Wednesday, April 22, 2009


by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

The parshayot of this week deal with ritual impurity and spiritual uncleanness. It is said that evil speech leads to evil consequences - psoriasis (tzoraas) and then some. Evil is really all around us at all times, ready to attach itself to us, but is only held at bay by our righteousness and our purity of speech...

The following is a true story that happened to me in the mid 1990's while still a rabbinical student. The class had just completed a several month review of medieval Jewish commentaries
on charting and calculating women's menstrual cycles, necessary for determining the date for a woman's visit to the mikva, not that I ever needed, or would ever need to use this particular skill set.

It was this week's parsha, which coincided with April 20, Hitler's birthday, Y"Sh. To no one in particular I mentioned that it was a good thing for Hitler that he had changed his name from
Schickelgruber because the image of Nazi rallies of tens of thousands shouting out "Heil Schickelgruber" would have been more comic than anything else. Okay. It was admittedly a lame attempt at humor and that was that. Or so I thought. The time? About 2:30 in the afternoon.

At the time I was the founder and leader of the Ashira Klezmer Orchestra, a wedding band that also played many gigs around the greater New York area in those days. We were fairly talented as most of our members were trained in the former Soviet Union. Say no more. One concert that stood out in my memory was when we played at the opening of the Center for Jewish History and Mayor Giuliani was the keynote speaker. What can I say? While it wasn't my ultimate career choice, it did help in paying the bills while I was continuing my education.

Anyway, I had been trying to reach the owner of Sound City, to finalize a contract signing for his upcoming wedding. We had been playing phone tag and we set up a meeting at his place for that same evening. It was a fairly quick meeting, and in short order the arrangements were finalized and all the paperwork was signed.

On my way out the door as I was about to leave he asked me one final question. But it wasn't about the selection of songs or the number of musicians. Instead, it was about my answering machine, of all things!

"What about it?" I asked him.

"The craziest thing happened," he shared with me. "You wouldn't believe it. Maybe you should check out your answering machine, it can't be good for business," he added.

"I had to call back three times until I finally got through. I kept using my speed dialer, so I know for sure it was the same number that I had dialed each time. But only on the third try did I actually get your voice on the other end. I almost didn't bother calling a third time, to tell you the truth. You really should think about changing your message."

Okay, I'm plotzing now...

"So whose voice did you hear the first two times?," I asked him.

"You're not going to believe this," he said. "It was Hitler's voice, the sound of him giving his famous speeches at his huge Nazi rallies and everyone was shouting out in unison "Heil Hitler." It was really the strangest thing. I was wondering why you would ever use that as your message? As I said, it really couldn't be good for business if you're the owner of a Jewish klezmer band."

"Uh...about what time was it when you were calling me and you say you heard this?" (My palms were now getting sweaty. My heart was now beginning to race. I was starting to get wobbly in the knees).

"About 2:30 in the afternoon."

As I said, this is a true story.....

A Final Thought:
In the weeks in between Pesach and Shavuos it is customary on Sabbath afternoons to study a different chapter from Pirkei Avos, the Ethics of the Fathers - a book of moral guidance and self-improvement. This week we learn the following: "Rabbi (Judah the Prince) said...Consider three things and you will not come into the grip of sin: Know what is above you- a watchful Eye, an attentive Ear, and all your deeds are recorded in a Book. Truer words have never been said.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Passover Feature: Rimnitzer Rebbitzen's Holy Letter to Jonathan Pollard
Passover Feature: Rimnitzer Rebbitzen's Holy Letter to Jonathan Pollard
Justice4JPnews - April 1, 2009
J4JP Preface and Excerpt:
"Jonathan, no you are not a prisoner. You are a great hero and you are beloved by the entire nation of Israel. The day of your freedom will be the beginning of our freedom. The day of your rejoicing will be the beginning of our rejoicing. There is no doubt that there is a deep connection between you and the Nation of Am Yisroel. You are not a separate entity. You are a key character in the Messianic puzzle. The Jewish nation is one united Heart. When the heart of one Jew beats with pain, the hearts of all the multitudes feel it as well."

Words that exit the heart of the writer, say our sages, enter the heart of the reader. The letter which the Rimnitzer Rebbitzen wrote to Jonathan Pollard for Passover is a masterpiece of the soul. Every word is heartfelt and deeply meaningful. The full text follows below. Read it and weep. Read it and rejoice. Read it and learn. Most of all, read it and enjoy!
BS'D 4 Nissan 5769 Sunday, March 29, 2009
Dear Holy and Honorable Brother, Jonathan,
It is with great sorrow and great joy that I write this letter to you. Sorrow, that this letter is necessary and that it will reach you in some dreary prison cell and joy that the words of a fellow sister may bring you some comfort and strength. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Frayda Milka Abramowitz and I am the rebbetzin of the late Rimnitzer Rebbe ZTZ'L and holy Tzadik. (May his merits be a protection to us all) The Rebbe was an awesome Tzadik and thousands have had miraculous salvations and miracles through the intervention of his holy and heartfelt prayers. The Rebbe lived in a town in Moldova, Russia near the Ukraine, which was called Ribnitza. There, he was a lone single Jew serving Hashem against the wishes and rigid Laws of the notorious KGB and he did everything right in front of their noses, breaking every law they implemented and being a true servant of Hashem. They tried to make his life miserable and they followed him and threatened him but when a man holds on to Hashem with true sincerity and overcomes fear of man for the law of Hashem, then even his enemies make peace with him. Eventually, even the dreadful KGB came to realize that he is a man of G-D and they secretly began coming to him to ask him for blessings for their personal trials and challenges. He would tell them that if they promised never to hurt any Jew again, he would pray for them. They promised, he prayed and G-D performed the miraculous.

The Rebbe was a Shochet and made sure the Jews ate Kosher and he was a Mohel, who risked his life to circumcise children. The Rebbe was very stringent about going to the Mikvah and since it was forbidden and there were none available he would go to the Dniester River, even in the thick of winter when the temperature dropped thirty or forty below zero and the winds were howling and he would break the ice water with an ice pick until he would succeed in reaching the icy waters and then he would immerse three hundred and ten times. (a Kabalistic number with special intentions) By the time the Rebbe immersed and came out of the water his clothing were solid frozen and he could not wear them so he did the only thing he could possibly do. He would dip his clothing into the icy waters, wring them out and put them on his own frozen body while dripping wet and run up the mountain for approximately two miles and go home to say his prayers. He would do this once or twice a day and sometimes even more. A Super human feat, no doubt. How did he accomplish this? Well, the fire of his own soul must have melted the frozen ice.

In 1971 he immigrated to Israel and in 1973 he came to the U.S. and lived in Brooklyn N.Y. I married him in 1980 after his holy rebbetzin passed on. At the time I was thirty three, divorced with three little daughters and he was going on ninety. Our meeting and marriage is a most wondrous drama designed by Hashem and being married to him for a little short of sixteen years all I can say is that I have tasted heaven, right here on earth. The Rebbe was so angelic. He was holy and wise, kind and loving. He would have loved you and you would have loved him. By Techiyas Hamaysim (resurrection) I hope to personally introduce you to him. The Rebbe had an amazing sense of humor, was very down to earth and could relate to anyone on their own level.

At the time I married him I had no idea how old he was. I would have married him even if he was two thousand years old. After we were married I once asked him "By the way, how old are you?" so he answered me with a straight face "Why, I must be hitting Forty soon" so I told him "How can you say that you are forty. It is written in the Mishna in Pirkai Avos that a young man should marry at eighteen and we just got married so you must be eighteen" he laughed heartily and asked "and how old are you?" I answered him that I was thirty three. "Oy Vey" he said while putting both his hands on the side of his head "What in the world have I done here, I married such an old woman." Such was his sweet and sharp sense of humor.

I am presently in the midst of writing a book about his life. I have already done over eight hundred interviews in Israel and now G-d willing I will begin doing interviews here in the U.S. I have collected beyond amazing stories. I am enclosing a photo of my husband so that you can enjoy looking at his holy countenance. The Rebbe passed on Isru Chag Succos thirteen and a half years ago and he is buried here in Monsey N.Y. a few minutes from my present residence.

And now holy brother Jonathan, I ask Hashem to allow me to find the proper words that can express to you the feelings that the entire nation of Israel has in regard to you and your unjust imprisonment. I sit facing my computer and tears fill my eyes as I imagine you sitting in some lonely corner reading this letter. I can only try to imagine what it must feel like to be in a place where you are very conscious of every second the clock is ticking away and where that very second lasts an eternity. I can only try and imagine what it must feel like when the bird flying outside the prison wall seems to have more freedom than you do. I can only try to imagine what it must feel like when you long to be home with your incredible wife, sitting at the Shabbos table and tasting all the Shabbos delicacies. I can go on and on because everything you desire and hope for and yearn for and long for is unreachable to you at this point and everything that is painful and uncomfortable and lonely is your present physical reality. You have become entrapped in a seemingly endless abyss where hopes are born, visions are witnessed and dreams are dreamt while reality holds its threatening hammer trying to shatter it all. Your life has become a war of sorts fluctuating between faith and despair, between hope and disappointment between physical darkness and spiritual light, between gratefulness for the good and wondrous and desperate prayer for the nightmare to finally end.

Holy Jonathan, what is the purpose of this letter? Can I write words that are meant to strengthen? Can I find words that will comfort? Can words turn the key to your freedom? Can they send you home to your beloved and devoted wife so that you can be her glorious King at the Pesach Seder table rather than an inmate in some despised prison cell? I sure wish that it could. Hashem is the only one that has that capability. It is He that designed every intricate pattern of your most challenging drama. It is He that will say "Dayenu.Enough!!!" It is He that will create your journey of true freedom. No Governments, no Presidents, no Dignitaries, and no Lawyers.Messengers, they can all be but only by the will of Hashem's command. So why is Hashem involved in this entire "Jonathan Pollard Scenario?" You Jonathan may not realize how important a character you are in the story of our Final Redemption. By all means you are not a private citizen. You are a key character and your soul is made of holy iron. On a personal level you have turned yourself into a Tzadik. You have joined the ranks of the righteous of our nation. You have passed your test with flying colors. Do not be fooled for even a moment by your inmate number and by your prisoner's uniform. They are merely props that were put on the stage to enhance your performance. Every thought, every move, every word that you utter from the constraints of your prison cell moves mountains and builds worlds. You have projected unconditional love instead of hate, forgiveness instead of anger, and joy in place of sorrow. The
Rabbis that went to visit you were all in awe of your sterling qualities and strength of Character. They spoke of your unshakable faith. Where they expected to meet a man of weakness and anger they found one of unimaginable courage and love. An evolved soul you are and I would not be in the least surprised to find that you are one of the thirty six hidden Tzadikim that uphold the gravity of our nation and our world.

We live in parallel universes and as there is a Jonathan imprisoned down here there is a higher form of a Jonathan up there and it is that very Jonathan that guides your thoughts and words and feelings and it is that Jonathan that whispers in your soul and tells you and sings to you and gives you the strength to believe that there is way more to this story than what meets the physical eye. It is that Jonathan that knows the spiritual reasons behind all this. It is that Jonathan that knows where the root of your soul comes from. It is that Jonathan that understands the contribution you are making towards our imminent redemption. It is that Jonathan that is in touch with the deep everlasting love of His creator. It is that Jonathan that has all the answers to the most puzzling questions. It is that Jonathan that understands what his secret mission is and what his life's goal should be. That upper Jonathan never leaves your side. He hovers over you and smiles at you and roars with holy laughter as he whispers to you while explaining the wonders of the final episode in your excruciating and most unique drama.

Jonathan, if you happen to be wondering where G-D is hiding and why the day of your redemption has not yet arrived after hundreds of thousands of prayers have been uttered and an ocean of tears have been shed on your behalf, then know that you and Hashem and the entire nation of Israel and the Holy land of Eretz Hakodesh are all tied together in an intangible knot of unity and purpose. The Birth pangs of Moshiach are happening at a faster pace and at a higher frequency. The countdown is moving at the speed of lightening and the deception is truly, most amazing. As it gets darker the hidden light is about to burst in an explosive surge of holy and joyous energy. As the economy is drowning quickly it is about to explode in a wave of unimaginable abundance. As the enemies plan to annihilate us Hashem is planning His glorious revelation. As the nations spit forth evil terroristic leaders the beauty of our king Moshiach is about to be revealed.

Picture the following: Imagine that you had an electronic device that could tune into thought frequencies. You know Jonathan; you would never cease to be amazed. Imagine that this little device had a channel that could tune into emotions and another channel that could tune into the heartfelt prayers that are traveling heaven bound. Even more so, try to imagine that the machine was so incredibly sophisticated that it could even tune into the on goings in the heavenly Chambers. What a new life that could mean for you. Every single second this device would inform you of another Jew saying a prayer on your behalf. Every second of the day or night it would reveal another tear shed and another sigh that emerged deep from within the heart of a fellow sister or brother on your behalf. Every second you would be receiving brain wave messages of thousands of people thinking about you, praying for you, sending you their wishes for health and joy and hope and faith. Imagine this device keeping track of the endless visions of your caring large family as they all sit and imagine the moment of your release from prison life to your smiling wife waiting for you as the plane doors open to bring you home. Imagine that you could tune into the heavenly Chambers and hear the Voice of the Divine Presence speak. "Blessed is Yonnasan Ben Malka! "May he have the strength to survive another day as his salvation is so close. May he know comfort and healing and love and may he experience true Freedom forever. May he never end enjoying his unimaginable upcoming ecstatic rewards."

Jonathan, while sitting in an isolated cell, you have somehow succeeded to attach yourself to an entire nation. There is not a moment that goes by without someone talking about you or sending you their best wishes and asking Hashem to release you from severe bondage. It is not possible that you would be oblivious to these happenings. You are tied to us all by invisible strings that have a power that nothing can ever break. Hundreds of thousands of strings that tug at your heart and soul and fill you with super human strength to survive that which would normally be impossible. No Prayer ever goes to waste. No tear ever vanishes. No thought ever disappears. It reaches its intended target and it makes great waves. Waves that are large enough to save you from actually drowning. Waves that carry you over the restless oceans. Waves that lift you up to the loving arms of Hashem. As He rocks your very world and shakes it from its very foundation He never the less joins you on that disorienting journey and whispers into your soul of better days yet to come.

Jonathan, do you remember those Twin Towers that stood so powerful and tall and made a statement to the world? One moment they stood. An hour later they were melted into mere nothingness. Who would have ever imagined such a possibility? Just so, holy Jonathan, now you sit behind locked prison doors with your release a seemingly distant dream and in the mere blink of an eye you could be sitting next to your Esther, in our holy Jerusalem having Moshiach himself as your honored guest, reciting the blessings at your Seudas Hoda'ah celebration, joined by the entire Am Yisroel. Amen.and so may it be His will.

The birth pangs of Moshiach.What are they? They are Jonathan in a prison cell. The birth pangs of Moshiach.Why are they? Because Hashem's original thought is His end deed. Your soul must have willingly volunteered for this high mission. Otherwise how can one answer the fact that you have miraculously survived twenty three long torturous years of this nightmare? It is not humanly possible to go through all this and remain as strong and faithful as you are. Something super natural is going on here. Physically your health may be challenged but spiritually you are a wonder to behold. The Soul is stronger than the body and the Spirit is richer than the challenges which it endures.

How many people can find and marry their true soul mate while serving time? How many men are fortunate to have wives that are as devoted to them as Esther is to you? How many men can say that a mere spiritual connection keeps their marriage rock solid strong? How many couples are fortunate enough to be adopted by Harav Mordechai Eliyahu (Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel) who loves you as his most Cherished Children? Yes, Hashem has tested you severely but He keeps throwing in some sweet smelling spices in your package deal, to constantly rejuvenate you and when you feel that your breath is being taken from you and you have no more strength to inhale even one more prison breath, a new letter arrives and fills you with new oxygen and new life and new hope. Suddenly, you feel like an Angel is standing over your shoulder and singing a most exquisite melody and the harmony of his song is so deliciously soothing and he carries you away on His outstretched wings of holiness to wider and more beautiful places than to what your dreary prison walls project. On the dance floor of your mind, you dance with Hashem Himself as He convinces you of His never ending and eternal Love. Your prison experience encompasses the highest and the lowest, the darkest and the most awesome light merged into a strange unity. Darkness is your daily reality. Light, are the gifts of Esther, the Rabbis, your family, the Nation of Israel, your connection and love for Hashem and the faith of a glorious and joyous future. The highest experience is the intensity and sacrifice of your mission and the lowest experience is the terribly shocking betrayal of those for whom you have sacrificed.

My brother, Yonnasan Ben Malka. I have been planning this letter for the longest time. I have carried it around in my consciousness. Endless times a day I said to myself that I am going to stop the world and sit down to write this letter but the emotions were much too overwhelming to express and the pain much too difficult to carry and the proper words would simply elude me. I want you to know that every night when I kiss the Mezuzah I have a certain routine that I say which includes the blessing of; "Blessed are you Hashem who releases Prisoners" and I ask Hashem that until that wondrous moment arrives He shall keep you healthy and strong and joyous and I ask Him to give you whatever it takes to make you hold on to Him with every fiber of your being. I also say the specific prayer for you and Esther that someone in Jerusalem gave me many years ago. Then I would ask Hashem to give me the proper words so that I could write you a letter that would actually make a difference and bring you some measure of comfort and relief. Then I pray for Gilad Ben Aviva (Shalit) and the three young boys in Japan and all the other prisoners I know or was told about and for all the ones that I don't know as well. The plight of prisoners deeply touches the hearts of free men. In a sense we cannot really say that because in this terrible exile none of us are free men. Until we are not standing in our Bais Hamikdash basking in the revealed glory of Hashem, we are all prisoners of our Galus mentality.

Yonnasan Ben Malka, in the month of Nissan we were redeemed and in the month of Nissan may Hashem once again redeem us. May you and Esther stand together on the hilltops of Jerusalem with this entire nightmare happily behind you. May those who were messengers to oppress you beg your forgiveness and make peace with you as the wonder of your soul is revealed to all and we the entire nation of Israel will humbly and sincerely ask your forgiveness because it is not for your sins that you carry this heavy burden. We are responsible for each other and you have volunteered to carry our sins as well. We are all a reflection of each other.

In the school of life you have been an outstanding student. In the University of Life you have turned into an excellent teacher. Even the rabbis who went to visit you claimed that they learned so much from you. Your diploma is already waiting and signed by all the giant men of spirit who walked this planet before you. The "Freedom Academy Award" is going to be granted to you and then Hashem, His Holy Angels, the Patriarchs, the Matriarchs, the Prophets and Prophetess, the Moshiach himself and the entire nation of Israel will give you a roaring standing ovation, as pure and joyous tears will roll from your holy eyes. Jonathan, no you are not a prisoner. You are a great hero and you are beloved by the entire nation of Israel. The day of your freedom will be the beginning of our freedom. The day of your rejoicing will be the beginning of our rejoicing. There is no doubt that there is a deep connection between you and the Nation of Am Yisroel. You are not a separate entity. You are a key character in the Messianic puzzle. The Jewish nation is one united Heart. When the heart of one Jew beats with pain, the hearts of all the multitudes feel it as well.

I know that you cannot return letters but perhaps you can tell your dear Esther that you have received it. I hope it was a dose of healthy oxygen for your heart, body, soul and spirit. Even a better scenario; I hope you are out of prison even before this letter reaches you. I will e-mail Esther a copy. I do not think this is my own voice. I believe this is the voice of an entire nation who is with you on this journey, deeply identifying with your plight. Stay strong Yonnasan, our holy brother. Inhale Freedom and exhale Slavery. Inhale Faith and exhale Despair. The way out of any trouble is with an abundance of Joy. Does Hashem want you to be Joyous even in Prison? Yes, by all means He does. It is written that we will all be redeemed in the merit of the Joy we maintained even through the horrors of our exile. Many of us make this great error thinking that if you are in pain then you cannot feel joy. The source of joy emanates from within our souls. You can have troubles. You can identify with troubles, yet you can live on Happy Lane as you simultaneously live on Challenge Lane. What is the tool that can make this phenomena a reality? Faith, holy Yonnasan. Undisputed faith. To believe that Hashem designed our lives with total precision and exactitude. To believe that we each play a very significant part in the scheme of creation. And mainly to believe that Hashem does everything with utmost compassion and unconditional love. Easier said than done, I know, but joy is of a spiritual substance while sorrow and anguish are the result of our own interpretation to the complexities of life. Yonnasan, your sorrow may be deeper than others, your anguish may be more extreme yet you are on an exalted mission and your rewards will be far, far greater.

As I end this letter I say a silent prayer to Hashem that each and every word shall enter your heart, soul and spirit, soothing you and healing your body of all its ailments. May it be an infusion of strength, an upgrade in perspective and a comfort in the dark prison night. May the walls of your prison stretch beyond its physical dimensions to include the lights of compassion shining from the hearts of every Jew who ever prayed for you, or shed a tear of hope on your behalf.

May your weariness turn into positive energy. May your constant holy longing for freedom become a pure sacrifice on the holy Alter of Exile. May the narrowness of your prison be exchanged to the openness of Hashem's possibilities. Jonathan, instead of looking at the clock and counting "Twenty Three Years, plus" please, look at the clock and see that each second that goes by you are one second closer to your Freedom, one second closer to being home with Esther in Jerusalem and one second closer to Moshiach's imminent arrival. In spite of what logic throws at you, No man has the power to imprison you and No man has the power to free you. Hashem is sitting in the Control Tower. He is pushing ALL the buttons that control your life. He wrote the script and He chose you to play "Jonathan Pollard." Your performance is mesmerizing. Even the script writer is stunned by your talents and capabilities. The entire world is watching and the Drama hurts. The audience is very emotionally involved. The Grand Finale is about to begin. The curtains are drawn. The stage is set. The audience wants to witness the exquisite Climax of the story. Jonathan, broaden your horizons. Stretch them beyond your prison walls. Whenever you feel isolated and alone then try and remember that an entire nation is behind you. Try and remember that you are the heartbeat of this Drama and every breath you inhale in prison causes thousands to pray that you finally breathe the holy air of Jerusalem.

Everyone knows that there was a great bond of love that existed between Jonathan and David. Soon everyone will know that there will be a great bond of love between Jonathan and the Son of David. Because when Moshiach will arrive He will point at you and tell the world the real story behind the story. Then your sacrifice will be taken to new heights. Then all the betrayal will be to your advantage. You will be exalted and beloved by the entire world. You will no longer be known as Jonathan, the prisoner. You will be known as Jonathan, the Tzadik. Jonathan, the great Jewish Hero. Jonathan, who played an important role in our final redemption.

With hope for your imminent release,
Frayda Milka Abramowitz, Rimnitzer Rebbetzin
[Note: May be reprinted in toto with accreditation. Specific edits require author's consent. Author can be contacted c/o J4JP]

Friday, April 3, 2009


by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Judaism is quite clear about guarding the sensitivities of people'sfeelings. Everybody knows that we cover the challah while making Kiddush so as not to hurt the feelings of the challah. For after all, if the wine and the challah are of equal value, the challah would feel quite insulted, and rightly so, to know that the wine was being blessed first. So we cover it up so it shouldn't see (or hear).

Now if we are so concerned about the feelings of bread, al achat kama vekama, how much more so, then, should we be concerned not to insult a fellow human being. We see this principle at work, as well, in this week's parsha Tzav.

Leviticus.6:6: "Ve zot torat hamincha...This is the law of the meal offering..."

Now in the interest of full disclosure I must confess a personal interest in this particular verse, as the name Melman is of kohanic origin, connected to the rites of the meal offering- mel deriving from the yiddish "mehl,"meaning flour. So my ancestors were not only kohanim, priests, but they were also flour-offering specialists.

The next verse (vs. 8) reads: "ve herim mimenu bekumtzo misolet hamincha... And he shall separate from it with his threefingersful some of the fine flour of the meal offering..."

Now why the three fingersful? Why not a whole fistful using all the fingers? Trying this at home, you will find that in so doing you are miming the head of a cow (the thumb and pinky serve as the horns), the horizontal hand and vertical forearm foreshadowing the future shape of the vowel kamatz!

Now the mincha offering was expressly for those who could not afford the more expensive meat-based offerings. If you couldn't afford to bring an actual live cow as an offering, then a symbolic substitute would do the job just as well, the Torah is teaching us.

Synagogues take note: just as God wanted in His Holy Temple that no one should be barred from drawing near to Him or disadvantaged in any way because of money, so too in our synagogues of today we can do no less.

We also use the pinky in yet another substitutive ritual- at the Passover Seder. While saying out loud the ten plagues over a full cup of wine we dip our pinky finger into the wine cup and flick a drop of wine into a plate at the name of each of the ten plagues. Why?

We develop our sensitivity to feel the pain of others, even the pain of our enemies. As a full cup of wine symbolizes happiness and joy, when we diminish the wine from our cup at the naming of the plagues, we learn to diminish our joy even when our enemy suffers. We do not pass out candies and sweets.

The famous story about Kamtza and Bar Kamtza touches on this theme most deliciously. In this story (BT Gittin 55b-56a) a man named Kamtza was invited to a banquet but the host's enemy named Bar Kamtza was sent the invitation by mistake. Showing up at the banquet, Bar Kamtza was quickly thrown out, even after offering to pay the costs of the banquet so as to avoid being humiliated in public. All the great rabbis were at the banquet. But no one said a word. No one spoke out.

When no one protested this humiliation he stirred up trouble for his fellow Jews with the Roman authorities. Consequently, they say that Jerusalem was destroyed on account of our not showing sensitivity to the feelings of others. The embarrassment we inflict on others comes back to us many times over. So when we read of the kohen taking his handful (kamtza) of flour for the mincha offering so as to preserve the feelings of the poor in our midst, let us remember the story Bar Kamtza as well. Emotional pain hurts too.

Shabbat Shalom.

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua
(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)

Dedications are available.

Reb Shlomo with Reb Zusha ben Avraham Zimmerman

Reb Shlomo with Reb Zusha ben Avraham Zimmerman

What mind is it?

"Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people."
-Eleanor Roosevelt


"If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix..... If you believe that you can harm, then believe that you can heal..........." Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

- anonymous
"Perhaps the greatest force in the entire universe is compounded interest."

- Albert Einstein
When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.- Abraham Joshua Heschel
The whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the most important thing is to not be afraid.
-Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
"The greatest thing in the world is to do somebody else a favor." - Aish Kodesh
"As you want G*d to give you a chance, give everyone else a chance to also begin again." - Shlomo Carlebach

About Me

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I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!