I received a call from Rabbi Leibel Korf of Las Feliz (a neighborhood in LA, part of the Hollywood Hills). Refer to my post of February 18, 2018 – Chabad of Los Feliz: A Celebration of a Dream Come True. I donated a Mezuzah to their fund raising campaign and he was calling me to thank me for the donation. I think he only vaguely remembered me. I reminded Rabbi Korf of the great kindness he showed me during Thanksgiving weekend 2001. I was able to communicate my joy that he called me and told him about that weekend I spent as a guest in his house. What a great opportunity to lighten up his Rosh Hashana.
One week earlier, Labor Day weekend I was in Florida to visit my daughter and to attend the Greenbaum triplets Bar Mitzvah. We flew on Thursday night and arrived at Shoshana’s house at 2:30 AM Friday morning. I had to take Shoshana to work and her daughter Tiferet to school so I did not have time to daven. When I got home my wife wanted to go shopping for Shabbos, to Glicks in Delray Beach on Atlantic Avenue. I decided that I would daven in the parking lot. However, once I was there I remembered that there is a Chabad Shul adjacent to the parking lot. My Aunt Sarah davens there (her kids are the Benjamins in Chicago) and my cousin Carol, at times, davens at Chabad. To my pleasant surprise, the Shul was open and I davened. The Rabbi walked in and I said hello. The Rabbi is Rabbi Sholom Ber Korf, a first cousin to Rabbi Leibel Korf. I told Rabbi Sholem Ber what his cousin did for me. While I was talking to Rabbi Leibel Korf, I texted him the picture with his cousin and me.
I was ecstatic as I was able to again to thank Rabbi Leibel Korf, 17 years later, remind him of his Chesed, and give him regards from his cousin.
On Shabbos I spoke at the Glenners: Devorim Chapter 29, verse 11 says “to enter into the covenant of the Lord your God, which the Lord your God is concluding with you this day, with its sanctions.” I asked, what is this covenant? Rabbi Schnuer Zalmen Twerski said that the Ohr Hachaim explains that the covenant is one of “Arvus”, responsibility for one Jew to another. This changes the Jews from individuals to a nation as it says in Verse 12 – “to the end that He may establish you this day as His people and be Your God as he promised you and as He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Rabbi Twerski told me that he normally does not learn the Ohr Hachaim, however on Friday morning he had to sub a class and one boy did not have a study partner. Rabbi Twerski opened up a Chumosh and learned the Ohr Hachaim on Arvus, and was able to answer my question on Shabbos.
I added onto the Ohr Hachaim of Arvus – responsibility of one Jew to another – that the novelty of the Lubavitcher Rebbe was love. The traditional understanding in history has always been that one Jew has to rebuke another Jew. The novelty of the Lubavitcher Rebbe was that he introduced Arvus with love, with kindness, with respecting every Jew and being there, connecting the Jewish people to one another.
August 8 – 12, 2018 29 Elul 5778 – Yahrzeit of my Father-in Law Reb Itamar Yaakov Janowski: 1922 – August 16, 2004 Parshas Re’eh
Wednesday- August 8, 2018:
We left for our family trip to Toronto for our dear father’s and grandfather’s 13th Yahrzeit. We left at 7:00 PM with myself, my wife Serka, and Sholom in the car. We picked up Eli at his apartment and then Tzvi at the corner of Michigan and Roosevelt. We drove for over 4 hours and reached the Comfort Suites Inn in Birch Run, MI about halfway to Toronto. We always stay at a Comfort Suites Inn for the free breakfast.
Thursday August 9, 2018:
Woke up at 8:00 AM. Went to the parking lot to daven. I love the quietness of the outdoors when I am on the road. Used the Siddur I got for the Jonah Parker Bar Mitzvah. Had a breakfast of oatmeal and fruit. At 9:00 AM drove to visit a nursing home in Saginaw, MI. Impressed. Back on the road to Toronto at 11:00 AM. Arrived in Toronto at 5:00 PM. Davened Mincha and Maariv at Lubavitch. My brother-in-law, Yisroel, davened maariv before the amud for the yahrtzeit.
Friday August 9, 2018 – 29 Av 5778:
Davened at the BAYT. Went to the “Feld” (Cemetery). Gave Victor his scooter.We said Tehillim. Said a El Maaloh and Kaddish. I read the headstone’s words in Hebrew and translated. Yisroel, my brother-in-law, spoke very nicely about Elul. Said a Kal Maalah by Uncle Marvin Lister. Passed by Baruch Javasky and told my kids about him. Went back to my mother-in-law for a Yahrzeit meal. She always puts out a delicious spread. Was very B’Simcha that my daughter and son-in-law drove in with their two kids. It was nice to have my kids interacting with their Toronto cousins. Later in the afternoon went onto my mother-in-law’s balcony and learned Daf Yomi. I did two Blatt.
Shabbos Parshas Re’eh – August 10 -11, 2018:
7:00 PM – went to Shul, the BAYT, https://www.bayt.ca/ . Came right before Ma’ariv and Rabbi Daniel Korobkin was speaking on the Parsha. He talked about Achdus and it seems that Achdus in Toronto is fraying at the seams. Not sure what he was referring to. I believe it was about Eitz Chaim having trouble and consolidating their three campuses into two. After Davening went to pick up Mordy and Rivkie who are staying at Eli Janowski’s house, right near the BAYT. Walked to my mother-in-law for a delicious Shabbos meal.
Shabbos Morning – August 1o, 2018:
Davened at the 7:30 AM Hashkama Minyan. On the way met and talked to Dr. Klein, a physiatrist. Rabbi Diena spoke. He just graduated college (I think his degree is in one of the sciences) and decided to take time off and learn in Kollel. He will learning in the Kollel Torah MiTzion Kollel. Rabbi Diena spoke out the Ba’al Haturim on Chapter 13, Verse 2. This Bible portion talks about false prophets. Verse 3 says, “If there should arise in your midst a prophet or a dreamer of a dream . . .”. On the third word in the verse is בְּקִרְבְּךָ֙ . The Ba’al Haturim says that the gematria, numerical equivalent of בְּקִרְבְּךָ֙) 324) is the same as, Zo Haisha (324). The plain meaning of the Ba’al Haturim is as the Sifrei says that the Bible portion of a false prophet also applies to women. There is speculation that the original language of the Ba’al Haturim was בְּקִרְבְּךָ֙ נָבִ֔יא is the same gematria as Zo Ha’Isha U’Benah, this refers to the woman and her son – meaning Mary and Jesus, as being false prophets (both are 387) but was censored in the middle ages.
After Minyan, attended a great Minchas Chinuch Shiur by Rabbi Effie Kleinberg on the Mitzvah of Living in Israel. Great, great Shiur. After the Shiur spoke to various people. On is a radiologist who will be in Chicago in October for a convention.
Went upstairs to listen to the Rabbi’s Drasha. I am embarrassed to admit, but I have zero recollection of his speech.
After the speech went to pick up Rivkie and my grandkids. She was not ready to go. I walked outside the house and decided to say hello to the first person I met. It was my cousin’s kid, Yummi Javasky and family. His parents are Jerry and Shelly Javasky. We stopped by his grandfather’s grave in the cemetery. Yummi and family live in Israel and were in Toronto for a month. It was great seeing him. His parents are great people. His father managed a mutual fund for McKenzie. His mother took in special needs kids as foster kids from birth for a few years until the parents could get back on their feet.
Rivkie was going to walk directly to my mother in law. Mordy and I were going to visit family. We walked to Lubavitch. On the way we met the Bidners. We played Jewish geography. Shockingly, Mordy knew of their son. Made it to Lubavitch at 12:30 PM. Mordy met his cousins, the Schechts, his cousins who he never met before. Their mother is his aunt and he knows here quite well. Walked with Schmuli Bernstein and kids to his house on Esther Crescent. Schmuli’s wife is my niece. When I married into the family in 1980 she was a kid of 7 – 8 years old. She looked like a flower child. We caught up. It was great, Mordy dominated the conversation’s. Mordy and their 22 year old son,. Label, know many people in common. Left at 1:50 PM and made it back to my mother-in-law at 2:00 PM. We caught a little flak for coming so late. Great meal with the kids.
At 6:30 PM went to Shul for Daf Yomi being given by Rabbi Diena. Met my wife’s nephew, Mordy Rothman, who runs Chai Lifeline in Canada.
Sunday, August 12, 2018:
Davened at the BAYT. There was a Bris. Went back to my mother-in-law for brunch. At about 1:00 PM we went to North York General to visit Aunt Ruthie Lister, Marvin’s wife. Aunt Ruthie is 96, however, has been in the hospital for a year. She had he wits about her and it was important that my kids got a chance to see her. Her daughter (who was my Shadchan with Esther Chase) visits her mother every day is with her the better part of every day.
Finally hit the road at 3:00 PM and arrived back in Chicago at 1:00 AM the next day. Eli did most of the driving.
At the Yahrzeit Seudah.
In the cemetery with Cousin Hillel and Cousin Shimmy.
At the Yahrzeit Seudah.
View from the balcony.
Learning Daf Yomi on the balcony.
On the balcony in Bubbe’s condo right before leaving Toronto.
1:00 PM – Arrived at Midway for my flight to LaGuardia. Very excited. I have a carry-on case and a suit bag. I took two suitcases for Chani to bring things home.
4:00 PM – Arrived at LaGuardia. Netanel, Karen’s kid, picked me up. We had a long bumper to bumper drive to my cousin, Avi Maza, in Highland Park, NJ. (Our mothers are sisters.) Received a call from my co-worker that he is leaving MB. Big blow.
7:00 PM – Arrived at Avi’s house. His wife served us a delicious supper: chicken, turkey, soup, rice, salad, hot dogs. We met Avi’s kids. Netanel talked about his college experience at Queen’s college. Netanel sparkled. Avi’s daughter is not sure where she will go to college and they talked about the options. Went to Mincha at Congregation Ahavas Achim.
8:00 PM – Went to visit my Aunt Shirley. She is in her mid 90s and lives two blocks from her son. Spent 20 minutes visiting with Aunt Shirley. I have not seen her for well over 5 years. We caught up on old times. I called my mother and put her on the phone with Shirley. Aunt Shirley and her husband, Rabbi Yosef Maza TZL, would come into every Simcha and I miss seeing her. She is the life of the party. I love her family. Her ability to play Jewish geography was unsurpassed. It was important for me to go and I thank God that he allowed me the opportunity to visit. My daughter’s three years going to Stern College and my paying full tuition for all three years was worth it just so that I could come into her graduation and visit Aunt Shirley. I still regret my loss that when my Uncle Yosef Maza, was ill, I did not visit and stay with him for a Shabbos.
Only in New York/Brooklyn – Driving on the BQE through Williamsburg, a Seforim seller sets up his wares on the overpass. How does he move it at night or when it rains?
9:00 PM – davened Maariv and went back to Avi’s house. I was a pleasant mid-May evening so we sat on his deck and talked. I never realized how we had some similar life experiences.
10:00 PM – went downstairs and slept in a very comfortable bed.
TUESDAY – MAY 15th – YU CAMPUS VISIT:
Rosh Chodesh Sivan.
6:45 PM – davened Schachris. Had Rice Chex for breakfast with Avi.
One of my nephew’s, Matt Schwartz arranged for me to have a day at YU. I am excited. The day’s schedule is as follows:
9:45 AM – Rabbi Schwarzberg picked me up to drive me to YU. He is the director the YU’s job placement office for Rabbis and Kollel members. We had a great one hour trip. We played Jewish geography. Rabbi Schwarzberg knows everyone. He is great for his job. Rabbi Schwartzberg was the former Rabbi at Ahavas Achim, the main Shul in Highland Park. On Shavous he plans to speak about running in Halacha. I told him my vision for YU. They should open up Yeshivas based on YU Hashkafah, meaning Torah Al Pi Brisk, with a healthy sense of the world around them. They should use their Talmedai Chachomin and open up Kolleliem similar to Lakewood Kolleliem. Boca Raton needs a Kollel. Rabbi Reichman, Rabbi in Englewood, New Jersey should be set up with a Kollel and eventually a Yeshiva. He told me the issues. I feel that despite them, it should be done.
We talked about the greatness of Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff, Rabbi Herschel Reichman, Rabbi Korobkin, Rabbi Dovid Hirsch and other YU Rosh Yeshivas. I told him about Michael Parker’s Bar Mitzvah. I told him how I spent a beautiful Shabbos in Toronto when Rabbi Rakeffet-Rothkoff was a scholar in residence. I heard Rabbi Rakeffet-Rothkopff speak Friday night, Shabbos morning, and Mincha. I found out were he was eating the Shabbos meal and I popped into the house. It was by the Zeifmans. Zeifmans’ accounting company is used by my wife’s family and he knows my family. After Shabbos, I made sure to get a ride home with Rabbi Rakeffet-Rothkoff.
I admire Rabbi Schwarzberg. He advised a Rabbi not to sign on a nonsense Kol Korah against a well respected friends of ours. Unfortunately there is a tendency by some to hurt people they do not agree with and justify it religiously. The Kotzker has a Vort on this.
10:45 AM – arrive at YU and went to my nephew’s office in the admissions office.
11:05 AM – Put down my things and went to Rabbi Baruch Simon’s Shiur on Maaser Kesafim. Met Amos Weiss, who is retired and is a permeant student at YU.
12:00 PM – went to Rabbi Herschel Schechter’s Shiur on the laws of Geirus. He spoke on various questions of conversion. I introduced myself to him and we talked.
1:15 PM – went to Rabbi Yaakov Neuberger’s Shiur on eating diary on Shavous. I spoke to him after the Shiur. We spoke about Kotzk.
2:30 PM – davened Mincah. Saw Rabbi Reiss and said hello. Saw Rabbi Dovid Hirsch and said hello. Rabbi Yaakov Blau came over the said hello.
3:30 PM – went with Matt Schwartz to the Golan Heights for lunch. Chani made it to YU for our visit. Bought a Falafel. Saw a group of 5 guys sitting outside the restaurant. The leader of the group, Danielli, was a teacher at YU and taught Jewish history and was from Toronto. Knows the Janowskis and davens on occasion at the Baytt. Told them a Kokzker story.
4:00 PM – took lunch back to Matt’s office. The Falafel was delicious.
4:50 PM – went to Belfer Hall to meet with the President of YU, Rabbi Ari Berman. Outside the president’s office with Rabbi Ari Lamm. Ari Lamm was in Chicago a few weeks earlier and I attended his Shiur on Paul of Tarsis. I told him that what I got out of if was that Rabbi Yaakov Emden wrote about Paul and understood that Paul was not out to make Jews Christians. Paul was speaking to Christians. Rabbi Yaakov Emden was Malamud Zechoz on Paul. Rabbi Yaakov Emden was intellectually curious and honest. It appears that Rabbi Yaakov Emden actually read Paul in the New Testament.
5:05 PM – met with Rabbi Ari Berman. Matt and Chani were with me. I had wanted to talk about my vision for YU. However, I only had 5 minutes and he does not need me to “Hoch him a Kop”. Rabbi Berman had been in Israel the day before for the openings of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. He also had an evening event and graduation the next day. I asked him if he is related to Rabbi Berman head of the OU’s office in Jerusalem on Keren Hayesod. He said no and that over the years they received each other’s mail. He met the other Rabbi Berman in Israel the day before for the first time.
5:25 PM – met Michael Strauss, interim dean of the Sy Syms Schools of Business. He worked for American Express for many years before retiring and going over to YU.
5:45 PM – Tour is over. Had an exhausting, but rewarding day at YU.
6:15 PM got a ride with Matt’s friend to Chani’s dorm.
10:00 PM – Rivkie Morgenstern-Siegal came in for Chani’s graduation and we went to dinner at the Eden Wok. Chani had $45 on her restaurant card. Had sushi and some of Rvikie’s rice noodles. Delicious, but very unhealthy.
9:30 PM – took a Lyft to the Ramada Hotel near Newark airport. $90 Lyft ride.
11:30 PM – sleep.
Costs – Ramada – $400
Lyft rides – $126
WEDNESDAY – MAY 16, 2018 – GRADUATION DAY:
7:00 AM – woke up with great excitement. Today is graduation day. Not only is Chani Morgenstern graduating, but Karen’s kid, Matt Schwartz, is also graduating with a Masters Degree in Business.
7:30 AM – went to the workout room. Met the Ginzburgs from Silver Spring, Maryland. Their son is graduating.
8:15 AM – went to Chani’s room to see if I can be of help. I ironed her graduation gown.
8:45 AM – went to my room to get ready.
9:45 AM – brought our luggage down and ordered a LYFT
10:15 AM – arrived at the Prudential Center where the New Jersey Devils play. So exciting. I was pumped up. Came later then I wanted. Found seats towards the front of the stadium, about 20 rows up on the women’s side. I would have preferred seats within the first 5 rows. Karen and Netanel came soon thereafter, with Amitai coming later.
About 10 minutes after we found our seats, the processional started with the playing of Pomp and Circumstance. I wanted it louder. We looked for Chani and finally she was walking. She sat in the fourth row towards the right sideline. We waved and she waved back. She decorated the top of her cap with the words, Thank you Ma and Ta, so it was easy to always see her.
The program was opened with the singing of the national anthem. Ambassador Danny Danon, Israeli Ambassador to the UN, was conferred an Honorary Degree. He was the guest speaker. Former President Ricard Joel was also awarded an Honorary Degree. There was the valedictorian address and a video of the co-valedictorians. Lastly, President Rabbi Ari Berman spoke. I will say that during some of the speeches, nobody was listening. I walked out during one of the speeches and walked around. Many people were outside. Look who I found outside.
I ate inside. Netanel made me oatmeal, which as you can see, I enjoyed.
Time for the Conferring of Degrees and Diplomas. The graduate degrees were awarded first. They did not call out each graduate. One person represented the class and was presented with a degree. Matt Schwartz represented his class and he was mentioned by name. Time for the Undergraduates. They called out each graduate as the graduate walked across the stage. Each one took a picture with President Ari Berman.
With that the graduation was over. Very satisfying. I met Ranan Sugarman whose son was graduating. I met a Sofer from LA, Ron Sieger. Comes out their daughter was with Chani in Michlala in Israel.
12:45 PM: davened Schachris in the parking lot. I left my Tefilin in a suitcase that Netanel Schwartz had in his car.
1:00 PM -I texted Avi Maza for a suggestion where we can eat and celebrate with family. He suggested the Green Chickpea, www.greenchicpea.com. It was perfect. It was 15 minutes from the Prudential Center. Karen, Netanel, Matt, myself and Chani walked in and the place was packed. Amitai Schwartz was at the graduation but could not make it for lunch. My Rebbe, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, was at the restaurant with his family. His grandson graduated. Additionally, Karen knows Mrs. Weinreb’s sister. I hugged Rabbi Avrohom Kivilevitz. His daughter graduated. I haven’t seen him in 15 years since the left Chicago. He is the Mashgiach and works at IDT in Newark. I met a family from Springfield, MA. Chani met a friend who is from Chicago.
6:00 PM – Netanel dropped us off at Brookdale, Chani’s dorm. Chani had to pack for the trip home. It took longer than expected and we left at 7:35 PM for LaGuardia to catch an 8:55 PM flight to Chicago. We got to the airport at 8:12 PM and I was resigned to missing the flight. Initially we waited in line outside to check out baggage. After 10 minutes we were told to go inside as we came too late. We were in line for another 10 minutes. Chani had to re-arrange her luggage so as not to be overweight in one of the suitcases and not pay the $75.00 overweight fee. The third suitcase was 62 pounds and we had to pay $75.00. We had to take the luggage to the X-ray machine and then go through security. The line was short. We made it to the flight at 8:50 PM. Luckily, the flight was delayed and they did not start boarding until 9:00 PM. Boruch Hashem we made the flight. Waiting in line I met a couple flying to Chicago for Shavous. I know their son-in-law and was happy to do the family a favor. I offered them a ride home from Midway. They took me up on my offer. I was nervous because we had 5 suitcases and was afraid we would not have enough room in the car. As luck would have it, three of our suitcases did not make it on the flight so we had plenty of room in the car. My three suitcases came in the next day at 9:30 AM. I was at the airport to pick up my kids who were coming in for Shavous, so I did not have to make a special trip to the airport. It was Siatta Dishmaya.
Summer is finally setting in. The weather is always great. This Parsha has special significance to me. Seven years ago I was by Anshe Sholom sitting at the tables at the corner of Broadway and Melrose; the weather was perfect; it was about 1.5 hours before Shabbos; , I was learning the Parsha, and received a call which made me question a decision I made one year earlier. It was devastating . It took over a year to overcome that phone call. Additionally, on this Sedra I drove to Omaha to visit Rabbi Jonathan Gross.
On Shabbos after morning Minyan I went to visit Rabbi Hillel Mandel. I enjoy speaking Torah with him. I came after his meal, made Kiddush, and had some cake. I stayed for over an hour, maybe too long.
I learned the Sedra and have many questions, but only one answer:
1) Every year I learn about Ahron’s chagrin that he and his tribe were not part of the dedication. Ahron and his family ran the Mishkan. It was theirs so why was he upset. Why was he not gracious? Was it that he felt he left out because he was not part of the dedication? Seems that this is not consistent with his nature. I have heard answers, but nothing sticks and every year I ask the same question.
2) Chapter 9; Verse 10: If any man will become contaminated through a human corpse or “on a distant road”. . . . Rashi says ”a distant road” means you were outside the Sanctuary during the time of slaughtering the Korban Pesach on the 14th of Nissan, in the afternoon. It seems that almost everyone who did not offer a Pesach offering could do Pesach Shenei, even if he was negligent and could have slaughtered the Pesach offering on the 14th of Nissan. Seems odd. There is the serious punishment of Koras for not bringing the Pesach offering.
3) Chapter 8, Verses 15-23 talk about the Clouds covering the Mishkan, rising upwards, and traveling. It says Clouds 11 times in these verses, seems like overkill.
4) The sequence of events in the travels of the Jews in the desert is:
Chapter 10 Verse 29 says the Moshe asks Yisro, his father-in-law to stay with the Jews. This conversation took place right before they left, on the 19th of Iyar or the 20th in the morning.
Chapter 10, Verse 11 says that on the 20th of the Iyar the Clouds traveled and rested in the desert of Paran
Chapter 10, Verse 33 – they traveled three-day distance, meaning the 20th, 21st, and 22nd, so the Clouds rested on the 22nd at night. However, Rashi says they only traveled one day so it would seem that according to Rashi they rested on the 20th at night. However, further Rashis say that they did travel for three days.
Chapter 11, Verse 1 Rashi says they traveled for three straight days and complained. Not sure how to answer the previous Rashi which says they only traveled 1 day.
Chapter 11, Verse 1 The Misonenim – Complainers. Had to happen on the night of the 22nd.
Chapter 11, Verse 4: Kivros HaTavah. Israel wanted meat. This took place on the 23rd and 24th. At the same time the 70 other prophets were elevated, and Eldad and Modad prophesized.
Chapter 12, Verses 1 through 16 – Miriam’s episode lasted for 7 days.- from 24 -30th of Iyar. On the 30th of Iyar they traveled from Chazeros (Verse 16) to Paran. Ranban, – they traveled from one place in the Paran desert to another place.
Chapter 13 Verse 1 – The spies which were sent out of the 1st of Sivan.
5) Chapter 31- verse 35 and 46 has the two verses we say whenever the Torah is taken form the ark.
These two Verses are bracketed by the letter NUN, however, backwards.
לו. וּבְנֻחֹ֖ה יֹאמַ֑ר שׁוּבָ֣ה יְהֹוָ֔ה רִבֲב֖וֹת אַלְפֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל :
Rashi says He (God) made marks for this passage before and after it, to indicate that this is not its proper place. Where is the proper place? The Gur Aryeh said at Chapter 2, Verse 17.
However, the very next Rashi says on the words | יְהֹוָ֗ה ‘ קוּמָ֣ה – “because He had preceded them by a distance of three days travel, Moses says, Stop and wait for us do not move on any further. The next two Rashis are also in the moment and Moshe is saying to God that He should fight against the enemies right now who are assembled to fight the Jews going into Eretz Yisroel. Just like forty years later the Jews fought Sichon and Oag who were assembled to battle the Jews going into Israel.
The question is obvious. How could the first Rashi say that the backwards Nuns signal that this is not its proper space when the very next Rashi seems to say that this is its proper place and that Moshe said theses two Verses at this time. This was the first time the clouds traveled and the first time Moshe used this prayer. How is Rashi to be understood?
On Sunday I was telling Karen my question and the answer came to me. Moshe created these two Verses as a new prayer to be used when Israel traveled; whether in the desert or if I may speculate whenever they went to war, forced out of Spain, the Holocaust, or when the IDF goes out to battle. Moshe created this prayer back in Chapter 2 Verse 17 and that is the proper place. Each leader saying this prayer must customize it for the needs of the time. It is not just words. Moshe individualized the prayer for the needs of this specific time. Every time a Jewish leader travels he customizes the prayer for that time and Rashi is explaining Moshe’s customization for the first time Moshe used the prayer when Israel traveled in the desert.
This Shabbos is the Sheloshim for our dear Uncle, Avraham Mordechai Janowski. His parents, Eliyahu and Shoshana Bracha Janowski, had 4 children; Kelcha, Simon (my father-in-law), Sam, and the youngest son, Reb Avraham Mordechai. His kids, Rachel and Aryeh Benjamin, made a Kiddush for their father at Bnei Ruvain. I davened at Bnei Ruvain in honor of my uncle. I took Naftali with me. Of course Naftali disappeared and came back right before the opening of the ark. And of course, when the ark was about to be opened, Naftali zoomed up to the ark and opened it. Since Naftali was born, there was a new condition in the world. Naftali has first rights to opening the ark in the entire world, even if someone else was given the honor and paid for it
The Kiddush was sumptuous, including sushi salad. Aryeh Benjamin spoke beautifully about his father in law. He praised his wife, Rachel, for her dedication to her father.
I spoke about Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski, and then made a Siyum on Meschita Avodah Zarah. I felt a kinship to him. He and his wife graciously made a Shevah Brochos for me when I married Serka in May 1980. I was impressed by his family. They had a very nice suburban home on Cactus Drive in Toronto in the Bnei Torah neighborhood. I was (and some say, still) a ghetto Jew. My family and I lived in an apartment in the city. We were not upwardly mobile and did not move to the suburbs with the majority of Jews, primarily secular Jews. I would visit Reb Avraham Mordechai when I would go into Toronto. I did not realize his name was Avraham Mordechai. Avraham Mordechai is a major Gerrer name as it is the name of the oldest son of the Chidusshei Harim. The Janowski family in Europe was Gerrer Chassidim, so it is very lively that he was named for the Chidusshei Harim’s son (or the Imrei Emes).
Shalosh Seudas Meal – The Legacy of Nadav V’Avihu
I spoke at the Shalosh Seudas meal. I dedicated my Torah to:
The Sheloshim of my uncle Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski
The 85th Yahrzeit of my mother’s Bubbe, known as the Yunge Bubbi.
To a speedy recovery for my mother who was in the hospital
When I first learned about Nadav and Avihu, I had a hard time with the unfairness of it all – to his father, Aaron, and the Jewish people. Is this the legacy of the Jewish people that even in a time of great joy, we have to have tragedy? What was their sin that had to be a tragedy? The simple answer is that, imagine at the inauguration of a President in the US, a soldier breaks protocol and does something on his own. That soldier would be reprimanded by either being put in the brig, reduced in rank, or even discharged from the Army. If it happened with a King, that soldier would in all likelihood be executed on the spot. What Nadav and Avihu did was equally as bad.
Let us understand the event in depth. The following Verses discuss the death of Nadav and Avihu and its aftermath.
Vayikra – Chapter 10:
Verse 1 tells us what Nadav and Avihu did –
And Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, each took his pan, put fire in them, and placed incense upon it, and they brought before the Lord foreign fire, which He had not commanded them.
Verse 2 tells us how they died:
And fire went forth from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.
Verse 3 tells us what Moshe told Aaron and that Aaron was silent, he accepted what happened:
Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, [when He said], ‘I will be sanctified through those near to me, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ “And Aaron was silent.
Verse 4 and 5 talk about removing the dead bodies –
4. And Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Draw near; carry your brothers (actually first cousins) from within the Sanctuary, to the outside of the camp.
5. So they approached and carried them with their tunics to the outside of the camp, as Moses had spoken.
Verse 6 and7 tells Aaron and his remaining g sons that they should not go into mourning –
6. And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his sons, “Do not leave your heads unshorn, and do not rend your garments, so that you shall not die, and lest He be angry with the entire community, but your brothers, the entire house of Israel, shall bewail the conflagration that the Lord has burned
7. And do not go out of the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, lest you die, because the Lord’s anointing oil is upon you.” And they did according to Moses’ order.
Verse 7 – 11 warns Cohanim not to walk into the Ohel Moad after drinking wine.
Verse 12 goes back to the story of the dedication of the Mishkan.
Nadav and Avihu’s sin:
Aaron sees his dead sons. Aaron is beyond words, The Ranban says the Aaron is weeping loudly. At that moment Aaron was agonizing over the following:
1) He sees his two sons’ dead.
2) He also sees his sons ignore the two great leaders, their uncle and father, Moshe and himself. Not only that, they walked into the Mishkan after drinking wine. He is aghast.
Rashi on Verse 2 brings down two opinions. 1) Rebbe Eliezer who says that they decided a question of Jewish law themselves and did not go to their leaders, Moshe and Aaron. 2) Rebbe Yishmoel says that Nadav and Avihu entered the Mishkan after having drunk wine.
3) He blames himself. He feels he failed his kids.
Rashi on Verse 12 says that at as result of his sin by the golden calf, all of Aaron’s 4 sons were to die as punishment. Moshe prayers helped to save two of them.
4) Aaron is worried that even his remaining two sons would die.
In Verse 3Moshe consoles Aaron and Rashi eloquently explains:
“ ‘וגו ‘הואאשרדברה: THIS IS WHAT GOD SPOKE, etc. — Where had He spoken this? In the statement (Exodus 29:43), “And there I will be met by the children of Israel and the Tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory (בכבודי).” Read not here בִכְבוֹדִי, “by My Glory” but בִּמְכֻבָּדַי, “through My honoured ones” (Zevachim 115b). “
Moses here said to Aaron: “ אָחִיאַהֲרֹן” – “Aaron My brother!” – with all the love of one brother to another – do not agonize over the circumstances and death of your sons –
“I knew that this House was to be sanctified by those who are beloved of the Omnipresent God and I thought it would be either through me or through thee; now I see that these (thy sons who have died) are greater than me and than thee!” (Leviticus Rabbah 12 .
Aaron – your sons were great people, greater then us two. The death of your two sons was preordained by God, their death had to happen at this time. Do not focus on our and their shortcomings, we are all human. What happened is Gods plan.
Aaron accepts Moshe’s words and is consoled as he silences himself.
Nadav is an accepted Jewish name.
Rashi on Verse 4 says that Moshe told Aaron’s nephews to remove the dead bodies, as not to disturb the joy of the dedication of the Mishkan. The Mishkan and its deduction was a great moment for the Jewish people and the Jewish people. The Mishkan is God’s place in this world. The acceptance by God and bringing his presence into the Mishkan is evidence that the sin of the golden calf was forgiven. Rashi In effect is saying the death of Nadav and Avihu in Gods plan is not a tragedy. in fact the Nadav and Avihi are rejoicing as their souls ascend heavenward towards God. If I may add, the same way we believe that those that were martyred in the holocaust, were embraced by God as their souls rose heavenward. Moshe understands and relates to Aaron that Nadav and Avihu in the next world are in joy realize they were integral to building and dedicating the Mishkan, therefore remove their bodies and let the joy continue. If I have the Chutzpah to suggest the martyrs of the holocaust were integral to creating a State of Israel and the building of Torah both in Israel and America. During the week of Pesach Shenei I was by the Shul in Buckingham and Rabbi Unger spoke between Mincha and Maariv. Rabbi Unger mentioned a Chidusshei Harim. Pesach Shenei is discussed in Numbers 9:6-13. Mishael and Elzaphan want desperately to do a Korban Pesach and go to Moshe and Aaron expressing their desire to serve God like the rest of the Jews. Verse 8 says:
The Rim focuses on the last work in Verse 8 – לָכֶֽם:.
Moshe says, what God will answer “you”, how will He respond to your strong wish to get closer to God. The Rim continues and says that Hashem created a new law just for them. There is a make up Pesach sacrifice for them. This is something we find no where else in the Torah. This was enacted solely because of the desire for Mishael and Elzaphan for closeness to God. Perhaps this is the answer to Nadav and Avihu. Nadav and Avihu wanted to feel closeness to God. However, they decided for themselves how to get closer to God. Our spiritual needs cannot be met by innovating against the Torah. Mishaal and Elzaphan wanted the same close spiritual connection to God. In contrast to their cousins, they went to their leaders to Moshe and Aaron and said we want to feel this closeness to God; we want to bring a Pesach Sacrifice.
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.
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
“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.
I received a notice from Chabad of Los Feliz that they are building and will be opening up a brand new center. http://www.chabadlosfeliz.org/. We say a blessing to God for letting us share is this great Simcha.
Chabad of Greater Los Feliz is dedicated to providing every Jew regardless of background, philosophy or level of commitment, an open door environment for strengthening and enhancing Jewish family life. Chabad serves individuals and families looking for an anchor and non-judgmental, accepting, personalized Jewish experience.
Chabad offers “Judaism with a Smile,” and a home away from home for everyone who walks through its doors
This is a great moment for Rabbi Korf and his wife, for Chabad of Los Feliz, for Chabad, and for Klal Yisroel.
The kindness of Rabbi Leibel and Dvonye Korf to my family:
It is Thanksgiving 2001 and my father is in the Kaiser Permanete hospital at Sunset and Vermont. I flew into LA to be with my father. I was driving east on Sunset from La Brea to get to Kaiser Permanete. I thought there were no Jews from La Brea going east to Denver, Colorado. I was worried about Shabbos. I spent Thursday night with my father. It was terrible. The hospital did not give my father food as they had to test him to make sure he could swallow. It was excruciating watching my father in pain. Though the night he keep mumbling and saying occasional words. I imagined that he was re-living the holocaust. Finally in mid morning they had a therapist test my father and they were able to feed my father.
On Friday morning I was speaking to Heshy Maryles and his wife telling them my problem about Shabbos. They told me that there is a Chabad house near the hospital. I was shocked and knew my prayers were answered. At 11:00 AM I called Rabbi Korf who told me that there is no problem. I can sleep in his house and have my Shabbos meals with them. I was with my father Friday afternoon and went over to the Korfs for Shabbos. Davened in their storefront Shul at 1727 N. Vermont. The Friday meal was inspiring. The house and table were set up beautifully and there was a full table of guests. Rabbi Korf was only 28 and his wife a drop younger and they had the poise of real adults. The only specific dialogue I remember is one 45-50 year woman who said that she was born in America and lacks the drive of immigrants who are driven to be successful.
Being at the Friday night meal, I saw the embryo of a community and wanted to be part of it. It was beautiful. Rabbi Korf told me of his dream to build a Torah center and now 16 years after the Korfs showed me kindness, there dream is being fulfilled. Let us all be part of the Simcha and support the Korfs in their holy endeavor.
Shabbos morning I went to visit my father and then made it to Shul at about 10:15M I was the 10th man. The Rabbi told me that the person who leined (about 50 years old) was a former Yeshiva bocher who went off the Derek. Rabbi Korf was bringing him back to religion, as only Lubavitch can do.
At the Kiddush there was Cholent. I told the Rabbi, “Can you imagine, we are eating Cholent miles east of La Brea, well outside the Frum community, a very Jewish food where I thought there were no Jews.
Being at the Friday night meal, I saw the embryo of a community and wanted to be part of it. It was beautiful. Rabbi Korf told me of his dream to build a Torah center and now 16 years after the Korfs showed me kindness, there dream is being fulfilled. Let us all be part of the Simcha and support the Korfs in their holy endeavor.
Seventeen years ago a young couple arrived in Los Angeles with a dream: to reach out to fellow Jews who might be unaffiliated, who might be disconnected from their heritage and their faith, who might want to learn about what it means to be Jewish through educational, cultural, social and spiritual activities in a warm, non-judgmental, supportive community. And so, Chabad of Greater Los Feliz was born, one of over three thousand similar Chabad Centers around the world.
Rabbi Leibel Korf and his wife Dvonye started their first Chabad House in their own home, at 1944 N. Berendo Street in what was then the not-so-fashionable East Side of Los Angeles. With their six-month old baby Mendel at their side, they opened their doors and celebrated their first Shabbos in August 1998 with only two guests, neighborhood Jews who were pleasantly surprised by a dinner invitation from their community’s energetic new rabbi and rebbitzen. By that September, there were 25 people for High Holiday services. A few weeks later, over fifty people showed up for dinner in the Korfs’ backyard Sukkah. Soon, there was a Hebrew School in the living room, adult education classes at the dining room table, and a minyan for Shabbat.
Slowly, the Korfs built strong relationships in a neighborhood that was turning into one of the hippest, liveliest and fastest-growing in Los Angeles. By July of 1999, when the Korfs moved into their present home at 1932 New Hampshire, the Chabad of Greater Los Feliz was still in the living room, but they now were providing educational and social programs to hundreds of local Jews. Speakers came to visit Los Feliz; there was a Lag B’Omer picnic in Griffith Park, and even the first sleepover Shabbaton at the Ramada Inn. By Rosh Hashana that year, there were so many worshippers the Rabbi had to rent a hall to accommodate them.
In 2000, the Korfs opened their first true Chabad House, a storefront at 1727 N. Vermont Avenue. For five and a half years the little synagogue and community center in the mini-mall served neighborhood Jews with the Korfs’ trademark warmth and supportive spirit. Locals and visitors alike learned that they were always still welcome for Shabbos meals at the Korfs’ table, and if, G‑d forbid, they were hospitalized at any of the nearby hospitals, they and their families were never alone. The Korfs were always there to provide spiritual support, delicious kosher food, and religious services free of charge to anyone who needed them.
Chabad of Greater Los Feliz moved into its beautiful new building at 1930 Hillhurst Avenue in February of 2006. In the past years, through the generosity of the Rosenthal family and all of our other wonderful contributors, Oma’s Center (named for Martha Levisohn Auerbach, Phil Rosenthal’s grandmother) has attracted even more worshippers, students and eager members of our neighborhood’s thriving Jewish community. Rabbi Korf and Dvonye still feed us all, physically and spiritually, and now with six beautiful children they still open their home and their hearts to all of us.
Recently, Rabbi Korf began a special program at Children’s Hospital, called the Rebbitzen Raichik Child First program, which offers a variety of services to children undergoing treatment and their families. We offer books, videos and storytelling, arts and crafts, and play activities for children of all ages, with three full-time volunteers at the hospital. We urge you to contact us whenever you have family or friends who need our help at a time we know can be so stressful and difficult.
Chabad of Greater Los Feliz serves one of the most diverse Jewish communities in the United States, and certainly one of the most diverse Chabad Houses. The Korfs serve the young and the old, singles and families, working people and retirees, newlyweds and widows, Russians, Israelis, French. Latinos, blacks, whites, hipsters, converts, children – all of whom share a common faith and a common goal: to connect through Judaism to each other, to our heritage, to ourselves, and to G‑d.
We wish you and our entire community continued blessings. May the past ten years be only the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship, as together we help Judaism to thrive in this special corner of the world, and hasten the coming of Moshiach with every mitzvah.
On Friday January 12, 2018 I sent out the following e-mail to the Rabbis and other I have corresponded with in the past. However, on Shabbos, I spoke, and my speech is after this e-mail. See how I developed what I said below:
From: Mitch Morgenstern
Sent: Friday, January 12, 2018 12:56 PM
To: Mitch Morgenstern
Cc: Mitch Morgenstern
Subject: Vort from Rabbi Meshulaim Tzvi Gross, TZL
I am trying to understand the attached Vort and I apologize for not being articulate on the subject as it is swirling in my head. Have a Good Shabbos and I would like to thank everyone in advance for allowing me to e-mail you.
About 15 years ago I was siting at a wedding and started talking to Reuben Gross from Teaneck, NJ. He mailed me his father’s Sefer. I have attached the face page and the picture of the Mechaber. Over the years I have looked at the Sefer. In this week’s Sedra I am drawn to the attached Vort. What does it mean that they were like sojourners even in Canaan? How did this change their actions? I heard a class this week from Rabbi Wolkenfeld on the life of Dr. Sigmund Freud and his connection to the Jewish people. Did Dr. Freud always feel like an outsider because of the reality built into the cosmos that Jews will always remain separate, and that we have to embrace it just like the Avos did.
The reality is that it is natural for people to want to feel part of the country they live in and be part of the culture. This weekend I will watch some of the football games. I have studied the battle of Gettysburg. Is this opposite of feeling like a sojourner in America?
Rabbi Goldberg – thank you for the Shiur this week. In the last Possuk of last weeks Sedra, (Chapter 6, Verse 1) Hashem’s initial reaction says “Vayomer” and not V’Yidaber. Even though according to Rashi, Moshe is being punished, Hashem does not speak to Moshe harshly. I do like (prefer) the Kli Yakor’s explanation. When I read the Passuk without Rashi, it always seemed to me as if Hashem is semi-apologizing or maybe saying to Moshe you are right and now you will see how I will save the Jews.
On Shabbos at Kiddush I mentioned Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s class on Dr. Sigmund Freud. Chazzen Silber said the Dr. Freud was one of us, meaning his Neshama was Orthodox, although his lifestyle was not. He mentioned that the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe met with Dr. Freud.
SPEECH AT THE SHOLUS SEUDOS MEAL ON JANUARY 13, 2018:
1) I first spoke my last comment in the above e-mail. In Chapter 6, Verse 2 God speaks to Moshe harshly, but is not angry. However, the Possuk before, Verse 1, does not say the God spoke to Moshe harshly. However, you have Rashi saying on Verse 1 that Moshe was punished. I do not have a clear Pshat. I did add that when Moshe said, Why did You do bad to the people, why did you send me”, Moshe was perhaps also saying something else. I told the Jews that I am here to take them out of Egypt and it got worse. This is the Jews first encounter with Moshe. Things did not get better, but get worse. This first impression will live with the Jews forever. Whenever Moshe would say things will be good, the Jews would never be sure, they would be skeptical. First impressions count.
2) I said over Rabbi Meshulim Tzvi Gross’s Vort on Verse 4.
ד וְגַ֨ם הֲקִמֹ֤תִי אֶת־בְּרִיתִי֙ אִתָּ֔ם לָתֵ֥ת לָהֶ֖ם אֶת־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן אֵ֛ת אֶ֥רֶץ מְגֻֽרֵיהֶ֖ם אֲשֶׁר־גָּ֥רוּ בָֽהּ:
4. And also, I established My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings in which they sojourned.
I passed out my above e-mail and attachments and read Rabbi Meshulim Gross’s words. The consensus of opinion was that the Avos remained humble. Although they lived in their own land, they never closed themselves off from the world. They knew that it is their job tis o spread goodness in the world.
3) I spoke out how to understand Verse 5 using Rashi.
ה וְגַ֣ם | אֲנִ֣י שָׁמַ֗עְתִּי אֶת־נַֽאֲקַת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר מִצְרַ֖יִם מַֽעֲבִדִ֣ים אֹתָ֑ם וָֽאֶזְכֹּ֖ר אֶת־בְּרִיתִֽי
5. And also, I heard the moans of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians are holding in bondage, and I remembered My covenant.
The covenant mentioned in Verse 5, is not the same covenant mentioned in Verse 4.
Verse 4 says I entered into a covenant with the Avos to bring the Jews to the land of Canaan. The “and also” of Verse 5 does not mean therefore (because of the promise to bring the Jews to the land of Canaan) I have listened to the cries of the Israelite’s in Egypt .
No, Verse 5 says, Because of the cries of the Israelites, it is now time for me to remember the covenant promised to Avrohom at the “Bris Ben Basarim” that I will judge the nation that will enslave the Jewish people. Meaning because of the cries it is time to free the Jews and listen to that covenant..
4) I spoke out the meaning of the 4 expressions of redemption. The Sepurno is the most logical Pshat and the one we would say. Rashi seems to say like the Ranban.
1) וְהֽוֹצֵאתִ֣י Sepurno – When the plagues started, the slavery ended.
Ranban – taking the Jews out of Egypt
Sepurno – Leaving Egypt – at Ramsas when they crossed over the border.
Ranban – The Jews in Canaan will not be a vassal state. Meaning the Egyptians will not have domain on the Jews even when the Jews have their own land.
Sepurno – Drowning the Egyptians at the Yam Suf. Destruction of the Egyptian army.
Ranban – God will judge (and punish) the Egyptians until they say, we give
the Jews a redemption of our souls, because the meaning of Geulah is
like a sale (mentioned by sale of fields and houses in Israel at the
end of Vayikra). The meaning of “we give to the Jews as
redemption for our lives,” means the money and clothes. I
believe the Ranban is explaining the understanding of “and then they
will leave with great wealth” like I did last year. For an
enslaved person to truly feel free is 1) the enslavers are properly
punished, and more importantly; 2) that the enslavers apologize
and recognize what they did was wrong. When the Jews asked for
money and clothes, the Egyptians said, we apologize for what we did
and the money is yours. You Jews earned it for working for 210
4) וְלָֽקַחְתִּ֨י When you were at Mount Sinai and accept the Torah. Both the Sepurno and Ranban.
5) Chapter 6, Verse 26:
Rashi says Moshe and Aaron were equal. Rabbi Goldberg asked, Moshe was a bigger Prophet. Rabbi Goldberg mentioned Reb Moshe Feinstein , that they were equals in that the each completely fulfilled their purpose in life. Of course Moshe was bigger and the greatest prophet, but both fulfilled their destiny and mission in life.
6) Chapter 6, Verse 15:
Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel says the Levi lived for 137 years and saw his great grandchildren, Aaron and Moshe the redeemers of Israel. The question is obvious. Levi died 36 years froe Moshe and 33 years before Aaron. Levi never saw Aaron or Moshe.
The Sefer “Hamelitz Benataim was written by Rabbi Tzvi Fishbane who lives in Chicago. His son-in-law, Aaron Karman was at the table when I spoke.
Rabbi Fishbane in his Sefer answers the question based on Rabbi Fishbane’s nephew, Dovid Katz.. Based on the Sepurno on Verse 12 that Levi lived longer than all his brothers, taught his grandchildren to understand and teach, and so did Kehas and Amrom, They taught their children greatness resulting in the two great leaders of Israel, Moshe and Aaron.
Based on the Sepurno , perhaps this is the meaning of the Targum Yonasan ben Uziel, that the education of Levi was evident in Moshe and Aaron, it is as if Levi saw them and taught them.
ויגדל משה AND MOSES WAS GROWN — But has it not already been written, (Exodus 2:10) “And the child grew”? Rabbi Judah the son of Eloai said: the first time it refers to growth in stature, the second time to greatness, — that Pharaoh appointed him to have charge over his palace (Tanchuma Yashan 2.2:17; cf. also Yalkut Shimoni on Torah 166:11).
Moshe was the Jewish nation’s inside man. Moshe was in charge of the house of Pharaoh, meaning he was the chief builder, chief architect and was in a position to ensure that the slavery in Egypt would be tolerable. Per the Medresh, he already convinced Pharaoh to give the Jews a day off and it was Shabbos. Had Moshe remained in power the slavery in Egypt would have been benign. Due to two selfish people, evil men, who informed on Moshe to Pharaoh, the future of the exile in Egypt changed and thousands of Jewish babies were killed, the people suffered back braking slavery. Yes, one or two evil men can destroy a world.
(Over Shabbos, I added, that the other story of Shifrah and Puah – Yocheved and Miriam, was one of greatness, defying Pharaoh and perhaps changing history.)
It is difficult for me to sleep and I wake up numerous times at night. To sleep, I have to force my mind to put myself in a place and feel what it would be like. I will not think about the Holocaust because it is too dangerous. I started out with being at Gettysburg along the Union line with the Confederates charging the line.
I switched to thinking about Jewish history. I focused on two times in Jewish history that were moments that changed everything. Throughout history decisions are made, events unfold, that change the course of history. I would suppose that God does not intervene, but lets man chose. Man must choose the right path. Once man chooses for better or worse, Hasgachah Pratis, divine guidance affects the future.
The two events I think about is when the 10 tribes broke off from the 2 tribes. Two selfish kings destroyed Israel. Once the split happened the northern 10 tribes would follow a different Torah. The nation of Israel could never again be united. Who stood up for the people, the congregation of Klal Israel? NO ONE. There was no one with the power to change the course of history. They could not go up against two powerful, corrupt kings. It was the start of the end. It took roughly two hundred years for Sanchreb to destroy the northern kingdom. In 2003+- Martin Brody took me to the UCLA Hillel for Shabbos morning Davening. Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller spoke eloquently. He said the Jews do better with leaders that are Avos, father figures than kings. How true. This is what the Torah worried about and was concerned about shifting from judges and father figures to kings.
The other time of history I insert myself into, is European Jewry. Who could have changed the destiny of European Jewry so that the holocaust would not happen. 1881 is given as the start of the destruction of European Jewry, when the Czar issued harsh decrees against the Jewish people. Previously, anti Semitism which was terrible, was isolated. In 1881 anti-Semitism morphed into pervasive state sponsored anti-Semitism, which effected a country’s entire Jewish population. Newspapers were enlisted in this growing and insidious anti-Semitism. The Jews of the Pale of Settlement were forced to leave. For 1881 to 1914, about 2 million Jews left, with 1.5 million going to America. This is tragically demonstrated in the movie, Fiddler on the Roof. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_of_Settlement
In 1885, my grandfather wrote a short Sefer, Sholom Yeruhalim, and felt that the start of the movement back to Israel was the start of the coming of Moshiach and was a worthwhile endeavor. He tried to develop an agricultural settlement for 1,000 families. History could have changed but it did not happen and my grandfather had to abandon the project. Tragic.
In 1894 Theodore Herzl was standing at the gates outside of the military base where Captain Alfred Dreyfus was dishonored. Upon seeing and hearing the cries of death to the Jews in liberal France, he clearly saw, like daylight, that there was no future for the Jews of Europe. Of course, he could not predict a holocaust, but he understood the Jews have three options; 1) leave Europe willingly, 2) be thrown out 3) live in fear and live with pogroms..
Herzl was very charismatic and I believe put on this earth by God to help get the Jews to leave Europe and get into Israel. Herzl only wanted to help Jews. God does not hurt the Jewish people by placing a decent man on the earth.
Unfortunately he failed to convince the Jews to move to Israel at that time when they could and go to the land that God promised is flowing with milk and honey.
Tough week at work. Happy to see Shabbos come. My two boys, Sholem and Tzvi, drove to Florida, to spend a month there. They made it to my daughter in Boynton Beach on Thursday at about 6:00 PM. I was full of joy. My three kids were together in Southern Florida. Eli ate by a friend on Friday night, so we had a quiet Shabbos.
I would like to wish Dr. Yosef and Dr. Joyce Morgan and his wife a huge Mazel Tov. Their son, David, married Rachel in Tzfas, Israel. What a Simcha and I wish I was there. I love you Yosef and Joyce.
This week I want to remind everyone of the Minhag in Klal Yisroel to eat Chinese food on the 25th and go to a movie. I told my boss (who is not Frum) that, as you know among Orthodox Jews, we always have questions and different guidelines. I said, jokingly, that there is a question when the Minhag of Chinese food starts on the 24th after sunset or on the 25th.
Shabbos Morning December 23, 2017:
Shabbos morning I walked to Anshe Sholem. I needed the walk and wanted to hear a great speech. Rabbi Wolkenfeld obliged. I saw Dr. David Passman, the super Jew Jack Berger, Herb Eiseman, Norm Levits and his wife. Norm is from Krinik and my Zedi is also from Krinik. He told me that when he went back to visit Krinik in 2010, Krinik was as backward as when his family left in 1920. What I found interesting is that as I looked around the Shul, it seemed like there has been a 50% turnover of congregants. I saw more single guys than Talasim. I left the Shul after Kiddush at 12:45 PM and got home at 2:30 PM. It was cold going home. It was about 29 degrees and I needed to wear the hood on my jacket, however, I like to have my Yarmulke showing so as to have people say Good Shabbos to me. I put on the hood once I got north on Clark street, which has less people.
Rabbi Wolkenfeld stated that in this Parsha there were three different interactions with Pharaoh, with power; Yosef, Yaakov, and Yehuda.
Yosef was part of the power structure. He was loyal to Pharaoh and made Pharaoh very wealthy.
Yaakov on the other hand says, the days of the years of my sojourns have been 130 years. Few and bad have been the days of the years of my life . . . Yaakov seemed to react as the curmudgeon old Jew who, when asked how things are going, always responds “Oh Vey, things are bad, this is no good and this is a problem.” Rabbi Wolkenfeld said beautifully. As Yaakov was on his way to Egypt, God appears in a dream (Chapter 46, Verses 1-4) and says: “Do not fear descending to Egypt, I will go down with you and I will bring you up.” Yaakov knew that eventually his descendants would be enslaved in Egypt. This is why Yaakov is not in the moment when visiting g Pharaoh. He dismissed Pharaoh. Yaakov was focused on the destiny of Klal Yisroel. Pharaoh meant nothing to Yaakov and Yaakov knew the Pharaoh or his descendants will enslave the Jewish people. Yaakov had no interest in dialoging with Pharaoh. Maybe Yaakov was hinting this to Pharaoh, just like my days were bad, you will continue the bad by enslaving my children.
Yehuda on the other hand stood up to Yosef who Yehuda thought was Ki’Pharaoh. Yehuda was respectful.
Full text of Rabbi Wolkenfeld’s drashas, more or less, are now up on the shul’s Facebook page and should be up on the shul’s website on Tuesday. (You can go to asbi.org, click on “library” and then click on “sermons” for most of the drashot from the past 5 years).
Please look at the Ranban on Chapter 47, Verse 14. Focus on the last line of the Ranban, which is phenomenal and something that answers a question on Yosef’s actions of having the Egyptians buying the food and not giving it to them.
My Torah on this week is as follows.
When Yosef reveals himself to his brother and says. “I am Yosef, is my father still alive, and they could not answer because they were embarrassed.” The plain understanding is that Yosef was rebuking them, he was angry at them for selling him. Once he got it off his chest, he mellowed out.
However, based on another Verse, we can say a different explanation of the dialogue. In last week’s Torah portion, Chapter 41, Verse 51. “And Yosef called his first born son, Menashe, because God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s household. “ Yosef had everything, he went form a slave to being the second most powerful man in Egypt, he got the pretty wife, had a son, and God was with him in everything he did. He could not make a wrong decision. Not only that, his wife was the daughter of Dinah (per the Medresh). It was his niece. By marrying Dinah’s daughter, the house of Yaakov was made whole. As a result Yosef was no longer angry. He was able to forget the wrong that happened to him. Of course, Yosef missed his father dearly and longed for the day he would be reunited with his father. When the brothers came to him, he saw the first dream coming true and he was waiting for the second dream to become true, and only then would he reveal who he was. When Yosef said,” I am Yosef, is my father still alive.” He was not rebuking them, Yosef had moved beyond his anger and his negative feelings towards his brothers. He was stating a fact, “I am Joseph” then “Is my father alive.” Meaning, you said my father is alive, is this true, or did you say it just to say what you think I wanted to hear. Obviously, just Yosef saying, “I am Joseph” is the biggest rebuke of their actions, even if not meant as a rebuke. Yosef personally bore zero bad feelings towards his brothers. Imagine how they could live with themselves for the rest of their life. Yosef sincerely said to them, it was not your actions, but Gods actions.
When God is good to someone and things are going well, or you are older, retired, and you are having an easy retirement, with enough money to live a good life, then all the slights and insults, the things that went wrong over the years , should melt away. You have zero excuse to be angry or fight. If you hold onto past and present slights and hurts, you deny God’s goodness. You must be gracious to your fellow man, because God is gracious to you. Even if you feel that your smarts did it for you, you still have no reason to bear grudges. Life is good. You can go home and relax because you have no issues.