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Torah Thoughts for Today
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
 
Good Triumphs Over Evil on Passover: Russia Triumphed Over Germany and Saved the Jews
By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA
Author: The Second World War and Jewish Education in America: The Fall and Rise of Orthodoxy
Email: rudomin@jpi.org
Brooklyn, NY, USA

The Triumph of Good Over Evil Lives On in all Generations!

Passover is a time when the Jewish People recall the time when their ancestors the Children of Israel were almost crushed into oblivion by the Ancient Egyptians, but then in the nick of time God came to the rescue of the Jews, annihilated their enemies and brought out the Children of Israel from slavery to freedom to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai.

It did not come easy, that's for sure! The Jewish Sources teach that there is a notion of 49 Levels of Impurity that a people can sink to, the 50th Level so to speak is total oblivion. The ancient Israelites were approaching total oblivion in Ancient Egypt since they were subjected to enslavement, humiliation, degradation and abuse! But then when all seemed hopeless and lost, God Remembered that He had made a deal with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to redeem their descendants from bondage in Egypt. So God chose Moses and sent him to confront Pharaoh to release the Children of Israel. Pharaoh resisted and defied Moses and God. So a confrontation and struggle arose. God punished the Egyptians with the Ten Plagues. The Israelites were set free and liberated.

These kind of struggles did not just happen in ancient times! In our own day and age, not so long ago during World War Two from 1939 to 1945 there was a global struggle between the forces of Evil and the Forces seeking to set people free. In the end the evil people lost (naturally, because bad guys NEVER win!) and at great costs in human life and suffering, humanity was finally liberated from the evils of Nazism and Fascism. 


The world will not go back to those dark days ever again!

The Russian people and its armies were one of the greatest partners in the destruction of the evil Nazi Empire, that is very important to know. Yes, they themselves were still in the middle of a Communist makeover, but it did not take long for that system to fail and it left the Russian People free to be themselves again, and they have always been strong and decent people.

The Russian people are good people! They have been the victims of cruel governments, the corrupt Romanovs and then the cruel Bolsheviks, but the nature of the Russian people is a very good one. 

Russian Jews likewise are very good and brave and courageous people. Do not cross them!!! You fight them at your own peril!!!

I should know, I have taught many of them Hebrew and Judaism in New York City when they came to the USA. I learned that from my Father Dovid Rudomin who even though he was born in Lithuania, and then escaped into the Forests surrounding Vilna (Vilnius) and became a Partisan fighting the accursed Nazis, and then he joined the Russians as they took him into the vaunted Red Army to fight for the freedom of the world and the liberation of the Jews from the dark tyrannies of German Nazism. As we know from History, the Russians won big time, and the Germans lost even more!

Here is a pic of my father Dovid Rudomin in the late 1940s soon after World War Two taken in Stockholm, Sweden where he was recuperating from his war injuries and the traumas of war. You can tell he was a very dashing fellow, he was a war hero and received many medals for bravery in war from the Russian Red Army:


Above: My late Father Dovid Rudomin, born in Vilna, Lithuania, died in Johannesburg, South Africa. May his soul finally rest in peace!

My father came from the Vilna in Lithuania that was destroyed during the Holocaust, similar to these Holocaust survivors from Vilna who give their testimonies, their tales of horror seem like tales from The Exodus, and indeed the Nazis were just the same as the Ancient Egyptians and they both met the same fate at the Hands of God:
 



My Father was never captured nor did he go to any concentration camps but thank God through great miracles he managed to escape into the Vilna Forests, fought as a Vilna Partisan, and then when the triumphant Red Army came sweeping down defeating the Germans, he, like many others, was conscripted into the Red Army into the Tank Corps and his tank had the duty to go out onto the front lines, read in the coordinates for the Katyusha Rockets that would fire over the front line Russian troops' heads mercilessly crushing the vile Nazis!

Actual news reports during World War Two about the fighting by the tenacious Russians against the arrogant Nazis:



And this went on until the very end of the war when my Father was wounded in Germany in 1945. He told me that a Russian soldier will share with you his last piece of bread with you and get insulted if you refuse him. The Russian people are very compassionate people, just do not get them angry, you have met your match!

This is true from history. When the Roman and Byzantine Empires finally collapsed to the onslaughts of the German tribes in the West and the Islamic invasions in the East, it was Russia that became the last stronghold for what was left of what we call Western and Roman culture, at least the better part of it. This is not to say that they are saints, but they are not devils either as they are often maligned and misunderstood to be.

It is not easy being a Russian, either a gentile or a Jew. Rulers are never easy on the people in Russia. People are very tough and ruthless. You have to mind your manners very carefully over there, they do not tolerate rudeness at all. It is a harsh country with mountains, rivers, plains and the famous freezing Russian winters that not even the vaunted Napoleon leading the French invaders and haughty Hitler with his hypnotized German invaders could deal with.


Let's face it, if not for Russia with its "General Winter" and tough fighting men, then both Napoleon and Hitler would have conquered the world. Russia with its people, brilliant but ruthless leaders and it's harsh Winters ground both Napoleon and Hitler's armies to a halt putting an end to their vile ambitions of world domination once and for all.  

People underestimate Russia at their own peril!

The Mirrer Yeshiva, now located in Jerusalem is the largest Yeshiva in Israel, with branches in America as well, was the only Eastern European Lithuanian-type Yeshiva to survive The Holocaust intact with its student body of hundreds of students and many learned rabbis escaped through Russia, via the Tran Siberian Railway to the Far East. Millions of Russian Jews survived the Holocaust because they were inside Russia, Jews were the main leaders in the Communist Regime from its inception for a long time, starting from the original father of the Red Army himself the Bolshevik Revolutionary Leon Trotsky, and over half a million Jews served in the Russian army during World War Two including in top command positions helping to defeat Hitler and his vaunted Wehrmacht!

My father told me about a great Russian General who was Jewish that he knew about and greatly admired in his 30s who even though he was a very young man yet he ably led the large parts of the Russian Army in some of its first great victories against the evil Germans. His name was Ivan Chernyakhovsky "1906 – 1945, was the youngest ever Soviet general of the army, twice Hero of the Soviet Union and commander of the 3rd Belorussian Front. He died from wounds received outside Königsberg at age 38..." (Wikipedia):



                The Jewish Russian General Ivan Chernyakhovsky

Yes, Russians drink hard and sing loud and party hard. But they are also very hard-working and take no nonsense. And think of it, Russia was the ONLY European country that if a Jew could get inside its borders he or she was safe. With all the niceness comes cruelty. It is always like that, there is always a balance in the world. The same Czars that stopped Napoleon were also the ones to persecute their Jews! The same Russians that let Jews escape through their borders also imposed the harshest Communist regimes and doctrines crushing Judaism.

And the same Russia that enforced Atheism under Communism is the same Russia that today allows Chasidim and Jews to rebuild Torah Judaism all over, with it's current leader even having his own "rabbi" as a close adviser.

As Winston Churchill said about Russia: 

"Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma"!

And so is the world and all of life!! 

See these amazing videos of the VICTORY PARADES held by Russia after World War Two, as they say, VICTORY WILL BE MINE, and MINE ALONE!!! With the help of God:

Russian Victory Parade 2016:


Russian Victory Parade 2015:


Russian Victory Parade, In English:



Russian Victory Parade 2014:


Russian Victory Parade 1945:


First Israel Israeli Victory Parade 1948-9:



Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu156896.html
Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu156896.html

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Ivanka Trump forgot to register with the party her father is trying to win, she cannot let that happen to the Jews
By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA
Author: The Second World War and Jewish Education in America: The Fall and Rise of Orthodoxy
Email: rudomin@jpi.org
Brooklyn, NY, USA

Loyalty is a very important thing. Without loyalty there can be no family, no community and no country. Loyalty is probably the key ingredient in uniting people around any cause. People can be intimidated into doing things but that does not breed loyalty. Loyalty is an awareness and commitment to a higher cause. Once there is loyalty there is unity and love between people. It may be misdirected and require rectification, unfortunately evil people also display loyalty but to the wrong person and the wrong ideas, but at least the raw quality of loyalty may one day be sublimated for the correct cause. Loyalty to the truth is the key to every true loyalty. The truth of the Torah is the greatest and only truth because as that saying goes "it's God's truth. (Yeah, what did you expect an Orthodox rabbi to say that we should be loyal to rich people or to the Golden Calf maybe?) If people are loyal to something objectionable, meaning they are being disloyal that is fine, it just tells us who we are dealing with.

I was on the New York subway system today and as I often do I buy the New York Post to scan some of the news items. I used to read the New York Times but I gave that up about a decade ago once I was able to get my news online. But being on the New York subways is such a down-to-Earth experience it is fitting to read a down to Earth paper like the New York Post as the train races along making its stops. So there I was leafing through the articles today and then something caught my eye about the Trumps. There is a pic of Donald with son Eric and daughter Ivanka and the curious headline 

"Oh, gee, sorry, Dad

Two of Donald Trump's adult children won't vote for their dad when New Yorkers go to the polls next Tuesday - because they didn't bother to register as Republicans....Daddy Trump claimed ignorance on behalf of Eric, 32, and Ivanka, 34....'They had a long time to register and they were,...unaware of the rules,...they didn't register in time....So they feel very, very guilty....So Eric and Ivanka,...won't be voting.' " ([Reporting by] David K.Li. New York Post, Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Page 8)

Now honestly as a rabbi this does not concern me and it is up to people to decide how they wish to exercise or not exercise their democratic rights and privileges in the United States of America or anywhere for that matter. I know that rabbis do urge all Jewish people to register and cast their votes in both primaries and in general elections. As rabbis we do not and cannot tell people how to vote because we do not interfere in any political process. We respect the freedoms and rights of everyone to vote their conscience. But we do urge people to fulfill their civic observations to the full and not to neglect any aspect of the voting process because it is part of our civic and civil duty as citizens of the USA.

While of course rabbis do and should worry about the Jewish People and the state of Judaism and work to raise the standards of Jewish Observance, study of the Torah and teach about the ways of God and how we can become better Jews because that is our job! We also teach people that Judaism stresses that it is important to care for the poor and give them charity, to take care to protect orphans and widows because they are vulnerable and God wants us to pay more attention to the weak ones among us that they should not be trampled, and to love true Converts ("Gerim" in Hebrew).

Since Ivanka Trump is now one of the world's most famous Converts, in Hebrew a female convert is known as a Giyoret, we cannot help ourselves from noticing when she is in the news. It happens to be that Ivanka Trump herself is a famous celebrity in the full sense of the word and she became a Giyoret under the auspices of some well-known leading Modern Orthodox rabbis in Manhattan, so as an Orthodox Jew and and as an Orthodox Rabbi I would have to be deaf and blind not to hear or read about what's doing with Ivanka on any given day now that her famous father is running for president of the USA and it has been reported over and over again that Ivanka Trump is a key player in Donald Trump's election campaign.

It makes one really wonder just what they are thinking by running as Republicans and insisting that the Republicans submit to them, when Ivanka and her brother who is also involved with the Trump organization have not even bothered to register as Republicans in the first place! Just think if a top employee of the Trump organization missed a key Trump event or did not register for something that Trump people must all register for (there has to be something!) just how amused would the Trumps be if someone did that to them by not registering with one of their required "registries" how long would such an employee last? He or she would be "fired" in half a mili-second.

Now honestly as I said as a rabbi I really could not care less what the Trumps or anyone does with their voter or work registrations. But what does worry me is that when someone has joined the Jewish People in an Orthodox fashion, as Ivanka Trump has so publicly, I start to wonder if there is anything she may have "overlooked" or "forgotten" about that is important to Orthodox Jews and Judaism even if they are Modern Orthodox Jews and it's Modern Orthodox Judaism that they belong to like Ivanka and her Jewish husband Jared Kushner.


Here is another pic of that famous stroll Jared and Ivanka took with their baby, Jared is holding a Lulav in one hand and Ivanka with the other, on what must have been the Jewish holiday of Sukkot:




So therefore when I read the recent article in AMI magazine about the strong ties Fred Trump, Donald Trump's dad, allegedly had with the Ku Klux Klan, according to attorney and intelligence expert and author John Loftus, in his very brave and groundbreaking article "Klansmen in High Places?" (AMI Magazine, March 30, 2016, pp. 70 - 75), that Fred Trump became wealthy through his connections with the KKK, and that Donald was very close with his father Fred who helped launch Donald's career, and now that Ivanka is so close with her own father Donald as well, one wonders if she is very clear that an Orthodox Jew, even a Modern Orthodox Jew or Jewess cannot "forgot" to renounce any lingering appearances of disloyalty to the Jewish people, and certainly cannot in all good conscience even very remotely belong to or associate with one of the most hateful anti-Semitic organizations on this planet which is what the KKK very much still is.


Here is a clip from a news item that caused a stir over alleged Ku Klux Klan connections with the Trumps. Something that should alarm every Jew, not just Orthodox Jews, because as they say, where there is smoke there is fire and Ivanka needs to help us concerned Jews out here by saying something about the subject:


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Sunday, April 10, 2016
 
Admiring Ivanka Trump by an Orthodox rabbi, and a question
By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA
Author: The Second World War and Jewish Education in America: The Fall and Rise of Orthodoxy
Email: rudomin@jpi.org
Brooklyn, NY, USA

As Passover approaches it is a good thing to think about the topic of conversion in Judaism. 

The word "ger" in Hebrew means convert or stranger or dweller in the Torah, and the Torah (Hebrew Bible) tells us to remember that the Children of Israel, meaning the Jewish People, were "gerim" -- converts or strangers -- in Ancient Egypt over 3,300 years ago and that we as Jews must therefore love the "ger" convert because we ourselves were "gerim" converts in Egypt. So this is a very serious matter as far as the Torah and Judaism goes as every learned and caring Jew knows.

So I love all true Gerim as much as, if not more, than I love even ordinary born Jews. There is so much about this topic of conversions that I would like to talk about. Over the years I have written and advocated on this topic at great length.


Which brings me to the subject of probably the best known and most glamorous of today's converts to Judaism: Ivanka Trump!

I have always greatly admired Ivanka Trump since she appeared on the national scene a few years ago. I follow the news closely and I try to keep up with some celebrities and trends. 

This is partly out of my innate curiosity about the world at large, since I am after all a trained historian and I like to study historical trends as they unfold and not just about the past.

We have all heard by now how Ivanka Trump has converted to Modern Orthodox Judaism when she married Jared Kushner. They are a lovely couple. 

There are so many pics and videos of them online. One of my favorites is of Ivanka and Jared pushing their baby while Jared holds a Lulav and Etrog with Ivanka on his arm wearing a hat and looking like they were going to or coming from Synagogue obviously on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot (Tabernacles) because that is when it is a Mitzva (commandment from the Torah by God) to do that. 

Here is that pic, it was in some of the NY papers at the time as well:


Both in my personal life as well as in my working life as a Kiruv Jewish outreach rabbi, a roving ambassador to secular Jews, this topic of famous non-Jews converting to true Orthodox Judaism concerns me on many very deep and powerful levels. 

For someone in my position in life as a rabbi who has worked with potential converts, and has had converts as students and invited them into my home with the fullest welcome as the Torah commands to love "the convert, orphan and widow" because since they do not have "support" it is God Himself who is their personal supporter. 

As an Orthodox Jew who became more Orthodox the hard way, as an Orthodox Outreach rabbi, and because I have had strong experiences as some of my closest relatives and friends have married out of the faith over the years, this entire subject is very close to my heart.

So as I look at Ivanka and her conversion who puts herself in the public spotlights all the time, I admire her even more for her willingness to join the Jewish People by converting to Modern Orthodox Judaism.

But nothing happens in a vacuum and we are all connected, and as Ivanka herself lets us know many times that she is very connected to her famous father who is running to be the nominee of the Republicans for next President of the USA. 

Until very recently, to my own very great surprise, I like many people have started taking Donald Trump very seriously. 

It is a matter that concerns all of us. 

Let me stress that as a rabbi I am NOT and I cannot get involved in ANY political matters. 

I am a proud citizen of the USA and I believe and adhere to all the important rights and freedoms granted to Americans by the Constitution of the USA. 

So what I am about to say has NOTHING to do with politics and EVERYTHING to do with Judaism and the Jews that is my domain as it is the domain of not just every rabbi but of every Jewish man, woman and child in the USA:

I recently read an article "Klansmen in High Places?" in a  Jewish magazine AMI ("My Nation" in Hebrew), Issue 262, March 30, 2016, pp. 70-75, by author and lawyer John Loftus that states that Donald Trump's father Fred became wealthy through connections to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)! The article also says that Fred Trump was close with his son Donald Trump and helped to launch his successful life as a wealthy man and that they were always very close throughout. As we know Ivanka is Donald Trump's oldest daughter and they too are very close, and now that she has converted to Modern Orthodox Judaism she is Jewish as well. 


So my very basic question is, can anyone please clear up for us and for the Jewish People in particular what is going on here? 

If as the news tells us Ivanka is very close with her father Donald not just personally but in his business and political career, and Ivanka's father Donald was very close with his father Fred, and if John Loftus is to be believed, that Fred was part of the KKK and Donald worked very closely with his father Fred, so can somebody please clear up for us where Ivanka fits into all of this? Because one cannot be a good Modern Orthodox Jew or any kind of Jew and be associated with the KKK in any way whatsoever something that should be very clear and obvious.  

Here is a video of Donald Trump trying to speak to a Jewish audience in his current campaign:




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Thursday, April 07, 2016
 
Drop God from your conversations and God will drop you, talk about God and then God will be with you!

By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA
Author: The Second World War and Jewish Education in America: The Fall and Rise of Orthodoxy
Email: rudomin@jpi.org
Brooklyn, NY, USA


This subject of belief in God or not, and being religious or becoming religious or stopping to be religious has always fascinated me for a very long time. What makes some people stick with religion no matter how life goes for them, and others even though they may know a lot just do not want to be religious, or "Frum" as they call it? And then again, the biggest puzzle what motivates totally secular people to become religious and even gentiles to drop their non-Jewish faith and become converts to Judaism?

I have been on all sides of this coin including dealing with issues of some near relatives marrying gentiles and all the issues that came with that for our families. Not simple at all let me tell you!


I recently attended a very Chasidic wedding in Brooklyn. I was so inspired during the wedding ceremony as I stood very close to the young couple under the Chupa (wedding canopy) that was held outdoors as is the custom among the true Chasidim. I always find weddings to be very inspiring events. 

To me all of life is free live theater provided by God for our enjoyment and we get to be the actors in it as well. Actors, participants and observers all at the same time. Life is great. Amazing. You can learn so much and see the world. People think they have to go on major trips to tour, but all people are the same really, they all live lives and do the things that ordinary people do all the time. And every now and again there is an extra special theatrical event like a wedding, with food and music for free as well. As a rabbi the protocol is that you are not really required to give a gift, only if you want to. So that is kind of like a free pass I guess.

There were hundreds of Chasidic people at this wedding! I tried to amble up and overhear some conversations, at the table where I listened to the small talk of bearded men with long Peyos (side curls) who look like "rabbis" but they are just working people or business owners. I listened and listened and listened and listened. I speak and know Yiddish so I could understand what they were saying:

I DID NOT HEAR EVEN ONE OF THEM UTTER A SINGLE WORD OF TORAH IN ALL THEIR CHATTER!!!! AND OF COURSE NOT ONCE WAS GOD EVEN MENTIONED!!!

Yet, they all danced with fervor and prayed at the right time. BUT WHERE WAS THE TORAH AND GOD IN THEIR OWN FREE TIME TO TALK AS THEY WISHED??? 


So I could not resist I leaned over and asked one man the above, why is there no Torah being discussed? After all we do say in the Shma Yisrael "Hear O Israel" prayer twice a day "VEDIBARTA  BAM  BESHIVTECHA  BEVEITECHA  EVELCHTECHA  BADERECH -- speak these words [that God is one and that he is our God] when you sit at home and when you go outside" and the true Jewish Sages and sources teach that the Torah and God should always be on a Jew's lips.

So the man says to me, see this black hat, it reminds us of God. I said to him I just read Maimonides' 13 Principles of Faith that morning where he stresses that God is neither a body not does he resemble a body, so if God is not a body he certainly cannot be "felt or sensed" via a hat! So he looked at me and we spoke some more and he told me all sorts of things BUT NOT ONE WORD OF WHAT HE SAID WAS TORAH NOR DID HE MENTION GOD!

This is what I call an ORGANIC form of Judaism, meaning it is a self-sustaining way of life that is inherited at birth by religious Jews and they just keep on running with it and growing in numbers without ever really stopping to think it over and talk about like what is really going on. 


Sure they have fixed times for study and for prayer as if they allotted God "working hours" where He can have a chance to appear, otherwise they are off and running with lots of things to do and sorry, no time now to sit around and talk about Torah subjects and God, there are deals to be made, gossip to catch up on, just shmooze with a buddy to let off steam, and of course now we have the ubiquitous lit-up like synthetic "Ohr Haganuz - Divine Lights" "smart-phones" that have just made everyone more dumb and stupid and DISCONNECTED really!

Anything BUT talking about the Torah and God, since hey they have heard it all already and after all everybody needs a break from that in life! Is that what Judaism is supposed to be I wonder to myself? It is just what any blue collar or white collar worker does all the time. It is a dangerous path to tread for any Jew and no wonder so many are dropping out of Judaism -- known as the OFF THE DERECH ("OTD") problem -- even as they wear the garb and talk the lingo, but a lot of it is faking it as they go along.

Very odd I thought, because as I am both a person who returned to greater Jewish observance and who has successfully taught hundreds of other Jews about Judaism, in order to turn people on to Judaism, the MAIN topic of conversation is always God and the Torah in all walks of life not just during lectures or when praying in a synagogue.

Come to think of it, I told some people later, if you want to know the reason why people drop out of religion it's because they have left God out of their lives BY NOT TALKING ABOUT GOD ALL THE TIME, or as much as humanly possible which is pretty much much of our time when we are not REALLY working for a living, so then God leaves them, while for other people who think and talk about God a lot then God comes into their lives.

Here is a picture of me as a young guy and my dear late special saintly Aunt Nesia who was a Holocaust survivor before I became religious and rabbi, she  would often talk about God, followed by one of me as a religious Jew and rabbi with MY first born son B'NI  BECHORI Rabbi DOVID RUDOMIN and trust me EVEN RABBIS DO NOT TALK MUCH ABOUT GOD, they like to say over stuff from all sorts of Holy books, but God is not really part of the daily dialogue. What a shame, I guess I still have things to teach my kids even if they are now rabbis! Life is a never-ending job no matter how old you are I have discovered the hard way, only when you're dead do you get to really "retire" in your grave even then there may be grave-diggers who will come along, so not even death leads to peace!:





So-called  "ORGANIC JUDAISM" is great if it works, but it is terrible at reminding folks that they need to speak and talk about God and Torah topics in all their free time! Or else God will just "move on" and find ways to keep company with people who talk about Him and His Torah as much as they can not just during prescribed school and synagogue hours!!!

Here is a video of a great Chasidic wedding in Brooklyn, New York, USA, where at the very end they do what is called a Mitzva Dance with the Bride standing in the middle and all the rabbis and men dance around her. Enjoy!  


Now if only they would TALK about God and the Torah ALL the time with such passion and devotion!!! :




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Thursday, July 16, 2015
 
Letter to the Editor 4
----- Original Message -----
From: JPI...Rudomin
To: Editor FJJ 
Sent: Friday, July 03, 2015
Subject: Eruv questions, next

"Flatbush Eruv": More Questions Than Answers

Dear Editor,

Thank you so much for publishing three letters from me about this subject. I appreciate your care and concern for all matters that relate to the very precious Jewish and Torah Kehilla of Flatbush Ir HaKodesh. Due to the vacation schedules I will try to update you again after the Summer. Now is a time for increased Ahavas Yisroel and Shalom as we are in the Three Weeks.

The Summer months when many people spend time at various camps and bungalow colonies mostly in the Catskill Mountains is a time when basically everyone of all religious levels gets to enjoy the benefit of an Eruv around their camp or bungalow colony. I recall my own days spent at Camp Morris when I was a Bochur learning in the Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin's Summer home near Woodridge, New York. I also recall all the great efforts that the Roshei Yeshiva, Rebbeim and Hanhallla put into making sure that the Eruv constructed around the perimeters of Camp Morris was Kosher to be relied upon on every Erev Shabbos. To this day, the ones appointed to check the Eruv are great Talmidei Chachamim in their own right very familiar not just with the complex Halachos of constructing a Kosher Eruv, but also steeped in the relevant Talmudic sources such as in the massive Maseches Eruvin, one of the toughest of all tractates in all of Shas. And this was just the "Mashgichim" who in turn were answerable to the Gedolei Torah who come to learn and live at Camp Morris, such as Rav Harari-Raful and the Yeshivat Ateret Torah who join the Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin for the Summer months there.

                                               Photo: Above: Chacham Yosef Harari-Raful, Rav and Rosh Yeshivat Ateret Torah and its associated Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, and member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudas Yisroel of America, has made it very clear that he opposes any idea of an "Erub" in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, home to the largest Jewish Syrian community in the USA and outside of Israel.
So my point is that no matter who we are religiously, we all love to have the conveniences that a Kosher Eruv brings with it on Shabbos! However, by the same token, not everything that we love or that may be available to us under one set of circumstances, means that we can always enjoy it anywhere else. Places change and with that there may be different Halachic circumstances, such as in the cases of desiring an Eruv in a big-city. It does not always come easily, and those Gedolim and Poskim that take issue with a big-city Eruv have good reasons for their fears and concerns.

I have also been informed by very reliable sources that the famous Posek Rav Moshe Bick ZT"L (1911-1990) was opposed to the construction of an Eruv "anywhere in NYC" and that it is no secret that Rav Yisroel Belsky the Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and Halachic advisor to the OU is also opposed to any city-wide Eruv in NYC.
                                                      
                                         Photo, above: Rav Moshe Bick ZT"L (1911-1990) on the left, noted Posek, attending the Bris of a  Russian Jewish boy. Rav Bick was strongly opposed to any city-wide "eruv" anywhere in New York City, whether in the Bronx or Brooklyn.
                                                         Photo, above, Rav Yisroel Belsky (1938- ) SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and Posek, and Halachic advisor to the Orthodox Union, is strongly opposed to any city-wide "eruv" in Boro Park or Flatbush or anywhere else in New York City.

I would like to really thank David Mandil for bringing to my attention the website at www.erub.org I was not aware of it and now I can see some of the rabbis who supposedly support an "Erub" in Flatbush. But as I looked over the site, it created more questions than answers in my mind, and I am hoping that someone can answer those questions.


I am directing the following questions at David Mandil and anyone in the "Sephardic community" who relies on the "Erub" using Sefardic Hebrew for purposes of clarity:



1) Why is it that it is Poskim who are mostly from outside of Flatbush, one is from Monsey, one is from Boro Park, most are from Israel, who endorse an Eruv that is not in the normal places where those great Rabbanim are based and heeded? There is a concept of "Mora De'Atra" the Halachic authority of any given place. Baruch HaShem there are many Halachic authorities in Flatbush, both Sefardic and Ashkenazic, and many of them do not approve of an Erub in Flatbush, what does one say to them and about that?

2) It is obvious that probably the most important names of Rabbanim associated with the Flatbush-based Sefardi Yeshivot and its Roshei Yeshiva, such as Yeshivat Ateret Torah and Yeshivat Mikdash Melech that none of its great Chachamim and Gedolei Torah approve of the Erub, so why is their opposition not taken into account? It is not just a one way street, of "my way on the Erub-highway"!

3) All the letters from the great Rabbanim who supposedly are permitting the Erub in Flatbush stress that the Erub is not to allow bicycle riding and sports playing the streets of Flatbush, so why is that being ignored?

                                                     Photo: Above: Yeshivat Ateret Torah, the premier Sefardi Yeshiva in Brooklyn, New York and in the United States, located in Flatbush, Brooklyn, opposes the idea of an "Erub" in Flatbush New York, as does another important Sefardi Yeshiva in Flatbush Brooklyn, Yeshivat Mikdash Melech, photo, below:

These are just a few of the many questions that come to mind. I hope that there are some good answers and hopefully my ongoing confusion about all this can eventually be resolved.

I look forward to continuing this important discussion after the Summer. Wishing everyone a safe and productive time wherever you are going to be!

May we hear Besurot Tovot only and may HKB"H protect us and all of Klal Yisrael as we approach Tisha Be'Av, Amen!

Yours sincerely,

Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin.
Director: Jewish Professionals Institute and Positive Holocaust Education Project 

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Friday, July 10, 2015
 
Letter to the Editor 3

----- Original Message -----

From: JPI...Rudomin
To: Editor FJJ 
Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2015
Subject: Flatbush Eruv questions

Flatbush Eruv Questions, Continued.

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your kindness in publishing my last two letters concerning the question if there is or is not an Eruv that can be relied upon in Flatbush for carrying on Shabbos.

Flatbush has many beautiful and busy highways, avenues and streets that criss-cross it, such as Ocean Parkway, Coney Island Avenue, Kings Highway, Ocean Avenue, Bedford Avenue, Nostrand Avenue, many directly connected to the busy Belt Parkway and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and other busy high-traffic thoroughfares, not to mention all the bustling "lettered" avenues.

I have received a number of very positive responses. So far not one person can point me in the direction of an easily available public listings of those rabbis who do allow the use of an Eruv in Flatbush. Obviously they must exist, otherwise why would a growing number of Frum Jews be pushing baby-strollers, carrying Tallis bags, holding various bags and clothing items as they stroll through the streets of Flatbush on Shabbos.

A few notable rabbis I spoke with who either run well-known Yeshivos in Flatbush or teach in them said some very interesting things. When I asked a Menahel of a very large Litvish-type Yeshiva in Flatbush what they teach the Talmidim if there is or is not an Eruv in Flatbush I was told that they do not mention this topic. When I asked what if the Talmidim ever ask, I was told "they are smart enough not to ask"! This made me think what happens, say in other areas of Brooklyn where they rely on an Eruv, such as in well-known Chasidish Yeshivos and what emerges is that in those places they are not afraid to tell Talmidim that there is an Eruv.

If this sounds confusing, it is. When I spoke to a Mechanech in an important Flatbush Yeshiva, he told me that one Talmid told him "In Boro Park we carry on Shabbos, but it Flatbush we don't"! As someone who has raised children and is now a grandfather, and as a life-long Kiruv worker who was involved with many Baalei Teshuva who became Shommer Shabbos over time, I realized that such an approach is not healthy. Children and potential Baalei Teshuva cannot be taught conflicting things nor is avoidance a substitute for good Chinuch.

I thought back to a few years ago, when a brochure came out trying to promote an Eruv in Flatbush but I cannot recall the names of the rabbis, hopefully someone can remind me soon. But I also recall that soon thereafter a letter from at least two prominent Flatbush living Poskim at that time, Rav Hillel David and Rav Feivel Cohen, came out and they clearly opposed the idea that there can be an Eruv in Flatbush.

                                                        Photo: Rav Hillel David, SHLIT"A, Rov of Congregation Rabbinical Institute Sharai Torah of Flatbush, and noted Posek maintains that there is no "eruv' in Flatbush, according to the Pesak of the Gadol HaDor Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L (1895-1986).


                                               Photo: Rav Feivel Cohen, SHLITA, noted Posek and author of Sefer Badei HaShulchan, long-time resident of Flatbush now in Lakewood, NJ, has ruled and stated that there is no such thing as an "eruv" in Flatbush.

Of course we are not talking about the private small Eruv Chatzeros that some people create in their own backyards so they can carry from their house to the Sukkah on Shabbos as an example. Nor are we talking about the many Eruvin constructed by summer camps and bungalow colonies in the countryside which cover relatively small areas and are supervised by the local Rov or Morah De'Asrah of every camp or bungalow colony. Those Eruvin are not as complex and are easily and thoroughly checked every Erev Shabbos and it is very easy to know if it breaks, and they are constantly watched.

But when it comes to big-city Eruvin, it is well-known that many Heterim need to be deployed by great Poskim to arrive at any solution and even then there are always risks and questions. For example, one basic question I have is that what exactly are the boundaries of the Flatbush Eruv and who knows about it? The name "Flatbush" is also a very wide area and is often used to refer to places that are connected with Flatbush but are not officially part of it, so that just makes it even more confusing.

I am hoping that my present confusion can be resolved as soon as it can be clarified who the rabbis are that make sure there is a Kosher Eruv in Flatbush and what are the exact borders of this supposed Eruv.

Thank you so much for your interest in this important matter of Kavod Shabbos.
Wishing everyone a continued enjoyable and safe Summer.

Your sincerely,


Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin.
Director: Jewish Professionals Institute and Positive Holocaust Education Project

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Letter to the Editor 2

----- Original Message -----

From: JPI...Rudomin
To: Editor FJJ 
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2015 
Subject: Eruv Questions in Flatbush

Flatbush phantom Eruv or not.

Dear Editor,

Thank you so much for your interest in all aspects of Jewish life in Flatbush. Thank you for publishing my recent letter regarding the question whether we have a Halachically-approved Eruv in Flatbush or not. I have received responses from some people who said they saw the letter, but so far no one has been able to give me the name of a single rabbi or group of rabbis who endorse/s an Eruv in Flatbush.


This past Shabbos I was walking home from Shull, and saw a neighbor who was carrying a rain coat, not wearing it. He said "Good Shabbos" to me and without being asked he told me that he is carrying his raincoat to Shull "in case it rains"! The willingness to carry things on Shabbos on the streets of Flatbush is becoming more widespread and I still wonder about my own years in Yeshiva and my life here for almost 40 years and what I have taught my children who now have children of their own B"H.

I can clearly recall that when I was a Talmid in Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin from 1976 to 1986 I never once saw or heard any of the Roshei Yeshiva, Rebbeim or Talmidim relying on an Eruv in Flatbush, even though supposedly in those days there was a little flag fluttering outside the window of one of the Young Israel Shulls on Coney Island Avenue that if it was a "green flag" I was told that that was a signal that the Eruv was good to be used. I could never fathom how a small flag on one building could help people in other places know that an Eruv was good or not on Shabbos itself.





                                         Photo: Left: Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L (1895-1986), Posek HaDor and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Tiferes Yerushalayim in NYC, and right: Rav Yitzchok Hutner ZT"L (1906-1980), neither ever approved of any type of city-wide Eruv in Flatbush or NYC. 

Flatbush is not just home to the Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, but on its outer northerly borders is the famous Yeshiva Torah Voda'as, and on the inner southerly edges of Flatbush is the famous Mirrer Yeshiva. Most Yeshiva boys in Flatbush attend those Yeshivos, and in all of them there is a unanimous consensus that one does not carry in Flatbush, no matter that some people think that there is an Eruv. In fact, over the years, I do not recall any of my sons or daughters who attended various Yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs in Flatbush ever coming home and telling us that their Rebbe or Morah taught them that there is an Eruv in Flatbush, and nothing has changed.

Photos below: Top: Yeshiva Torah Voda'as; Middle: Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin; Bottom: Mirrer Yeshiva:- Brooklyn's three most famous Litvish Yeshivos, all connected with Flatbush, none of which has ever officially endorsed any Eruv in Flatbush, or Brooklyn or anywhere else in New York City:






                                                                             
 


Is there any Yeshiva or Bais Yaakov in Flatbush that teaches its Talmidim and Talmidos that there is an Eruv in Flatbush? Please, if anyone knows, let us know, and what is it that they teach to explain and justify it?

But I have asked around and so far the best answers I have received go something like this, I will abbreviate it to a simple "formula":

"The Young Israel rabbis + Chasidisha rebbes + Sefardi rabbis, say there is an Eruv = Eruv in Flatbush"

or "A rabbi in Monsey + A rabbi in Israel, say there is an Eruv = Eruv in Flatbush"

or "Rav Moshe Feinstein's opposition and ruling that there can be no Eruv in Flatbush or NYC is a 'Da'as Yochid' versus Young Israel, Chasidisha, Sefardi, Israeli, Monsey rabbis say there is an Eruv = Eruv in Flatbush"!

Now when I ask just who are those rabbis and where can one reach them and if there are so many of them why isn't there a list of them to contact and find out more, just as there are lists of Daf Yomi Shiurim and who gives them, I still draw mostly a blank with no one willing to come up with any specific name/s of rabbis. One name of a rabbi in Israel surfaced who says that there can be an Eruv in Flatbush and in NYC, he's a well-known lecturer at seminaries and has written history books but not known to be a Posek of any kind, so I ask myself, what makes such a rabbi able to over-rule Rav Moshe Feinstein who was the Posek HaDor and was even regarded as the RASHKEBEHAG at one time and maybe still is in the eyes of many great Lomdim and Meivinim?


                                         Photos: Top: Rav Elazar Shach ZT"L (1899-2001) Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovez Yeshiva in Bnai Brak and head of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah in Israel, and, Bottom; Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv (1910-2012) Posek HaDor and head of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah in Israel after Rav Shach, both were Litvish Gedolei HaDor who fully supported the Piskei Halacha of Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L (1895-1986) who was the the head of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah in the USA.

Another thing that amazes me is to hear an opinion that Rav Moshe Feinstein can be regarded as a "Da'as Yochid" (a lone "dissenting opinion" -- "dissenting" to who?), something new to me, because last anyone heard Rav Moshe Feinstein was a universally accepted and beloved Manhig HaDor, a famous Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim, head of a venerable independent Bais Din, was held in awe by Rav Shach and Rav Elyashiv in Eretz Yisroel, and he was the long-time head of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America appointed by Rav Aron Kotler ZT"L (1891-1962), and respected by all his famous Roshei Yeshiva colleagues who deferred to him, such as Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky ZT"L (1891-1986) and all the rest of the Moetzes and all of Agudas Yisroel in America submitted to his rulings. How does that make him a "Da'as Yochid" I ask myself?


                                                           Photo: Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky ZT"L (1891-1986) Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Voda'as, who fully supported Rav Moshe Feinstein's (1895-1986) position that there can be no city-wide Eruv in NYC nor anywhere in Brooklyn, including Flatbush.

Life is full of puzzling statements by people who say all sorts of things I say to myself and shrug if off. Rav Moshe Feinstein was not known as a Machmir either and was famous for always looking to find humane solutions to the most complicated Halachic problems in his famous Piskei Halacha and published in his magnum opus, Igros Moshe, so his known Pesak that there can be no Eruv in Flatbush or in NYC cannot be taken lightly.
                                               Photo: Rav Feivel Cohen, SHLIT"A, noted Posek, has stated 

                             that there is no such thing as an "eruv" in Flatbush. 

I had once asked the noted living Posek Rav Feivel Cohen about the Eruv in Flatbush, a few years ago when a pamphlet came out promoting it, and he told me flat out that there is no such thing as an "eruv" in Flatbush. So this leaves me even more puzzled when I see people carrying or pushing strollers including people who seem to be from some Yeshiva background judging by the way they dress, and I ask myself who are they relying on? Are the "rabbis" who permit the Eruv phantoms promoting a phantom "eruv" or are they real people one can contact and ask them questions? I am very confused about all this and I hope some readers can please help me out here.

Thanks so much for taking the time to think about this, but it does involve a serious Halachic question and more importantly, who sets the tone and tenor of Torah life in Flatbush? There is Da'as Torah in Flatbush as we all know we are home to three of the world's most famous Litvish Yeshivos, Yeshiva Torah Voda'as, Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin and the Mirrer Yeshiva, as well as the famous Sefardi Yeshivat Ateret Torah, and so far, as far as anyone knows none of these bastions of Torah allow carrying on Shabbos in Flatbush, while it seems there are others (who?) that do.

So Flatbush is at a crossroads and needs to decide if it follows the Da'as Torah of the Roshei Yeshiva and Poskim, such as Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L and Rav Feivel Cohen, or of mysterious phantom rabbis that so far no one has heard of and no one is willing to come forth to list them.

May we hear Besuros Tovos only.

Yours sincerely, 
Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin. 
Director: Jewish Professionals Institute and Positive Holocaust Education Project 
A concerned Flatbush resident.










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Letter to the Editor 1

----- Original Message -----
From: JPI...Rudomin 
To: Editor FJJ 
Sent: Monday, June 15, 2015
Subject: Thoughts After A Shabbos Walk in Flatbush: Eruv or Not?

Thoughts After A Shabbos Walk in Flatbush: Eruv or Not?

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your ongoing reporting about Torah life in the Torah bastion of Flatbush in Brooklyn.

The weather this past Shabbos was very Sunny so many people spent part of the day outdoors in some way. In the late afternoon, like quite a few others I decided to take a slow long walk along Avenue O, Kings Highway, Nostrand Avenue and then on around Avenue M. It looks like many families have already started to spend time in the mountains because the streets where a bit quieter than usual, but there were still plenty people at home.

Baruch HaShem Flatbush is still a pulsating, growing, and changing community with Frum and Orthodox Jews from all walks of life. The growth in the number of Sefardi and Israeli Shulls is noticeable. There are many families who respect and admire the huge bastions of Torah that are in Flatbush stemming from many of its great and established Yeshivos, Bais Yaakovs and Shulls. Fathers and sons wearing all sorts of Yarmulkas and Kippot can be seen walking in love and harmony to a Shiur or to visit friends and family. Many young girls and women are dressed very Tzniusdik and well-groomed going in small groups to some destination that is making them happy. Yeshiva Bochurim are running to Minyanim and Sedarim engrossed in thought. Many Balebatim and ladies are taking leisurely walks going to or from a Shabbos Seudah they enjoyed or look forward to enjoying. All this is palpable and out in the open for anyone who lives in the heart of this amazing Torah neighborhood. 

But there are also the invariable questions and surprises, such as the increasing number of all sorts of obviously Frum people pushing strollers on Shabbos. I think to myself, is there or isn't there an Eruv in Flatbush? From what I can recall many Rabbonim years ago said that there is no Eruv in Flatbush or anywhere in NYC, based on the Pesak of the Posek HaDor Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L (1895-1986) as all the Yeshivaleit know very well, yet others (who?) claim that there is one. 




                                         Photo: Posek HaDor: Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L (1895 - 1986), Paskened that there can be no city-wide Eruv anywhere in New York City, and specifically mentioned Flatbush, in his Teshuvos in Sefer Igros Moshe. 

I am confused by all this and I ask a few people and what I am told is that "it is not your worry because they have their rabbonim to rely on" or "the Sefardi Rabbis have allowed it" or some such! I ask who those Rabbonim are? because while I do know that many in the Young Israel movement have held of an Eruv in Flatbush going back decades, but who from the many Roshei Yeshiva of Yeshivos and Rabbonim and Poskim in Shulls and Kehillas in Flatbush say that there is an Eruv here? And who are those that make sure it is a Kosher Eruv every Shabbos? Is there some number to dial or an Email that is sent out to find out? What if it breaks down, how is that made known to everyone in such a huge area as Flatbush? Why is there so much silence on this matter while it becomes ever-popular with so many Frum people in Flatbush? What is going on? I have so many questions going through my head, but no one can seem to give any reliable answers, just hearsay and shrugs and talk of "rabbis" that no one can name. Once, many years ago, someone put out some pamphlets about this, promoting an Eruv in Flatbush, I asked a major Rov and Posek about this and he told me point blank it is all false that there is no Eruv in Flatbush, but all this is now forgotten and it seems people are just relying on....who exactly?

I am confused, can someone, anyone, please tell me who those Rabbonim are that say that they allow the use of an Eruv in Flatbush?

Thank you so much! 

Yours sincerely, 
Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin. 
Director: Jewish Professionals Institute and Positive Holocaust Education Project 
Flatbush, Brooklyn.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013
 
Weekly Torah Portion of NITZAVIM – VAYEILECH

Constancy and Change: The Torah Remains Relevant

By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin, Director www.jpi.org | Weekly Torah Portion of NITZAVIM – VAYEILECH.

This week’s double Torah portion Nitzavim – Vayeilech is in the Book of Deuteronomy (29:9 – 31:30).

The two names of this doubled-up parsha denote polar opposites: The word “nitzavim” means “standing” (“You are all standing before the Lord your God…”) with the nation assembled, while the word “vayeilech” means “[and (he)] went” (And Moses went and spoke the following words to all Israel…” — “Standing” means to stand still, literally like a “pillar” i.e. “netziv” which is the root Hebrew word of “nitzavim” the plural of “netziv” meaning “[many people] standing”, in this case all the Israelites “assembled” before Moses and God and it is a stationary state. While the word “vayeilech” translates as “he went” i.e. Moses “went about” the business of telling the Children of Israel the words of God as Moses nears the end of his life and the Torah nears its closure. The classical commentaries (as cited by Rabbi Aryeh Kapan in The Living Torah) say that Moses was in a mobile state as he literally “went” to each of the Twelve Tribes, to each individual tent, to the Israelite camp, to the study halls. Moses took the initiative and went to the Israelites instead of assembling them.

The root of the word “vayeilech” is “lech” meaning “to go” and is also the source for the word “Halacha” the name for “Jewish Law” but which translates literally as “the way to go” implying “the path to follow” for Jews who wish to “follow” in the “way” and “path” of the Torah.

This is one of the great paradoxes and mysteries of the Torah: That on the one hand it seems to be “rooted” and “stationary” while on the other hand it is also something that “moves” and even “changes” as long as it remains true to itself and its commandments are not violated. This is a notion that is hard to grasp and it often stumps people in BOTH directions. While some think or act like that the Torah is unchangeable (which it is, but one must understand how that works and why that is so), the Karaites only believed in the written Torah and refused to accept what the Oral Law taught, others act on the assumption that the Torah is an endless ongoing piece of putty and wet clay that never dries allowing anyone who comes along to “change” and “modify” it to suit the times or to support some sort of new set of beliefs. Thus Christianity and Islam, while on the one hand drawing from Judaism’s constancy, try to impose a new set of changes that runs counter to what the Torah wants JEWS to practice and believe. There are many more examples of this in modern times as well: Reactionaries justify their actions based on the Torah while extreme radicals will do the same, as if the polar opposites of radicals and reactionaries had the same source book but came out with opposite conclusions. This is something that has puzzled me as it may also have bothered you, and if you dwell on it, it may even induce a “shut-down” and you just walk away from this seeming intellectual confusion.

Yet the amazing thing is that by simply looking at the clear words in this week’s double parsha some of the above “mystery” of constancy versus change is “solved” if one is willing to accept that the Torah is meant for all generations, whether in the times of Moses or for any generations that follow until our own times, into the future. In fact this final part of the Torah is nothing but a “final prophecy” for the end of days, and each generation after that of Moses and the Children of Israel has had the potential of being the “final generation” of the “end of days” and it is only known to God just which generation will be the true final one.

The subject matter of the parsha speaks for itself and it is incredible to see in plain words that the Torah is somehow capable of speaking to a generation over 3,300 years ago yet still be addressed to us today, not to mention all the intervening generations that could have applied these words to themselves. (From Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s The Living Torah translation):

“(From NITZAVIM:) “…It is not with you alone that I am making this covenant…I am making it both with those who are standing here with us…and with those who are not [yet] here with us today…A future generation, consisting of your descendants, who rise up after you…shall see the punishment directed against that land…All the nations will ask, ‘Why did God do this…What was the reason for this great display of anger?’...They shall answer, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant’…There among the nations where God will have banished you, you will reflect on the situation…God your Lord will once again gather you from among all the nations…God your lord will then bring you to the land that your ancestors occupied, and you too will occupy it. God will be good to you and make you flourish even more than your ancestors…This mandate {mitzvah) is not too mysterious or remote from you….It is something that is very close to you…(From VAYEILECH:) God your Lord will be the One who will go across before you. It is He who will destroy these nations before you…Be strong and brave. Do not be afraid…He will not fail you or forsake you…God said to Moses, ‘…this nation shall rise up and stray…They will abandon Me and violate the covenant…I will hide my face from them…they will say, It is because my God is no longer with me that these evils have befallen us.’...[God also] gave Joshua orders, saying, ‘Be strong and brave, since you will bring the Israelites to the land that I promised them, and I will be with you.’ Moses finished writing the words of this Torah in a scroll…Moses then gave orders…‘Even while I am here alive with you, you are rebelling against God. What will you do after I am dead?...I know that after I die, you will become corrupt…You will eventually be beset with evil, since you will have done evil in God’s eyes, angering Him with the work of your hands.’”

How bitter-sweet this all sounds! The yin and yang of present realities versus futuristic predictions and events is almost maddening. Yet with the words and predictions of “tough love” also come words, actually prophecies, of hope, triumph and redemption. No matter how many changes and challenges history will bring and no matter how many personal, sociological, cultural and even pseudo-spiritual changes and onslaughts will be attempted, for all sorts of reasons, yet nevertheless, there is one constant result that will always come through, that not just the words of the Torah but its commandments and God’s plans for all of Creation and God’s love for the Jewish People in particular will always remain and grow.

Shabbat Shalom! 

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