25 December 2016

My Rebbe and My Mentor...by R' Ephraim Sprecher

26 Kislev 5777
2nd Candle of Hanukkah

R' Goldstein, right - speaking at the Diaspora Yeshiva on Mount Zion. Photo credit: Ben Bresky.

 My Rebbe and My Mentor...by R' Ephraim Sprecher

It is with great sadness that I write about the passing of Rabbi Mordechai Goldstein zz"l, Rosh Yeshiva of the Diaspora Yeshiva on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Despite being extremely ill these past three and a half years and being confined to a wheelchair, he continued to give outstanding shiurim in the Yeshiva.

An early Talmid of Rav Aharon Kotler in Lakewood and Rav Henoch Liebowitz at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in Queens, Rabbi Goldstein was the first pioneer of the contemporary Ba'al Teshuvah movement in Israel. In 1965, before there was a concept of a Ba'al Teshuvah Yeshiva, Rabbi Goldstein established the Diaspora Yeshiva in Jerusalem, which was opened to one and all. He loved and accepted all Jews without being judgmental. After the 1967 Six Day War, the Diaspora Yeshiva moved to Mount Zion, the site of King David’s Tomb. The Lubavitcher Rebbe told Rav Goldstein zz"l how privileged and fortunate he is to have King David as a next door neighbor.

I was a student in the Yeshiva in 1970 when I was twenty years old. One morning as I lay in bed, Rabbi Goldstein sat down on my bed and shook me gently and with love in his eyes told me, "Ephraim, it’s time for Shacharit, G-d is waiting for you." When I made Aliyah in 1994, Rav Goldstein zz"l invited me to teach in his Yeshiva. He told me that I was to be his spiritual fireman. My job was to put out the fires of assimilation and secularism which are threatening to consume many lost Jewish souls.

The prophet Malachi states, “The lips of the Kohen-Rebbe imparts knowledge, and Torah you shall seek from his mouth, because he is an Angel of G-d.” The Talmud in Chagiga explains this verse, that if your Rebbe is like an Angel of G-d then study Torah from him, but if not, don’t study from him. This is a strange statement because Kohelet teaches “There is no Tzaddik on Earth who does only good and never sins.” Every person sins! So according to the Talmud we should not study Torah from any Rebbe? But the explanation is, that the difference between an Angel and a person is that an Angel can’t move forward and cannot progress spiritually. Unlike a person who can move forward, grow, advance and progress spiritually. So the Talmud means that if your Rebbe is willing to give up his own spiritual growth and progress for his students, that’s the type of Rebbe you should seek out.

This was exactly Rav Goldstein zz"l who was willing to sacrifice his own spiritual growth and advancement in order to teach Ba'alei Teshuvah who were ignorant of Judaism. He loved all his students like his own children. Rav Goldstein zz"l knew how to push everyone’s spiritual buttons to motivate them to realize their full potential. He was not just my Rebbe and Mentor but also my dear friend who helped me through the difficult times in my life. I will miss him sorely. May his memory be a blessing to his family and all of Israel.

Blogger's note: Our own Diaspora Yeshiva connection began with R' Mordechai's son, R' Avraham Goldstein, who visited us in our diaspora city and even gave a shiur in our house. R' Avraham became the Rosh Yeshiva of Diaspora when the Rav became ill. After I made aliyah and finished ulpan, I spent almost 2 years learning with the Rav's wife, Rabbanit Mollie Goldstein, at Machon Roni, Diaspora's Torah Seminary for women (también Midreshet-Roni enseña a las mujeres en español. Yo creo que la Yeshiva también enseña a los hombres; pero, a mi pesar, no encontré ninguna página con que enlazar.). My husband began studying with R' Sprecher at Diaspora Yeshiva some six months after our arrival, and is still learning with him more than 9 years later.

More Diaspora Yeshiva: Diaspora Yeshiva's Pre-1967 History, The Vatican and Mount Zion (featuring a 2013 audio interview between the Rav's son R' Yitzhak Goldstein, now Diaspora's Rosh Yeshiva, and Judy Simon, Arutz 7) | Facebook | Diaspora Yeshiva Band | About the Yeshiva

09 December 2016

Motherhood and Amona - R' Nachman Kahana

9 Kislev 5777
Erev Shabbat Vayetze'


BS”D Parashat Vayaitzai 5777
Rabbi Nachman Kahana

The Ultimate Joy of Motherhood

Normal people place great value on having children. But in our parasha the desire for children and the joy and delight exhibited by our grandmothers Rachel, Leah, Bilha and Zilpa upon the birth of their children go beyond the natural feeling of motherhood.
Their delight was in the knowledge that they were chosen to be a major part in the biggest saga in human history – they were to bring into this world the beginning of the 12 tribes which would comprise Am Yisrael.

Ya’akov, undoubtedly, made them aware of the dream he experienced on the Temple Mount, where HaShem promised that his children would be the chosen of all nations to receive the Torah, inherit the Land and enjoy eternal life. Each child was a world unto himself. The characteristics of Reuven were radically different than those of Shimon; and Levi was a world apart from all the others.

To this day, every halachically born Jewish child brings with him and her a holy soul from the upper realms of the spiritual world (converts are pure Jewish souls who for reasons unknown to us had to go through the conversion process).

My grandmother Leah (being a Kohen, I am from the tribe of Levi, Leah’s third son) was overwhelmed with joy when her sixth son Naftali was born, because with his birth she brought forth half of the tribes of Am Yisrael.

Rachel was devastated when Ya’akov’s other three wives gave birth to children while she was barren, until HaShem blessed her with the 11th and 12th tribes – Yosef and Binyamin. Rachel had the unique privilege of giving birth to Binyamin in Eretz Yisrael; the only one of the tribes born in the Holy Land. And while Binyamin’s soul was descending from heaven, his mother’s soul was ascending to the highest realm of the shamayim, as she passed away just after naming the boy.

Bringing Jewish Children into the World

The Jewish nation has the questionable distinction of being one of the numerically smallest in the family of nations. To number around 10 million (halachic Jews) after being in the world close to four thousand years tells the whole story of the price we have paid to survive in a world that rejected HaShem’s Torah in search of more “user friendly” religions which permit the hedonistic desires of the human race to sin and yet feel holy about it.

A Jewish child is a perfection that passed the inspection of the Almighty Himself. The Gemara (Nida) reveals that every Jewish child while being conceived is given an angel who teaches the soon to be born soul the entire Torah. At birth the knowledge of Torah is deposited in the inner recesses of the child’s consciousness – but it is not forgotten. So that in effect when we learn Torah we are not attaining new information but retrieving what we already knew from the recesses of our inner selves.

This answers a question regarding the lovely song at the end of the Pesach Seder – echad mi yodai’ah (Who is aware of the “One”).

The song contains 13 stanzas, each dealing with a number beginning with one till 13.
1 is our God
2 are the Holy Tablets
3 our fathers: Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov
4 our mothers: Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah
5 books of the Torah
6 books of the Mishna
7 days of the week
8 days until a brit mila
9 months of conception
10 Commandments
11 stars in Yosef’s dream
12 tribes
13 attributes of HaShem

All the numbers in the song relate to issues which are totally Jewish except for number 9 which is universal: The nine months of conception. Why?

In fact, there is no exception. Because the author was referring to the nine months of conception of a Jewish child, which as stated above is different than all others of the human race. These are the 9 months of Torah study from an angel – one on one.

To be blessed with a Jewish child is to expand the boundaries of Gan Eden to make room for one more holy soul.

(Judaism and the concepts stated above have nothing in common with what is commonly called racism. Race is a situation one is born into and cannot change. Just as a mouse cannot turn into an elephant, a member of the black race can never turn into a Caucasian and visa versa. However, one who was born a gentile can become a Jew and attain a Jewish neshama as if he were a newborn, hence Judaism is not racist.)

An ugly practice has entered into the mainstream of many Jewish communities in the galut and has started to trickle into our holy land. People are getting married later in life – into their thirties, rather than in their early twenties, as was the norm when I was a young man. Without going into the many negative aspects from a halachic and moral viewpoint, these individuals will in the best case bring but 2 or 3 children into the world.

Sexual perverts not only sin against HaShem, for which they will be severely punished, despite all the rhetoric justifying their right and need to be accepted; they betray the future of our nation. For any such couple will not bring a Jewish child into the world.

Late marriages, perverted sexual preferences and just regular non-orthodox families who have two children (and a dog) will eventually disappear, and the Jewish nation will be comprised of orthodox God-fearing families who fulfill the first mitzva in the Torah “pru u’re’vu” – multiply and be fruitful.

Part Two

The Settlement of Amona


In the parasha, Ya’akov rests for the night on Mount Moriah, the future Temple Mount. There he sees the dramatic vision of the angels who guarded him in Eretz Yisrael ascending the ladder to return to heaven, to be replaced by lesser angels who were sent to guard him in the profane galut.

And HaShem appears to Ya’akov saying:
הארץ אשר אתה שוכב עליה לך אתננה ולזרעך
The ground you are lying on I will give to you and to your descendants
The Gemara (Chulin 91b) records the explanation of this phrase by Rabbi Yitzchak:
מלמד שקפלה הקדוש ברוך הוא לכל ארץ ישראל והניחה תחת יעקב אבינו, שתהא נוחה ליכבש לבניו
This comes to teach that HaShem folded (as it would be) all the land of Yisrael placing it under Yaakov, so that it would be easy to liberate and settle the land in its time.
Rabbi Yitzchak was expressing the idea metaphorically, that in the future Yehoshua Bin Nun at the head of the Jewish army would liberate the Land without sacrifice.

I submit that the phrase is telling us that just as a human being comprises a single indivisible entity, so too will the holy land be from this moment on an indivisible entity belonging exclusively to Ya’akov’s descendants.

International law has classified the State of Israel as a “military occupier” of the West bank and the Golan.  Six UN committees have taken an even larger step towards the muck and mire of political insanity when they declared that the Jewish people have no historic or religious connections to the Temple Mount or to the Kotel.

The Israeli High Court ordered the destruction of the Amona settlement after being in place for 20 years. The court sees itself as being subordinate to international law rather than to Jewish, tradition and history.

One cannot be an occupier in one’s own land. Yehuda and Shomron are the heartland of Eretz Yisrael which was presented to the Jewish people by the Creator. However, when one denies the Torah, it is just a short ideological distance to adopting a gentile orientation and the desire to be accepted by the gentile world.

To uproot the Amona, just as was the uprooting of Gush Katif and giving the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt by Menachem Begin, is a “slap in the face” of the Creator and a denial of our own history.

The highest goal of this generation is the return of our people to the holy land. It overrides any claim to private property some gentile might have, as in the words of Eliyahu the prophet to King Achav when he murdered Naot in order to attain his vineyard:
רצחת וגם ירשת
You have murdered and then taken possession of the victim’s property.
The Romans murdered our people 2000 years ago and the gentiles who came in their wake stole our land.

Amona will be taken down, because of the High Court’s coercive police power. But let it be recorded in the protocols of the Medina, that just as we today have to accept the court’s judicial order, that when the time comes and the law of the land will be the Torah, all people in the Medina will have to comply.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5777/2016 Nachman Kahana
 The video below is a very rare and raw look (yes, it was very bloody and it looks like some people nearly died!) at what happened in Amona 10 years ago, from Honenu. I am afraid that by declaring that they would not oppose the government forces this time, they may have invited themselves to be punished now just as they were then (may it never be. I hope to haShem that I'm wrong!), because whether or not they opposed the evacuation, THE GOVERNMENT'S PURPOSE THEN WAS TO PUNISH THEM, PERIOD. The evacuation takes place tomorrow night, Motza'ei Shabbat.

Let us have the active emunah (אמונה) to support the villagers of Amona (עמונה) this time, however we can! HaShem is with us, especially when the world is not!

Shabbat Shalom!

Some history on Amona


State to request delay of Amona evacuation
Ari Fuld discusses the legal issues surrounding Amona with Simcha Rothman, legal adviser  of Meshilut (the Movement for Governability and Democracy - no Web site yet) on his radio show Bulletproof.
The Complex Nature of the Land
The Regulation[1] Law: Historic Achievement or Farce?

[1] Hasdarah הסדרה, or Resolution in Hebrew -CDG

02 December 2016

"We are Character Witnesses..."

2 Kislev 5777

This post is dedicated l'iluy nishmat my safta, Nazira Cohen Mizrahi, z"l. Unfortunately, I didn't know her - she passed when I was 2 years old and we were on the other side of the country from her (the US, not Israel...) - and I don't know her parents' names. She was born in Haifa in June 1900 as far as I know, and passed on 3 Kislev 5718.

I still have relatives in Haifa, but I have not had a chance to reach out for, or to, them. If anyone can help me put this puzzle together, please comment.

R' Berland in court in South Africa, from the Randburg Sun. The article I linked to notes that while the charges against him are severe, he is not listed on Interpol. Hmmm.

The injustice continues in Israel at the behest of the nations, whose aim it is to destroy her, no matter how. One of their favorite targets is rabbis who manage to win secular Jews to observance. Rivka at Emunaroma.com threw down the gauntlet: "...when one of the leading Gedolei HaDor [R' Dov Kook of Tiveria] puts out a public statement clearly linking Rav Berland’s persecution by the Israeli government to these fires - no-one quoted it. No-one mentioned it."

Well, in my last post I linked to it, and now I will mention it, as fully as I can.

For the past several years the sweeping hand of Erev Rav injustice has come against Rav Eliezer Berland, loaded with invective, slander and libel (If the legal system here had proof, it would have been presented by now. They aren't known for hesitation, particularly when it comes to religious Jews. Apparently the "proof" they had previously hasn't held up to serious scrutiny; in fact, it hadn't met the burden expected of it in Holland and other places. It has gotten to the point that someone is trying to take all the Rav's videos down from YouTube based on false accusations of copyright violation. Shuvu Banim Yeshiva vouches for them on its Web site.). The news here (the voice of the Israeli government, or should I say "system"?) says one thing; some rabbis say another and other rabbis say yet other things (see this search for example). Along with all this, too many people trust the news above all else and haven't kept in mind that every report is hearsay. And a lot of people want to see him jailed until he dies, from the accusatory commentary I'm reading — which I won't link to. I would rather see real legal proceedings...if there are going to be any.

Torah basically commands that a judge not favor either a rich person or a poor one. It doesn't matter whether he is a rabbi, the prime minister or a garbage collector (and even though he could be much more): If he (whoever he is) is innocent, he shouldn't be in jail, and he shouldn't be harassed. The principle is that an innocent person should not be in prison, no matter if he (or she) is the simplest or the greatest; and there is no excuse good enough. The only way to find out is through a real trial, if there are real charges to be brought. Case closed.

The following people bear witness to the Rav's character, wholeheartedly believe he is innocent and that he should be permanently freed immediately. (I'm sorry only because I cannot compile a complete, comprehensive list.)

Apparently the government also does, since he has been freed several times, only to be put back into prison!

Absurd, right?

I am not speaking to people who uncritically believe every word out of a newspaper or TV presentation, no matter where it comes from in the world, even here in Israel. It is clear that they frequently, if not always, lie; furthermore, no matter what kind of society they live in, they mostly serve the government and ultimately the United Nations. And we know how much they love Israel, right?

Bible Code Tables (VIDEO) from R' Matityahu Glazerson:
22 Nov 2016: Rabbi Berland Admits... [to what? and why?]
  1 Aug 2016: Accusation of Rabbi Berland - Erev Rav Rule

28 Jul 2016: Detention of Rabbi Berland in 5776 in Bible code
19 Jul 2016: R' Shimon Badani's statement: "Anyone speaking Lashon Harah about Rav Berland will inherit hell!"
30 July 2015: The Plot against Rabbi Eliezer Berland

Posted 3 May 2016:
Berland-Pinto-Erev Rav (some interesting insights into the case of R' Yosef Pinto as well)
Signs of Mashiach: Persecution of Rabbis
Last Sign before Mashiach: Libel against R' Eliezer Berland (expanded from the one just above)

13 Apr 2016: Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef to Breslov students: "Your Rabbi is a great and righteous man..."

Other Articles in The Rav's Defense
  1 Dec 2016: Three lawyers plead with the Rav not to make a plea bargain

31 Oct 2016: Rav Chaim Reicher visits R' Berland in prison
  6 Apr 2016, Jerusalem Post: Setting the Record Straight about Rav Eliezer Berland

Dani18.com (the autistics)
6 Aug 2016: Rav Berland Live Shiur, 2 Adar B 5776 (Hebrew)
17 Sep 2016: a video was posted here but the original YouTube has been taken down: R' Berland is righteous, don't believe in lies! (Hebrew)

I could go on....but I think the point has been made. There's more if you care to search for it. Meanwhile, please pray for R' Eliezer ben Etya and that he, and we, will live to see justice done.

By the way, it seems to me that the Rav's parents' names, Hayim and Etya (עטיה) mean "Life" and "Pen of G-d" in Hebrew. Hmmm. May these meanings stand him in good stead.

11 Aug 2016: R' Dovid Chaim Stern testifies of R' Berland's character from a personal conversation with the Steipler Ga'on (Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, zz"l), with whom the middle-aged R' Berland was a Torah-learning partner.

I want to thank Rivka Levy (emunaroma and other sites) for her help with my research for this post.

Shabbat Toledoth Shalom!