waiting at the Weiss home in anticipation of the Rebbe’s arrival. A grand formal kabbalas panim will take place at Beis Medrash Eitz Chaim Vishnitza, led by Rabbi Chaim Boruch Rubin, where Los Angeles rabbis and roshei yeshiva will participate. At the Weiss home, the Rebbe was scheduled to receive petitioners on January 11 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and on January 12 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Shabbos Shemos will have the Rebbe staying at the home of Yosef Eliezer Treitenl and family and conducting tefillas and tisch at Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov Ohr Eliyahu. Minchah Erev Shabbos begins at 5:20 p.m. The Friday night tisch, at which thousands are expected, will begin at 8:30 p.m. Shabbos Shacharis starts at 9:30 an with the Shabbos day tisch at 3:30 pm. Shabbos Minchah is scheduled for 4:40 p.m. but may begin a little later. The Sholosh Seudos tisch follows at 5:30 p.m. Havdala with a musically accompanied procession will take place immediately after. The shalosh seudos tisch will extend for at least two hours. Those not living within walking distance will be able to drive to the event. Plentiful parking space will be available.

America’s Unorthodox Orthodox Jews: A Conversation With Professor Jeffrey Gurock

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

He put on tefillin every day. He was rarely absent from shul. He ate only kosher. But during the busy season in the garment industry, this Bronx Jew who grew up in the first half of the 20th century worked on Shabbat. Can such a person be considered an Orthodox Jew?

Today many Jews would answer “no.” However, this gentleman and many others like him appear in a new book, Orthodox Jews in America, which examines the many shades of American Orthodoxy over the past 350 years.

The book’s author, Jeffrey Gurock, has written and edited 14 other works, is a former associate editor of American Jewish History, and currently is Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University. The Jewish Press recently interviewed him about his book.

The Jewish Press: Your book, devoted to American Jewish Orthodoxy, includes Jews who work on Shabbat. In what sense is someone who works on Shabbat Orthodox?

Gurock: He’s Orthodox in the sense that he understands what the requirements of halacha are. This individual is very guilty about his inability to observe Shabbat, but there are certain basic economic exigencies that force him to work to support his family.

Some would argue that working on Shabbat makes a person, a priori, not Orthodox.

Obviously people are entitled to their opinion, but no one observes all the mitzvot. What makes someone Orthodox is his understanding that one is required to observe the mitzvot. Someone could be a Reform Jew and observe many of the mitzvot, but he’s not Orthodox because this is a personal decision he makes not based upon a belief in a halachic tradition.

People growing up today don’t realize how prevalent this type of Orthodoxy was, especially pre-World War II and while the Blue Laws were still in effect.

Fortunately today American Jews are more affluent and they’re in an America that’s far more accepting of them.

When I teach undergraduates and talk about this phenomenon [of Orthodox Jews being less than fully observant] they look at me like this is a strange world. And then I say, “Go home and if you’re privileged to have grandparents who are living, ask them about this Orthodox life.” And they come back and [their grandparents] all have stories – either about themselves or about the person who sat next to them in shul who had this type of difficulty.

Can you talk about America’s first rabbi, Rabbi Abraham Rice?

He comes from Bavaria in 1840, arrives in Baltimore, and discovers a community where many of the members are not particularly observant. It’s a very big problem for him. As a European rabbi, his first approach is to take a highly resistant, exclusionary approach toward his congregants. So he says he will not let anyone have an aliyah if he is mechalel Shabbos b’farhesya [publicly desecrating Shabbat].

But then he changes the rule and says you can get an aliyah, but the congregation shouldn’t say amen to the brachah. And eventually he just gives up. He ends up leaving the rabbinate because he’s just uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable with the state of religious observance in America.

Yes, it’s a very different environment than Europe.

But Europe is also changing. There’s a stereotype that all our ancestors in Eastern Europe were frum, and then they came to America and they threw it all overboard. My point is, number one, people don’t throw everything overboard; they maintain plenty. And two, Eastern Europe during that time period is far from 100 percent observant. You have radicals [who become ritually unobservant] and then you have [ordinary] people who are beginning to observe less than they did in the past.

You have some interesting information in the book about kosher and non-kosher methods of shaving. Can you share?

There is a graphic in the book of an advertisement in 1932 for the first electric razor that reads, “A new invention to prevent a transgression.” So here’s an example of how the ability to be shomer mitzvot is enhanced by modern technology. My grandfather, who I’m named after, used a stinking depilatory. But when the electric razor comes along you can look like other Americans without either stinking up your apartment or violating the tradition.

But just to show you the nuances involved, at the same time that [people are using depilatories and the new electric shaver], the Jewish Forum, an Orthodox newspaper closely connected to the OU, has ads for regular Schick razors. Now that doesn’t mean the OU endorsed it, but advertisers are obviously serving a constituency. If no one was buying those shavers, they wouldn’t be advertising.

What happens to American Orthodoxy after World War II?

A decline numerically in the numbers of people who identify with Orthodoxy, but those who have remained become more observant than any prior generation before them. Also the influx into America of Jews who for a variety of reasons did not come here until after the Shoah adds a great deal of vitality and strictness to Orthodox behavior.

In one of your previous books, Judaism’s Encounter With American Sports, you examine this new, stricter American Orthodoxy through the controversy surrounding yeshivas – such as Torah Vodaath and Chaim Berlin – playing in Orthodox basketball leagues that allowed girls to attend games and sometimes featured cheerleading squads and post-game dances. Can you elaborate?

[These yeshivas were concerned with] elevating the athletes to a status in the yeshiva that they didn’t want. They wanted the star of the yeshiva to be the scholar or rebbe, not the coach or athlete. Another problem for the yeshivas was that the whole environment of sports was a very secular one.

So Chaim Berlin had a team and it dropped out. Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem had a team and then it dropped out. Torah Vodaath had a surreptitious team and then [Rabbi Gedalia Schorr] squelched it.

And yet in the early ’60s [these yeshivas formed] a league called the Mesifta High School Athletic Association. [The administrations of these yeshivas basically said] that you can have a league but you’re not going to have dances after the games and you’re not going to have girls at the games. In its own right, this was a degree of accommodation.

What happened to this league?

In the mid ’60s it just died. There wasn’t a moment in time when someone said, “Don’t play.” It just drifted away.

Looking forward, what trends do you see taking place in the Orthodox community?

I’m going to duck that question. I have enough trouble understanding the past. I don’t want to predict the future.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles//2009/05/20/

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