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Quarantine Quicktakes

"People are thinking deeply about the big questions of life in a way that I have not seen in decades"
What I gained this week

“Learning Mishnayos Taharos has always strained my imagination. What will the world look like when Mashiach comes and the complex world of tumah and taharah comes into place? We’ll have to think twice about the status of everything we touch and every person we encounter, so now I’m hoping we’ll be prepared and Mashiach will flip the darkness we are experiencing into a society of pure light.”

—Author and educator RABBI MENACHEM NISSEL


“More white hair. I never thought that we’d ever see the day when the whole Olam Hazeh would one day say, ‘Sorry, not today!’ It turns out that every single thing we take for granted about this world is so fragile and so fickle. We know it, but we never imagine that we’ll actually see it. And yet here we are. That’s a gain.”



“In addition to weight, I gained a deep and profound appreciation of the little things, like the ability to daven with a minyan.”

RABBI EFREM GOLDBERG, Boca Raton Synagogue

What I’m most proud of

“My wife, and the amazing way she is dealing with all this.”



“Being a Yid. Nothing is like the Jewish People. I mean that.”

—Author and lecturer RABBI YECHIEL SPERO


“All the eating and hanging around together in the house, a newfound appreciation for the words of Chazal that ‘Gedolah legimah shemekareves halevavos.’ Our family is reading stories of Reb Shayale Kerestir zy”a together to highlight the significance and holiness of Yidden eating together…. Seriously — dramatic readings about yeshuos from eating Shabbos leftovers and home-made Masterchef competitions are recipes for meaningful fun and geshmak dinners.”

RABBI JUDAH MISCHEL, executive director of Camp HASC, Mashpia of NCSY

“The extraordinary displays of chesed and concern being coordinated for the most vulnerable.”


What moved me most?

“A friend of mine texted me to say he understands that I just bought a house and that my line of work has taken, is taking, and will be taking a huge beating, and then he asked me if a $20,000 interest-free loan would make my life a little easier. That was a beautiful thing for him to do and it almost made me cry.”


“What hasn’t? I’ve been moved 50 times a day. Watching my children and how they are learning from their teachers, who have shown once more why they are the Jewish People’s greatest treasure.”



“Zoom kumzitzen bringing Yidden together around the world, with Eitan Katz, Shlomo Katz, Joey Newcomb, and others… We need to sing together, daven together, farbreng together. Ki b’simchah teitzeiyu. Also, I’m proud of how quickly and effectively NCSY moved international outreach and educational efforts to an online platform under the slogan ‘Apart, But Always Together,’ providing creative and inspirational programming.



“I’m getting messages from NCSYers and students across the globe asking for chizuk and hadrachah. People are thinking deeply about the big questions of life in a way that I have not seen in decades. Hashem has turned the world upside down in just a few days. It’s incredible how with a tool the size of one billionth of a meter He seems to be bringing the whole world to teshuvah.”



“The images of people transforming their homes into thriving, inspired mini-shuls and batei medrash.”


“I was moved to see all the group e-mails sent back and forth by mothers — busy, harried, overworked, overloaded mothers with no space, no structure, no quiet moments, not a minute of downtime — asking and offering advice for how to focus properly on their children and transform this tense time into days of connection, warmth, and uplift.”

SHOSHANA FRIEDMAN, Mishpacha managing editor

What was the item or project that proved indispensable?

“For my kids, it’s the dedication of their teachers and the online school that they created immediately after their school was closed. For me? The daily shiurim given by my beloved uncle Rabbi Josh Gordon, zichrono livrachah, on Chabad.org.”


“The daf yomi remains a constant in a world that is changing by the hour.”




Living Higher

A few years ago, Reb Shloime Biegeleisen told Mishpacha that, even though his small store drew the most distinguished client list, including Admorim, roshei yeshivah, and rabbanim, there was no one for whom he would close the store — except his own rebbe, the Belzer Ruv.

The love of seforim and devotion to those who learn from seforim was bequeathed to Reb Shloime Biegeleisen by his father, Reb Yakir, an old-world mocher seforim — and the iconic Brooklyn store never lost its old-world charm. Other retail stores moved online, but Biegeleisen’s kept its one phone line and one fax line, satisfying a network of customers across the world.

One of the more frequent visitors, Menachem Butler, recalls the moment when he really discerned the essence of the proprietor, Reb Shloime. It was Chanukah, just a few months ago, and Menachem entered the store at the busiest hour of the day, during one of the busiest weeks of the year.

But at that moment, the hadlakah was beginning in the Belzer beis medrash in Jerusalem.

“Reb Shloime and the family shuffled to the back to watch and hear the livestream of the Rebbe’s hadlakah,” recalls Menachem. “For me, it was quite inspiring to watch the patriarch of a distinguished Brooklyn family melt away, to be the young chassid at the Rebbe’s court, if even from a distance.”

Reb Shloime passed away at a time of confusion, his levayah attended by just ten men, ironically fitting the guise of ordinary shopkeeper he wore with pride. But at the core, the store with the newest seforim and oldest seforim and decades-long relationships with customers was all about love of Torah and Torah scholars. Reb Shloime saw himself as the simple messenger.



The unsung heroes keeping it all together

This was the week in which our rebbeim, melamdim, and moros proved to be our greatest national asset, an army that swung into action and showed originality, strength, and determination to keep teaching Torah using screens, telephones, and worksheets dropped off at homes.

Across the world, parents marveled at the heroes — motivated not by money or honor — who reach neshamos every single day. An anonymous caller to Mishpacha’s office suggested a candidate for Rebbi of the Week: RABBI YISROEL WENICK, seventh-grade rebbi at Yeshiva Ketana of Passaic. When it became clear that his newly bar-mitzvahed talmidim would be davening alone, at home, Rabbi Wenick taught the halachah that when davening b’yechidus, it’s optimal to daven k’vasikin. And so, together both rebbi and talmidim phoned in their class conference number to usher in the new day, singing the tefillos out loud until they reached Shemoneh Esreh, when the sun came up to illuminate a world bursting with pure prayer.

Send your candidates for Rebbi/Morah of the Week to themoment@mishpacha.com


Shuki Lehrer

There are hundreds of pictures of Rav Chaim Kanievsky in the Lederman Shul, and there isn’t much novelty in one more. But to me, this picture speaks of the current situation: After a bris at Lederman, the Sar HaTorah wished the avi haben mazel tov — but he didn’t extend a hand.

Instead, the baal simchah grabbed the Rav’s tallis and kissed the tzitzis — it was a bittersweet moment, the joy of the bris, the thrill of the brachah, but the stark reminder of the very real risk hovering. May Hashem spare us and lead us to calmer times.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 804)

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