Shabbos Nachumu

This Shabbos is the greatest Shabbos of the year, Shabbos Nachumu.  I remember as a kid looking at the Jewish Press and reading the ads for Shabbos Nachumu weekend in the Catskills and wanted to go.

I recommend  Rabbi Shamshom Refoel Hirsh’s book on Haftorah.  His thoughts ring true to today.  His optimism, saying the Jews have to be the light to the nations, and his Zionism stand out.

Welcome to Rabbi Wolkenfeld,  the new Rabbi at Anshei Sholem.  I spoke to him and played Jewish geography.  Anshe Sholem made an excellent choice.

I was in Florida for 10 days around July 4th for the birth and Bris of my new grandson, Zachariah Refoel.  I will write about it at a different time.

The following is an old e-mail to family with a Torah though on this week’s portion and an Anshei Sholem story.

From: Mitch Morgenstern
Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 10:23 AM 

Saturday night, August 1, 2009 11:30 PM to 2:55 AM, Sunday Morning, August 2, 2009

Shabbos – Parshas Veschannan – August 1, 2009 – the 11th day of AV:

This Shabbos I had one of those great days, when everything came together for me.  Most of our lives are a series of living our daily lives, dealing with stress, hardships, punctuated by those times that are special.  We always have to deal with Monday morning.

My daughter is engaged to be married and the Vort – Engagement party is this Sunday night at my house from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM.   Friday night we ate at my house with Chasan (groom), my sister, Karen and her daughter, Ziporah.  They came in from New York for the Vort.  My mother was also with us.

Shabbos morning I decided to walk to Anshe Sholem, the Shul along the lakefront.  Walking and running is one activity that gets me through life.  I left at 6:40 AM and got to Anshe Sholem at 8:25 AM.  I took the lakefront path.  There were hundreds of runners out there.  I love the energy.  Many of the guys were running without shirts.  Back in 1977 that was me.

Thought on the Torah Portion:

I was early so I sat down to learn.  I learned the first Passuk (passage) and the first Rashi.


The first Rashi explains the word “Veschannan”.  Rashi says that this word means that Moshe prayed and asked for a “gift” from God.   Although righteous people can pray and ask for things from God because of their merits, they ask God for “gifts”.   Rashi then says,   image006 , “another explanation”.  Rashi’s second explanation is  that the  word “Veschannan” is one of the 10 expressions for prayer.   Rashi seems to be saying that there are two different interpretations of the word “Veschannan”.

The question on Rashi is obvious.  It would seem that there is only one Peshat –  There are 10 expressions of prayer, one of them being “Techina”.  Techina is a type of prayer that asks for a gift from God.  This is how The Rosh and the Da’as Zekanin M’Baali Tosfos explain it, refer to  page three of the attachment.   Rashi seems to say that there are two explanations, one a gift and the second prayer.

On Sunday morning after I wrote the above, I looked at the Sifrei, page 3A of the attached, and the Medresh Rabbah.  The Medresh Rabbah put the two thoughts together like the Rosh and the Ba’ali Tosfos.  The Sifrei is like Rashi.   However, Rashi does not use the language of the Sifrei.  His language is closer to that of the Medresh Rabbah.  I am sure Rashi did this for clarity, as the Medresh Rabbah elaborates on the translation of the word “Veschannnan”.

The Sefrei has the abbreviation by the second Peshat of the Daled and Alef, not spelled out   Thanks Yonatan for the gift of the Medresh Rabbah

Onkalys translates “Veschannan” as “and he prayed”.   Yonasan Ben Uziel says “and he asked for mercy”.  The Yerushalmi combines Onkalys and Yonasan Ben Uziel together and says, “ and he prayed and asked for mercy”, refer to pages 1 and 2 of the attached.

Maybe you could say that that at one time that Hebrew words ,was abbreviated with a Daled and an Alef.   Over the years as it was printed, the publisher thought the Daled and Alef was ,  Maybe Rashi’s original intent was that the word was D’amrinun or D’amer, as to explain it like The Rosh and the Da’as Zekanin M’Baali Tosfos.  We would have to see an original manuscript of Rashi.

The Ba’al Haturim, page four of the attached, says that the numerical equivalent of Veschannan is the same as Shira – song.  Moshe recited songs {of praise} before God, so that God would accept Moshe’s prayer.  Look at footnote 3 on page four.  I asked my neighbor Rabbi Moshe Roberts as to what is “Shirah”.  He explained Shirah as the first three blessings the Daily Amidah or as in Pesukai D’Zimra.  Maybe you could explain it differently.  The Ba’al Haturim is saying that when Moshe davened, he sang.   Moshe davened with great fervor infused with Simcha – Joy.  In Kotzk and Chassidus, davening is about fervor and Simcha.   As if Moshe davened with a Carlbach melody.  The Artscroll footnote says “for prayer requires a sweet-sounding melody”.

I am not sure how to really answer Rashi.  Maybe in the first explanation of Rashi, the highest level of all Prayer is asking from God requests as a free gift.  In the second Peshat, all prayers are at a high level, no matter how you Pray and what you ask for.  The reality is that most of us pray to God and tell God, we have been good, we have listened to you, and we have requests; please answer our prayer.  During different times we request things different ways, one of them being as a free gift, but not that this is on a higher level than other types of prayer.  Prayer depends on our moods, what is happening in our lives, our issues with self-esteem,  are things coming together for us.


Continuation of the Day:

I davened Shacharis.  During the prayer services in walks my friend, Alfie Cherrick.  His daughter is not well and has been in intensive care at Children’s Memorial Hospital.  Children’s Memorial Hospital is about one mile from the Shul.  My friend and his wife stayed at the hospital for Shabbos.  He davened at sunrise and came to Anshe Sholem to hear the Torah Reading.  My friend was sitting in the Shul’s study and  I was telling him the above Divrei Torah.  The Rabbi of Anshe Sholem, Rabbi Asher Lopatin walked in to get something from his office.   All three of us learned in Brisk Yeshiva by Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik and  Rabbi Lopatin commented, it is like old times.   I finished the Devar Torah, left the Shul at 9:50 AM to go to Mishna Ugemorah, my normal Synagogue.

We had a great moment of life.  And the Rest of the Story:

My friend reminded me of an event that occurred in 1975 and added a great ending to the event.

In 1975 both of us were learning in Brisk Yeshiva under Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik.  The Rabbi of Anshe Sholem, Rabbi Herman Davis, passed away at a younger age.  It was on the 23rd day of Sivan.  Rabbi Soloveichik had the entire Yeshiva;  high school and Beis Medresh go to the funeral.  I remember going and listening to the Hespeidim.  At the time, I did not understand why the entire Yeshiva went.  I knew that Rabbi Davis was a Rov, however, I did not think that he had any connection to the Yeshiva.  Alfie Cherrick remembered that Mayor Daley spoke, as Rabbi Davis was a city chaplain.  Alfie then told me the rest of the Story.  As myself, everyone wondered as to why the yeshiva went.  Some of the students asked Reb Aaron.  Reb Aaron said that during the `60’s, Rabbi Davis was under tremendous pressure to remove the Mechitza and have mixed seating.  Rabbi Davis fought to keep the Synagogue within Orthodoxy and was successful.  Reb Aaron said that the Yeshiva went in recognition of the struggle of Rabbi Davis to keep Anshe Sholem Orthodox and open to all Jews.  I was speechless.   Wow!   The greatness of Reb Aaron Soloveichik.  Reb Aaron was in the forefront of fighting for Orthodoxy and he understood Rabbi Davis’s struggles, and the importance of his successful fight.  34 years later, three of his students came together on a Shabbos morning due to Rabbi Davis.  I said a Torah thought, my friend had a place to Daven, and Rabbi Lopatin has done a magnificent job in growing Anshe Sholem.  This defines the concept of a Synagogue.   It is Jews coming together to pray as a community.  Sometimes it is just going about our daily routine, however, other times it is in a time of need, and in other times, it is times of joy.  Alfie Cherrick needed a successful recovery for his daughter, for me it was a time of joy, as my daughter is engaged, plus I love the Shul and go for my mental health, and Rabbi Lopatin is the Rabbi.

I can only conclude, thank you Hashem for allowing me to be there and participate.   May we all obtain peace of mind, Yshu’os and Refu’os – healing, for our physical, spiritual, and well-being,  from God




Whirlwind of Simchos


I had a wonderful May and June. It was a whirlwind of family Simchos and I was able to visit with most of the family. The kids are going to be okay.

I met a number of Rabbonin and people much greater than me, including but not limited to:

Rabbi Jonathan Gross, Rov of Beth Israel Synogague, Omaha, NE and my cousin.

Rabbi Abraham Kelman, Rov of Prospect Park Shul, Brookyn, NY.  Rabbi Kelman inspired me to learn about Kotzker Chassidus and is a cousin via marriage to me.

Rabbi Yitzchok Wasserman, Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshvia Toras Chaim, Denver, CO.  Rabbi Wasserman is a cousin of Rabbi Avrohom Kelman, who is a cousin to me via marriage.

Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshvia Toras Chaim, Denver, CO

Rabbi Solomon Maimon, Rov of Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation, Seattle, WA 

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, Rov of Boca Raton Synogague, Boca Raton, FL

Rabbi Ben Sugerman, Rov of Boca Raton Synogague, Boca Raton, FL

Rabbi Zev Reichman Rov of the East Hill Synogague, Englewood, NY and RAM in YU.

Rabbi Sholem Baum, Rov of Keter Torah of Teaneck, NJ

Rabbi Stanley Miles, Rabbi of Temple Sholem in Louisville, KY

Rabbi Moshe Peleg and Rabbi Pinchos Levy of Jerusalam of Beera Miriam Seminary located in the Ben Yehuda area,

Chazzan Moshe Kraus of Ungvar, Hungary; Muncaz, Hungary; and Ottawa, CA

Rabbi Elliot Gertel , Rabbi of Rodfei Tedek in Hyde Park, Chicago, IL

Rabbi Moshe Schmuel Rotenberg, Rov of Rotenberg’s Shul on East 28th and Avenue R, Brooklyn, NY

Rabbi Barry Freundel, Rov of Kesser Israel in Georgetown, D.C.  Kesser Israel was the first great Shul across America I attended in 1978 when Rabbi Israel Rabinowitz was Rabbi.

Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Levin of Lower Merion, PA, grandson of the holy Rabbi Aryeh Levin.  Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Levin was the first child named after Reb Avrohom Yitzchok Kook, after Rabbi Kook passed away.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Janowski of Coral Springs, FL, RAM in the Lubavitch Yeshiva in Coral Springs, FL and  my nephew.


  • May 1-6, 2013 – Boca Raton, FL.  Upsherin of my grandson, Aryeh Moshe Levy
  • May 7, 2013 -Brooklyn, NY.   Being honored by Yeshiva Toras Chaim.  Highlight             was giving Ephraim Chase and Rabbi Yitzchok Wasserman shoes.
  • May 12, 2013 – Philadelphia, PA.   Shoshana Parker’s wedding
  • May 24-26, 2013 – Omaha, NE.    Hosted by Rabbi and Rebbitzen Jonathan Gross
  • May 30, 2013 – Chicago, IL.         Dinner with Chazzan Moshe Kraus and Chazzan Silber
  • June 1, 2013 – Brooklyn, NY.        Amitai Schwartz’s Auf Ruf
  • June 2, 2013 – Closter, NJ.            Amitai Schwartz’s weddingimage001
  • June 9, 2013 – Lakewood, NJ.      Chana Tzipora Saltz’s wedding.
  • June 12, 2103 – Chicago, IL            Had dnner with Rabbi Moshe Peleg and Rabbi Pinchos Levy  both of Jeruslaem,  June 13, 2013 – Chicago, IL.         Dinner with Avi Maza at Milt


The below Torah though has been percolating in my head for years and this year I am writing about it. Chapter 20, Verse 1 in this week’s Bible portion states:

א  וַיָּבֹאוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל כָּל-הָעֵדָה מִדְבַּר-צִן, בַּחֹדֶשׁ הָרִאשׁוֹן, וַיֵּשֶׁב הָעָם, בְּקָדֵשׁ; וַתָּמָת שָׁם מִרְיָם, וַתִּקָּבֵר שָׁם. 1 And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.
What is unique about this Verse?

Observation 1:
The Bible portion before this Verse is about the laws of the Parah Aduma, the Red Heifer. That Bible portion and everything before this verse in B’Midbar (Numbers) took place in the second year of leaving Egypt. The previous verse to Chapter 20, Verse 1 was the final verse of the laws of the Red Heifer. The very next verse, Chapter 20, Verse 1 takes place 38 years later. In one verse 38 years pass, seemingly uneventful. There is zero mention in the Bible as to what happened during these 38 years. People lived their lives, had children, got married, mourned their losses, but nothing eventful happened that the Bible felt it was important to mention.

Observation 2:
Compounding this is the first story in year 40 is the death of Miriam. This makes sense as the Bible is telling us of the passing of the old generation to make way for new leadership. However, Miriam dies and there is no water. Over 3 million people are dying of thirst. The same complaints heard 40 years ago by their parents, are echoed by the children, Why did you take us out of Egypt. This is followed by Moshe hitting the rock and not speaking to it, saying, “listen you rebels” and Moshe being punished. Tough times again. Nothing changed.

To me the simple but unsatisfying answer for the second observation and without looking at the Commentators is that life is tough. Nothing changed. Despite the fact that the Jews had all their needs met in the desert for 40 years, they still had to live life and life is not idyllic. I will say that in our day and age, for many people life has never been this good. However, don’t ever think that you can float by in life. Life will always catch up.

Comment on Observation 1:
I told the below to Rabbi Lopatin and he did not think I was correct. However, the below is my gut feel.

Time passes. Whether we live for 20 years or 80 years, after those 80 years life ceases and your 80 years is no different than that of another person living for 20 years, both are gone. Sometimes a full life is 20 years, sometimes 80 years, and sometimes one day. The quality is the same. We know that someone can acquire merit in the world to come in one hour. This is what the Torah is saying about the Jews in the desert. The years that mattered to the destiny of the Jewish people were up to and including year 2 after leaving Egypt and year 40. The intervening years were unimportant. Year 2 merges with year 40 and that is the continuum of time.

I have a friend who I did not see for 30 years. He moved on to Israel, married, had kids, etc. When I first met with him after the 30 years absence. I was looking for that youthful person I knew from 30 years earlier. I did not see it in him and I could not relate to my friend. I wondered what happened to the young man I met and it bothered me. We were sitting together the last time I was in israel and he sang. He was a Chazzan and only then was I able to see the same person from 30 years earlier. Time merged and the 30 years dropped out of the time continuum.

This coming Wednesday, Tamuz 11, is my father’s Yahrzeit. I did not see my father from 1970 to 1994, for 24 years. I spoke to him on the phone but it was not a relationship. My mother was very angry that I went to visit, but it was something I had to do. On January 17, 1994 when I knocked on his door, and for the next 8 years I went twice a year to visit him we did have a relationship. I was with my father from the date I was born in 1953 to 1970, then from 1994 to his death in 2002. 1970 merged with 1994 and it was a continuous relationship. The distance of time did not matter. It was an entire lifetime. The 24 years just dropped out of the timeline. This is what observation 1 in communicating. At times life truncates, years merge, and intervening years drop out because they do not matter to the relationship. I believe similar to Yaakov our forefather. My years may be off, but he leaves his father at age 58, comes back to his father at age 94, is with his father for 15+- years, goes thorough suffering when his son, Joseph, is gone for 22 years, reunites with Joseph at age 130. It is a great life, the bad times are gone and it is glorious life bound together by the times he spent with his father and with Joseph in peace and harmony.