LA Jewish Home - 5-13-21

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The Week In News

MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



The Week In News

MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home


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MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



The Week In News

MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home




Dear Readers, Shavuos articles typically refer to the greatness of our eternal Torah and its Mitzvos. They might also speak of the grand, world-changing giving of the Torah on Har Sinai and the preparations the Yidden undertook. However, let’s focus on the uniqueness of the Yid down here in the physical world. The Gemara in Maseches Shabbos recounts a back and forth between the malachim and Moshe Rabbeinu atop the mountain. They had challenged Hashem’s giving of the Torah to mortals, saying “give your splendor to the heavens.” The physical world is no place for the Torah to be given. Moshe Rabbeinu answered: Let’s see what it says in the Torah. It speaks of Yetzias Mitzrayim. Keeping Shabbos. Honoring parents. Not being jealous etc. Were you in Mitzrayim? Do you work six days a week? Do you have parents? Do you have envy or an evil inclination? At first glance it seems that Moshe’s answer is a technical one. Being that you don’t work 6 days a week you can’t rest. You don’t have parents, therefore you cannot honor them, and so on. Indeed, in substance it seems that the malachim were right. The Torah is spiritual and holy and should therefore be given to angels. The more spiritual the better. There’s a Medrash tana d’vei Eliyahu that asks “which came first, the Yidden or the Torah? What does it say in the Torah, tzav es bnei yisrael, daber el bnei yisrael. Must be Yidden came first and the Torah is there for them.” The Yid, in this world, with all our challenges, beginning with the fight with our Yetzer Hara, is the center of everything. This world, the spiritual worlds, the angels and even the Torah, is here so that a Yid will be alive and do a Mitzvah in this world. The Torah was given to us not despite our being human, but because of it. G-d had a desire that He be known and eventually revealed in the lowest possible world - so here we are. We shouldn’t feel like we want to escape, that would be the easy way. We need to find ways to infuse our physical lives with our Neshama. Davening, learning, being kind and the rest of the Mitzvos literally brings G-dliness into our lives. We have the greatest opportunity, angels would give everything, to be able to choose that which our Creator wants us to. We are at the end of our long journey and hope our Father in heaven takes us all home very soon, bringing peace to the Holy Land and indeed the entire world. Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos, and a joyous & meaningful receiving of the Torah,


T H E P R E M I E R J E W I S H N E W S PA P E R H I G H L I G H T I N G L A’ S O R T H O D OX C O M M U N I T Y The Jewish Home is an independent bi-weekly newspaper. Opinions expressed by writers are not neces­sarily the opinions of the publisher or editor. The Jewish Home is not responsible for typographical errors, or for the kashrus of any product or business advertised within. The Jewish Home contains words of Torah. Please treat accordingly. FOR HOME DELIVERY, OR TO HAVE THE LATEST ISSUE EMAILED TO YOU FREE OF CHARGE, SEND A MESSAGE TO EDITOR@JEWISHHOMELA.COM

The WeekCorner In News Sarah's

MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

Are We Raising Responsible Children or Obedient Children? Sarah Pachter

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, everyone’s roles drastically changed. Responsibilities expanded for parents, teachers, medical professionals, and many others. Parents found themselves working from home while simultaneously teaching their children the school’s curriculum. Medical professionals bravely exposed themselves to ill patients while attempting to protect themselves and their family. Pirkei Avot tells us, “In the place where there is no person, strive to be a person.”1 Our generation took a tremendous step up in responsibility. But are we raising the next generation to do the same? With repeated pod and school closures, many families have spent much of the year has required distance learning These kinds of questions may regularly float throughout the house: Did you do your math assignment and turn it in? Aren’t you supposed to be in Zoom class right now? Why are you wandering around the house? Can you please clean up after you use the bathroom so it’s clean for everyone else? Before the pandemic, when I was simply reminding my children of their responsibilities outside of school hours, the onus of that responsibility was manageable. But when my children were home 24/7, the need to constantly remind them to stay on top of their tasks became unbearable. I felt myself becoming a helicopter parent. My children usually displayed respect and cooperation, but somehow the responsibility was still on me, and that needed to shift. Obedience and respect are important factors, but more crucial to raising kids into becoming independent adults is responsibility. Developing responsibility within children begins with their understanding that it is their choices that lead to a desired outcome. In his book. I’m Not the Boss I Just Work Here, Howard Jonas shares a joke. Two construction workers, Max and Sam, met daily during their break from their arduous labor. They opened up their lunches, and


Pirkei Avot, 2:6

Max, took out a delicious hero sandwich with thick, crispy bread and mouth-watering sauce. Sam caught sight of his friend’s meal while opening his own lunch and stared at his bland sandwich, on whole wheat no less. “Ugh, I hate peanut butter and jelly. I wish I had a hero like yours!” he complained. The next two days, Max brought various gourmet meals, while Sam popped open the same PBJ sandwich. “Again?” he muttered, thoroughly agitated. Max looked at Sam and said, “If you don’t like your lunch, why don’t you ask your wife to make you something different?” Sam responded, “My wife doesn’t make my lunch. I do!”2 For the most part, life unfolds the way it does because of the choices we make. Responsibility is owning your choices by developing the long-term vision to recognize where they lead. This concept is difficult for children because they have not yet strengthened the frontal cortex of their brain, which links current actions to future outcomes.3 To combat this deficiency, we can teach our children that they are in control of how their day looks. When we turn the locus of control towards them, they are handed power and can begin to link action with outcome. We have a rule in our house that what we need to do comes before what we want to do. As soon as responsibilities are completed, the fun can begin. Literally, as I was editing this article, my son asked me, “Mom, can I go to my friend’s house at 12:30?” I answered, “I don’t know, you tell me. You are in control of your time and how fast you finish what you need to do.” That was all the motivation he needed. We can also share the following steps


I’m Not the Boss, I just Work Here,

Howard, Jonas, pg. 45


ilies_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/ The-Teen-Brain-Behavior-Problem-Solving-and-Decision-Making-095.aspx

with our children, using the peanut butter sandwich analogy for ease of comprehension: 1. Recognition: Noticing the link between current choice and future outcome. If I make a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, then that’s what I have to eat. An example from a child’s perspective: I noticed that when I don’t complete my homework and my room is messy, I don’t get to watch TV. I’d like to watch more TV. 2. Internalization: Turning locus of control inward. I have many other possible choices. I can menu-plan in advance so that I will be happy with my choice for lunch. An example from a child’s perspective: I guess I need to clean my room and do my homework today. My son shared a perfect example of recognition and internalization with me recently. “Mom, I was angry at you for something and wanted to complain and yell. I stopped myself and thought, ‘If I yell and scream, you might take away my phone or get more upset. But if I calm down and explain myself, you will probably let me do something I want to do.’” I would never have known what his inner process was had he not shared it with me. I was proud because he conquered himself and remained calm, knowing where anger would lead him. 3. Execution: Taking an alternate action to achieve desired results. Buying different ingredients will allow me to prepare something new. An example from a child’s perspective: Hey Mom, look! I cleaned my clean room and studied for my test. I got a 92! The final step is execution. With every task that needs completion, the responsibility falls either on the adult or the child to execute. Take the example of asking your child to clean his or her room. In the scenario where the responsibility falls upon the adult, the parent makes the assumption that their version of clean matches the child’s version. The parent does not explain what a clean room entails, and when the adult

makes the request, the child procrastinates, executes the task poorly, or ignores the question. The parent may remind or threaten until the child complies. A power struggle is created, the room might not be cleaned to satisfaction, and both sides are frustrated. In this example, the outcome of a task depends on the parent micromanaging the process. Alternately, the responsibility can fall on the child, which plays out as follows: The parent clearly models or explains their expectations of a clean room and timeline for completion in advance. The child can choose when he or she completes the task within the timeframe and is clear on the consequences of failure (For example: requirement to clean additional rooms in the house). There is no yelling, nagging, or power struggle because the child is aware of the explicit expectations and consequences in advance. Here are the vital steps4 to consider when fostering this in your home: Set clear expectations. Explain exactly what a clean room looks like. Model tidy clothing, bed making, and point out what needs to be removed from the floor. For distance learning, explain exactly what the student needs to do: be in class on time, no gaming or other websites allowed during class, and homework must be turned in on time. Set clear consequences. If the child expresses a negative attitude or refuses to comply, they lose a privilege. If he or she does a great job, a reward is given. Let go and let them. Sure, we want the beds made immediately and the chores done how we envision. But children are not robots and there is always another way to accomplish something. Letting go requires humility; that is where growth lies. When we teach our children independence, we grow into ourselves, as well. Practice this system, I will too, and let’s keep each other posted on our growth!

4 simple-methods-to-help-kids-develop-responsibility/



Living with the The Week In Times News

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

Good and Holy

Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman Shavuos is the shortest of the three major Yomim Tovim when the Jewish people would make their way to the Bais Hamikdosh. Although the chag has only one day (and two in the golus), the world was created for this day, which defines us. “Kofah aleihem har kegigis.” Chazel tell us that Hakadosh Boruch Hu, so to speak, held Har Sinai over the Jewish people and told them that either they accept upon themselves to study and observe the Torah or He would drop the mountain upon them and they would be buried alive. Many ask why Hashem forced them to accept the Torah under the penalty of death. Many answers are given. Among them is that the world was created for Torah and for the Bnei Yisroel to be mekabel it. If they would not agree to study and be governed by the laws of the Torah, the world would cease to have a purpose and would be returned to its original inert state. The path was laid by the avos, Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov, and passed on to the shevotim and to their children. In Mitzrayim, the offspring grew exponentially, but sank to levels of depravity that endangered their ability to continue their glorious heritage. Before they reached the point of no return, Hashem redeemed them, miraculously dispatching them from Mitzrayim. They traversed the Yam Suf to escape the clutches of decadence and immorality and began the trek back to the hallowed path of their forefathers. After 49 days of preparation, they were ready to fulfill their destiny and be delivered the Torah. They recited the immortal words, “Naaseh venishma,” accepting upon themselves the Torah’s obligations and set the world on its proper trajectory. At that moment, Klal Yisroel proclaimed that although they were mortals fashioned of flesh and blood, they were willing to live on a higher and loftier plane, with the Torah as their guide. Malochim had objected to the notion of giving the Torah to humans, but after the Bnei Yisroel demonstrated their worthiness, the angels affixed crowns to their heads (Shabbos 88a). There are different

interpretations as to what the crowns consisted of, what their significance was, and what they accomplished. Most likely, they did not resemble the adorable golden paper crowns that children wear to celebrate Shavuos and the receipt of their siddurim and Chumoshim, but those crowns keep the message alive and remind us of the heights we reached and can attain even in our day. Shavous contains the power and potency evident on the day 3,333 years ago, when the Torah was first given to us. Every year, on chag Mattan Toraseinu, the gift that was first given at Sinai is regifted to those who have undertaken the proper preparations and made themselves worthy. Even in our day, when tumah is all around, there is kedusha among those who are able to keep themselves immune to prevalent depravity and armed against the constant threats to our fundamental inbred decency. The further a person is removed from Torah pursuits, the more he is assaulted by tumah, stupidity and ideas that weaken his inherent goodness. These are not necessarily solely relegated to foreign and secular platforms. The yeitzer hora has succeeded in tainting our souls while hiding in plain view and using familiar words and concepts in places people feel safe. On Shavuos, we remain awake studying Torah to demonstrate that Torah rules over everything physical. There is no sleep and no fatigue on the eve of Kabbolas HaTorah, for the Torah is what energizes us and gives our lives meaning. The Meshech Chochmah at the end of Parshas Yisro writes that until Mattan Torah, people were only able to serve Hashem through ruchniyus. When the Torah was given, acts that were previously purely gashmiyus and physical were invested with kedusha. Upon the acceptance of the Torah, people were empowered to sanctify themselves and all human needs and instincts. That is why Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu at the s’neh, the burning bush, “She’al na’alecha mei’al raglecha - Remove your shoes from your feet.” He was saying, “Remove the vehicles for

your gashmiyusdike physical lives as you approach Me.” Prior to Matan Torah, only angels could approach Hashem. After Matan Torah, Hashem told the Jewish people, “V’anshei kodesh tihiyun li – And you shall be holy people” (Shemos 22:30). This means exactly what it says: to be people and to be holy while living as people. The Torah doesn’t ask, or demand, of us to be malochim. It wants us to function as people, doing what people do, but being on an elevated Torah level. We need to be good people, functional parents, siblings, spouses and friends, who are holy as we follow the Torah and continuously grow and excel. On Shavuos, we celebrate this concept. Hashem gave us the Torah to guide us humans as we exist and thrive in this world. We appreciate the potential of what we can achieve and of the heights we can reach by delving into Torah and dedicating ourselves to all it commands us to do. But through it all, we remain human, anshei kodesh - human, but holy. The two are not mutually exclusive. The Gemara states that while regarding other Yomim Tovim the rabbis disagree how much of the day should be dedicated to the purely spiritual, on Shavuos “hakol modim deba’inon nami lochem.” They all agree that we need to please the more physical side, as well. We can understand this to mean that on Shavuos, we need “lochem,” to proclaim that the physical is part of the Shavuos celebration. We demonstrate through our actions that Torah has affected and touched our base desires as well. Chazal (Pesikta Zutrasa, Va’eschanon) state, “Chayov odom liros ess atzmo ke’ilu mekabel Torah miSinai, shene’emar, ‘Hayom hazeh nihiyeisa le’am.’ Every day a person is obligated to conduct himself as if he accepted the Torah that day at Har Sinai.’” We are all familiar with this directive regarding Yetzias Mitzrayim. In fact, it is the central theme of the leil haSeder. We don’t think about it on Shavuos, however, and it may be news to some of us. Imagine if today were the day you re-

ceived the Torah. Imagine standing at Har Sinai and hearing the words of the Aseres Hadibros being recited for all to hear on the loudest loudspeaker imaginable. Imagine all the other sounds. Imagine the sight of all the Yidden standing at the mountain, their neshamos - and yours - rising to unprecedented heights. Imagine leaving Mitzrayim knowing little about your heritage or holiness and becoming a better person every day as you walked through an arid desert. Then imagine how empty and meaningless your life would be without Torah. No Torah, no learning, no davening, no Shabbos, no tefillin, no Yom Tov, nothing that your life is centered around, nothing that gives your life the value and meaning it now has. You wouldn’t have a shul to go to and would have no reason to go to one altogether. Think of everything you do in your day, week and year. Now imagine that there was no Torah. It is what gets us out of bed in the morning and makes our lives worth living. It is what separates us from those whose lives are spent engaged in meaningless trivialities, eating breakfast in McDonalds and supper at Wendy’s, with lots of junk before, between and after the junk food. Imagine that you came from that world and today is the day you discovered the Torah. Imagine that today you were invited to study Hashem’s word, to bask in His glow, to find meaning, satisfaction and joy in your life. How excited you would be! How grateful and how dedicated! Today is that day. “Ke’ilu mekabel Torah miSinai.” Appreciate it. Show it. Feel it. Hayom hazeh! Today and every day. Despite the degeneration of the world, despite the struggles we experience with every tefillah and the challenge of concentrating fully when we learn, despite the many forces competing for our attention, we have a new Kabbolas HaTorah. Human shortcomings are but a hindrance that we can overcome. In times of old, this concept was widely understood. There was a natural reverence for Torah and its scholars even among the unlearned. In Volozhin, local homeowners would line up at the train station before each zeman to vie for the honor of pulling the wagons carrying arriving talmidim and their luggage. The yeshiva learned through Shas, and when the yeshiva celebrated a siyum, the local people would arrive at the yeshiva. They didn’t come to partake in a great feast; I doubt that there were any of the delicacies that we enjoy at a simple Kiddush these days. They came

Living with In theNews Times The Week

MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

because they wanted the honor of serving those who were marking a milestone in the Torah study. They were the waiters. Imagine that taking place nowadays. The yeshiva would hold a festive party, the bochurim and yungeleit would celebrate their great achievement with a festive meal, and the upstanding members of the community would go from table to table dispensing the food and cleaning up after. Nobody asked them to come, they would come on their own. The townspeople of Volozhin would come to the siyum because they appreciated Torah and lomdei Torah. It was their distinct honor to carry the lomdei Torah and their belongings to the yeshiva, and it was their pleasure to partake in the simcha of the completion of yet another masechta by serving as the waiters. It was special to them. It was valuable to them, as if it was given today. They treated it with respect. They treasured the Torah and the people who studied it. It was their pride and joy. We hear these things and smile. They are charming reminders of a world that was. Of a world that we should be looking to recreate. Shavuos is a time to refocus on what Torah means to us and on how blessed we are to be able to spend time by a Gemara or Chumash or Shulchan Aruch, surrounded by more talmidei chacho-

mim and yeshiva bochurim than there have been since the days of Sura and Pumpidisa. The Klausenberger Rebbe arrived in America after the Second World War having lost his wife and eleven children. He married a daughter of the Nitra Rov. Rav Leizer Silver, the legendary rov of Cincinnati and one of the most prominent rabbonim in America of those years, was a special guest at the second sheva brachos, which was held in Mount Kisco. As he rose to speak, he announced that he came bearing a gift for the chosson and kallah, a check for two hundred and fifty-eight dollars. “If you wonder how come I am giving that amount, I’ll tell you,” he said. “It’s because that check represents everything I had in my bank account. Every last penny. The rebbe is a talmid chochom and he will produce talmidei chachomim. I would give everything to be part of that. I wish I had more to give!” The speech of the quintessential Litvishe rov resonated with the crowd. They got his message about what would yet be and the glorious future that America might have as a makom Torah. He was telling them not to despair, not to give up, and not to say, “It can’t happen here.” Moreover, he was saying, “We are still here, holding on to Sinai, and as long as we cherish and revere and support those who learn and teach Torah, we have a future.”

We open our arms wide and accept the Torah just as those who came before us have done for thousands of years. We cherish its words, raising our children and helping guide them to see the honey under each letter. It is who we are and what we are about. Our lives revolve around it. It is Torah. With our feet dragging through the dust of life, of temptations, of parnossah and health challenges, we persist in walking with our eyes on Him and on His Torah, knowing that it is meant for us, to give us the tools to climb higher. Modim anachnu loch shesamta chelkeinu m’yoshvei bais hamedrash. Thank You, Master of the universe, for allowing us to have a connection with Torah, to have tasted the truest joy of all. We are the most blessed people, living in the most blessed time. Let us show Hashem, our families and ourselves that we appreciate all that we have been given to be able to realize our purpose in this world. Let us demonstrate that we are worthy of all that we have and use what Hashem has given us to enhance our own lives and those of our families and those around us. Let us show through our actions that we strive to become holier and better. On Shavuos and all year round, let us get closer to Torah, learning better and on

a deeper level so that it touches our souls and brings us closer to where we were at Har Sinai. We can get there. When the Bnei Yisroel who had gathered to receive the Torah proclaimed, “Naaseh venishma,” 600,000 malochim came down to earth and tied two crowns onto each person, one for naaseh and the other for nishma. When they sinned with the Eigel, 120,000 angels of destruction came and removed the crowns. Rav Dovid Cohen, rosh yeshivas Chevron, in his sefer Biurei Chochmah (page 75), quotes from from the Leshem that the malochim only removed the crowns that were tied to the Jews’ “guf and chomer,” but the crowns remain in the “neshamos and penimiyos” of the Jewish people. Without getting into the depths of what that means, what we can understand is that those crowns still adorn our souls, and “inside” we are and shall remain holy. Let’s not put ourselves down. Let us not say that we can’t reach those heights. Let’s not say that we can’t be holy and can’t be expected to be holy. We are and we can be. We have been through a lot, especially over the past few days. Let’s show what we’re made of. Let us show that we are tough and good and holy. Gut Yom Tov.



Contributing Writer The Week In News

MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

Plan B and the Second Tablets Alanna Apfel

Have you ever experienced a situation where things did not go according plan? Not in a small way. In a big way. And while at first, we might have experienced disappointment and sadness, but after some time passes we realize that we would not go back to Plan A. Instead, we find ourselves feeling blessed to be on the unexpected adventure of Plan B? Life surprises and delights us when we look back and realize that we would not change a thing. The holiday of Shavuot is one such celebration of one of the momentous times in our people’s history when the sequence of events as they unfolded in real time did not unfold according to plan. It was in fact, a total and complete deviation from what was “supposed” to occur. This coming Sunday, May 16th marks the anniversary of when our ancestors were given the Torah at Mount Sinai over 3,000 years ago. Upon arriving at the Sinai desert, Moshe Rabbeinu ascended Mount Sinai. God told Moshe that if Bnei Yisrael obeys Him and keeps his brit, we will be to Him a “treasured possession among all the peoples,” and a “kingdom of priests” and a holy nation (Shemot, 19:5-6).

Upon hearing what God had told Moshe, the people unanimously accepted the Torah and answered, “Naaseh Venishma,” — “everything God has said we will do.” After three days of preparation, preceded by smoke, thunder, lightning, quaking, fire and a loud Shofar blast, God proclaimed the 10 commandments. Moshe ascended the mountain again, this time for 40 days and 40 nights, to receive the luchot, the tablets, containing the aseret hadibrot, the ten commandments, and the entire Torah, which he then imparted to the Jewish people. During this time on the mountain, God taught Moshe the entire Torah and gave Moshe the luchot, which were written by God Himself, “ktuvim bezbah Elokim”, “written with the finger of God” (Shmos 31:18). As Moshe prepared to descend the mountain, God informed him that the people have built and were worshipping a Golden Calf. The pesukim relate that Moshe descended the mountain carrying the luchot (tablets), and upon seeing the idol worship, threw them to the ground, breaking them. The sin of the chet haegel, the Golden

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Calf, was not part of God’s plan when He redeemed us from slavery in Egypt, and it set a new course of history into motion. Following the sin of the Golden Calf, a series of events with Moshe begging G-ds forgiveness took place, leading up to God forgiving us and Moshe hewing a new set of luchot to replace the original broken set. The Bais Halevi, in drush 18 in his Sefer on Torah, explores the intriguing variations between the first luchot and the second luchot and the impact of the chet haegel on our nation. Torah — specifically the written Torah and the Oral Torah, would be forever changed to accommodate the needs of our people, who were now routed to a new and different path of galus, or future exile. Rav Solovieitchik analyzes the striking differences between the luchot; while the first set of luchot were written by God Himself with God’s finger and were God’s work, and the inscription was God’s inscription” “v’haluchot maaseh Elokim Hama v’hamichtav michtav Elokim huh” (Shemos 32:16), the second set of luchot were written by Moshe “ktav lecha it hadevarim haleh” “Inscribe these words for yourself” (Shemos 34:27). On the first set of luchot, the words were “inscribed from both their sides; on one side and on the other side they were inscribed” “Ketuvim mishnei evreihem mizeh umizeh haym Ketuvim,” (Shemos 32:15) on the second luchot the commandments were only inscribed on one side. The words on the first set were engraved “charut al haluchut”, while the second set was not. The Yalkut on Parsahat Ki Tisa elucidates how Moshe could have “flung” the luchot upon observing Bnei Yisrael engaging in idol worship. The Medrash shares that when Moshe descended the mountain and observed the sin, the letters flew off the tablets, causing the luchot to become heavy, so that the tablets fell out of Moshe’s hands and broke. The Bais Halevi explains that once the sin of the Golden Calf occurred, future exile was decreed on our people. It was known that the other nations would one day rule over us and attempt to take the Torah from us; therefore, once the sin had been committed and exile was decreed, the first tablets were broken and God decided to not give us all of the Torah in written word. Instead, God kept parts of the Torah orally given, so that we would be protected and distinguished from the other nations during exile. This interpretation is further supported by the fact that ten commandments were engraved on the first tablets, or “‫”חָ ֖רּות‬ (charut) which is translated as “free.” At the time the first tablets were given, prior to the sin, all of Torah could have been written down, and we would have been free from exile. When the letters flew off

the luchot, according to the Medrash, the luchot became heavy because the letters contained the Oral Torah. The Oral Torah is critical to understanding, observing and fulfilling the written Torah. Without it, the Torah can’t be “held” or observed. The Bais Halevi explains the significance of another intriguing difference between the first and second luchot: Only by the second tablets is Moshe’s skin and face described as being “radiant”, “ki keren or pnei Moshe” (Shemos 34:35). Once it became a reality that the Oral Torah was not to be written on the second luchot, Moshe himself became the klaf, or parchment that held all of Oral Torah following the sin of the Golden Calf, to prevent shichecha, or forgetfulness, of the Oral Torah. This explains why the Pesukim state that Moshe’s skin and face were radiant. God’s change of plan in giving us the Torah, from written to Oral, enables us to reach an even higher level of spiritual achievement and closeness to God. When we left Egypt, we were saved not due to our own merit, but because God Himself extricated and freed us. Because it was a redemption that we did not work for or earn, we had not grown enough to be able to sustain being free. We quickly fell from these heights with the sin of the Golden Calf. Once the sin occurred, our future path was forever altered. With the second set of luchot, toil in learning was introduced. The first luchot, because it included the Oral Torah, would meant there would not be forgetfulness and distraction in learning Torah. But with the second set, we must add extra effort daily so as not to forget Torah. Torah learning post the sin of the Golden Calf requires daily exertion, ameilus v’yagea yomam v’laila. It is through this constant learning of Torah that we are able to connect and grow closer to God. At times, we may find ourselves in situations where life has not gone according to plan. But with the understanding gained from studying the second luchot, we can see that pursuing new, unexpected paths leads us to achieve even loftier, and unanticipated heights and provides for a more rewarding journey. It is times like these that give us the greatest opportunities for growth. That is the lesson of the second luchot: we can take the very things that were once perceived as setbacks and harness them to embark on new untried paths that bring us closer to God and to living the life we wish for ourselves. With the insights learned from second luchot, we discover that Plan B really is more desirable than Plan A and paves the way for even greater fulfillment. Alanna Apfel is the founder and patient advocate at AA Insurance Advocacy. She can be reached at

The Week In News

MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

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Tu t on: $3,300/sess on, $800 depos t due 5/19 Needs-based part al tu t on wa ver s ava lable. We are seek ng counselors for all d v s ons. Appropr ate talent has not yet stepped forward to head up a g rls d v s on, but you, gentle reader, may be just the person we seek. Please be n touch.

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‫אדד א' תשפ"ב‬

‫‪MARCH 2022‬‬ ‫סיום של‬ ‫דף היומי בהלכה‬ ‫סיום על סדר מועד‬

‫משנה ברורה‬ ‫תרכ”ו א (א)‬ ‫בעינן שתהא הסוכה תחת‬ ‫אויר השמים דכתיב בסכת‬ ‫תשבו חסר וי”ו דהיינו‬ ‫באחת [שלא יסוכך עליה‬ ‫בשני קירוין] ולא בסוכה‬ ‫שתחת סוכה או תחת‬ ‫הבית או אילן‬

‫מסכת סוכה‪ ,‬ט‪:‬‬ ‫סוכה על גבי סוכה וכו׳ תנו רבנן‬ ‫(בסוכות) תשבו ולא בסוכה שתחת‬ ‫הסוכה ולא בסוכה שתחת האילן‬ ‫ולא בסוכה שבתוך הבית‬


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MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

Camp Hikon for Yeshiva Boys Announces Opening Season Does spending the summer months just the same as last year seem discordant with the waves of infection, climate chaos and food insecurity sweeping humanity? How about a summer camp that actually teaches kids how to survive and thrive in the coming “new normal”? Yeshivos are practiced in teaching our youth the skills they would use in settled society. But it’s blindingly obvious that the coming years will see the emergence of a society that’s anything but settled. The skills our young people will need to tackle the systematic medical, political, economic, and environmental crises which materialize and are compounded

almost daily have little in common with Regents subjects. But it’s hard to imagine the Board of Regents taking this matter seriously, and it’s equally hard to imagine Yeshivos setting aside the Regents Exams anytime soon. Fortunately, there are still a couple of months left in the year when this new skill set can get the consideration it justly deserves. What sorts of skills should we be teaching? First, enhanced memory skills will be critical in a world in which technology suddenly ceases to operate, as recently happened in Puerto Rico and Texas. Second, our youth must learn how to be part of a cohesive group. As nations

decline, government power will fade and lawlessness will proliferate. People will have to learn to look to their local group for protection. Third, we have to teach where food comes from. Commercial food is not always the best choice even when available, and it will most assuredly not be, thanks to the fragility or our complex global supply chains in an increasingly unstable world. Of course, stocking up on canned goods is a start, but it’s critical to know how food is prepared and preserved. Fourth, the ongoing assault on the environment and the escalation of extreme weather events implies that it should no

longer be expected that people will remain settled in their communities for decades, but must be prepared to be on the move. We must be light on our feet as well as being light on the land. This best way to accomplish this is using the natural building techniques of our ancestors and sourcing mostly local materials found onsite. Camp Hikon for Yeshiva Boys is being established this summer to meet all of these goals. (A girls division is also in the works.) For more information, call 347 764 8313 or visit our website at

Yeshiva University’s 90th Annual Commencement to Take Place in Person Former White House Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt to Deliver Keynote Address As university commencement seasons begin around the country, Yeshiva University recently announced to its students that the school’s 90th Annual Commencement will take place in person at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York, on Wednesday, May 26 at 1 PM EDT. The event, which will be the first commencement and major event to be held at Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, will provide students of the undergraduate class of 2021 with an opportunity to celebrate together with their family and friends in person. The ceremony will also be broadcast via livestream allowing for opportunities for those joining remotely to participate in the live programming. YU’s announcement was made just a week after New York’s Governor announced updated commencement guidelines, which will begin to allow for a gathering of this kind, effective May 1. The event will follow all of New York State’s strict health and safety protocols and guidelines for commencements and graduations, which include requiring face masks, social distancing, health screenings, and collection of contact tracing information. Attendees will be required to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test result or proof of completed immunization prior to entry to the venue. This year’s ceremony will honor the incredible dedication of YU’s students, Rabbeim, faculty, staff and administrators, who have demonstrated tremendous resilience since March 2020, when YU

became the first university to shift to virtual learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the last year, the YU community has led by example, following the school’s values as its compass to ensure the students could safely have a strong academic year and a large on-campus presence. “As we have often repeated from the beginning of this journey, our values are our compass, and a ceremony that highlights our values and celebrates the achievements and resilience of our graduates is best done in person. We have had to make repeated adjustments throughout the year due to the changing circumstances, and we are so happy that the new commencement guidelines will enable us to once again celebrate in person with family and friends,” said Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University. Jason Dov Greenblatt, a YU alumnus and Former White House Middle East Envoy, will deliver the keynote address. He will also be presented with an Honorary Doctorate for his contribution to the historic Abraham Accords. Mr. Greenblatt served as one of the chief architects of the “Peace To Prosperity” plan between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and its Arab neighbors. During the nearly three years that Mr. Greenblatt worked at the White House, he re-educated people about the conflicts and its complexities and began to build the bridges necessary to achieve peace. He was a key player in laying the foundation for the Abraham Accords, through which the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain, Sudan

and the Kingdom of Morocco normalized relations with Israel. Mr. Greenblatt now focuses on creating what he calls a Middle East 2.0, building economic bridges between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Greenblatt is graduate of Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy (MTA)[85’] and Yeshiva College[89’]. In 1992, Greenblatt received a Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law. Following law school, Jason worked as a real estate lawyer for Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. Greenblatt has served as an Adjunct Professor of Management at Yeshiva University, where he taught a course entitled Real Estate 101: The Anatomy of a Real Estate Deal. “As an alumnus of exemplary charac-

ter and extraordinary achievements, Jason Greenblatt embodies our values and is a role model for our students. He has dedicated his career to leadership, mentored our students, and had an impact on the global stage. We are honored to feature him as this year’s commencement speaker and award him an Honorary Doctorate”, added Berman. “I am a proud graduate of Yeshiva University and have significantly benefited from its Torah Umadda worldview. In accepting this honorary doctorate, I am honored and humbled to join the growing list of Yeshiva University graduates who have played their part in mankind’s never ending quest to make this world a brighter place.” said Mr. Greenblatt Greenblatt joins a long and distinguished list of people who have received honorary doctorates from the University, including former U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, former Vice President Al Gore, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Israel’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Danny Danon, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, as well as other notable names. In all, more than 1,700 students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Sy Syms School of Business, as well as graduate students in law, medicine, social work, education, Jewish studies and psychology will be awarded degrees from Yeshiva University during its commencement season.

The Week In News

MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

Near & Far We Celebrate Together Join us in person or via livestream as we celebrate Yeshiva University’s Class of 2021

MAY 26TH 1 P.M. ET




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MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

Hearts and Minds: An Original Look at each Parsha in the Torah By: Rabbi Pini Dunner Reviewed by Sarah Pachter

Hearts and Minds: An Original Look at Each Parsha in the Torah, by Rabbi Pini Dunner, is an engaging book that offers readers a wide scope of information covering the entire Chumash. His chapters span a range of topics including politics, entertainment, history, current events and more. Each portion has several options to choose from, but reader beware: you will have trouble only choosing one of them to read. Rabbi Dunner draws in his audience,

and then, once captivated, provides a non-intuitive, often mind-blowing connection to the Parsha that leaves the reader both stunned and impressed. He manages to connect even the most mundane topics to Torah, such as famous movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Trappist monks, and viral videos such as “The Mannequin Challenge,” to name just a few. As Pirkei Avot teaches us, a truly wise person learns from every person and scenario. Dunner has the inherent capability

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to find Torah in everything he encounters. He also humbly shares his vulnerabilities. In his introduction, he explains that he had been writing a column for some time when he was told by someone that while his speeches were excellent and engaging, his writing was a bit boring. He was mindful enough to revamp his approach, incorporating his pulpit material, and these articles are the result. My favorite chapter is titled Why the Devil wears Prada, in which he connects a hit movie to the Parsha. The intriguing topic grabs you right away, and then, before you even realize it, you have learned a deep idea brought down by the Kedushat Levi. It is Rabbi Dunner’s ability to connect to these dichotomic concepts that I found so refreshing and fantastic. Another fascinating chapter is titled Learning to Speak the Language of G-d. It begins by sharing a true historical tidbit about a group of hunters who discovered an odd creature in the summer of 1725. Rather than killing it, they decided to trap it. What they discovered was that this animal was actually a feral child – probably eleven years old – who was unclothed, and unable to speak. This child was brought to the palace of the British king, George I. The king named him Peter, clothed him in finery, and provided him with footmen and tutors, and doing everything in his power to teach him to speak and behave as a regular human. But unfortunately, Peter never learned how to speak. Eventually, the king grew tired of Peter, and handed him off to be cared for at another location for the rest of his life. Scientists and psychologists have since discovered that if a child is not taught language skills by a certain age, they will never learn to speak. Dunner connects this story beautiful-

ly to Parshat Lech Lecha: “It appears that for Abraham to emerge as the progenitor of monotheism… he needed to learn the vernacular of G-d before it was too late. This was achievable in an environment drowning in pagan beliefs and idol worship. Abraham needed to extract himself totally and thoroughly from this spiritual setting so that he could arrive at his destination--namely the land that I will show you. This was not merely geographical location, but a place where meaningful conversation with G-d could take place.” As a teacher, I remember wondering how I could make my classes both engaging and educational. I thought, if only Torah could be presented the way Yahoo headlines hook us in. This book is the solution! Rabbi Dunner manages to captivate the reader, while simultaneously teaching us deep lessons from Tanach that are no so well-known. This book is a great resource for teachers, and a wonderful addition to one’s Shabbos table. I highly recommend using this book as an opportunity to gain an encyclopedic breadth of knowledge about Torah and many worldly topics. I would suggest this thoroughly researched book for anyone looking to gain a greater depth of knowledge in any topic of modern life.


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MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

Living an Animated & Awesome Life Saul Blinkoff Talks about Mulan, Mitzvos, and His Motivation to Succeed BY TAMMY MARK


aul Blinkoff is entertaining even when he’s not officially entertaining. A Hollywood filmmaker, inspirational speaker, husband and father of four, he masterfully uses various voices and songs during his casual conversations and brings an undeniable energy and passion to everything he does. Blinkoff’s latest project is “Life of Awesome!” a podcast on which he aspires to inspire with new guests and lessons each week, incorporating everything from the Torah to movie clips and music to give over his meaningful messages. For his episode on “The Envy of Others,” for example, he skillfully utilizes both the biblical Cain and Abel and the animated Buzz and Woody to illustrate and deliver his lesson.

An Artist at Heart Blinkoff grew up on the East Coast, first in Philadelphia until age eight. His family moved to the Five Towns of Long Island where he attended Lawrence Number Six School and later George W. Hewlett High School. Blinkoff attend Camp Ramah in Poconos. His father is a retired allergist and his mother, Cantor Lynn Karpo, a retired chazanit. They raised Saul along with his siblings in a “Conservadox” Jewish home. His parents instilled the initial love of Judaism in their children. “Jewish values ran very very strong in my home,” Saul shares. “My parents’ love of Yiddishkeit was very in-

spiring to me. My mother lit Shabbat candles on Friday night, and my father said kiddush. Our parents’ love of Israel is very strong. They went to Israel every year for 40 years – except this year – and it was very hard for them not to go.” As a child, Blinkoff was constantly drawing. When he saw the 1982 movie E.T., everything changed for him as he decided he wanted to become a filmmaker. He didn’t know anyone in the business, or in any creative field – only lawyers and doctors and businessmen. Blinkoff went to the local library and took out books on director Steven Spielberg. “I thought, ‘Wow, the director of E.T. is a Jewish guy, and if he could do it, I can do it.’ That really inspired me. I found out that Spielberg would make movies with his friends in the neighborhood, so I got a film camera, and on weekends my older brother Jason and my twin sister Reena and I would make movies with kids in the neighborhood. I was the writer and director – I never starred in them; I was always behind the camera. Kids from the neighborhood still remember those times.” Today, Saul’s brother is a business owner and his sister is a lawyer. One comment knocked Blinkoff off-course early on. Somebody approached Blinkoff at school and told him that if he wanted to get into Hollywood to be a filmmaker, he’d have to live in LA, and there are strange people out there – and “you don’t want to end up a weirdo, do you?” This com-



The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015


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MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

With his mother in London in 2004

Saul, in his younger years, on a trip to Disney

ment caused Blinkoff to give up on his dream instantly. Today, when Saul lectures, he reminds his audiences how impressionable people are during the teenage years. “Somebody can say something that can inspire us and uplift us and encourage us,” Saul notes, “and somebody else can say something, and it can detract us from the trajectory that we want to be on.” Young Blinkoff decided to go back to being an artist. His parents hired an art teacher for him, and he was very grateful for her lessons. While he used to draw cartoon characters, she taught him to draw from life. “I was terrible at drawing hands – hands are very difficult for artists,” he recalls. His art instructor instructed him to draw a hand from a different position every night before bed. “She taught me a great lesson early on in life,” Sauls recalls, “which is, first of all, it’s not comfortable for us to struggle. Whenever we struggle, we usually don’t like to be in that place because it’s out of our comfort zone, it’s not comfortable. “She taught me a valuable lesson: to embrace our discomfort in order to grow. Otherwise, find out what your weaknesses are and turn them into your strengths.” “Now it’s my mantra,” says Blinkoff. He even produced a podcast on it: “Turning Weaknesses into Strengths.” One could wonder if he brought this discipline and determination to other things. When asked how he fared as a student, Blinkoff laughs, “Academics were difficult. I loved English the most because it was stories and I make my living as a storyteller – so I was always enamored with stories.” Saul adds, “I saw another movie

that changed my life. I saw The Little Mermaid, and the timing of what was happening with the Walt Disney Company lined up with my life at that moment.”

Dreaming of Disney It happened to be that after Walt Disney died, Disney had lost their vision and released a couple of movies that were dark and dated. The animation studio was at risk of shutting down. Under the new leadership of CEO Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, a decision was made to go forth with the movie The Little Mermaid. “They put everything into that movie. That movie was so unique be-

Saul during his Disney internship

“After I saw that movie, I had the most valuable thing in my life - clarity.” Blinkoff recently interviewed the voice of The Little Mermaid, Jodi Benson, who shared her personal journey on his podcast. “When you get clarity and you’re very focused on a goal then you could build the steps that you need to take,” Saul says. “I knew I wanted to be a Disney animator; I wasn’t just going to be an artist, I wasn’t going to be a film-

“I remember feeling for the first time in my life I didn’t want to just be Jewish; I wanted to live JewisH ”. cause it was the first movie to bring back music and the Broadway musical structure. Bringing Broadway people into Disney was unheard of at that time. The Little Mermaid soundtrack took off, and the movie became a blockbuster hit and saved Disney animation and reinvented it for a new generation,” explains Blinkoff. “What appealed to me the most when watching that film was not just the music and the color and the visuals – which were so unique at the time – but Glen Keane’s animation of [the mermaid] Ariel. He’s really the most talented Disney animator that ever lived. His drawings of her and the animation of movement… you really felt for her as a character. It really spoke to me, and I was really intrigued.

maker – I wanted to be a filmmaker and artist. That’s what animation was – it combined my two passions: my love of drawing and my love of filmmaking – and put them together. Plus, I found out that Disney had a studio in Florida, and I didn’t have to go to LA. “So there I am, a junior in high school, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. My dream was to become a Disney animator.” But it wasn’t so simple to follow his dream. “The problem was that I didn’t know how to do that,” Saul admits, “but I did have the most supportive parents. Today, you want to be an animator, if you want to be an anything, you find out how on the internet – but back then we didn’t have that! My

mom took me on a trip to Disneyworld just to ask them how her son could become a Disney animator.” Mom and son spent four days in Orlando walking around Disneyworld, approaching all the employees, “cast members,” asking how to become a Disney animator. “It was incredible,” Saul says of that time. They were finally directed to the Disney casting building a few minutes away. They reached the beautiful building with the striking doors with doorknobs like those out of Alice in Wonderland opening to an atrium of gold statues of Disney characters. They quickly discovered that this was only where Disney casts the employees for the parks, but all wasn’t lost. The woman who had greeted them stepped out and returned a minute later with a list of eight art colleges that Disney recruits animators from. “There it was. That was the recipe,” recalls Blinkoff. “Quite often, I meet people and, for the ones that are lucky enough to know what they want to do with their lives, I ask them how they are going to achieve it. Often, I get this look of ‘I don’t know.’ If you don’t know how to accomplish something, it won’t happen,” Saul asserts. “I didn’t have the recipe of how to become a Disney animator until I


OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

Feature The Week In News

MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home


Asher giving Dennis of Hotel Transylvania 2 a voice in the studio

Saul with his family

had that piece of paper. In my head, an equation was forming, ‘Saul plus go to one of these schools will equal dream of becoming a Disney animator.’” Blinkoff’s devoted mom took him to visit each of these art schools. Saul recalls seeing people dressed as he’d never seen before – purple makeup, piercings, streaked hair, all black clothes. They visited Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio. “I remember the guy touring me around and showing the artwork on the walls, and it was a hundred times better than anything I could ever do. I remember feeling intimidated, but I also felt like, if I’d be the worst one at this school but if I’m surrounded by great artists, I’ll probably get better. So I chose that school, and thank G-d they chose me.” Freshman year was incredibly difficult. It was one of the hardest schools with a rigorous liberal arts curriculum in addition to the art classes – with a dropout rate close to 25%. Blinkoff was up late every night, typically pulling two all-nighters per week. He studied color, design, anatomy, painting, illustration, sculpture, and more. He was lucky to make a friend, Andy, that first week – a nice guy and a great artist. “Just being friends with someone like that made me a better artist. I talk about it a lot with people; who we choose to be friends with actually affects who we become. The values that we want to have ourselves, we need to pick in our friends, because whatever values our friends have are going to rub off on us.” During the first week, a lead Disney animator came to speak to 750 students. He informed the aspiring

artists that maybe four of them will ever actually work at Disney. “When he said that, I thought to myself, ‘I wonder who the other 3 are going to be?’” Saul recalls. “You either believe in yourself that you can accomplish something or you don’t – there’s no maybe. If you believe that you can accomplish something, then you can take the steps to achieve it. However small and incremental those steps are, they are bringing you forward towards the goal, towards the desired outcome.” Blinkoff clearly believed. “I thought it may not be probable, but it’s possible. “ The speaker told the students that in order to apply to be a Disney animator one must have a portfolio of anatomy from life – no cartoon characters or Mickey Mouse. Blinkoff now felt he had the answer key to his career, and his goal became even more focused. In his sophomore year, he submitted his portfolio to Disney but received a letter from Disney stating that he did not make it into the internship program. Blinkoff was nonetheless excited to see his name on authentic Disney stationery; he put the letter over his desk and sharpened his skills for another year. It was known around campus that Blinkoff and best friend Andy were the frontrunners in college as nobody outworked them. Sketchbooks in hand, the two drew everything around them. Blinkoff recalls a trip to the zoo on a freezing cold Columbus day with 25 other students. He and Andy ventured out to draw the animals; they later find out they were the only ones who left the warmth of the zoo cafeteria. “It

was too cold,” was the surprising response from other students. “So often in life we have lofty dreams that we talk about, but when it comes to the real work, the real effort and struggle, if it’s painful at all, a lot people tend to throw in the towel and tend to do the least amount of work necessary to give them the perception that they’ve achieved what they want,” Saul notes. “But the real work – it’s few people that wind up doing that. “Of the most successful people, 99% of the time, all have one thing in common: an incredible amount of tenacity, perseverance, and willingness to fail and work through struggle and pain.” It was midyear break when Andy called Blinkoff at home to share his good news: Andy got hired for the Disney internship. Blinkoff was excited for his most-deserving pal. He then called the head of Disney internships directly; Saul was informed he did not make the cut. It was bittersweet, to say the least, as Blinkoff headed back to grey, cold Columbus to face his schoolmates and share the news, as his friend went off to “the happiest place on earth.” “I felt like a loser,” Saul admits. “Then I came up with a brilliant tool to take that feeling away – I gave up. I gave up on my dream because reality set in. Andy was an awesome artist and I was just average – why was even I trying? Who did I think I was?” Once again, thought, Blinkoff found his inspiration at the movies, this time, with Rudy, a film about an improbable football player. Tears streamed down his face as he watched Rudy overcome his limitations and succeed. “If an unathletic kid could get into Notre Dame, then an untalented artist could get into Disney,” he thought. “I decided then and there to never give up again.”

Rudy Ruettiger would later be the first guest on Blinkoff’s podcast. The next day, Saul called Disney to ask how close he was to getting chosen and found out he missed the internship by three spots – out of a group of 3,800 applicants. He then asked why he got rejected and was told he needed to work on drawing with perspective. He was also told that he was the first to ask that question. This taught Blinkoff a great practical and profound lesson. “Only when we ask why do we get the answer key to growing,” he asserts. “We can be so close to achieving our dream, but we feel like were miles away, and all we have to do is push a little bit more.” Blinkoff continued drawing nonstop; he was accepted to the internship the following year. The first film he worked on was Pocahontas, where he animated the leaves of the forest. His mom was so proud. His life began to accelerate. He was offered a five-year contract and hired to continue work on animating Pocahontas. At the same time, he got invited with another animator to travel the country and promote the film, doing live presentations in shopping malls. It was in a South Florida mall where he was reintroduced to a girl from Hewlett High School, Marion Goldenberg, who would later become his wife and true partner in life. Then came work on The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Blinkoff was living the dream – complete with his dream job, sports car and a great apartment in Florida.


The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015


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Artwork for The Long Night, the animated Holocaust film Saul is working on

Searching for Meaning On a break from work, he visited Israel with his parents on vacation. Blinkoff stopped off in Bonkers Bagels in Jerusalem and began chatting about sports with a young man from New York who said he was learning in yeshiva. “I just want to find out how I fit into the Jewish people,” the young man said. Blinkoff had no idea what he meant. The young man explained that he wanted to learn on his own what Judaism means, not simply by how he was raised. Blinkoff never met the guy again but this brief, chance encounter would later prove to have had as big an influence on him as the blockbuster movies did. Back at Disney, Blinkoff spend the next three years working on the film Mulan. He enjoyed an incredible sense of accomplishment – still in his twenties, working with his best friends and wearing flip-flops to work. There was a long break before work was to begin on Tarzan, and his “downtime” in Disney entailed riding the rollercoasters and visiting the Disney hotel pools. Blinkoff recalls floating in the lazy river, piña colada in hand, with a feeling of completeness between his dream job, his incredible girlfriend Marion, and knowing he was in “the happiest place on earth.” Suddenly, a new feeling came over him. “I remembered the kid I met at the bagel shop three and half years earlier,” Saul recalls. “I get out of the beach club pool. I dry off and I say to my friend, ‘I’m going to Israel to find out how I fit into the Jewish people.’


MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

Meeting with a camper at Camp Morasha

Why did that hit me when I could have gone anywhere in the world?” ponders Blinkoff. “Deep down, I believe every one of us has a gnawing question mark inside us – everyone -- and that question is ‘Who am I?’ We all want to know who we are because, ultimately, if we know who we are, we want to be able to answer the questions ‘What is my life about? What am I living for?’ “While I worked so hard to get into Disney – which was wonderful – I knew it wasn’t everything.” Blinkoff joined a 10-day trip with the Isralight program, with Rabbi Binny Freedman and Rabbi David Aaron, who currently run Yeshiva Orayta in Israel. Rabbi Freedman walked in, spoke to the group for 15 minutes, and his words impacted Blinkoff immediately. “That was it,” Saul says. “After those 15 minutes, I was forever changed – the rest of my life, my wife’s life, my children lives, every part of my life, every purpose of my life, my meaning, who I am, my goals -- everything was changed.” Rabbi Freedman spoke about the mitzvah of mezuzah. The Rav explained that the Shema is inside, and it is put on doorposts as an obligation. He then told the group that the Torah was written by the Creator of the world, something that Blinkoff never heard in his Conservative Jewish education. “That was a big statement: the Torah was written by G-d. I never thought about that.” The group was broken up to study Torah portions, something Saul never experienced. He relates, “After I delved into the Torah we were learning, I realized

right then and there that the Torah was written by G-d because of the profound wisdom and intricacies of what I was learning – no human could write that. It was incredible. The light switch went off that the Torah is min hashamyim, from heaven.” Rabbi Aaron told them that the Torah is like a love letter from G-d to humanity. A love letter isn’t information and rather it’s there to connect with intimacy, when you want to have a relationship. Why is this love letter from G-d on your doorway? Rabbi Freedman explained that the mezuzah isn’t a thing, it’s an opportunity; before we go out into the world we pass through a doorway, a place of transition. “Every mezuzah in the world is only in a transitionary place. It’s there to remind us before we go out into the world to ask, ‘What am I living for?’ It’s an opportunity to clarify the goal and purpose of your life and your day. Is it to come back from the world and have made more money? Or is my purpose a little bit deeper – to give, to inspire, to nurture, to learn, to grow? Hopefully when we come back into our homes at the end of the day, we’re a different person.” Blinkoff admits that even at DreamWorks, there are frustrating days at work, like at any other job. Now, as he crosses through the threshold of his home, the mezuzah reminds him to check on his wife and children and see what they need, to leave his burden at the door and become a different person. Blinkoff learned how “Torah” means “instruction” and that the Torah is Torat chaim, directions for life. After thinking how he had accomplished “his dream,” he realized he wanted more. “I wanted a life of living my purpose,” he says. “I wanted a life of meaning, and I found out that as a Jew I’d been given the greatest gift of humanity – the instruction manual for living.”

The Isralight rabbis shared a story of a woman who died with her infant son al kiddush Hashem in the Holocaust. Then a quote from Rabbi Noach Weinberg, zt”ll, of Aish Hatorah, “If we don’t know what we’re willing to die for were not living for anything,” really drove the point home for Saul. “I remember feeling for the first time in my life I didn’t want to just be Jewish; I wanted to live Jewish.”

A Mezuzah for Pooh Blinkoff returned to Disney to work on Tarzan. He subsequently had an opportunity to work at MTV in New York City and was advised to visit the Upper West Side to find an apartment. At this point, Blinkoff was studying the weekly parsha and had stopped going to movies on Friday nights – a huge sacrifice for a movie buff – but was not yet Orthodox. When he learned that a shomer Shabbos guy was looking for roommate, Blinkoff took the leap, made the commitment and fell in love with Shabbos. Marion was an associate producer at Disney at the time and moved to New York as well. She, too, was on a spiritual journey, having visited Israel and also learning from Blinkoff’s rabbis when they ran a Jewish retreat in Florida. The two started growing together and got married in 2002. The newlyweds settled down in Beverly Hills, and Saul returned to Disney as a director. His first movie was Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo and, since Blinkoff learned that Disney artists like to hide things in their art, he drew in a mezuzah on Pooh’s house – “Now he’s Winnie the Jew.” He also wrote Hashem in Hebrew hid-


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A mezuzah on Winnie the Pooh’s door

The word Hashem hidden in the grass

den in the grass in the first minutes of the movie. “I didn’t just see myself as a filmmaker; I saw myself as a Jewish filmmaker,” he clarifies. “Ultimately, I started putting more Jewish values into the work I did.” The Blinkoffs became fully shomer Shabbos in LA and moved into the Aish community in Pico-Robertson. They began hosting guests and estimate that over the past 20 years, they’ve hosted thousands and thousands of people for Shabbos. “Almost every Shabbos before Covid, we were hosting 5-15 students from around the world, from all of the travels and speaking engagements,” Saul says. At one point, Blinkoff met Rabbi Shalom Denbo, a student of the late Rabbi Weinberg, who taught from the book of the Ramchal, Mesilas Yesharim, Path of the Just. One key phrase changed Blinkoff’s outlook forever: What am I responsible for in this world? “Whatever we are interested in in life, we have to figure out a way to

take our passion, ambition, gifts, talents, abilities and use them and grow them in a way that will hopefully help us serve humanity, and use them to change the world,” Saul shares. “If we saw the world as ours, we’d take more responsibility for it.” Today, Blinkoff is a supervising producer at DreamWorks animation, working on a hit new TV show called Madagascar: A Little Wild, which just won a Best New Series award from Kidscreen out of hundreds of shows. He directed the very popular Doc McStuffins. He has had the opportunity to direct movies and TV shows for Disney, DreamWorks, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. Blinkoff credits his family for so much of his success. “I couldn’t have gotten where I am if it wasn’t for the support and love and nurturing of my parents, that’s for sure. They really provided the foundation for me to believe in myself to dream big. As parents, one of the hardest things we need to do is to really become sensitive to the needs of what our children specifically need,

and my parents were very invested in me and my brother’s and sister’s lives so much so that they did whatever they could to help get us on the road that we needed to be on to be able to work hard and to encourage us to do it for ourselves. “Of course, my wife – my wife married a dreamer. It’s not easy to marry a dreamer,” Saul admits. “You bring everyone else a long for the ride, and it’s not so simple. She’s been the foundation and my partner in everything in life, and we’re very grateful.” Blinkoff’s family is a top priority, and his children have gotten to get a glimpse of their dad’s life. At age six, his son Asher was cast as the voice of the main character Dennis in Hotel Transylvania 2. “It was so cool – he was such a kiddush Hashem,” Saul says with pride. “When you went to the Sony studios and you saw the wall of all the actors doing the voices, you saw Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez -and our son Asher Blinkoff with his big felt kippah with Hebrew letters saying Asher Chaim on the front!” Daughters Meira, Lielle and Naomi have all had their turns in voice roles. While they don’t have plans to pursue careers in show business, they enjoy local Jewish theater groups as a hobby.

“Torah is a Lens”


The imposing Disney casting office, part of Saul’s recipe for success

Blinkoff is very enthusiastic about his “Life of Awesome” podcast. “I explore wisdom rooted in Torah and share meaningful messages and interviews to inspire hopefully a much bigger audience to reach for a higher more meaningful life,” he explains. The podcast is available on Apple and other platforms, as well as on his website. This endeavor came to Blinkoff after traveling the world lecturing to

several thousands and thousands of people in all corners of the world – every demographic, age, and affiliation – and he offers the same message. He explains, “I want to inspire those I speak to embrace their Jewish identity and to not just wake up and say, ‘I want to be Jewish’ but to figure out how to live Jewish every moment of our lives, because only when we do that, do we have a life that’s meaningful.” The turning point for Blinkoff that moved him from achieving his own goals to sharing his experiences and insights with others came about 15 years ago, after he reconnected with a friend from Isralight – Rabbi David Luria, a former secular Jew who returned to learn in Israel and came out six years later as a frum rabbi. Rabbi Luria invited Blinkoff to speak to the kiruv program he had launched at Brown University and tell his story, and Blinkoff shared his story with eight students. Four years later, Blinkoff found himself giving a similar talk to 2,000 people in South Africa. He now lectures for Chabad houses, outreach organizations, shuls, schools and camps worldwide. Five years ago, Blinkoff became a trip leader for a program called Momentum, leading non-observant Jewish dads on a weeklong heritage trip to Israel and discussing tools based on Jewish wisdom on how to grow as a father and husband to live a life that’s more meaningful. The program has taken over 10,000 women to Israel inspiring par-



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Inspiring a crowd of 2,000 people

ents to change their family, their community, and their world. Where did he first hone his public speaking skills? “When I was on that Pocahontas world tour – that’s what gave me the experience of learning how to speak in front of 500 people,” Saul explains. “I had coaches and directors from Disney who taught me how to do that, and I use those same skills now to share my story and to teach Jewish wisdom to audiences around the world.” Blinkoff’s energy is palpable, and the source comes from a wisdom seemingly beyond his years. “There are a bunch of things that motivate me,” he says. “One of them is the idea of death. Steve Jobs had a quote that ‘the greatest gift given to humanity is the awareness that we’re going to die.’ When we realize that life is a blink of an eye, we have to utilize every moment. I don’t want to waste time. There is so much to get done. Reb Noach Weinberg used to stay up learning and working on his organization, and he’d get a couple of hours of sleep a night, not consecutive, because there’s so much to do. I feel like when we get the clarity of how much there is to accomplish that should energize us and motivate us to keep going. “Number two,” he says, “is that it’s energizing to have the realization of being alive. The pleasure of being alive is motivating and energizing. Picture somebody who doesn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, who stays in bed and hits the snooze button over and over again because they don’t have the thrill the wonderment of being alive…” “Judaism is not a religion; it’s reality. It’s not something I do; it’s something that affects how I see everything. Torah is a lens – if you look at the world through the lens of Torah, it’s a very different world. If you go through pain in your life, most people think it’s a terrible thing, but through the lens of

Judaism, it’s an opportunity to grow.” He adds, “I have an episode on my podcast called ‘The Simplest Things.’ If you walk down the street and appreciate the smell of the flowers, the feel of the sun on your face and the breeze and the beauty of trees and the sounds of children playing – how can that not be energizing and motivating? How could you not want to get out of bed and experience life?” As we count the weeks of growth during Sefirah period, we can apply many of Blinkoff’s life lessons, both to Shavuot and beyond. “Shavuos is the giving of the Torah and it’s ‘kabbalah,’ to ‘receive’ the Torah. In order to receive something,

sons to their friends, and they always come home with an experience where they’re teaching their friends these lessons, or creating their own lessons that they’re teaching me about. Every week, when I finish a podcast episode, the kids listen to it. They love listening together. Creating it has been family affair.” With all of the lighthearted projects Blinkoff gets to work on, one can wonder if he ever sees a darker side of his industry. “I see it every day,” he admits. “One of the things that really takes a toll is seeing how much of Hollywood is working hard for things that really don’t matter – statues and accolades

“Deep down, I believe every one of us has a gnawing question mark inside us - everyone -- and that question is ‘Who am I?’” there are two things we must have: we need to have the want for it; you need to crave it. The only way to receive it is to see how much we need it. Torah is the compass that tells us which way to go. But in order to trust the Source of where it comes from – all of us need to remind ourselves every day – we need to wake up and renew that wanting, that craving and have dveikus to Hashem and His Torah and mitzvos. “As we get ready for Shavuos, may each of us take a moment and realize the need of Torah in our lives, so we can receive it again and ultimately build on the relationship with the Creator of the world – and ultimately our true limitless potential.” Blinkoff is grateful that his kids appreciate his lessons, and they actually are following on this path. “They love to teach these same les-

and fame are vapid and meaningless.” One podcast episode on envy references how actress Bette Davis still held resentment at the end of her life for losing an Oscar award. “That’s the town that I work in,” Saul points out. “At the same time, there are a few who do hold onto the precious values that I hold onto and see our jobs as storytellers as a responsibility to make an impact on the world and help shape the values of the world.” He adds, “Working in Hollywood is also a difficult thing because usually there’s one common agenda in Hollywood and often there isn’t room for multiple points of view, and that sometimes is a struggle. “ Saul says, “I wear my kippah at work. They all know I’m an Observant Jew, and I’m also in a top leadership

position at DreamWorks. I work with a great team, and I work very hard to create a culture on my show that is one of respect and one of appreciation. I want everyone on my show to feel respected and appreciated because the culture and the experience of each person on my show is more important to me than the final product. I want to make sure that everyone has a really positive growing experience on the show.” Blinkoff is currently working on an animated Holocaust movie called The Long Night. He just produced a live action short film for the JEIC organization which focuses on how yeshiva students are overloaded and aims to preserve their relationship with their Creator and Judaism. He is also Chief Creative Officer for a brandnew startup company founded by an orthodox Jew called LuvSeats, an app that helps people purchase upgraded seats during live events. Blinkoff regularly works until 4 AM and through the night on Thursdays to edit his podcasts. In 2014, Blinkoff was recognized by the Jew in the City organization as an example of an Orthodox Jew at the top of their secular field. Often asked how he balances being an Observant Jew in Hollywood, he answers simply, “How can I not? It’s my Judaism that helps me embrace my identity and inform every decision I make every moment of my life. “I live in the town where people want that gold statue – and all I want is to get to Shabbos!”

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2 Killed by Hamas Rockets Yehuda Guetta, Hy”d

Thousands thronged the funeral of Yehuda Guetta last Thursday after he succumbed to his wound three days after being shot in a terror attack. A 19-year-old student at the Itamar Yeshiva in Samaria, Guetta was one of three Israelis shot during a drive-by shooting attack at the nearby Tapuach Junction earlier in the week. He was rushed to Jerusalem’s Shaare Tzedek Medical Center but passed away a day later. The funeral procession began at Yehuda’s home in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, where an estimated 2,000 people escorted him to his final resting place at the Har Hamenuchot cemetery. Participating in Yehuda’s final sendoff was a slew of dignitaries, including MKs Itamar Ben-Gvir and Orit Strock from the Religious Zionism party, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz. Addressing the crowd was Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and Jonathan Pollard, who recently emigrated to Israel after serving out a 30 year sentence for spying on the United States. “I’m a simple Jew, and I never expected to come home after 30 years and be faced with this kind of tragedy,” Pollard said. “I hoped and prayed that my own sacrifice would prevent this kind of tragedy. The evil that took Yehuda has a power that is incredible. It doesn’t cease, it doesn’t stop, it shows no pity, it shows no remorse. But we do. And that’s why we come here, to say ‘shalom’ to Yehuda.” “Yehuda in the last few days, we worried as you fought for your life, we prayed from the depths of our hearts that you would overcome your wounds, and across the entire country we begged for your recovery, but this morning, to our great sorrow, these prayers have turned to a eulogy,” said Lion, a distant relative of Yehuda. “Our hearts are broken – but our spirits are strong,” added Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan. Yehuda had passed away on Thursday only hours before IDF special forces nabbed his killer, 44-year-old Muntasir Shalabi from Silwad. A father of seven and a successful local businessman, Shalabi reportedly did not attempt to flee and admitted his culpability in the attack on the spot.

Two women were killed and dozens were injured, including two seriously, when Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip fired massive barrages of rockets at southern Israel throughout Tuesday, drawing deadly retaliatory airstrikes from the Israel Defense Forces. The deaths marked the first fatalities in Israel in the round of fighting with Gaza terrorist groups that began Monday evening, which has seen hundreds of rockets fired at Israeli territory. The Hamas terror group claimed that at one stage on Tuesday it fired 137 rockets in around five minutes in an apparent attempt to overwhelm the Iron Dome missile defense system. In a subsequent barrage on the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, less than an hour later, two women were killed by rockets in apparently separate hits. A technical issue with an Iron Dome battery during the massive rocket barrage toward the coastal city prevented some rockets from being intercepted and may have been responsible for the casualties and deaths. Eventually, the malfunction was repaired. Channel 12 reported that a deadly rocket attack directly struck a home where an elderly woman and her caregiver, who did not manage to get to a public shelter in time, lived. One of the women was killed. With a number of buildings in the city suffering direct hits over the course of the day, and concerns over the number of residential buildings without bomb shelters, the Israel Defense Forces instructed residents to remain in reinforced areas. The restriction was later lifted – followed, minutes later, by additional rocket alert sirens on the city. Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam said some 25 percent of residents don’t have access to a protected area when rockets are fired at the city. “It is impossible when normal life becomes a state of emergency within minutes,” he told Army Radio. “There are houses from the 1960s where there is no basic protection – it is time for treasury officials and decision-makers to understand what is happening here in the city.” In the early hours of Tuesday, a missile hit a residential building in Ashkelon, wounding six Israelis, four of them members of the same family: parents in their 40s, an 8-year-old and an 11-year-old. The father was seriously hurt with a head wound, and the others sustained light injuries from shrapnel. The assaults continued Tuesday after a

night of almost constant rocket fire on Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip and as the IDF conducted strikes on more than 100 targets in the coastal enclave, as part of what it has called “Operation Guardian of the Walls,” the military said. The previous day saw a major outbreak of violence from Gaza, including rare rocket fire on Jerusalem, where Palestinians have been clashing with police for days. In response to the ongoing rocket rockets, IDF fighter jets, aircraft and tanks struck at least 130 targets in the Gaza Strip, most of them associated with Hamas, but also some linked to other terror groups in the enclave, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups reported that several high-ranking commanders were killed in Israeli raids, including three top PIJ leaders in a drone strike on a building in the upscale Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City. One of those killed was the brother of another top PIJ commander, Baha Abu al-Ata, who was killed in an Israeli strike in November 2019, kicking off a major round of fighting in the Strip. Islamic Jihad vowed revenge for the death of the three commanders in its armed wing, saying the response will be “harsh.” Additionally, the IDF said it killed the head of Islamic Jihad’s special rocket unit, in an operation carried out in cooperation with the Shin Bet. Sameh Abed al-Mamluk was killed along with several other senior rocket officials. According to the IDF, the military’s targets also included the home of a top Hamas commander, Hamas’s intelligence headquarters in southern Gaza, two attack tunnels that approached the border with Israel, rocket production and storage sites, observation posts, military installations, and launchpads. The Hamas Health Ministry said 28 Gazans were killed, including nine minors, and 125 wounded in the ongoing escalation with Israel. Fifteen Gazans sustained serious injuries, according to Hamas Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra. Israel said more than half were Hamas terrorists. IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said a number of those killed in Gaza, including at least three children, were hit by errant rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists, not by Israeli airstrikes. Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the IDF would continue striking Hamas and other terrorists in the Strip until “long-term and complete quiet” is restored. Israel has fought three large operations against Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip since 2008, most recently in 2014 with a 51-day war known as Operation Protective Edge.

Hezbollah Readies for Attacks The Hezbollah terrorist organization was reportedly spooked by the massive

IDF drill that began on Sunday, believing that the maneuvers are cover for a surprise attack on Lebanon. Hezbollah increased its readiness on Saturday, deploying additional fighters from its elite Radwan units on the Israeli-Lebanon border. Additional preparations were observed in the city of Quneitra on the Golan Heights as the terror group raised its alertness to levels not seen since the Second Lebanon War. According to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Nasrah, Hezbollah “recruited the necessary manpower” to “effectively respond to any Israel attack on Lebanese soil. The terror group reportedly believes that the mammoth IDF drill is designed to disguise preparations for all-out war, including calling up reservists and sending large amounts of troops to the Lebanese border. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel against “hasty measures,” vowing in his weekly speech last Friday that “we in Lebanon will be ready from Sunday morning, the day the exercise begins.” Nasrallah threatened that Israel would pay for “any mistake,” saying that “we will be prepared to respond to the aggression and we will not tolerate any violation in Lebanese territory.” Named “Chariots of Fire,” the IDF exercise that kicked off this past Sunday is the largest in Israeli history. Training the military to fight on three simultaneous fronts, the drill involves all four IDF commands, over 100,000 troops, and 25,000 reservists. The exercise will go on for the entire month of May and will replicate wartime conditions. As part of the drill, the Israeli Air Force and the Paratroopers Brigade will fly to Cyprus to practice landing behind enemy lines. Hundreds of fighter jets and helicopters will take to the skies while three armored divisions will participate in a livefire exercise in the Golan Heights and Negev Desert. The maneuver is the IDF’s first large drill since last year’s COVID-19 outbreak, when the military cut back on training as it was preoccupied with fighting the pandemic. “The structure of the exercise, which is being put together now, will include a scenario of a multi-front campaign in both the north and the south, in accordance with up-to-date and worst-case scenarios,” the military said in a statement.

Did Israel Help the U.S. Track Soleimani? A new report alleges that Israel played a key role in helping U.S. intelligence locate Iranian General Qassem Soleimani ahead of his 2020 assassination. The commander of Iran’s notorious Quds Force, Soleimani was tasked with arming and funding Tehran’s proxy mili-



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The Week In News tias including Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and the Houthis in Yemen. He was killed in a U.S. airstrike in January 2020 after landing in Baghdad’s airport. Now, a new expose says that Israel played a key role in the drone strike. According to the report, Israeli intelligence provided the numbers to three different smartphones used by Soleimani, allowing the U.S. to pinpoint his location.

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April, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed the Jewish State for “directing” the U.S. to assassinate Soleimani. “The martyrdom of General Soleimani was directed by the Zionists, even though [former President Donald] Trump was the commander and killer,” Rouhani told a cabinet meeting.

The skirmishes triggered dozens of protest rallies in Arab cities all across Israel in which residents demonstrated their support for Hamas and the Al Aqsa rioters.

IDF Responds to Hamas Rockets U.S.: Cancel Flag March

Israel’s assistance is said to be crucial for the operation’s success, as the U.S. would have had a significantly more difficult time tracking down the general had it been unable to hack his cellphones. “In Tel Aviv, U.S. Joint Special Operations Command liaisons worked with their Israeli counterparts to help track Soleimani’s cellphone patterns. The Israelis, who had access to Soleimani’s numbers, passed them off to the Americans, who traced Soleimani and his current phone to Baghdad,” wrote the report. In the past, “Israeli intelligence at one point tipped off the CIA about a courier for Soleimani who would travel outside Iran to pick up clean phones for the Quds Force leader and his inner circle, recalled a former intelligence official,” noted the expose. “The CIA got wind that the courier would visit a specific market in a Gulf country to procure these devices and sprang into action. The agency executed a complex supply chain compromise, installing spyware on a set of phones that were seeded into the marketplace used by Soleimani’s courier.” “The gambit worked, said the former official, and the courier purchased at least one bugged phone that was then used by someone who was often in the same room as Soleimani,” continued the report, which quoted over a dozen officials intimately involved in the assassination. “But because Soleimani and other Iranian leadership would often rotate their devices, and employ other measures to avoid being surveilled, successes of this sort were fleeting, said former officials,” stated the report. The expose also reported that at least seven Kurdish agents were on the ground at Baghdad airport, where they impersonated police officers in order to positively ID the Iranian general. Also present were U.S. special forces snipers, who fired on a vehicle in order to cause it to slow down and provide an easier target for the drones loitering overhead. Israel has long been rumored to have played a part in the assassination, with previous reports crediting Israeli Air Force intelligence for keeping tabs on Soleimani during his frequent trips to Syria. In late

Senior US officials pressed Israel to limit or change completely the annual Yom Yerushalayim “Flag March,” warning that the event was liable to exacerbate tensions between Jews and Arabs. The Flag March occurs every year to mark the day in which Israel freed the Old City from Jordanian hands in 1967. Beginning at Damascus Gate, the event sees tens of thousands of people dance down to the Western Wall. On Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan called his counterpart Israeli Meir Ben-Shabbat to convey the Biden administration’s concerns about the event. Calling the march “provocative,” Sullivan pressed Ben-Shabbat for Israel to change the route or even cancel it altogether. Ben-Shabbat refused to commit to altering the route but promised that Israel would take the Biden Administration’s concerns into account. The phone call followed an earlier request from the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem that was rebuffed. “Sullivan highlighted recent engagements by senior U.S. officials with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials and key regional stakeholders to press for steps to ensure calm, deescalate tensions, and denounce violence,” read a White House summary of the phone call. “Mr. Sullivan also reiterated the United States’ serious concerns about the potential evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. They agreed that the launching of rocket attacks and incendiary balloons from Gaza towards Israel is unacceptable and must be condemned.” Police had been on high alert ahead of the Flag March amid fears that it could be the spark that would ignite a Third Intifada. Recent weeks have seen escalating violence in Jerusalem, with Arab residents attacking Jews at will along with extremist right-wing protest marches. On Saturday, tens of thousands of Muslims barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, hurling stones and firecrackers at police. Authorities responded by deploying riot control measures, setting off pitched battles that ended with 17 police officers and 150 Arabs wounded. Video footage on social media showed an Arab mob waving Hamas flags on the Temple Mount while chanting, “Bomb Tel Aviv” and “In spirit and in blood, we will redeem al-Aqsa.”

tions as part of Operation Guardian of the Walls and reinforcements for defending the home front,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, invoking the operation’s official name. “We have an intense day ahead of us,” added IDF Spokesperson Haggai Zilberman. “We have a goal, and we will not stop until we’ve reached it.”

Sheikh Jarrah Hearing Postponed

The IDF pounded the Gaza Strip throughout Monday evening in what was the biggest escalation between the two sides since 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. The IDF said in a statement that it had struck 140 targets as of Tuesday morning, killing 25 terrorists and destroying Hamas weapons warehouses and terror tunnels. Other targets included “the home of a top Hamas commander, Hamas’s intelligence headquarters, two attack tunnels that approached the security barrier, and rocket production and storage sites.” Despite the barrage, Hamas rocket fire continued throughout the evening, with at least 200 missiles pummeling Ashkelon alone since Monday afternoon. Three Israelis were wounded when a rocket hit their Ashkelon apartment building, one of them seriously. Another 100 Hamas rockets hit Ashdod, while Sderot and dozens of Gaza-envelope agricultural communities were pounded with relentless mortar fire. Dozens of cities canceled school on Tuesday due to fears of additional rocket fire, including Rishon LeTzion, Be’er Sheva, Rehovot, Ness Ziona, and Ramat Gan. Train service was suspended in large parts of the country, and roads alongside the Gaza border were closed to motorists. The escalation began on Monday, Jerusalem Day, after Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif gave Israel until 6 PM to withdraw all of its forces from Temple Mount that were countering Arab rioters. After Israel failed to meet the ultimatum, Hamas launched a barrage of missiles towards Jerusalem, paralyzing the capital and sending residents fleeing towards the bomb shelters. Israel responded by bombing what the military called “high value targets,” including the homes of top Hamas commanders and hidden weapons warehouses. On Tuesday afternoon, the IDF began deploying artillery units to the Gaza border and called up 5,000 reservists, signaling that the military was preparing for a wider conflict. “This is for the continuation of opera-

Israel’s Supreme Court postponed a scheduled hearing regarding the fate of Arab squatters on Jewish-owned property in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The hearing was slated to occur on Monday and would have likely seen the justices order the forced removal of the squatters. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit requested that it be delayed until after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to refrain from inflaming the issue until tensions die down.

The hearing will now occur on an unspecified date within the next four weeks. “In all the circumstances and in light of the attorney general’s request, the regular hearing for tomorrow, May 10, 2021 (is) canceled,” said the court in a statement. The court case would have been the final hearing in a long-running legal battle between Arab squatters and the property’s Jewish owners. Originally purchased by a wealthy Jerusalemite family over a century ago, the homes fell into Arab hands following the Jordanian capture of Jerusalem. After Jerusalem was reunited in 1967, the Jewish owners sued for the restitution of their property. A decade-long court battle ended with a compromise allowing the Arab families to remain in the apartments on condition that they paid monthly rent. Yet the Arab families refused to pay, triggering a legal battle to evict them that lasted more than 30 years. The final decision allowing the eviction would have come on Jerusalem Day this past Monday, something police warned would trigger a new round of violence. The Sheikh Jarrah legal battle has become a cause célèbre amongst Israeli Arabs, with thousands of rioters hurling rocks and firebombs at police officers on a nightly basis.

The Week In News

MAY 13, 2021 | The Jewish Home

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