LA Shuls

I fell in love with Los Angeles on January 16, 1994. It was a Sunday morning and I had just flown in from Chicago to visit my father. It was 20 degrees, grey, and dreary in Chicago. This was my first time in Los Angeles. I was driving along the Santa Monica Freeway, listening to a song from my youth playing on the radio, and thinking that everything was possible in the warm Southern California sun.  I flew to LA to visit my father who had moved to Los Angeles in 1971 after my parents’ divorce. I hadn’t seen my father since 1969. In future articles I will discuss my relationship with my father.

I would like to express my thoughts and feelings on the Synagogues I attended all the years I went to Los Angeles to visit my father. I davened at wonderful places and met great people.

March 3 and 4, 1995:

Friday Night – Congregation Shaarei Tefila:

I flew into Los Angeles to visit my father and run the LA Marathon. Friday night I davened at Congregation Shaarei Tefila at 7269 Beverly Blvd. My first reaction as I walked into the Shul was that I was home. I was in Los Angeles, didn’t know anyone, and had almost no food for Shabbos. It was comforting to walk into Shul. Congregation Shaarie Tefila was no different than Shuls in Chicago, New York, Israel, St. Louis, or anywhere else in the world. The people were all the same. There was a Rabbi, President, Baal Tefilah, retired people, professionals, singles, and others. A Jew walks into any Shul in the world and is home. I had the same feeling when I went to Washington and walked into Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown. I was invited to eat the Friday night meal at a beautiful couple, a doctor, his wife, and their beautiful children. We had many things in common, especially the problems in our respective schools.

Shabbos morning – Kehilas Yaakov

I davened at Kehilas Yaakov at 7211 Beverly Blvd. This minyan was a little more Yeshivish. I was invited by another young great couple. They just had their 5th child.

A few years later I met a good friend, Sheldon Burg, from high school at Kehilas Yaakov. Over the years I ate meals at his house, met his parents, and discussed old times.

March 5, 1995 – LA Marathon:

I ran the LA Marathon. The three Elvises in their white jumpsuits got me through. I first hooked up with them at mile 14 on Rossmore Avenue. It started to rain. I was freezing and had zero energy. The Elvises had a boombox tied to a baby stroller, playing Elvis songs. Shake, Rock, and Roll was still playing in my head as I crossed the finish line.

November 1996 – Congregation Bais Yehuda:

Over the years I davened numerous times at Congregation Bais Yehuda, 360 N. La Brea or as I call it, the Red Shul, due to its red brick exterior. Congregation Bais Yehuda is a New York Shul. It feels and smells like it belong in New York. Over the years I caught 9:30 AM prayers, davened Mincha (afternoon service) after Shikia (sunset), and met Mishullacim who I know from annual visits to my home in Chicago. It is similar to the Boat Shul in Toronto. Every city needs a Congregation Bais Yehuda.

July 31, 1999- Young Israel of Hancock Park

Flew into Los Angeles for a cousin’s wedding. My mother came in with me. We were wined and dined over Shabbos. Davening was at the Young Israel of Hancock Park, 225 S. La Brea. Over the years, the Young Israel of Hancock Park was my mainstay Shul. I would Daven there most of the time in LA. Young Israel of Los Angeles is the “big” Shul of the Beverly/Fairfax/Hancock Park area. People daven there that cover all spectrums of Orthodoxy. It is a very comfortable Shul. It does not make a difference how you are dressed. It reminds me of the Clanton Park Shul in Toronto. Over the years I had a number of invitations for meals.

However, I was a little put off when in 1997, I had flown in to see my father and run the LA Marathon. During announcements, the President did not mention anything about the upcoming Marathon that runs down the heart of Hancock Park. After Davening I told him of his oversight and he shrugged it off. I do not understand why, when there is a great citywide event in their neighborhood, the Synagogue decided not to participate in any way. What a shame. They could have performed a great Kiddush Hashem. I have the same criticism in Williamsburg. The NY Marathon runs down the heart of Williamsburg and the Orthodox community refuses to acknowledge the event.

Shabbos, January 22, 2000 – Kehilla of Westwood

I took three kids to LA for winter break. Shabbos we stayed by my aunt in Westwood. We davened with my cousin, the great Martin Brody, at the Kehilla of Westwood. Kehilla of Westwood is a special, special place. The Rabbi is a powerhouse. Kehilla of Westwood is a model Shul that should be copied in every city in the world. The Shabbos we attended was a Shabbaton featuring “Swartzy”, a holy Jew. An old time Lubavitcher who has made thousands of Ba’ali Teshuva. The Shabbos was memorable.

Over the years, I davened a number of times and spoke with the Rabbi of Kehilla of Westwood. He is a visionary. He has brought in a Kollel and works very hard for the Jewish people.

My cousin runs the LA Marathon every year in his Kehilla of Westwood T-shirt. Say hello as he jogs by on Pico.

October 2001 – Atzei Chaim Synagogue – 8018 West Third St., Los Angeles, CA:

My father had a stroke and was in a rehabilitation center on La Cienega. Over Shabbos my siblings and I stayed at a hotel on La Cienega. Shabbos morning we davened at the Atzei Chaim Synogague at 8018 W. Third St. As soon as I crossed the threshold of the Shul, the passage in the Bible came to mind, “… remove your shoes from your feet, for the place upon which you stand is holy ground”.  I sensed that most of the members in the Shul were Holocaust survivors. I had the merit to daven with these Kiddoshim. I was in for a special treat. The Baal Korah (person who reads the Torah), Rabbi Einhorn, Lained (chanted the Bible portion) exactly as my grandfather. It is a sweet, effortless sound. I hadn’t heard my grandfather Lain since 1975.

November 23 and 24, 2001 – Chabad of Greater Los Feliz – 1930 Hillhurst Avenue • Los Angeles, CA 90027-2712

I had flown into Los Angles on Thanksgiving Day to be with my father, who was admitted to the Kaiser Permanente Hospital at Sunset and Edgemont. The entire weekend was difficult, watching my father suffer in tremendous agony and pain. He was reliving the horrors of the Holocaust. It was like he was going through a purification process for the next world.

I assumed that there would be not Minyan or anywhere to stay for Shabbos. I did not think there was another Jew this far West of La Brea, until Denver, Co. Was I wrong! I found out that there was a Chabad house within four blocks of the hospital. It was the Chabad of Greater Los Feliz, at 1727 N. Vermont. At 11:00 AM, Friday morning, the Rabbi and his wife invited me over for Shabbos to sleep and eat. I spent a special Shabbos at their home. Each meal had numerous guests. We made small talk, talked Divrei Torah, sang, and all felt part of the Jewish people. I saw the embryo of a future Jewish community. The Rabbi and his wife are what Lubavitch is all about. I would only wish the entire Klal Yisroel learn from this exemplary couple, who have dedicated their lives to helping Jewish people. I joked with him, “can you imagine, I am eating Cholent in Los Feliz”. I wanted to be part of this community, to be there as it grew. I sensed the Achdus (togetherness) of the members.

If I had money, I would have Lubavitch open a Chabad house on Hollywood Boulevard near La Brea. This is where my father lived.

March 3, 2002:

I was running the LA marathon. My niece’s brother-in-law along with others from his Synagogue was handing out orange slices. The Shul is located on Robertson, just south of Pico. It was gratifying to see Orthodox Jewish people, associated with a Shul giving aid to the runners. The slice of orange was delightful.

August 17, 2002_– Ahavas Yisroel Synagogue – 731 North La Brea Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90038 USA  – Rabbi Chaim Zev Citron

My father passed away on June 21, 2002. My sibling and I were in Los Angeles to close up my father’s apartment. We stayed at the Holliday Inn Express on La Brea. We had about a 1.5 mile walk to the Ahavas Yisroel Synagogue, 731 N. La Brea. It is a Lubavitch shul. It is another special Shul. It reminded my of the Synagogue I pray in Chicago. There are no Machers (bigshots) in the Shul, only regular working people. The Rabbi is a teacher in the nearby Lubavicth Yeshiva. The Rabbi is a Talmud Chachum (Torah Scholar). He spoke Friday night and Shabbos morning. Both speeches were like honey. I was greatly rewarded for the 1.5 mile walk. The best speech is one that the listeners can plagiarize. I spoke over his Friday night speech at our Friday night meal. It was on the Haftorah of the Sedreh. Shabbos morning was an excellent analysis of the Torah portion that discusses the Mitzvah of honest weights and scales. He brought in various commentaries, analyzed them, compared this portion dealing with honest weights and scales to the other Bible portion that discusses the Mitzvah of honest weights and scales, and offered his own insights.

My daughter asked me why I did not write about the Synagogues of Chicago. I paused to consider her question. There are two reasons. One reason is that I go to LA as a tourist, so I have no preconceived ideas of the Rabbis and the congregations. I am able to be the beneficiary of each Synagogues’ graciousness. The other reason is that I think Los Angeles is a special place. Hollywood has many successful artistic and talented individuals. These types tend to look for more meaning in life and tend be more Spiritual. I believe that this is a major contributing factor to the highly successful Ba’al Tshuvah movement in Los Angeles. Chabad is huge is Los Angeles.

Post my Fathers Death:

2005 – UCLA Hillel – 574 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles

Came in run the City of Angels half marathon with Martin Brody.   We davened at the UCLA Hillel, with the College kids. Friday night the Chazzan sang Carlbach, Always appreciated. Shabbos morning had the pleasure to pray with the Rabbi, Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller. Great speech. He mentioned a beautiful Rabbi Yonasan Eibshitz. Please look at this video about Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller,

I am related to Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller. His first cousin is married to my first cousin from Edison, NJ.

2007-2011 – Village Shul of Westwood

Martin Brody, my LA cousin, and the author of a weekly Torah thought on the Bible changed Synagogues and became a regular at the Village Shul of Westwood and a sometimes Rabbi, when Rabbi Weiss is away for Shabbos.

Very pleasant Shul. I attended when the Shul was on the UCLA campus. I liked it there because two doors in the back opened up to some benches outside the Shul. It was nice walking out into the beautiful LA weather with your Talis on. They are now on Westwood Boulevard above a Peats Coffee.

Rabbi Abner Weiss is from South Africa. His speeches in Shul are excellent. Each one is a gem. I have repeated his speeches numerous times, I also attended Rabbi Weiss’s Shabbos afternoon Talmud class. I have learned by many Rabbis, however, Rabbi Weiss explains and makes each word of the Talmud and Rashi jump out with meaning. It grabs the students.

Pacific Jewish Center – Summer 2012:


I finally made it to the Pacific Jewish Center, Look at the picture of the Shul. I miss it. For years I have walked past this iconic Synagogue along the Venice Boardwalk, hoping one day to attend services. I was in LA for my nephew’s wedding and had the chance. We were staying at the Crown Plaza at Pico and Beverall. I walked 7.5 miles each way to attend the Pacific Jewish Center. I met two obviously Orthodox people on the Boardwalk while I was leaving after services. They were headed to the Kiddush. I stopped to say hello and said, “wow, meeting Frum people on the boardwalk in Venice Beach on a Shabbos, on a beautiful day in LA. It does not get any better than this”

As I was leaving a member gave me a great piece of advice. He walked the 7.5 miles route and said that I will get very thirsty, and that in the Westwood Shops, there is a water fountain. He was correct. I was starting to fell dehydrated and I began looking for water. I finally made it to the Westwood shops and had sweet water. I made it back to the Auf Ruf lunch right after the first course.

Congregation Ner Maariv – Encino, CA:

This is the only non-Orthodox Synagogue I attended. I went for my cousin’s kids Bar Mitzvah’s. I have great stories and times from the two Shabbosim I spent in each Shul with my cousins. However, it is tragic as the Temple Ner Maariv shrunk down to only 65 families and merged with Temple Ramat Zion.

The shame is that Ner Maariv is in a beautiful building, many members are traditional, and who came from the east coast and wanted a Shul. However, the conservative movement cannot hold its youth. They do not have the dynamic Rabbis as I listed above.

I called the OU to see if they would purchase the Shul, bring in a dynamic Rabbi and see what happens. Would he be able to build up a Shul like BRS in Florida. They would have done it, had I purchased the Shul.


Our Posek is Auschwitz, Dachau, and going hungry for 5 days

11 Tamuz: Tonight and tomorrow is my father’s 11th Yahrzeit.

My father’s will states:

Upon donations made with my money the following shall be stated:

“This is a donation from the late Mr. Israel J. Morgenstern, who was continuously hungry since September 1, 1939, when Hitler and his German army with his German Luftwaffe (air power) attacked Poland, until May 7, 1945, when he was liberated from Dachau Concentration Camp by the American Army”

My father’s Posek is Auschwitz, Dachau and going hungry for 5 days.

In 1994, when I visited my father in Los Angles, we walked by a homeless man. I grimaced and my father said that in America, the wealthiest country in the world, it is a shame that we cannot house and feed everyone.

Heaven forbid we should be in need of food and livelihood.

Synagogues from time immemorial were always places of refuge. A Jew could always find comfort, food, and friendship. In 1982 at Kesser Israel in Georgetown, D.C., I was very impressed when, after Shabbos Morning Prayer services, they announced that anyone who needing a place for Shabbos lunch see the Gabbai.

About 5 years ago, I noticed a sign in a Synagogue on Pico Boulevard in LA that people collecting money cannot collect during services. I was outraged. Who are these people to limit when a Jew needing money can collect? Be hungry for 5 days and then tell a person   that he cannot collect during prayer services. A Synagogue is a place of Chesed, not a place where we put restrictions on a Jew who needs money, needs food, and needs sustenance. Do the members believe that their prayers are so holy that they cannot be bothered during davening for charity?  I was so angry that I called their national headquarters in New York and gave the Rabbi in charge of member services an earful. He assured me that the Synagogue in question is charitable. Not a good answer. A few years later I saw a similar sign in Chicago.   I found the right person and a few years later the sign was taken down. I just heard of another Synagogue in Chicago banning collecting money during services.

Two other incidents bothered me. When my nephew wants to irritate me, he has me look at a web site that claims to promote Cheriedai values; however, you can always rely on that website for anti-Zionist views, anti Achdus opinions, and self-righteousness.

Two years ago the web site had a video of a question that two “kids” from Lakewood posed to Rabbi Eliyashuv TZL, a question I considered a question of Eisav Harashah. These two kids are in charge of giving out certificates that allow a person to collect money. They asked can they put in a restriction in the certificates, that money cannot be collected during Krias Shma (reciting of the Shma prayers). I was appalled and thought, what is it their business when people can collect money. Their only job is to make sure the person needing money is worthy. If someone does not want to give during Shma, he can ignore the person, or do what I do, have money ready. These two “kids” had a look and sound of stupidity or as my sister says to me when she feels I am being foolish, “Narashah Lachin”.

These two kids brought down the esteem of Reb Eliyashuv TZL. The web site thought that the video showed the greatness of Rabbi Eliyashuv, when it actually showed him in a poor light. I e-mailed the editors of the web site and had a debate with them. After a series of e-mails they responded to me, we have our Posek, you ask your Posek. My Posek is Auschwitz, Dachau and going hungry for 5 days. The shame is that Lakewood is a city full of Tzedakah.

About two months ago I saw a incident that continues to bother me. A Rabbi from Israel was a guest at this Synagogue for Shabbos in one of its members’ home. He was collecting for his institution in Israel. He was an elderly Jew and had the look of an important Rabbi. Sunday morning this Rabbi was in the Synagogue looking for someone. A Synagogue official went to him and told him to leave the Synagogue, as per the Board of Directors. To my shame and others around me, no one said anything, no one defended this Rabbi. This Rabbi went over to the Gabbai and said, you have acted as they did in Sodom, meaning you have exhibited unnecessary cruelty. I did not know what to do. I went to a Board member and told him about the incident. Here you have a beautiful Synagogue that is full of Torah being soiled by pettiness and Midas Sodom.   I am embarrassed to admit that I said nothing, I froze.

In honor of my father’s Yarhzeit as Jews we have to be kind to one another and that

Our Posek is Auschwitz, Dachau and going hungry for 5 days.

Whirlwind of Simchos


I had a wonderful May and June. It was a whirlwind of family Simchos and I was able to visit with most of the family. The kids are going to be okay.

I met a number of Rabbonin and people much greater than me, including but not limited to:

Rabbi Jonathan Gross, Rov of Beth Israel Synogague, Omaha, NE and my cousin.

Rabbi Abraham Kelman, Rov of Prospect Park Shul, Brookyn, NY.  Rabbi Kelman inspired me to learn about Kotzker Chassidus and is a cousin via marriage to me.

Rabbi Yitzchok Wasserman, Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshvia Toras Chaim, Denver, CO.  Rabbi Wasserman is a cousin of Rabbi Avrohom Kelman, who is a cousin to me via marriage.

Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshvia Toras Chaim, Denver, CO

Rabbi Solomon Maimon, Rov of Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation, Seattle, WA 

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, Rov of Boca Raton Synogague, Boca Raton, FL

Rabbi Ben Sugerman, Rov of Boca Raton Synogague, Boca Raton, FL

Rabbi Zev Reichman Rov of the East Hill Synogague, Englewood, NY and RAM in YU.

Rabbi Sholem Baum, Rov of Keter Torah of Teaneck, NJ

Rabbi Stanley Miles, Rabbi of Temple Sholem in Louisville, KY

Rabbi Moshe Peleg and Rabbi Pinchos Levy of Jerusalam of Beera Miriam Seminary located in the Ben Yehuda area,

Chazzan Moshe Kraus of Ungvar, Hungary; Muncaz, Hungary; and Ottawa, CA

Rabbi Elliot Gertel , Rabbi of Rodfei Tedek in Hyde Park, Chicago, IL

Rabbi Moshe Schmuel Rotenberg, Rov of Rotenberg’s Shul on East 28th and Avenue R, Brooklyn, NY

Rabbi Barry Freundel, Rov of Kesser Israel in Georgetown, D.C.  Kesser Israel was the first great Shul across America I attended in 1978 when Rabbi Israel Rabinowitz was Rabbi.

Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Levin of Lower Merion, PA, grandson of the holy Rabbi Aryeh Levin.  Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Levin was the first child named after Reb Avrohom Yitzchok Kook, after Rabbi Kook passed away.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Janowski of Coral Springs, FL, RAM in the Lubavitch Yeshiva in Coral Springs, FL and  my nephew.


  • May 1-6, 2013 – Boca Raton, FL.  Upsherin of my grandson, Aryeh Moshe Levy
  • May 7, 2013 -Brooklyn, NY.   Being honored by Yeshiva Toras Chaim.  Highlight             was giving Ephraim Chase and Rabbi Yitzchok Wasserman shoes.
  • May 12, 2013 – Philadelphia, PA.   Shoshana Parker’s wedding
  • May 24-26, 2013 – Omaha, NE.    Hosted by Rabbi and Rebbitzen Jonathan Gross
  • May 30, 2013 – Chicago, IL.         Dinner with Chazzan Moshe Kraus and Chazzan Silber
  • June 1, 2013 – Brooklyn, NY.        Amitai Schwartz’s Auf Ruf
  • June 2, 2013 – Closter, NJ.            Amitai Schwartz’s weddingimage001
  • June 9, 2013 – Lakewood, NJ.      Chana Tzipora Saltz’s wedding.
  • June 12, 2103 – Chicago, IL            Had dnner with Rabbi Moshe Peleg and Rabbi Pinchos Levy  both of Jeruslaem,  June 13, 2013 – Chicago, IL.         Dinner with Avi Maza at Milt


The below Torah though has been percolating in my head for years and this year I am writing about it. Chapter 20, Verse 1 in this week’s Bible portion states:

א  וַיָּבֹאוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל כָּל-הָעֵדָה מִדְבַּר-צִן, בַּחֹדֶשׁ הָרִאשׁוֹן, וַיֵּשֶׁב הָעָם, בְּקָדֵשׁ; וַתָּמָת שָׁם מִרְיָם, וַתִּקָּבֵר שָׁם. 1 And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.
What is unique about this Verse?

Observation 1:
The Bible portion before this Verse is about the laws of the Parah Aduma, the Red Heifer. That Bible portion and everything before this verse in B’Midbar (Numbers) took place in the second year of leaving Egypt. The previous verse to Chapter 20, Verse 1 was the final verse of the laws of the Red Heifer. The very next verse, Chapter 20, Verse 1 takes place 38 years later. In one verse 38 years pass, seemingly uneventful. There is zero mention in the Bible as to what happened during these 38 years. People lived their lives, had children, got married, mourned their losses, but nothing eventful happened that the Bible felt it was important to mention.

Observation 2:
Compounding this is the first story in year 40 is the death of Miriam. This makes sense as the Bible is telling us of the passing of the old generation to make way for new leadership. However, Miriam dies and there is no water. Over 3 million people are dying of thirst. The same complaints heard 40 years ago by their parents, are echoed by the children, Why did you take us out of Egypt. This is followed by Moshe hitting the rock and not speaking to it, saying, “listen you rebels” and Moshe being punished. Tough times again. Nothing changed.

To me the simple but unsatisfying answer for the second observation and without looking at the Commentators is that life is tough. Nothing changed. Despite the fact that the Jews had all their needs met in the desert for 40 years, they still had to live life and life is not idyllic. I will say that in our day and age, for many people life has never been this good. However, don’t ever think that you can float by in life. Life will always catch up.

Comment on Observation 1:
I told the below to Rabbi Lopatin and he did not think I was correct. However, the below is my gut feel.

Time passes. Whether we live for 20 years or 80 years, after those 80 years life ceases and your 80 years is no different than that of another person living for 20 years, both are gone. Sometimes a full life is 20 years, sometimes 80 years, and sometimes one day. The quality is the same. We know that someone can acquire merit in the world to come in one hour. This is what the Torah is saying about the Jews in the desert. The years that mattered to the destiny of the Jewish people were up to and including year 2 after leaving Egypt and year 40. The intervening years were unimportant. Year 2 merges with year 40 and that is the continuum of time.

I have a friend who I did not see for 30 years. He moved on to Israel, married, had kids, etc. When I first met with him after the 30 years absence. I was looking for that youthful person I knew from 30 years earlier. I did not see it in him and I could not relate to my friend. I wondered what happened to the young man I met and it bothered me. We were sitting together the last time I was in israel and he sang. He was a Chazzan and only then was I able to see the same person from 30 years earlier. Time merged and the 30 years dropped out of the time continuum.

This coming Wednesday, Tamuz 11, is my father’s Yahrzeit. I did not see my father from 1970 to 1994, for 24 years. I spoke to him on the phone but it was not a relationship. My mother was very angry that I went to visit, but it was something I had to do. On January 17, 1994 when I knocked on his door, and for the next 8 years I went twice a year to visit him we did have a relationship. I was with my father from the date I was born in 1953 to 1970, then from 1994 to his death in 2002. 1970 merged with 1994 and it was a continuous relationship. The distance of time did not matter. It was an entire lifetime. The 24 years just dropped out of the timeline. This is what observation 1 in communicating. At times life truncates, years merge, and intervening years drop out because they do not matter to the relationship. I believe similar to Yaakov our forefather. My years may be off, but he leaves his father at age 58, comes back to his father at age 94, is with his father for 15+- years, goes thorough suffering when his son, Joseph, is gone for 22 years, reunites with Joseph at age 130. It is a great life, the bad times are gone and it is glorious life bound together by the times he spent with his father and with Joseph in peace and harmony.

Korach (and family email)

This is an e-mail sent to my family on 6/29/2008.  A beautiful Vort on this week’s sedra is in the e-mail.

From: Mitch Morgenstern
Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2008 8:35 PM
To: Mitch Morgenstern
Subject: Update

It has been a while.  I hope everyone if fine.  It is a quarter-end at work and I am busy.  But then, I am always busy.

Last Wednesday we had lunch with Kenny and Tzippy who were in Chicago for a wedding.

Shoshana, Danny, Tova Tamara, and Tiferet Tzippora moved to Indianapolis.  They are settling in.

I am trying to get into marathon training.  I ran 6 miles today, not enough.  The weather was perfect at 70 degrees.

Martin– How is your running going.  I am looking forward to December.

Menucha – please send me stories about your father, what he stood for, what he said about his family in Europe.  Why he left Europe, etc. etc.  Write a biography about your parents.  Thanks.

The following is the words of Torah, I developed and spoke out this Shabbos.  I have attached a scan of the sources.

1) In this past Shabbos’s Torah portion – Korach challenged Moshe’s leadership.  Korach initially appears to be motivated by spirituality, however, he aligns himself with bad characters, Dasan and Aviram, the same Dasan and Aviram who were Moshe’s enemies from Egypt.  Who can forget Edward G. Robinson’s great portrayal of Dasan (or Dathan) in the movie, the Ten Commandments.  I read that Edward G. Robinson was the only Jewish actor in the movie.

2)  Moshe sends a messenger to Dasan and Aviram to meet with Moshe and try to make peace.  Dasan and Aviram reject’s Moshe’s olive branch, refuses to meet with Moshe, and sends a verbal assault via the messenger back to Moshe, as conveyed in verses 13 and 14..



 Verse 15 says


I thought the  word   image009 meant “anger”. I was surprised that Rashi translates it as “distressed” .  Rashi choose to not translate V”Yichar word as anger.  Rashi seems to argue on Targum Onkyls who translates V’Yichar as anger.      Per Rashi, Moshe was distressed, grieved.  Refer to the scanned attachment for Rashi.  It is clear that image009 by itself does not mean anger.  The source of Rashi is the Medresh, as follows:

image010Refer to the explanation in the bottom of the Medresh who explains it, as follows:

 When someone has an argument with another and is able to respond to his antagonist, the person has satisfaction (he is able to answer the verbal assaults).  However, when the person being attacked – the victim, cannot answer his antagonist, the victim  has pain, grief, and aggravation.  Dasan and Aviram challenged Moshe’s leadership.  They did not appear before Moshe with their attack, so that  Moshe could not respond to them.  Moshe tried to make peace, they turned on him, and got the upper hand.  Moshe was publicly humiliated, embarrassed and he was distressed.

This is the meaning of the word – image011

I want to add another meaning of the Medresh.

The Medresh employees the words   image012   image013  .  These words imply personal satisfaction and not answering your enemy or being victorious.

I want to say that the Medresh is telling us a comment on  human psyche.  If we are fighting with someone and we answer that person, we have personal satisfaction and we are at peace with ourselves.  However, if we do not answer a verbal assault on ourselves, then we have pain and anguish.  It eats away at us, with negative, negative results. It can take years to forget the hurt.

A personal story to illustrate.

Years ago,  two distant cousins of mine were talking to one another and the older gentleman tried to humiliate his younger cousin.    He said that he does not see how his cousin is a Kotzker descendant, because his cousin was not sharp.  Neither my cousin nor I, who witnessed this exchange, answered these older gentlemen.     The younger cousin was silent in the face of a verbal assault.  He should have said and could have said that the older gentlemen was at one time the Rabbi of a non-Orthodox  Synagogue, that he is not trustworthy, that his business ethics could be questioned, and that it is doubtful that  he served Kosher food in his business to Jewish residents.

It would have been different if my cousin had a ready answer,  but we both held our tongues.   It was true that my younger cousin  does not have the Kotzker sharpness.   The correct answer is that there are many aspects of Kotzker Chassidus and this individual did not embody at all Kotzker Chassidus.  He did have a quick mind, but otherwise was a boor.   This hurt my younger cousin for years