"That bond to a rav, a kehillah, a second home — it’s something worth sacrificing for"
Well-Deserved Spotlight [In the Driver’s Seat / Issue 908]
I was pleasantly unsurprised to see the smiling face of our former Shabbos guest, Rabbi Yanky Robinson. Reb Yanky has a well-deserved reputation of seeing a need and filling it. We saw this when he was sitting at our Shabbos seudah, and now the larger Lakewood Community is receiving his goodness as well. This is the chinuch he learned in Telshe Yeshiva of Chicago, and it makes all of us friends so proud to be his dear chaver.
Hopefully this well-deserved spotlight on the trailblazing Reb Yanky will help alleviate the bus-driver shortage, and people will stop looking down on those who take the time and effort to drive tinokos shel beis rabban to school.
I know of other choshuve people who also drive school buses — either as primary parnassah or to supplement their full-time jobs — and there is nothing for people to be ashamed of or any reason for their children to be bullied.
Shimmy Atlas, Chicago, IL
Spirited Intersection [Liquid Sale / Issue 908]
Thank you, Mishpacha, for publishing such an enlightening and insightful article by Yosef Zoimen about potential chometz issues, even in circumstances where typical kashrus issues are not implicated. Given the availability of a well-made, completely kosher product at a reasonable price, it is surprising that one does not encounter the special kosher run of Buffalo Trace more frequently at simchahs and other communal events. I look forward to more articles from this engaging author about the intersection of kashrus and spirits.
Sell It All [Liquid Sale / Issue 908]
I thoroughly enjoyed the article about Buffalo Trace’s kosher line. Rabbi Zoimen painted an amazing picture of the old-school Kentucky vibe, where I went on the Bourbon Trail some years ago and had a great experience.
While I understand the uniqueness of this project and the passion of their CEO toward making specific kosher bottles, it would be a real public service if in addition to selling the new dedicated kosher barrels before each Pesach, the cRc would also have Buffalo Trace sell the entire factory/brand for chometz as well.
The reason is not so that Jews who understand the chometz issues will be able to start buying Weller and Blanton’s again, but rather to remove the michshol (stumbling block) for those who are unaware that many of the liquors produced by the company haven’t been sold for Pesach and are therefore not permitted.
Case in point — I was in Eretz Yisrael a few years ago in a frum-owned liquor store in Beis Yisrael on a Friday afternoon, in the heart of the yeshivah section. A yeshivah bochur took a regular bottle of Buffalo Trace bourbon off the shelf and bought it for Shabbos and walked out with a smile. Both he and the store owner were blissfully unaware that this product could not be sold or consumed because of its chometz issues.
The cRc arranging a secondary sale to also sell the whole Buffalo Trace factory and its brands would at least make the many Jews unaware of these issues not transgress chometz she’avar alav haPesach. It would help to remove this stumbling block and would not affect the popularity of the Kosher Whiskey project, which will continue to fly off the shelves after every Pesach.
Binyomin Tarasow, Clifton, NJ
Rabbi Sholem Fishbane responds:
Thank you, Binyomin, for your important point about removing a michshol from those are unknowingly purchasing problematic liquor. Many years ago, when I was a rav in Buffalo, one of the older (and very private) congregants agreed to sell his chometz but would not tell me where he lived or where the chometz was held. The most he would give me was a P.O.B number! I remember calling my posek who told me that I can indeed sell his chometz since “zochen l’adam” works when and if the person simply does not understand the importance of not owning chometz on Pesach.
This case, however, is different, since the company specifically said that they do not want to sell their company and/or the chometz (aside from the special barrels to put aside for the kosher run). Hence a very interesting question: can one sell someone’s chometz without them knowing, if they specifically say not to?
When the Buffalo Trace case came up, I called back my rav, who told me that this very question is a machlokes haposkim (Dovev Meshorim 1:30 and Chelkas Yaakov 3:31 are machmir, while Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank M.K. 1:71 l’fi the Rashba is maikel). His opinion was that since this is a d’Rabannan, we can be maikel. A few weeks later I had the opportunity to ask this question directly to Rav Elyashiv ztz”l, who clearly said that a mechirah cannot work if the owner says he does not want to sell.
Every year, there is a list of companies that I sell “m’taam zochen l’adam” and this is indeed one of them. Even so, since Rav Elyashiv paskened that it does not work (and the cRc’s Beis Din agrees in principle), we continue to list items produced by these companies on the non-recommended list.
Our Ruchniyus Doesn’t Suffer [Inbox / Issue 908]
In response to the letter written by a “veteran shul rav” from the Tristate area, as a Tristate resident, I am so sorry that you feel the way you do. I have resided in the Tristate area for over 50 years, and it is even possible that you are my rav. It seems like you regret taking the position of a rav in this area as “people are simply not around anymore.”
There are in fact 52 Shabbosim each year, plus Yamim Tovim that do not fall out on Shabbos. Although I will agree with you that shul members do go away from time to time, I would say that most mispallelim are around the majority of the year. I will admit that my family is one of the families who baruch Hashem has a second home in an upstate development. The two Yamim Tovim that we have spent upstate for the past decade are Succos and Shavuos. Besides the summer months (when many have gone upstate for many, many years), I and most mispallelim are at our shul for the rest of the year. The main reason why many shuls are not full anymore and many are “not around” is that families have moved to different places.
In the second part of your letter, you expressed how learning Shavuos night or Simchas Torah upstate isn’t as meaningful as it should be. I wish that this rav could join us one time for one of these Yamim Tovim, and then he could see how truly beautiful it really is. The kol Torah in our development beis medrash on Shavuos night (chavrusas and shiurim) reaches a level that I personally never experienced in the Tristate area. My personal learning has baruch Hashem also been so much better upstate. The hakafos on Simchas Torah are also so leibidig and amazing, and go till late at night and late Simchas Torah day with all men, bochurim, and children involved.
While part of me still feels bad for leaving my regular shul (and all of me feels bad that this rav feels this way), I don’t want the rav to think that the ruchniyus level upstate (or other places where others may go) is lacking.
Looking forward to many more wonderful Shabbosim in our regular shul (and only a few other times upstate).
A Tristate resident
Worth the Sacrifice [Voice in the Crowd / Issue 907]
Thank you Yisroel Besser for an excellent piece about Shul Yidden. It was especially meaningful to me, because it gave me a genuinely new appreciation for my father, a real Shul Yid.
Growing up, we barely ever went away for Shabbos and of course we never spent Pesach in a hotel. Abba needed “his shul” and hard as it was, we had to respect that. On the rare occasion that we were out of town for Shabbos, Abba usually found a similarly heimish minyan with the warmth and seriousness he was used to, even if he had to walk miles to get there and start his seudah later than everyone else.
What my immature self didn’t understand is that this was not stubbornness, it was azus d’kedushah — a determination to stick to his values even when it was difficult.
Baruch Hashem, I am also now married to a Yid who possesses this value. In Jerusalem it is especially hard to make a kavuah makom tefillah rather than fumble around from one minyan factory to the next because of convenience. And on Shabbos, most shuls are just a place to daven but not a “relationship,” as Yisroel Besser describes.
My husband was fortunate to develop a profound connection to a shul (Beis Knesses Lev Avrohom under Rav Chatzkel Weinfeld), and his commitment to it means that we also rarely go away for Shabbos, lest he miss the Rav’s derashah. But that bond to a rav, a kehillah, a second home — it’s something worth sacrificing for.
Mindel (Zomber) Kassorla
Even When He Was Young [Guardian of the City / Issue 907]
I read with particular interest the article about Rav Dov Kook in your mega Pesach edition. I also learned with Rav Dov Kook, together with Uri Maklev, 50 years ago, in the same shiur at Yeshivas Kol Torah.
I must say that even then at his young age he had an aura of kedushah and purity that was hard to describe! I don’t remember ever entering the beis medrash at any time of the night and not find him deep in learning. At the monthly farher Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztz”l would always direct his most difficult questions to Dov Kook.
After all these years, he still acknowledges his friendship and sends me letters of encouragement and chizuk!
I recommend to family and friends if anyone wants a brachah from a real talmid chacham and tzaddik, they should try to see him when they’re in Teveria.
Bentzion Heitner, Toronto, Canada
Prime Priority [Presents of Presence / Double Take — Issue 907]
I had very strong feelings about the most recent Double Take story, describing the divorced parents disagreeing about camp. The following Shabbos, I raised the topic without voicing my opinion so I could hear everyone else’s thoughts first — which would be particularly interesting because one of our guests was a divorced man with two sons. He and his ex-wife have joint custody and he has made many life changes to make sure he can be close to his boys.
His response to the issue was so refreshing. He did not start discussing who was right or wrong, but simply said, “Well, what’s best for the kids?”
If only that were every divorced parent’s main consideration.
Mom, did you stop to think whether your kids — who live such a hectic life — might need this break? And if the resentment you harbor toward your ex could be hurting them?
Dad, did you consider that upsetting their mom and doing something she disagrees with (even if she’s being unreasonably difficult) could cause your kids even more pain?
As a teen, I had the opportunity to witness a case of what you might call a broken home that was far from broken. Strange as it may seem, when my friend’s parents divorced, her mother and father agreed to have Friday night meals together so that the kids would have a normal Shabbos seudah with a father figure and homemade food. The kids in the home were still young and these special parents decided to put aside their differences for the sake of their children’s emotional health. They did this consistently until one remarried.
Today the grown children are baruch Hashem frum, healthy, happy people. Of course, each situation is unique and needs professional guidance, but to me this was a paradigm of selflessness that went a long way.
We can’t really know if the fictional Double Take characters were acting with pure motivations and putting their children first, or what the children really needed, but I am grateful that at least in real life, we see there are people whose values are in the right place.
Most Memorable Day [Eternal Wall Special Supplement]
Thank you for the supplement “Eternal Wall” in your Pesach issue of Mishpacha. It was particularly nostalgic for one who was already a seven-year resident of Jerusalem in June 1967, living with her family through those terrifying days leading up to and during the Six Day War, followed by the miraculous announcement of General Motta Gur on the 28th of Iyar, “Har Habayit b’yadeinu!”
We all have our unforgettable moments and days, and that day is surely one of my most memorable. The following day, Thursday afternoon, the 29th of Iyar, June 8, 1967, my husband, together with Rabbi Yaakov Leshinsky and Rav Avrohom Ravitz z”l, and another member of the Kiryat Noar (Boys’ Town) staff, reached the Kotel in time for Minchah.
There wasn’t any plaza in front of the Wall. The area was an Arab neighborhood with a narrow street bordering the Kotel. Rabbi Shlomo Goren had just returned from Chevron where he was the first Jew in 700 years to enter the Mearat Hamachpeilah.
Rabbi Goren held in his hand the unconditional surrender from Sheikh Jaabri and shared it with his paratroopers and other soldiers and civilians who were at the Kotel. Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz and Rabbi Yosef Bagad, along with other dignitaries and their wives, were present, as seen in the photograph snapped by a Jerusalem photographer that hangs in my living room to this day. An order given by then-defense minister Moshe Dayan to demolish the entire neighborhood facing the Wall made way for the plaza where millions of Jews have since gathered daily.
“Binaareinu u’vizkeineinu neilech… ki chag LaShem lanu” (Shemot 10:9). After 19 years without the Kotel, without Kever Rochel, without the Mearat Hamachpeilah, with our holy city Jerusalem cut in half, on Shavuot of that year, Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael made their way by foot along the narrow winding road up to Har Tzion and through Sha’ar Tzion that led to a rocky, dusty, open area, which became, in due course, the paved plaza in front of the Kotel today. It was the most thrilling, joyous, tear-stained chag ever!
As one who merited to be present at that miraculous period, Yom Yerushalayim remains a day for “Hodu LaShem ki tov, ki l’olam chasdo.”
Faigie Heiman, resident of Yerushalayim for 62 years after making aliyah from Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 1960
Far from Miserable [All the Fish in the Sea / Calligraphy Fiction Supplement]
I am writing in response to the Calligraphy story “All the Fish In the Sea” and the general disturbing trend I’m seeing in your pages describing all the “miserable” and “crusty” older singles. I am one such “older single.” However, I am far from miserable.
As a 32-year-old single, I have disposable income. I have the time and freedom to travel, and I do. I get seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night, and actually wake up feeling refreshed. I have time to go to the gym and socialize with friends. I host 12-person Shabbos meals, replete with my Crate and Barrel dishes, cloth napkins, and linen tablecloth (without a plastic). I spend Shabbos afternoons reading, napping, attending a shiur, or visiting friends.
Contrary to what is commonly portrayed, not all of us resent our married (yes, even younger) siblings and classmates. I am happy when my married siblings come for Yom Tov — even if I have to give up my room. I also enjoy visiting my married friends, playing with their adorable kids, and attending their simchahs. And then I am just as happy to go home to my quiet apartment and curl up with a book and a glass of wine.
Unlike Baily, we are not all secretly hoping for our knight in shining armor to swoop in and save us. We do not need saving. We actually enjoy being independent and solving our own problems. And we do not need to ask a coworker’s husband to ask his rabbi a sh’eilah. We have our own rabbis. And we are more than capable of looking up halachos ourselves.
We do not cry every time we see a married person in shul wearing maternity clothes or walking down the street wheeling a baby carriage. We are happy to go to shul, appreciating that we can daven slowly with the tzibbur and not have to rush through brachos and mumble Shema while four kids and a crying baby vie for our attention. I relish the fact that I can spend the whole day in shul on Yom Kippur instead of being at home changing diapers and wiping noses. Sure, they taught us that’s a women’s “tafkid,” but it’s not mine right now. And instead of lamenting my situation, I take advantage of the extra time I have now to connect with Hashem.
There is so much pressure to get married young. Why? What happened to having emunah and bitachon that everything happens in the right time? Does that not apply to shidduchim? When I was 19, I dated an “older” boy who complained that all the girls he went out with were so desperate for the sheitel they didn’t even care about the relationship. I told him he didn’t have to worry about that with me, as I am very happy with my hair and I am not in a rush to cover it with a sheitel. I said it as a joke , but I was serious about not wanting to get married just for the sake of being married. And that is still true, 13 years later.
While one day I hope to have a family of my own, in whatever form Hashem chooses to give me one, I am not just counting the days waiting for it to happen. I am living my life. And it is a good one. I have a fulfilling career, meaningful friendships, and unforgettable experiences. Sure, there are moments when I get lonely. Who doesn’t? But those moments are fleeting. And being married does not mean you will never be lonely. It just means you will be married.
So please, stop painting all of us older singles as desperate and unhappy. We are neither of those things. We are not defined by our lack of a husband. We are educated, well-read, and informed about the world around us. We attend shiurim, volunteer with Bikur Cholim or Masbia, and have a learning chavrusa. We are (gasp) even happy!
As for all the “well-meaning” married people and shadchanim, we do not need your unsolicited advice about what we need to do to get married. We are not young naive 19-year-olds. We know who we are and we know what we want. And we are not willing to settle on what is important to us. You may call us “picky,” and so be it. That is our choice. You do not have a say. Our dating lives are not for public consumption, or sources of entertainment fodder in magazines.
An “older” single
That’s How We Feel [All the Fish in the Sea / Calligraphy Fiction Supplement]
The Calligraphy story about the single girl with her fish was so extremely validating, triggering, painful, and comforting all at the same time. Thank you for writing such a real story.
And to all those out there who are wondering: Yes, we do feel that way. Life can be as full of people, work, chesed, and fun as ever. But there is always a piece of us that is missing... a gaping hole in our hearts. A deep loneliness in our lives.
May we all access that Krias Yam Suf ASAP.
The Endgame Matters [Principle of the Matter / Double Take — Issue 904]
As with every Double Take story, the dilemma presented, and the ensuing back-and-forth about Shaya and his refusal to Zoom with his ailing grandfather were thought-provoking and enjoyable. While I am not qualified to have an answer, I think the question is sharper than it seems.
There is a big difference between a chumra and a geder.
A chumra is something that has its own value, but runs no deeper than its own value. Thus its weight against competing values is limited, as in the story of Rav Breuer. There are no snake bites for unkept chumras.
A geder, on the other hand, is almost entirely about the endgame. A foot slipping is of little consequence, but crashing at the bottom of the slope is bad news.
Most would agree, I’m sure, that if it meant the world to Zeidy for Shaya to wallow in kol davar assur, or even to fritter away half his time and yishuv hadaas, then there would be ample grounds for Shaya to be firm. The geder that prevents that must be given at least some of the weight of that eventuality.
May we continue to merit the existence and vitality of those that can answer these questions.
He Invited the Judgment [Principle of the Matter / Double Take — Issue 904]
Kudos to Shaya for establishing standards for himself and his family, and sticking to them (although he clearly needs a rav).
But Shaya opened himself up to all of these opinions and judgment by himself, when he told his sister (Esti) how he felt about her choices. She was showing her phone to other adults. His wife could have just walked away with the baby. When he told Esti what he thinks, he now allows his sister to do the same to him.
I have been blessed with a good number of siblings. We all have different standards when it comes to technology — from smartphones to no texting and all variations in between. Yet we all respect each other as people, and we never comment on each other’s choices, realizing that we make our own decisions for our own families. We love each other and baruch Hashem have very good relationships.
May Hashem help us all live together b’shalom.
Share It with Us [A Living Torah / Issue 896]
The amazing feedback our family received about Eytan Kobre’s recent “A Living Torah” article in Mishpacha about our illustrious father, Rav Aryeh Kaplan, ztz”l, has been inspirational and much appreciated.
We are aware that in his relatively short life, and the nearly four decades since his passing, he has touched and inspired the lives of tens of thousands of Yidden. As his descendants who lost our beloved father when we were quite young, it would mean a lot if these people would share some of their experiences with us.
We request that anyone who gained from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, ztz”l, either personally or through his writings, please send us these memories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The family of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan ztz”l
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 909)
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