It was one of those phone calls you never forget. One of my congregants, a wonderful wife and mother, informed me that her son had just been shot by a sniper in Chevron near the Me’oras Hamachpeilah. Her husband, my friend Ronen, had brought his two sons to Eretz Yisroel to give chizuk to the Jewish community on Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah, when, for many years now, thousands travel for this purpose. Although there are strong opinions at variance with such a trip during times of danger, there can be no doubt that Ronen, Eli and Yosef came in peace, with the best of intentions. At this moment, we have not yet heard a word of protest about Eli’s injuries from the U.S. Embassy, which was updated by Shaarei Tzedek Hospital that an American citizen was wounded.
On Thursday, 9 Cheshvan/October 22, a soldier who lives in Beit Shemesh and commutes every day to his army base failed to show up at the bus stop on Rechov Yechezkel Hanovi at the usual time. Something had thrown his schedule off – and little did he know that that “something” had also averted a terror attack on a dreadful scale. Two terrorists had been watching the area for several days and had made note of the soldier’s daily routine. On that morning, they planned to attack him, to steal his weapon, and then to enter the nearby shul and perpetrate a massive slaughter.
Trouble usually brings families and even nations together. That has certainly been the case for Klal Yisroel. If it was Paroh or Hitler, Haman or Osama bin Laden, we have always joined hands to daven, fight them and presented a unified front to the latest enemy. Yet, sometimes the pain and loss are so great that our anguish erupts into friction and discord.
This is a tale, I’d like to write
I hope you will allow
I think I read it somewhere
Or I heard it from Rav Lau
It was the days before the state
The Zionists were pleading
The British and the world at large
Said they would hold a meeting
In this week’s parshah we learn about the efforts of Avrohom Avinu’s faithful servant, Eliezer, to procure a wife for Yitzchok. In all probability, this historical record is the earliest mention of the position of shadchan, the individual who serves as a go-between for two parties interested in making a match. Our discussion this week focuses on the halachic basis for the shadchan’s right to be paid for his services.
This week, the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of Agudas Yisroel of America issued a proclamation pertaining to the Orthodoxy of the “Open Orthodox” movement. How tragic it is that Open Orthodoxy has not repented from its misguided ways and continues along its mischievous path, misleading well-meaning people and creating havoc in communities across the country.
We pray that the letter of the Moetzes will have the desired effect.
As attention is currently focused on the group, we present a compilation of columns published here in the Yated concerning Open Orthodoxy over the past decade for the edification of our readers and to provide background for the historic statement.
Has the world become insane, I ask
Or are they simply blind
Reporting on the terror
As if they lost their mind
Kever Yosef set ablaze
Oh! That’s just happenstance
As if they’re in a trance
“I Have No Strength - But I Can Do It Without Strength"
“My father showed us the meaning of gevurah… Where natural human abilities end and mesirus nefesh begins, that is gevurah… He would sometimes sit and learn with wet compresses on his head to ease his powerful headaches. He often learned until his head sank to the table of its own accord… You all saw how he would come here and sit on his hands so that they wouldn’t shake.”
These were the words of Rav Shmaryahu Yosef Finkel on the fourth yahrtzeit of his father, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt”l.
A largely unnoticed historic event occurred last week. On Wednesday, October 21st, Prime Minister Binyomin Netanyahu, speaking to a group of visiting Jewish leaders, made what seemed to many an outrageous statement. He asserted that in November 1941, two months before the notorious Wannsee Conference planning the annihilation of the Jewish people, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, played a “central role in fomenting the final solution” by persuading Hitler to destroy the Jews. He further claimed that “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time; he wanted to expel them. Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ Hitler then asked, ‘So what should I do with them?’ The Mufti answered, ‘Burn them.’”
The majority of Canadians celebrated the election of the young, dashing, new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, last week. They should have been mourning. They should have been mourning the fact that a good man such as Stephen Harper was no longer their prime minister. They were no longer worthy of him.
They should have been mourning first and foremost for what they lost and secondly for what they got.
Some realities simply defy logic. As much as we try to comprehend them, we cannot wrap our minds around the facts. But since they are facts and not conjecture, we are forced to admit that there is a Higher Power Who makes the impossible happen, as long as we do our share.
The life of Rebbetzin Henny Machlis, who was niftar last Friday at the age of 58, is one such example. Like the famed Rav Meir Shuster, who picked up thousands of lost souls at the Western Wall, Henny was a legend.
Instead of melava malka, I cried last Motzoei Shabbos.
Joining more than a thousand other Yidden at the White Shul in Far Rockaway, we listened to divrei hisorerus from a number of rabbonim and said Tehillim for our brethren in Eretz Yisroel. As I led one of the kappitlach, I shed tears for the korbanos who were virtually shechted by Arabs in cold blood. Young and old, men and women. It didn’t matter to the barbaric murderers. They cowardly plunged knives into innocent hearts, often from the back, snuffing out beautiful lives forever. Even those who were boruch Hashem physically untouched by the massacres will never be the same. Recently graduated 12th graders, suddenly minted into mature seminary students, carried back-packs full of pillows whenever they were not on lock-down…in case they were stabbed in the back. What a brucha haba’ah to Eretz Yisroel. At least some of my tears were for the lost innocence of those entering our land for the first time.