I received a notice from Chabad of Los Feliz that they are building and will be opening up a brand new center.    We say a blessing to God for letting us share is this great Simcha.

Mission Statement

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.

This is the story of Chabad of Los Feliz:

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.



Parshas Va’era


January 12 and 13, 2018

Nachlas Tzvi by Rabbi Meshulam Tzvi Gross, TZL

Hamelitz Benataim by Rabbi Tzvi Fishbane

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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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

2) וְהִצַּלְתִּ֥י

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.

3) וְגָֽאַלְתִּ֤י

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.

This question is asked in the Sefer “HaMealitz Benataim”, a translation of Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel into Hebrew and an explanation of the Targum Ben Uziel.

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.

Divar Torah for Shmos, January 5 and 6, 2018

Moments of Time that Changes History:

Parshas Bereishis documents times in history where decisions were made that changed the course of history.  Two recent ones:

  1. The brothers sold Yosef. They failed
  2. Yehuda and Tamer – Yehuda was not given the option by God to fail.


Previously, I spoke about another moment in history that changed the slavery in Egypt in this week’s Sedra. Chapter 2, Verse 11 says:

Verse 11:                                   וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֗ם וַיִּגְדַּ֤ל מֹשֶׁה֙ וַיֵּצֵ֣א אֶל־אֶחָ֔יו וַיַּ֖רְא בְּסִבְלֹתָ֑ם וַיַּרְא֙ אִ֣י׃

Some time after that, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his kinsfolk and witnessed their labors. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen.

Rashi says on when Moses had grown up:

ויגדל משה. וַהֲלֹא כְּבָר כָּתַב וַיִּגְדַּל הַיֶּלֶד? אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בְּרַבִּי אִלְעָאִי, הָרִאשׁוֹן לְקוֹמָה וְהַשֵּׁנִי לִגְדֻלָּה, שֶׁמִּנָּהוּ פַּרְעֹה עַל בֵּיתוֹ (ילקוט שמעוני):

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.

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.

Parshas Va’Yigash: December 21-22, 2017

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, 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.


Parshas Vayera: November 3 – 4, 2017

What a Shabbos.  On Friday, I had to drive to the western part of the State, 30 miles from the Iowa border.  I listened to Rabbi Goldberg’s Chumash Shiur  from 2015.  Excellent Shiur.  At the end of the Shiur, Rabbi Goldberg gave four reasons why Monarchy and/or Moshiach had to come from Lot and his two daughters.  Rabbi Goldberg mentioned

  1. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, using Rabbeinu Bachya
  2. Reb Tzadoch Hacohen
  3. Kotzker Rebbe
  4. The Rov, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveichik in his book Abraham’s Journey,

The reason given by the Kotzker Rebbe is in the Sefer, Shem M ’Shmuel on Megilas Rus  written by Reb Shmuel Bornstein, the son of the 1st Sochachover Rebbe and a grandson of the Kotzker, my second cousin, four times removed.

The Shem M’Shmuel writes that his father asked the Kotzker this very question as to why Monarchy has to come from the Lot and his two daughters.   The Kotkzer answered: since the Jewish people are united as one body, and just like one part of the body cannot rule over another part of a body, the same thing with the Jewish people – one person cannot be a king and rule over the rest of the Jewish people.  Therefore, God had to take the Middah (character trait) of Monarchy from a non-Jewish source.  God had to take the Ga’avah (arrogance, strength) of Moav which is sourced in an incestuous act from a non-Jewish source and turn it holy.  Meaning, this DNA was integrated into Malchus Bais Dovid.

How do you understand the Kotzker?

I thought and thought about this Vort and explained it as follows: The foundation of Kotzk Chasidus is Ahaves  Yisroel – Love of Fellow Jews.  It is not possible, says the Kotzker.  When you love another Jew, how can you rule over him?  A king has absolute control over his subjects.  He can take away property, kill people, and be nasty, all for capricious reasons.  This is not a Jewish character trait.  God had to take the Monarchy character trait of arrogance from the non – Jewish world, make it holy and integrate it into the Jewish people. 

Friday Night – November 3rd:

Davened by the Glenners.  Saw Ma. Went home to eat.  My kids were there.  I love my boys so much.

Shabbos Morning – November 4, 2017

Mayer Chase came to my house at 7:40 AM to take me to the Peterson Park Kollel for Davening.   I did not want to get up, but Mayer insisted.   Normally I go to Mishna Ugemorah much later for a davening that starts at 9:30 AM and usually ends at 12:15 PM.   Meir schlepped me to the Kollel because Rabbi Elya Brudny, Rosh Yeshiva in Mir was speaking.   I walked in the Kollel and it was beautiful.  The place was packed with Kollel guys and many others I knew.  It is a fast davening with little talking.  Davening started at 8:00 AM and ended at 10:00 AM, my style of Davening.     After davening Rabbi  Elya Brudny, Rosh Hayeshiva of Mir,  spoke  for 30 minutes,  He spoke out an Avi Ezri (Reb Shach  and it was Reb Shach’s Yahrzeit)  and a Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin.  What was the test of the Akediah to Avraham?  The Avi Esri explains it that the highest levels of Nevias was Moshe who spoke to God “B’Aspakya Hemeirah” clear communication between God and Moshe, Peh el Peh.    All other prophets do not have  direct communication with God. Meaning, God communicates with prophets in the heavenly realms and the message from God  gets filtered down to this world through the prophets understanding.  Each prophet can and will understand God’s message differently.  Their goal is to understand God’s message as God intended.  Despite this if a prophet interprets if his way, then it is still God’s prophecy.   When Avraham heard Gods words to bring Yitzchak as a sacrifice Avraham could and would have been justified interpreting it as to not bring Yitzchak on the Akediah.  After all, God told Avraham that Yitzchak will grow into a great nation.  Avraham remained true to what God wanted and this was the test of Avraham.

Rabbi Brudny then explained Da’as Torah based on the Gemorah that says a Talmud Chocom is greater than a Navi.  Once a Talmud Chocom can discern Gods will through Torah wisdom, he is higher than a prophet.   The Talmud Chachom’s   level of understanding is on a very high level.  A Talmud Chachom can then understand other aspects of life such as business, medicine, and other matters because he attained a  level of greater than prophecy.

Picture of Rabbi Elya Brudny

Image result for pictures of rabbi elya brudny

During Davening I said the following  Vort.

Bereshis Chapter 21, Verses 22-24 says:

22  Now it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phicol his general said to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do.  23And now, swear to me here by God, that you will not lie to me or to my son or to my grandson; according to the kindness that I have done with you, you shall do with me, and with the land wherein you have sojourned.”    24And Abraham said, “I will swear.”

When Abimelech wants  a covenant of peace between the two, Abraham simply says, I swear that we will live in peace.  No arguments, no recriminations.

However, Verses 25 through 33 show a more contentious exchange and a ceremony to reinforce that Abraham dug the wells.

כה. וְהוֹכִ֥חַ אַבְרָהָ֖ם אֶת־אֲבִימֶ֑לֶךְ עַל־אֹדוֹת֙ בְּאֵ֣ר הַמַּ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר גָּֽזְל֖וּ עַבְדֵ֥י אֲבִימֶֽלֶךְ                  
כו  וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲבִימֶ֔לֶךְ לֹ֣א יָדַ֔עְתִּי מִ֥י עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֑ה וְגַם־אַתָּ֞ה לֹֽא־הִגַּ֣דְתָּ לִּ֗י וְגַ֧ם אָֽנֹכִ֛י לֹ֥א שָׁמַ֖עְתִּי בִּלְתִּ֥י הַיּֽוֹם
כז   וַיִּקַּ֤ח אַבְרָהָם֙ צֹ֣אן וּבָקָ֔ר וַיִּתֵּ֖ן לַֽאֲבִימֶ֑לֶךְ וַיִּכְרְת֥וּ שְׁנֵיהֶ֖ם בְּרִֽית
כח: וַיַּצֵּ֣ב אַבְרָהָ֗ם אֶת־שֶׁ֛בַע כִּבְשׂ֥ת הַצֹּ֖אן לְבַדְּהֶֽן
כט: וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֲבִימֶ֖לֶךְ אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֑ם מָ֣ה הֵ֗נָּה שֶׁ֤בַע כְּבָשׂת֙ הָאֵ֔לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֥ר הִצַּ֖בְתָּ לְבַדָּֽנָה

25 And Abraham contended with Abimelech about the well of water that the servants of Abimelech had forcibly seized.  26 And Abimelech said, “I do not know who did this thing, neither did you tell me, nor did I hear [of it] until today.”    27 And Abraham took flocks and cattle and gave them to Abimelech, and they both formed a covenant.  28 And Abraham placed seven ewe lambs by themselves 29 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What are these seven ewe lambs, which you have placed by themselves?”  30 And they formed a covenant in Beer-Sheba, and Abimelech and Phicol his general arose, and they returned to the land of the Philistines.

Why the different reaction?.  Water is life.  Avraham’s family could not survive if the servants of Abimelech would seize Avraham’s  water supplies.  Avraham fought Abimelech on this very essential need.  The word the Torah uses the Hebrew word,   וְהוֹכִ֥חַ.  This word can mean  rebuke, which is Onkelyos.   However, Rashi brings down Yonasan Ben Uziel who explain it as to contend , to fight, and Avrohom fought with Abimelech.    This was critical and  Avraham  fought for his rights.  What does Abimelech say in  Verse 26.  “I did not know.”   This is usually the reaction of people in power.  Their minions steal and destroy and the king  says, I did not know.   Plausible deniability.  Politicians and people in power haven’t changes in 4,000 years.  This is why Avrohom made a public ceremony to reinforce publicly his right to the well.

However, it goes beyond this.  The Jewish mission is to do good to the world.  What happens when a king or politicians have control over something needed by the public, by humanity.  They limit access, tax it, and use it to have power over their subjects.  Avrohom was fighting Abimelech from hurting his own people . Avraham had to publicly declare I dug this well and it  is mine.    I will give it the public at large for free because water is a human right and not  be controlled by a king.  This is the Eishel Avraham opened for humanity, and gave food and water as needed.

After Davening there was a Kiddush Rabbi Leibenstein’s son’s house.  My nephew and I went over to Rabbi Elya  Brudny.  Meir asked Rabbi Brudny if he know his father, Pesach Chase.  Rabbi Brudny said he was close to Pesach when they were both learning in Mir Yeshiva in New York.  .  Rabbi Brudny then said he knew our grandfather,  Rabbi Sholom Sklar,  from Lakewood and he was close to my Zedi.  Rabbi Brudny substituted at the Daf Yomi Shiur in Yuks shul and my Zedi would tell him about Europe.

I told Rabbi Brudny, my above Vort from the Kotzker Rebbi and he responded;  based on the Kotzker’s Pshet perhaps you can answer a question that is asked on the following Verse that speaks about a Jewish king.

Dvorim, Chapter 18 Verse 14 says:

יד כִּֽי־תָבֹ֣א אֶל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְהֹוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֶ֨יךָ֙ נֹתֵ֣ן לָ֔ךְ וִֽירִשְׁתָּ֖הּ וְיָשַׁ֣בְתָּה בָּ֑הּ וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֗ אָשִׂ֤ימָה עָלַי֙ מֶ֔לֶךְ כְּכָל־הַגּוֹיִ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר סְבִֽיבֹתָֽי:

14. When you come to the land the Lord, your God, is giving you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, “I will set a king over ourselves, like all the nations around me.”

Rabbi Brudny said the Velt asks why does it say “like all the nations”.  The Chumosh should have stopped at “I will set a king over ourselves”.  We know what a king is.  Rabbi Brudny said that perhaps the Torah means what the Kotzker is saying, we Jews do have the emotional wherewithal to appoint a king over ourselves, it has to come from  non-Jewish DNA and like the Kotzker said that God took the non-Jewish DNA and make it holy.

At davening Shabbos morning there was a Rov who I know and may be a relative.  I am happy to see him.  However, a number of years ago he did something  I felt was not proper.  About two years ago the incident was mentioned and the Rov’s approach was justified and how the Rov was right.  I said nothing.  I am so happy that I did not respond.  Had I responded, it would have gotten back to the Rov and would have affected our relationship.  The incident was years ago, everyone moved on, so why get involved and Boruch Hashem I said nothing.   I was able to greet him with a smile and told him the Kotzker Moshiach Vort.

The rest of Shabbos was great.  By davening at 8:00 AM I expanded my Shabbos by three hours.

Noah:  October 21, 2017

Noah:  October 21, 2017

Why we love the Jewish Press.   The headline in the Jewish Press is; “We Love Israel and We Pray For You” Evangelicals From Around The World Show Their Support”.   This is a headline you will not find in Hamodia or Yated.  They will not even say that they love Israel and bless Israel.

My brother, Pesach, came in to visit my mother.  It’s always great seeing him.  My mother appreciates him, his stores about growing up on the West side,  our grandparents Reb Sholom and Feigel Sklar,  and his take on life.  Friday night, Pesach told  me the Orach Chaim Hakodish on Bereshis, Chapter 6 – Verse 7.    The Orach Chaim says that Noah the Tzaddick was saved not because he was a Tzaddick, but as verse 8 says:

      8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.          ח וְנֹ֕חַ מָ֥צָא חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֵ֥י יְהֹוָֽה:

The Orach Chaim says that the “favor in the eyes of the Lord” was what spared Noah and not that he was specifically a Tzaddick.  The Torah does not tell us what God found favor in Noah’s actions.   This is because If the  Torah revealed what it was,  people would only focus on those items and not other Mitzvos.  Meaning, Noah was a righteous man who did something that found favor in God’s eyes.  What is was, we do not know.  Please see the Orach Chaim inside.

I would like to answer as follows.

This year for the first time I realized that the corruption of the generation of the flood started as descried in Chapter 6, Verses 1, 2, and 3:

1. And it came to pass when man commenced to multiply upon the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them. 2.  That the sons of the nobles saw the daughters of man when they were beautifying themselves, and they took for themselves wives from whomever they chose.  3.  And the Lord said, “Let My spirit not quarrel forever concerning man, because he is also flesh, and his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.”

Then it spread to thievery and on thievery was what God sealed the fate of the generation of the flow.

Clearly, the corruption of the generation of the flood began with  Aryous, promiscuity, a society that any person feels  he/she  can take any person they desire.   When leaders and then society feel that they can satisfy their  desires without regard and no consequences, then they feel they can also steal at will.    As Beth told me about the culture among the political class, politicians live in an amoral world.   You can sleep with whomever you want, there is nothing wrong with it, even if you are married.   This was the generation of the flood, an amoral society.     I would add that politicians feel they can also  lie and cheat, and ruin people’s lives  seemingly at will.

Noah was singular in his generation in not being promiscuous.  Just like Yoseph was “HaTzaddick” because he resisted the temptations of Potiphar’s wife.  Initially he was going to succumb, yet he held himself back.  So to Noah is called a Tzaddick that did not given in to his desires.    He was a leader and could have taken anyone and anything for himself,  but didn’t.  This is  why God saved Noah, this is the favor in God’s eyes.   Of course, all holy people hold themselves back from promiscuity.  However, Noah and Yoseph were especially tempted, and easily could have been corrupted.  It was there for the taking and both suppressed their desires.  This is why Yoseph is called Yoseph HaTzaddick and Noah is called a Tzaddick by the Torah.

Shemini Atzeras, Simchas Torah, Bereshis 2017

October 11-14, 2017

Wednesday – October 11, 2017

The first days of Succos were great.  We spent them together with my sister’s family and with my mother and mother-in-law.  The food was exquisite, there was a huge variety for everyone to enjoy.  We appreciate the hard work that my wife did to make sure that everyone had enough to eat and enjoy the meal.

On the first night of Succos we did a reading on the life of Golda Meir from her autobiography.  She was a committed secular Zionist and Socialist. She was not a mean or nasty person. She grew up religious but was not as an adult.  She spoke for millions of Jews stuck in Eastern Europe subject to pogroms and poverty.  When the Jews from the Arab countries came to Israel in 1948, (I believe) she felt that the State was doing those Jews a favor in trying to take them from the third world life and mentality, to the first world.  Could the Orthodox community reconcile itself with the secular Zionists and vice versa?

I was looking forward to the second days.

Had a tough day at work on Wednesday, Erev Chag.  Went to two nursing homes and was driving through rural Illinois.  Got back to work at 3:00 PM and had to answer a flurry of e-mails.  Did two acts of charity right before I left work.  At 5:45 PM my daughter called with a major question of Jewish law and that I should call Reb Moshe Soloveichik.  I had left work and was on Lincoln Avenue.  I tried to call Reb Moshe Soloveichik, however, he did not answer so I turned down Jersey and drove to his Shul.  Reb Moshe was already in Shul.  I asked Reb Moshe the question and he gave me permission.  I did not think I would get a heter (Permission).  I was very happy because if it had been prohibited, my family member may have had to do what had been the subject of the question, due to extenuating circumstances.  The Heter puts our minds at ease.  I was able to go into the holiday in peace.

It was raining so I made Kiddush and Hamotzei in the Sukkah, and ate the meal in the house.

Thursday – October 12, 2017

Went to Shul early to learn.  I focused on Chapter 33, Verse 6.    “May Reuben live and not die, and may his population be included in the count.”

·       Rashi says on May Reuben live “in this world” and not Die, “in the world to come; that the incident of Bilhah be not remembered unto him”.

·       Rashi says on “may his population be included in the count” as follows:

Let him be counted amongst the number of his other brothers.  This is exactly similar to the idea that is exactly similar to the idea that is expressed in the text, (Genesis 35:22).  {And Reuben went} and lay with Bilhah {his father’s wife}” . . . And the sons of Jacob were twelve, which suggests that he was not excluded from the number of Jacob’s sons.”

Rashi is difficult.  Reuben committed the sin roughly 275 years earlier, and has been dead for about 200 years.  Right after the incident of Bilhah, it says that Reuben was still included among his brothers, which is the verse the third Rashi quotes.  Further texts and explanations say the Reuben repented for his act.  Why is Moshe bringing up the subject 200 years after Reuben died?

The Ranban explains verse 6 of “May Reuben live . . .” differently than Rashi.

 The IBN Ezra raises a different question.  Why didn’t Shimon get a Brocha?   The IBN Ezra answers that Moshe did not want to give the tribe of Shimon a blessing because of the incident of Ba’al Peohr; where the women of Moab drew Israel into immorality and idol worship.  24,000 people died along with one the leaders of a family of Shimon, Zimri Ben Saluh.

The Ramban disagrees with the IBN Ezra and attacks the IBN Ezra’s proofs.  The Ramban says that Moshe did not purposely exclude the tribe of Shimon from a blessing.  Look into the Ranban.  I read the Ranban 3 times before the Ranban started to become clear.  I found a new translation in Hebrew that provides footnotes and sources of the Ranban.   It was a work of art, well researched and the individuals who put it together were real Torah scholars.  I was full with joy.  I was able to get a much better understanding of the Ranban.   I still had to work on the Ranban.   What is even more impressive it came out of the New Square community, which ones does not associate with Torah scholarship.  It is great; we have Torah scholarship coming from the New Square community, greatness from Lubavitch, and YU excelling in Torah understanding and giving over Torah.  This is Achdus in Klal Yisroel.   Why are there disagreements, I will never understand.   The Rebi Reb Bunim says this on the Rashi as to we have Shimini Atzeras, “your departure back to your homes is hard on me, stay another day”.  The Rebi Reb Bunim says it means that during Succos the Jews are B’Yachad.  God says to the Jews, you’re leaving one another and breaking up the unity among the Jews is hard for me.  Stay another day so the Jews will be unified another day.

Thursday meal was great.  I made Kiddush and made Hamotzi in the Sukkah.  I wanted to also eat in the Sukkah, but was out-voted.

Simchas Torah – October 13, 2017

Thursday night had Hakofos at Mishne Ugemoro.  Very nice.  My son-in-law Mordy joined me, as did Bubby Jean and Karen’s family. Lasted from 7:15 PM to 9:15 PM.  Then went home for the meal.  David Sokoloff did his usual outstanding performance, ending up his famous zoo song.

Friday – regular davening Hakofos.  Ended Shul at about 2:15.  For our meal we had our cousin Bill, Reb Shraga Feival, and Ya’akov, one of the Anusim.  I had him tell his story and it was very interesting.


Davened Friday night by Reb Moshe with Netanel.  After the meal we sat around until midnight with Ma talking about the family.  My kids and the Schwartz kids sat with my mother, Karen, and me.   We talked about all the family stories, reminded my mother what she has done for the family and why we owe her so much.  At the Shabbos afternoon meal we did a reading in Rabbi Shai Held’s book on Bereshis.  He comes from an “Orthodox compatible” perspective, but uses secular and non-Jewish scholars.  What we read was not incompatible with Orthodox thought as to how to understand the Bible.   It was a very nice Dvar Torah titled, “What Can Human Beings Do, and What Can’t They? Or: Does the Torah Believe in Progress?” Ancient myths see human beings as recipients, not initiators, of culture and progress. Bible scholar Tikva Frymer-Kensky explains that according to these stories, “humanity did not develop any aspect of human culture… In ancient Near East myths, the gods provide humanity with all the essentials of human civilization. By contrast, in the Bible, early humans develop their own culture. The human being, a creature created by God, is the initiator and creator of its own culture.” It was very thought-provoking about human nature.

One thing I noticed and I think it is something to think about; when a verse says something benign or even seemingly positive and Rashi says the explanation is negative.  Do we give any credence to the simple meaning of Pshat without Rashi?”

Parshas Vayikra

4 Nissan 5777 – April 1, 2017

Friday night I walk into Shul in the Bais-Mint and needed a boost.  I opened up the Sefer Amud Haemes on the Kotzker and saw a beautiful Kotzker.  Chapter 1 Verse 17 says

בִכְנָפָיו לֹא יַבְדִּיל וְהִקְטִיר אֹתוֹ הַכֹּהֵן הַמִּזְבֵּחָה עַל הָעֵצִים אֲשֶׁר עַל הָאֵשׁ עֹלָה הוּא וְשִׁסַּע אֹתוֹ
אִשֵּׁה רֵיחַ נִיחֹחַ לַיהֹוָה

“It is a burnt offering, a fire offering [with] a pleasing fragrance to the Lord.”

Rashi on this part of the verse says.

It says regarding animal offerings and bird offerings that the Korban – Sacrifice is a fragrance pleasing to God.  This teaches us that whether one does much or little, [it is equally pleasing to God] provided that he directs his heart to God.

The Kotzker says, “the understanding is that even one who does much also needs Kavana [to direct his intentions and thoughts to God}.ccvayikracover

I also opened up a Sefer on Vayikra by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, who has a brilliant Dvar Torah on Holiness, Korbonas (Sacrifices in the temple), purity and impurity.  I recommend reading t it o properly set the tone for Vayikra.

Joe Bulgatz ate over.  We eat in the basement before Pesach every year as our kitchen and dining room has been cleaned for Pesach.

Rabbi Zalmen Eichenstien had a Chanukas Habayis as he moved into the neighborhood.  It was a Chassidic get together.  The songs are beautiful.

Shabbos Morning:

Davened at Mishne Ugemorrah, had Kiddush, went to Yonatan’s house to speak Torah, and then went home to sleep.  Got up at 4:15 PM, went to visit my mother, and then walked to Anshe Sholem, 5.9 miles from my house.  I missed the speech of the scholar in residence, Dr. Shira Berkowitz.  Refer to her attached resume.


Of course, played Jewish geography with her.  She went to Prospect Girls High School and she mentioned a great story about the Rov, Rabbi Abraham Kelmen.  My sister and her family davened in his Shul for over 20 years.  I have been inspired by him and he is Mishpocha to me through the Smiley family (Greenwald).  Dr. Shira Berkowitz had just started at Prospect and something happened that Dr. Shira would be reprimanded.  She had to meet with Rabbi Kelmen, the principal. She was expecting a tongue lashing and when she meets with Rabbi Kelmen, he asks her, How is your integration into Prospect Girls High School going.  That was it, no negativity; just a desire to make sure Dr. Shira is doing well in his school.

Rabbi Wolkenfeld at the Shalosh Seudes meal said that it is the Yahrzeit of Professor Nechama Leibowitz and spoke out a Dvar Torah from her.

She asked why is there a difference in Yeyikra and Tzav in the order of explaining Sacrifices.

            Vayika: Tzav

1) Olah Olah

2) Mincha Mincha

3) Shalomin Chatos

4) Chatos Asham

5) Asham Shalomin

She answers that in Vayikra the conversation is with the entire Jewish people and to the Jewish people the Shalomin takes priority.  In Tzav’s Moshe is talking to the Cohanim directly and to them priority in Holiness is how the sacrifices are mentioned.  Or you can say that in Tzav the last three sacrifices is based on the amount of food the Cohen eats.  They get least by Shalomin.

My son picked me up and went to his apartment after Shabbos and then walked home at 10:50 PM.

Jonah Parker Bar Mitzvah

  1. Parsaha Terumah -5-6 Adar 5777 = March 3-4, 2017

Thursday March 2, 2017:

Hopped on a 2:00 PM flight to Los Angeles.  I hadn’t been to LA since late December 2015.  My seat placement on Southwest was C 04 so I had to sit in a middle row. Someone thin was in the aisle seat so it was not bad.   Arrived in LA and needed a Minyan so I could say Kaddish for Beverly OBM.  Hopped on the 405 and was sailing along until I hit traffic and was stalled, missed Mincha.  I called Martin Brody and we made up to meet at the Fish Grill on Pico and Beverly.  I had a very nice dinner with Madelaine and Martin.  Left about 8:00 PM to go crosstown to daven Maariv at Rabbi Bess’s Shul.   After Maariv my classmate from high school, Sheldon Burg, came over to say hello.  I did not recognize him.  I look the same as in high school.

Met up with Tziporah, my niece, and she wanted to go to the Yogurt place on La Brea.  Afterwards went to the place  I was staying in Hancock Park, on Las Palmas.    My host was very gracious.  

Friday – March 3, 2017:

Woke up at 8:00 AM and went to daven at the red shul at the corner of La Brea and Oakwood.  I love going to that Shul as it is a New York style shul, wooden floors, many Minyanim, and a place where the Mishulachim hang out.  There are sweet rolls for visitors.    Met Kornwasser.  Went to the Mikvah in the Shul.  It was only $2.00 and did not have a turnstile to keep people out.  It was old school with the towels threadbare.  I loved it.  

After the prayer services went to La Brea Bagel Co. at 7308 Beverly.  The Parkers graciously paid for any food ordered from La Brea Bagel using the attached coupon.  I got there and my cousins were already there; Piala and Charles, Michael Parker and kids.  A few minutes later in walks Sasha mother of the Bar Mitzvah boy.   Afterwards in walks Zlat, David, Laura and kids.  Afterwards in walks Shoshana and her husband, with their baby.    It was great.  I also met Michael’s Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Dovid Hirsch, and Rabbi Hirsch’s wife.  Rabbi Hirsch grew up in Peoria and knew my namesake, Harry Morgenstern.  Rabbi Hirsch knows Rabbi Joshua Hoffman, who needs a Refuah Shelamah.

Walked back to La Palmas to pick up my car.  I realized that 17 years ago when my mother and I came to LA for Sasha and Michael’s wedding, we stayed a few doors down by Joe Bobker.

Went to visit Aunt Florence at the assisted living facility on Fairfax, Garden of Palms, just south of Santa Monica.  On the way, went back to La Brea Bagel and picked up two sandwiches to have food for the day.  Sorry, Michael.   Visited Aunt Florence, however, she was exhausted and she slept while I visited.  So I sat down and likewise dozed off for the 45 minutes I was by Aunt Florence.  

Went to Hollywood Boulevard and to my father’s apartment building at the corner of Hawthorne and Sycamore.  Sat down and had one of my sandwiches at the Hollywood/Highland shopping center.  The number of street performers seems to have grown.  Many superheroes.  

Afterwards went to the storage unit housing my father’s belongings to commune with my father’s spirit.   Opened the storage unit.  It is jam packed with items and I was not able to get into the unit.  I looked through the books he had.  There was an Ain Yaakov.  Most interesting he had a number of holocaust books.  I read through the introduction on one of them.    It was a book on Auschwitz.  In the introduction the author wonders why the Jews made it easy for the Germans and went to the killing centers.  We didn’t they make the Germans aim of killing every Jew as difficult as possible.  This is a question I thought about.  In fact Dr. Hillel Zeidman wrote in late 1943 that  Rabbi Menachem  gave a talk to the leaders of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto.  Rabbi Ziemba said we should fight the Nazi’s and lamented the fact the Jews walked to the Umschlagplatz and onto the trains, making it easier for the Germans.  I  do not understand in Hungary 1944 after the death camps  were known, there was not a Psak that it is Assur to board the trains.  Stay in your houses. I know if is easy for me to say, sitting here in America.

Went back Las Palmas to get ready for Shabbos.  

Shabbos – Friday night

Made it on time to Yavneh.  Yavneh is a school on Third and Highland.

The principal, Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, has a Shul  He was a student and in the same class as the mother of the Bar Mitzvah boy.    It’s very nice, like a lecture hall, with the rows of seating rising up like an amphitheater.  I sat next to Zlat’s husband, David.  I saw a nice Ibn Ezra at the beginning of Parshas Trumah.     Avi Maza davened and it was a concert, combining Carlbach with other songs.   

The Shul is phenomenal.  It is what a Shul should be with community, Torah, a  Rov who gets it.  

Walked to Sasha and Michael’s house for the Friday night dinner.  His house was full of family who came for the bar Mitzvah.   It was overwhelming.  I met Eve and her husband  Charles parker’s cousin .  She is a daughter of Rabbi Mordechai Simon OBM.  My mother worked for Rabbi Mordechai Simon years ago at the Chicago Board of Rabbis.  My mother and Rabbi Simon were the Shadchanim for Piala and Charles.   There was a tent set up for the meal in the back yard.  I sat with Zlat and David, Laura, Amy, Elliot, Avi and Dr. Lauren.  The conversation was stimulating and I was honored to be with the Maza’s.

 Sassha’s brother spoke like a Torah Scholar.  He spoke over Torah of Rabbi Joseph Maza’s father, Rabbi Eliyahu Mordechai Maza, the R’AM.  The R’AM was the patriarch of the family and lived on Henry Street in the lower East Side of Manhattan.  Rabbi Eliyahu Mordechai Maza said a Shiur at MTJ which was Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s Yeshiva.  If fact Reb Moshe went to all of the Maza weddings.  Elliot Maza is name after the R’AM who was his grandfather.   I first met Sassha’s brother  at their wedding when he was a scrawny kid and he has turned into a Talmud Chachom.

Shabbos Morning

I wanted to grab every minute of the Simcha with the family and was also  determined to attend every Shiur  at Jonah’s Bar Mitzvah.  Made it to Shul at 8:15 AM and I am never early to Shul.  Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn gave a very nice Shiur on the Rambam.  Again sat next to David Gross.  The Ba’al Shachris performed  a Chassidic concert.   Before the first Aliyah. The Rov said a beautiful Vort from the Bnei Yisoschor, a Chassidic Master from the 1800’s who was a student to the Chozeh.

The Rov had a pre-publication review  copy of a new English translation of the Bnei Yisoschor.  The Vort centered on the two Cherubim  that sat atop of the Ark of the Covenant.  I remember the explanation of the translator, not the actual Bnei Yisoschor.  Just as the Cherubs are inanimate objects and God put into them animation, so to when we are down, we feel depressed, we feels that we cannot go on, we have to understand the lesson of the Cherubim.  Just as God put animation in inanimate objects, much more so us who are alive, who have a spark of God, can we bring back our life from the depths of despair.

Jonah read the Torah portion.  He was perfect.  It was a pleasure listening to him.  Jonah was called up for his Aliyah, bags of candy were thrown, and it was pure joy.   Avi Maza davened Mussaf and again another concert.  Davening was over.   

The Kiddush was held in  Yavneh’s courtyard.  I zeroed in on the sushi station.  It rivaled  Shoshana Parker-Fridman’s wedding  sushi station.     I was walking around and happened  on Jacob Greenbaum, one of Laura’s triplets.  He is a sweet soul.  He had taken a plate of sushi, triple layered.  I took one layer from him and had my second portion of sushi.  I thanked Jacob for the food and told him that I love sushi.  He disappears and comes back 5 minutes later with another plate of sushi for me.  I told his mother that I appreciate her kids and Jacob.  Whenever I visit Laura and family in Boca Raton on Shabbos with my grandkids, it was always Jacob who took Tiferat, gave  her food, sat her down, and was concerned.  All of her kids are great to my grandkids.

I also was able to work the tent, talking with as many people as possible.  I reunited with Sasha’s parents.  The last time I saw them was 1999 or 2000 when I was visiting my father with Karen.  We needed a meal for Shabbos and I told Karen , we will show up in Shul and get invited.  Sassha’s parents invited us over for the meal.

Went into the school lunchroom for the meal.  The room was beautifully decorated.   Johan made a Siyum on Mishnayos Mo’ad.  Jonah Parker also said a complicated Torah Pshetal that would have made his great-grandfather, the R’AM proud.  

Rabbi Dovid Hirsh spoke, calling Michael and Sasha, individuals who are the best of YU.  They embody what YU represents.   It was tremendous honor to Sassha and Michael, the Parkers, the Maza family, and the Teichmans.  I was inspired.  Michael then got up and spoke.  He spoke emotionally and  let us  in and be emotionally attached to the Simcha.   He  spoke about when he first met  Rabbi Dovid Hirsch as a 19 year old student at YU.  Michael wanted to get into Rabbi Dovid Hirsch’s class, however, there were already 60 students registered for the Shiur.  The registrar told him that he can call Rabbi Dovid Hirsch and if Rabbi Hirsch agrees to accept Michael,  then he can attend the Shiur.  Rabbi Hirsch arranged a Bechinah .  The Bechinah was on a Gemorah in Kiddsuhin, which Michael learned as a sophomore in high school.  Rabbi Hirsch met with Michael and told him to read a Mishna.  Michael read the Mishna and Rabbi Hirsch told him to close the Gemorah.  Rabbi Hirsch looked  at Michael and asked, “Will you give me 100%”.  Michael, who is 19 year oil and shaking, says.  Yes, Rebbe, I will give you 100%.  As Michael is relating this, he is holding back tears.  The emotional impact was felt by the entire room.  Time stopped as Michael gathered himself and his thoughts.  He was telling his wife and his children, yes, I have given you  100% of myself.  Michael graciously shared his Neshamah with me and everyone in the room.

Took a walk with Elliot and at 4:30 PM attend Rabbi Dovid Hirsch’s Shiur.  Beautiful Shire.    Had the Shalsoh Suedos meal back at Sassha and Michael’s house, davened Maariv, and heard Havdalah.  Of course I too left over  food  for Sunday.

After Shabbos, Tziporah came over, we went for a drive, Martin called me to offer an update on his mother-in-law.  We drove past Mann’s Chinese theater, went back to where I was staying and  talked a bit.  She had some of the food I had from the Bar Mitzvah.

Sunday Morning, March 5th

Took the 7:15 AM flight back to Chicago.  What a weekend.

My Bracha to Sassha and Michael is that in 20 years they are sitting in Jonah’s dining room on Purim and Jonah’s students are sitting around the table at a Purim Seudah.

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Shabbos Parshas Shemos – January 20 – January 21, 2017:

Friday Night:

Ate by the Glenners.  Karen came in to be with my mother.   It was a very nice meal.  Chana is in Chicago during her winter break.

Shabbos Moring – January 21, 2107:

Could not sleep and finally got up at 6:00 AM.   Had 1.5 bowls of delicious Cholent.  Learned Chumash through Moshe’s going to Midyan and marrying Zipporah, Yisro’s daughter.   I went through the Medresh Rabbah and other Seforim to find support for my Torah on Chapter 2, Verse 11.

I opened up a Sefer calling Niflous Chadoshos written by Rabbi Yechiel Moshe Greenwald who was head of Jewish court of Kamarvka and Yadamov.   Rabbi Greenwald was the grandson of Tzvi Hersh Dishkis.  Rabbi Greenwald was a Talmud of Admor Dovid Morgenstern and one of the few sources of Torah form Admor Dovid Morgenstern.

The first verse in Shemos:

א    ו אֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הַבָּאִים מִצְרָיְמָה אֵת יַעֲקֹב אִישׁ וּבֵיתוֹ בָּאוּ:

The Holy Rabbi, Reb Yehoshua of Belz TZL says that we have to understand why the word   הַבָּאִים     is in the present tense.   The correct Hebrew word that should have been used is    ו בָּאִ which is past tense.    The way of the world is that if a man comes to a strange land, every second he wants to leave because it is not his place.  However when he stays in the new land and becomes a permanent resident, then the city is pleasant, Sotah 47A.  This usage of the word that Yaakov and his sons are coming in the present tense it to convey that Yaakov our father prayed that it should be ingrained in the Jewish people  that in the diaspora they will always be “coming”  even if they were there for 100 years, and always want and desire to leave.  (The Belzer Rebbe doesn’t say but he means that the desire is to leave the diaspora and go to Israel because that is the Jewish land.)

The Belzer Rebbe continues that this can be homiletically explained by the Verse in Yeshayahu, Chapter 27, Verse 6.

והַבָּאִים יַשְׁרֵשׁ יַעֲקֹב יָצִיץ וּפָרַח יִשְׂרָאֵל וּמָלְאוּ פְנֵי תֵבֵל תְּנוּבָה:

My great-great grandfather, Admor Chai8m Yisroel from Pilav and known the Pilivar Rebbe in his Sefer Sholom Yerushalim talks about that the return to Israel in the 1880’s is the start of the coming of Moshiach.   The Pilaver asks how is it possible that the people who started the movement back to IsraelJacob implanted in the hearts of the Jews that the Jews should always be “coming” and in this merit salvation will blossom and burst forth.

which is a holy endeavor, are far away from Torah and keeping commandments, and they have no idea about the purpose of building up the land of Israel Is the start of the coming of Moshiach.  They have forgotten about Shabbos and how is it possible that they merited doing this Mitzvah,   The Pilaver answers the question by saying that we do not knows Gods ways.  Says the Hebrew version.

Based on the words of the Belzer the answer is clear.  Because of Yaakov’s prayer, there was implanted into the Jews hearts the eternal desire to go back to Israel.   The secular Zionists, the people of Choviva Zion, Bilu, and others went for nationalistic reasons, anti-Semitism, and other reasons.  But the real reason was a holy spark.      It was through Yaakov’s prayers these secular Zionists had in their hearts a strong desire to reject the diaspora have a strong desire to go to Israel, a land that had many challenges, including swamps, poverty, in Israel.

This Vort from the Belzer is how Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook saw in the secular Zionists, the holiness in their mission and he worked to bring them closer to Torah and Mitzvos.

Mayer Chase picked my up and we went to Rochel Leah’s Chosen’s Auf Ruf at Meor Hatorah.  Went home for the Shabbos meal.  We had my daughter and son-in-law, Rivkie and Mordy Siegal and their kids, my mother, and Karen.