Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Message from Leiby Kletzky’s Parents

Rabbi Nachman and Itta Kletzky, the parents of eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky z"l who was brutally murdered, released a special statement to the Jewish community on Friday, just after they got up from shiva (the traditional seven-day mourning period observed in Judaism). 

Arutz Sheva brings you the statement in its entirety: 

The traditional seven intense days of mourning ("shiva") for our beloved Leiby are complete, but the ache in our hearts will remain forever. 

We thank G-d for the nearly nine beautiful years that He entrusted us with Leiby's pure soul. We are certain that Leiby is now looking down from heaven and blessing us all. 

We would like to once again thank all our friends and neighbors; all the selfless volunteers from near and far; local, city, state, and federal agencies; and all our fellow New Yorkers and beyond who assisted us physically, emotionally, and spiritually—as well as all of G-d's children around the world who held our dear Leiby in their thoughts and prayers. 

We pray that none of you should ever have to live through what we did. But if any tragedy is to ever befall any of you, G-d forbid, you should be blessed with a community and public as supportive as ours. We feel that through Leiby we've become family with you all. 

Many of you have asked us what you can do now in Leiby's memory, and how you can help us find comfort. Looking back at Leiby's all-too-short years among us, here are a few ideas: 

Acts of unity and lovingkindness. Let us perpetuate the feeling of collective responsibility and love expressed during the search for Leiby. An additional act of kindness toward your neighbor, or to those less fortunate than you, can go a long, long way toward perfecting our world. Putting a couple of coins into a charity box daily is one way of tangibly expressing that lovingkindness. 

Gratitude. Leiby deeply cherished his siddur, his prayerbook, and praying to G-d meant the world to him. He was known by his teachers for his concentration in prayer, always being the last to finish. In Leiby's memory, when you wake up each morning take a few moments to pray and reflect and thank G-d for giving us life ("Modeh Ani" in the prayerbook). 

Light. Every Friday evening our family sits down together for Shabbat dinner to the light of the Shabbat candles. A candle shines for each of our children—and Leiby's candle will always be included. On Friday evening, please give a few coins to charity and light the candles before sunset with our beloved Leiby in mind. 

Memorial fund. Together with Rabbi Binyamin Eisenberger, we have established a memorial fund to help people in dire need (www.leibykletzkymemorialfund.com), to channel the lovingkindness shown to us and our dear Leiby toward many, many others in need. We welcome your participation. 

From the deepest place in our hearts, we thank you all for your help, your support and your prayers. May Leiby's soul live on as a blessing inside each and every one of you. 


Sincerely, 

Nachman and Itta Kletzky

Monday, July 18, 2011

Africa

There are 55 countries in Africa.

Strength for the Week:

Shavuah Tov to All!
 
With the strength and rest gained during Shabbat may we be like a tag team wrestler fresh and ready to fight who has just been tagged by Shabbat to take on the opponent called “Week” that is in the ring and may we fly off the top ropes and lay Week down for the count! 
 
Shavuah Tov everyone!

The Bostonian Bochur: The Power of Merkos Shlichus

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

But really, the minute "body" is mentioned, it's only all over for people who only have a body.
We-with a soul-do not expire with the destruction of the body.
The body housed the soul in order for the soul to achieve what it was sent down to this world to accomplish.
When the soul finishes its work, it can gladly return to Heaven, content to snuggle near G-d, unencumbered by an earthly body.

May the Almighty comfort Leiby's family and friends amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.


....and may we immediately welcome the day when no tears of sadness or mourning will ever appear...

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The minute "body" is mentioned, it's all over.

-wracked with sobs-


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

עך טי זיעמליאק

"Who Knows One" in Russian

Woohoo! Finally found it b"h!!

Verbalize Comforting Mourner (The Rebbe's Advice)

In memory of Rabbi Gavriel & Rebbetzin Rivkah Holtzberg HYD - Shluchim to Mumbai, India

The Tzemach Tzedek, after his rebbitzin passed on, refused to be comforted, and engrossed himself in mourning. One of his relatives approached him and quoted the teaching of the sages that even with one's wife, when she passes on, it comes from G-d, and it is Torah. As soon as the Tzemach Tzedek heard this, he said you have revived me, and began to feel good.

Why was it necessary for this relative to tell the Tzemach Tzedek this, did he not know the teaching of the sages? He surely did. However, there is a difference between knowing something in thought and hearing it in words, although the idea is identical. A person who just had a loss is considered a captive to sadness; it is impossible for him to remove himself from his captivity, because one who is captured cannot get out of his own jail. He needs someone else to help him leave jail. This applies to the greatest person, including a Rebbe; he needs a relative to come, and verbalize comfort alleviating him from his sadness.

Igros Kodesh volume 22, P. 279-280

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rebbe! My heart is breaking!

I see people, regular people walking by.
Many, most, are touching the chair as they pass.
They are leaning over..exchanging looks..breathing the same air!

I guess they're not so regular, after all....

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

אופק = horizon


Example: איך נעלמת לנו מהאופק

Over 3,200 on Global Achdus Conference call for Sholom Rubashkin

Tonight, Monday June 27 at 9:30pm EST, will be the second of an unprecedented Global Achdus Teleconference Call in the merit of Sholom Rubashkin. Over 3,200 callers joined last week's class delivered by Rabbi Paysach Krohn.

To join the thousands of Jews participating in this live class, call the Chazak Hotline at 718-258-2008.

Sholom currently awaits a decision from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeal regarding his appeal. On June 27th the court denied Sholom's request for bail pending appeal.


Rabbi Ephraim E. Shapiro, noted speaker and Rav from North Miami Beach, will deliver tonight's 20 minute class about Achdus and Ahavas Yisroel. The call will be hosted by Getzel Rubashkin, son of Sholom Rubashkin. 
This project is hosted by the Chazak Hotline of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.

Whether one can participate or not, all are asked to continue to daven for Sholom Mordechai Halevi Ben Rivka and to give a tax-deductible contribution to:

Klal Yisrael Fund
53 Olympia Lane
Monsey, NY 10952

or at
www.sholomacrossamerica.com

Monday, July 04, 2011

I'm at a farbrengen of the Rebbe.

OH. MY. G-D.

I'm watching a video of the Rebbe's Yud Beis Tammuz Farbrengen of 1985 and I'm shaking. For the first time, I'm watching the audience and I'm putting myself in their heads, their minds, their hearts.

People are watching the Rebbe talk, listening to the words, the Chassidus, the lessons, the G-dliness..
They nod, they watch, they focus, they lean in BUT OMG DO THEY REALIZE THAT THEY ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF G-D?! FORGET G-DLINESS, THIS IS HASHEM SPEAKING THROUGH THE THROAT, THE VOICE, OF THE REBBE!
I'm shaking!! I can't believe people could be in the same room and not be on the floor in a faint. How are people not swaying with awe and emotion.
It's like there are people, and then there is the Rebbe who is higher, smarter, wiser, more righteous than everyone else, hence it is the Rebbe speaking, not someone else.
DON'T THEY GET IT!? THE REBBE IS NOT IN OUR CATEGORY!!
It's not us and the Rebbe, separated by a Bima.
It's THE REBBE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and then us. If even that close.
We're worlds apart. The Rebbe! Our Rebbe! My Rebbe...
I'm crying. I wish I could be by a farbrengen of the Rebbe.
I wish we could all be with the Rebbe at a real farbrengen. And the Rebbe smiling, proud of us, giving us lechaim, outlining how we can achieve higher and higher, not just how to get ourselves out of this muck and mire.
I wish we could be so close to the Rebbe in real life, and not from my living room with a laptop....

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Mezuzah (short story)

The Parthian king, Artiban, once sent a priceless jewel to Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi, the compiler of the Mishna and one of the wealthiest Jews at the time. The king made it obvious that he expected something of equal value in return. The Rabbi's return gift to the king was a Mezuzah. The king's reply was: "I sent you something priceless and you sent me something that can be bought for a paltry sum!?" The Rabbi answered: "You sent me something that I must hire a guard to watch, and I sent you something that will watch over you!" (Talmud Yerushalmi, Peah 1:1)

Why We Need The Written Torah:

Why Not Just Go By the Book?


Question:

Many—if not most—of the customs and traditions that comprise “Judaism” are not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. Why can’t we just follow what’s written there? Really, isn’t it heresy to add on to G‑d’s word?

Response:

You can go ahead and just follow your own literal understanding of the Five Books of Moses, but it may make life a little uncomfortable. For one thing, a lot of people will have to be stoned to death—for such matters as breaking Shabbat, adultery, etc. And an awful lot of teeth and eyes are going to go missing, too. Please let me know just where you’re planning to sacrifice all the sheep necessary to atone for other sins. Also, better find a kohen who will take all your tithes. Then come all the laws of impurity, which—if you want to follow “what’s written there”—may make marriage quite a feat nowadays. And you’ll have to sit in your house all day every Shabbat—in the dark and cold.
Or you could follow the traditional reading of the Torah, one that explains “an eye for an eye” as monetary compensation, and renders a sentence of capital punishment close to impossible—and a lot more humane when it does have to be carried out. Sheep offerings apply only in times when there is a Holy Temple; in the meantime, other means of atonement are available. The laws of ritual impurity as they apply today will be quite manageable, even enhance your marriage. And you could sit in a warm house, or take a walk in the park on Shabbat. All with the knowledge that this is what the text really means, and always meant. After all, do you really think G‑d meant for you to lead an impossible life?
Perhaps that’s why the Torah itself instructed us to take any difficult case that arises to the wise men of our times, and to “not turn from the words they tell you to the right or to the left."1 We don’t just read the book and decide what it means, each man for himself; we follow a tradition of received interpretation. When it comes to extending that interpretation yet further, G‑d Himself authorized those wise men to do that job. That way, the entire structure grows organically, with integrity to its original meaning. And that way, there’s one Torah for all the people.

Text and context

But then you’ll probably have a bigger question: Who says we got the interpretation right? And anyways, how could human beings, no matter how wise, have the right to interpret G‑d’s Torah?
Well, that would be a problem if we accept the Joe Smith version of the Five Books of Moses. That’s the version in which Moses goes up the mountain, finds five books, brings them back down and tells the people, “Look here what I found! We better keep what’s written in these five books, or else!”
In other words, if we believed the text has no context other than that G‑d said to do it, then we would be stuck with just what the text says, and that’s it. But the truth is, there is no text without context. Context is to text what water is to fish, roads are to cars and the internet is to web browsers: the text is still text without context, but it’s totally meaningless and irrelevant. Context is the breath of life. Because context is what tells you the purpose of the text, how to read it and what to do with it.
Political parodies, such as Gulliver’s Travels and Animal Farm, are good examples of books that take on new meaning when you know their context. A personal diary or a biography written for family members might be another example. The insider reads a totally different story than an outsider who just snuck a peek.
So let’s take a look at the context behind the Five Books of Moses. Fortunately for us, unlike Jonathan Swift and George Orwell, Moses himself references much of the context within the text itself. He even provides some hints as to how the book was written. At the end of forty years of wandering, just before entering the land, Moses tells the people, “Listen, I’m not coming in there with you. But G‑d told me to to write all this down and hand it over to you as a testimony, so you’ll keep everything I’ve taught you over these forty years. Here it is. Learn it as you learn a song. Teach it to your children, so that they will teach it to their children. Because everything you will need until the end of days is in it.” That’s basically the content of the book of Deuteronomy, known in Jewish circles as Mishneh Torah—“the repetition of the Torah.”

Real-life story

Stories that were likely written in earlier scrolls as well. Of course, when they had heard those stories, there had been much elaboration. That’s the way scrolls were read back then: you read a verse and then explained, elaborated and expanded the panorama, then read a little more and explained again. So, of course, Moses understood they would do the same thing.2 They get to the stories of their great-great-grandparents, Abraham and Sarah. Someone says, “Hey, it’s missing the story of how Abraham smashed the idols in his father’s house!” Someone else says, “Look, how big a scroll do you want him to write? He wrote the most crucial points and those things we might forget. But that story? Nobody will forget that story, never.”
So when they read that part of the scroll to their children, they added in that story. And of course, no one ever forgot.
Eventually, they arrive at the story about themselves. Imagine that: they get to see all that they had experienced from a different perspective, the way G‑d and Moses saw it happen. They read about the plagues, reading out loud (all reading was out loud until modern times) and excitedly adding in their own memories and emotions, so that the story would be deeply embedded in their children’s minds, hearts and souls. Often, they were able to see how Moses alluded to a missing detail with a nuance of the text or an extra word.
And then, to the dos and don’ts: all the laws that Moses had taught the entire community over forty years. The issues they had been debating with one another, that the elders had spent years working out. Until now, whenever an issue was unclear, or its application ambiguous, they had gone to Moses himself for clarification. Thousands of such cases had been resolved in this way. Joshua, Eleazar, Ithamar, Phinehas, Caleb and many other elders had likely recorded the decisions on those cases, and taught them to their students in turn.
Moses writes, “Keep the Shabbat holy.” He doesn’t need to tell them what is Shabbat, when is Shabbat, how it’s kept. Everyone knows that. They will teach it to their children when they read the text. And anyways, everyone will grow up doing it. “Keep the Shabbat” (and why) is just about all that needs to be said.
The same with “they shall be for totafot between your eyes.” Everyone knows what those are, just as they know what is to be written on the doorposts of their homes and how to make strings on the corners of their garments. There will always be Jews doing those things. For the next thousand years or so, not much more need be set in writing. And again, these students of Moses are amazed to find how the details themselves are all subtly alluded to in the nuances of the text.
But look at this: When it comes to laws of the priests and the temple, a wealth of detail lies before them. How many sheep, what age sheep, where, who, when, how. These are things, it appears, that may be corrupted. The priests could turn around one day and say, “That’s the way it’s supposed to be done. What do you people know?” It makes sense, therefore, that here Moses’ scroll goes into the gritty details. So, too, does the degree of detail on laws to do with the land, such as tithes, the sabbatical year and the jubilee year. Although they must have discussed these with Moses at length, they haven’t yet had a chance to yet put them into practice.
There is no doubt that these five books must have been extremely fascinating (and revered) as soon as they were available. Imagine now, in the midst of all this excitement, that some literate smart-aleck walks over the hill and turns up in the Jewish encampment on the east bank of the Jordan. He asks to look at this scroll and proceeds to give his interpretation. “You guys have got it all wrong,” he declares. “There’s nothing in here about Abraham meeting Nimrod. Totafot are not leather boxes. And it says clearly that you can’t leave your home on Shabbat.”
If the people would have the patience, they would simply retort, “Listen, mister, are you a grandchild of Abraham? Were you there when G‑d spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai? Did you ever meet Moses and speak with him?”
Perhaps that is why we call it not Torahism, but Judaism—as in Jew-daism. Because it is not an ideology defined by a book on a mountaintop, but by a book within the Jewish people. In fact, there is a Jewish sect called Karaiteskara meaning “text”—who reject the entire concept of received tradition. But that is not how the vast majority of our sages over the ages have understood us. They did not see us as “the people of the book,” as the Koran describes us—a people defined within the neat framework of a book—but rather the other way around: a people whose very existence defines the meaning of the book. For the book has meaning only within the context of our people, our experiences as a people, and the way that our people have unfolded and applied that which we have received.

The un-book

Really, the root of the error is to believe that the Torah is a book. The Torah is G‑dly wisdom. Moses, the greatest of all prophets, tapped into that wisdom directly. The book is one form of its manifestation—it’s what we call “the written Torah.” In it, Moses managed to encode the entirety of that wisdom, even that which he himself did not fully grasp, somewhat as the double helix of a strand of DNA encodes all the features of an entire organism.
Yet before it was written, the Torah already existed in our world as a lesson from Moses to the people (especially the elders) and their discussion with him. That’s what we call “the oral Torah,” which, contrary to popular misconception, preceded the written Torah. You could say, then, quite literally, that the fullest manifestation of that G‑dly wisdom we call Torah is not how it is written in a book, but how it exists in the minds of the people that received it. And since the Torah is a way of life for all seasons, the Torah includes all the discussions and innovations that have organically emerged from it through the medium of those people over the past 3,300 years.
After all, a G‑dly wisdom must be given by a G‑d who is above time and foresees all. He gave us His Torah through Moses like a gardener plants a seed or a forester a sapling; yet unlike those, knowing all that would sprout and grow over the long life of that tree. “They are the shoot of My planting,” He says, “the craft of My hands in which I take pride.” Like a gardener, He plants the seed. Like a craftsman, He forms the final product, step by step.
Until, by the time Moses finally leads us into the Promised Land, the entire Torah is unfolded in full blossom, through the struggle of the people who received it, guarded it and cherished it. For if the context is earth and the text is the seed, then the Jewish people are a fertile field, the scroll of the Torah a virile seed, and the Torah itself is the planting, the growth and the fruits of a mature tree of life.
For more on the chronology and method of Moses’ writing, see How and When Was the Torah Written?

FOOTNOTES
1. Deuteronomy 17:11.
2. We still have several examples of such running commentaries, known as targumim, that were originally recited orally between verses. Some, such as Targum Onkelos, stay fairly close to presenting just the text in a different language (Aramaic) with only minor embellishments. Others, such as Targum Yonatan ben Uziel, often richly supplement the narrative. Although these were set in writing much later, they demonstrate that such was the modality of reading a text in ancient times—to embellish the text as you read out loud.

Emunas Tzadikim

One Motzoei Shabbos before havdala, the Baal Shem Tov instructed his talmidim to purchase candles to light up the beis medrash. Though there was no way they could have possibly had money on them, the talmidim put their hands in their pockets to take out money, and hurried to buy candles. Such was their faith in the Baal Shem Tov.
(תו"מ חל"ו ע' 56)

It's Hard to Tell Which Pain is Worse

FROM: My Personal Battle with RSD
--
Every day I have a fight with pain. Every night I have a fight with pain. On a 24 hour basis I am physically and mentally fighting excruciating pain, in my legs, in my back, in my shoulder and arms. I am stuck in a wheelchair that is hard for me to push. I can’t very much move, and getting up for simple things like going to use the restroom have become immense challenges for me. RSD had put my life on hold.

But around me, around me the world keeps spinning.

My friends are all taking finals to get their BAs, there are those that are starting to learn towards their masters, some even towards there PHDs.

There are friends that are traveling and seeing the world.

But I am sitting here in my chair and 2:56 in the morning. The whole house is asleep and I am using all my energy not to focus on the pain.

My friends lives haven't stopped, but somehow they still find a way to take a break and come visit me. To see how I am doing, and to support me.

My life is on hold. If I have no doctors appointment, am not hospitalized, and am not having a procedure done, I am sitting on my ass. Doing nothing. With all the time in the world praying for things to focus on.

My friends put their lives on a short pause to come and support me.

I fight a constant battle of jealousy and guilt. I want the life my friends have, more than anything. I know I can’t have it right now and might not have it ever. But I hope that if the tables were turned I would be as goodhearted as my friends have been who support me and as I said, "pause" their lives to come and support me.

So what happens when one of those friends needs my support? What if my friends need me there for them the same way I need friends here for me the way I do now? What if that friend needs me even more than I need my friends now.

One of my best friends recently suffered a terrible loss. He lost his little sister. I couldn't be at the funeral. I wanted to but couldn't. All day long I was miserable because I wasn't there for him. I felt selfish. He is the one who lost someone. But me, I was sad because I could not comfort him. I want desperately to visit him, but an ambulance trip will cost me 1,047 $.

He understands I can’t come. He doesn't want me to spend money to come visit because he lives far. He also knows that the long trip is physically very hard and painful for me. But I hear in his voice, deep in his voice, that he wants me there.

So what hurts the worst? The physical pain? Just after the RSD diagnoses I thought that was the hardest it would be. But than there is the pain of feeling like being a burden on your family. And that pain is close to unbearable. Then there is the pain of realizing you have lost all your dreams, your independence, your social life, and not to mention the ability to put your legs around your head (yes I was really that flexible). All those things, they hurt. They hurt so much you want to wake up from this nightmare or go to sleep and not wake up at all.

But until yesterday I had never felt this pain. The pain of realizing you have lost the ability to help others, the ability to help your friends when they need you the most.

And here I lay at 3:13 now in the morning, talking about MY pain when my best friend lost his little sister, his only sibling.

So what pain is worse?

Everyone suffers. Some more than others, some less. Some suffer physically, some emotionally, some even both. But everyone suffers. Everyone feels pain.

So how do we cope with it. Many people in pain try to help others, hoping that it will relieve them of their own pain.

I am afraid that maybe that's why I want to go to my friend. Maybe somewhere deep down I think it will make my pain go away all though consciously I know it wont. But then I stop and think of his pain, his loss. A pain like that, I wouldn't trade for RSD any day of the week. So even if I do go, if I find a way to have an ambulance take me, what then...?

As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a person's suffering is also only able to be understood by the sufferer, even if he or she is not able to clearly express in words the pain they are enduring.

I guess I will never know for sure which pain is worse but I think maybe on some level it doesn't matter. Living with RSD has shown me how much I depend on the love of my friends and family; because of that, despite my jealous rages, I cannot fathom the loss of a sister as my friend is coping with now. I hope that somehow I can be a comfort to my dear friend now, even if I seem to be trapped in my own grief.

Sabbath Blessing :)

"I hope this Sabbath rest gave you a new spirit, a twinkle in your eye, a bounce in your step and the fire of Torah in your bones to enable you to commune with the Creator and take on whatever may come in the week ahead."

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Sivan 29, 5771 · July 1, 2011
Today's Mitzvah
A daily digest of Maimonides’ classic work "Sefer Hamitzvot"

Negative Commandment 353
Provocative Behavior
"No man shall come near to any of his relatives, to uncover [their] nakedness"—Leviticus 18:6.
It is forbidden to derive pleasure from any of the women whom the Torah forbids us from marrying, by kissing, embracing and the like. For such behavior leads to actualizing the forbidden relationship.

Friday, July 01, 2011

recalcitrant

re·cal·ci·trant

[ri-kal-si-truhnt]
–adjective
1.
resisting authority or control; not obedient or compliant; refractory.
2.
hard to deal with, manage, or operate.