Shabbos Parshas Netzavim

Shabbos Parshas Netzavim, 29 Elul 5776

Week of September 26 – 30:

Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch

Toda Rabbah Shimon

During Shabbos Parshas Netzavim, October 1, 2016, I thought about the week that passed. Would I find inspiration in this week’s Sedra. The following events transpired:

Tuesday September 27:

My brother -in-law held a fundraiser and three leaders came in from New York. Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, the Satmer Rov, and Rabbi Malkeil Kotler. I said hello to the Satmer Rov. He is personable. I told Rabbi Dovid Feinstein that Klal Yisroel still lives in the merit of his great father, Reb Moshe Feinstein, the great patron of Israel.

Wednesday, September 28:

The passing of Shimon Peres, ZL

A siyum was held in Shul on Seder Mishnayos and the last Mishna was read that says:


Friday, September 29:

The funeral of Shimon Peres, ZL

End of the quarter and very, very hectic at work. A customer who I was upset with needed a favor.   We talked it through on Thursday and were okay. On Friday I had to help him out when I really did not have the time.  BH I was there for him. I also had to wire out money and ran to two banks. At Citibank while transacting business I overheard Abraham who needed to deposit his payroll checks. The checks were not drawn on Citibank and the money was unavailable. He had to pay rent and this would be a problem for him. I interceded and helped him. He told me that he lives paycheck to paycheck and was once homeless. He barely had money for food. For him to cash the checks would have cost $30 and aggravation. Hashem put me in this location at this time to help this young man.  Many other times I failed, including my own family, and have paid a huge price.

Shabbos, October 1:

My nephew spoke a Dvar Halacha which was nice. I said that the issue he raised is a major problem and that a Jewish Posach would not Pasken against Klal Yisroel. Everyone attacked me for saying that a Posak would paskan against the Torah. However, that was not what I was saying. I was saying the Poskim have the backs of Klal Yisroel. If they saw people doing something, they would not Pasken if possible against Klal Yisroel to make them sinners. They would see holiness in Klal Yisroel.

I looked for inspiration in the Sedra and it was difficult. It is a very dark, Mussar Parsha. However, I found comforting words in Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsh’s commentary on the Haftorah. The Haftorah is from Isiah, Chapter 61, Verse 10. Verse 10 is the first Verse in the Haftorah, but RSRH mentions Verse 9:

ט  וְנוֹדַע בַּגּוֹיִם זַרְעָם וְצֶאֱצָאֵיהֶם בְּתוֹךְ הָעַמִּים כָּל רֹאֵיהֶם יַכִּירוּם כִּי הֵם זֶרַע בֵּרַךְ יְהֹוָה:

Verse 9:  And their seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall recognize them that they are seed that the Lord blessed.

Verse 10:
ישׂוֹשׂ אָשִׂישׂ בַּיהֹוָה תָּגֵל נַפְשִׁי בֵּאלֹהַי כִּי הִלְבִּישַׁנִי בִּגְדֵי יֶשַׁע מְעִיל צְדָקָה יְעָטָנִי כֶּחָתָן יְכַהֵן פְּאֵר וְכַכַּלָּה תַּעְדֶּה כֵלֶיהָ:

Verse 10:  I will rejoice with the Lord; my soul shall exult with my God, for He has attired me with garments of salvation, with a robe of righteousness He has enwrapped me; like a bridegroom, who, priestlike, dons garments of glory, and like a bride, who adorns herself with her jewelry.

RSRH explains verse 10 as an explanation of Verse 9 and explains “that all who see time shall recognize them that they are seed that the Lord blessed”. Verse 10 says “for He has attired me with garments of salvation,” is the consequence, the reward to the Jewish people. This benefit and blessing to Israel only happens because “with a robe of righteousness He has enwrapped me”. This means that God has put Klal Israel in a position to do good and not just the Jewish people but to mankind, to be a light unto the nations. Isiah goes on to say that if the Jews do good they are like a groom and bride whose inner beauty makes the expensive garments and Jewelry shine. (It is not that the expensive garments and Jewelry make the groom and bride shine, but the opposite.) Therefore when I do good because God gave me the responsibility and opportunity, and I do good, then Verse 9 applies, people will see in me Godliness that I am the seed that the Lord blessed. Salvation results and blessing to the Jewish people is because of my actions.

The actual words of the translation of RSRH from the German, page 448:

Security, salvation יֶשַׁע  is the consequence, “clothing oneself in the priestly mantle of devotion to duty” is the cause.  In educating me, Israel, to faithfulness to duty and thereby dedicating me to be the priest of mankind, God has made me not only worthy of the highest degree of human happiness but also to participate in it.  The worthiness is express in the second half of the verse in an extraordinary characteristic manner.  Thereby a point of view is expressed which is the exact opposite to that usually taken.  For an ideal perfection of the bridegroom is presupposed if one says that he has not to thank his festive “get up” for his dignity and august appearance, but, on the contrary he lends them a priestly consecration and grandeur.  And further, it is the most delicate description of feminine grace and charm if one says of a bride that it is she who in truth gives beauty to her bridal dress and ornaments, rather than that they grace her.   In the same way, in the sharpest contrast tot he past, material possessions will attain their purest and noblest use by the sons and daughters of Zion new grown to maturity.

The last Mishna says the Torah is protected by peace. How true. Klal Yisroel only survives when there is peace and Torah must lead to peace. This is a powerful message. Peace is not only mentioned at the conclusion of Mishnayos, but at the end of Shemonei Esra, and the end of Bentching which quotes the Mishna in Uktzin. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says that at the end on Shemonei Esra we mention peace and take three steps back. Peace can only be achieved if we step back and let people in front of us, we give them space, we listen to them. How many leaders do not understand this powerful statement of Rabbi Simeon Ben Halfata, pay lip service to it, and explain with a Drei, well it does not mean the current situation.  Read the Kehati on this Mishna.

The three leaders from different spectrums and personalities, were able to come together for Klal Yisroel at my brother-in-law’s house, may they come together for all of Klal Yisroel, not to bash and criticize, but to uplift, not to just their communities but to Dati Leumi, secular Jews, all Jews, and inspire mankind. It will result in peace emanating from them and Godliness from the Jewish people as Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch says.

I was blown away by the funeral of Shimon Peres. It seemed that the entire world came to honor Shimon Peres and consequently the Jewish people and the Jewish state. I felt uplifted by Shimon Peres ZL. It calls to mind a Midrash in Bereshis that when Yaakov was buried in Hevron, the kings who had gathered to battle each other, stopped, and hung their crowns around the casket of Yaakov. Unity because a great man was passing by. Shimon Peres, a Jew from Europe, who helped found Israel to be a safe haven for Jews around the world, including Satmer Chassidim. All I heard in the past was criticism of him that he was selfish, not Jewish in his heart. Bibi Natanuhu said it beautifully. I believe in security first and then peace; and Peres believed in peace, then security. We are both right. I read the glowing accounts on the internet and see in Shimon Peres ZL the words of Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsh. Read this from the Jerusalem Post:

“In August 1942, Shimon Peres’s grandfather Rabbi Zvi Meltzer was marched by the Nazis along with more than 2,000 Jews of Vishneva into the town’s wooden synagogue, where they were burned alive.

Seventy-four years later, the leaders of more than 70 countries – representing well over half of humanity – came to Jerusalem for Peres’s funeral. That, as much as anything, epitomizes the change the State of Israel has brought upon the Jewish people.
As Elisha Aviner, the Rabbi of my local synagogue, said Saturday morning, kings, princes, presidents and prime ministers dropped everything to pay respects for a little Polish Jew. Put in historical perspective, he said, that is nothing short of a miracle.”

To quote President Obama, TODAH RABA SHIMON.


Parshas Eikev – Kotzk – Vorka

Parshas Eikev

22 AV 5776 – August 27, 2016


Chapter 8, Verse 14: “Vram Levavcha” –  “and your heart grow s haughty”

Kotzk and Vorka

Pesach came in for Shabbos to be with my mother. It is always great seeing him. Friday night we stayed up to 11:30 PM talking about Bubby and Zedi Sklar.  Bubbi and Zedi Sklar’s trip to Israel in 1962, Pesach’s trip to Israel in 1960 to learn in Yeshiva.  Pesach got Bubby and Zedi a room at the hotel Tzfania, not exactly a 5 star hotel, but served its purpose.  Zedi wanted to go to Meron on Lag Ba’omer, however knew that Bubbi would not let him go.  Zedi made up with Pesach for Pesach to go to Zedi’s hotel room at 2:00 AM, lightly knock on the door, and Zedi  would come out.   They hopped on a bus to Meron.  Imagine, Zedi sneaking out at 2:00 in the morning.  What would Bubby  think when she woke up and Zedi would be gone all day.  For Zedi it was an Avodas Hakodash and not a tourist trip.  Pesach also with detail talked about his trip from Chicago to Israel on  a two week boat trip aboard the SS Zion, a Zim Lines passenger ship;  and back on a Greek passenger line. As only Pesach can tell a story, we laughed, reminisced, and laughed.

Shabbos morning was a normal Shabbos. Went home to eat and then went to Mayer’s  house to have Cholent for the third time.

At Sholosh Suedas Pesach, Mayer, my mother, and myself washed and had gefilte fish, Matzah, and salad.   I spoke the following words of Torah:

Dvorim Chapter 8, Verse 14 says:

יד: וְרָם לְבָבֶךָ וְשָׁכַחְתָּ אֶת יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ הַמּוֹצִיאֲךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים:

14:  and your heart grows haughty, and you forget the Lord, your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage,

The simple explanation is that you will become arrogant, forget God, you will go astray and worship idols. The Ibn Ezra explains it differently.  You will be come arrogant, you will forget that once you were slaves, forget that once you were poverty stricken, and forget that God provided for you when you were down.  The Ibn Ezra is saying that you will not go astray, you will not worship idols, rather you will remain Orthodox and keep Gods commandments, but your heart will turn to stone, you will not have empathy for your fellow Jews.  This will lead to demeaning other Orthodox Jews, hatred for the sake of hatred, all the while , going to Shul three times a day, even learning Torah, and wearing a big Yarmulke.  How else do you explain many of the disagreements in Israel.  It almost seems that it todays world certain segments of Klal Yisroel forgot there was a Holocaust.

Today is Shabbos Mvorchim.  Chazzan Silber has a beautiful Nusach for the Yehi Ratzon.  I was looking up the English translation and saw that Artscroll explained “Chaverim Kol Yisroel” as ” All Israel becoming Comrades”.   I decied to look further into the translation of “Chaverim Kol Yisroel”.  A second translation not found in any of the English prayer books is that we are joined together like two pieces of metal are soldered together so they appear as one piece but are actually two pieces.  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks translates these words as “so that all Israel may be united in friendship.”  However, the Birnbaum Siddur explained it that all Jews are “knitted together”.  It is interesting that the same words are translated differently, and each while similar have different connotations, which reflect Haskafah, and time of history.  Refer to end of this post to explains the differences in interpretation.

Philip Birnbaum is the highest level, the knitting together, being intertwined.  This  can be explained best by the following story of the Kotzker and his dear friend, Reb Yitzchok of Vorka.  I had heavenly help in finding this story to understand Birnbaum.

At 3:00 PM I went to take a nap and looked for something to read. I found in my closet three pages from a publication called Hapardas, dated January 1968.  Hapardes was a publication for the Torah world by Rabbi Simcha Elberg, first published in Warsaw, then Chicago, and in the later years of his life from Boro Park.  1968 was his 42nd year of publication.  On page 36 Rabbi Elberg had a book review of a new Sefer published by Rabbi Kalman Eliezer Frankel, a Rabbi in Tel Aviv.  The new book’s title was; In the Tents of the Righteous – the branch of the house of Vorka – Sakranovitz.

I will translate a large part of the book review as follows:

The Seraf of Kotzk did not want many Chassidim among the masses; however, Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorka drew the love of the masses to himself. Just like Rabbi Levi Yitzchok TZL of Berdichiv was in his generation (1740 – 1810), so was Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorka in his generation, he looked upon the Jewish people  with the mindset  of “ He (God) does not look at evil in Jacob and has seen no perversity in Israel. (Numbers 23:21).”    These two great people came out of the Bais Midrash of the Rebbi, Reb Bunim TZL, who both illuminated the heavens of Poland, two completely different viewpoints in Chassidus and nonetheless a great love  and an everlasting love existing between the two great and holy individuals

On page 322 in the book,”B’Ohali Tzaddikkim” the reader will find an amazing story from the author. It is worthwhile to recount the story here.

The Rebbi, Reb Yitzchok Vorka in his generation was like the Berdichiver in his generation, having great compassion, a lover of the Jewish people, a trusted servant for his people, he found merit even on the lowest of the lowest Jewish person.

After the death of the Rebbi, Reb Bunim, Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorka crowned the son of Reb Bunim, Rabbi Avrohom Moshe as the leader of the holy congregation, which he led for only two years. And after the death of Reb Avrohom Moshe, Reb Yitzchok of Vorka accepted the leadership of the congregation.

Even though the mindset, the essence, and entire being of Rabbi Yitzchok Vorka was totally  different than  Reb Menachem  Mendel of Kotzk; as the Kotzker  demanded only perfection, without blemish,  Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorka saw the light that shines in each Jewish person.  Despite this they were strongly and faithfully attached

After the death of Rabbi Yitzhok Vorka on the last day of Pesach (1848), the Vorka’s son and successor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Kalish, goes to Kotzk.  The Kotzker asks have you seen your father in the next world?  The son answers no.  The Kotzker responds – I saw him. In the Kotzker sharpness, the Kotzker relates the following story. “I was in the heavenly world, and I searched and asked the heavenly angels: Tell me, where can our Reb Yitzhok’l be found?  The angels answered, he is in a higher level, that even we are not allowed to enter. I then searched in the level of the Baal Shem Tov and I was told that Reb Yitzchok was in a higher level. I went to the level of the Achronim, of the Bais Yosef and Remah, and also there I could not find my friend. I traveled and entered the level of the Reshonim and could not find him.  I then went up to the level of they holy Amoreim and asked them, tell me, I am searching for Yizhok’l my friend, where is he and where can he be found.   They responded he was here, but now he can be found on the river’s edge which is closeby. I ran with all my might, I passed the field of the “Chakal Tapuchin” (mentioned in the Zohar of the next world), and there I saw a flowing river, and at its edge, your father Reb Yitzchok’l was leaning on his staff and looking into the clear and pure waters of the river. I grabbed his coat and asked, Yitzchok’l my faithful friend, what are you doing here? He answered me do you see this river? These are the tears of the Jews that were shed over the generations and from the tears a river was formed that flows into the upper heavens. I am standing by this river and I am not able to move away.

Rabbi Frankel adds that this is how the Kotzker described to the son of the Vorker  who his father was and his father’s  greatness. No other leader in that generation merited to be described by the great Kotzker, as the true lover of the Jewish people, Rabbi Yitzchok of Kalish, the first Admor of Vorka, TZL.   The story is told by Rabbi Naftoli Citron – youtube, The Kotzker Rebbe, #3 and #4.

This is how Philip Birnbaum translates “Chaverim Kol Yisoel” “knitted together” as the Kotzker and Vorka Rebbes. And this is the model for the Jewish people.

The four interpretations of Chaverim Kol Yisroel are:         1) Artscroll – All Israel are Comrades.

2) All Israel are connected –pieces joined together.

3) Rabbi Jonathan Sacks – so that all Israel my be united in friendship.

4) Birnbaum Siddur – All Israel is “knitted together”.

Each interpretation I believe depends on someone’s outlook towards life, religion, time of history, and relationships.   They are probably all true at times during history.

Artscroll’s translation sounded strange to me. The word Comrades brings up negative images.  Loyal communists were called Comrades.  This implies that Klal Yisroel must all be the same, think the same, and look the same.   Comrades is an exclusionary term, anyone different is not part of us.  Rabbi Wolkenfeld did tell me that in Israel the word Chaverim is used in the Kibbutzim and it means comrades.

The second explanation is like the Satmer. Klal Yisroel is separate parts joined together as in a menorah whose branches are soldered to the base.   This is how the Satmer would translate the word.  The Satmer in his Hagadah says on Yachatz (we break the middle matzah) – sometimes our community has to break off from the rest of Israel.  We must split off.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is how most people would interpret the words; however, Birnbaum is on a deeper level. We are bound to one another.  This is more the viewpoint of the Besht, the Kotzker, the Lubavitcher, Menachem Begin, and others.



Tisha B’Av 2016 – August 14, 2016

Parshas Devorim

 Rabbi Tzvi Yechezkel Michelson

1856 – August 25, 1942 (12 Elul 5702)

Dr. Hillel Zeidman – Warsaw Ghetto Diaries

Chanukas Hatorah

Torah of Rabbi Heschel M ‘Lublin and Krakow

Rov of Lublin and then Krakow

1600 – 1663 (20 Tishrei – October 21)

Kli Yakor on Devorim, Chapter 1, verse 7.

 Thursday night, August 11, 2016,  davened at Anshei Sholem.  After Maariv I took a long walk and listened to Rabbi Sholem Rosner,  on Parshas Devorim.   Rabbi Rosner told over a Torah thought found in the Chanukas Hatorah from Rabbi Heschel.    This is the first time I have heard a speaker quote from the Chanukas Hatorah.  I have the book, probably one of handful of people who know of the Sefer.  The Chanukas Hatorah came out in 1900 and was published by Rabbi Chanoch Henock Arison from the city of Zgierz. Rabbi Heschel who lived in the 1600s did not publish a book of his Torah on Chumash, rather his Torah was written down by  other.   Rabbi Chanoch Henoch gathered together the Torah of Rabbi Heschel and published it in the book titled, Chanukas Hatorah.  The back of the book contains a biography of the life of Rabbi Heschel.

The book has Haskomos – approbations from three of the descendants of Rabbi Heschel. One of them was from Rabbi Tzvi Yechezkel Michelson,  HYD.

If you open up any  Sefer published in Poland from 1900 to 1939, you probably will find a Haskoma from Rabbi Michelson.  In the back of the Sefer, Atares Tzvi,  by my great-great grandfather,  there is a picture of a meeting of the Warsaw Community Council.  My grandfather was on the council and is in the picture.   I showed the picture to Henry Morgan and he said, here is my uncle, Rabbi Tzvi Yechezkel Michelson.  I kept running across Rabbi Tzvi Yechezkel Michelson and  always wondered what happened to him.  A while back, the book mobile from Lakewood came to Chicago to sell Seforim.  For $2.00 I picked up the book, Warsaw Ghetto Diaries written by  Dr. Hillel Zeidman.  In it Dr. Zeidman who was a historian in the Warsaw Ghetto,  chronicled the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the end of Polish Jewry in 1942 – 1943.  He followed the English calendar.  My Hebrew is bad and it was hard for me to read the book so I set it aside.  My Hebrew slowly improved and a few years later I decided to read from the diary on each day the entry of that day.   I read the entry of August 25, page 60.  The entry is titled, “The leaders of the Ghetto in the furnace of the Selection.”

Page 61 – “Two elder Rabbis, Rav Tzvi Yechezkel Michelson, the well known author, the elder of the Warsaw Rabbis, was 86 years old and Rav Noah Rogozinski went down with us.  We thought – even with everything they (the Nazi’s) did, they will not kill these elder Rabbis.

I stood with the people who were waiting for the judgment (of the selection by the Nazi’s. Those that went to the right lived and those to the left were sent to Treblinka and death). The faces of the exhausted people were pale.    I was not sure if I would find a merit to be counted with those that would be saved.  I saw how Professor Balaban was treated.  He is a well known person, they (the Nazi’s) considered his fate and decided to keep in alive.  Doctor Sapir, Dr. Stein, Orlean, Fredonson were accompanied by a Kapo who would walk with these men and speak in their defense (to the officers deciding their fate).  They went to the right (to live another day).  But regarding the two Rabbis, Michaelson and Rogozinski, no words would save them.  I saw them standing with those that were to go to the Umschlag (the train station that took the Jews to their death in Treblinka).  Rabbi Michelson stood before the soldiers with his head held high and his body straight, he appeared calm, but in truth he was lost in his thoughts.  The Rav of Warsaw was 86 years old, for many years was the Rav of Plonsk, is the author of 43 books, besides what he had in manuscripts – stood without hope, alone, abandoned within his congregation, destined for death, waiting to be slaughtered.  Next to him was the Rav from Lita, a regal person, Rogozinski.  Their lot has been decreed.”

I cry for these. My Zedi,  Rabbi Avrohom Meir Morgenstern, who I was named for  and my  Bubby were killed in Treblinka.  Professor Michael  Savage on his radio program read a first person account what is like for the Jews when the train door opened until they were marched to their death  in the gas chambers, roughly 30 minutes later.  Al Eleh Anei Bochiya – on these I cry.

My friend Leon asked me why was it that no words would spare the two Rabbis. The reason  I believe is that the Nazi’s realized that the backbone of the Jewish people are its Rabbis, its Torah Scholars and felt that these leaders had to be killed before anyone else.

On Shabbos I told over the Torah thought of the Chanukas Hatorah. I also told over a beautiful  Kli Yakor and Ibn Ezra on Chapter 1, Verse  7:

7Turn and journey, and come to the mountain of the Amorites and to all its neighboring places, in the plain, on the mountain, and in the lowland, and in the south and by the seashore, the land of the Canaanites, and the Lebanon, until the great river, the Euphrates River. זפְּנוּ | וּסְעוּ לָכֶם וּבֹאוּ הַר הָאֱמֹרִי וְאֶל כָּל שְׁכֵנָיו בָּעֲרָבָה בָהָר וּבַשְּׁפֵלָה וּבַנֶּגֶב וּבְחוֹף הַיָּם אֶרֶץ הַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַלְּבָנוֹן עַד הַנָּהָר הַגָּדֹל נְהַר פְּרָת:

Once you see the Kli Yakor, then you will understand the reason for the Yisiv P’sik after the first word in the verse.

Parshas Pinchos 2016

24 Tammuz – July 31, 2016

During this past week, there were two Yahrzeits. On 20 Tammuz was the 122th Yahrzeit of Benyamin Tzvi Herzl. In the 22 Tammuz was the 143th Yahrzeit of My great-great-great- grandfather Admor Dovid Morgenstern.

Pesach Frank
Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank











I offer a Torah thought from Rabbi Menachem Ben Zion Sacks, the son-in-law of Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank. His book on his Torah thoughts is Menachem Tzion on the Torah. Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank (1873–1960) (Hebrew: הרב צבי פסח פרנק) was a renowned halachic scholar and the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem for several decades. Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank in his own way was a Zionist. 


Menachem Ben Zion Sacks

Hebrew: מנחם בנציון זקס

                    Also Known As: 



July 15, 1896


Jerusalem, Jerusalem District, Israel


Died February 7, 1987 in Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States

Place of Burial:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem District, Israel

Rabbi Sacks on Parsha Pinchos

Numbers, Verse 23:7 in this week’s Sedra tells about the daughters of Zelophechad coming to Moshe and saying, “Our father died in the desert, but he was not in the assembly that banded together against the Lord in Korach’s assembly, bet he died for his own sin, and he had no sons.” The Talmud in Shabbos, Daf 96 says, Rabbi Akiva identifies Zelophechad as the person who chopped wood on the Sabbath. Rabbi Yehuda the son of Besara said, “Akiva, you will have to answer for your comments, if you are correct, the Torah did not want to reveal Zelophechad’s sin and you revealed it, and if your are incorrect, you said a falsehood about this righteous man. Rather, he was one of the “Mapelim” Numbers 14:, Verse 44. The Mapelim where those who after the sin of the spies went to the top of the mountain and fight their way into Israel. Moshe told them in Numbers 14, Verse 42. “Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, (so that) you will not get slaughtered by your enemies.”

Rabbi Sacks asks: Rabbi Yehuda Ben Besara did the same thing as Rabbi Akiva, as the Mapelim transgressed the word of God. Additionally, Rabbi Yehuda Ben Besara calls Zelophechad a Tzaddik, when he did die of a sin.

Rabbi Sacks answers: The daughters of Zelophechad told Moshe in defense and redeeming their father that he did not die in rebellions against God but “Because he died of his own sin”. From this it seems that there is no problem to reveal that Zelophechad was one of the Mapelim, because of their great love for Israel, that the Mapelim were ready to die for Israel, alleviates the blemish that is associated with the Mapelim. (This is why Rabbi Yehuda Ben Besara says he was a Tzaddik.)

Rabbi Sacks continues: from this answer of Rabbi Yehuda Ben Besara, we can extend it to the Aliyah to Israel from 1881 and forward, which contained great sacrifice to settle Israel; this Mesiras Nefash, protects from the blemish of many of the secular Zionists, the merit of wanting to settle the land tilts the scales of merit in favor of these modern day Mapelim. God should open up their eyes to return to good.

This thought of Rabbi Sacks mirrors the thoughts of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok Kook, Admor Chaim Yisroel M’Pilov the Shalom Yerushalim and the successor and son of Admor Dovid Morgenstern.

A week earlier I told a Rosh Kollel from Israel my Torah thought on Bechukosi that dedication to Torah study among the Jewish people can bring peace and Achdus to Israel. I said that in Jewish thought and Halacha people cannot agree; however in dedication to Torah study there can be Achdus. I said that each Torah giant should have to give a class or classes in a Yeshiva or college not in their orbit. Meaning, the Rosh Yeshiva of Mir, should give a Shiur in Har Etzion, The Rosh Yeshiva of Har Etzion should give a Shiur in Ponevich. The Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevich should give a Shiur in Bar Elon University. Can you imagine the Achdus that would be archived over a 20 year period.

He argued with me and said I am wrong. Why should the head of Mir, Rabbi Finkl give a Shiur in Har Etzion. He basically said that the people in Har Etzion are wrong and no different than Apikorsim (He did not use this word but this is what he meant.). This was very depressing to me. What is wrong with teaching Torah. I think that I almost had my neighbor, a Telzer agreeing with me. I told the Rosh Kollel that he doesn’t get it, he does not understand the truth and power of Torah.

In this period of mourning for the Jewish nation and the merit of our holy fathers, may Klal Yisroel come together in Torah, in common goals, even though in ideologically or Halahca we disagree. We should realize that we will not and should not agree in Halacha or Hashkafa. May our Achdus in Torah bring us to recognize the humanity of fellow Jews and the world.



May 28, 2016 – 20 Iyar 5776

Friday Night:

Had a tough week and it was great to have Shabbos. Chani came in from Stern College for the summer. My anniversary is Memorial Day and this is our 36th wedding anniversary.

Serka made a great meal. I gave Serka a tennis bracelet for our anniversary. Thanks to EC for getting me the bracelet.

Shabbos Morning:

Woke up at 7:15 AM and studied the Torah portion. Naftoli came over at 9:30 for me to take him to Shul. Got to Shul at 10:10 AM. Regular Davening. Naftoli and my mother ate over along with Joel Bulgatz. My mother was great. We read my post from three years ago, when I went to visit Rabbi Jonathan Gross and family in Omaha, Nebraska.

Naftoli Glenner Customs in Shul:

Opened the Aron with strength.

When I called him up for an Aliyah, I walked towards the front of the Shul, away from Naftoli and with my back to him. I always do this, and he always knows that he is being called up.

Naftoli has a new custom that he says the Blessings when called up to the Torah in a whisper. All of us around the Bimah and people standing near the Bimah all bent ourselves towards Naftoli to hear his blessing and we all shouted Amen. The scene was reminiscent of an EF Hutton commercial years ago. The commercial shows an EF Hutton broker talking very softly and everyone straining to listen and the tagline is, whenever EF Hutton talks, everyone listens.

He banged the Bimah when we started Musaf.

The Shul has a chart of the Torah Blessings with Ashkenasik on one side and Sephardic on the other side. Naftoli kept turning the chart over, briefly studying each side. Naftoli was trying to figure out what was the difference between the two sides.

He wears his hat backwards with the pinches in the back. He is starting a new fashion trend.

Naftoli is probably the most recognized non-public Jew in the world. If he were to walk in Jerusalem, many people would come over to him because of his semi-celebrity status.


My Torah from this week:

Behar Chapter 25, Verses 18-30:

You shall perform My statutes, keep My ordinances and perform them then you will live on the land securely. יחוַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֶת חֻקֹּתַי וְאֶת מִשְׁפָּטַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם וִישַׁבְתֶּם עַל הָאָרֶץ לָבֶטַח:
Then you will live on the land securely: because it is through the transgression of [the laws of] Shemittah that the Israelites are exiled [from their land], as the verse says, “Then, the land will appease its Sabbaths. [All the days of desolation while you are in the land of your enemies -] the land will rest and appease its Sabbaths” (Lev. 26:34). And the seventy years of the Babylonian exile [when the land remained forcibly at rest], corresponded to the seventy years of Shemittah not observed by Israel, [and thus came to rectify and “appease” them]. [see Rashi Lev. 26:25 where the calculation is explained; Shab. 33a; and see II Chron. 36:21] וישבתם על הארץ לבטח: שבעון שמטה ישראל גולים, שנאמר (ויקרא כו לד) אז תרצה הארץ את שבתותיה והרצת את שבתותיה, ושבעים שנה של גלות בבל, כנגד שבעים שמטות שבטלו היו:
19And the land will then yield its fruit and you will eat to satiety, and live upon it securely. יט וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ פִּרְיָהּ וַאֲכַלְתֶּם לָשׂבַע וִישַׁבְתֶּם לָבֶטַח עָלֶיהָ:
And the land will then yield [its fruit…and you will…] live upon it securely: i.e., you will have no worry about a year of drought. ונתנה הארץ וגווישבתם לבטח עליה: שלא תדאגו משנת בצורת:
and you will eat to satiety: There will be a blessing in it even inside your innards. ואכלתם לשבע: אף בתוך המעים תהא בו ברכה:
20And if you should say, “What will we eat in the seventh year? We will not sow, and we will not gather in our produce!” כוְכִי תֹאמְרוּ מַה נֹּאכַל בַּשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִת הֵן לֹא נִזְרָע וְלֹא נֶאֱסֹף אֶת תְּבוּאָתֵנוּ:


for three years: for part of the sixth year from Nissan [when the crop is reaped] until Rosh Hashanah, for the [entire] seventh [Shemittah] year, and for the eighth [year, namely,] for they will sow [a new crop] in Marcheshvan of the eighth year and reap [this new crop] in Nissan [while still eating of the sixth year’s crop]. לשלש השנים: למקצת הששית מניסן ועד ראש השנה, ולשביעית ולשמינית, שיזרעו בשמינית במרחשון ויקצרו בניסן:

Rashi on Verse 18 says that keeping Shmittah will insure that the Jews are able to live in Israel and conversely, transgressing Shmittah leads to exile. It seems depressing that for 490 years the Jews did not keep Shmittah. This is from the times of Shaul until the destruction of the first temple. My guess is that after the split of the Jewish people after Shlomo Hamelech’s death, you have the Northern Kingdom of 10 tribes and the Southern Kingdom of 2 tribes . The Northern Kingdom must have stopped keeping Shmittah.

Verse 19:

Let us read Verse 19 with Rashi and understand how Rashi explains the verse.

And the land will then yield its fruit and you will eat to satiety, even if you eat a little portion, there will be a blessing and you will be satisfied with eating just a little (Just like the Mun, which was an Omer for everyone), and as a result of having to only eat little portions to feel satiated, you will live securely in the land of Israel, enough crops will be stored that even in a year of drought you will have food and feel secure. The crops of previous years will be able to cover times of drought. Verse 20 go on to say that if one questions, how will we eat during the Shmittah year, God says, don’t worry, I will send a blessing so that the crop of the sixth year will be a bumper crop. Rashi seems to believe the Verse 20 is an inquiry and not a challenge.

The Sforno (1475-1550) offers a different explanation.

Verse 19 according to Sforno would be read as follows:

And the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat a little and be satisfied, so that during the Shmittah year when you do not plant, you will be secure, and not have to rely on purchases or charity from other countries to survive during Shmittah. Verse 20 is a challenge and is referring to people of lesser faith who will question God and ask how we will survive. To these people God answers that in year six you will have a bumper crop.

The Sefer Siach Sarfei Kodesh brings the following Vort on Verse 20:

Harav Austrover who heard from the Chidusshei Harim who said in the name of Reb Zuisha to explain verse 20. If the Jews did not ask, what we will eat in the seventh year, there would be plenty of produce, and satiety in the seventh year. Even without any commandment from God to bless the land to produce extra food, there will be plenty of food. However, if people ask, what will we eat? God must “command my blessing etc. The Chedusshei Harim concluded that the world says that Reb Zusha was not a Torah Scholar. But in truth this is not true, we see from this Torah Vort that he was a Goan – a Torah Scholar.

Why did this prove that Reb Zusha was a Torah scholar. On the surface, this is Drush, anyone can say it. However, the RIM is saying that Reb Zusha was not saying Drush but was explaining the words of the Chumash like the Sforno. This is why the RIM said Reb Zusha was a Torah scholar.

What difference does in make which type of blessing.  To answer this I have to thank Dr. Jerry Noble.

Dr. Jerry Noble gave me a set of Malbim (1809 – 1879) that was owned by my wife’s grandfather, Rabbi Leibish Noble TZL, 1895-1965+-. The Malbim is old and yellowed but it’s Torah is fresh, vibrant, and relevant. I opened the holy Malbim that Rabbi Leibush Noble touched.  The Malbim on  Verse 20 explains the two types of blessings; eating a little and being satisfied,and bumper crops.  Having a normal crop and having it last longer because of the blessing allows for a normal crop without the extra work, less worry of spoilage, easier to safeguard, and not having your enemies see you are very prosperous.   However, the second blessing of bumper crops brings worry and problems along with the extra work.  Http//

Reb Leibish Noble

1916: Eitz Chaim hires a second teacher, Reb Leibish Noble. The school expands to two classes and has thirty students. Classes were held for four hours each day after a regular public school day, on Sundays, and during the summer





Meir Simcha of Dvinsk

I also opened up the Meschech Chochma, Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, 1843-1926, and he says a beautiful explanation on Verse 20, see the attachment.


See the pages from the Gutnick Bible.





Rabbi Meir Lebush ben Yehiel Michal, “the Malbim”


Gutnick – Lubavitch Bible


Meshech Chochma

Siach Sarfei Kodesh – Reb Zusha – RIM

Shabbos Parshas Shimini

April 2, 2016 – 23 Adar 2

Karen came in to be with our mother.  Ate Friday night at the Glenners.  Right before Shabbos listened to 50% of Rabbi Efrem Goldberg’s Shiur on this week’s Torah portion.  He led me to the first  Orach Chaim Hakodesh (OCH).

Rabbi Goldberg explained the following Rashi beautifully:  The first Verse in Shimini says:

וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי קָרָא משֶׁה לְאַהֲרֹן וּלְבָנָיו וּלְזִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:

And it was on the eight day, that Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel.

Rashi explains that Moses called the elder of Israel, “to inform them that is was by the express command of God that that Aaron was  becoming the High Priest, so that they should not say that he entered of his own accord.” (Medresh Tanchumah)

Rabbi Goldberg explains that Rashi is telling us that process is very important.  When you make a major decision or an appointment, you must be  cognizant of the politics of the situation, the personalities, and the effects of what you are doing.  If transparency is needed, be transparent, play your politics correctly.

Ba’al Haturim (BHT) on Verse 1:

Rabbi Goldberg read and linked the BHT  to the Orach Chaim Hakodash.  I will attempt to explain both.

The BHT said on the first Verse.  “Moshe said, “because I resisted for seven days by the burning bush (when God told Moshe to be the leader and take the Jews out of Egypt) , I only merited to serve as High Priest for seven days.”  The attribution listed in the Miikros Gedolus is the Medresh Rabbah 11:6. The Artscroll attempts to explain the BHT using the Medresh.    While the Medresh is the source of the idea of the BHT, the BHT is taking the idea in a new direction.   Moshe is thinking to himself, on why he (Moshe)  only merited to  be the  High Priest for 7 days.  It is one of regret.  The BHT is following the same line of reasoning as the Orach Chaim Hakodesh (OCH).

Orach Chaim Hakodesh (OCH):

The OCH  brings the Talmud in Megillah, 10b.  The Talmud in Megilah 10b says that the first word on Shimini – V’Yehi – translated as “ and it was” – is a word used to reference or foreshadow  distress, agony, a bad situation, pain.   It says “And it was in the days of Achashverosh”    The Jews were in distress during the days of Achashverosh.   The Talmud says the V’Yehi of this weeks portion, foreshadows the deaths of Nadav and Avihu.   The OCH goes on and gives a Torah lecture on the Talmud in Megillah.

The OCH  offers a second explanation  of the distress reference in the word V’Yehi.

The OCH says:

  “Perhaps the distress is Moshe’s distress, which is mentioned in the verse, (Moshe’s distress is that ) he saw  the greatness and the greatness and the greatness of Aaron’s  sons .”

Moshe saw that Aaron’s appointment to the High Priesthood was a legacy for his children.  Aaron’s children will eternally be High Priests.  Moshe’s children would not inherit Moshe’s position and this is what distressed him.  In fact Moshe’s own grandson was a priest for idols.

The OCH continues:

 Let us learn what the pain of jealousy even from good, what can happen, from the story of the children of Shimon Hatzadik, (brought down in Menachos 109b), and changes what was supposed to happen, that was to be his and his children afterwards.

The Talmud in Menachos details the tragic consequences even when Shimon Hatzadik , who was the High Priest for first 40 years of the Second Temple and was a very holy man, instructs his kids as to who is succeed him, jealousy ensued, and not only did the family of Shimon Hatzadik lose the legacy of High priesthood, there was a calamity of for the Jews people.

The OCH continues:

Because Moshe resisted being the messenger of God in Egypt, God got angry (at Moshe) on that day and (Moshe) lost the priesthood, so when it came the time that the priesthood would go into effect, Moshe was pained that he lost the glory of eternal priesthood, even though Moshe was outstanding in righteousness and humility, every  heart has feelings (we are all human) , especially with something  so valuable and glorious,  perhaps the distress of Moshe  is referenced in Numbers 7:1, which describes  the dedication and  raising of the Mishkan also on this same day of this Parsha,  and uses the same word, V’Yehi.”  (This way the V’Yehi of Shimini is  the distress of the deaths of Nadav and Avihu and Numbers the distress of Moshe).

Lest you think that the story of Shimon Hatzadik does not happen today, that Shimon Hatzadik’s son, Chonyav was evil, and this would not happen today. Look what is happening today at outstanding Torah institutions that were started by holy men.   Look at Ponevich, Telz, Satmer, Bobov, and others.  The people who built up these organizations were holy men, yet their heirs fight.  Nothing destructive that we see has happened, however, there has been a Chilul Hashem.  As far as Telz, the Sortzkins left Telshe.   The Sorotzkins were not part of the fight because the Patriarch of the family,  Reb Zalman Sorotzkin, was a big  Zionist.  Since he was a Zionist, he felt responsibility  for Klal Yisroel and this has seeped into the psyche of his descendants.



December 17 – December 20, 2015


Tuesday- December 15, 2015

Decided to go to LA and clean out my father’s last storage unit.  The storage unit location is being sold and everything had to out by 12/31/2015. My father died in 2002 and he had three store units.  We cleaned out two of them following his passing in 2002.  We kept delaying and now we were up against a hard deadline.

Thursday- December 17, 2015

3:00 PM   – I try to get my boarding pass for my 8:00 PM flight.  I discover that I did not book the flight and was in a panic.  I found a 5:50 PM flight for $168.00 (original flight cost was $268).  I book the flight, go home, pack, and make the 5:50 PM flight.

10:30 PM – Arrive at Madeline and Martin’s condo in Westwood. Madeline is a first cousin of my wife.  It had been over 5 years since I was in LA, I was home and hugged them.

Friday – December 18, 2015

7:00 AM – Morning prayers at the Westwood Village Synagogue.  Reacquainted myself with Rabbi Abner Weiss, one of my teachers.

8:00 AM – Breakfast served by Madeline

9:00 AM – Arrive at my father’s storage unit, #449 on Lexington, east of LaBria

I open the unit and it is full of boxes, files, suitcases, luggage metal trunks, supplies, and everything else. I do not know what to do. I am overwhelmed as there is quite a bit to look at and did not want to miss anything. I am  also fearful of losing my sense of my father. I call my sister, Lisa. She has the same feeling as me.  My brother-in-law would have mocked me and would  have saidthrow it all out.

I panic and decide to move the stuff “as-is” to another storage unit four blocks away. I make three trips with a loaded mini-van. As the day went on I asked myself, what am I doing, it’s all junk and should be bulldozed. As the day wore on, I trashed about 25%of the unit and filled up the trash bin provided on the premises.

I find bank statements from the 1980’s; a copy of his lawsuit against Ma Parker, a deli he purchased in the 1970s on Fairfax; books; office supplies; rental car receipts. I found letters he sent to the IRS about malfeasance by people, and his tax returns. Nothing of value. I found luggage, metal suitcases that he shipped via rail in the early 1970s when he moved to LA. There were shirts, socks, blankets, his boxer shorts, uniforms from when he owned a Baskin- Robbins ice cream parlor. My most revolting discovery was a box of his undershirts. He wore undershirts, not T’s. I remember his wearing them when I was a kid and I was utterly revolted by them. I chastise the Schwartz boys because they wear these disgusting undershirts.

Friday Night – December 18, 2015 – Parshas V’igash

4:00 PM – Leave for Shul

Rabbi Abner Weiss spoke after Davening. He asked why is Yosef, the only son of Jacob, referred to as Yosef HaZaddik (Joseph the righteous one). For nine years Yosef delayed informing his father that he was still alive and that he was the Viceroy in Egypt. It is very cruel. Yosef had dreams and made sure to let his brothers know about it.

Rabbi Weiss said that the word Tzadik means, “Tzad Dak” – “the side that is across the tine line”, meaning Yosef was a Tzadik – someone who is just over the center line between good and evil.

Had a delicious Shabbos meal at Madeline and Martin. The Nachash – snake popped up twice. Once which I cannot say and the second is that I did not bring the Diet Coke. Madeline and Martin eat healthy and do not drink diet pop. I did not pick up the pop as I said I would  and was suffering. Madeline had a 20 ounce bottle of Coke zero and I had to nurse my one glass of Coke Zero the entire evening. We engaged in the fine art of conversation.

Shabbos Morning – December 19, 2015 – Parshas V’Yigash

1) On my way to Shul met Naomi and her two sons. They were on their way to the hospital to visit their father who was very sick. I told them a Dvar Torah. One of the boys is at Rutgers and I will try to set him up to stay for Shabbos with my cousin and family, who live right across the river in Highland Park, NJ, very close to Rutgers. I was dismayed to learn that their father passed away on the following Tuesday.

Naomi and her husband are friendly with Martin and Madeline.

2) Met Pablo from Argentina in front of Peet’s Coffee and invited him to Shul. He came and had an Aliyah.

3) I had a special treat. My niece, Tziporah, met me in Shul. It was great to see her.

4) Rabbi Abner Weiss was his brilliant self. He asked a question. Why did Yehuda and his descendants merit Monarchy in Israel? Reuven was the eldest son of Jacob. Yosef was a viceroy and great leader in Egypt.

The name Yehuda means to give thanks, to acknowledge. Leah named Yehuda as she was giving thanks to God. Yehuda acknowledged his guilt in the incident of Tamar. Tamar did not tell the court that Yehuda was the father. Yosef could have chosen not to acknowledge that he was the father of Tamar’s child. However, before a court consisting of his father, Yaakov, and grandfather, Yitzchok, he admitted to impregnating Tamar out of wedlock. Not easy to do. Yosef could have sidestepped everything by delaying the court proceedings and let Tamar escape without admitting guilt.

Rabbi Abner Weiss said that these are not the reasons for Yehuda’s rise to greatness. It was loyalty to his family. It first started with Tamar, then Yehuda was willing to give up his freedom for his brother, Benjamin, his loyalty to Jacob. To Yehuda, Yosef was this megalomaniac, unpredictable leader of Egypt, who could have imprisoned everyone and destroy their family. Yet Yehuda stood up to Joseph because of his loyalty to family.  What about Joseph’s sale when Yehuda said “What do we get by killing Joseph” and they sold him. It appears to be disloyalty to family. You can say that from that low point in Yehuda’s life, he changed, he realized what he did was wrong and became a completely different person, a change of 180 degrees, and had the moral compass to confront the Egyptian leader. Rabbi

Abner Weiss said that Yehuda was actually loyal to Joseph, because all the brothers felt Yehuda deserved death and Yehuda saved him from death.

Rabbi Abner Weiss mentioned a dear friend of his who was a leader for 15 years, consoled and counseled hundreds of people, had many friends. Yet when he needed his friends the most, they deserted him.

Jews traditionally are loyal to one another. This is one of the secrets of our people. The Jews have suffered for no reason other than being Jewish. However, when there is disloyalty, treachery, and no Achdus the suffering is more intense. We have a current situation today, where there seems to be lack of loyalty, even among Torah leaders. People defend lack of loyalty, claim that Achdus in Klal Yisroel is not a Torah value, and claim the disloyal Rabbi is standing up for trust. This is a false Truth, this is falsehood.

5) I saw a Rashi and said the following Torah thought.

Chapter 45; Verse 4:
דוַיֹּאמֶר יוֹסֵף אֶל אֶחָיו גְּשׁוּ נָא אֵלַי וַיִּגָּשׁוּ וַיֹּאמֶר אֲנִי יוֹסֵף אֲחִיכֶם אֲשֶׁר מְכַרְתֶּם אֹתִי מִצְרָיְמָה
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me,” and they drew closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.

גשו נא אלי: ראה אותם נסוגים לאחוריהם, אמר עכשיו אחי נכלמים, קרא להם בלשון רכה ותחנונים, והראה להם שהוא מהול
Please come closer: He saw them drawing backwards. He said,“Now my brothers are embarrassed” (Tanchuma Vayigash 5). He called them tenderly and pleadingly and showed them that he was circumcised (Gen. Rabbah 93:10).

Rashi on this Verse says:

Please Come Closer:  He saw them drawing backwards.  He said, “Now my brothers are embarrassed (Tanchuma Vayigash 5)”.  He called them tenderly and pleadingly and showed them that he was circumcised (Gen. Rabbah 93:10).

Rashi used the Hebrew word “Achshav – Now”. It is an extra word. You can read Rashi without the word “Achshav” – Now. They were already embarrassed two seconds ago.

The answer is that with this one word Rashi is answering a fundamental question. Why did Yosef create this drama? Why didn’t he tell them that he is Joseph one year earlier when they first came for food? Rashi is telling us that Yosef had to create a crisis for his brothers. A crisis where they could have lost everything. Yehuda offered to be Yosef’s slave; he would lived out his life as a slave, no freedom, and would have lost his family. The brothers did not know if Yosef would change his mind and imprison all of them.   Yosef’s behavior to them was mercurial in his treatment to them and they did not know what to expect. Binyamin may have been lost to them and their father.

Yosef had to make them feel the emotional turmoil of being put in the position of losing everything, just as Yosef lost everything when they sold him to slavery. This was the only way for them to understand that what they did was wrong and truly be sorry. Otherwise, they would have been embarrassed but would have felt that they were correct in their actions.

5) Met the Rabbi of the UCLA Hillel House – Rabbi Kaplan, a YU Musmach. He learned in Har Etzion – the Gush and I played Jewish geography with him. He was good friends with my Chavrusa, Noah.

6) The Shul served a great meal with Cholent, Chicken Kabob food, and salads. And plenty of Diet Coke.

7) Went back to Martin’s place. Walked my niece to her friend. I spent “islands of time” with her.

8) Got caught in a downpour. Rain is a blessing for LA, as they have been having a multi year drought.

9) Made it to Rabbi Abner Weiss’s Gemora class in his house. I did not have an address, just the general location. I said at Shul that I would be there for Maariv so I felt I had to find his house. I found the house and listened to the class. Davened Maariv

Motzai Shabbos – December 19, 2015

Picked up Tzipporah and went to my niece and nephew’s house in Hancock Park, Michael and Sassha. Michael brought the sushi. I spent 2 hours there catching up on family, stories. They are making a Bar Mitzvah in March 2017 and I told them to book me a reservation.

Sunday – December 20, 2015

Davened at the Westwood Village Shul, however, only 9 people.

Said goodbye to Madeline and Martin.

Picked up Tzipporah and went to visit my aunt Florence, Madeline’s mother, who is at a memory care facility on Fairax, just south of Santa Monica. Spent 90 minutes with her. Had a great time. Although Zipporah is not her relative, Zipporah engaged her in conversation. I felt as if I was with her mother, my sister. Greatly appreciated. I called my mother –in-law, Florence’s sister, so they were able to talk. Departing was not easy.

Went to Pizza Maven for lunch.

Drove to Hollywood Boulevard; walked through the Roosevelt hotel, Mann’s Chinese Theatre, and the shops at Hollywood and Highland. Bought a red San Francisco hat for $5.00. Saw a Lubavitch Menorah, next to a Christmas Tree. This is why we love America.

I took Tzipporah to my father’s apartment building and we went inside to the door of his apartment. Dropped Tzipporah off and drove to LAX for my flight home.


Reb Shmuel (Shiku) Smilovic – Sam Smiley February 1928 – 11/27/2015

November 27, 2015 – 14 Kislev 5776

Reb Shmuel (Shiku) Smilovic – Sam Smiley  February 1928 – 11/27/2015

Today I received news of the passing of Reb Shmuel Smilovic.  I met Reb Shmuel about 5 years ago.  His wife was a fifth cousin of mine.    I felt instant kinship with Reb Shmuel and cherished my visits with him.  I had a lunch with him along with his daughter, Fern, and son,  Dr. Mark Smiley.  The following is my feelings on his passing.


Please click on this link for his history, –

Dear Fern and Mark:

I join with you in your sense of loss on the passing of your father.  My connection with your father while short left a deep impression on me.  The grace, the sense of history, the joy of family is what I remember and I cherish.  Thank you for introducing me to your father.

On Shabbos at the Sholosh Suedas meal, I dedicated my speech to your father and spoke about your father.  It was at my sister’s house as she has a Minyan every Shabbos and hosts the Shalosh Suedas meal.  Here are my words and I have added to them.

I regret to inform everyone of the passing of our relative in Toronto, Reb Shmuel-Sam Smilovic-Smiley.  His wife was a descendent of Rabbi Yechiel Moshe Greenwald.   Despite his wife being a sixth (fifth) cousin to us, I felt a close bond to Reb Shmuel.

Reb Shmuel grew up in Munkatch Hungary and was in the city choir with his best friend Jack Reiss.   He had a happy childhood.  It changed in 1943 – 1944.  Reb Shmuel wrote about his experiences in Hungary and in the concentration camps.  I tried to read through his memoir on those years.  I have a difficult time reading first person accounts of the holocaust and will just quickly scan through an account because of the horror.  The one thing I remember is Reb Shmuel writing about being in the train to Buchenwald, looking out of the window, seeing the soccer fields that he played soccer with his friends.  It was a nice day.   The kids on the field had life and he and his fellows Jews were on their way to death.

He was freed from Buchenwald with Jack Reiss.  Both wanted to start a new life.  Reb Shmuel ended up in Toronto.

Reb Shmuel lived in an Assisted Living Facility on Sheppard.  It was there that I met his kids, Fern Smiley and Dr. Mark Smiley.

I remember him introducing me to his friends in the assisted living facility.  Everyone had a nickname for where they were from in Europe.

As I think back to my visiting him, what stood out most is when I sat with him is his apartment.  I looked around his apartment and tried to absorb everything in the room.

  • I saw the picture on the wall of Reb Shmuel at a grandson’s Bar Mitzva (wedding?). He was in the center, surrounded by his beautiful family.  I only wish that God gives me the same feeling of joy and Nachas that Reb Shmuel felt on that sunny day at his Ainilkol’s Bar Mitzvah.
  • I looked at his coffee table to see what books he was reading and what gave him comfort.  There were three books:
  • A cantorial book.  Reb Shmuel loved Chazzonus.  As I am writing out my speech on Sunday morning, I recall Reb Shmuel breaking out in Chazzonus.
  • A book by Elie Weisel.  Reb Shmuel met and was honored by Elie Weisel.   He also met and felt honored by his friendship with the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau.
  • A book of Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach’s stories.  The incomparable Reb Shlomo.

I looked through his son’s, Dr. Mark Smiley’s, wedding album.  Beautiful.  I was able to see his family.  As I turned the pages I saw one of my mentors, Rabbi Avrohom Kelman, Rabbi of Prospect Park, where my sister’s family davened.    The next day I called Rabbi Kelman and gave him a “Gruss” from his Mechutin.  Rabbi Kelman is elderly and appreciated my call.   Reb Shmuel was able to reach out and touch Rabbi Avrohom Kelman.  One year later my nephew’s Aufruf was in Prospect Park and Rabbi Kelman in his 90’s was as strong as ever.  I Febrenged with him.

I then said over a Dvar Torah that his wife’s ancestor, Rabbi Yechiel Moshe Greenwald, wrote that he heard from his Uncle, Admor Dovid Morgenstern on this week’s Bible portion.  Admor Dovid was married to Chaya Toibe, a brother to Reb Yechiel Moshe’ father.  Rabbi Yechiel Moshe Greenwald saw the Kotzker as a boy. learned by the Kotzker’s son, Admor Dovid.  Rabbi Yechiel Moshe Greenwald is the only one who wrote Torah from Admor Dovid, and because of his efforts we have Torah from the Kotzker’s son.  Rabbi Yechiel Moshe Greenwald lived roughly from 1830 to 1920.  He fathered kids into his 80’s.  Rabbi Yechiel Moshe Greenwald has a grandson in Toronto.  Imagine, we have a grandson of a man who saw the Kotzker.

The first Verse in this week’s Torah portion, says.  “And Yaakov sent Malochim “before him”, to Eisav his brother, to the land a Seir, the field of Edom.”  The Hebrew word Malochim can be translated as angels or messengers.

The Medresh Rabbah 75:4 brings down a dispute:

“These Malochim are human messengers.  The Rabbis said Malochim Mammosh – actual angels.”

Rashi mentions only the Rabbi’s position and says “Malochim Mamosh “ – angels.  The Sifsei Chachomin says the basis for this positon is that there is an extra word in the Verse,  “The word “L’phnov – before him”.   This word is clearly  extra as it can be read without this word, without losing any meaning.   This word  teaches us that Yaakov sent the angels that were before him, two verses prior says that as Yaakov entered Israel he met the angels of God.  These are the angels that were sent.

What does the first opinion that Yaakov sent humans do with the extra work of L’phnov – before him.

You can answer it by a Torah thought written down by Rabbi Yechiel Moshe Greenwald from his uncle, Admor Dovid Morgenstern on this Verse.   Admor Dovid said that the extra work of “L-phnov” means that he sent them away from before him. He sent them away as he did not want their help, because God can help without angels, and without any intermediary.  Yaakov wants his prayers to God and his own efforts to help and guide him, and not reliance on  intermediaries  Similar to  Exodus 33:15 where  Moshe did not want angels leading the children of Israel but God himself.

Reb Shmuel combined both aspects of the Medresh.  He was a human being with the qualities of an angel.

I know that his Neshama is in Toronto and he may not be able to hear me, I ask him forgiveness for not visiting more, not calling.  May his life be a source of comfort to his family and be a Melitz Yosher for his family.

—–Original Message—–
From: fernsmile []
Sent: Friday, November 27, 2015 8:36 AM
To: Mitch Morgenstern
Subject: Re: Jack Reiss

My father, Sam Smilovic passed away this morning. Funeral Sunday through Steeles memorial, Fern

On Oct 19, 2014, at 9:01 AM, Mitch Morgenstern <> wrote:

Jack Reiss passed away and his funeral is this morning.


SMILOVIC (Smiley), Sam
Within the loving embrace of his family, Sam Smilovic (Smiley) passed away early Friday morning. Sam always found a way to overcome his difficult past by holding true to his values and traditions, while moving forward with his beloved Annette z”l with hope, humour, and contributions to the community. Sam is lovingly remembered by his children, Fern Smiley, Rabbi Mark Smilovic Smiley (Aviva Silverman) and Neil Smiley (Jordana), by his grandchildren, Jessica, Daniel, David, Yael (Gabe), Dov, Benjamin, Jared and Erin, by many nieces and nephews in Canada, U.S., and Israel, as well as by a multitude of friends from each stage of his life.* He will be greatly missed and forever remembered. Sam’s published Holocaust memoir can be found at http:/ / smilovic.html. Funeral service will be held on Sunday, November 29, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. at Shaarei Tefillah Synagogue, 3600 Bathurst St., Toronto. Interment to follow at Mount Sinai Cemetery, Shaarei Tefillah section. Memorial donations may be made to The Sam and Annette Smilovic Fund, c/o Associated Hebrew Schools (416) 494-7666.

Sam Smilovic (Smiley) ז״ל

We regret to announce the passing of our member:

Sam Smilovic (Smiley) z”l
Friday November 27, 2015
15 Kislev 5776

Father of:

Fern Smiley

Rabbi Mark Smilovic Smiley (Aviva Silverman)

Neil Smiley (Jordana) our members

Grandfather of:

Jessica, Daniel, David, Yael (Gabe), Dov, Benjamin, Jared and Erin


November 29, 2015, 11:00 am

Shaarei Tefillah Congregation, 3600 Bathurst Street, Toronto


Mount Sinai Memorial Park, Toronto – Shaarei Tefilah Synagogue Section


566 Castlefield Avenue, Toronto

Private family time between 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm


Morning Services at 7:30 am

Evening Services at 4:30 pm


Parshas Ki Tavo – Jewish Soldiers

From: Mitch Morgenstern <>
Date: Sunday, August 30, 2015 at 9:54 AM
To: Rabbi Efrem Goldberg
Subject: Update

Rabbi Goldberg:

I hope everything is well.  I like your weekly Chumash Shiur.  I listened to your Shiur from Tuesday on Ki Teitzei.   I used your Torah as a springboard,  went through the Rishonim myself, expanded for myself your approach, added to it, and spoke on Shabbos in two places.

I went through the Meshcech Chocma who added greatly.  I find the Meshech Chocma refreshing and the few times I have seen the Meshech Cochma, it seems  that his Torah is very Litvish, very practical.  To me he is part of the Rov’s world, part of Rabbi Kook is his approach. I admit I have seen only a few of his Divrei Torah.  My daughter got me a Cooperman Meshech Chochma  this past June (she was in Michlala this past year, unfortunately did not get me a signed copy) and without Cooperman, it is almost impossible for me to learn the Meshcech Chochma.

I also ended my speech with reading directly from the Abarbanal who beautifully recapped  your approach.

I spoke at Shalosh Suedes and told over your IDF Golani story along with another story I heard.  The crowd is more Yeshvish and I am the only one who will bring up Israel, the IDF, Rav Kook so I thank you for your approach and your stories.  It is not that they do not agree with me, but they do not hear these stories, will never hear a Torah Vort from Rav Kook, how to look positively at the State of Israel and the IDF.

I wish that the BRS classes would be broadcast live and that they be recorded as audio classes.

Wishing you continued success.

From: Mitch Morgenstern
Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 9:44 PM
To: Rabbi Efrem Goldberg
Subject: Update

Rabbi Goldberg:

I know you will be giving a Shiur tomorrow on Ki Tavo, however, I wanted to add something from your Shiur last week.

The attached Medresh Tanchumah translates “M’Kol Dvar Ra” as there should not be an “Lazunus” – frivolity,  so that you do not come to guilt.

The Medresh is not like any of the other explanations.

I think the Medresh is saying that when you go into the army, a soldier may feel that everything is permitted.  Halacha is that certain things are permitted in times of war,  and since a soldier is in a  situation of Pikuach Nefesh, he will have a laxity in his attitude, Mitzvos, and actions.

The Medresh Tanchuma is saying that a soldier should not have this sense of Lazunus, translated more as laxity.   The YU Kollel Torah M’Tzion had a program where two Kollel members, Rabbis’ Liss and Berman, spoke about why they served in the IDF.  Rabbi Liss was a Yeshiva Hakotel student and Yeshiva Hakotel goes to the army (as I recall) after Purim as a Chevra.  These guys go in with a sense of purpose, with seriousness, and a sense of  responsibility to the entire Jewish nation.  These Bochrim do not go in with Lazunus.

The Medresh Tanchuma is saying be like these Hesder boys, who go in for the right reasons.    Rabbi Liss and Rabbi Berman were riveting and after there speeches, all one can say is Boruch Hashem  we have boys like this.   I sit in one of Rabbi Liss’s classes and I looked at him totally different after his talk.  I  am not on his level.

Rabbi Liss has terrible asthma and during basic training had a serious attack.  He was told that he could get a desk job, yet he refused, and completed basic training.  They made him a tank driver which is not as hard.  When he left after his 14 months in the Hesder program, he had a sense that was deserting his friends who serve for three years.    Rabbi Berman was equally compelling.

Rabbi Liss said they had 20 minutes for Mincha, which only took 10 minutes.  They spent the extra 10 minutes learning