March 18, 2018
This Shabbos at Mishne Ugmoro we celebrated Chazzan Silber’s 90th birthday. It is our merit to daven with Chazzen Silber. Chazzen Silber davened Hallel and Musaf. Mayer Silber, his son, davened Shacharis. The Silbers sponsored a Shabbos meal. I sat with the Glenners, Naphtali, Mayer (my nephew), my mother, and Nina. The celebration lasted until 2:30 PM.
The following is my speech honoring Chazzen Silber.
Chapter 1, Verse 2 says:
ב דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם אָדָ֗ם כִּי־יַקְרִ֥יב מִכֶּ֛ם קָרְבָּ֖ן לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה מִן־הַבְּהֵמָ֗ה מִן־הַבָּקָר֙ וּמִן־הַצֹּ֔אן תַּקְרִ֖יבוּ אֶת־קָרְבַּנְכֶֽם
2. Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When a man from [among] you brings a sacrifice to the Lord; from animals, from cattle or from the flock you shall bring your sacrifice.
Rashi brings down the Midrash, Vayikra Rabbah 2:7 that asks:
Why does the Torah use the word אָדָ֗ם vs. the more common Hebrew word of אִ֗ישׁ. It alludes to Adam, the first man, and teaches us: just as Adam, the first man, never offered sacrifices from stolen property since everything was his, so too you must not offer sacrifices from stolen property.
There is an obvious question – why would we need a lesson to teach us not to bring a Korban –sacrifice from stolen property. This should be obvious. The Mishkan represents Gods place on earth and it is a place where man connects to God. We are not allowed to cut the stones of the Mizbeach – Alter – by using a knife, because metal is an instrument of death. Why would you think that one could and would bring a Korban from stolen property?
The second answer of the Midrash to explain the use of the term אָדָ֗ם is
דָּבָר אַחֵר, אָדָם, זֶה לְשׁוֹן חִבָּה וּלְשׁוֹן אַחֲוָה וּלְשׁוֹן רֵעוּת, אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ
הוּא לִיחֶזְקֵאל בֶּן אָדָם, בֶּן אֲנָשִׁים כְּשֵׁרִים, בֶּן צַדִּיקִים, בֶּן גּוֹמְלֵי חֲסָדִים, בֶּן
שֶׁמְבַזִּין אֶת עַצְמָן עַל כְּבוֹדוֹ שֶׁל מָקוֹם וְעַל כְּבוֹדָן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל כָּל יָמָיו
The Midrash Rabbah HaMivoer explains this seemingly difficult Midrash. The word אָדָ֗ם is a reference to God, as we see in Yechezkel Chapter 1, Verse 26.
כו וּמִמַּ֗עַל לָֽרָקִ֙יעַ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עַל־רֹאשָׁ֔ם כְּמַרְאֵ֥ה אֶֽבֶן־סַפִּ֖יר דְּמ֣וּת כִּסֵּ֑א וְעַל֙ דְּמ֣וּת הַכִּסֵּ֔א דְּמ֞וּת כְּמַרְאֵ֥ה אָדָ֛ם עָלָ֖יו מִלְמָֽעְלָה:
“Above the expanse over their heads was the semblance of a throne, in appearance
like sapphire; and on top, upon this semblance of a throne, there was the semblance of a
We see that the highest level for God is referred to as אָדָ֛ם . It says in Bereshis, Chapter 1, Verse 26, “Let us make אָדָ֛ם in our image, after our likeness. First man, Adam, was 100% connected to God, perfection, representing the fulfillment of creation. This is the explanation of the Gemorah in Yevomos Page 61A, that someone who keeps all of Gods commandments is a אָדָ֛ם . אָדָ֛ם is a higher level of life. It represents one who is close to God, does all the Mitzvos and learns Torah. Since he cleaves to God, God in return uses an expression of love, brotherhood, and friendship.
Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch defines Adam expansively, the Verse in question starts off with a limitation saying, “Speak to the children of Israel and explain it to them: then uses the phrase – :אָדָ֛ם – if any man of you would bring an offering to God”. Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch explains, “Firstly, the subject, אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ – – children of Israel is extended by אָדָ֛ם – at the very portal of the laws given for the Jewish Temple, an inscription is made which opens this Temple to all men – not exclusively to Jews. Every human being can bring his offering here”. Rabbi Hirsch was a Universalist. He expresses the grandeur of the Jewish people, Jews are citizens of the world and we are a place of morality, we are put on this world to not only be good to Jews but to be good to humanity, to be a light unto the nations.
We have two different, seemingly conflicting interpretations of אָדָ֛ם . It can mean both, Man as being Godly, keeping Gods commandments, and cleaving to God, generally reserved for Jews who fully keep the Torah and Mitzvos and thus cling to God. It can also mean humanity.
Chazzan Silber embodies both definitions of אָדָ֛ם . He is a citizen of the world, singing opera, being a top insurance agent, lecturing in front of over 1,000 agents on various insurance products. Has a close relationship to non-Jewish relatives. At the same time he is close to God. He talks about Gods love for the Jewish people, is our Chazzan for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kipper. Chazzan Silber speaks every Shabbos. He is one of the top experts on America on Kabbalah and Chassidus. He comes from great people. His ancestors for generations were Rabbis, Torah scholars, and holy people. His father was Rosh Chazzannim in Hungary. When Chazzan Silber davens on Shabbos Mevorchim, and say the Yehi Ratzon, he uses his father’s composition. Imagine what it means to Chazzan Silber. They play it in Israel on public radio on the Friday of Shabbos Mivorchim and was able to sing it live last year. Chazzan Silber is our connection to Europe. After I once spoke about Theodore Herzl, Chazzan Silber told me that in 1949, when the bodies of Theodore Herzl and his wife were being reburied in Israel, the bodies were initially brought to the only remaining Shul in Austria, Stadttempel Synagogue. Chazzan Silber was the Chazzan and chanted the Kal Maalah Rachamin for Herzl. Wow. Living history. I used a story he told about his grandson to explain the Kotzker Rebbe.