10 posts categorized "Heroes of Judaism"

All For One

Hey everyone, it’s David, Racheli’s lucky husband. I’d like to talk to you about a very special person who, through his untimely and tragic passing, taught me the real meaning of unity. 

Nearly eight years ago when my family and I made aliyah, Rav Brody told me something that I didn’t understand: “When a soldier dies in the States, most people don’t hear about it. If they do, they’re not deeply affected by it. But when a soldier dies in Israel, the entire country mourns his loss.”

I superficially understood his point because my Memorial Day holidays consisted of partying at the beach with friends. Unless someone personally knew a soldier that had perished in battle, no one else felt the solemn occasion of the day.

But here, it’s very different.

Here, most Israelis feel the pain of Memorial Day. Unfortunately I finally understood why, this past week. My dear friend from shul lost his beloved 20-year-old son last Friday night as he was chasing terrorists during a smuggling operation. May Hashem avenge his martyred blood. 

The tank he was driving somehow veered off-course and turned upside down. The explosives it was carrying blew up while he was still inside…

No one should know from such horror.

A group of my buddies from shul went with me to the funeral this past Sunday. To say everyone there was crying would be a sorry understatement. My heart breaks every time I think about my friend having to watch his son’s martyred body being lowered into the ground.

Yesterday my friends and I were catching up, and two of them said something very telling. One mentioned that when he was asked at work why he wasn’t there Sunday, he explained that he was at the funeral of his friend’s son who had just been killed in battle. “Oh, Eliyahu Drori?” the co-worker asked with tears in his eyes.

My other friend recalled a strikingly similar conversation at his workplace.

To me, this revelation says it all.

Although on the surface there is so much tension between Israelis, and they can start fighting with each other at any moment, underneath there is a deep connection that Americans can never understand.

I see it at my gym. When a guy walks in and starts hugging all of his friends with such warmth, even though they’re sweating like crazy, I see the love, the brotherhood they share with each other.

Being a part of the army together, risking your lives at every moment together, going through grueling, nearly impossible trainings and missions together - that creates a bond that is indescribable.

And this bond is not just between soldiers. Every soldier here is like the son and daughter of every parent. Every father and mother cries when they hear of a soldier being killed. They feel the pain of that soldier’s parents in such a deep way.

I understand because that’s the way I feel about my friend.

Eliyahu z”l was a former student of my oldest son’s yeshiva. I was touched by the outpouring of support by the entire staff, as well as students that had never met him. My son Yehuda arranged for his class to hold morning prayers at the shiva home for the duration of the shiva. This morning, some of the faculty spoke about him and fondly remembered him as a special light, a sweet soul that was a much loved addition to their school.

To my dear friends, the Drori family, words cannot express the immense sorrow I feel for you. Even though I had only met Eliyahu a few times at shul, I was touched by his warm smile and friendly demeanor. You were truly fortunate to have him as a son.

May he and all of the righteous martyrs that died for the sake of the Jewish People, or because they were Jewish, shine brightly in that special place in Heaven reserved for the most precious of souls. And may we see the end of pain and suffering, and joyfully greet the Mashiach and all of our loved ones once again, speedily, Amen.

In loving memory of Eliyahu Drori z"l. Don't miss Rav Brody's Memorial Day post below. 


Happy 70th Birthday, State of Israel!!


My cousin Maya is on a March of the Living trip in Poland, and she sent me this totally awesome picture of a classmate standing on the train tracks that lead into Auschwitz Birkenau extermination camp. 

What a great picture, right?! 

It's mind-boggling that the world has repeatedly tried to kill us off in the most barbaric of ways. Our history is filled with war, persecution, and bloodshed. But somehow, we're still here. And growing.

We're not perfect (the understatement of the year) but we're still on this Earth, and in our precious Holy Land, and we're growing like nobody's business. With all of the threats that surround us every moment, we still manage to keep moving forward and thriving. 

And I'm not just talking about the Torah-observant Jews. 

The secular Jews are making great contributions to society and the world. I mean, except for Harvey Weinstein and Bernie Madoff. Oh, and Howard Stern. 

I feel so blessed and fortunate to be here, in Israel, getting ready to celebrate the 70th birthday of our Jewish state, which will be this Thursday. 

Yes, our government is totally corrupt. Yes, there's pork-eating and pride parades. Yes, there's A LOT of room for improvement.

But I think about the diversity of people here, and I'm amazed that we not only manage to survive together, but we thrive together. 

The lesson I take away from being here during Israeli Independence Day is that we should have more tolerance for one another.  

We should have more tolerance for different political opinions, religious views, levels of observance, and traditions. I really think that if we could just work more on this, Mashiach would be here in no time. 

If someone else is not holding by our stricter standards, that is not a reason to look down on them or make them feel less Jewish. Everyone has their process and their timing and their unique soul correction, and we need to be okay with that.

Hashem has infinite patience for us and our process. If He didn't, well, none of us would be here. 

So let's learn from Hashem this Independence Day. Be tolerant of one another, be patient with one another, and G-d forbid, love one another. 


In loving memory of Eliyahu Drori hy"d, the IDF soldier that was killed while chasing smugglers last Friday night. His father is a beloved member of our kehilla, and we at the Beams extend our deepest condolences for their tragic loss. May they be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. 

Photo from Racheli Reckles (37)


Honoring Faigy


Today is the death anniversary of Faigy, the mother of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev. 

Not much is written about her, except that she was also the granddaughter of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement. She was also known to have prayed extensively at her grandfather's grave, both when she was pregnant and after she gave birth to Rebbe Nachman. She prayed for her son's success and greatness. Clearly her prayers were answered.

Rebbe Nachman asked that people refer to him as "Nachman the son of Faigy," because he understood that it was her prayers and dedication that helped make him who he is.

I chose this beautiful picture to point out how much power we have to influence another. (Let's focus on the good, okay?)

One woman brought down this tremendous light into the world, and his light has affected millions of people over the past 200 years. To me, these candles symbolize the souls that have been lit up through Rebbe Nachman's teachings. Mine's right there, with the extra high flame on the left side of the picture.

Just curious. Did you actually look for that candle??


By sharing the teachings of emuna, we are literally lighting up souls like my boys light oily cans of tuna on fire. Emuna makes the souls burn brightly, just like the toxic canola oil and firey tuna combo.

But I'll tell you one thing that flaming tuna can do that emuna can't.

It can make the stray neighborhood cats go insane.

Since I can't seem to get through a post without sneaking some nonsensical humor in there, I'll stop while I think I'm ahead. Just remember to light a candle for this righteous and holy woman, the one we should all thank for doing everything she could to make sure her son achieved greatness. 

Oh, and super cool! Today, March 6, is my son Nachman's sixth birthday! Honestly, I can't believe I actually remembered.

Talk about Divine providence! 

Does that make me extra super duper righteous? 

Today I plan to teach my Nachman how to refer to himself as "Nachman the son of Racheli." I kinda dig that!



The Yahrtzeit of Maran Ovadia Yosef zt"l

Today marks four years since the passing of one of the greatest leaders of our generation, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt"l.

To be honest, even though I'm Sephardi, I know very little of his greatness. I've read his biography and many amazing stories, but I suspect they only gave a small glimpse into what a tzaddik he really was.

As you can see, this picture that's hanging above what used to be my bedroom dresser is a very special picture. Not many people have seen this one, so I thought I'd share it with you. The truth is, if I look at it for too long, I start to tear up. Logically, it doesn't make sense, because I never met him.

But the feeling that I get when I look at his picture tells me that this was truly a great man. I can feel that we really lost something incredibly special when he passed away. This morning when I looked at his picture as I lit the yahrzeit candle, all I could think about was that I felt sorry for us.

Our generation is so lost, so confused. Even the most religious of us have major problems. Losing a man of his spiritual greatness, a man that would do his best to help us see what's true and real in life, has been one of the most devastating losses we as a Jewish People have suffered in the past several years. 

Nonetheless, I am confident that he is doing whatever he can do for us in heaven. The death anniversary of a tzaddik is a time when all of his spiritual accomplishments and all of his greatness is available for us to connect to. 

If you need a salvation or just want to have his tremendous light in your house, light a candle for Ovadia Yosef ben Gorgia and ask Hashem  to give you whatever you need, in Rav Ovadia's merit. Like we say in Israel, it's good to have protectzia (connections, loosely translated.) 

In the merit of this great soul, may we all see the end of suffering and finally greet our Mashiach and see our precious Holy Temple rebuilt, Amen! 

Oh, and just in case you're wondering why my bedroom dresser is not in my bedroom, the answer is pretty simple.



And don't forget to scroll down for this week's edition of Breslev Israel's articles! 

Two Good "Yiddishe" Boys

Louie Armstrong Colin Powell
At the beginning of last century, in the emotional hotbed of New Orleans a child slave of the ghetto was born of a prostitute mother and “missing” father. He somehow stumbled into the attention of a financially poor but loving Russian Jewish immigrant family, the Karnofskys. This little fellow, with an appreciative, magnetic personality, attached himself to the father, to help him with his horse-and-wagon hauling business. The Karnofskys loved the child, took him in for dinners, including Shabbat, and provided more than bed and shelter. They provided him with the love he needed, and his first musical instrument that led this confused, hungry youngster onto worldwide fame — as a jazz performer, music innovator and worldwide ambassador for humanity. Louis Armstrong proudly spoke fluent Yiddish, from his childhood through his whole life, and always wore a Star of David around his neck.

* * * * *

Sickser's back in the early 1950's was located on the corner of Westchester and Fox in South Bronx, and specialized in "everything for the baby" as its slogan ran. Swamped on day with loads of work and many customers, Mr. Sickser ran out of  the store and stopped the first youth he spotted on the street. "Young man,"  he panted, "how would you like to make a little extra money? I need some help  in the store. You want to work a little?"

The tall, lanky black boy  flashed a toothy smile back. "Yes, sir, I'd like some work." "Well then, let's get started."

The boy followed his new employer into the store. Mr.  Sickser was immediately impressed with the boy's good manners and demeanor, and made him a regular employee at the store. It was gratifying to find an employee with an almost soldier-like willingness to perform even the most menial of  tasks, and to perform them well. From the age of thirteen until his  sophomore year in college, this young man put in from twelve to fifteen hours  a week, at 50 to 75 cents an hour.

In 1993, in his position as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of  Staff, two years after he guided the American victory over Iraq in the Gulf War, General Colin Powell visited the Holy Land. Upon meeting Israel's  Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in Jerusalem, he greeted the Israeli with the  word "Men kent reden Yiddish" (We can speak Yiddish). As Shamir, stunned, tried to pull himself together, the current Secretary Of State continued chatting in his second-favorite language. Colin Powell never forgot his early days working at Sickser's.

* * * * *

Louie Armstrong and Colin Powell loved their "Yiddishe" roots. Unsung Jewish heroes like the Karnofskys and the Sicksers used their total color-blind love of their fellow human to help shape two of modern history's finest people.

Ode to the Anonymous Hero

Today is Memorial Day for Israel's fallen martyrs. There are hundreds of heroes' names missing from the memorial lists; these are the names of our fallen secret service warriors, who wage battles with our enemies deep behind enemy lines. Most people, even their loved ones, don't know who they were and what they did. They foiled hijackings, destroyed and undermined our enemies' sinister plans, and were part of Hashem's long arm of revenge. Words cannot describe the danger they exposed themselves to. I wrote this in their honor; it was difficult typing with so many tears in my eyes:

Ode to the Anonymous Hero

Al-Arabira Report - Jonathan Pollard to be Released

Al-Arabiya News Agency has now reported that Israel and the Palestinians have agreed via American brokerage to extend the peace talks. Part of the three-sided deal is that our cherished brother Jonathan Pollard will be released. We here at the Beams pray daily for his release, and we hope that Al-Arabiya's sources are accurate. Meanwhile, there's no confirmation of the report here in Israel.