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.





24 Sivan -5689 – July 2, 1929

2 Tevet 5777 – January 1, 2017

Beilka was taken tclipboard01o the hospital on Motzei Shabbos two week ago. We knew that her time in this world was short and we did not expect her to last even for a day. She held on for two weeks and passed to the next world on Friday night a few hours into Shabbos. The Gomorrah says that a person who is Niftar – passes to the next world on Motzei Shabbos is a bad sign. If a person passes away on Erev Shabbos or on Shabbos night it is a good sign, a sign that the person is righteous. Beilka as we know did not have
a sin. I was sitting a number of years ago with my son-in-law at the shul Bnei Torah in Indianapolis, davening. I picked up a Lubavitch Siddur with an English translation and read the English version of Raza D’Ecod. Even in English I barely understood the prayer. However, it talks about Hashem as the king, not sitting on his throne on Shabbos until the angels, even the destructive ones come up to heaven in peace. This is when Beilka passed to the next world, in harmony and peace.

Why did Beilka wait to pass away on Friday night, Shabbos? To bring peace to the family.

Beverley was born on July 2nd, 1929 corresponding to the Hebrew date of the 24th of Sivan, 5689. It was a bright and sunny early summer day right before the July 4th holiday. My mother told me that Beverly was a beautiful child. It was a decent time for her parents, Sholem and Feigal Sklar. They were immigrants having come to America 5.5 years earlier, Beilka’s father our Zedi did not compromise his religion, and Zedi had a job as a manager in a burlap and sack factory. He was able to make sure his Frum employees did not work on Shabbos. He was able to provide for his family. Four months later on October 29th, 1929 the stock market crashes; and America and Zedi’s world changes dramatically. Extreme poverty hit America, people routinely committed suicide, soup kitchens were opened in every city. Zedi lost his job in the factory and life became extremely difficult. Zedi’s options became limited; life was closing in on him. Chapter 42, verse 21 says.

כאוַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל אָחִיו אֲבָל אֲשֵׁמִים | אֲנַחְנוּ עַל אָחִינוּ אֲשֶׁר רָאִינוּ צָרַת נַפְשׁוֹ בְּהִתְחַנְנוֹ אֵלֵינוּ וְלֹא שָׁמָעְנוּ עַל כֵּן בָּאָה אֵלֵינוּ הַצָּרָה הַזֹּאת:

21And they said to one another, “Indeed, we are guilty for our brother, that we witnessed the distress of his soul when he begged us, and we did not listen. That is why this trouble has come upon us.”

Rabbi Mike Myers this past Shabbos said what is the meaning of Tzaruh. Tzaruh in English is translated as distress of the soul, anguish. Rabbi Myers said the world Tzar is to become narrow, when we feel everything is closing in on us and our options become fewer and fewer. We are trapped. This is what Yosef felt when he was thrown into the pit and this is what the brothers felt at that time when they were falsely accused. This is what the Jews have felt for 2,000 years in the exile until 1948, when the State of Israel was created and America became a place of refuge.

Karen remembers that Ma would collect gifts that Beverly liked and put them in the butler pantry when we lived on Eastwood. Karen remembers going with ma to visit Beverly. It was a very long drive. This defined our mother, our grandmother, our great grandmother, our matriarch, Bubbi Jean. She watched and worried over Beverly. Ma went consistently to visit her. First with Bubby and Zedi, then with Bubby only, then by herself. Ma became a surrogate mother for Beverly. She worried about her, she visited her, she dealt with the people who took care of her. This is when Ma had her own challenges in life. When Beverly became ill, on February 21, 2001 she went to Glencrest where Sidney and Lisa made sure that she was well taken care of. I believe that Beverly felt protected and secure knowing that ma was watching over her.

Beverly was blessed with a beautiful voice. She sang in a choir. I remember ma telling me that a big music or movie star came to visit and said that Beverly can be one of his singers. Karen told me that one of the toys that Beverly liked was a harmonica.

Beverly was named after her aunt, Beilka – Bella. Beilka was Zedi’s oldest sister. Beilka was the first of Zedi’s sibling to come to America. She came to America in 1909 and with her husband brought the entire family to America. Zedi loved her. He named Beverly after her. Beverly became inexorably linked with her aunt. When Beverly’s name is mentioned, my subconscious stirs up within me and I think about Beilka, her aunt, Zedi’s hero. Unfortunately when Zedi came to America, Beilka had already passed away.

Our Beverly with her linkage to her aunt brings me back to Europe to 1909. Let us understand what Zedi saw in Beilka and then Beverly. Beilka’s husband Aaron Tiktozky was the first of the family to go to America due to the grinding poverty, lack of opportunity, and pogroms of Eastern Europe in the pale of settlement. Zedi told me a story about Beilka. Her husband sent her a ticket to join him in America. Months before, Beilka, the oldest child of Avrohom Shmuel and Alta Sklar, asked permission from her father to leave Europe. Her father, Reb Avrohom Shmuel, did not answer her for months. It was the morning that Beilka had to leave Krinik. Her father said, “min’a kint” come here. He hugged her and did not let go. They had to pry her from his arms. Zedi said that this father turned grey overnight. Beilka wrote back that she cried and cried and cried.

This is the love Zedi had for his sister that was transferred to Beverly and made everything that much more difficult.

Boruch Hashem, I had tremendous Siatta Dismaya to have Beilka being buried right by her grandmother the Yunge Bubby, Zedi’s mother, which we can see her picture. When Beverly was born the Yunge Bobby was still living and helped take care of her. My mother remembers that when Bubby had Beverly, the Yunge Bubby gave ma a bottle to settle her down.

Even though Sidney had graciously purchased a grave for her on Har Menuchos, I felt it would be more appropriate for her to be buried in Chicago by her family. Sidney graciously gave me permission.

About 10 years ago Arnold Sklair, Victor’s son, mentioned that he had two graves available in the Krinik section by the Yunge Bubbe. When Beverly was taken to the hospital, I called Terry Taylor to get phone numbers and ask for advice. On Tuesday of that week, I called Arnold’s sister, Nani Karm. I told her my dilemma. We talked and then we ended the conversation. Right after that conversation, I called the cemetery, Waldheim, to see if there any other plots in the Krinik section and was told that nothing close is available. Then I asked it there were any graves by her namesake, Debbie at the Waldheim office said that the Tikotzky family has three gravesites and that Arden Weinstein, controlled them. That itself was a miracle. For close to 20 years we looked for Beilka’s grave and found out where it was a year ago. This past summer we went with Meir and Pesach and afterwards with ma, and Tzvi, and after some searching we found her grave. We were full of joy, Ma’alah Simcha. Arden is Beilka’s granddaughter, Manny and Sylvia Perl’s daughter. Ten years ago I had Arden over for a meal. For the last 10 years, I call Arden about once a year and we never seem to reach each other. That Tuesday morning she answered right way and she graciously agreed to give me a grave.

About one hour later Nannie called back and said that she spoke to Arnold, and that I can have the two graves by the Yunge Bubby. I was ecstatic, two of my cousins graciously stepped in for our family. Thank you Nonie, Arnold, Arden, and Terry. May you be blessed with good things in life, both spiritual and physical

We decided to use the grave by the Yunge Bubby who loved Beilka so dearly.

During Pesach 1980, one Sunday morning Zedi tells me that we are going to the cemetery. We went and Zedi took me to the Krinik section of Waldheim where his family is buried. He showed me the gravesite of his mother, Alta Henya Rvika. There was a picture of her on the stone. Zedi took his sleeve wiped it across his mother’s faced from top to bottom and kissed his sleeve. He cried and then said, Momma, your great grandson is here. I am inviting you to his upcoming wedding.

Beilka, you will have a beautiful Kabblos Panim in the next work. Your parents, Zedi and Bubby will be there, with your grandparents, Reb Avrohom Shmuel and Alta, your namesake and her husband, Beilka and Aaron Tikotzky and Zedi’s grandfather who at age 28 passed away when he was Olah Regel to Kotzk.

I ask Mchilah for myself for not visiting you often, not giving you what you need. I ask Mchilah for the entire family. May you be a Melitz Yosher in for our family, especially your sisters, Bubby Jean and Shirley, and Altie.


Shabbos Parshas Netzavim

Shabbos Parshas Netzavim, 29 Elul 5776

Week of September 26 – 30:

Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch

Toda Rabbah Shimon

During Shabbos Parshas Netzavim, October 1, 2016, I thought about the week that passed. Would I find inspiration in this week’s Sedra. The following events transpired:

Tuesday September 27:

My brother -in-law held a fundraiser and three leaders came in from New York. Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, the Satmer Rov, and Rabbi Malkeil Kotler. I said hello to the Satmer Rov. He is personable. I told Rabbi Dovid Feinstein that Klal Yisroel still lives in the merit of his great father, Reb Moshe Feinstein, the great patron of Israel.

Wednesday, September 28:

The passing of Shimon Peres, ZL

A siyum was held in Shul on Seder Mishnayos and the last Mishna was read that says:


Friday, September 29:

The funeral of Shimon Peres, ZL

End of the quarter and very, very hectic at work. A customer who I was upset with needed a favor.   We talked it through on Thursday and were okay. On Friday I had to help him out when I really did not have the time.  BH I was there for him. I also had to wire out money and ran to two banks. At Citibank while transacting business I overheard Abraham who needed to deposit his payroll checks. The checks were not drawn on Citibank and the money was unavailable. He had to pay rent and this would be a problem for him. I interceded and helped him. He told me that he lives paycheck to paycheck and was once homeless. He barely had money for food. For him to cash the checks would have cost $30 and aggravation. Hashem put me in this location at this time to help this young man.  Many other times I failed, including my own family, and have paid a huge price.

Shabbos, October 1:

My nephew spoke a Dvar Halacha which was nice. I said that the issue he raised is a major problem and that a Jewish Posach would not Pasken against Klal Yisroel. Everyone attacked me for saying that a Posak would paskan against the Torah. However, that was not what I was saying. I was saying the Poskim have the backs of Klal Yisroel. If they saw people doing something, they would not Pasken if possible against Klal Yisroel to make them sinners. They would see holiness in Klal Yisroel.

I looked for inspiration in the Sedra and it was difficult. It is a very dark, Mussar Parsha. However, I found comforting words in Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsh’s commentary on the Haftorah. The Haftorah is from Isiah, Chapter 61, Verse 10. Verse 10 is the first Verse in the Haftorah, but RSRH mentions Verse 9:

ט  וְנוֹדַע בַּגּוֹיִם זַרְעָם וְצֶאֱצָאֵיהֶם בְּתוֹךְ הָעַמִּים כָּל רֹאֵיהֶם יַכִּירוּם כִּי הֵם זֶרַע בֵּרַךְ יְהֹוָה:

Verse 9:  And their seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall recognize them that they are seed that the Lord blessed.

Verse 10:
ישׂוֹשׂ אָשִׂישׂ בַּיהֹוָה תָּגֵל נַפְשִׁי בֵּאלֹהַי כִּי הִלְבִּישַׁנִי בִּגְדֵי יֶשַׁע מְעִיל צְדָקָה יְעָטָנִי כֶּחָתָן יְכַהֵן פְּאֵר וְכַכַּלָּה תַּעְדֶּה כֵלֶיהָ:

Verse 10:  I will rejoice with the Lord; my soul shall exult with my God, for He has attired me with garments of salvation, with a robe of righteousness He has enwrapped me; like a bridegroom, who, priestlike, dons garments of glory, and like a bride, who adorns herself with her jewelry.

RSRH explains verse 10 as an explanation of Verse 9 and explains “that all who see time shall recognize them that they are seed that the Lord blessed”. Verse 10 says “for He has attired me with garments of salvation,” is the consequence, the reward to the Jewish people. This benefit and blessing to Israel only happens because “with a robe of righteousness He has enwrapped me”. This means that God has put Klal Israel in a position to do good and not just the Jewish people but to mankind, to be a light unto the nations. Isiah goes on to say that if the Jews do good they are like a groom and bride whose inner beauty makes the expensive garments and Jewelry shine. (It is not that the expensive garments and Jewelry make the groom and bride shine, but the opposite.) Therefore when I do good because God gave me the responsibility and opportunity, and I do good, then Verse 9 applies, people will see in me Godliness that I am the seed that the Lord blessed. Salvation results and blessing to the Jewish people is because of my actions.

The actual words of the translation of RSRH from the German, page 448:

Security, salvation יֶשַׁע  is the consequence, “clothing oneself in the priestly mantle of devotion to duty” is the cause.  In educating me, Israel, to faithfulness to duty and thereby dedicating me to be the priest of mankind, God has made me not only worthy of the highest degree of human happiness but also to participate in it.  The worthiness is express in the second half of the verse in an extraordinary characteristic manner.  Thereby a point of view is expressed which is the exact opposite to that usually taken.  For an ideal perfection of the bridegroom is presupposed if one says that he has not to thank his festive “get up” for his dignity and august appearance, but, on the contrary he lends them a priestly consecration and grandeur.  And further, it is the most delicate description of feminine grace and charm if one says of a bride that it is she who in truth gives beauty to her bridal dress and ornaments, rather than that they grace her.   In the same way, in the sharpest contrast tot he past, material possessions will attain their purest and noblest use by the sons and daughters of Zion new grown to maturity.

The last Mishna says the Torah is protected by peace. How true. Klal Yisroel only survives when there is peace and Torah must lead to peace. This is a powerful message. Peace is not only mentioned at the conclusion of Mishnayos, but at the end of Shemonei Esra, and the end of Bentching which quotes the Mishna in Uktzin. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says that at the end on Shemonei Esra we mention peace and take three steps back. Peace can only be achieved if we step back and let people in front of us, we give them space, we listen to them. How many leaders do not understand this powerful statement of Rabbi Simeon Ben Halfata, pay lip service to it, and explain with a Drei, well it does not mean the current situation.  Read the Kehati on this Mishna.

The three leaders from different spectrums and personalities, were able to come together for Klal Yisroel at my brother-in-law’s house, may they come together for all of Klal Yisroel, not to bash and criticize, but to uplift, not to just their communities but to Dati Leumi, secular Jews, all Jews, and inspire mankind. It will result in peace emanating from them and Godliness from the Jewish people as Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch says.

I was blown away by the funeral of Shimon Peres. It seemed that the entire world came to honor Shimon Peres and consequently the Jewish people and the Jewish state. I felt uplifted by Shimon Peres ZL. It calls to mind a Midrash in Bereshis that when Yaakov was buried in Hevron, the kings who had gathered to battle each other, stopped, and hung their crowns around the casket of Yaakov. Unity because a great man was passing by. Shimon Peres, a Jew from Europe, who helped found Israel to be a safe haven for Jews around the world, including Satmer Chassidim. All I heard in the past was criticism of him that he was selfish, not Jewish in his heart. Bibi Natanuhu said it beautifully. I believe in security first and then peace; and Peres believed in peace, then security. We are both right. I read the glowing accounts on the internet and see in Shimon Peres ZL the words of Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsh. Read this from the Jerusalem Post:

“In August 1942, Shimon Peres’s grandfather Rabbi Zvi Meltzer was marched by the Nazis along with more than 2,000 Jews of Vishneva into the town’s wooden synagogue, where they were burned alive.

Seventy-four years later, the leaders of more than 70 countries – representing well over half of humanity – came to Jerusalem for Peres’s funeral. That, as much as anything, epitomizes the change the State of Israel has brought upon the Jewish people.
As Elisha Aviner, the Rabbi of my local synagogue, said Saturday morning, kings, princes, presidents and prime ministers dropped everything to pay respects for a little Polish Jew. Put in historical perspective, he said, that is nothing short of a miracle.”

To quote President Obama, TODAH RABA SHIMON.


Parshas Eikev – Kotzk – Vorka

Parshas Eikev

22 AV 5776 – August 27, 2016


Chapter 8, Verse 14: “Vram Levavcha” –  “and your heart grow s haughty”

Kotzk and Vorka

Pesach came in for Shabbos to be with my mother. It is always great seeing him. Friday night we stayed up to 11:30 PM talking about Bubby and Zedi Sklar.  Bubbi and Zedi Sklar’s trip to Israel in 1962, Pesach’s trip to Israel in 1960 to learn in Yeshiva.  Pesach got Bubby and Zedi a room at the hotel Tzfania, not exactly a 5 star hotel, but served its purpose.  Zedi wanted to go to Meron on Lag Ba’omer, however knew that Bubbi would not let him go.  Zedi made up with Pesach for Pesach to go to Zedi’s hotel room at 2:00 AM, lightly knock on the door, and Zedi  would come out.   They hopped on a bus to Meron.  Imagine, Zedi sneaking out at 2:00 in the morning.  What would Bubby  think when she woke up and Zedi would be gone all day.  For Zedi it was an Avodas Hakodash and not a tourist trip.  Pesach also with detail talked about his trip from Chicago to Israel on  a two week boat trip aboard the SS Zion, a Zim Lines passenger ship;  and back on a Greek passenger line. As only Pesach can tell a story, we laughed, reminisced, and laughed.

Shabbos morning was a normal Shabbos. Went home to eat and then went to Mayer’s  house to have Cholent for the third time.

At Sholosh Suedas Pesach, Mayer, my mother, and myself washed and had gefilte fish, Matzah, and salad.   I spoke the following words of Torah:

Dvorim Chapter 8, Verse 14 says:

יד: וְרָם לְבָבֶךָ וְשָׁכַחְתָּ אֶת יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ הַמּוֹצִיאֲךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים:

14:  and your heart grows haughty, and you forget the Lord, your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage,

The simple explanation is that you will become arrogant, forget God, you will go astray and worship idols. The Ibn Ezra explains it differently.  You will be come arrogant, you will forget that once you were slaves, forget that once you were poverty stricken, and forget that God provided for you when you were down.  The Ibn Ezra is saying that you will not go astray, you will not worship idols, rather you will remain Orthodox and keep Gods commandments, but your heart will turn to stone, you will not have empathy for your fellow Jews.  This will lead to demeaning other Orthodox Jews, hatred for the sake of hatred, all the while , going to Shul three times a day, even learning Torah, and wearing a big Yarmulke.  How else do you explain many of the disagreements in Israel.  It almost seems that it todays world certain segments of Klal Yisroel forgot there was a Holocaust.

Today is Shabbos Mvorchim.  Chazzan Silber has a beautiful Nusach for the Yehi Ratzon.  I was looking up the English translation and saw that Artscroll explained “Chaverim Kol Yisroel” as ” All Israel becoming Comrades”.   I decied to look further into the translation of “Chaverim Kol Yisroel”.  A second translation not found in any of the English prayer books is that we are joined together like two pieces of metal are soldered together so they appear as one piece but are actually two pieces.  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks translates these words as “so that all Israel may be united in friendship.”  However, the Birnbaum Siddur explained it that all Jews are “knitted together”.  It is interesting that the same words are translated differently, and each while similar have different connotations, which reflect Haskafah, and time of history.  Refer to end of this post to explains the differences in interpretation.

Philip Birnbaum is the highest level, the knitting together, being intertwined.  This  can be explained best by the following story of the Kotzker and his dear friend, Reb Yitzchok of Vorka.  I had heavenly help in finding this story to understand Birnbaum.

At 3:00 PM I went to take a nap and looked for something to read. I found in my closet three pages from a publication called Hapardas, dated January 1968.  Hapardes was a publication for the Torah world by Rabbi Simcha Elberg, first published in Warsaw, then Chicago, and in the later years of his life from Boro Park.  1968 was his 42nd year of publication.  On page 36 Rabbi Elberg had a book review of a new Sefer published by Rabbi Kalman Eliezer Frankel, a Rabbi in Tel Aviv.  The new book’s title was; In the Tents of the Righteous – the branch of the house of Vorka – Sakranovitz.

I will translate a large part of the book review as follows:

The Seraf of Kotzk did not want many Chassidim among the masses; however, Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorka drew the love of the masses to himself. Just like Rabbi Levi Yitzchok TZL of Berdichiv was in his generation (1740 – 1810), so was Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorka in his generation, he looked upon the Jewish people  with the mindset  of “ He (God) does not look at evil in Jacob and has seen no perversity in Israel. (Numbers 23:21).”    These two great people came out of the Bais Midrash of the Rebbi, Reb Bunim TZL, who both illuminated the heavens of Poland, two completely different viewpoints in Chassidus and nonetheless a great love  and an everlasting love existing between the two great and holy individuals

On page 322 in the book,”B’Ohali Tzaddikkim” the reader will find an amazing story from the author. It is worthwhile to recount the story here.

The Rebbi, Reb Yitzchok Vorka in his generation was like the Berdichiver in his generation, having great compassion, a lover of the Jewish people, a trusted servant for his people, he found merit even on the lowest of the lowest Jewish person.

After the death of the Rebbi, Reb Bunim, Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorka crowned the son of Reb Bunim, Rabbi Avrohom Moshe as the leader of the holy congregation, which he led for only two years. And after the death of Reb Avrohom Moshe, Reb Yitzchok of Vorka accepted the leadership of the congregation.

Even though the mindset, the essence, and entire being of Rabbi Yitzchok Vorka was totally  different than  Reb Menachem  Mendel of Kotzk; as the Kotzker  demanded only perfection, without blemish,  Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorka saw the light that shines in each Jewish person.  Despite this they were strongly and faithfully attached

After the death of Rabbi Yitzhok Vorka on the last day of Pesach (1848), the Vorka’s son and successor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Kalish, goes to Kotzk.  The Kotzker asks have you seen your father in the next world?  The son answers no.  The Kotzker responds – I saw him. In the Kotzker sharpness, the Kotzker relates the following story. “I was in the heavenly world, and I searched and asked the heavenly angels: Tell me, where can our Reb Yitzhok’l be found?  The angels answered, he is in a higher level, that even we are not allowed to enter. I then searched in the level of the Baal Shem Tov and I was told that Reb Yitzchok was in a higher level. I went to the level of the Achronim, of the Bais Yosef and Remah, and also there I could not find my friend. I traveled and entered the level of the Reshonim and could not find him.  I then went up to the level of they holy Amoreim and asked them, tell me, I am searching for Yizhok’l my friend, where is he and where can he be found.   They responded he was here, but now he can be found on the river’s edge which is closeby. I ran with all my might, I passed the field of the “Chakal Tapuchin” (mentioned in the Zohar of the next world), and there I saw a flowing river, and at its edge, your father Reb Yitzchok’l was leaning on his staff and looking into the clear and pure waters of the river. I grabbed his coat and asked, Yitzchok’l my faithful friend, what are you doing here? He answered me do you see this river? These are the tears of the Jews that were shed over the generations and from the tears a river was formed that flows into the upper heavens. I am standing by this river and I am not able to move away.

Rabbi Frankel adds that this is how the Kotzker described to the son of the Vorker  who his father was and his father’s  greatness. No other leader in that generation merited to be described by the great Kotzker, as the true lover of the Jewish people, Rabbi Yitzchok of Kalish, the first Admor of Vorka, TZL.   The story is told by Rabbi Naftoli Citron – youtube, The Kotzker Rebbe, #3 and #4.

This is how Philip Birnbaum translates “Chaverim Kol Yisoel” “knitted together” as the Kotzker and Vorka Rebbes. And this is the model for the Jewish people.

The four interpretations of Chaverim Kol Yisroel are:         1) Artscroll – All Israel are Comrades.

2) All Israel are connected –pieces joined together.

3) Rabbi Jonathan Sacks – so that all Israel my be united in friendship.

4) Birnbaum Siddur – All Israel is “knitted together”.

Each interpretation I believe depends on someone’s outlook towards life, religion, time of history, and relationships.   They are probably all true at times during history.

Artscroll’s translation sounded strange to me. The word Comrades brings up negative images.  Loyal communists were called Comrades.  This implies that Klal Yisroel must all be the same, think the same, and look the same.   Comrades is an exclusionary term, anyone different is not part of us.  Rabbi Wolkenfeld did tell me that in Israel the word Chaverim is used in the Kibbutzim and it means comrades.

The second explanation is like the Satmer. Klal Yisroel is separate parts joined together as in a menorah whose branches are soldered to the base.   This is how the Satmer would translate the word.  The Satmer in his Hagadah says on Yachatz (we break the middle matzah) – sometimes our community has to break off from the rest of Israel.  We must split off.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is how most people would interpret the words; however, Birnbaum is on a deeper level. We are bound to one another.  This is more the viewpoint of the Besht, the Kotzker, the Lubavitcher, Menachem Begin, and others.