Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Donald Trump

Donald Trump is considered to be the most popular American president among the Jewish orthodox commu‎nity.

Beginning with commuting the sentence of R' Shalom Rubashkin after having spent almost 8 years in prison and his transfer of the American embassy to Yerushalayim he is seen as a president who cares about jews amongst many other groups.

His son in law, mr Kushner identifies as an observant jew ‎and has been very helpful to all of the Jewish community in the U.S.

The president, recently got many jews together for a chanukah celebration in the White House and spoke about his strong conviction that the U.S. should support Israel and help protect it.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Dvar Torah - Vayishlach - Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin

This week we are privileged to read the portion Vayishlach. Yaakov was heading back to his homeland, after many years of absence due to fear of Eisav. After leaving Levon’s home, Yaakov sent messengers (Angels) to meet with Eisov, and he prepared himself for a meeting with Eisov. Yaakov prepared three methods for his meeting. First he sent sizable gifts for Eisov, he also prayed to Hashem to save him in the event of confrontation, and thirdly he prepared for war. He split up his camp into two groups, so that if one is confronted the other camp will be saved. We learn how Yaakov returned to pick up some jars he left behind on the opposite side of the canal. Yaakov was confronted by the Angel representing Eisov, and he wrestled with him. Yaakov won the battle and made the angel admit that the blessings were rightfully his. We learn about the meeting between Yaakov and Eisov and the desire of Yaakov to part from him as quickly as possible. We learn about the tragic event with Dina, and the response from Shimon and Levi. We also learn about the tragic passing of Rochel, during childbirth (of Binyomin), and the passing of Yitzchok at age 180. The portion ends with the names of the ministers of Eisov.

The Torah tells us that Yaakov was afraid and he had fear and Rashi comments that, he was afraid he would get killed and he feared that maybe he would kill others. Many commentaries ask, we learned in the previous portion that Hashem promised Yaakov that he will be with him and watch over him, why was he afraid ? It is well known that the Chozeh of Lublin was extremely humble, and he once expressed about himself, that even if he heard from G-d directly, that he is a Tzadik (pious man), he would believe that it was true just for that second, but a second later he would be worried maybe he lost his greatness. This helps understand the way Ramban explains the fear of Yaakov. Ramban says that great people are constantly worried that they shouldn’t lose their level of holiness and that maybe according to the talents and strengths they were given, they didn’t do enough. So although Yaakov received a promise from Hashem that he would watch over him, maybe, he feared he was no longer worthy of the blessing.

The Chidushei Harim says that Yaakov was praying not for himself, but for the future generations and his fear was for his descendants when/if they would be in this situation they should be saved from the evil forces who want to destroy them. This has been proven over and over again. Unfortunately in many generations there were/are forces who thought/think they will erase the Jews from the face of the earth and Hashem saves us, as we read in the Hagodo, on Pesach,  Shebchol dor vodor omdim oleinu lichaloseinu, v’Hakodosh Boruch Hu Matzileinu miyodom.

One more idea I’d like to share with you regarding the outlook on life of Yaakov verses the outlook of Eisov. In Bireishis 33/5 when Eisov finally reaches Yaakov he saw the women and the children, and said “who are these to you”? And Yaakov replied, “the children which Hashem granted me”. The Divrei Shmuel of Slonim explains the dialogue between the two. Eisov saw Yaakov has four wives, and he thought to himself, this is my world, how does it come to a holy man like Yaakov ? Yaakov’s response was the purpose of marriage to these women was to have these children. It is known that a Baron once asked the holy Rebbe of Rizhin what’s the difference between me and you, I eat and drink and so do you, I have a wife and children and so do you. The difference, replied the Ruzhiner, is that you live because you want to eat and drink, I eat and drink because I want to live. You have children because you have a wife, I have a wife because I wanted to bring children to the world. It is all about putting things into perspective.

Gut Shabbos

Agudah Convention - 5779

The Agudah convention will be starting tomorrow (Thursday night). Though the crowd is not as large as previous years there are still a respectable amount of participants.

Maran Rav Aharon Schechter Shlita, The Zkan Roshei  Hayeshiva‎ in America, Rav Perlow, Rav Yerucham Olshin ‎Shlita, Rav Yaakov Horowitz Shlita & Maran Rav Kaminetsky Shlita are expected to attend. Maran Harav D. Feinstein Shlita will be attending for a short time.

The anticipated event will help clarify the torah position on many world & National events.‎ This event is for many the wellspring for Da'as Torah regarding many issues.

Utenu‎ Kovod L'Torah!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Dvar Torah - Vayeitzei - Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Vayeitzei. We learn that Yaakov escaped from his parents home due to the threat on his life, from his brother Eisov. Yaakov stopped to study for fourteen years and then headed toward Choron, to fulfill the command of his parents, that he marry someone from “their” family. We learn how Yaakov met Rochel, the daughter of Lovon at the well. He was impressed with her and wanted to marry her. We learn how Lovon fooled Yaakov by giving him Leah and not Rochel, and the great sacrifice Rochel made not to cause her sister embarrassment. only later Lovon agreed to grant Yaakov his second daughter, Rochel. We learn how Yaakov worked hard and Lovon kept changing his pay. We learn about the births of the holy children of Yaakov, the foundation of Klal Yisroel. After the birth of Yosef Yaakov can no longer stay with Lovon. Hashem tells him it’s time to return. A dispute erupted as Lovon expressed his dissatisfaction of his children’s departure. Hashem warned Lovon not to harm Yaakov. They set feet back to the Holy Land.

There’s so much we can learn from the dealings between Yaakov and Lovon. In general all these portions about the history of our forefathers are full of deep lessons. I want to share one important lesson from this week’s portion.

When Yaakov reached Choron he had a discussion with the Shepards as to why they were just standing at the well. They declared that they waited for a group of Shepard’s to appear in order to remove the stone covering the well. Yaakov walked over and just removed on his own like he took a cap off a bottle. We need to understand what was the reason Yaakov did this, was he trying to show then his physical strength ? If so, why ? Also why is it important for the Torah to tell us about this detail ? There’s a tremendous lesson Yaakov wanted to teach them and us as well. If one really wants to accomplish something, nothing can stand in the way, all one needs to do is try, not stand on the side and say I can’t. We find the same situation (in the portion of Shmos), when Basya removed Moshe from the water. Moshe was placed in the water far from an arm stretch, however she was determined to save the child and stuck out her arm, and the Medrash teaches us that her arm became longer until she reached the box in which Moshe lye. We need to do ours and we will see that Hashem will help, and the impossible can be achieved.

Gut Shabbos!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Dvar Torah - Vayeiro - Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin

This week we are privileged to read the portion of Vayeiro. We learn in the end of the previous portion that Avrohom performed a Bris Mila on himself at age ninety nine, and this portion begins with Hashem’s appearance to  Avrohom on the third day. Avrohom, despite being in physical pain, was more bothered by the fact that no guest showed up, due to heat waves. Hashem sends three angels, they appeared as people, to allow Avrohom the ability to fulfill the mitzva of hachnosas orchim (hosting guest). Avrohom despite his senior age and his frail body, prepared a feast for his guest. At the meal they revealed to him that they were sent by Hashem to inform him that he will be blessed with a child at this time next year, and also to heal him. They continued on to Sedom ato destroy the evil cities of Sedom and Amora and to save Lot in the merit of Avrohom. Avrohom pleaded with Hashem to spare the evil people, however their awful behavior, and the absence of pious men caused their ultimate destruction. We learn that Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt due to her curiosity to see what transpired with Sedom during their escape. Later we learn of Yitzchok’s birth and the need to get Yishmoel away from Yitzchok to avoid bad influence. We also learn of the great challenge Avrohom had gone thru, by being willing to sacrifice his holy son Yitzchok, by G-d’s command. Obviously it was only a test, from which we merit until this day. The portion concludes with the birth of Rivkah, later to be the spouse of Yitzchok and one of our holy Matriarchs.

We find in the beginning of the portion that Avrohom offered his guest a meal and their  response was kein taase kaasher dibarto - do so, as you have spoken. The Slonimer Rebbe explains, we often find people that do a lot of good deeds, but it does not elevate them. They may perform acts of kindness and do a lot for others, however they frequently remain simple people. Why is that ? Says the Slonimer Rebbe, it is because their language is not clean and that is a basic for a person to be able to be uplifted and grow spiritually. In the absence of clean language one cannot grow. This is what the angels told Avrohom your words should match your deeds. Good deeds along with good words, pure action and pure speech are the ingredients for growth. (Maybe this is why we start Yom Kippur with Kol Nidrei, so that we nullify improper speech, before we begin a new page).

I want to share another idea with you. The Medrash states , that when Hashem sent Avrohom to the Land Moriah, to bring Yitzchok for an offering, he used the term Lech Licho - go for your own good. The same term Lech Licho was used in the previous portion, when Hashem to Avrom to leave his land, his birthplace, his father’s home to an unknown land. The Medrash discusses, which one was greater, the first Lech Licho or the second ? The Medrash concludes the second one was much greater. We need to understand what was even the rational to say that leaving one’s birthplace and land would be greater than sacrificing a son born at one hundred years old ? Although the Medrash concludes that the second Lech Licho was greater, one needs to understand what was even the debate. There’s an important lesson here, to teach us the greatness of unconditional faith - emuna pshuta. Since by the first Lech Licho Avrohom did not even know to which land he was going, it was a complete act of unconditional faith, maybe it was greater than Lech Licho of the Akeido, where he knew to which land he was going and for what purpose. This is the other side of the debate.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Dvar Torah - Bireishis - from Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin

This week we are privileged to begin a new cycle of Torah reading, beginning with the portion of Bireishis. The portion teaches us what was created every day of the week and that from the beginning of creation Shabbos was sanctified. We also learn that Adam was created in the image of G-d. We learn about the sin of Adam and Chava (Eve) eating from the tree of knowledge. We learn about Kayin and Hevel and the tragic ending of Hevel's life. The portion concludes with the birth of Noach.

This Shabbos is referred to as Shabbos Bireishis (beginning). The holy Chassidic masters said that this Shabbos is a foundation for the entire year. It is the first Shabbos after the high Holidays, and it is incumbent upon us to prove that we didn’t just serve G-d externally, but that we internalized what we said, and accepted. The Chida also writes that on Shabbos Bireishis one should be particularly careful to conduct him/herself properly as it is not a good sign if immediately after the High Holy Days one falls back. At least the beginning should be strong. The Rebbe of Tzanz would refer to Shabbos Bireishis as follows: when a businessman goes to an exhibition to buy goods in his field of business, he quickly purchases everything he feels would be profitable for his business. However it is only when he comes home that he begins to go through his purchases to see what will be more productive and profitable. So too, it is with the month of Tishrei. The entire month we were busy grabbing mitzvohs, correcting what needs to be corrected and now we need to work on implementing what needs to be implemented. This is the work of Shabbos Bireishis.

When Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi (author of Tanya) was imprisoned in St Petersburg, over false allegations, the government tried sending different people to talk to him and sniff out how much he's working to topple the Zarist authority. Amongst these people, they sent a very prominent and learned minister, who entered the prison disguised as an ordinary fellow prisoner. When he entered the room the Rebbe stood up for him and he said to him that he knows he's somewhat connected to malchus (kingdom). The minister was shocked, as they never met and there was no way he could have recognized him ... He began to have an intellectual conversation with R' Shneur Zalman. Amongst the questions he asked was, it is written in the Torah that after the Adam ate from the tree of knowledge Hashem asked him AYEKO - where are you. Why did Hashem ask Adam "Ayeko" , doesn't G-d know everything ? The Rebbe responded that this a call to every individual eternally to check on himself where he is, and he continued to tell the minister, Hashem gave you this amount of years, this amount of months and this amount of days, what did you do with it ? Where are you ? He calculated exactly the age, the years, months and days of the minister sitting in front of him. The minister was shaken up, and later ended up being one of the greatest defenders of the Tzadik before the judge, who ultimately freed him.

The message to us is, after an entire elevated season where we served Hashem more than throughout the year, and now we go back to routine, remember AYEKO!

Gut Shabbos, and
A healthy winter,
Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin

Monday, September 17, 2018

Erecting Yom Kippur - Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin

The holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur is approaching and we are all preparing to be cleansed and merit an inscription and a seal in the book of Life.

On the day preceding Yom Kippur there's a special mitzvah to eat and drink more than usual. This is derived from a phrase in Torah Vayikra 23/32, you shall afflict your souls on the ninth day in the evening. The Talmud asks is the fast on the ninth ? It is on the tenth that we fast. Says the Talmud (Rosh Hashono 9a), "this is to teach us, that if one eats and drinks on the ninth it will be considered as he fasted both days". The question we still have, why is it that the Torah tells us that it is a mitzvah to eat, with this type of language (affliction), why not say, eat and drink ? I would to share with you two approaches to explain this.

The Torah wants to teach us how to fulfill this mitzvah. One can eat like a Jew with proper ethic and thought and one can eat and his whole mind and soul is in the plate. The Torah wants to tell you that when fulfilling this mitzvah, your mind should be on the mitzvah and not engulfed in the food, just as if you were fasting.

There's another approach. We know that when one does a mitzvah and he toils for it and it comes with great difficulty, the reward is much greater. This is why the Torah tells us that if one eats and drinks on the ninth it will be considered as if he fasted, so that we should know that the reward will be greater than just fulfilling an easy mitzvah, but rather it will be rewarded like a mitzvah that came with hardship.

The holy Berdichev Rebbe once walked in to Kol Nidrei (opening prayer of Yom Kippur), and began searching under the tables and benches. No one understood what he was searching for. He then lifted his head to the Heavens and said "Holy L-rd! You commanded the Jewish people to eat and drink today, I don't see even one drunk person in this synagogue. Imagine if other nations had been given this mitzvah. This was his way of defending Klal Yisroel.

In closing, I'd like to ask all, if I offended anyone, please be kind enough and forgive me, and I'm sure G-d will do the same.

May we merit to be sealed in the book of Life, for a sweet year, with spiritual and material growth in good health with nachas and happiness.

Gmar Chasima Tova,