"The town [Lakewood] has now become the focus of all the distractions that Rav Aharon ztz”l did not want in his yeshivah"
Angel in Human Guise [The Moment / Issue 888]
We enjoyed the heartwarming article by Rabbi Dovid Cohen in this weekend’s Mishpacha about Yeshiva Bonim LaMokom.
Yeshiva Bonim LaMokom has a principal by the name of Rabbi Zev Horowitz. The only way fit to describe him is to say that he is a malach in human form.
Rabbi Paysach Krohn elaborated, during his speech at the pre-Chanukah party, that he has visited numerous mosdos worldwide over the years as a public speaker, but never has he encountered a person such as Rabbi Horowitz or a mosad such as Bonim LaMokom. Rabbi Krohn spent several hours visiting the yeshivah, watching it in action, and he was given sample learning booklets to take home. He was blown away by all that he observed.
Every single one of the more than 70 students with Down syndrome at YBL has his learning customized according to his level of understanding. There are English-speaking classes and Yiddish-speaking classes, with staff that adapts in every and all ways to the students’ myriad needs.
All of this and more is Rabbi Horowitz’s credit. He is truly Heaven-sent!
May he be gebentshed!
Nussen and Sarah Sander
Parents and Founders of Yeshiva Bonim LaMokom
On the Receiving End [Charitable Allowance / Double Take — Issue 888]
Wow — the Double Take story about the family that took a trip with tzedakah money sure opened up a lot of discussion in our house!
While we understand the aunt in the story, we side with the niece. It’s obvious how hard she’s working. Why can’t they go on vacation with the extra money that they otherwise weren’t expecting?
We’re on the receiving end of tzedakah. So many thoughtful people have helped us out. Most of them were so nice to us! We’ve gotten comments like “Stop thanking me already, it’s not even my money. It belongs to Hashem.” And, “It’s tzedakah (maaser) money. It’s meant for you, it never belonged to me.” And, “Here’s money toward clothing for your wife for Yom Tov. Make sure she gets something nice.”
These givers are very gracious and help me feel more comfortable accepting the help. But I do feel self-conscious going grocery shopping. What if the tzedakah vaad is watching me? It’s happened many times that the head of the tzedakah organization was behind me in the checkout line. I can only hope she doesn’t know who I am.
What am I buying already? Steak? Salmon? Expensive wines? No. Meat and salmon are for Yom Tov. I might be buying soda for Shabbos or the better brand of diapers. But guess what? The better brands are cheaper in the end, because when you use them, the baby needs to be changed much more infrequently (they are made with that in mind).
Someone complained to me that she hates that her tzedakah money is going toward her neighbor’s cleaning help. But just because her neighbor looks all with it and appears able to clean her house herself, you never know what’s going on behind closed doors.
We haven’t yet splurged on a well-deserved vacation, but I hope that if extra money comes our way, we can use it for what we decide, and not for what others decide.
Thank you to all you wonderful baalei tzedakah out there!
Of Course You Should [Forever Grateful / Issue 888]
In your expanded Chanukah edition, your excellent cover feature “Forever Grateful” was made all the more special by the “epilogue” presented by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt; sh’eilos about seudos hoda’ah. Rabbi Neustadt mentions that Rav Moshe Feinstein ztz”l did not recommend one for the recovery of a sick child.
Back in 2006, when I was executive director of RCCS, we experienced the recovery of a sick child that clearly was miraculous. Wanting to publicize this story, obviously for the sake of RCCS, I asked the father of the little boy if we could feature him in a short video, to which he immediately declined. He told us that he had asked Rav Dovid Feinstein ztz”l if he should make a seudas hoda’ah for his son, to which he was clearly told no. He told me that, obviously, he did not want to garner any publicity or ayin hara.
Not giving up so easily, I waited a few days and asked again. This time, the boy’s father told me he would ask Rav Dovid personally, even though he was sure the answer would again be in the negative.
So on that Friday, after Rav Dovid completed his shiur, the father presented the question to Rav Dovid.
After listening to the question very carefully, Rav Dovid responded, “I don’t understand. You have hakaras hatov to RCCS or you don’t?”
“Of course I do, but...” replied the father.
Rav Dovid interjected, “So avada darf men tuhn — of course you should do the video.”
What amazing lessons to learn from this story!
P.S. Today, the boy is a strapping, tall yeshivah bochur, baruch Hashem.
Rabbi Yosef C. Golding
The Only Solution [Inbox / Issue 888]
I’d like to respond to the letter that decries the Kichels making fun of the housing situation in Lakewood. I could go through point by point (every neighborhood is like this, you don’t need to move to Lakewood, try out of town, etc.), but none of that will be a solution, or any help for the underlying issue.
It is well known and widely quoted that Rav Aharon Kotler ztz”l wanted Lakewood to be a yeshivah away from the bustle of New York, to allow learning without distractions. With Lakewood now the center of American Yiddishkeit from both a ruchniyus and gashmiyus perspective, the town has now become the focus of all the distractions that Rav Aharon ztz”l did not want in his yeshivah.
I believe the only solution, which is not easy due to the vested interests of many parties, is to move the yeshivah from Lakewood to somewhere less busy and distracting, but still reasonably close (within a two-hour drive) to Lakewood. This way the bochurim and kollel yungeleit can learn with fewer distractions and less of a push for gashmiyus, and it will open up new areas for frum Yidden to live (until this may need to be repeated).
Of course, much of the infrastructure will remain in Lakewood, giving opportunity for those who are settled there, but where the yeshivah goes, Torah will follow. Per Pirkei Avos and the mussar seforim, gashmiyus withholds someone from reaching his full potential in learning. Moving the yeshivah from Lakewood can only improve limud haTorah.
B’ezras Hashem the yeshivah and all of us should move soon, to Eretz Yisrael Habenuyah.
Eli Blum, Lawrence, NY
Take the Hint! [Inbox / Issue 888]
C.S.’s letter expresses a “raw nerve” touched by the Kichels’ portrayal of the Jewish real estate market today. Being a homeowner in a coveted neighborhood, I find nothing more disgusting and amusing at the same time.
Why disgusting? Because, with apologies to all the home-seekers who are looking for houses in a certain ritzy neighborhood, you just have to get over it. You don’t belong there anyway. Do you really want your children in a class with grandchildren of millionaires?
Take a good look around. This is not your parents’ community. This is about exotic Chanukah vacations, teenagers spending summers in Israel or touring America, fancy bar mitzvahs and $100,000 weddings, $5,000 sheitels, and then (full circle) parents buying a house for a child for well over a million dollars, knocking it down, and spending another million dollars to build it up.
You don’t want your child wondering why Yanky’s family goes away to Orlando for vacation, and he has to stay home. Your answer of “Hashem provides everyone with what they need” is great. But it probably won’t work for every one of your kids. (And honestly, does it even work for you?)
Why did I find the letter amusing? Because it mirrors my personal experience.
We mentioned briefly to one person that we were interested in selling our house, located in what is now considered a “great” neighborhood. I mean — why not cash in? I am not the Uppa-Baby-Vista stroller mama. And my husband buys his shirts at Macy’s. I buy the family shoes off of Zappos. Our house is 2006 Ashley furniture. Seeing the way our neighborhood has changed, it’s time for us to get out!
After that one casual mention, I must have received six phone calls or texts in the past two months from people who want to look at my house.
Someone in a similar situation made a funny comment to me. Her daughter has been in the shidduch market for a few years — no phone calls. Her house was on the market for three days — and it was sold to her neighbor’s daughter.
She said she took the hint.
Just something to ponder.
Sitting on a Golden Egg in “That” Neighborhood, USA
This Is War [Drama at the Plaza / Issue 887]
The Ezrat Yisrael area at the southern Kotel plaza shouts loudly the false narrative espoused by the Reform. If one looked at the area on Monday, the first day of Chanukah, the silence coupled with the absence of even one worshipper would give the true picture of the entire effort for pluralistic prayer space.
There is no mandate by the people for an effort to develop such an area to meet a need in theory but not in practicality. These people are not worshipping on a regular basis. They should not be permitted to shift the status quo as a form of demonstration that they could undermine pure Orthodox Judaism.
This entire effort is no different from the BDS movement. Just as BDS tries to delegitimize Israel, the Reform and Women of the Wall are at war in an effort to justify their failure to adhere to halachah and delegitimization of halachic Judaism.
We must enlist all efforts to reveal the true motives of the efforts to break with halacha. Transportation, kashrus, prayer — it is a war. One that diaspora Jewry does not comprehend.
Smash the Stereotype [Outlook / Issue 887]
Regarding Yonoson Rosenblum’s recent article “Planning for the Coming Aliyah,” I was discouraged to note that once again, the typical stereotypes of Israel being a place where balabatim don’t learn and where chareidi schools with minimal non-kodesh and zero high-school-age chol studies are rampant.
Reb Yonoson — please come spend a Shabbos in Ramat Bet Shemesh Alef! Baruch Hashem, those stereotypes have been smashed years ago by wonderful kehillos and noted local rabbanim, and the trend continues with continued new mosdos that are opening in the city, in terms of both amazing shuls and schools that dot the landscape of this wonderful city.
While of course, the stereotype of the Israeli classic chareidi system certainly holds true with respect to the educational models that Reb Yonoson mentions, I venture to assume that many Mishpacha readers would be thrilled with the local options and their children can thrive in the amazing chareidi schools in Israel that are providing a more solid basis of secular studies.
Certainly let us not focus on the Argentinean group that returned (which of course is deeply concerning, and in no way do I underestimate the challenges this group faced) — let me instead provide you with a name of literally one of the thousands of chutznikim who baruch Hashem are meriting to build their houses here in Eretz Yisrael.
Aaron R. Katz
He Lived his Message [For the Record / Issue 886]
Thank you for the beautiful article commemorating the yahrtzeit of Rav Dovid Leibowitz ztz”l. It evoked fond memories of stories my father told to my siblings and to me as we grew up.
My father, Rabbi Nosson Dov (Benjamin) Sharfman a”h, was among the “boys” who started out at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath and then followed Rav Dovid to Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. My father passed away three years ago, at that time probably the last (or among the last) of Rav Dovid’s talmidim. He had a picture of Rav Dovid hanging across from the seat where he sat and learned all day (even at the age of 98!), and would often say “my rebbi is watching me.”
I was particularly moved by the story of Rav Dovid addressing Rav Pam ztz”l — at that time a 15-year-old talmid — with the respectful pronoun “ihr” rather than the common “du.” I might add that he accorded dignity to all boys, not just his students.
I vividly remember my father telling us about an incident that occurred during one shiur. It seems that a young boy ran into the room — he had a sh’eilah from his mother — and interrupted the shiur. The boys were shocked: How would Rebbi react to this kind of action?
And then my father would say to us with a warm smile on his face: “And you know what? Instead of reprimanding this boy for interrupting the shiur, Rebbi turned to him and said: ‘Vos vilt ihr, mein kind?’ ”
And my father would say: “Can you imagine that? To address this young boy with such chashivus?” It made an indelible impression on us all.
My father also told us many times that Rav Dovid was accustomed to mentioning that, in spite of the kindnesses that Rachav showed to the meraglim sent by Yehoshua, the Midrash criticized her for the method she employed in letting them escape her home. She gave them a presumably rough rope to lower themselves from her window, rather than providing them with a more comfortable means of exit — perhaps a ladder, or at least gloves to prevent friction burns on the hands caused by the rough rope. Pointing to this midrash, Rav Dovid emphasized the need for extreme thoughtfulness in caring for the needs of others. Rav Dovid not only taught that message, he lived it.
Zechuso yagein aleinu.
Mrs. Baila (Sharfman) Skovronsky
Teach the Basics [Bound for Eternity / Issue 886]
Thank you for your article about the tefillin awareness program. I really appreciate that you brought up such a vital topic. Too often I notice people with basic problems with their tefillin, often rendering them passul.
Most issues would be nonexistent if 13-year-old bochurim were taught these few simple facts. Like: If your tefillin come below the hairline, you are not yotzei. They would then in turn point it out to others. It totals only about three minutes (!!) of info. My eighth-grade rebbi actually taught us how to tighten the kesher. That five-minute lesson helped me help many people!
I also want to point out that I recently took advantage of Rabbi Schachter’s program. It didn’t take much more than a few phone calls, and he came down and helped over 100 people at our shul. So let’s teach our boys these basic concepts, and along with that, consider arranging for Rabbi Schachter to come to your shul.
The Other Moshe [And Honor for All / Issue 886]
There is more to the story about Mr. Moshe Reichmann picking up bread every day for the other bochurim in Rav Schneider’s yeshivah.
There was another boy, also called Moshe, who accepted the difficult job of waking the other boys for davening and learning every morning. Rav Schneider said, “The boy who goes so faithfully for the bread for the yeshivah, one day the whole world will know of his wealth. And the boy who wakes his fellow students for davening and learning every, one day the whole world will know of his Torah.”
The two boys were Mr. Moshe Reichmann and Rav Moshe Sternbuch.
Mr. Moshe Reichmann was heard to say in later years that he wished he had been the one to wake the boys and to get the blessing of Torah.
Sarah Webber, Jerusalem
Without Date Night [Made in Heaven / Issue 886]
At the risk of beating a dead horse, I am writing to take issue with Rabbi Shafier’s advice for couples to have a weekly date night.
In the first place, the advice is, in today’s parlance, tone-deaf. Young families are struggling to make ends meet. Babysitters cost at the very least $10 an hour. A weekly date night — if it consists of nothing but taking a walk together — still costs $20 a week. That’s assuming the night does not include any expense other than a babysitter. Should a couple go out to eat, that sum triples easily. This is an expense that many couples can ill afford.
But more importantly, it is utterly ridiculous to say that, barring a weekly date night, a marriage is doomed to failure. I have been married for over 25 years. My husband and I can count on our hands the number of times we left our young kids with a babysitter, and that’s including family simchahs. The number of times we went out on a date night “just because” in the 20 or so years that our kids were growing up is next to nil. And we have a beautiful, fulfilling, close marriage. And I know dozens of others like myself.
Was it difficult while the kids were growing up? You betcha. Did we get through it without date nights? Yes, indeed!
There is a tendency in our world to amplify warnings so that “a greater chance” becomes a certainty. For example, we’ve been told to put babies on their backs to sleep, now if you put your baby on his stomach to sleep, you’re considered a rodef. “Having a baby when over 40 creates a greater chance for complications” has become “Having a baby after 40 will definitely result in problems.”
I am sorely afraid that young couples will read Rabbi Shafier’s advice and come to the conclusion that without a weekly date night, their marriage is definitely doomed. I am here to say, it is not true!
Constant Check-In [Made in Heaven / Issue 886]
I have been following Rabbi Shafier’s column with interest every week, along with the Inbox responses. I found it very interesting to see the passionate responses regarding the date night that Rabbi Shafier said is a must.
I agree that a date night is important, but just like Sara B. specified in her letter, I feel that date night is not the only way to keep a couple together through the trials of life. I believe a very important piece is missing, and that is keeping the spark alive throughout one’s daily routine.
Why is there no focus on reminding couples to check in with each other regularly? As busy as a husband is, he always has two minutes in his day (while waiting in line somewhere, on the way to make a coffee) to give his wife a call just to see how her day is going.
I think that will go much further in keeping the relationship alive, than a once-a-week date night.
Still Obligated [Inbox / Issue 886]
The Inbox of a few weeks ago included a letter regarding kibbud av, which stated, “Your brothers should check the halachah of kibbud av. The mitzvah is on the sons only.”
This is a serious error. Although it is true that once a woman is married, her first allegiance is to her husband, she nevertheless is certainly obligated in the mitzvah of kibbud av v’eim. (See Shach — siman 200:19.)
May we all be privileged to fulfill this very important mitzvah to the best of our abilities.
Label Sharfman, Jerusalem
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 889)
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