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The Week In News

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home


The Week In News

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© 2018 Cedars-Sinai

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

TOGETHER, WE LIGHT THE MENORAH. (OR PLUG IT IN, DUE TO OPEN FLAME RESTRICTIONS IN THE HOSPITAL.)

lights, we also celebrate the bonds we share with our patients, friends and family. Since 1902, we’ve grown alongside the city of Los Angeles and have proudly served this community. Today, our commitment to you has not changed as we continue to bring compassionate care to you and your family. Happy Chanukah.

T:13”

As we celebrate the festival of


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The Week In News

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home


The Week In News

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

LA

PR ESE NT E D BY T H E O RTHO D OX UN IO N SUNDAY DECEMBER 16, 2018 • 9:15 AM - 12 NOON YULA BOYS HIGH SCHOOL • 9760 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles NO PARKING ON RESIDENTIAL STREETS

FAMILY FIRST: TORAH PERSPECTIVES FOR TODAY’S WORLD CURRENT ISSUES IN HALACHA

10:15-11:00

RAV HERSCHEL SHACHTER

Family Planning in Halacha

RABBI DR. TZVI HERSH WEINREB

Conflicting Value Systems Within Our Community -- Focusing on Our Youth & Millenials 11:15-12:00

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS IN TANACH

HIGH SCHOOL

MICHAL HOROWITZ

Today's Pressing Hashkafa Issues

B R E A K F A S T

8:45-9:15 9:15-10:00

STRENGTHENING OUR FAMILIES

RABBI DR. ZEV WIENER

Honoring Elderly Parents: A Medical and Halahic Discussion

RABBI LAWRENCE HAJIOFF

Shalom Bayis In A World of Distraction

RAV MOSHE WEINBERGER

Besieged! Asara B'Teves 5779: Challenges facing Our Marriages & Families"

DR. DAVID PELCOVITZ

Honorable Mentschen: Instilling Jewish Values in our Children

The First Marriage: What Went Wrong, What Went Right and What Can We Learn

GERI WIENER

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Save A Family - Save A Dynasty: Balancing Competing Loyalties

RABBI ABRAHAM LIEBERMAN

- for Teenagers and Young Adults -

BOYS:

GIRLS:

Rabbi Steven Weil

Rabbi Ya’akov Trump

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Raising Yaakov and Eisav, The Ideal Children

BOYS:

GIRLS:

Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff

Rabbi Steven Weil

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M I N C H A

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FEATURI NG

SP EA K ER S I N CLU D E

Rosh Kollel & Rosh Hayeshiva Yeshiva University Senior Posek, OU Kosher

Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff

Michal Horowitz

Rabbi Abraham Lieberman

Rabbi Ya’akov Trump

Rabbi Steven Weil

Rav Moshe Weinberger

Dr. David Pelcovitz

Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

Rebbetzin Dr. Adina Shmidman

Rabbi Dr. Zev Wiener

Rabbi Avraham Shmidman

Geraldine Wiener

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The Week In News

CONTENTS COMMUNITY Happenings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

JEWISH THOUGHT Living with the Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 The Weekly Daf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Torah Musings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

FEATURE A Testimony of Emunah. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

LIFESTYLES Book Review. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Forgotten Heroes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Political Crossfire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

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DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Dear Readers, Exactly a year ago, I was sitting with my aunt, Leah Rubashkin, at a Chanukah party. All we spoke about was when would Sholom Mordechai come home. Although they knew serious efforts were being made towards his release at the highest levels, they were still not sure what would happen. It had been a few months already since the newest efforts had begun, and yet stumbling block after stumbling seemed to get in their way. Would this time be different?? It turned out that his release would be so unexpected that when they summoned my uncle to tell him he was free, he thought that for some unknown reason he was being sent to solitary confinement! Such is how deliverance works. We go through a challenge, a struggle. While we’re experiencing it, it doesn’t feel like there’s any way to overcome it. There is no other reality. But then there is. We are suddenly removed from that mindset or experience and start seeing and understanding things differently. A moment passes, and we can’t put ourselves back into the limited reality we were in right before. This is the way the world was created. Some days are bright, our purpose clear, things just seem to fall into place. Other days are grey and draggy. It’s hard to find purpose and motivation, and everything seems to be the world’s biggest problem. This is where the Chanukah lights come in. Their eternal flames show us that good is stronger and will carry the day in the end. This year Chanukah began with the announcement that, thank G-d, the IDF found the tunnels dug by Hezbollah in order to attack cities in the north of Israel. We are sure that the G-d of Israel, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, will continue to show miracles wherever Jews are—leading into the miraculous times of the coming of our long-awaited redeemer. Wishing you an enjoyable and inspiring Shabbos Chanukah,

Shalom

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


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The Week In News

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TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Another Successful SimXa Shabbaton Inspires Both Russian- and EnglishSpeaking Jews Yehudis Litvak This past Thanksgiving weekend SimXa Company conducted its 18th annual shabbaton, which brought together Jews from all around Southern California, as well as Palo Alto, San Francisco, Dallas, New York, and Jerusalem. As usual, the program offered parallel lectures in English and Russian, attracting both Russian Jews and their American, Persian, and Israeli friends and family. All the participants, no matter what language they were most comfortable with, were able to learn and get inspired at the shabbaton, which a long-time participant Asya Berwaldt called “the best ever!” The shabbaton took place at the luxurious Hyatt Regency Hotel in Valencia, California, and featured ten gourmet kosher meals by The Place Catering of San Diego. The program began with a sushi reception on Thursday afternoon, followed by a Thanksgiving dinner. Then the participants gathered to hear a long-time favorite, Rabbi Aryeh Katzin, the principal of Sinai Hebrew Academy in Queens, New York, and the Executive Director of RAJE (Russian Jewish American Experience). His lectures were well-attended and included such topics as how our perception affects reality and how to discover the greatness in you. The latter took place during a picturesque nature hike at the East and Rice Canyon. Both returning and new lecturers were received enthusiastically. Rabbi David and Miriam Yerushalmi, first-time speakers at a SimXa event, attracted an eager audience. Rabbi Yerushalmi, a high-profile international trial attorney, mesmerized the participants with his topic, Islam’s war against the West. Miriam Yerushalmi won over the hearts of her listeners within minutes of her first presentation. She spoke on the topics she presented in her recent children’s and adult books, including Beautiful Like a Kallah and The Heavenly Waters. Mrs. Yerushalmi also conducted a very popular meditative dance workshop for women, called Sing, Dance, Clap. The children’s program was a smashing success, as usual. The highlights included Rabbi Aron Teleshevsky’s olive press presentation, just in time for Chanukah, and an Animaly presentation with a live turkey. The children also enjoyed a trip to a local fun center and a bowling alley. Teenagers had their own program, which included an Escape Room game, team sports, swimming, and an inspirational program for teenage girls by Shimona Davidoff, who spoke to the girls about ahavas Yisrael and judging favorably. After Havdalah, children of all ages enjoyed a program with delicious chocolate

and marshmallow s’mores bars in the hotel’s fireplace patio, where Rabbi Sadya Davidoff told Chassidic stories with the accompaniment of his guitar. Meanwhile, the adults participated in a Unity Fair which brought together Jews across the Jewish spectrum. The fair featured several organizations and provided information about the local Jewish events, as well as life in Israel. Both new and returning participants enjoyed the shabbaton. Igor Kilimnik, first time participant, said, “I felt at home… The atmosphere was warm and pleasurable… My children had lots of fun, they were entertained and taken care of. My not (yet) religious wife liked the lectures and was very pleased with the whole event. We had a great time as a family.” Another first-time participant, Esther Yadgarova, said, “The inspiring weekend radiated warmth, unity, relaxation and re-charged our souls! Phenomenal speakers delivered lots of food for the soul which I took away to live by and to raise my family.” Tova Plotitsa, a returning participant, said, “Everything was just wonderful! Rabbis Laskin and Kogan are amazing storytellers. I can listen to them all the time.” The shabbaton organizers, Moshe and Esther Davidoff, are very happy with this year’s shabbaton. “SimXa Shabbaton has been bringing together Jews of virtually every walk of life,” said Mr. Davidoff. “Russian, Persian, Chassidic and Litvish, observant or not yet observant, young, old, professional, married, single, you name it... We all come together to share in our Yidishkheit, to learn, to enjoy, and to strengthen each other.” Mrs. Davidoff added, “SimXa Shabbatons have been a major part of our life for

the past 18 years! Every year we are very fortunate to have more and more help from our own growing children. Each coming shabbaton gives us more and more chizzuk to go on despite the many hurdles we encounter along the way. The achdus at our Chai Shabbaton 2018 was immeasur-

able, with the Jewish Unity Fair and the participants from all different walks of life that came to join us. We hope to have the zechus to continue the shabbatons for many years to come, all the way till we are blessed to make one in Yerushalayim with Mashiach!”


DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Foregone-Coffee-Bean Conclusions The Closing of the Bean, the End of an Era Deborah L. Gordon One regular Thursday morning, when scrolling through the Hillygram, I came across the following photograph:

on the floors of our minivans?) Many, many afternoons I ventured there with my double stroller to meet a friend with her kids, then sit and schmooze as long as they’d let us, before heading to Gardner Park (only non-locals call it Pan Pacific Park). As the years passed, the centrality of this location, combined with the chalav stam and chalav Yisrael offerings, made it the iconic meeting place for coffee dates with friends, business meetings, and even

a monthly Rosh Chodesh breakfast gathering. It became the go-to for high school girls before or after school. It was the perfect destination for that lazy Sunday afternoon outing, the kids on bikes and scooters. Or the place where, after a long fast, Hubby stopped in to get our requisite break-fast coffee. I have a fond memory of being in line behind a New Yorker once, who remarked, “You can get all of this chalav Yisrael?!”

I thought, Ha! We have something going on here in L.A., aside from the weather, Mr. N.Y.! Years back, I found myself there one hectic biur chametz morning, with half of L.A., when that store was sold out of chalav Yisrael vanilla powder. I had to settle for something with chocolate. In fact, the vanilla-powder-sell-out happened almost every erev Pesach, and often in the summertime, too.

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After careful consideration and with a heavy heart, this location is permanently closing end of business day on Friday, October 26, 2018. Please know that this decision was not decided upon lightly and we too were disappointed to have to close our doors. What?! I must have read that wrong. I zoomed in on my phone, so I couldn’t get it wrong. This location is permanently closing… I texted a close friend: “What’s the deal with Coffee Bean?” Her response: “Yeah, I know. I heard about it at aqua [aerobics] yesterday. Can’t believe it!” We texted back and forth for a few minutes; how could it be, given the store always seemed busy? I pondered this, figured it might be due to the exorbitant rental prices in our area that have been ousting stores—including others that also seemed to be doing well—left and right. When “My Coffee Bean” first opened, we had been in Eretz Yisrael for an extended stay. We came back to see the “chalav Yisroel Coffee Bean” at the corner of Beverly and Alta Vista. Yay! Not only another kosher coffee shop in the ′hood, but a quality one with various chalav Yisrael powders and milk. Even back then, getting a “Coffee Bean” wasn’t something we took lightly, given the hefty price tag for an Iced Blended or Chai Tea Latte (two family faves) when you added in the extra chalav Yisrael charge, to boot. But one medium Pure Vanilla was plenty for two kiddies to split, each with her own cup and prized purple straw. (How many of us have purple straws

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TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Be that as it may, in addition to the sometimes slow service and lack of true indoor seating, “Coffee Bean” became beloved in the eyes of many, who were dismayed at its closing—which seemed to happen way too fast. (Both of my school-age children knew about the closure before me, of course. But I did know before one friend, who happened to stop by with her husband that night. I mentioned the shop’s closing, and she said an incredulous, “What?! What happened?” “It’s closing,” I said sadly. “Can you believe it?”

After letting this sink in a moment, she said, “Oh, my! So, I have to go call my client and tell her we can’t meet there tomorrow.”) That afternoon, with the Friday closing looming, my husband and I headed out to pick up our daughter from school. We decided we’d go one last time, even though—given our budget and recent eating habits—I hadn’t had a Coffee Bean with all the trimmings in a very long time. We placed our mobile order on the app; I ordered my (humungous) Chai Tea Latte; for my daughter, a large Pure Vanilla; for my husband, a cappuccino; and we or-

dered an iced tea for our son, who was still in school. Then we headed to an errand. Twenty minutes later, we circled back to Coffee Bean. When we got there, a good third of all the local students were there, either waiting in line, sitting outside, or milling around. Behind the counter, the baristas were furiously blending, foaming, and mixing. Off to the side, I spied two drinks: a Swedish Berries Iced Tea and a small hot cup. After waiting several minutes, when the baristas had no time to look my direction, I said, “Excuse me?” The young man with the ponytail

The Children of The Laniado NICU Request the pleasure of your presence at the NICU Honorary Dinner

Honoring the Board Members of the West Coast Friends of Laniado Dr. Ernest & Suzanne Agatstein

Michael & Eva Neuman

Michael & Michele Boldt

Michael & Nora Rafi

Ilan & Linda Gorodezki

Dr. Rami & Sophia Sadeghi

Victor & Mazal Hadad

Sam & Robbie Swarz

Dr. Irving & Shirley Lebovics

Stanley & Barbara Treitel

Featuring Special Guest Speaker

Tomer Israeli

Former Shin Bet Member CEO, Israeli Tactical School

Israeli Musical Interludes Cantor Netanel Baram

Fine Art Auction Solomon Fima Fine Art

Wednesday, the Nineteenth of December Two thousand and Eighteen Six o’clock Reception • Seven o’clock Dinner Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel 10500 Wilshire Boulevard • Los Angeles, California 90024 Co-chairmen: Sol Goldner, Joe Kornwasser, Victor Hadad

looked up, “Yeah?” “We had a mobile order?” I pointed to the drinks. “Oh, right. But two we couldn’t make. We’re all out of vanilla powder.” Of course, I thought, taking the two drinks he’d made and my refund, then squeezing past the other customers to get outside. So, I wouldn’t get my final Chai Tea Latte. My daughter wouldn’t get her Pure Vanilla. My husband took one sip of his cappuccino and said, “It doesn’t taste good. And it’s cold.” And, by the time said son got home, the iced tea was watery. Anticlimactic, to say the least. We drove down Beverly, into the quiet, darkening night, for greener pastures. Perhaps, as I’d heard rumor, one day soon a new-and-improved chalav Yisrael location would open. Or perhaps not. I’m not holding my breath and, honestly, I’m happy with my Keurig. But I still feel the loss. It wasn’t the drinks, nor the chalav Yisroel offerings, or the amazing location—although those were nice things. It was a place for us locals to stop on a busy Monday morning or on a subdued summer evening. There’s one less place to run into a friend or see that teacher from five years ago who said just the right thing when your kid was struggling. Maybe it is just nostalgia. After all, I have a lot of memories in this community, where I’ve lived (for the most part) for over two decades. Coffee Bean is part of those memories, and as I pass by the boarded-up building and the For Lease sign, I feel a pang of sadness for the end of an era.

The Heart of the People COMMUNICATED Laniado hospital was founded in 1976 by the Sanz Klausenberger Rebbe as a living memorial, a testament to the strength and endurance to the Jewish people, and as a tribute to the Jewish spirit—unrelenting and unwavering, even after trials, tribulations, the atrocities of the Holocaust, and almost 2000 years in exile. The Rebbe, during the war, saw the pain and suffering of the Jewish people and realized that there would come a time when all the pain would come to an end. Life would go on, and the Jewish nation would need to learn to move on, to rebuild, and to re-establish itself as the light upon the nations. Regular life would be difficult and even things as simple as visiting a hospital would bring back horrible memories of death marches and dark times. So, the Rebbe made a deal with Hashem that if he survived the war, he would open a hospital, a place where Jews would not be afraid to visit. After over 20 years of efforts in the U.S. and Israel, the hospital was finally established and opened its doors in 1976 with a single birthing department. This birth followed another: the idea of rebuilding the Continued on page 12

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Communicated The Week In News Jewish people in the Holy Land. Today, the hospital that originally opened with a single department is thriving. It contains three buildings, with 54 departments, servicing almost 500,000 citizens of Israel. This includes over 85,000 emergency room visits and 8000 births annually. That is more emergency room visits than Jerusalem hospitals, and more than the entire population of Netanyahu, the city in which the hospital sits.

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

This amazing growth has helped save countless lives, but it comes at a great expense. The facility is being overused every day, hitting 150% capacity. This is why Laniado is always expanding, and why it’s in need of new equipment. On December 19th, in L.A, friends of Laniado will be holding and event to explain how Laniado has “been there” for the Jewish people. They hope to raise the needed funds for a new NICU. The new facility

will be newly reinforced three stories, with an administration floor, a birthing center, and a NICU. The current NICU—albeit staffed with a great staff who is personally involved in every case—needs additional equipment with which to implement their care. Every life is precious, and every mitzvah is special, but what better mitzvah than to the save the life of a newborn child, to give parents the ability to watch their

children grow up, and to give that child a second chance at life itself? Without the needed and necessary life-saving equipment, that chance would not be possible. That is what it means to support Laniado, to become a part of the Laniado family, and to “be there” for the Jewish people. To support those that are too little to support themselves, to reach out and save Jewish lives in a massive way that keeps on giving.

Mayanei Hayeshua Celebrates Inauguration Of The Heiden Institute Of Cardiology In the presence of Gedolei Yisroel and an impressive array of politicians and dignitaries, the magnificent new Heiden Institute of Cardiology at Mayanei Hayeshua was inaugurated. Due to the generous funds from the Alex and Eva Heiden Foundation, the hospital has succeeded in establishing yet another magnificent state-of-the-art medical facility for the benefit of the ever-growing local community. All the speakers warmly thanked the Heiden Foundation representatives, Dr Jurg and Rita Wissmann, for making this life-saving Department possible, and they also paid tribute to Mayanei Hayeshua’s founder, the late Dr Moshe Rothschild,

whose presence was sorely missed. This landmark event in the impressive continued development of Mayanei Hayeshua was attended by senior representatives of the American Friends and the British Friends of MHMC, who flew in for the occasion.


TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

ETTA’s Silver Anniversary Celebration Brought Together Hearts of Gold Tova Abady The ETTA 25th Anniversary Gala— held November 28th at the Beverly Hilton—began with a “big bang,” thanks to host Mayim Bialik, co-star of the Big Bang Theory, and Bill Prady, the TV series’s co-creator and executive producer. Mayim Bialik said her eight-year run on the “Big Bang Theory” embraced inclusivity and has been the biggest joy of her career, which is why she is so happy to be involved with ETTA. The thing that strikes her the most about ETTA is its warmth, “everyone from staff, to clients, to volunteers.” She said the heart and soul of ETTA are the clients. One of the clients, Jacob Katz, was given the 2018 Moselle and Lazare Hendeles Youth Award. A short video illustrated Jacob’s invaluable contributions as Administrative Assistant at YULA boy’s high school. Principal Rabbi Schreiber and other staff members had nothing but high praise for Jacob’s communication skills, his middot, and the way he has become a role model for all the students. Jacob’s nephew, Josh Glettner, spoke about skills that Jacob taught him and said that they were very proud of each other. Mr. Katz delivered an eloquent speech to the audience. “What is tikkun olam?” he asked. “It is to heal and repair the world. How do we do this? It’s by being kind to nature, to the earth, to animals, and to all people, especially when people are different from you. We can together make this a kinder and more beautiful world.” Jacob concluded, “I am a happy guy.” Cathy Gott, Gala Committee Chairwoman, announced this year was the launch of the “Art of ETTA,” showcasing the amazing talent of ETTA clients, and asked attendees to take home a piece of ETTA selected from the beautiful art available on display. Executive Director of ETTA, Dr. Michael Held, told the audience that Mrs. Etta Israel taught a small amount of students, but emphasized quality. ETTA, he said, is now about quality and quantity as they serve 150 clients who are their real champions. The program continued with a rousing rendition of Queen’s “We are the Champions,” sung by Scott Siegal, a singer-songwriter and recording engineer with autism. He received a huge ovation. Actor Tony Denison introduced his dear friends, Dena and Joel Bess, recipients of the ETTA 2018 Community Champions Award. Denison said he could speak for hours about Dena and Joel and never come close to how wonderful their whole family is, including their twins Alana and Michael, who worked at the summer youth program and are responsible for their parents’ involvement with ETTA; their son Robbie; parents Rabbi Gershon and Carol Bess; and Dr. David Sherman. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti congratulated Joel and Dena by video. Dena Bess spoke about a headline by a

local publication which caught her attention. It read, “Celebrate, don’t separate.” Dena said, “The ETTA clients are who and what we celebrate.” She stated that celebrating each and every client for being exactly who they are as created by G-d is the guiding principle of ETTA and the fundamental reason for ETTA’s tremendous growth over the past 25 years. Dena said that Mrs. Etta Israel understood that to

separate or to hide the special needs community from the public domain would be a loss to clients and a much bigger loss to the community. Mayim Bialik introduced the recipient of the 2018 Visionary Award, Bill Prady. Mr. Prady has received dozens of awards, including Emmys, Golden Globes, and People’s Choice Awards. What impresses Mayim most about Bill, she said, is his

vast knowledge about a wide range of subjects, and his love for all aspects of Yiddishkeit. Bill, she said, is a loving father who puts people at ease and gives so much time and effort to many charitable causes including ETTA. Bill Prady spoke about meeting Oscar winner Ira Wohl during the time he worked as a production assistant on a kid’s talk show called “Livewire” on Nickelodeon.

WHAT THE BEST DRESSED BABIES IN JERUSALEM ARE WEARING. More than 22,000 babies a year are born at Shaare Zedek Medical Center — among the most of any hospital in the world. With Shaare Zedek’s reputation for excellence and focus on compassionate care, women know that their concerns and comfort will receive the attention and respect they deserve. Founded in 1902, Shaare Zedek has spent more than a century helping patients heal through exceptional caregiving and cutting-edge treatments. Jerusalem’s preeminent hospital, Shaare Zedek relies on the generosity of donors from around the world. Please join us with a year-end gift today.

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TheHappenings Week In News

In 1979, Wohl produced a short documentary film called “Best Boy.” The film tells the story of Ira’s cousin Billy, who was developmentally disabled. Billy was 52 and still living with his elderly parents. Ira helped his parents face the reality that they would soon not be able to take care of him. They had to call agency after agency until finding a home for Ira. Bill Prady said that in 40 years, things have not changed, which is why the work of ETTA is so necessary. He said caring is not just about just eating or sleeping. Prady said that ETTA doesn’t only provide basic needs, but lets kids go to camp—just like his own kids. The president of ETTA’s board of directors, Kambiz Baboff, introduced eloquent ETTA client Shaina Barnett. She said that she has dreamed of living in a place with her friends where they can live and work together. Her dream is coming true with

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

friends. This is becoming a reality with ETTA “Village.” The “Village” will provide a place for adults with disabilities to live independently in a safe community surrounded by friends. Mayim said that funding is the life blood of ETTA. It takes a lot of financial assistance to build the “Village” and while four million has been raised to date, many more millions must be raised to build this ambitious, progressive, and inclusive model L-R Kam Babaoff, ETTA Board president, honorees: Bill Prady, Dena and Joel for generations to come. Bess and Jacob Katz, Dr. Michael Held, ETTA executive director To top off an inspiring evening, Mayim introduced ETTA’s project the “Village,” which will could thrive among her peers. The Singers the big surprise, popular a cappella group knew they found an environment where be in the heart of the Jewish community. Six13 who have recently gone viral with The importance of the “Village” was Sophie could be active, creative, and intheir amazing Chanukah rendition of “Boalso shared by Jeff and Kelly Singer. Their cluded. As a result of being treated with hemian Rhapsody.” To the delight of the family was introduced to ETTA five years care and respect, their daughter became audience, they performed songs from their ago when looking for a summer program confident, independent, and able to find new album Blessings. for their daughter, Sophie. The Singers her place in this world. Sophie wishes that were thrilled to find a place where Sophie she could one day have her own place to live, own her own bakery, and be with her

Universal Jewish Festival Celebrates Israel’s 70th Anniversary and the Monumental Success of Birthright Brenda Goldstein After a year of planning, Team Israel presented the Bring Israel Home Los Angeles Reunion and the Universal Jewish Festival from November 16th to November 18th at the Universal Hilton. The weekend included an unforgettable reunion of over 300 alumni of Birthright-Taglit, which brings hundreds of thousands of Jewish youth to Israel for the first time. To celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday, Team Israel visionary Abigail Goldberg thought of creating a major event. This led to her join forces with the Orthodox Union and Rabbi David Pardo, Executive Director of the Bring Israel Home program. “I just want to say that I’ve been shopping, because that’s what I’m really good at, for about 10 years, looking for what am I going to do when my kids go to college,” said the effusive Goldberg. “I have gone to every event…and this [Birthright-Taglit] is the best program I have seen out there, anywhere.” The American participants of Birthright-Taglit, aged 20-27, went to Israel this past summer. Their Israeli counterparts, many of whom received leave from active duty in order to attend the festivities, participated in a week-long leadership seminar. At the seminar, they met many American Jewish leaders and were exposed to American Judaism in a way that better equips them to help reverse the growing gap between Israelis and Americans. The 80 alumni who attended the shabbaton part of the event first fulfilled 100

points of Jewish activity on bringisraelhome.com. Activities included hosting a Shabbos meal, learning a Jewish text, and attending local events. “Everything, in every aspect of life, has been gamified,” said Rabbi Pardo. “Every time I go to Starbucks, I get points…So someone had this idea: ‘Everybody in the world is doing points, except for the Jews. Why don’t we do that, also?’ We said, ‘We just offer 45,000 18-32-year-olds a free trip to Israel. Why don’t we have them earn the next thing?’ And they earn the next thing by acquiring points.” Bringisraelhome. com, which “looks a bit like Facebook,” even has an app called Wrap: “Kind of like Uber for Tefillin,” explains Rabbi Pardo. Though most of the weekend’s participants came from unaffiliated backgrounds, they observed all the Torah laws during the

shabbaton. “I really want this event to be our blueprint,” said Goldberg, a self-described secular Jew from Long Island. “I want this blueprint to be kind of a structure and a footprint of what we want to do for the future.” The weekend kicked off with a pre-Shabbos concert on Friday, and Shabbos wrapped up with a musical havdalah Saturday night. Prayer services ranged from traditional davening to guided meditation. Participants engaged in intense and constructive dialogue around real issues surrounding the growing gap between American and Israeli Jews and listened to compelling speakers and teachers. They enjoyed a sheshbesh tournament, hosted by Jimena, as well as a shukfest, which brought together different L.A. Jewish

organizations. Sunday included a screening of an extended trailer about American Birthright, as well as dialogue with the director, Becky Tahel Bordo, in the Spielberg Theater. The event culminated in a concert in front of Universal Citywalk’s Hard Rock Café, featuring international recording star Gad Elbaz, Moshav Band, D.J. Yoav, and Tal Vaknin. The OU’s Black Tie Catering provided food for the event. The Universal Jewish Festival provided participants with reflection on the past, as well as resolve toward the future. Goldberg hoped to ensure continuity of their Israel experience through the Bring Israel Home Los Angeles Reunion and the Universal Jewish Festival. “This year, we have five floors,” said Goldberg. “Next year, we take over the entire Hilton!”


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By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman

Vashki has lost its last son. Vashki was a quintessential Litvishe shtetel, where Jews lived for hundreds of years. Vashki, a primarily Jewish town in the heart of Lithuania, near Ponovezh and not far from Telz, has lost its only remaining son and a long glorious chain has been interrupted. Led for decades by his grandfather, for whom he was named, it was populated by simple, goodhearted people whose lives evolved around avodas Hashem. Steeped in mesorah, driven by emunah and bitachon, engrossed in Torah, the seemingly simple people were not simple at all. With a burning determination to maintain the greatness of Klal Yisroel that they embodied, their simplicity was matched by their holiness. Rav Avrohom Chaim Levin zt”l was the last serving son of that town and its great traditions. His outward simplicity shielded the depth of commitment and greatness in Torah that he embodied. His refinement was testimony to his solid foundations and upbringing, and a lifetime of constant climbing, ascending the ladder of greatness rung by rung. I am having a mental block as I try to write about Rav Levin. My mind is numb; my fingers refuse to type. Klal Yisroel lost a gadol. The United States lost a favorite rosh yeshiva. Chicago lost its Torah leader. Telz lost its crown. I lost my uncle. He wasn’t just my uncle. He was the surviving member of the family that escaped from Vashki. He was my mother. He was my grandfather. He was the personification of everything that made Lithuanian Jewry great. He was the person I looked up to. The one I spoke to when there was no one else who would understand. A person to consult with and present many of the issues that cropped up in the Yated over the years. He would read articles and comment, review ads and say yes or no. He was always supportive of me publicly and privately and that meant so much to me. He was a constant in my life. The pride of the family.

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Poetry of Lita With an American Accent

Rav Avrohom Chaim Levin zt”l The one who carried within him the middos and daas of Kelm. Of Radin. Of Vashki. And of course, of Telz. I never learned in Telz, but whenever I visited my uncle and the Telzer Yeshiva, I knew that I was in the presence of greatness. Everything in Telz was different than the places I had studied, the Chicago Telz bais medrash shined. There was always a certain seriousness you didn’t sense elsewhere. Everyone in that holy room was earnest and punctilious, with a smile indicating that they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Even the shtenders are different there, throwbacks to a different era, each one with its own personality and charm. A large pyramid. And at its crown, the focus of hundreds of pairs of eyes and heads, stood Rav Avrohom Chaim. He stands no more. I am overwhelmed by a longing I cannot bear. He was the conduit to my heritage, the regal epitome of the Litvishe Torah royalty that once was. To understand Rav Levin, you had to know his father. I once asked his father, my grandfather, Rav Leizer Levin, what his rebbi, Rav Doniel of Kelm, was like. He said to me: “Reb Doniel iz geven ah malach.” He didn’t repeat any stories. No tales, no Torahs, no shmuessen. He didn’t look me in the eye, as was his habit when he spoke to someone. We were sitting in his study. He looked down at his well-worn desk. I still remember it like today. “Ehr iz geven ah malach,” he repeated. His rebbi in Kelm, who had a tremendous influence on him, could best be described as a malach. He didn’t tell me more. He said I wouldn’t understand. It was a different era, a different world. At the levayah, as Rav Yitzchok Sorotzkin was being maspid, those words came back to me. As I heard Rav Sorotzkin say, “Rav Avrohom Chaim iz geven ah malach,” my mind drifted off and I was back in my zaide’s house, talking to him about Rav Doniel and Kelm. He was telling me, “Ehr iz geven ah malach, ober du kenst

dos nit farshtein.” And I was telling him that his son is a malach – “un dos ken ich farshtein.” At the levayah, the maspid was saying that Rav Avrohom Chaim hid his greatness, but if you knew who he was and watched how he conducted himself, you saw greatness in everything he did. And once again, my mind drifted back to me zaide’s house on George Washington Avenue in Southfield, Michigan. My zaide learned in the Radin Yeshiva for many years and slept in the Chofetz Chaim’s home for a year and a half. I asked him what the Chofetz Chaim looked like. He responded that the Chofetz Chaim looked like a poshuter Yid. “If you didn’t know who he was, you thought he was a simple person. Az men hut nit gevust, hut men gornit gezen. If you didn’t know, you didn’t see anything. Uber az men hut gevust, hut men altz gezen. But if you knew who he was, then you saw everything.” And I couldn’t help thinking of my grandfather’s zechus to raise a son blessed with the attributes of his holy rebbi. While he grew up in a home steeped in the Torah and mussar of Radin and Kelm, growing up as a young boy in Detroit was quite different than back home in Vashki. For one, there were no yeshivos in town. His father was friendly with Rav Eliyohu Meir Bloch in Lita, and when the visiting Telz rosh yeshiva became stuck in America as the war broke out and didn’t know what became of his family, he spent Yom Tov with the Levins in Detroit. As soon as young Avrohom Chaim became of age to leave home, he was naturally sent to Telz. But sending a son to yeshiva was not the natural thing back then. In a reminiscing mood, my grandfather told me that when he arrived in Detroit, there were 32 rabbonim there. They didn’t want him. They said that there were enough rabbis in town already and he should find someplace else to go. Sadly, he commented that “Fun zei alleh iz gurnit gebliben.” Those rabbis were forgotten, as their families assimilated and no religious children remained. “Ich hob em avek geshikt. I had one

son, and I sent him away to Telz and therefore he remained.” With an iron will and steel determination, Rav Leizer arrived in this country with nothing but the spiritual strengths and possessions transported in his heart and soul from Lita and transmitted that to his children. When Rav Avrohom Chaim was sent to Chicago by Rav Mottel Katz to open the Telz Yeshiva, that spiritual heritage was brought to bear. A young man in a strange new city that didn’t want him, Rav Levin, soft with sterling middos, was strong and unbending when it came to ensuring that Torah would be replanted and take root in the capital of the Midwest. His determination was rewarded in ways he probably never imagined on the lonely day he arrived in the Windy City, but today Chicago is an ihr v’eim b’Yisroel, pulsating with Torah and all that flows from it. He seeded it, shepherded it, fertilized it, pruned it, and presided over it. Thousands of bnei Torah now proudly say, “I come from Chicago. I come from Telz.” Torah was his lifeblood. Torah is what charged him, what fueled him, and what empowered him. He loved to learn. He loved to learn with talmidim. His face shined as he said shiur, going back and forth with the shakla vetarya of the Gemara, citing Rishonim, Acharonim and his rabbeim, the giants of Telz. He smiled as he saw the young minds absorb the chakirah and follow along as he supported this side and then the other. Nothing but Torah motivated him. It was never about him. It was always about Torah, Telz and the Ribono Shel Olam. Though he was exceedingly humble, he could not be pressured or swayed. Money meant nothing to him. Blessed with sound judgment and steeped in chochmas haTorah and yiras Shomayim, a loyal talmid to his rabbeim and a loving rebbi to his own talmidim, he was rock solid when it came to securing Torah causes and maintaining his mesorah. That mesorah traces its way back to the Torah and mussar giant, Rav Yisroel Salanter. Rav Leizer Gordon, known as Rav Leizer Telzer, and the Alter of Kelm studied together under Rav Yisroel. They absorbed his greatness in Torah coupled with a lifelong mission of self-improvement and growth of mussar, motivated by a search for the emes – truth – in everything. Rav Leizer Gordon was rov of Kelm for some nine years. A short time after leaving, he was selected as rov of Telz and took over the small yeshiva there. After a slow start, the fame of the ye-


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shiva and its rosh yeshiva spread far and wide. When the famed Volozhin Yeshiva was closed, Telz became the largest yeshiva in Lita. Rav Leizer Telzer stood out for his love, his love of Hashem, his love of people, his love of Torah, and his love of his talmidim. As much as he loved his talmidim, that is how much they loved him. When he entered the bais medrash to deliver shiur, an electricity gripped the talmidim. That was the mesorah that was handed down by the roshei yeshiva of Telz, the mesorah that Rav Eliyohu Meir Bloch transplanted to America and transmitted to Rav Avrohom Chaim Levin. He loved everyone, and everyone loved him. Rav Levin was the poetry of Lita with an American accent. He possessed gadlus in Torah coupled with a strength of purpose. He was dignified, refined and disciplined, reflecting a life spent attaining perfection. He was suffused with love, determination, happiness and an inner satisfaction that was always evident no matter the circumstances. His face shined as his eyebrows came together and he took charge of a situation, clearly sizing it up, doing what had to be done, and saying what needed to be said. He measured his words carefully, never speaking out of place, never saying the wrong thing, and many times, especially in his later years, preferring the mode of silence over speech. A posuk (Bereishis 38:26) in the parsha of the week in which Rav Levin was niftar states, “Vayaker Yehudah vayomer tzodkoh mimeni.” Rashi (ad loc.) quotes the Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 99:8) which states that Hashem said to Yehudah, “You admitted – hodisu – to the incident with Tamar, your brothers will praise you yoducha - to be their king.” Rav Levin’s rebbi muvhak, Rav Eliyohu Meir, writes that usually, when we think about a king, we think of a person with many ministers who jump at his command and an army to defend his country and police it. Upon deeper thought, however, you realize that such a king is not empowered by himself, but rather by his minions who keep him in power. His kingdom depends upon his finding favor in the eyes of his countrymen. The monarch doesn’t control his own destiny. His followers do. The Torah teaches that a person worthy of the title king is someone whose positive attributes place him on a higher plane than everyone else. A real king is one who controls himself and doesn’t let others control him. Before ruling over others, he rules over himself. Therefore, Chazal say that Yehudah merited serving as king because he had the strength of character and purpose not to fear the embarrassment he would suffer

from admitting the truth. He could have easily preserved his dignity and hidden what really happened, yet he stuck to the truth, even though that meant degrading himself. That is malchus. That is the malchus the avos longed for and the Torah praises. A person who is loyal to the truth at all costs has the attributes of a powerful king, for he rules over himself. Rav Avrohom Chaim ruled over Telz, Chicago, the Midwest and national Agudah and Torah Umesorah, but he was a melech because he ruled over himself. He was steeped in mussar and self-control, the mussar of Telz, of Rav Eliyohu Meir, of Kelm, of his father, and of his wife’s grandfather, Rav Yechezkel Levenstein. The Gemara in Eiruvin (13b) states that Hashem raises people who are humble and puts down those who are conceited. High positions elude those who chase after them, but pursues those who run from them. Rav Avrohom Chaim never sought to be anything more than a loyal talmid to his rebbi, and no matter what he accomplished, he always viewed himself humbly in that vein. Chazal say (Tana Devei Eliyohu 25) that every person is obligated to ask, “When will my actions reach those of my forefathers, Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov?” We are obligated to ask, “When will I have their dedication to the emes, their strength of purpose, their perseverance despite many obstacles and people who mocked them and didn’t appreciate their mission?” Rav Avrohom Chaim Levin viewed himself as a talmid on a mission, but every day he asked those questions and every day he got closer to matching up. He eschewed honor and attained malchus. The Vilna Gaon writes in Even Sheleimah that the parsha of the week in which Rav Levin passed away, Vayeishev, is the parsha of ikvesa deMeshicha, hinting to the period in which we live, prior to the coming of Moshiach. Rabi Elazar taught (Sanhedrin 98b) that the way to be spared from chevlei Moshiach, the terrible pains that will precede Moshiach’s arrival, is to study Torah and engage in acts of kindness. Rav Elchonon Wasserman explained that the relationship of Yosef with his brothers is akin to the relationship of the Bnei Yisroel with the nations of the world. Gemillus chassodim involves people acting peacefully with each other. He cites the Gemara (Sotah 49b) that says that chevlei Moshiach primarily involve hatred between people. Therefore, husband and wife should seek to main-

One time, when my uncle stayed with us overnight, he slept in my son Eliezer’s bed. Eliezer was a young precocious boy who loved to learn. Rav Levin called him over and told him that because he was giving up his bed for him, he would learn with him for a while. When they were done, Rav Levin called me over and asked me to take a picture of them together. Eliezer was so pumped that he gets chizuk even today when he thinks of that winter night many years ago. tain harmony between themselves and their children. The most important factor in raising children is that the home be one of peace and happiness. That way, the children will also be happy and content. However, if they experience tension in the home, they will be tense, sad and angry. There must also be peace between us. The posuk states that when Yaakov Avinu arrived in Eretz Yisroel, “Vayei’oveik ish imo,” the Soton, the representative of Eisov, did battle with him to hold him back from entering the Holy Land. The Soton causes Jews to quarrel with one another, preventing the geulah. Increasing peace and brotherhood among the

Jewish people weakens the power of the Soton and brings us closer to the redemption. In our day, as we daven for Moshiach and dance around the candles, which represent purity and Torah, we should seek to increase peace and brotherhood among our people so that Moshiach can arrive with a minimum amount of pain. Rav Levin aspired his whole life for peace between brothers, for greatness in Torah and avodah, for middos tovos and seriousness in tefillah. Let us emulate him. Tehei nishmaso tzerurah betzror hachaim.

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DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Weekly Daf What is the law if a slaughtered animal wasn’t inspected after shechitah? Rabbi Shmuel Wise, Maggid Shiur of RealClearDaf.com We discussed this question on this Thursday’s daf (9a). The discussion began with the ruling of Shmuel that a shochet is required to inspect the trachea and esophagus, the simanim, to ensure that they were properly severed by the shechitah. What if, the gemara wonders, they weren’t inReligion / Jewish Thought / Bible Studies

spected? The gemara presents two opinions on this: R’ Elazar son of R’ Yannai and the beraisa. Both opinions agree that since we cannot be certain that a proper shechitah was performed, the meat is not kosher. They disagree, though, as to whether or

not the carcass is considered a source of tumah, which is normally the law of an animal that was not killed through shechitah. R’ Elazar rules that it isn’t a source of tumah, whereas the beraisa rules it is. What is their underlying dispute? The gemara explains that the debate here is how to apply a teaching of R’ Huna which addresses situations like ours where we have a question about the validity of the shechitah. R’ Huna taught: When the animal was still alive it was prohibited (under the prohibition against eating a live animal). If we’re not sure whether or not the animal had a proper shechitah we fall back on the status quo, or the chazakah,

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and thus rule it prohibited. Clearly on the basis of R’ Huna’s teaching, the animal in our case (where because the shechitah wasn’t inspected, we can’t be sure that the shechitah was valid) is deemed prohibited. The beraisa simply takes this teaching to what appears to be its inescapable conclusion: That this animal is thus a neveilah, an animal that died without a proper shechitah, and therefore it generates tumah. R’ Elazar’s position, on the other hand, seems hard to understand: Since he acknowledges that we have insufficient evidence to believe that this animal received a proper shechitah, how is it possible to regard this animal as anything other than a neveilah which the Torah says generates tumah? I think the answer can be found by inquiring what it really means to rely on a chazakah. At first glance, the concept of chazakah would appear to be closely related to the concept of assuming like the majority (e.g. if nine out of ten items in a mixture are A, and we pull one out of the mixture, we can assume the removed item is an A) in that the Torah tells us that both of these things are considered sufficient evidence to draw a conclusion about what happened. In fact, though, many commentators explain that while “majority” tells us what happened, chazakah does not. Instead, chazakah is more in the realm of a “scriptural decree” which states that we have “permission” to assume that the status quo didn’t change. And really if we think about it there’s a good basis for such an understanding. Consider: If a husband threw a divorce document to his wife, and we are uncertain as to whether the document entered her legal jurisdiction (a necessary condition for the divorce to go into effect), chazakah rules that she is fully considered a married woman, along with all of the serious ramification that entails, even though in terms of probability it’s equally possible that she is no longer a married woman! We can therefore explain that according to R’ Elazar the scriptural decree of chazakah says only that we continue to act in accordance with the particular previous status at hand. And, as pointed out by Rashi, the previous status here is the prohibition of “Thou shalt not eat a live animal,” which does not carry with it a tumah status. So, while the meat going forward remains not kosher for consumption, it does not generate ritual impurity. The beraisa, on the other hand, argues that we shouldn’t get too carried away with the notion that chazakah is a scriptural decree that tells us to act in accordance with the status quo. For in our case that fact of the matter is that this animal is quite dead and thus it is an intolerable contradiction in terms to suggest that this animal isn’t kosher and yet doesn’t generate the tumah of an animal that didn’t receive a proper shechitah. Thus, the beraisa rules that this animal is a source of tumah as well.


DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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22

The Week In News Torah Musings

Just One Shabbos Sarah Pachter Grab a yoga mat then try this: Lay face-down with your arms out in front of you. Have someone lift your arms for half a minute while your eyes are completely closed. Have that person lower your arms slowly toward the ground. What do you feel? Do you feel as though your arms are floating through the floor? Kind of cool,

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

kind of spooky—right? Try it with your child, niece, nephew, or grandchild. They will love it. I, too, loved this game when I was a child. In fact, it is the reason I started keeping Shabbos. Huh? You might wonder. When I was nine years old, attending public school, my older sister was in the eighth grade attending a private school called St. Francis. Our family members were traditional, Sephardic Jews. We didn’t attend synagogue regularly, but we lit candles and said kiddush on Friday nights. We kept a semblance of kosher in the house, making sure to only eat McDonald’s on our deck! How did a family like ours decide to keep Shabbat? As the famous song goes, “Just One Shabbos.” My sister had a friend who would be attend-

ing the local, Jewish high school in the fall. Being the token Jew in her class, my sister regularly bore the brunt of anti-Semitic comments from her classmates. Because of this, she desperately wanted to attend the Jewish school with her friend. My parents were initially reluctant, but after experiencing my sister’s powers of persuasion, they relented. Once my sister was in a Jewish school, the principal of the school invited our family to spend an entire Shabbat in his home. I remember overhearing my parents’ reaction to this invitation. My father, a proud Frenchman, adamantly refused. In French culture, no one would dare sleep in another’s home, for it just wasn’t done. My mother, a sweet, hospitable Southerner herself, felt like it could be interesting. Mom won, and we went. We practiced one full Shabbat in their home, from start to finish. Just after our first real Shabbat, my parents called a family meeting. They asked us what we thought about keeping Shabbat regularly. I distinctly remember my response. “Why don’t we try just not watching TV for a few weeks and then maybe try not turning on lights or something? Let’s do this slowly.” (To this day, I still believe small choices can lead to big results. Hence the name of my book, Small Choices, Big Changes.) However, my parents were ready for a larger jump. Despite my reservations, I was willing to acquiesce. The reason I became excited was because the Shabbat had been so much fun for me. The Rabbi’s children, although significantly older than I was, were friendly and included me in their games. They never made me feel less than because I was younger. They showed me that arm trick I mention at the beginning of my article, put on performances, and played board games. My willingness to keep Shabbos was in large part because of them. Because of their kindness, they changed life’s trajectory for one person—me. Of course, growth amongst our family members was slow, and we certainly did not do everything perfectly. But we learned, little by little. People are often surprised when I tell them that our observance came from “just one Shabbos.” But it is our truth. There are two lessons that I have gleaned from this experience. The first is that one Shabbos can truly transform a person’s life—or even a family’s. Years later, I contacted the family that invited us that week and told them how they impacted the course of our lives. They were shocked, having moved cities shortly after our experience together. They’d had no idea how their actions would shape the course of my life. The second lesson that I look back on, is the positive impact children can have on one another. When my son, Josh, was six years old, there were a few older boys that were friendly to him that he looked up to. They made him feel a part of their group, and Josh truly felt he was their friend. Now, years later, my son is that “older boy” to many younger children we know. I try to instill in Josh just how important it is to include them, to make them feel like he wants to be hanging out with them. What an older child can do for the self-esteem and joy of a younger child is immeasurable. One Shabbos can change a person. One child’s act can change another’s life and can inspire them to pay it forward. Try it, just once, and see what happens.


The Week In News

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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23


24

TheBook Week In News Review

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Key of Rain by Dave Mason, with Mike Feuer (Lionstail Press 2018) Reviewed by Rebecca Klempner I was excited to read Mason and Feuer’s new release, The Key of Rain, Book Two of The Age of Prophesy series, after thoroughly enjoying Book One, The Lamp of Darkness. Their series takes stories from Navi, the books of the Prophets, and uses them as a backdrop for a fictional coming-of-age tale. The Key of Rain picks up where The Lamp of Darkness left off. The entire Northern Kingdom of Israel is in drought because Eliyahu (Elijah) has declared that its people must suffer because they turned to idolatry. King Ahav wants Eliyahu dead. Meanwhile, Lev, a young Kohen apprenticed to the prophet Uriel, must delay his instruction in order to help Ovadia and his wife, Batya, maintain 100 prophets hiding from Queen Izavel (Jezebel). The queen is waging a campaign to spread idolatry throughout the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and she will not tolerate any obstacles—including prophets loyal to Hashem. By playing his harp at the royal court and Tzidoni temples in Shomron, Lev is able to gain access to valuable information that can be used to protect the prophets and

feed them during the drought. Most novels based on biblical figures go wrong in one of two ways: either they lean very heavily on the literal meanings of the text and treat biblical personages with so much respect that they appear more like caricatures than characters; or they diverge so far from rabbinic understandings of the text and play so creatively with personalities and events that they bear little relation to the source material. All religious significance is lost. Mason and Feuer avoid these traps by weaving midrash, kabbalah, and archeological details with both biblical and imagined elements to create a compelling, and well-balanced, tapestry. Focusing on Lev as a main character rather than a biblical figure allows readers to have a “regular Joe” they can identify with and who can help us understand the challenges and marvels of the Prophetic period, without compromising on the respect due to personages such as Eliyahu. Initially, Lev interprets Eliyahu’s actions as severe—overly so. “What of those who refuse to bow to the Baal?” he asks

Eliyahu. “Will you let the faithful die along with the idolaters?” (page 87). But Lev’s perspective broadens as his experience grows and it’s nicely counterbalanced by the authors through the opinions of sup-

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porting characters. Lev’s transition from child to adult— sped up by drought and political pressures—rings true. We watch him struggle with tests of faith, with his yetzer hara, and with physical danger at every turn. The book is entirely free of foul language and on-page sensuality, and the violence is neither graphic nor excessive. However, it alludes to some mature themes (such as the worship of the Ashera and Lev’s emerging feelings towards the opposite sex), and thus is appropriate only for older teens and adults. The Key to Rain will be greatly appreciated by fans of biblical archeology, students of Navi, and those who enjoy coming-of-age tales. (Just a note: Readers who have yet to read The Lamp of Darkness should know that digital copies are currently available for free from Mason and Feuer’s website, TheAgeofProphecy.com. While The Key of Rain does stand on its own, it will be far better appreciated if read after the series’s first volume.)

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The Week In News

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

DIRSHU INTERNATIONAL ‫תשע"ט‬ CONVENTION 2019 ‫שבת פרשת בא‬ ‫ תשע"ט‬,‫ז' שבט‬-'‫ · ה‬JANUARY 11-13, 2019

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The Week In News

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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28 32 The Week 29, In News Forgotten Heroes OCTOBER 2015 | The Jewish Home

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Forgotten Her es

Modern Day Soldiers Celebrate the Maccabees’ Victory By Avi Heiligman

Y

ou’ve heard it many times before – a picture is worth a thousand words. Many stories of Chanukah miracles that took place since the original Chanukah during the time of the Second Beis Hamikdash have been told, and with the invention of photography in the 19th century Chanukahs of years’ past have been memorialized. During times of battle Jewish soldiers who end up on the front line still maintain a connection to the

Maccabees and have made sacrifices to light the menorah. Stories of soldiers celebrating Chanukah dating back all the way from the American Revolutionary War have found a way to bring light into the darkest of places. The earliest photo of soldiers celebrating Chanukah that this author has been able to locate dates back to 1916. It depicts Russian soldiers during World War I lighting the menorah.

This week, I bring to you a photo essay of Jewish soldiers celebrating Chanukah with their fellow soldiers since the time of World War I.

Avi Heiligman is a weekly contributor to The Jewish Home. He welcomes your comments and suggestions for future columns and can be reached at aviheiligman@ gmail.com.

 This is the earliest known image of Jewish soldiers

 A snapshot of American soldiers during World

 This is another photo of American Jewish soldiers

lighting the menorah. It was taken on the Eastern front of World War I and depicts Jewish soldiers of the

War I lighting the menorah. This was probably taken in 1917. It shows just a few of the approximate 225,000

in 1917. This one was taken in Camp Gordon, Georgia.

Russian Army on 1916.

Americans Jews who fought in the American military during World War I.

 This is a postcard from Eretz Yisrael in 1917 comparing Yehudah HaMaccabee to British General Edmund Allenby. Just like Yehudah’s victorious campaign during the Second Beis Hamikdash drove away the invading Greek Army, Allenby’s British Army liberated Yerushalayim from the Turkish Army. Jewish soldiers from the Jewish Legion of the British Army fought and died alongside the British in driving the Turks from Eretz Yisrael.

 Jewish volunteers of the British auxiliary territorial service celebrating Chanukah in Cairo, Egypt, 1942

 In the aftermath of the devastation of the Holocaust many Jews found themselves in DP camps. These two young survivors celebrated their first Chanukah with American Jewish GIs in Fuerstenfeldbruck, Germany, 1945


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The Week In News

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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In News Feature OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home 82 The Week

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

ny of E o m m i st

H TJ

ki n

ah un

AT e

30

Si ts

Do wn

with Mrs. Lea

as b u hR

h

By Susan Schwamm

Mrs. Rubashkin, a year ago, the Jewish world celebrated the miracle of Reb Sholom Mordechai’s miraculous freedom on Zos Chanukah. I understand that your husband got through the eight years in prison by learning Shaar Habitachon of the Chovos Halevavos. Tell me about that. Yes. He learned it hundreds of times. He would go to sleep every night saying it by heart. He has a small sefer; it was with him at every stop of the way. He told us all the time that when he walks out he’s going to have his Chovos Halevavos with him. What happened was he kept a small one in his locker. He has no idea why, but the morning of Zos Chanukah last year he took it out of his locker and put it in his tefillin bag. When he was yanked out of his cell that day, he didn’t know where he was going. They told him, “You’re changing your location.” So he ran back to his cell to get his tallis and tefillin, and that day the Chovos Halevavos was in his tallis bag, so he walked out with it – as he always said he would. When you look back at the tenyear ordeal, there must have

been certain instances of siyata dishmaya that perhaps then you weren’t able to see but you can see in hindsight. Well, it’s funny, because throughout the time we kept feeling like we’re living the Purim story – all this stuff is going on and it’s only when you look back at certain things you realize why they were happening. Different things happened that initially looked like they were really terrible, but they turned out to be the biggest bracha. For example, in the beginning, after they charged my husband, we went to court thinking that he’s going to be given bail and then we would prepare for the trial. And in turn, they denied him bail because he’s a de facto dual citizen – since he is a Jew, he can run to Israel, which, of course, was such a ridiculous thing to say. That’s a new anti-Semitic tagline. It’s infuriating, and it just shows you where their minds are that they could even say something like that. We were infuriated at the time, of course, because my husband was then thrown into jail. So that was a terrible thing.

But what happened from that terrible thing was that many Jews saw what was going on in northeast Iowa, and it brought the incident to national attention. The ADL wrote letters to Washington; we had all these different groups that wrote letters. We didn’t even realize while we were going through this what was going on behind the scenes and what was actually happening. People were beginning to realize that this is something that’s not just about one little family that’s having this shlacht hoise but it’s actually a movement, a mood in the country and we better put a stop to this. So when they thought they were hurting him by keeping him in jail actually fanned a flame, a fire, of Yidden really getting involved. So that was something tremendous and we, at the time, were devastated. In hindsight, though, we see how this galvanized the Jewish community to understand that this is not about this little Jew; it’s about a bigger picture. We all have frustrations in our lives and our minds tend to get wrapped up in them. For ten years, you faced a mammoth, daily, constant frustration.

How did you live your life? How did you go about your daily routine with such a looming aggravation? I’ve been speaking for the last eight and a half years since I came to New York for schools and for women’s groups. In giving over my story I like to convey the idea that although people go through maybe smaller challenges in the scope of challenges, each person’s challenge takes over them. Whatever it is, whether it’s parnassah or shalom bayis or children or shidduchim or whatever the situation, that kind of takes over your life. So the answer is applicable to everybody and it’s all the same answer – we have to understand that nothing is isolated; it’s all a grand picture of what your life is meant to be about. When we understand that things don’t happen randomly and that you were meant to go through this frustration for whatever reason and it’s there to bring something out of you, then you are giving it the proper perspective. That’s how we viewed our nisayon: we don’t really understand what’s going on; we don’t know why it’s happening; we’re not questioning Hashem but we know that Hashem does what’s


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The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

Reb Sholom Mordechai and Jews from all stripes of life celebrating his miraculous freedom

best for us and there has to be something that Hashem wants from us in order to move out of this. Therefore, we focused on our avodah and finetuned what we’re doing in Yiddishkeit. And we realized that the more bitachon we put in Him, the easier this is going to be and the more it’s just going to resolve itself. So we really didn’t focus so much on the darkness but always tried to build up the light. That is also what Chanukah is, what it’s all about, or docheh harbei choshech. Were you busy with this ordeal all the time or were you able to occupy your mind with other things as well? Well, I didn’t really have much of a choice. I have a family; I had to do the dishes and the laundry. I didn’t have, like, a 9-5 job per se, but I did try to use the time to be mechazek other people and to learn. I found that to be a positive outlet and a zechus for my husband. Of course, we were busy a lot of times going to visit him, working out details with the lawyers, and all kinds of things like that. It was always about solving the situation. What else could we do to help it, either b’gashmiyus with the lawyers and all the hishtadlus we had to do, or with the ruchniyus and understanding that the more people who daven and the more people who do different things will add to the zechusim and lead to him being freed. You and your husband are now, in a sense, public figures.

What’s that like? People oftentimes ask me: did life get back to normal yet? And I say that I think this is the new normal. My husband views himself as a simple guy who tried to take what he learnt in the past and what he continues to learn and put it into practice. He encourages people to do the same – if you’re having this issue, know it’s from Hashem and know that Hashem has the ability to get you out of this

Reb Sholom Mordechai with his lawyer, Gary Apfel, and supporters

their nisyonos, and they need that strength. You must have met some amazing people along the way. Absolutely. A few weeks ago, we met a woman from England who nebach has the machalah. In London they gave up all hope for her and said that there’s nothing else they can do. A family member from Williamsburg brought her to America because he

“We really didn’t focus so much on the darkness but always tried to build up the light.” issue. You have to strengthen yourself in those learning things with an adult mind, not just relying on what you learnt in the past, and put yourself into a matzav where you really believe it’s going to happen. We just came back from a trip to Europe, a speaking tour – we were in Belgium and we were in Austria and we were in Italy – and it’s like he just came out yesterday. People are so excited to speak to him, to share something with him, whether it’s telling him about something they did in his zechus all of those years or just telling him how happy they are about his yeshua. It gives such strength to people because everybody’s going through

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found one place that can do an experimental treatment that will hopefully work. We met her a day before she was going in for tests to see if this treatment was helping. She was very anxious about it, obviously, and very nervous what the results would be. We discussed different things together with her, and my husband shared how the day before he was freed he got a piece of legal mail stating that he’s going to sit in jail another 18 years because they denied his last legal motion. He spoke about how he was able to respond to that because of all the learning that he’d done. At the time, he said, “OK, so the legal door is closed but Hashem has endless opportunities

and options available to Him. Let’s see what He’s going to do. He’s going to something for sure. It’s just a matter of how He’s going to do it.” And the very next day, he was released. He told her how, through his bitachon, he was able to override the hopelessness of the situation and believe that although the legal door is closed, Hashem will open another door. We had this conversation with her and I suggested to her that before the test maybe she should go and buy a dress for the seudas hoda’a that she will have someday soon – show Hashem that He’s going to do it for you and that you trust that it’s going to happen. The next day we got a call from her relatives and they told us that, baruch Hashem, the doctors were astounded that she made more progress and that they were very excited with the progress, and that, in fact, she went that morning and bought a dress for the seudas hoda’a. We’re seeing amazing things from just helping people to strengthen their bitachon that they could really see miracles happening. That’s amazing. One of the things as Yidden that we have to indoctrinate ourselves with is that we are not confined to tevah. The doctors could say something and in the secular world it could mean something but in our world it shouldn’t really mean the same thing because we know that Hashem could do anything. So as much as we insulate ourselves as far as trying to not have

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secular things influence our lives, it just happens because we’re living in this world and we really have to fight it to keep it out. It was an irrational reaction that my husband had that day. You would think that it’s impossible to put that to the side and really think that the yeshua is still going to happen, but we know that Hashem works middah kineged middah and when we’re able to go out of our bubble called tevah, called secularism, whatever you want to call it, then Hashem responds and says, “Wow, this guy is really with the program. He’s really living the life as a Yid and I’m going to show him how Yidden are higher than tevah and that nissim can happen to them.” In my husband’s case, it didn’t take too long. The next day he got out. I heard that when you got the call of your Reb Sholom Mordechai’s release your phone died right away in the car. Did you buy a car charger yet? Well, the funny thing was that it wasn’t the charger at all. On Zos Chanukah I spoke in two schools in Brooklyn, and I accidentally left my phone charger at home. So, after leaving the second school, I figured once I’d get over the George Washington Bridge, I would stop at a gas station and buy a charger because the battery was running really low. Anyway, while I was on the George Washington Bridge, the phone rings and it’s the lawyer. I had 1% battery on my phone, so I told him, “Gary, just make it fast because my phone’s going to die. I’m planning to get a charger right over the bridge so I’ll call you back if the phone dies.” He’s a gevaldige mensch, he’s like a brother in the family now, he’s so close to us. In any case, he gets all official and says, “Mrs. Rubashkin, where are you now?” I said, “Well I’m on the George Washington Bridge. Why? What’s going on?” He said, “Well, your husband is waiting in the warden’s office. The president has just signed a commutation and he’s free to go home. You’re to go straight up there – don’t stop in Monsey – just go straight up because you have to get there as soon as possible, they’re very anxious.”

DECEMBER 6, 2018 | The Jewish Home

A night of celebration

I said, “OK.” I couldn’t even hear the details of what was going on, the phone died. So I said, “Listen, I know he told me not to stop but I have to get a charger…” What was your emotion at that point? Were you shaking? I really wasn’t. It was a very interesting thing. One of the things the Chovos Halevovos says about bitachon is that it gives you menuchas hanefesh. Now, typically we look at this formula or this equation

You could lose it l’tov also… Right, right, and I wasn’t like that. So, I stopped to get the charger because I couldn’t hold myself back. And I’m standing by the counter to buy the charger and I see there are lottery tickets being sold. I said to myself, “Today I won the lottery. Maybe it’s my lucky day. I’ll buy a lottery ticket and see what happens.” I buy the lottery ticket, I buy the charger, I get back into the car, I put the charger in and I’m going and every couple of minutes I start hitting that

“I sang Hallel in the car and I said different kapitlach Tehillim that I knew baal peh and every once in a while I started screaming, ‘Hashem, you really did this! I can’t believe it!’” as if you’re going through something negative but you have bitachon you’ll have menuchas hanefesh. But it’s not just for negative feelings, it’s also for positive feelings. When I heard the news I was very excited – and I’ll tell you in a minute what went on there – but there was a certain menuchas hanefesh where I didn’t feel like I’m losing it or I can’t drive straight or it’s too much for me to handle. It was a really amazing feeling because a lot of times you would think typically…

button for my phone and it’s not going on. I’m getting so frustrated, this is crazy. I put the charger in a while ago, why is it not charging up? Then I realize that this phone just broke. It was just dead and never recharged and that was the end of it. So I said, “Gee, this is really unusual, it’s really weird.” I kept it in there the whole time thinking that maybe after 15-20 minutes it’ll start working again. But then I realized, no, Hashem wants something from me, this is beyond, this

is not normal. So I started thanking Hashem. I sang Hallel in the car and I said different kapitlach Tehillim that I knew baal peh and every once in a while I started screaming, “Hashem, you really did this! I can’t believe it!” I was very excited and that was how the drive went – it was like an hour and 20 minutes’ drive. My husband thought I was in Monsey so he couldn’t believe that I wasn’t there yet. “What’s going on? Why is she taking so long?” he thought. Finally I got there. In order to get to the facility you have to go up pretty high mountains, like 2 miles-long up the mountain, and on the bottom of the mountain there were a bunch of minivans. My kids are convinced that the frum community buys up all the minivans. When we’re driving and there’s a minivan they always want to see if it’s a frum person. I do the same thing. I see all these minivans and I’m like, this is weird. This is a time when the place is usually deserted. It’s not like a visiting day or anything. I roll down my window and I see that there are a bunch of chassidishe guys there. I say, “Hey, what are you guys doing here?” Because I wasn’t tuned into my phone I thought that our family is probably the only people who know about this although, meanwhile, it was like an hour later and the whole world knew about it. These guys lived very close to the facility and they wanted to be the first ones to greet him. They actually tried to get him out; they went up the hill and the officers were like, “Can we help you?” and they said, “We are here to pick up Rubashkin.” The officers were like, “No, you’re leaving this facility right now. Get off of our property. We only have permission to give him to a specific person and till that person comes we’re not letting him out.” So when they told me that, I said, “Wait right here, I’ll be right back.” I went up the hill and I got him and we came back down and they were there to dance with him and, of course, all this is videoed. Does this miracle still feel fresh to you? It’s interesting. Certain times it feels like it’s just normal; it’s like this


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Photo credit Gifter Photos

is how it always was and just like that whole piece just got taken out of the equation, but because we do what we do, we’re constantly reliving it. I remember when we came home after those first couple of days and he was just sitting by the counter and having a coffee and I’m like, I don’t believe this! This is like wild! And then every yom tov or every new experience that we have is amazing. I mean, we’re going to celebrate Chanukah starting tomorrow night and he has not spent Chanukah with the entire family in 10 years! I assume that you going to have a special family Chanukah party? On Zos Chanukah there will be a very special communal event in Boro Park. The purpose of that is for everyone to really come together again as we all did during the ten years and to gather and celebrate as we did on Zos Chanukah when all of Klal Yisroel celebrated together. Will there also be a family gathering? Yes. On Shabbos Chanukah we’re going to get together with the whole family and my in-laws and my sisterin-laws and brother-in-laws. Here in Monsey? Yes, here. So you’re going to have your hands full. Yeah, we’re not doing it in this house because this house is too small but we rented one of the bigger houses in town and we have people taking different family members to help with the overflow. We’re going to be together to try to just soak in the big miracle that happened. Emunah, in a certain way, is easier to focus on in a challenging time. What about in the good times? Right. The truth is is that we tend to lump emunah and bitachon together. And really they’re very different situations. Emunah is something steady and always. Bitachon is when you’re going through a challenging time, that’s when you have to kick that in and really make that the forefront. But Hashem doesn’t give you a challenge unless He

Hugging his grandchildren after his release

gives you also the koach to deal with it. I remember telling Sholom Mordechai this as we were going through the trial, that we’ve been training for this for a long time. We have a special needs son and my husband was very challenged in the business. I used to laugh with him. The back of our house was a cornfield. We were like the last house in the town…so peaceful and so gorgeous, you could see for miles the checkerboards of fields and the silos

ecutioners, about the Holocaust how the German people could’ve stopped it and instead they collaborated with the Nazis. In a certain sense, that’s how we felt the people of Postville to be. The whole region was really benefitting from the plant and yet when this problem happened, nobody knew us. Maybe one or two people stood up and said, “What are you talking about? These are good people! These are people that we never had a problem with.

“My husband views himself as a simple guy who tried to take what he learnt in the past and what he continues to learn and put it into practice.” and it was so relaxing. So I used to say to him, “Peaceful Postville.” But this man never had one peaceful day there. Whether it was financial things, keeping that together, or whether it was problems within the USDA or there was a lot of government things on the plant because they were an official business that had food and there was a lot of EPA issues and there was a lot of stuff going on like environmental stories and food issues and things that had to be in check and unfortunately we saw a lot of anti-Semitism throughout the years that we were there…. There’s that book The Willing Ex-

They would give us the best price for our products. These are people that we could ‘handshake’ and that was the deal!” I don’t know if it was because we were Yidden, I don’t know whether it was because they were afraid of the government and their own situations. There’s a lot of things that play into it but we were living through a lot that whole time. My husband said the whole Tehillim every day for, I don’t know how many tens of, 15, 20 years…. He went through a lot and between those business situations and our personal life with our son and things going on, I felt like, OK,

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we’re going to get through this, we’re going to do what we always did, have that bitachon and reach out to Hashem through Tehillim or whatever and we’re going to get through this. It was never a question of “if,” it was a question of “when.” And of course, every denial and every disappointment was disappointing but we never let it get us down to the point that we were out for the count. We always picked ourselves up and went forward and tried the next thing that we could try. So in the good times, how does one work on their bitachon? In the good times you try to understand where everything is coming from. It’s interesting. I am coming from just speaking now and I was trying to explain to the women that a nisayon we typically look at as something really bad happening but when something really good happens it could also be a nisayon. Baruch Hashem, Hashem blessed the family with a bunch of kids. That’s a nisayon; it’s not so easy to have a bunch of kids. Or if a person wins the lottery or gets a great bonus, it’s not so easy to be all of a sudden an asheer and you have to figure out how life is going to be the same or different and not become stuck up and a different type of person now that you have money. There are different things that we go through. I think by learning and really understanding what life is all about, what it’s meant to be, how we’re supposed to use whatever we have to serve Hashem…we have to keep in that mindset and not get too excited with ourselves but to still keep that anavah and that bitul to Hashem to understand that everything is Him, whether it’s the tzaar or the simcha. Really – everything is Hashem. Whether it’s a bracha or chas v’shalom we’re going through a nisayon, realize that it’s all about serving Him and using whatever we get to serve Him with that. Mrs. Rubashkin, thank you for your time. I’m sure this Chanukah will have an extra-special simcha as you celebrate with your family all together for the first time in ten years.

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Political Crossfire

Charles Krauthammer: The Enduring Miracle of the American Constitution By Charles Krauthammer

This column is excerpted from Charles Krauthammer’s forthcoming posthumous book, “The Point of It All.” The book and column were edited by his son, Daniel Krauthammer.

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n October 1981, when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated, the networks ran over to Cairo and began covering the events all day and all night. The only thing I remember of all that coverage was a news anchor bringing in a Middle East expert and saying, “We’ve just looked at the Egyptian constitution, and our researchers tell us that the next in line for the presidency is the speaker of the parliament.” The Middle East expert burst out laughing. “Nobody in Egypt has read the constitution in 30 years,” he said. “No one knows it exists. And no one cares what’s in it.” Then he prompted, “Who’s the leader of the military?” The anchor answered, “Hosni Mubarak,” and the expert said, “He’s your next president.” Two things struck me about that. First, how naive we are about what constitutions are and what they mean around the world. And the second thing, the reason for the first, is how much reverence we have – in the United States and very few other countries – for this document. Many things are miraculous about the U.S. Constitution. The first is that, somehow, on this edge of the civilized world two and a half centuries ago, there could have been a collection of

such political geniuses as to have actually written it. The second miracle is the substance of it – the way that the founders, drawing from Locke and Montesquieu and the Greeks, created an extraordinary political apparatus that to this day still works and that has worked with incredible success for nearly a quarter of a millennium. But the third miracle, and the one that I think we appreciate the least, is the fact of the reverence that we have for it. This reverence is so deeply ingrained that we don’t even see it; we just think it’s in the air that we breathe. But it is extraordinarily rare. It exists in only a handful of countries. For almost all of the world, it is completely alien. Consider the oath of office that we take for granted. Whenever we bestow upon anyone the authority to wield the power of the state over free citizens, we make them swear to protect not the people, not the nation, not the flag, but the Constitution of the United States. A piece of paper. Of course, it stands for the pillars of the American experiment itself: the ideas, the structures, the philosophy that define a limited government with enumerated powers, whose mission is to preserve liberty and individual rights. This is a gift – that we intrinsically have this sense of reverence for the Constitution. And it’s important to remember that it is a gift from the past. It is not something that we can in any

way credit to ourselves. If anything, recent generations have allowed that kind of reverence to diminish, to bleed away over the decades, as we try – as it were – to adapt constitutionalism to modernity. What’s so remarkable is that constitutions are highly reactionary documents. The very essence of a constitution is to constrain the enthusiasms of a future that one cannot even see. In America, constitutionalism demands that even the most distant progeny swear allegiance to a past embodied in a document written in the late 1780s. If “tradition … is the democracy of the dead,” as G.K. Chesterton had it, then constitutionalism – which is ancient wisdom rendered into legal code – is the tyranny of the dead, the ultimate reach of the past into the future. And in America, it succeeded. The propagandist Lincoln Steffens famously said, upon visiting Bolshevik Russia shortly after the revolution: “I have seen the future, and it works.” American constitutionalism declares: “We have seen the past, and it works.” Paradoxically, for all the forward-looking, blue-sky, futuristic spirit of its people, the astonishing stability, majesty and success of the American experiment owe much to the inherent restraint and conservatism of its original constitutional blueprint. I’ve always had a sense that there is something providential about American history. And this is from somebody who isn’t exactly religious. But starting

with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution: here is a nation founded on the edge of civilization – a tiny colony, living on the outskirts of the civilized world – that at a time when it needed it miraculously produced the greatest generation of political thinkers in the history of the world. Then a century later, when it needed a Lincoln to save the republic, it found a Lincoln. In the first half of the 20th century, when it needed an FDR to get through the Depression and defeat fascism, it found him. In the second half, when it needed a Reagan to revive the country, he was there. This is not to say that we will always be able to find our way. I don’t see or expect or wait for the next great figure. But over the years we have seen extraordinary spontaneous popular reactions against government overreach and in support of constitutional principles, and they are further signs of hope. There is something about the American spirit – about the bedrock decency and common sense of the American – that seems to help us find our way, something about American history that redeems itself in a way that inspires all. I would summarize it by quoting my favorite pundit, Otto von Bismarck. He was not known for his punditry, but he is famously said to have said: “G-d looks after children, drunkards, idiots and the United States of America.” I think He still does. I hope He still does. (c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group


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