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Inbox: Issue 979

The Chofetz Chaim’s deep emunah in the imminent geulah was so real to him that despite all the difficulties involved and all the objections, he felt that he had no choice but to make his way to Eretz Yisrael even at such an advanced age
To a Brother in Need [Blood Brothers / Issue 977]

I read the awesome article about the Renewal organization with much pride, as last week, my superhero sister-in-law — a busy working wife and young mother from West Hempstead — donated her kidney to an unrelated brother in need.

She would have kept it quiet if not for the request from Renewal to publicize in order to inspire others to do the same.

Rivie, we are truly inspired. May you have an easy recovery and go mei’chayil el chayil.

S. Blum

Lawrence, NY


It Hit Home [Blood Brothers / Issue 977]

Your fascinating article about kidney transplants hit home! Baruch Hashem that there are so many incredible people who are willing to go through the pain and discomfort of donating their kidney, frequently to someone unknown to them.

Our son who lives in Israel needed a new kidney; his had failed a few years earlier and he was on home dialysis several times a day. His number on the list with that wonderful organization Matnat Chayim didn’t leave much hope for a transplant.

The extended family had a meeting and discussed the possibilities of one of them being a donor. A nephew discussed it with his wife; they’d been married for five years with no children and decided that he would volunteer to be a donor. It turned out that he wasn’t a match for our son, but because he would be donating his kidney through Matnat Chayim to some other waiting person, our son was moved high up on the list and a donor was found.

Baruch Hashem, the surgeries were performed and all four men are functioning beautifully today. Interestingly, the nephew and the other donor, as well as our son, all live in the Negev and rely on the Iron Dome for protection. It turns out that the nephew’s recipient is one of the creators of the Iron Dome!

Oh, and our nephew and his wife are the parents of an adorable baby, born about nine months after the decision to donate a kidney.

Susan K.

Silver Spring, MD


Locked Out of Eretz Yisrael [For the Record / Issue 977]

Once again, my favorite historians of the yeshivah world, Reb Dovi Safier and Reb Yehuda Geberer, outdid themselves in their story about the failed plans of the gadol hador, the Chofetz Chaim, to move to Eretz Yisrael.

Ever since my youth, I have been awed by the life and accomplishments of this larger-than-life gadol. Maybe it was due to my growing up in the home of my great rebbi, Rav Henoch Leibowitz, who was a great-great-nephew of the Chofetz Chaim and his Rebbetzin Pesha Leibowitz, who was a granddaughter of Rav Naftoli Trop, the hand-selected rosh yeshivah in Radin, who often shared her memories of the Chofetz Chaim. And so whenever I had the zechus to meet someone who had personally interacted with him, I tried to discover new tidbits of information.

I often wondered what was that motivating force (other than the desire to fulfill the mitzvos hateluyos ba’Aretz) that created such an intense desire for the Chofetz Chaim to move to Eretz Yisrael, over the strong objections of his own family members and the unified objection of all the gedolim in Europe of the era. My favorite historians suggested that the prompt was a letter from the previous rav of Radin, who had moved decades earlier to Eretz Yisrael and wrote that he had never experienced a “real Shabbos” until he arrived there.

I had long thought that as well, and actually explained it twice that way in my Erev Shabbos videos called “Bein Chol Lakodesh.” However, other than conjecture, there is no actual source for that explanation.

Over the decades, whenever I had met someone who had interacted closely with this gadol, I asked that very question. What I found fascinating was that the five people I asked — Rav Avrohom Trop, Rav Poupko, Rav Simcha Wasserman, Rav Mordechai Zuckerman, and the Chofetz Chaim’s youngest daughter Rebbetzin Zaks — all had a different opinion as to what was the factor that so motivated the Chofetz Chaim to move to Eretz Yisrael at his advanced age.

The most fascinating suggestion came from from Rav Zuckerman. He said that his great rebbi often shared his vison of the imminent coming of Mashiach and warned that we must all be prepared for that day. He would share the Midrash that describes the final geulah as similar in nature to the geulah from Mitzrayim. Just as in Mitzrayim, only those yarei devar Hashem who believed in the promise of the geulah were zocheh to be redeemed (as the Torah describes, only one-fifth of Klal Yisrael actually left Mitzrayim), so too will be the case for the final geulah. And the Chofetz Chaim, with great emotion, told his close talmidim that he wasn’t sure he was worthy to be included in that group of “yarei devar Hashem” — however, if he were already situated in Eretz Yisrael when the geulah came, he wouldn’t be forced to leave.

The Chofetz Chaim’s deep emunah in the imminent geulah was so real to him that despite all the difficulties involved and all the objections, he felt that he had no choice but to make his way to Eretz Yisrael even at such an advanced age. It’s an incredible thought from an incredible tzaddik and an incredible lesson for each and every one of us.

There’s one more addition to this important historical story that I think is very much worth sharing as well. Over 40 years ago, my chaveirim and I were sharing a special Shabbos at the Bnei Brak home of Rav Nosson Shulman of the Slabodka yeshivah. He was one of the closest students of the Chazon Ish and shared with us many fascinating conversations that he had with his famous rebbi. During one of those conversations, the Chazon Ish related that while the entire Torah Yishuv in Eretz Yisrael was thrilled with the news of the impending arrival of the saintly Chofetz Chaim, he himself knew with certainty that he would never end up actually coming.

When asked how he could say that, when a house in Petach Tikvah was already prepared and waiting for him to arrive, he refused to explain. Finally, after it became clear that the Chofetz Chaim would not be coming after all, he was asked again how had he known — was it ruach hakodesh?

This time, the Chazon Ish explained. “I knew that HaKadosh Baruch Hu would never let the Chofetz Chaim come, because the Chofetz Chaim was like his forebear Aharon HaKohein — a rodef shalom. At that time, the small yishuv was torn apart by a raging machklokes between the followers of Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld and the followers of Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook.

“The first thing that the Chofetz Chaim would do when he arrives on these shores, even before unpacking his bags,” the Chazon Ish said, “would be to attempt to make shalom between these two groups. He would go to Rav Sonnenfeld’s camp and talk to them, and then go to Rav Kook’s camp to talk to them as well. And when the followers of the opposing camp saw the Chofetz Chaim visiting their nemesis, they would take the Mishnah Berurah, throw it on the ground, and stomp on it.

“Hashem values the Mishnah Berurah too much to allow that to happen,” the Chazon Ish said. “I just knew the only way to avoid that from happening, is by making sure that the Chofetz Chaim not make it to these shores.”

What an eye-opening and painful observation made by the legendary Chazon Ish, whose explanation as to why Eretz Yisrael did not merit to welcome the saintly gadol hador into its arms. A frightening lesson to learn from, that just maybe hopefully things will be different the next time such an opportunity knocks on Klal Yisrael’s collective door.

Reb Dovi and Reb Yehuda, keep sharing your research and valuable information with the rest of us.

Rabbi Chaim Aryeh Zev Ginzberg

Cedarhurst, NY


Why It Matters [Inbox / Issue 977]

In response to the letter from “A Philistine” asking how we are to know what quality art is, I would like to provide an answer and make the author aware of what is really occurring in the frum art world.

Philistine asks, what’s the difference if someone is skilled or not, as long as people enjoy their artwork and are moved?

True, on the surface level, it doesn’t matter. If an artist creates artwork that sells, then who cares what the skill level of the artist is or if it’s an inherently high-quality art piece?

But on a deeper level, it does matter.

And here’s why:

Most of us who grew up in the frum community do not know the difference between good and amateurish artwork — because we don’t have proper art education. We don’t offer it in our schools, and if we do, it’s on a subpar level where copycat art is taught and there’s a heavy reliance on just “talent.”

The result is a consumer base that doesn’t know the slightest difference between different levels of artwork and artists who were never taught art properly. It also means that we have many artists who rely on their talent alone and don’t realize that becoming a professional artist takes time, patience, and guidance from those further ahead in their artistic journey.

Artists who never learned the foundational rules and skills of art will find that they plateau at a certain point. This will cause them to limit their artwork to copying other artists’ styles, to using a limited color palette as their color mixing skills are not up to par, and to an avoidance of realist art as they don’t understand layers or drawing.

A proper art education can allow artists to become highly skilled and go from hobbyists to emerging artists to professional artists who are highly skilled and have their own style. But this takes time and patience; it’s not about being able to just pick up a paintbrush and paint. It’s a journey that needs to be taken.

I say this having studied art in classes under practicing artists from the age of six. My parents pushed me to learn art on a high level and I am forever grateful, as I have used all the skills I learned to go on and teach hundreds of students. Rather than relying on talent, I teach art skills so that any person can enjoy art and feel confident drawing and painting anything. They can then take these skills, and work on finding their own style, getting critiques from practicing artists, and eventually with time and patience become a professional artist should they want to do so.

One day, I dream and hope that art will be bought for art’s sake and not just because the interior designer says it matches your couch.

Pessy Samson

Director, Let’sArtit!


Never Miss a Photo Again [Save Those Memories / Issue 977]

Thank you for your article on how to digitize and save family photos.

Heres’s another suggestion: For $99.99 a year, you can get a Microsoft 365 subscription that allows you to install the full Office suite on six computers and additionally gives you six terabytes of cloud storage via OneDrive (one terabyte per user). You can install OneDrive on your smartphone and set the camera to automatically upload to OneDrive and you will never be missing a photo again.

Additionally, the Canon CanoScan LiDE 400 is a cheap home flatbed scanner that allows you to put multiple pictures on the flatbed at the same time and it will pick up the individual pictures.

Aron R.


Real People Down Under [Screenshot / Issue 976]

Reading Shoshana Friedman’s Screenshot about the end of summer and striking the right balance, it’s interesting to note the contrasts between those in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Here in Australia, we are ending the winter and heading into spring. Summer vacation is still a few months off, starting in December... There are many communities beyond the US, England and Eretz Yisrael!

As longtime subscribers, Mishpacha makes us feel part of the Yiddishe community worldwide, even though our community is quite small in comparison.

This is a bit belated, but in reference to the Kichels “storytime classic” strip featuring the mother dreaming of moving to Australia, we’d like to tell you what it’s actually like here in real life.

We live here in Melbourne, Australia, where we have good days and bad days. Reading about the trends overseas, life here seems more relaxed… no worrying about the latest brand names or trends as we are always six months behind (or ahead) as the seasons are the opposite!

Although it takes long to get here, once you are here, you are here — no running between towns for simchahs or to visit. And speaking of simchahs, we have only a few chasunahs a year, so we are actually happy to attend, and the schools all want our kids!

(And I can put in a good word for the playgroup morah, as I know her well.)

So, to all mothers around the world, there is more that unites us than divides us, even a trip of over 24 hours halfway across the world. (Or maybe we are located in outer space as we weren’t even featured in the Kichels map of frum towns and countries!)

Real People Living in Melbourne


Uniquely Jewish Fight [Perspective / Issue 976]

Two weeks ago, Rabbi Ginzberg quoted a fascinating kabbalah that Rav Elya Lopian said came reliably from the Vilna Gaon, stating that Milchemes Gog u’Magog will be fought between Jews who fear Hashem and those that do not, and asks if the current turmoil in Eretz Yisrael is possibly the fulfillment of that prediction.

There are two things that strike me about the furor over the Israeli High Court’s powers, with the left insisting that the court have veto power over elected officials and the popular will. One is that it is a uniquely Jewish fight over ideas that most of the world’s population probably would not understand.

Secondly, if in fact this is a precursor to Mashiach, then if substitute Sanhedrin Hagadol for High Court, we will have a better understanding of Yemos HaMashiach. It would be ironic if the chilonim get the nation ready for the coming theocracy.

Rivka Frankel


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 979)

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