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Thursday, 24 May 2012


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Yaakov Nathan

Related to this post:

Rav Moshe Menachem [Spiegel] felt that the situation in Poland was unstable. He decided that it was time to move on, that it was time to move to America. However, at that time--1933--it was practically impossible to get a visa to go to the United States. Rav Moshe Menachem sought out the help of Rabbi Bochtka, a Rosh Yeshiva in Montreaux, Switzerland, who had good relations with the Ambassador of the United States. Rabbi Bochtka managed to get Rav Moshe Menachem a meeting with the Ambassador to arrange a visa for himself and his family to move to the United States.

The ambassador at the time was a woman, and Rav Moshe Menachem was warned that he must shake the ambassador's hand even though it is against his religious beliefs--he must remember that without the ambassador's approval, he would not be able to enter the United States. Rav Moshe Menachem would not hear of it, and when the ambassador tried to shake his hand he refused--to the great surprise of all in the room. He explained to the ambassador that he could not shake her hand due to his religious beliefs. After the meeting Rav Moshe Menachem was rebuked and ridiculed by those who came with him to the meeting. They told him that he was a fool, and that by not shaking the ambassador's hand he would never receive a visa to the United States. When Rav Moshe Menachem returned to his lodgings, he was surprised to see a limousine with an American flag parked outside. He received a further surprise when he saw that the ambassador herself was waiting for him. She told him that she personally came to bring him his visa, and that "not only does the United States welcome you, the United States needs people like you. Someone who is willing to give up everything for his religious beliefs can only be an asset for my country." It was through these chains of events that Rav Moshe Menachem and family arrived in the United States in 1934.

(From an unpublished manuscript)

Michelle Watson

and what if a man extends his hand to an observant woman.... i think i also will keep candies in my pocket. many men even come forward with a hug and i feel so uncomfortable. what is a woman to do in a non-observant world? blessings to you Rabbi Brody. you are such an inspiration to me and my children. thank you so much!

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