59 posts categorized "Jewish World"

Chumash Celebration, Vizhnitzer Cheder, Ashdod, Israel

As they near the age of five, Chassidic children are already reading fluently. They now begin to learn "Chumash", the Five Books of Moses. Traditionally, they celebrate this occasion by dressing the children up as Torah scrolls and making an important celebration with teachers and families participating, for this is the beginning of their life-long endeavor of learning Torah. Here, we see the Chumash celebration in the Vizhnitzer Cheder of Ashdod, Israel. These children, who grow up without TV and movies, already can recite all the weekly Torah portions from Breishit to Zot Habracha. They also know the Ten Commandments by heart both in Yiddish and in Hebrew, for they are all bilingual. Enjoy this clip, and may you have much joy from your children!


Never Lose Hope!

 Shachar bris-635x357

Above image: Shmuel Shachar, 67 (left) reciting the blessings of his son's entrance into the holy covenant of Abraham, yesterday in Bnei Brak, Israel

The Beams and Breslev Israel send our heartiest Mazal Tov to Shmuel and Sara Chaya Shachar, members of the Nadvorna Chassidic community in Bnei Brak, who were blessed to have their firstborn son enter the covenant of our forefather Abraham yesterday. You might ask, what's so remarkable about another bris in Bnei Brak? Shmuel and Sara Chaya have been married for 46 years - he is 67 and she is 65. Only last week, have their 4+ decades of prayers been answered, having been blessed with their first child, a healthy baby boy, whose name is Shimon Chaim. May Shmuel and Sara Chaya merit to dance in good health at the weddings of their grandchildren...

We learn from the Shachar family's joy that Hashem can do whatever He wants whenever He wants. Never give up and never lose hope - Hashem's mercy knows no bounds.

Hashem is showing us that if 65-year-olds can give birth, then bringing Moshiach is no big deal. Hashem wants our prayers, both for Moshiach and for all of mankind to learn emuna. With emuna, one surely never loses hope.


The Miracles of Hanit

Today is Memorial Day in Israel for our martyred soldiers, of sacred and blessed memory.

Hanit Image at left courtesy of Haaretz.com shows the Israeli Missile boat "Hanit" being tugged into Ashdod port after having been hit by a Hizbulla missile off the Beirut shore on July 14, 2006, during the Second Lebanon War.

17 October, 2006. A young Israeli Naval sergeant boarded the northbound train in Tel Aviv. I was on my way to a present a lecture in the Haifa area and he was returning to his base in the Haifa port. He sat down across from me, looking at me intently while I was learning my Gemara. I looked up at him, smiled, said "Shalom aleichem!"

He sighed deeply, as if relieved, and sheepishly asked, "Can I talk to you, Rav?"

"Of course," I answered, asking him how he knows that I'm a "rav". He said that he heard me eulogize one of his fallen friends during the war. The sailor had a relatively new beard, an almost new knitted kippa on his head, and the beautifully pure innocence in his eyes of a new Ba'al Tshuva. To make a long story short, he was a crewman on board the Israeli Navy ship Hanit (Hebrew for bayonet) when it was hit by a missile of shore in Beirut.

The sailor, who we'll call Moshe, began to relate the dozens of miracles that happened aboard the Hanit the night that it was hit. "It was Friday night. Usually, the crew would eat Friday night dinner in two shifts. But this time, since we were in a war zone, our three religious crewmen went to Lt. Col. A - the skipper - and begged that we all need Hashem's help. The first miracle is that the skipper agreed to leave only 4 sailors on the bridge, and allowed the whole entire crew to pray together; we piled into the chapel, and said a lengthy mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat. I was bored and wanted to eat quickly then catch a few hours sleep, because I had the midnight watch. But, I stayed with the rest of the crew. Then, all of us had a Shabbat meal together - 15 different sailors said Kiddush, each in the custom of his fathers; I'm talking about guys that aren't (weren't) even religious! The meal was drawn out - I had a headache and was dying to sleep. The religious guys started to say the grace after the meal, and BOOOFF! The missile hit, but on the opposite end of the craft. It should have sank the boat, but it hit a crane right above the chopper landing pad. What a miracle! If that's not enough, the helicopter-refueling tank - filled to the gills with chopper fuel - didn't explode despite the fact that the whole end of the boat was burned..."

At least twenty other crewmen aboard the Hanit should have been killed, but they were saved by Shabbat dinner on the other end of the ship. The four on the bridge all lost their lives.

Moshe had beads of sweat on his forehead; tears glistened in his eyes. "The newspapers don't write about the miracles that we all saw. I ran to my bunk on the deck right below the landing pad. It was charcoal; my metal bunk was completely melted down and all my possessions were ashes. If I hadn't been detained in the chapel and in the dining hall for Shabbat meal, I'd have been charcoal too. I haven't stopped thanking Hashem since - I've changed my life..."

Moshe continued with more miracles, including the engine room burnt to a crisp but a pair of tefillin was found unscathed. If that's not enough, amidst the embers of destruction, the sailors found a Book of Psalms - also unscathed - opened to Psalm 124. Read Psalm 124 and your hair will stand up!

The train was nearing my station, so I gave Moshe a blessing and a fatherly embrace, and we parted. The Hanit took a direct hit from a Hizbulla missile, but Moshe has turned the navy's setback into a victory.

*******

Every day, I meet more and more "Moshes". Unlike many of the politicians, the Israeli on the street - especially the soldiers and the reservists - are diamonds looking to be polished, and have started to ask the real questions in life. They're looking for emuna. Were it not for the wars here, they wouldn't have bothered. 

The whole purpose of the wars is to bring us closer to Hashem. Once we get close to Hashem on our own initiative, Hashem won't have to send us wars anymore, amen. I'd much prefer dancing with Moshiach to eulogizing fallen comrades.


Thanks to the Lubavitcher Rebbe

The true tzaddikim are just as powerful after they leave the physical world as when they're here 108258among us - even more so...

At 4AM Wednesday morning, March 18th, when one of PM Netanyahu's closest aides told him that he was heading toward a landslide victory, Bibi thought that the aide was playing a joke. The Prime Minister didn't believe the magnitude of the miracle. The exit polls said the election was a dead tie; maybe one side would win by one mandate. When the smoke cleared, Bibi won by six.

Before the election, Bibi was punch drunk; the incessant leftist media's harassment of him and his family, the pessimistic and pointed polls and voices from abroad told him to start packing his bags and to vacate the Prime Minister's Residence.

Haredi radio station Kol Berama told the following story: Bibi's close friend Rabbi Menachem Gesheid happened to be in New York City right before the election. Bibi phoned him asked him to pray for him at the holy gravesite of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, osb"m, promising that he will keep the land of Israel whole. In the Rebbe's Ohel with Gesheid at the time was  journalist, Yossi Elituv, a Chabadnik.

In his heart, I'm sure that Bibi owes his success to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, for his victory was unheard of. Let's hope that Bibi thanks the Rebbe - and Hashem, of course - by doing teshuva and repairing all the damage his previous government did to the Torah-observant world in Israel. Mr. Prime Minister, we pray for your success.


The Sassoon Children, ob"m

Sassoon funeral

The Sassoon children ob"m were buried in Jerusalem yesterday. It's not pleasant looking at seven fresh graves, but maybe it will pierce our hearts of stone and prod us to make teshuva.

Nadav and Avihu died on Rosh Chodesh, Nissan. So did the 7 Sassoon children, of blessed memory.

During the time of the Holy Temple, on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, 7 lambs are sacrificed as an atonement for the Jewish People. Since we don't have the Holy Temple, Hashem took the 7 unblemished "lambs" of the Sassoon family instead.

If this is the atonement, imagine the magnitude of the tragedy it prevented...

The entire Jewish People mourn this unspeakable loss. We send our deepest condolences to Gabriel Sassoon, the father with the most phenomenal emuna, and pray for the full and speedy recovery of his wife and daughter, Tziporah bat Avigayil and Avigayil bat Tziporah.

People ask what they can do for the Sassoon children - the answer is simple: teshuva. That's what Hashem wants from us. This wakeup call is piercing our eardrums; it's no longer business as usual.


My Pop, of Blessed Memory

My beloved father, Yaacov ben Yitzchak of blessed memory, left this earth on the 15th of Adar Aleph, 5760, fifteen years ago. Pop's yahrtzeit - this anniversary of his death - is tonight and Friday. This post is dedicated to him.

Pop was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1921. His father came from the Ukraine, a shtetyl called Yanov, half way between Breslev and Berditchev. Like a lot of immigrants, my grandfather left observant Judaism behind in the Old Country, so my father was born into a secular home. Yet, he spoke perfect Yiddish and was the warmest Jewish heart you'd ever want to meet. He gave loads of his money to charity; he supported widows and poor Torah scholars. He loved everything Jewish, from traditional food to music. He had no problem polishing off a bottle of vodka with a plate of herring and black bread. He had the voice of a cantor, and when he'd sing, the neighbors would ask what radio station we're listening to.

Pop was the only Jewish combat pilot from Western Canada in the RCAF in WWII. He had a double enemy - the Nazis and the antisemitic Canadian peers who more than once tried to sabotage him.

He wasn't religious, but my Pop had a love for Israel, for his fellow Jews, for widows and orphans, and for Hashem. He had more emuna than most. His famous expression was, "Wait to worry." He never ever complained about pain or discomfort, and profusely thanked Hashem for every new day. Pop's legacy includes three generations of Torah-observant Jews in Israel and more on the way, G-d willing...

I miss you so much, Pop. I miss your hug and your strength. Please forgive me for not doing enough to honor you properly.

Here are two treats in Pop's loving memory: The first is one of his favorite Yiddish melodies, Oyfen Pripitchik, played by violinist Boris Savchuk. The second is a beautiful Dvar Torah written by my youngest brother - also a Baal Teshuva - ZZ (Zeev Zalman). Enjoy both and have a great Shabbat!

Zev Zalman's Dvar Torah in Loving Memory of our Father, may he rest in peace:

On the 15th of Adar 5775, it will be 15 years since my Papa was Niftar (passed away) Alav HaShalom (May The Peace Be Upon Him). May this D'var Torah elevate his Neshama (soul)!

This weeks Parsha, Ki Tisa, has so many memorable moments, I will focus on one that I can apply to my life and embodies a part of who my Papa, Yakov Ben Yitzchak, Zechrono L'Vracha (May His Memory Be For Blessing) was. He was a Baal Chesed (someone who epitomizes loving kindness) and was always very generous in giving Tzedaka for Israel's well being!

It says at the beginning of the Parsha ,"Vayidaber Hashem el Moshe laymor, Ki Tisa et rosh Bnai Yisrael lifkudayhem V'NATNOO eesh kofer nafsho laHashem bifkod otam v'lo yihiyeh vahem negef bifkod otam" ("Hashem spoke to Moses saying, when you take a head count of the Children of Israel according to their numbers, THEY SHALL GIVE, every man shall, an atonement for his soul to Hashem when counting them, so that there will not be among them a plague when counting them.") Hashem says you cannot count a Jew in a normal fashion, you must collect a Machatzit Hashekel (Half Shekel) which will be used for the building and upkeep of the Mishkan (The Tabernacle) and these Shekalim will be counted. Rich and poor alike, the same amount is to be collected, symbolizing everyone has an equal share to the Mishkan and the Torah. What is so amazing is the language that is used. The Baal Turim (Author of "The Turim" or "The Tur" -Rabbi Yakov ben Asher), Zechrona L'Vracha,) points out that the word, "V'NATNOO" (they shall give) is a palindrome. It is read the same forwards as backwards, symbolizing that whatever you give, you will get back. This was referring to the Tzadaka, but let's take it a step further. Giving is a means to really connect with Hashem! When we are selfless with our Spouses, our Children, our Parents, and our Communities, it gives Hashem much nachas from his Children. Why was the amount a half shekel and not a whole? To show that when we do things on our own we are not complete, and most times neither are our tasks, but when we come together, showing unity and a communal purpose , we can accomplish anything! When we daven alone, we are scrutinized, all of our faults are magnified, but when we come together with one voice of Tefillah, the communal good is focused on by Hashem. This Kehilah (congregation), Minchas Yitzchak, is a beautiful model of this.

We have people from many different places in life, different professions, different incomes, different religious minhagim (customs), but we come together and in unified song and Tefillah, we reach the upper portals where I believe our Tefillah is accepted due to our communal good! By the way a "Tzibur" (community or congregation), consists of 3 letters ; Tzadi, Beit, and Raysh. Tzadi stands for a Tzadik, (a righteous one) Beit stands for Benoneem, (people in the middle, neither righteous nor wicked) and Raysh stands for Rashayim, (wicked ones). Thank Hashem no one at Minchas Yitzchak falls into this last category, even so, all are part of the Machatzit Hashekel!

A beautiful vort (word, thought) brought down from Rabbi Moshe Chaim Levinson, Zechrona L'Vracha, talks about the Half Shekel. The word that is used for half is "Machatzit" which consists of 5 letters ; Mem, Chet, Tzadi, Yud, Taf. The Ztadi in the middle of the word represents the Tzadik, the two letters surrounding the Tzadi on each side are Chet and Yud, which spell, "Chai" (life) the two letters farthest away on each side are Mem and Taf, which spell, "Met" (dead). When we connect to and surround The Tzadik we are spiritually alive. When we distance ourselves from The Tzadik we lose our spiritual life!

Let us always be connected to The Tzadik and always remember how much we need our Spouses, Children, Parents, Families, and Community in order for us to be whole, and may we take part in giving Half Shekalim with the building of the Third Bais Hamikdash and the coming of Mashiach, speedily in our days, Amen.