THREE SHABBOSIM AND FOUR SYNOGAGUES

Over the last three weeks I davened at four different Synagogues.

 

  • Sephardic Shul of East Boca Raton – Parshas Re’ah – August 22, 2014 –
  • Congregation Yagdil Torah. East Boca Raton – Parshas Ra’ah – August 23, 2014
  • Anshei Sholem, Chicago – Parshas Shoftim – August 30, 2014
  • KJBS, Rabbi Franks Shul, Chicago – Parshas Ki Tza’zah – September 6, 2014

 As I am writing this at 9:15 PM, Sunday September 7th, my daughter is on her flight to Israel for her year at seminary at Michlala. She should have a successful year of study in Israel. I was excited for her as a number of her high school friends were on the flight.

 Highlights:

August 22, 2014 – Sephardic Shul of East Boca Raton – Parshas Re’ah:

I got to the regular East Boca Shul at 7:45 PM, however, they prayed earlier at 7:00 PM. I asked where the Sephardic Shul was located and I got blank stares. One guy knew where it was and he walked me part of the way. I arrived at the Sephardic Shul at 8:30 PM, forty minutes after sunset.   The streets were isolated and pitch black, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  I found a ray of light in the darkness.   I was very happy to be able to pray properly despite the late hour. They were at Lacha Dodi, halfway through the services. It was a typical Sephardic congregation, with a number of people in colored shirts and blue jeans. Everyone is accepted in Sephardic Shuls.   Services were over at 8:55 PM, over one hour after sunset. Sephardim really pray. There is zero tolerance for talking. Sephardim as a community have inherited the true legacy of prayer service.

August 23, 2014 – Congregation Yagdil Torah. East Boca Raton – Parshas Ra’ah:

This is the only Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim Shul in the world. Very nice. The Rov is a Talmud Chochem. I met a friend from Toronto who has a vacation home in East Boca. I told him a Vort from Rabbi David Wolkenfeld, which is a Professor Nechama Lebowitz Lomdeshi explanation. During the week I Davened at Yagdil Torah. On Wednesday night, the Rov gave a Shiur as part of their JEC – Ba’al Tshuvah program. It was on the seventh of the Rambam’s 13 essential beliefs of faith. It was excellent and I asked the Rov why this is not taught in Yeshivas.

I love speeches.  The Rabbi’s  speech on Shabbos morning was good and compelling.  It was a Mussar speech, which linked together Reb Yisroel Salanter, the Chofetz Chaim,  and  others in the world of Mussar.   A friend in Telz Stone used to send me his Rabbi’s Shabbos speeches.  Every speech was Mussar  and I let my friend know that he is missing the richness of Torah.    I rarely hear a Mussar speech, as most Rabbis speak about a great insight into the Sedra, the greatness of Klal Yisroel, and current events.

August 30, 2014 – Anshei Sholem, Chicago – Parshas Shoftim:

One of my favorite Shuls in America. I went to hear Torah from the Rov. I sat down for the Torah reading and as I read the weekly bulletin, I saw that my friend’s daughter is getting married, and the Auf Ruf of her groom is at Anshei Sholem that Shabbos. I looked around and did not see my friend. At the upstairs main Minyan there was a Bat Mitzvah. I ran downstairs and the Auf Ruf was at the early Minyan. I saw my friend and wished him a Mazel Tov, hugged him, and told him I am crashing his daughter’s Labor Day wedding.  My study partner from Beis Midrash was also at Anshei Sholem, and my Toronto’s family acquaintance from the Sha’ari Shomayin Shul in Toronto was at Anshei Sholem visiting his children. I got married at the Sha’ari Shomayim Shul in 1980.  He told me that the Rov from that time, Rabbi Hoshander is still living in Toronto.  I read some of Rabbi Hoshander’s speeches from the 1960s in the RCA speech manuals.  They are rather good.

I did crash the wedding. Many people I knew from Boca Raton were in attendance and I stayed to the end of the wedding. I was very happy for my friend as he mentored my daughter in Boca Raton. I met his family. The Lubavtich Shilach from Brandeis University was there and he knew my two cousins’ kids who are students at Brandeis. He took a selfie of us two and sent it to my cousin’s kid. I saw Rabbi Perry Tirschwell of Young Israel Synagogue services and reminded him that the last time I saw him was a year earlier at my cousin’s wedding in Baltimore.

 September 6, 2014 – KJBS, Rabbi Franks Shul, Chicago – Parshas Ki Tza’zah:

Rabbi Dr. Meir Yaakov Soloeveichik was scholar in residence. He spoke three times and I heard all of his speeches. They were excellent. He said some great stories of Menachem Begin. He talked about Margret Thatcher’s Rabbi, Lord Emmanuel Jacobowitz. It is a great story of the Chief Rabbi  Jacobowitz being a “light to the nations of the world”.  Reb Shamshon Raphael Hirsch’s true student. 

 

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RABBI TZVI YEHUDA

I was in Boca Raton two weeks ago and Boruch Hashem I went to visit Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda who is recovering in a nursing home. He is no longer able to give his Shabbos morning class.  Unfortunately, his class has been taken off the Boca Raton Shabbos pamphlet. The last time I was at the Boca Raton Synagogue, I felt a sense of loss not being able to hear his Shiur. On Wednesday August 27th,  2014 I visited him at the Regents of Boca Raton located on Verde Trail.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda needs a Refuah Shelama. He cannot speak. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda’s wife assured me that her husband understands everything. I only had 15 minutes with Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda as he had to go for a test outside the nursing home. I told Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda that the last piece of Torah I heard from him, was part of my speech when I spoke in Shul to the family of Rabbi Yisroel Gettinger, read my post on Parshas Naso.   Rabbi Gettinger’s wife is a 3th or 4th cousin to Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda.  I also told Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda some of the Torah I heard from him over the last two years.  Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda looked at me with his blue, unflinching eyes that spoke of great knowledge. I almost melted from the glare of my Rebbe.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda eyes saw the Chazon Ish, Reb Aryeh Levin, the establishment of the State of Israel and many, many great people and events.   Through my association with Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda, I was able to connect to his world;  the world of Israel before and after Statehood, to great leaders I only read about, to a great and wondrous world.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda taught me how to understand the Chazzon Ish.  The Chazzon Ish’s legacy is one of Ahavas Yisroel and not of dividing Klal Yisroel.  His legacy is misunderstood  by many people.  His legacy is one that connects to the YU, Dati Leumi, and Lubavitch worlds.

 

When I heard of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda’s infirmary and could not give Shiur, I could not explain my sense of profound loss.

May Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda have a complete recovery and may he continue to teach Torah.

Update:  On Shabbos 9/20/2014, I was learning and used a Kehti to understand a Mishna in Chagiga.  Dr. Landa told me that Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda was the main writer of the  Kehti Mishnayous.   I was consoled that when I was learning the Kehti on Chagiga, I was learning from my Rebbe, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda, and was able to picture him saying the Mishna and explaining it.

Parshas Eikev

The Siege, The Story of Israel and Zionism

This morning September 6, 2014, I saw my friend Hart Hasten in Shul. I mentioned to him that I was reading the book, The Siege, The Story of Israel and Zionism, written by Conor O’Brien, an Irish diplomat. Hart Hasten mentioned that he brought in Conor O’Brien years ago to speak and that Conor O’Brien gave him a number of autographed copies of the book. I have to post the following essay I sent to Yair Hoffman on Parshas Eikev.

Yair:

I read your Parsha Sheet on Eikav.

Shabbos morning I continued my reading of Conor O’Brien’s book titled, “The Siege, The Story of Israel and Zionism”.  It is clear that the Jews were being kicked out of Europe.  It started in 1881 with the Tzar’s decrees and pogroms.    I have written about this on my blog.

How should the Jews have reacted in 1881 moving forward?   Per Amos Elon, the Sfes Emes in 1903 said in response to Herzl that Mosiach can only come through miraculous means, clearly rejecting Herzl and by doing so rejects the Gra’s approach, the Besht, Reb Tzvi Hersh Kalisher, and my Zedi, the Pilaver Rebbe.  Yes – the Gra believed that Moshiach could come via natural means, worked towards bringing Messiach, and sent his students to Israel to start the process.  All these great leaders felt the Moshiach can arrive and probably will come through natural means.   At the time of  Ezra the Jews returned back to Israel by natural means and built the second Temple.  Despite the chance to go back to Israel, a majority of Jews decided to stay in Babylonia, and of the Jews who went to Israel many had non-Jewish wives.  We did have Ezra, who was a prophet.

It is easy to say, do Tshuva, and everything will be okay.  It is easy for right -wing Orthodoxy to say blame the Jews for their own misfortune, after all they are sinners.  This is the standard response of right-wing Orthodox Judaism; however, life is messy and complicated.   The Jews of the Pale of Settlement were basically Frum, yet the Czar went after them with cruel abandon.  We do not know Hashem’s considerations.

After reading some more of The Siege, I had to read through Eikav before going to Shul to find insight.  I did not have any time to read through the Rishonim.  I did not have the Sefer Menachem Tzion from Rabbi Menachem B. Sachs, son-in-law of Reb Tzvi Pesach Frank, for a Zionistic vort on the Sedra.   No insight.   Based on the Sedra, it would appear questionable as to how the Jews merited entering the land of  Israel, the first and second Temples due to their apparent sins.  A generation or two after entering Israel, some Jews worshipped idols.  Moshe Rabbinu’s own grandson was a priest to idol worshippers.

Perhaps the insight is that the Jews are not perfect because life is complicated and messy.  We do not know the ways of Hashem. Perhaps we have to be positive, optimistic, and look at everyone with eyes of Reb Avrohom Yitzchok Kook.  We have to look at life with the approach of Amcha Kulum Kedoshim – your entire Nation is Holy.   We have to be Lubavitch in America. Clearly the Jews were being kicked out of Europe. Perhaps this is what was missed.