Sunday, May 31, 2009

Big Day!

Shalom Sweetest Friends!!

I have arrived in the US and the flight was GREAT because before the flight they kept giving me stickers!! I can add them to my collection. I love stickers! Next time I hope that they give me marbles!!!

Anyway, if anyone would like to reach me [medical consultations, tarot card reading or just to say "Shalom Aleichem Sweetest Friend"] my home # is 212-799-1124 or cell [yes ME - A CELL! thanks to Mom], 917-715-0988.

And of course Mazel Tov to my beloved friend [brother?] "Awesome" Avraham Yitzchak Jaspan and his Kalla, "Holy" Hila Reich.

Everyone is invited! [I didn't ask permission to write that but if you just dance I am sure it'll be fine!!!] See you in that well known suburb of Jerusalem called "Teaneck"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you see someone airborne - it'll be me.

Bikarov aitzel kooooolam!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gotta Do Somethin' To Save Our Marriage

Sweetest friends Shalom!!

After I finished my last post I went to check my email. Let me begin by saying that I like email. It allows me to connect to the people I love most - Yidden! All types!! What a pleasure - and the price can't be beat!!

So anyway I go to my email and on the side of the screen I see an offer I CAN refuse - ZNUS, PRITZUS, ARAYOS. [For the uninitiated I translate loosely - no pun intended - immorality.]


That is what I meant in the previous post. We gotta do something about this sexually depraved internet. For the sake of our marriage - with G-d!!!

Love and blessings!

Please daven for Elisheva Shoshana bas Smadar Tzippora [Rabbi Rosenzweig's daughter], Yaakov ben Sara Yenta [elderly man who had cancer in a bone in his arm and now broke that arm] and Eytan Meir ben Rivkah Orah [a sweet child with a horrible form of cancer] bisoch shear cholei yisrael.

Judaism Is Not A Hobby

Ages of experience have taught humanity that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society.

Jack Kingston

Sweetest friends Shalom!!!

The secret to a good marriage is commitment. That means that will be completely faithful to our spouse. I have yet to meet or hear about a woman who was willing to be married to a man who has flings on the side. He might want to, but true commitment requires COMPLETE fidelity.

Tomorrow night we are marrying the Ribbono Shel Olam and we are going to receive his beloved Torah. Practically this means that we must recommit to being COMPLETEY faithful to Hashem. Television, movies, inappropriate internet sites, lurid novels, inappropriate pictures etc. etc. are all in the category of infidelity.

But it is not enough to refrain from cheating on ones wife, one must also shower her with love. In the context of our relationship with Hashem this means that we should learn his Torah with love and assiduousness [see the Rambam's Sefer Hamitzvos Mitzva gimmel].

May we once again accept upon ourselves the yoke of Torah with simcha!!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Special Shiur!!

Sweetest friends - some things are a matter of life and death.

The Rebbe Shlita came to the Yeshiva and gave a shiur on the topic - here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Don't Despair

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."

Robert Frost

Sweetest friends Shalom!!

Things are tough? Had some rough times?

Be warmed by Frost's wise words.

Life goes on.

Love and blessings!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Car That Couldn't Make Up It's Mind

I heard this story from Rabbi Menachem Stein of Petach Tikva who heard it from Rebbetzin Knievsky who was an eyewitness.

A certain man has a very rich son who bought his father a very expensive car [300,000 shekels]. The father wanted to use it to give Rav Chaim Knievsky a ride so he would have a zchus.

He was told that if he comes after mincha a certain day, he can give R' Chaim a ride to a bris mila that was to take place in Wagshall Hall in Bnei Brak. He picks up R' Chaim and turns the key. THE CAR WON'T START! So R' Chaim says "It happens" and gets out. The driver is frustrated and continues turning the key and lo and behold the car starts. He calls R' Chaim back into the car.

Uh oh! The car won't start again. So R' Chaim gets out again. Then once again he starts the car and calls R' Chaim back.

Same story. The car refuses to start. Out goes R' Chaim.

Then the embarrassed and frustrated driver manages to start the car again. R' Chaim is invited back. But once again. No go.

So R' Chaim asks the man "Tell me, was the money used to buy this car kosher money? For example, was money used that was "earned" by collecting interest on loans?" ["Ribbis" in the vernacular.]

The man was stunned. Indeed his son became rich by lending out money and collecting interest [without a heter iska].


It's cool to be R' Chaim. But to be him, you have to finish Talmud Bavli and Yerushalmi every year. And much, much more......

Friday, May 22, 2009

May G-d Always Save Us!!!

Recently we had a post entitled "True Security". Then I received this email which bears out what we said. Heeeeeere it is:

An Important Message from Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt

Dear Friends,

You have doubtless heard on the news that our shul was targeted by terrorist bombers in a plot that the FBI, NYPD, and Department of Homeland Security were carefully monitoring from its inception. The bombs, which were supposed to be planted in front of the RJC and in front of the Riverdale Temple, were provided through FBI agents posing as representatives of a Pakistani terrorist organization. These armaments were inert and at no time was there any real danger. All of the suspects were apprehended. Police Commissioner Kelly and representatives of the FBI, NYPD, and Homeland Security came personally to the RJC to inform the community and to allay our fears. We are assured that although there is no residual danger, the 50th Precinct will be offering us special surveillance and protection. Our public officials have also come forward to assure their help in keeping the RJC secure.

Oy vey!!!

Baruch Hashem they were caught!

What really shocked me was that the "Temple" is in Riverdale. All along I have been looking for it in Jerusalem.

I feel so stupid.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.

Jessica Lange

Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.

Robert Browning

A mother is a mother still. The holiest thing alive.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Sweetest friends! A shiur about Yerushalayim as our consoling mother.

And yet another shiur with a beautiful description of the events that transpired in 1967, here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Constant Celebration

As a result of the historic catastrophe in which Titus of Rome destroyed Jerusalem and Israel was exiled from its land, I was born in one of the cities of the Exile.

Shmuel Y. Agnon

Me too, R' Shai!!!

But we are back!

Sweetest friends - I urge you, don't make Yom Yerushalayim a one day a year event.
Live here!! It is a great mitzva one can fulfill every second. Yes indeed the poskim say that there is a special mitzva to live in Yerushalayim. Rav Valdenberg in his Tzitz Eliezer goes so far as to say that if one lives here it is forbidden for him to leave just as it is forbidden to move to Chutz L'aretz once you live in Israel.

"U'reah bitoov Yerushalayim" - Live here and see the goodness of Yerushalayim.

Love and blessings from the Alleyways of the Rova!

For a [FREE!!] shiur on this day you can click "po".

A Problem Or An Answer?

"Those for whom life is commonplace - Torah is a problem.
Those for whom life is a mystery - Torah is the answer."

Such a good quote I won't add anything!!

By the way - I have been trying to delete the nonsensical comment after the last post but I have been unable to do so. Please don't read it. It is assur to read divrei avodah zara.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Chain Of Transmission

Rabbi Leib Keleman recently gave a shiur and gave out a paper in which he traced his Rabbeim back to Moshe [it took a LONG time to assemmble the list]. Thanks to the "Passaicer Tzaddik" - Reb Yosef Tzvi Ehrman Shlita [known to me as "Brother Jon" - but make no mistake, he is NOT a Monk but a heiliger Yid] who passed this on to me from Benjamin Hirsch.

How Most Religions Start

Newer Religions

Church histories of the Mormons (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) report that their founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., had a vision in 1820. Two personages, whom he later identified as G-d the Father and Jesus, appeared and revealed to him that all existing churches were counterfeit. In 1823, Smith was visited again, this time by the angel "Moroni," who informed him of the existence of "golden plates" containing an inscription in "Reformed Egyptian" about the ancient inhabitants of North America. In 1827, the angel reappeared to reveal the plates' exact location. Smith immediately set to work translating them, and that translation became the Book of Mormon. Later, Smith and an acquaintance, Oliver Cowdery, had a joint vision of John the Baptist, who conferred upon them "a restored Aaronic Priesthood." In another vision, Peter, James, and John gave Smith and Cowdery "the higher priesthood of the Apostles." Smith continued to have regular revelations, which he related to his followers and published in another book -- The Doctrines and Covenants.1

"I AM" (or the "Saint Germain Foundation") was founded by Guy Ballard in 1930. Hiking alone near Mt. Shasta in California, Ballard claims to have been approached by the reincarnation of the Comte de Saint Germain, an eighteenth-century French occultist, and appointed to spread a new, true religion. Ballard published the account of his initial interchanges with Saint Germain (Unveiled Mysteries) in 1934, and over the next four years he wrote half a dozen more books describing Saint Germain's more than 3,000 discourses and decrees. Thousands attended Ballard's seminars in Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles until his death in 1939. His followers continue to teach about Ballard's revelations, and in 1990 there were more than 300 "I AM" centers in more than twenty-five countries.2

The Unification Church, popularly known as "the Moonies," also began with one man's revelation. On Easter morning, 1936, Jesus came to sixteen-year old Sun Myung Moon and told him to proclaim himself the new Messiah. In 1980 the Church reported over 120 centers worldwide.3

Eckankar also started with John Paul Twitchell's revelations and "astral" (out-of-body) travel. Before his death in 1971, Twitchell claimed to be the 971st ECK Master and a spiritual descendent of "an unbroken chain of Vaiargi Masters." In 1988 Twitchell's Church reported 127 U.S. centers and 284 worldwide.4

The beginnings of Christian Science5, Theosophy6, Children of G-d7, and Elan Vital8 are virtually identical. In fact, brief histories of almost all new religious groups sound the same: one or two people have a revelation and persuade others to follow. In all of these cases, the religion's credibility rests on the credibility of its one or two founders.

Older Religions

According to Buddhist texts, Buddhism began when a wealthy eastern prince, Siddhartha Gautama, abandoned his family's plush estate to search for the truth. After a nearly fatal immersion in asceticism, Gautama retreated to the "Middle Way," studied with teachers of yoga and philosophy, and eventually settled beneath a Bodhi tree to "put himself into a trance, intent of discerning both the ultimate reality of all things and the final goal of existence."9 With no one present, Prince Gautama succeeded, and the week-long trance carried him to infinite heights of awareness and peace: "He passed through the eight stages of Transic Insight, and quickly reached their highest point. . . . Then he had achieved correct knowledge of all there is to be known, and he stood out in the world as a Buddha."10 According to Gautama's report, in his vision "the whole universe was illumined, rain and blossoms fell from the heavens, and even the sages in heaven, recognizing the supremacy of [Gautama's] enlightenment, bowed [to him]."11 Gautama emerged from that solitary revelation to begin his 45 year career as a religious teacher and leader.

Islam is another religion rooted entirely in the experiences of one man, Muhammad, born in Mecca, Arabia around 570 C.E.. At the age of forty, Muhammad "had an experience in which a message somehow became present in his mind; and eventually he came to believe that this was a message from G-d."12 Eventually G-d told Muhammad that he had been chosen as the Divine messenger and "Seal of the Prophets" (khatm). Muhammad continued to receive messages throughout his life, and slowly these messages were gathered into suras (chapters) and written down, eventually forming the Koran.

The Koran describes other people who witnessed oddities indicating that Muhammad was a legitimate prophet. Muhammad's mother reportedly experienced "none of the difficulties of pregnancy," and she "heard a voice one day which told her that her son was to be a ruler and prophet, and that she should name the child Ahmad, this is Muhammad the illustrious."13 The Koran reports that Muhammad was born clean, circumcised, and with the umbilical cord already cut and tied; and that when Muhammad was twelve years old, a Syrian monk noticed a tree lowering its branches to shade the boy from the sun.14


Traditional Christian claims about Jesus' divinity rest on the virgin birth, resurrection, and the miracles he performed during his lifetime. These claims have varying levels of verifiability.

Nobody but Jesus' mother, Mary, could have known if he were really the product of a virgin birth. Regarding the resurrection, former president of the Catholic Biblical Association Raymond E. Brown admits that "the New Testament does not make claim that anyone saw the resurrection," and therefore "the reality of the bodily resurrection hinges on the missing body or the empty tomb and, above all, on the validity of the experiences of those who claimed they saw Jesus risen."15 According to Christian tradition, eleven (of the twelve) disciples and Mary Magdalene saw Jesus alive after his crucifixion,16 and "the apostles" saw Jesus ascend into the heavens at the conclusion of his earthly mission.17

Christianity's credibility derives mostly from its descriptions of the miracles Jesus performed. For instance, "the disciples" saw Jesus walk on the Sea of Galilee.18 The text fails to mention who the disciples were, or how many of them were present, but, given the plural reference, there must have been at least two or as many as all twelve.19 Also, three disciples (Peter, James, and John) witnessed Elijah and Moses materialize, confer with Jesus, and then disappear again.

One might argue that Christianity has an even more solid basis. Many times "a crowd" saw Jesus "heal" the disabled, blind, and insane. (See, for example, Mark 2:12; 8:24-5; and 5:15.) Christian sources also describe how Jesus fed "as many as 5,000 men" with only five loaves of bread.20

[Sweetest friends - Something seems to be missing here! But maybe we can fill in that everything written in the New Testament was recorded LOOONG after Jesus died, so there was nobody around who could possibly deny it. Try proving that my great great grandfather didn't feed as many as 5,000 men with only five loaves of bread in his Polish Shtetl 150 years ago. You can't! But did he really do it? I will let you make the call....]

The Torah's Revelation Narratives

"The Israelites traveled from Rameses toward Sukkoth. There were about 600,000 adult males on foot..." (Exodus 12:37)

"G-d said to Moses, 'I will come to you in thick cloud, so that all the people will hear when I speak to you. They will then believe in you forever.' Moses told G-d the people's response. G-d said to Moses, "Go to the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow. Let them even immerse their clothing. They will then be ready for the third day, for on the third day, G-d will descend on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people." (Exodus 19:9-11)

"The third day arrived. There was thunder and lightning in the morning, with a heavy cloud on the mountain, and an extremely loud blast of a ram's horn. The people in the camp trembled. Moses led the people out of the camp towards the Divine Presence. They stood transfixed at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was all in smoke because of the Presence that had descended on it. G-d was in the fire, and its smoke went up like the smoke of a lime kiln. The entire mountain trembled violently. There was the sound of a ram's horn, increasing in volume to a great degree. Moses spoke and G-d replied with a voice. G-d came down on Mount Sinai, to the peak of the mountain. He summoned Moses to the peak, and Moses climbed up." (Exodus 19:16-20)

"G-d spoke all these words, saying: 'I am G-d your Lord, Who brought you out of Egypt, from the place of slavery. Do not have any other G-ds before Me. (Exodus 20:1-3)

"G-d said to Moses: 'This is what you must tell the Israelites: You have seen that I spoke to you from heaven...'" (Exodus 20:19)

"To the Israelites, the appearance of G-d's glory on the mountain top was like a devouring flame. Moses went into the cloud, and climbed to the mountain top." (Exodus 24:17)

"Only take heed and watch yourself very carefully, so that you do not forget the things that your eyes saw. Do not let [this memory] leave your hearts, all the days of your lives. Teach your children and children's children about the day you stood before G-d your Lord at Sinai. It was then that G-d said to me, 'Congregate the people for Me, and I will let them hear My words. This will teach them to be in awe of me as long as they live on earth, and they will also teach their children. You approached and stood at the foot of the mountain. The mountain was burning with a fire reaching the heart of heaven, with darkness, cloud and mist. Then G-d spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sounds of words, but saw no image; there was only a voice. He announced to you rules and laws, so that you will keep them in the land which you are crossing [the Jordan] to occupy." (Deuteronomy 4:9-14)

"You might inquire about times long past, going back to the time that G-d created man on earth, [exploring] one end of the heavens to the other. See if anything as great as this has ever happened, or if the like has ever been heard. Has any nation ever heard G-d speaking out of fire, as you have, and still survived?... You are the ones who have been shown, so that you will know that G-d is the Supreme Being, and there is none besides Him. From the heavens He let you hear His voice admonishing you, and on earth He showed you His great fire, so that you heard His words from the fire." (Deuteronomy 4:32-35)

"G-d made a covenant with you [at Mount Sinai]... It was not with your ancestors that G-d made this covenant, but with us, we who are still alive today. On the mountain, G-d spoke to you face to face out of the fire." (Deuteronomy 5:2-4)

G-d spoke these words in a loud voice to your entire assembly from the mountain, out of the fire, cloud and mist... When you heard the voice out of the darkness, with the mountain burning in flames, your tribal leaders and elders approached me. You said, 'It is true that G-d our Lord has showed us His glory and greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the fire. Today we have seen that when G-d speaks to man, he can still survive. But now, why should we die? Why should this great fire consume us? If we hear the voice of G-d our Lord any more, we will die!'" (Deuteronomy 5:19-22)

"G-d gave me the two stone tablets written with G-d's finger. Upon them were written all the words that G-d declared to you on the mountain out of the fire, on the Day of Assembly." (Deuteronomy 9:10)

"G-d wrote on the tablets the original script of the Ten Commandments which he declared to you from the mountain out of the fire on the Day of Assembly." (Deuteronomy 10:4)

One of the Many Chains of Torah Transmission

God (Mt. Sinai=1312 B.C.E.)























Shimon Hatzadik (310 B.C.E.)

Antignus of Socho (305 B.C.E.)

Yosi ben Yoezer and
Yosef ben Yochanon (280 B.C.E.)

Yehoshua ben Prachya and
Nitai of Arbel (243 B.C.E.)

Yehuda ben Tabai and
Shimon ben Shetach (198 B.C.E.)

Shmaya & Avtalyon (140 B.C.E.)

Hillel & Shammai (40 B.C.E.)

Rabban Shimon (10 B.C.E.)

Rabban Gamliel Hazaken (20 C.E.)

Rav Shimon ben Gamliel (50)

Rabban Gamliel (90)

Rabban Shimon (140)

Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi (180)

Rav, Shmuel, and Rabbi Yochanon (230)

Rav Huna (270)

Rabbah (310)

Rava (340)

Rav Ashi (420)

Rafram (443)

Rav Sama B'rei d'Rava (476)

Rav Yosi (514)

Rav Simonia

Rav Ravoi Me-Rov (589)

Mar Chanan Me-Ashkaya (608)

Rav Mari

Rav Chana Gaon

Mar Rav Rava

Rav Busai (689)

Mar Rav Huna Mari

Mar Rav Chiyah Me-Mishan

Mar Ravyah

Mar Rav Natronai

Mar Rav Yehuda (739)

Mar Rav Yosef (748)

Mar Rav Shmuel

Mar Rav Natroi Kahana

Mar Rav Avrohom Kahana (761)

Mar Rav Dodai

Rav Chananya (771)

Rav Malka (773)

Mar Rav Rava

Mar Rav Shinoi (782)

Mar Rav Chaninah Gaon Kahana (785)

Mar Rav Huna Mar Halevi (788)

Mar Rav Menasheh (796)

Mar Rav Yeshaya Halevi (804)

Mar Rav Kahanah Gaon (797)

Mar Rav Yosef

Mar Rav Ibomai Gaon (814)

Mar Rav Yosef

Mar Rav Avrohom

Mar Rav Yosef (834)

Mar Rav Yitzchak (839)

Mar Rav Yosef (841)

Mar Rav Poltoi (858)

Mar Rav Achai Kahana

Mar Rav Menachem (860)

Mar Rav Matisyahu (869)

Rav Mar Abba

Mar Rav Tzemach Gaon (891)

Mar Rav Hai Gaon (897)

Mar Rav Kimoi Gaon (905)

Mar Rav Yehuda (917)

Mar Rav Mevasser Kahana Gaon (926)

Rav Kohen Tzedek (935)

Mar Rav Tzemach Gaon (937)

Rav Chaninah Gaon (943)

Mar Rav Aharon Hacohen (959)

Mar Rav Nechemiah (968)

Rav Sherirah Gaon (1006)

Meshulam Hagadol

Rav Gershom Meor Hagolah (1040)

Rav Yaakov ben Yakar (1064)

Rav Shlomo Yitzchaki - "Rashi" (1105)

R' Shmuel ben Meir (Rashbam) (1174)

R' Yaakov ben Meir (Rabbenu Tam) (1171)

Eliezer Me-Metz (1175)

Rokeach (1238)

R' Yitzchak of Vienna (Ohr Zaruah)

Rav Meir of Rothenberg (1293)

R' Yitzchak of Duren (Shaarei Durah)

R' Alexander Zusiein Hakohen (Agudah) (1348)

Meir Bar Baruch Halevi (1390)

R' Sholom of Neustadt

R' Yaakov Moelin (Maharil) (1427)

R' Yisroel Isserlein (Trumas Hadeshen) (1460)

R' Tavoli

Rabbi Yaakov Margolies (1501)

Rabbi Yaakov Pollak (1530)

Rabbi Sholom Shachna (1558)

Rabbi Moshe Isserles "Rama" (1572)

Rabbi Yehoshua Falk Katz (1614)

Rabbi Naftoli Hirsch ben Pesachya (1650)

Rabbi Moshe Rivkas - "Be'er Hagolah" (1671)

Rabbi Avraham Gombiner (1682)

Rabbi Moshe Kramer (1688)

Rabbi Eliyahu Chasid (1710)

Rabbi Yissachar Ber (1740)

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman (1765)

Rabbi Eliyahu Kramer - "Vilna Gaon" (1797)

Rabbi Chaim Voloziner (1821)

Rabbi Zundel of Salant (1866)

Rabbi Yisroel Salanter (1883)

Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm (1888)

Rabbi Yerucham Lebovitz (1936)

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe (2005)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

True Secutrity

In Parshas Bechokosai it says that there is a bracha "vishavtem lavetach bi'artzichem" - you will dwell in your land with security. Chazal add "ee atem yoshvem lavetach elle bi'artzichem" - You can only have security in your land. Meaning, if a person thinks that in Chutz L'aretz he will have security - no way!

Only in the Holy Land! But we are not there yet!!! We need to see the fulfillment of this bracha. We unfortunately have seen the fulfillment of the lack of security outside the land. But we want the "Lavetach B'aretz".


A talk by Rav Lau on Yom Yerushalayim.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Yankel Ztz"l

Sweetest friends - an article from Cross-Currents written by Rabbi Dovid Landesman.

Today - Yom ha-Zikaron L’chayalei Tzahal - is one of the most difficult days for me in the calendar year. Every year the day accentuates the fact that I am really not sure who I am - a chareidi, a chardalnik, a dati leumi. Truthfully, my lifestyle and more certainly that of my children, would cast me in the first group. However, while I served in the IDF and did miluim for almost twenty-five years, I am in many ways a proponent of the Eidah ha-Chareidis, for I respect their uncompromising fealty to halachah and their intense efforts to achieve kirvat Hashem.

But, today, when a significant portion of am yisrael mourns the chayalim who gave their lives enabling a Jewish community to be built and thrive in Eretz Yisrael, I find myself angry - nay, overwhelmingly perturbed - by the fact that the overwhelming majority of chareidi Jews ignore this day. It is not my intention to debate whether or not a non-halachic state has any standing. Rather, I simply wonder what happened to elementary hakarat ha-tov. I can accept that standing at attention while a siren blares might not be an appropriate form of public mourning, but how many b’nai Torah are learning mishnayot today?

Let me tell you a little about my friend Yankel zt”l and perhaps you’ll understand my frustrations. Yankel Friedman was a chavrusa of mine in Yeshivat Beit HaTalmud in Yerushalayim. As a ben yeshiva who fit the criteria of Torato um’nato, Yankel was officially qualified to receive a deferment from service in the IDF. But Yankel was uncomfortable with the idea of someone serving in his place and he was never quite sure that his hasmada was adequate enough to really free him from service. Make no mistake, Yankel was a true ben Torah, but he had a conscience that gave him no rest.

Yankel often spoke of his dilemma with the rosh yeshiva, Rav Dov Schwartzman shlita, and together they came up with a plan. Yankel enrolled at Yeshivat ha-Kotel and was officially made part of the hesder unit there. He continued to learn in Beis ha-Talmud and only joined the ha-Kotel boys when they went onto active duty. These types of quiet arrangements were not unusual in the late 60s and early 70s - quite a few boys from Chevron made similar arrangements with the knowledge and co-operation of Rav Yechezkel Sarna zt”l. Yankel finished his hesder service in June 1973 and returned to learn full time in Beis ha-Talmud. In the summer of that year he became a chasan and his wedding was scheduled to take place on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan.

Yankel was extremely active in Peylim and in Elul of 1973, I accompanied him on a trip to Tzfat to encourage teenagers to register in dati schools. We spent the day visiting families throughout the city, and at about 11:30 we were ready to leave and travel back to Yerushalayim. As we got into my car, Yankel told me that he wanted to detour through Akko as he needed to visit a family there. I told him that we would only get there at about 12:30 and it wasn’t right to visit someone at that time. Yankel smiled and said, “you’re right but I need to pick up my watch.” I looked at him like he was crazy but he simply said: “You’ll understand when we get there.” I suggested that we call ahead from a pay phone, but Yankel told me that the family had no telephone.

We drove to Akko, arriving close to 1:00. As we pulled up in front of the house, I noticed that all the lights were on and the entire family was waiting outside. The mother and father received Yankel with exceptional warmth and love, and led us inside where they had set a lavish meal for us. There was no way that we could refuse to eat, so I found myself enjoying a true seudat melachim in the middle of the night. When we finished, one of the daughters - about 16 or 17 by my estimate - approached Yankel and gave him a box with a magnificent gold watch. Yankel thanked her and put the watch on his wrist, got up from the table and motioned to me that we could leave. He said not a word to the parents about the watch, simply said goodnight and that he would stay in touch.

When we got back into the car, I asked Yankel to explain. He told me that the watch was a present from his kallah. I asked him how the girl got it and he explained that two weeks earlier, he had visited the family in Akko and had spent hours trying to convince the 16 year old daughter to transfer into a religious high school. The girl had told him that while she was open to the idea of learning about religion, she did not feel that she was capable of keeping Shabbat as would be demanded by the school. Yankel told her that he was convinced that she could and offered her a deal; if she could not make it through a Shabbos, he would give her his watch as a gift. The young girl agreed and had left him a message that week in the Peylim office that he should come to Akko and take back the watch because she had managed not to be m’chalel Shabbat as he had predicted.

I asked Yankel if his kallah knew about the story and he admitted that he had not told her, adding that if I opened up my mouth, he would break every bone in my body.

On Yom Kippur 1973, Yankel’s hesder unit was called up. He was davening in the yeshiva but when he heard the sirens, he realized that war had broken out. He left after Minchah and went to the Old City to meet up with his group from Yehivat ha-Kotel. On erev Simchas Torah, Yankel’s tank was hit as they crossed the Suez Canal under the command of Arik Sharon. Yankel’s tank was the second to cross and as it drove onto the pontoon bridge, an Egyptian shell hit the tread, disabling the tank. Another shell hit the closed turret, jamming it so that it could not be opened.

The stalled tank held up the tanks behind which were now sitting ducks for the intense Egyptian artillery fire. Standard IDF operating procedueres in these circumstances is for the tank behind to push the disabled tank out of the way. Yankel’s tank was pushed off the bridge into the Suez Canal where he and three fellow soldiers drowned.

I think of Yankel often, although not as often as I should. I wonder where he got the kochot ha-nefesh to be the person that he was. I think of other soldiers who fell - some with stories of extraordinary heroism and mesirat nefesh and some anonymous to me. I am not here to give mussar, I am here only to ask that you think about Yankel and thereby bring an aliyah to his neshama.

Chaval al d’avdin v’lo mishtachin.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Mother's Day

"David Stern should get with the mothers of the NBA and let the moms decide what the dress code should be. I asked my mother if I could wear a chain, and she told me yeah. So I do stuff that my parents allow me to do".

Shaquille O'Neal

Me too Shaq!!!

Which brings us to our topic.

Sunday was a very special day!! It was my Mother's Birthday!!!!!!!!

Tens of millions of Americans celebrated this day and called it "Mothers Day".

My Mom is truly deserving of this honor. I am just surprised that it is not also called "Bubby's Day" as my Mom is also a Bubby.

Anyway I bless my her with many, many happy and healthy years together with my Father and may they see many, many simchas!!!!!!!!!

In addition, I bless myself that I should be wise enough to listen to her.

And I bless Dovid Stern that this short Jewish man should listen to the tall black man and get moms more involved in NBA policy.

Just think - the players will come home after the game and go right to bed and stay out of trouble.

And eat their vegetables.

No Comfort!

A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.

Lao Tzu

Read about Rebbe Shimon [Shabbos 33] in the cave with his son for 13 years. Certainly not comfort seekers!!

Happy Lag Ba'Omer to one and all.

A little "lomdus" for the day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

We Are One

Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?


We learn that the students of Rebbe Akiva didn't show each other sufficient respect and that is why they died. It doesn't say that they insulted each other but that "lo nahagu kavod zeh bazeh" - there was a lack of respect. Rebbe Akiva taught that the guiding principle of the Torah is "Viahavta lirayacha kamocha" and the students failed to live up to that.

Torah is not merely an intellectual pursuit. If it does not come along with good character it is worthless. There is a halacha in the Rambam that if a student has bad character he should not be taught Torah! First - menschlichkeit and then Torah.

One more thought. Chazal say that there were 12,000 pairs of students who died. Why not just say 24,000 students? The answer might be that Chazal are telling us the problem. Cliques. I don't have to respect you because you aren't my chavrusa!! That is the source of the problem.

Today we also have that sometimes. Modern Orthodox feel connected to other Modern Orthodox. Black hatters feel connected to their ilk etc. The truth - we are all one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love and blessings!


Everybody agrees that slander is a terrible thing. To paraphrase the late great Rabbi Isaac Bernstein it is "halachically indefensible and morally reprehensible". There is no argument about this.

Last week I received an email from a friend. He said "You should go to this site and do something about it" and sent a link. I went there. I am STILL shaking!!

Murder. Simply murderous. Our sages teach us that Lashon Hara is tantamount to murder. It kills three parties - the speaker, listener and subject. It is compared to the three cardinal sins. A person who speaks lashon hara deserves to be thrown to the dogs. There are countless statements of Chazal to this effect.

What shocked me was not what this person wrote. He is angry and bitter and although he is still religious, Yiras Shomayim is clearly not his dominant quality. What was so shocking is to see how many people visit this site and the level of the discourse. He had just posted and he already had well over 100 comments filled with Lashon Hara, foul language and an appalling way of relating to each other. It would make an anti-semite proud.


Sweetest friends - I have failed.

ה' הטוב יכפר בעדי

Friday, May 08, 2009

Care And Sensitivity

ויגדל משה ויצא אל אחיו וירא בסבלותם

How do we know that Moses was grown up? Because he went out unto his brethren, and was ready to bear the burdens and share the plight of his people. Maturity is sensitivity to human suffering.

Julius Gordon

A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.

Dennis Waitly

Every child should have a caring adult in their lives. And that's not always a biological parent or family member. It may be a friend or neighbor. Often times it is a teacher.

Joe Manchin

Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.

Margaret Mead

For a shiur on the topic.

Good Shabbos Sweetest Beloved Friends!!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Humble Generosity

This was sent to me by my Chavrusa and beloved friend Meir Dov Berman of Rana'ana [known as the only American city bordered on all four sides by Israel!].

From: Al Cohen
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 11:17 AM
Subject: Jewish Banker who gave away $60 million

Leonard Abess Jr., A True Kiddush HaShem

The Jewish banker who gave away $60 million of his own money

It is February 24, 2009 and Leonard Abess Jr. is seated beside Michelle Obama in the gallery of the Chamber of the United States House of Representatives, the guest of the First Lady, as her husband, President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of Congress in a nationally televised speech. The members of Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the sitting Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States rise, face Abess and break out into admiring applause.
They have just heard President Obama say:

"…inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of Americans who are anything but ordinary”.

I think about Leonard Abess, the bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn't tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, 'I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn't feel right getting the money myself'."

Leonard Abess is Jewish. Why do I accentuate this?

Because of the proclivity of those who view Bernie Madoff as that 'Jewish' fraudster. No one refers to Jeffrey Skilling or Bernard Ebers or Dennis Kozlowski as that 'Gentile' crook.

So I choose to emphasize the Jewishness of one who does good.

The City National Bank of Florida, the second oldest commercial bank in Miami, was established, with $500,000 of capital, in 1946 by Abess' father, Leonard L. Abess Sr., an accountant and his partner Baron de Hirsch Meyer, a lawyer.

The senior Abess, who passed away in 2001, arrived in Miami in 1925 with $75 in his pocket. The following year he met Meyer at a party and that same night they formed a 48-year partnership with a promise that they would always return a share of their earnings to the community. Abess Sr.
became a pillar of the Jewish community and a generous supporter of both Jewish and universal causes ranging from the University of Miami to the Jewish Museum of Florida.
He and his wife were named Miami-Dade County , Philanthropists of the Year for 1990-91 and both a boulevard and a park are named after him.

Baron de Hirsch Meyer was not really a baron but was a Jewish guy from Wisconsin .
His parents named their son after the original Baron de Hirsch the noted Jewish philanthropist who was instrumental in securing the emigration of Jews from Tsarist Russia . The absence of a genuine title did not deter Meyer's wife from signing into European hotels as the 'Baroness' de Hirsch Meyer.

Leonard Abess Jr. started his career in City National Bank's print shop making forms and documents and worked his way up the corporate ladder from there but he did not inherit the Bank from his father. The Bank was sold to an investor group in the early 1980s that in turn flipped majority interest to Colombian coffee magnate Alberto Duque. Duque turned out to be a crook who was convicted and jailed for defrauding 20 banks out of $125 million dollars by issuing fake bills of lading drawn on nonexistent inventories of coffee beans.

Duque's interest in the Bank went up for sale in bankruptcy proceedings from where in 1985 it was purchased by Abess for $21 million, all of it borrowed.
He later purchased the minority interest in the Bank for another $6 million.

At the age of 35, Leonard Abess became one of America 's youngest bank chairmen. Under Abess' steerage, the Bank grew from seven branches with $400 million in assets to 18 branches with $2.75 billion in assets and consistently ranked in the top 50 of all large U.S. banks in terms of profitability and asset quality.

As the Bank grew so did Abess' community involvement. He is Vice Chairman of the University of Miami 's Board of Trustees, former Chairman of the Board of Mount Sinai Medical Center, member of the United Way Million Dollar Roundtable, Board member of The Greater Miami Jewish Federation and a member of its Summit Division, those who donate over $100,000 a year to the United Jewish Appeal. A devoted environmentalist, Abess has endowed millions of dollars for environmental studies. Following in his parent's footsteps, Leonard and his wife, Jayne were named Miami-Dade County , Philanthropists of the Year for 2001-02.

Over the years many suitors had attempted to purchase City National Bank but all were rebuffed by Abess. That is until Caja Madrid , the second largest bank in Spain , came along and made Abess an offer he could not refuse.

They would permit Abess to maintain a minority interest and continue to run the Bank, the jobs of all employees would be secure and Caja Madrid shared Abess' philosophy of giving a substantial amount of their profits back to the community. And so in 2008, Abess sold an 83% interest in City National Bank to Caja Madrid for $977 million.

Abess had long dreamt of a way to reward the employees of the Bank. They had worked with no promise of equity. Their 401(k) Retirement Plans were ravaged by the stock market meltdown. He thought he would surprise them.

He never believed that the Bank's success was about him but rather was about the 399 wonderful, decent people who worked for him. Some had spent their entire careers at the Bank, several rising from low-level jobs to vice-presidential positions.

"I saw that if the president doesn't come to work, it's not a big deal. But if the teller doesn't show up, it's a serious problem", he stated.

Some warned him that dropping large cheques on the employees was not a good idea but Abess did not listen.

So, what Leonard Abess did was simply take $60 million of his own money and quietly hand it out to all 399 people who worked for him; clerks, tellers, bookkeepers, secretaries, janitors, executives, everyone on the payroll. He even tracked down 72 former employees so that they might share in the largesse. The amount each received was based on the number of years of service. The average bonus exceeded $100,000.

Fearful that his employees might misconstrue the bonuses as severance, immediately before the sale of the Bank was completed, in order to announce the payments, Abess made an online video explaining to the Bank's staff that each was to receive a payment as gratitude for service and that all jobs were secure. Three days later, senior executives handed out vouchers detailing the amount deposited to each employee's payroll account.

Abess didn't publicize what he had done and did not make a big deal over the payments. He didn't even show up at the Bank the day the bonus envelopes were distributed.

At a time when the heads of the American big three automakers were flying to Washington in their private corporate jets to beg for bailout money; when the senior executives of banks were taking obscene bonuses while their banks were failing; when the greed and recklessness of Wall Street was one of the causes of the economic tailspin, Abess, against hype, was giving back.

The actions of Leonard Abess Jr. stand for confirmation that the days of Gordon Gekko, the "greed is good" character in the movie "Wall Street", are drawing to a close.

According to the ancient Jewish fable of the "Lamed-Vav Tzadikim", there are at all times 36 righteous people whose role in life is to justify the purpose of humankind in the eyes of G-d.

For the sake of these 36, G-d preserves the world even if the rest of humanity has degenerated to the level of barbarism.

They are unknown to others and to themselves. If the identity of one is discovered, he may no longer be a Lamed-Vavnik and if at any time the number should be less than 36, the world will come to an end.

While it may be okay to speculate who any of these righteous people might be, out of cautious fear of calamity, I dare not mention the name, Leonard Abess Jr.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Previous Post Continued


Sweetest friends, this is a copy of a letter written by the father of Bentzi Gottlieb. Please read and open your hearts - and wallets!

Our son Yehuda Ben Tzion (Bentzi), age four and a half, has been ill for four years now with a rare infection in his intestines, He has been to some of the best hospitals in Israel and the United States, including Schneider's hospital for children (lij) no known cure has been found for eosonophilic colitis and eosonophilic gastro enterits.

It has taken approximately two and half years to reach the exact diagnosis, and for the past year and a half we have been faced with numerous, unpleasant experimental treatments including chemo bated medications, to no avail.

Within those few years, Bentzi has been hospitalized numerous times. Sometimes his stays last up to 2 months.

Since all the lengthy and excruciating efforts in reaching a solution/cure are strictly experimental and are not covered by the health insurance, we have been forced to cover all the medical expenses ourselves. In addition, due to our need to spend time with our son for the various medical exams and/or treatments, hospitalizations, doctor visits, etc., we have unfortunately been forced to lose hundreds of hours from work.

Within the past four years our medical debts have reached up to $65,000, which we have a difficult time recovering. The money to repay loans, which we kindly received from all the generous people, is not available to us. It has put us in a humiliating and unbearable situation to search and request for further help, whether from a gemach (a chessed organization) or a private lender.

Furthermore, the treatments which Bentzi has been receiving lately are costing us approximately 4,000 shekels every 5 weeks, while the special food he has been receiving through a gastrostomy (G tube) has been costing us approximately 2,000 shekels a month, which overall brings our financial outlay to nearly 6,000 shekels ($1,500) a month.

B"H both my wife and I are employed full time and work endlessly to make ends meet. However, our inability to cover our high financial dues, despite constant striving, put a heavy financial burden as well as a mental strain on our family.

Therefore, with a pleading heart, I turn to you as dear friends and special Jews to have rachmanus (compassion) on our ill son and reach out a helping hand in assisting us to provide him the best of medical care and support, which he so desperately needs, while decreasing our financial strains and obligations. We're trying our hardest not to fall short of providing the best for our dear son Bentzi and our other three boys, may they all be well.

Lastly, we have turned to several organizations which provide support for seriously ill children, and we were told that we B"H do not qualify because our son does not have Cancer.

B"H, we are more than grateful that Bentzi does not have that grueling disease, however, the costs involved in Bentzi's disorder, including experimental and unpleasant medical treatments, are no less of a strain on us. Therefore, every bit of help towards our unfortunate and stressful situation would be of enormous support to us.

Please daven for the refuah sheleima of Yehudah Bentzion ben Naomi

May Hashem grant you with many blessings from Above!

Tizku L'mitzvos

Pinchas Gottlieb

Donations may be sent to:

Pinchas Gottlieb

Yismach Yisroel 26/3

Beitar Ilit 90500


Phone: 972-2-626-0902

E mail:

Tax deductible receipts are available in the U.S.:

You may address the check to: "Tzedaka V'Chessed" and specify on the memo "Torat Eliyahu".

Donations which do not need tax deductible receipts can be directly deposited into an available account in America:

Pinchos gottlieb

Bank: HSBC

Acct number: 677738129

Routing number: 021001088

So that we can acknowledge your kindness, please let us know of any deposit.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Creating Love

Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.

Lao Tzu

I would like to thank all of my friends who have restored my faith in mankind. I will be in touch with everyone who inquired via phone or email.

I give you all my bracha from the depths of my soul that Hashem should reward you for your compassion and you should enjoy a life of both material and spiritual bounty.

I bless myself that I should never have to collect tzedaka for anybody because the world has come to its ultimate tikkun and there are no more people in need as the Rambam writes about the Messianic era - ויהיו המעדנים מצויים כעפר

Now all together scream UUUUUUUUUUUUUMMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love and blessings!

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Shalom Sweetest Friends!

The following situation was presented to me by an acutely sensitive woman in the Old City [not related to me but connected to the Yeshiva]: A person's five year old son has cancer [CHAS VISHALOM!! but please bear with me]. The child has undergone the hell of chemotherapy and is still very ill. There is a new experimental treatment that the doctors want to try on the child. If they don't do it they will have to CUT OUT HIS INTESTINES. In the meantime the family is spending 10,000 shekels a month on this child and is sinking deeper and deeper into debt. How is it possible to sleep peacefully at night?

Answer: It's not my child.

Yes, but it is a Jewish child. A child of Hashem. Hashem doesn't love my child any more than this child. One can be insensitive and try to forget it and go on with life. Or one can DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

I was asked to reach out and ask people to do something about little Bentzion G. He is a real child who has suffered from what I described above. His family lived in the Old City for a while but left in order to save money. The mother was one of my children's nursery teacher. The father even went to America to try to raise money but BARELY COVERED HIS TICKET. [Ya know - "the matzav".]

My beloved friends, there is nothing I can think of more distasteful than to ask for money but this is a matter of life or [at least partial] death. I HOPE that I can't fall asleep tonight. At least that would mean that I am not completely callous.

So if you can contribute AND/OR have any ideas how I can help gather a substantial amount of money for them - please contact me either at or 646-461-1628 or 02628-9148.

Thank you!!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Appreciating The Divine

I understand why people enjoy sports. It is exciting to watch. But I often wonder why people are interested in what athletes have to say. With a few notable exceptions [Bill Bradley is one], none of them ever seem to have anything intelligent to say ["We have to take it one game at a time", "We got beat but we have to come back and play better next time" "They just out-hustled us"]. So why all of the interviews? There are so many more intelligent and knowledgeable people who we should want to hear from.

But I was informed of the following;

There is a list called the "TIME 100". This is a list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

In addition to compiling their own list, they ask various people, past honorees and other important people, who they would put in the list.

LeBron James, was asked for his nominee for this years TIME 100 list. James chose to mention Jay Schottenstein:

Jay Schottenstein, an Ohio business leader and philanthropist, has supported the translation and elucidation of the Talmud Bavli into English, Hebrew and French. The Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud is now utilized by more than 2 million people worldwide.


King James - Yashar Koach.

Now, if we can just get some Yidden to appreciate the Talmud as well!

Defining Holiness

What does it mean to be "kadosh" - holy?

Sitting on top of a mountain and meditating?

Fasting every day?

Learning non-stop?

Davening with unbridled intensity?

Well, when we go under the chuppah we perform "kiddushin"? The root of kiddushin is "kadosh". So what is kiddushin? Tosphos at the beginning of Maseches Kiddushin says that it means "special" or "set aside" [miyuchedes]. Being mekadesh a woman means that we say "You are special to me. There is nobody else."

Kedusha means that we live our life in such a way that shows that Hashem is special to us, that we are completely dedicated to the relationship. If anything else besides Hashem matters then He is no longer special.

Kedusha means living in the world - for Hashem.

That is an idea for Kedoshim. But this week is a double-header. What about Acharei Mos?

A Thursday Night Mussar talk. I just read the beautiful poem posted in the comments section of the previous post. Keep it in mind as you listen to the shiur.

Good Shabbos Beloved Friends. And thank you for visiting Alleyways! I really appreciate it.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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