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Inbox: Issue 918

“Rabbi Stolper was a man who cared about every single Yid — not for who they were, but for the fact that they were Yidden”


Imagine It [Outlook / Issue 917]

As a chassidish woman from Williams-burg, I was surprised to read Yonoson Rosenblum referring to us as “readers from unimagined places.” “Unimagined places” in my opinion would be somewhere like Thailand or maybe Saudi Arabia.

Why would Williamsburg be “unimagined”? Is Williamsburg so exotic? There are so few frum English weekly magazines, so of course we would read Mishpacha! As long as it’s frum enough for a person’s standards, the magazine doesn’t have to be chassidish. And I must say, I personally am a big fan of Rabbi Rosenblum’s articles in particular, and look forward to reading them every week.

Regarding his suggestion that chassidim and Litvaks learn about each other, I would look forward to something like this. I find that there is so little intermingling between the two groups, as if we have minimal commonalities. Back in the old days in Europe, there was probably even less interaction between the two groups, since we tended to live in different countries. But I feel it’s high time that we unite more and work together for common goals.

We see it happening with some major organizations, such as Agudah working with chassidish and litvish schools for mutual interests. But I would love to see us working together between one common man and the other.

I wish Rabbi Rosenblum many more healthy years writing for this magazine.

L. Rosenberg


Surprising Omission [Take a Stand / Issue 917]

Thanks for your quality magazine.

It was very surprising that of the three rabbis’ responses to the question of newlyweds starting their married life in Eretz Yisrael, not one mentioned the benefits the couple would have of learning to make it on their own.

It was even more surprising that none mentioned how the importance for a Jew to live in Eretz Yisrael fit into the equation (and that an easier time to move and try it out would be as newlyweds).

Moshe Greenfield

Of Course, the Answer Is Yes! [Take a Stand / Issue 917]

I was very disappointed both with the question, “Is Eretz Yisrael the best place to start off your marriage?” and with the three responses.

The undertone of the title seemed to imply that obviously we know you are going to live out the rest of your lives in the “real world” in galus/America, but would it be a good idea to start your married life in Israel?

It was somewhat akin to asking, should one go out and eat in restaurants in shanah rishonah, because the “experience” may be good for building one’s marriage.

The biggest problem with the question is that it is skirting the most important issue — which is that living in Israel is not just a nice thing to do, but a positive mitzvah. It is beyond the scope of this letter to provide the sources, but suffice it to say, the Torah is full of Israel’s praises and it is the focus of so many of our weekday, Shabbos, and Yom Tov tefillos.

Yet surprisingly, all three rabbanim gave the same sort of answer: “It depends” or “It’s a matter of perspective.” Imagine someone asking whether a couple start off their married life learning Torah, or giving tzedakah. Of course, the answer is yes (though there could be exceptions in some unusual cases).

The Midrash on Tehillim makes a connection between Jews, Shabbos, and Israel. I think most readers will agree that there is something unique about being a Jew; and while you can be a very refined, holy Jew on Tuesday, you cannot compare such a Jew to the same Jew on Shabbos. Likewise, while you can be an exceptional Jew in chutz l’Aretz, that same Jew is greater in Israel (whether he knows it or not).

Once, Bavel was the new Jerusalem, then Berlin, then Brooklyn. But today there is a new Jerusalem — it’s called Jerusalem, and it’s relatively easy to get to.

So while the three rabbanim gave three very balanced answers, if we were to ask the Avos, Moshe, Aharon, David, the Rashbi, the Ramban, the Baal Shem Tov, or the Gra, they would have all answered yes (with perhaps a footnote that occasionally there could be exceptions).

May all our new young couples be zocheh to build a bayis ne’eman bYisrael.

Gershon, Ramat Beit Shemesh


Self-Made Man[He Empowered a Generation / Issue 917]

I want to thank you for the recent extensive article about Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, which was written by his grandson, our good friend Dovid Stolper. It was a beautifully written, truly inspiring article, about an awesome man who made such an impact on Klal Yisrael.

Rabbi Stolper was a self-made person. He didn’t have any major yichus. He was just a regular guy who worked on himself and used his potential to reach heights that no one could have imagined, and in the process, he redefined the kiruv movement of our time.

Rabbi Stolper was a man who cared about every single Yid — not for who they were, but for the fact that they were Yidden. His passing is a tremendous loss to Klal Yisrael, and he will forever be remembered.

Seeing his children and grandchildren following in his ways, I can only imagine the nachas he is having looking down from Shamayim. The worldwide Shas Hadchak initiative, as well as the Shemiras Halashon Awareness Programs in yeshivos in Eretz Yisrael, both founded and run by a grandson, are only two small examples of how they are continuing his legacy.

Yehi zichro baruch.

A friend


Mishandled on So Many Fronts [Design Misaligned / Double Take – Issue 917]

Thank you for the Double Take story about the girl who brought all the “wrong” items to camp. There are several points that I feel must be mentioned.

  1. Before administering discipline in this kind of situation, an experienced mechaneches should speak to the girl for a few minutes and discern whether she is a materialistic girl who is used to buying friends with “things,” or rather is an out-of-town oldest in the family who tried too hard to fit in. Since this girl is clearly the latter, she should have been treated with more understanding.
  2. No girl should be put into the embarrassing situation of having to beg and borrow for necessary personal items like a brush and flip-flops. Since this girl seemed to “get it” when the director spoke to her, she should have told her that in the meantime she should keep the designer items unobtrusively in a bag and take them only when she needed to use them. Or maybe the camp could have bought some inexpensive substitutes in town to tide her over until the package came from her mother.
  3. Most important of all, the camp director took the time to observe the dynamics in the bunk and speak to the girl and her mother when there was a problem. When she saw that it had worked out and the girl had become “one of the gang,” she should have spoken to the girl again and told her how proud she was of her that she was able to give up the things she brought and was now fitting in so nicely. This would help the girl develop good feelings about mechanchos in general and the camp director in particular.

Why was the director surprised that the mother was still angry when she saw her on Visiting Day? She called her to say that she sent all the wrong “stuff” and now she needed to replace it, but did she call her a week later with a nachas report to tell her how well her daughter was doing?

A principal, camp director, or even a teacher is always busy dealing with the crisis of the day. If they have to give mussar that they know is painful for the student, camper or parent, they need to mark their calendar a week later with a reminder to follow up with a nachas call if the situation worked out well.

  1. The solution for girls who were used to being the “undisputed leaders of the gang” and now are rolling their eyes and acting cynically is not just to take away Tzippy’s extra possessions. These girls also need a good dose of chinuch to help them improve their middos.

Chana R.


No Camp Is Immune [Design Misaligned / Double Take – Issue 917]

This week’s Double Take made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t breathe. It was so unrealistic!

First of all, I’m quite sad to say it, but camps like Camp Penina do not exist. Every camp has its “things” that all the campers, by some unwritten rule, know they must buy. Find me a kid in a normal, socially-on Bais Yaakov sleepaway camp nowadays, who doesn’t have a Lululemon fanny pack or an Aviator Nation sweater. And if they don’t have these things, they desperately want them.

A couple of years ago I went to a camp that was supposed to be more yeshivish and less “brand-namey.” Yeah, it wasn’t. The campers just “had to bring” different, slightly less expensive things. Peer pressure exists everywhere.

Secondly, being an out-of-towner myself, I am quite impressed and nauseous at the same time that Tzippy and her mother managed to figure out and buy all the “necessary items.” I find that the obsession of getting all the right stuff — including the brand-name brush — doesn’t normally exist in an out-of-towner.

Usually the “out-of-town type” is at least a year behind on trends — for some of us, it’s because we don’t chap the trends, for others it’s because we don’t care. Adidas jackets and sneakers, Marc Jacobs bags, and Butter sweaters were the cool things that we out-of-towners caught up on a year later and I excitedly brought to camp just as other brands were becoming “in.” Anyone younger than me reading this would laugh because all this stuff is probably just nerdy by now… (and no, this letter has not been sponsored by any of the brands mentioned).

But we can all admit the honest truth: in most classic Bais Yaakov camps, there exists strong peer pressure to have certain things. In some camps it might be super expensive, brand-name items, and in other camps in might be cheaper random items, but most camps have peer pressure for something. And it’s not the fault of camp or the fault of the brand-name campers. It’s just that teenagers are so vulnerable to being insecure and noticing everyone else’s things.

But there is hope. Teenagers grow out of this phase. They slowly stop caring as much and begin to develop a stronger sense of who they are and what they really want. They’ll stop trying so hard to chase after the right brands and to look the same as everyone else. They will probably still care, but much less. They’ll realize that life is not all about Lululemon or Hard Tail or even Aviator sweaters; it’s about your personality and your middos and the way you serve Hashem. I know I did.

I will admit that my mother disagrees with me on this point. She has pointed out that not everyone actually grows out of this — some simply become the woman who has to have a Bugaboo like everyone else, clothing emblazoned with brand-name labels like everyone else, and children dressed in hundred-dollar stretchies to match the neighbors.

There is an important concept to be mistapek b’muat. If we don’t start focusing on what’s important and reassessing our priorities, something will happen that will make us do it. No one at a person’s levayah will say, “She was so beautifully dressed as she pushed her financed Doona down the street.” Keep that in mind.

Name Withheld


Squandered Power [Design Misaligned / Double Take – Issue 917]

I’ll never forget going to camp as an out-of-town girl and hearing the director announce something about not wearing tops that have designer logos and whispering to the girl near me, “They don’t allow anything with designs?!”

Yup, I really grew up like that.

So I’m no expert on designer stuff. But I am an expert on what it’s like when a child has an amazing summer in camp. And I’m also an expert on what it’s like when a child is in a camp with a staff that is afraid of struggle or of their own shadow.

Without going into much detail, I have seen how many camp staffers have forgotten that the chinuch of camp is different from that of school. The ability to open hearts, connect, and create intrinsic changes… it all happens through fun and easy environments. Reading this Double Take story, I found myself crying for the pain of the mother and the daughter who were not lucky enough to be in an environment that remembered not just what it’s like to run a camp but what it’s like to impact a camper.

A mother who knows the power of camp


Never a Bad Word [Standing Ovation / Issue 917]

David Nachman Golding’s lovely memorial to his late brother Shimon a”h struck a deeply emotional chord in this friend of Shimon’s for nearly fifty years.

I was with him in high times and low. He was brilliant and creative. So sadly, the low dominated too many of his last years, before it finally took him from us. But high or low, in the fundamentals of why the Creator put us in this world, Shimon was consistent. I never heard him say a bad word about anybody; I never heard him judge anyone other than kindly; I never saw any motivation in anything he said or did other than to serve the Ribbono shel Olam by doing the right thing.

In his long years of suffering, I never heard him complain about having been chosen to suffer. In his suffering, it is clear, he served Hashem. He also made it clear that he loved us. I hope he understood how well we loved him.

Yerucham Reich


No After No After No [Inbox / Issue 916]

Ilana Brown’s letter about underpaid shadchanim rang so true.

Firstly, she was very modest — she is a wildly successful shadchan, and has made well over 150-plus shidduchim, including mine. She’s a genius when it comes to shidduchim — in her ideas, approach, calm manner and emotional understanding of people.

Shadchanim most definitely do not get compensated for the hours upon hours they put in (think: research, speaking to mother of boy, mother of girl, going in between each date, etc., etc...). I redt shidduchim all the time, and it seriously is tiring to hear no, after no, after no. I continue to try to be involved because we all need to help our brothers and sisters get married, not just official shadchanim.

I think sending a gift (even if you only went on two dates) to a shadchan is a really nice gesture. I once heard a shadchan say that the simchah that we have now when a boy/girl says yes to go out on a first date is the simchah we used to have when someone got engaged...

May the whole shidduch system be blessed with clarity, ease, and parnassah!

A Grateful Torontonian


A Zoo of Our Own [Text Messages / Issue 916]

I am a (very) long-time subscriber to Mishpacha and enjoy it immensely. However, I have not laughed out loud while reading an article since Rabbi Kobre used the word “sesquipedalian” in an article a couple of years ago.

In his column about Happy the Elephant, he brought back the fondest memories of us walking to the zoo on Shabbos or Yom Tov as admission-free days permitted. My friends and I also went on Chol Hamoed to visit the people coming to be “oleh regel” to our zoo. However, it seems we missed this huge (habeas) corpus hiding in plain sight. I hope she’s “Happy” anyway.

I also have my own personal connection to this zoo as my children, who are now themselves grandparents, would tell me after a trip to any other zoo, i.e., Prospect Park, Staten Island, “Es iz nisht azoi grois vee Bobby’s zoo.” So, yeah, my own mother had her very own zoo!

I enjoyed every word, and every pun!

Miriam (Rottenberg) Berger


Pain and Longing in New Square [Shul with a View / Issue 915]

A bit behind in my reading of Mishpacha, I just read your Rabbi Ron Eisenman’s perfect chizuk piece about Chaya Pery (Taubenfeld) Brailofsky and the Skverrer Rebbe. It awakened many memories and tears.

Many years ago, when Chaya Pery was a young girl of about eight, I was spending Chanukah with my wife’s family in Cleveland. Then I had to come back to New York for a client’s court case. I was invited to New Square for the second Shabbos Chanukah and asked my parents for permission to go.

My hosts were the Taubenfelds and it was a most inspiring Shabbos. The rebbetzin prepared wonderful meals, and Rabbi Taubenfeld did not let me miss a thing: He made sure I had box seats for every event, from watching the Rebbe light Chanukah licht Erev Shabbos to the lighting after Shabbos.

The Taubenfeld kids were very inquisitive and asked me many questions about my life, my clothes, and items I had with me. I particularly remember Chaya Pery asking about the New York Yankees schedule that I had picked up on the drive up. (The Yankees would distribute free tickets if you donated food to the annual food drive, and that year they gave Yankee socks and a Yankee schedule in addition to the tickets.)

A few years later in 2003, I went back to pay a shivah call after the terrible loss of Chaya Pery’s mother and brother in a terror attack. I had with me my two-year-old grandson. The aura of kedushah and loss was so heavy, it was palpable. This very active boy did not move on my lap for over 30 minutes. You felt the Ribbono shel Olam crying in the room.

When I just read of Chaya Pery’s petirah, the tears flowed as I recall the family, that shivah from 19 years ago, and the Shabbos with the Rebbe and Taubenfelds 33 years ago.

May we all have the strength of the Rebbe and of the Taubenfelds and Chaya Pery.

Eliezer Cohen

Lawrence, NY


They See Past the Kippah [A Sanctuary for Sarala / Issue 914]

I am not your typical subscriber, but I love your magazine and wait every week for Shabbat to read it.

Many of my family members have served in the IDF and Sheirut Leumi. I can identify with the people in Ma’aleh Hazeitim — they are people I admire; heroes in a certain sense to me.

Rabbi Ginzberg and his wife Avigail are visionaries: people who see past the outfits, past the color of the kippot that people wear and look at what is inside. This is true ahavat Yisrael, which Rav Ginzberg has displayed in past articles.

I will never forget the article Rabbi Ginzberg wrote about a minyan that he attended in the hospital while his daughter Sarale was ill. He described there that the minyan included people from all different backgrounds — Sephardi, Ashkenazi, yeshivish, chassidish — and how moving and beautiful the davening was.

May Rabbi Ginzberg and his wife have much nachat and simchah. And may the people of the new shul in Ma’aleh Hazeitim say many tefillot for all of Am Yisrael and continue in the legacy of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Ginzberg.

Thank you for this gem,

H. Bernstein


Rabbi Ginzberg responds:

The response to the beautiful article by the talented Gedalia Guttentag about the dedication of the shul on Ma’aleh Hazeitim has been nothing less than overwhelming, and I thank both Mishpacha and Reb Gedalia for their efforts in bringing this story to the readership.

Beyond the accolades, there were several questions that were asked by many readers, all along the same lines. I would like to respond to them in this forum.

The questions were as follows: 1) Is it safe to go to Har Hazeisim today? 2) If Ma’aleh Hazeitim is on Har Hazeisim, how can houses be built there, and even more so, how can people live in them? 3) Can Kohanim live in or visit the community?

In brief, the responses to these questions are:

Baruch Hashem, due to the relentless and indeed sanctified efforts of the Lubinsky brothers and others of the Har Hazeisim Preservation Committee, it is relatively safe today to go to Har Hazeisim (while attention still should be paid to news of any local political protest in the area).

While the community of Maaleh Hazeitim is definitely part of Har Hazeisim and sits somewhere between Chelkas Hatzur and Chelkas Hakdoshim, much has already been written on the subject of living there. The current rav of the community, Rabbi Refael Shnur, is an outstanding talmid chacham of note who has written an entire small sefer on this very issue, called Kuntres Derech Har Hazeisim. In the kuntres, which is accessible online, he brings teshuvot from the foremost expert on graves in Eretz Yisrael, Rav Dovid Shmidel, as well as from Rav Asher Weiss, ruling that while the community definitely sits on part of Har Hazeisim, old historical maps from the Ottoman Empire show that there were no actual graves on this section where the community is situated. It seems that it had been the location of some type of century-old marketplace.

These findings would indicate that Kohanim are allowed to live in or visit the community. There is actually a very advanced kollel in the community that is studying the halachos regarding the various korbanos, a topic that will be very relevant for Kohanim when the Beis Hamikdash will be rebuilt, hopefully in the very near future.

On a personal note, when I was looking into joining in this holy project several years ago, I went to my rebbi in psak, Rav Dovid Feinstein ztz”l. After I showed him all this relevant historical information, he gave his blessing. Only then did I agree to participate in this project.

I invite everyone to come to Har Hazeisim in general and to the community of Ma’aleh Hazeitim in particular to experience the incredible feeling of connecting the past and the future.

When the proposed visiting center will be completed, it will be an even greater experience for everyone involved.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 918)

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