Husband of Palestinian teacher who won nonviolence prize participated in terror attack

Hanan al-Hroub received the UK-based Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize at a ceremony in Dubai earlier this month for a curriculum she called “No to Violence.”

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Today’s Yahrtzeits and History – 22-23 Adar

Rav Yaakov of Novominsk (1902). Father of Rav Yehuda Aryeh Perlow of Vlodova (1878-1961) and Rav Alter Yisrael Shimon Perlow of Novominsk.

Rav Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829-1908). Born in Bobroysk, author of the Aruch Hashulchan, Rav of Novardok for 34 years, father of Rav Baruch HaLevy Epstein (author of Torah Temima) and grandfather of Rav Meir Bar-Ilan, with whom he learned in Novardok. His wife was the sister of the Netziv.

Rav Eliezer Dovid (ben Hillel) Finkler of Radoshitz (1927). He succeeded his father as Rebbe in 1901. Known as a tzadik and a baal mofes, he always spoke to his Chassidim in Lashon Hakodesh, and on Shabbos he would converse exclusively in that language. He was succeeded by his son Rav Chaim Asher as Rebbe and by his other son Yisrael Yosef as Rav of Radoshitz.

Rav Avraham Dov Ber (ben Shlomo Zalman) Kahana-Shapiro, Chief Rabbi of Kovno before and during World War II (1870-1943). Born in Kobrin on Yom Kippur, his father was a descendant of Rav Chaim Volozhiner. Rav Avraham attended the Volozhin Yeshiva. He was president of the Agudas Ha-Rabbanim of Lithuania and came to the US in March 1924 with Rav Kook and Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein, to collect funds for Torah institutions in Israel and Europe . He died in the Slobodka ghetto on. His piskei halacha can be found in the sefer Dvar Avraham.

Rav Reuven (ben Shimshon) Grozovsky, Rosh Yeshivas Kamenitz and Torah Vodaas (1896[1886, per Wikipedia]-1958). Successor of Rav Baruch Ber Lebowitz at Kaminetz. When Rav Reuevn was a young man studying in the Slobodka Yeshiva, his father, the Dayan of Minsk, passed away. His colleagues at Slobodka included Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Halevi Ruderman, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, Rav Aharon Kotler and Rav Yitzchak Hutner.

Rav Yisrael Moshe (ben Yosef Tzvi) Dushinsky (1921-2003). Born in Chust , Hungary , to the Rav of Chust, he was his father’s first son, when his father was 50 years old. After many years and many brachos, Rav Rav Yosef Tzvi received a bracha from Rav Yechezkel Shraga of Shinava, who also gave a him his sefer, Ayalah Sheluchah, printed in the memory of the Shonava Rav’s son, Naftali, who was nifter on the 21st of Kislev, 1864. The following year, on the exact date of Reb Naftali’s yahrtzeit, Yisrael Moshe was born. His middle name was in honor of his great uncle, the Maharam Shick. The family moved to Eretz Yisrael in Adar of 1930, one month before the petirah of Rav Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld. He was married to the daughter of Rav Dovid Yehoshua Gross, Rosh Hakohol of the Satmar Kehillah, in 1945. On Erev Sukkos of 1949, his father was niftar, and the 27-year-old Rav Yisrael Moshe was appointed Rosh Yeshiva of Dushinsky. In 1969, he was inducted as a member of the Eidah Charedis. He became S’gan Beish Din after the Satmar Rebbe’s petira and the Av Beis Din in 1996.

Rav Yeshaya Shimonowitz, Rosh Yeshivas Rav Yaakov Yosef, U.S.

Today in History — 22 Adar

· Jews of Uberlingen , Switzerland , were massacred, 1349.
· An earthquake rocked the city of R o m e , leading to the immediate nullification of a decree that every Jew in the kehilla must either convert or be killed, 1430
· King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella signed a decree expelling the Jews of Spain, 1492.
· Anti-Jewish riots broke out in Lubny , Russia , 1881.
· The heavy cruiser USS Houston was sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait, with 693 crew members killed, 1942.
· The Dachau concentration camp was established, originally designated as a prison camp for political prisoners. Over 200,00 Jews passed through its gates, most of whom perished. Although a gas chamber was built there, it was never used. Dachau was liberated in April 1945 by the U.S. army.
· A lynch in Ramallah, 1948. Sixteen Jewish fighters who left Atarot to attack Arab travelers in reaction to the slaughter of Jewish travelers, were caught. The six captured alive were brutally tortured to death.
· The Egyptian parliament unanimously approved a peace treaty with Israel , 1979.
· Seven female Jewish students were shot to death by a Jordan soldier while on a field trip in Bakura , Jordan , 1997

Yahrtzeits — 23 Adar

Rav Chaim Cheikel of Amdur (Indura) (1787). Born to Rav Shmuel in Karlin, he was a disciple of the Vilna Gaon, and later became a student of Rav Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mazerich. Rav Chaim became one of the first Chassidic Admorim in 1772-73. He authored Chaim Vochesed. Amdur is about 25 miles south of Grodno (Hrodno). Amdur and Grodno are located in the northwest corner of what is now the independent country of Belarus, close to the Lithuanian and Polish borders. During the Cossack revolt of 1648 against Polish landowners and gentry, over 100,000 Jews, mostly in Ukraine and southern Belarus, were murdered. However, the marauders did not advance north to the Grodno region. Jews comprised 80% of the population in Grodno at that time. Rav Chaim’s daughter married Moshe, the brother of Aharon, founder of Karlin Hassidism. Rav Chaim was succeeded by his son, Rav Shmuel of Amdur.

Rav Yitzchak Meir Alter of Ger, the Chidushei HaRim (1799-1866). The founder of Gerer dynasty, grandfather of Sfas Emes, Reb Yitzchak Meir was able to trace his lineage back to Rav Meir ben Baruch (the Maharam) of Rottenberg (1215-1293). His mother, Chaya Sarah, was orphaned early in life and was raised by her relative, the Kozhnitzer Maggid. The Maggid had a great influence on Yitzchak Meir during the latter’s early years. As he grew, he became a disciples of Rebbi Simcha Bunem of Pryschicha and then R’ Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. At the insistence of the Chassidim, the Rim became leader after the death of the Kotzker. At the first Chassi dic gathering over which he presided he declared, “Reb Simchah Bunem led with love, and R’ Menachem Mendel with fear. I will lead with Torah!” He had 13 children and outlived them all , a tremendous personal tragedy. Yet, he accepted it all with love.

Rav Yitzchak Yaakov Rabinowitz of Biala (Divrei Bina) (1905), youngest son of Rebbe Nathan Dovid, son-in-law of Rebbe Yehoshua of Ostrovoh (the Toldos Adam), and great-grandson of Yaakov Yitzchak Rabinowitz, the Yid Hakadosh of Peshischa.

Rav Raphael Shapiro, the Toras Raphael, rosh yeshivas Volozhin (1837-1921). After the Volozhin Yeshiva was closed down in 1892 by order of the Russian government, he reopened it, on a smaller scale in 1899. He was also a son-in-law of the Netziv and the father-In-Law of Rav Chaim Soloveichik of Brisk

Rav Michel Dovid Rozovsky (1869-1935). Born in Svarjen, near Stoibetz, he learned in Mir and Volozhin. After his marriage, he was appointed Rav in Grodna, in which capacity he remained for 40 years. He was the father of three sons: Rav Yehoshua Heschel, who served as Rav in Grodna, until he was murdered by the Nazis; Rav Yosef, who served as Rosh Yeshiva of Ohr Yisrael in Petach Tikva; and Rav Shmuel, who would become Rosh Yeshiva in Ponevezh in Bnai Brak.

Rav Shlomo Zafrani (1970), born in Aram Soba (Aleppo). He became a close disciple of Rabbi Ezra Sha’in. Together with Rav Moshe Tawil, he founded the Degel HaTorah yeshiva. His community supported him as well as the yeshivah. At the age of 68, he moved to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Tel-Aviv. He lived there for nine years, until his death.

Rav Yehuda Moshe Danziger, Alexandria Rebbe of Bnai Brak (Emunas Moshe) (1973)

Rav Yisrael Grossman (1922-2007). Born in the old city of Yerushalayim, Reb Yisrael studied at the yeshiva of Rav Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, where he learned meseches Kiddushin 30 times. He later learned at Yeshivas Kaminetz. After Rav Baruch Shimon Schneerson became Rosh Yeshiva in Tchebin, Reb Yisrael replaced him as Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshivas Chabad, where he remained for 30 years. He also served as a dayan for the beis din of Agudas Yisrael for over 40 years and later opened a beis din for monetary laws with Rav Betzalel Zolti and helped found Mifal Hashas. He was also very involved with Chinuch Atzmai.

Today in History — 23 Adar
· Second Beis HaMikdash was dedicated, 516 BCE
· Massacre of the Jews of Estella, Spain, 1328.
· Jews were excluded from public office and dignities in the Roman Empire, 1418.
· The republic of Czechoslovakia was dissolved, opening the way for Nazi occupation of Czech areas and the separation of Slovakia, 1939
· The Knesset approves the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, by a vote of 95 for, 18 against, 1979.

{Yahrtzeits licensed to Matzav by Manny Newscenter}

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Businesses Fear IRS Audits But Good Records Can Ease Pain

The sigh of relief a business owner heaves after filing an income tax return may be quickly followed by an unsettling thought: What if I’m audited? Owners dread an audit not just because they might get a big bill for unpaid taxes, interest and penalties. Audits can also be time-consuming and expensive, in some cases […]

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Purchase, NY – Clinton Faces Disruptive Sanders Supporters In New York

Purchase, NY — Hillary Clinton gave a spirited defense Thursday of her campaign proposals and her lead in the Democratic primaries after she was disrupted by a group of Bernie Sanders supporters ahead of her home state’s primary. A few minutes into Clinton’s remarks on the campus of Purchase College, about 20 Sanders supporters shouted, […]

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Deeper Meanings and Understanding: The Stork and What its Name Means for Us

By Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

Hebrew, filled with beauty and poetic power, is a language in which words carry deep, sacred import in addition to its “plain meaning” and historical context.  Our tradition finds a near-mystical relationship between words and things in assigning numerical values to letters.  By doing so, it suggests that words or phrases that share identical numerical values also share a deep connection to one another.

On a more basic, structural level Hebrew is built upon the shoresh, the traditionally three-letter root.  Words derived from a common shoresh share a conceptual, almost-familial relation with one another.

With this understanding and appreciation of the Hebrew language, what are we to make of the Chasid?  “Chasid” comes from the shoresh “ch, s, d” which means, piety, sensitivity, humility.  Certainly, based on this root, it makes perfect sense that the usual picture that comes to mind when we think of the Chasid is one of an individual defined by genuine piety and religious humility. One who, when a beggar comes to the door and asks for a dollar for some food, rushes for his wallet to satisfy the request but then, when the beggar is just a short way up the street, he calls him back to give him another dollar.  Why?  Because he realized that he had rushed to give the beggar the first dollar simply to get rid of the man.  In other words, for himself.  The second dollar was the one that was a gift of true chesed.

The Chasid is the embodiment of the great, most meritorious teachings of Judaism; of piety, of rachmanus, of gentle kindness, being a clear “case in point” that the word we use to name something speaks to its essential nature.

The Midrash, in Genesis Rabba, teaches that Adam looked into the essence of each and every animal before conferring upon it a name.  He named the donkey chamor because it is a beast of burden.  Its name is derived from the Hebrew “ch, m, r” meaning “physicality”.  A beast of burden is most certainly reliant on its physicality!  Compare that to our own name for the same creature.  Donkey.  It means… donkey.

All this might be merely interesting but then we discover its real import when we come upon the listing of non-kosher species in Parashat Shemini.  There, included with the other non-kosher birds, we find the chasidah, the stork.  What?  How could it be that a bird whose name is derived from the shoresh “ch, s, d”, whose name incorporates the word chesed is not kosher?  Piety.  Goodness.  Humility.  Charity of spirit.  These qualities are the very essence of kashrut, are they not?  Clearly, based on all we know about the Hebrew language and our tradition, “chasidah” has to teach us something about what it means to be a Chasid.  But what could it be?  To be intimately related to chesed and yet be non-kosher seems such a stark contradiction!

If the chasidah, the stork, is non-kosher, why bestow her with a name of such noble heritage?

Why is a non-kosher animal not kosher to begin with?  Good-hearted Jews have for generations assigned “rational” reasons for why certain animals are treif and others kosher.  As well-intentioned as this effort might be, it misses the truth that the distinction between kosher and non-kosher animals exists simply because God determines it to be so.  That said, in this determination, the Torah delineates some guidelines that allow us to define that which makes a kosher animal kosher.

To be kosher, an animal must chew the cud and must have cloven hooves.  Animals that do not meet these two criteria are not kosher.  Likewise, animals that only meet one of the criteria but not the other are considered non-kosher.  The camel is non-kosher because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves.  The pig has cloven hooves but does not chew the cud.

When it comes to birds, it is a bit harder to categorize what makes one non-kosher and another kosher other than its inclusion on the lists in the Torah.  Rambam adds to our understanding of why the Torah forbids the eating of non-kosher birds when he teaches that when one eats non-kosher birds, the negative and cruel character traits they possess can become part of our own personalities.  In other words, more than the physical characteristic there are also behavioral or personality characteristics that go into the categorization.

Which brings us back to the chasidah, the stork.  If this bird truly earned its connection to charity and piety, then certainly we would want to eat it so that, as Ramban suggests, we too may gain those very same qualities!

Clearly, that cannot be the entire picture.  And it is not.

Rashi considered the case of the chasidah and, based upon a Talmudic passage in Chulin, explains the limitation in the quality of the chasidah that, despite its connection to charity and kindness, keeps it from being kosher.  Like a distant cousin in a good and decent family, the chasidah does share the chasid’s kindness and piety.  However, the chasidah is kind, but only to her own kind.  She is charitable, but only to her own kind.  She is caring, but only to her own kind.

Her goodness is real, but limited.  She does not give any other bird a single thought.  She ignores every other species.

When it comes to a pious and kind perspective on life, there can be no more non-kosher approach than a narrow, restrictive application of that piety and kindness!  If we only extend our kindness to our own kind, we are extending a kind of impurity.

Long ago, a group of neighbors in a Jewish neighborhood sought to form a Chesed Society amongst themselves.  They wanted to provide Shabbat meals, clothes, shelter and financial assistance to the needy.  So they went to the rebbi to get his blessing.  Before conferring his blessing on the enterprise, the rebbe asked, “What if someone outside the neighborhood needs your help?”

The group who had come for the blessing looked at one another.  Then, one of them spoke up.  “We would politely refuse,” he said.  “We have limited resources and so we are committed to limiting our activities to those in the neighborhood.”

The rebbe nodded sagely but then he told them that he was withholding his blessing.  “Real chesed is caring about others.  What you are proposing reflects directly on you.  In essence, you are caring only for yourself.”

Like that “first dollar” the chasid gave the beggar, their kindness was intended for themselves.  That is not real chesed!   The Chidushei Harim teaches that this is a prime sign (siman muvhak) of impurity!

This then is the essential nature of the chasida.  Her name would deceive us into thinking that she is kind and caring, generous and giving.  But when such noble qualities are shared only with one’s own kind, they are not noble at all.

The lesson for our own times is clear.  Our definition of “our own kind” has narrowed year by year.  Even as the orthodox community has grown in America and Israel we find ourselves becoming more narrow, more rigid, more limiting.  “My own kind” means only those who look like me, talk like me, observe like me, go to the same yeshiva…

There is much kindness in the orthodox community but when it is applied only to one’s “own kind” it falls short of the blessing of chasidut. 

Like the chasida, the community that restricts itself to an ever-narrowing identity renders itself non-kosher, falling far short of the true quality of chesed.

Is there anything more damaging to the Jewish community than the various schisms and rifts that tug it apart?  Anything more hurtful than the way one judges a fellow Jew by the most cruel or superficial of distinctions?  Chesed, by its very nature, seeks to heal such hurts, not to perpetuate them.  Chesed must be chesed for all.

As we see with the chasidah¸ one who thinks of himself as a Chasid but who contributes to the judgments and opinions that harms K’lal Yisrael is, in fact, non-kosher, despite good deeds or determined piety.

R’ Elyah Chaim Meisel adds another dimension to our discussion. Chasidah does indeed represent kindness, compassion but chasidah is more closely related to chassidus than to chesed.  Our sages suggest that chassidus implies doing more than expected, going beyond the letter of the law – lifnim mishuras hadin.  It is true that the stork is good to its own kind, but even in its kindness she feels that she is doing more than expected.  Each time she extends herself, she thinks she deserves acknowledgement.

For the genuine Chasid, being kind and expressing goodness comes from a place of such humility that it would never occur to him that his behavior is anything but as it should be.  If anything, he would seek to do more, never believe he is doing too much.

The Chasid gives of himself as a natural expression of who he is, whenever and to whomever he can.   The charity of the chasidah derives from her ego, not her humility.  For this reason, hers is a negative posture that should be avoided.

Yes, the chasidah shares positive characteristics, and even behaviors, with the Chasid.  From the outside, there are times when her works could even be confused to be on a par with the Chasid.  But her good works come from such a different place that she can never be the ideal to which we aspire.


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Analysis: Knesset in a coma

The legislature closed out its winter session with a sleepy atmosphere.

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New York – Judge OKs Sweeping Plan To Reduce NY Solitary Confinement

New York — A federal judge approved a sweeping plan to reduce solitary confinement in New York state prisons Thursday, saying she hopes the deal to end decades-old practices becomes a model for other states confronting the harmful effects of extreme isolation. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin said the “historic settlement” will greatly reduce the […]

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B’chasdei Hashem – No One Killed in IDF Training Mishap

Yad Hashem was quite evident during a training exercise involving the IDF’s 52nd Armored Battalion in the Golan Heights. A tank fired a live round during the exercise that struck another tank. The damage, as seen in the photo, is extensive. Nevertheless, B’chasdei Hashem there was no loss of life or injuries. The order was […]

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Gem of the Week from Rav Hirsch zt”l: The Meaning of Korbanos

Korban. No word in Western language adequately conveys the concept inherent in the Hebrew word. The common translation is “offering,” in the sense of “sacrifice,” with a connotation of destruction and loss—a connotation that is foreign, and antithetical to the Hebrew concept of a korban.

Even the meaning in the sense of “offering” without “sacrifice”, does not correspond to Korban in its full sense.The idea of an offering implies a prior request on the part of the recipient; the purpose of the offering is to satisfy his needs. There is no distinction between an offering and a gift.

The concept of a korban, however, is far removed from this. It is never to be understood as a gift. The word is found solely in the context of man’s relationship with Hashem, and can only be understood on the basis of the meaning of the root word, karav. The meaning of karav, in its literal sense, is to draw close. The purpose and the result of hakrava is positive, the forming of a relationship with someone. The opposite—destruction and loss—should not be ascribed to it.

From this definition, it follows that a korban serves to meet the needs of the makriv, not the One to Whom the korban is brought. The will of the makriv is that something of his should come to a closer relationship with Hashem. This is the very essence of a korban: it is designed to bring about hakrava.Kirvas Elokim, seeking Hashem’s nearness, is, for a Jew, the sole good (Tehillim 73:28).

In the Sanctuary, man understands that closeness to Hashem is the sole criterion for shaping his outlook on life and evaluating his happiness: Ad avo el mikdashei Kel, avina l’acharisam (ibid. 73:17). There, he sees clearly that his spiritual and material happiness flourishes only through closeness to Hashem and His Law, his ultimate calling. There, he learns that the only way to attain kirvas Elokim is through total dedication to the illuminating, life-giving fire of the Torah. There, life’s riddles are solved. There, one’s happiness is determined by the measure of his closeness to Hashem. There, body and spirit yearn for Hashem and to know Him (73:26). There, distance from Hashem brings ruin (73:27). There, good is found only in closeness to Hashem; kirvas Elokim li tov. Hence, “happiness” loses its appeal if found far from Hashem; near Him, suffering is sweetened and even transformed into good.

The essence of an offering is not killing, but rebirth and renewal of existence. Spiritual and moral awakening, entering into a life more noble and pure, renewing strength for life from the never-failing source of Hashem’s love—that is the Jewish concept of an offering.

Have a wonderful Shabbos,

Moshe Pogrow,

Director, Ani Maamin Foundation

Please note: The “Gem of the Week,” is based on excerpts from Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch zt”l’s commentary on Chumash, with permission from the publisher.


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Dallas – American Will Drop 24-hour Free Hold On Trip Reservations

Dallas — American Airlines is ending its policy of letting customers hold a trip reservation without paying for 24 hours. Instead, customers who buy a ticket will have 24 hours to cancel without charge, which is already the policy at other U.S. airlines. The switch will start Friday for tickets bought from an American Airlines […]

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