| The Moment |

The Moment: Issue 1001

“I met a non-Jew who wants to give tithes to a Levite. He gave me a box filled with tithes"

Living Higher


abbi Gershon Avtzon is the indefatigable rosh yeshivah of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati. A few weeks ago, he celebrated his birthday, and, in line with Chabad custom, he reached out to friends and family to wish them heartfelt brachos. He made one call to his friend Chaim, who lives on the East Coast.

“Oy, I could really use a brachah,” Chaim told him. “It’s been very tough financially. I honestly don’t know how I’ll pay the bills this month.”

Listening sympathetically, Rabbi Avtzon offered his profuse blessing that things turn around for the better and hung up.

This past Friday, on Purim Katan, Rabbi Avtzon received a call from Rabbi Yossi Greenberg, the Chabad shaliach in Miami, Ohio (some 40 minutes away from Cincinnati).

“Is your friend Chaim a Levi?” Rabbi Greenberg asked him.

“Uh, yes, he is,” Rabbi Avtzon said, uncertain of where this was going.

“Well,” said Rabbi Greenberg, “I met a non-Jew who wants to give tithes to a Levite. He gave me a box filled with tithes. If I bring you the box, will you send it to your friend?”

Rabbi Avtzon replied in the affirmative, and the two arranged to meet so Rabbi Greenberg could hand over the box.

“How much is it?” Rabbi Avtzon asked curiously.

Rabbi Greenberg smiled.


Rabbi Avtzon arrived home and opened the box. Before him lay dozens of Ziploc bags, jammed with cash. Each bag was labeled either “tithes” or “first fruits.” Rabbi Avtzon began counting, until he reached the final tally… $42,000. The box is now heading northeast, where a very grateful Levite will breathe a sigh of relief and offer a word of thanks to the One Who orchestrates miracles, bayamim haheim, bazman hazeh.


A Life Cut Short

The IDF announced the tragic passing of Major Eyal Shuminov Hashem yikom damo, a 24-year-old company commander of the Shaked Battalion who was killed in combat on Shabbos when an anti-tank missile hit his tank in the Zeitoun neighborhood in northern Gaza. Eyal leaves behind a legacy of searching for truth and a willingness to do whatever it took to obtain it.

Originally from Karmiel, Eyal had stumbled upon a kiruv-oriented kollel under the auspices of Rabbi Menachem Marmorstein, who runs community kollelim in secular cities, towns, and moshavim across the length and breadth of Israel. Eyal was so taken by his “discovery” of religion that he relocated from Karmiel to Tel Aviv specifically to have more access to the community kollel there.

Since Pesach, Eyal had been learning hilchos Shabbos and Gemara with the avreichim in the kollel. Notwithstanding his coveted position within the ranks of the IDF, he had begun observing mitzvos (when possible, Eyal would stay in his room from the onset of shkiah on Friday until Motzaei Shabbos to prevent any possible chillul Shabbos) and often announced that immediately after his tour of duty, he intended to take on full shemiras hamitzvos and become chareidi.

As the mem-pei (mefaked plugah — commanding officer) of his battalion, Shuminov was the only member of his unit to have his phone while on duty in Gaza, and he used it to correspond with the kollel avreichem back in Tel Aviv.

They recall that Eyal tried arranging leil shishi chizuk missions with the avreichim and his soldiers back at base — which, along with his dreams of being fully chozer b’teshuvah — never materialized because his life was tragically cut short in combat.

Hashem yikom damo.


Happening in Montreal

In 1950, a 12-year-old Bergen-Belsen survivor in Montreal penned a letter to legendary Pirchei leader Josh Silbermintz.

“My name is Fred Pfeiffer,” the young boy wrote, “and I have started a division of Pirchei in Montreal, Canada. I have six boys who have already signed up as members.”

It’s now more than 73 years later, and Pirchei Montreal is still going strong.

At the annual Pirchei Siyum Mishnayos this week in Montreal, which gathered hundreds of boys from Toronto, Montreal, and Passaic in a wedding hall to celebrate the learning of over 29,000 mishnayos, Mr. Fred Pfeiffer sat on the dais and relished the festivities. During the dancing, he danced heartily with the boys, tears streaming down his face as they sang “Mah Ahavti.”

And at the siyum’s conclusion, Mr. Pfeiffer led the crowd, 500 strong, in the classic children’s tune of bentshing. His voice rang out beautiful and strong over the PA, and all the boys in attendance sang along enthusiastically.

Could young Fred Pfeiffer all those years ago ever have envisioned the impact his initiative would still be making in 2024? Mr. Pfeiffer is spirited in his reply: “I was so happy to see so many young children having fun and feeling excited about learning Torah and doing mitzvos. That’s why we started Pirchei in the first place. It’s so gratifying to see that it’s still going strong!”


Precious Time

At a chuppah this week, Beis Medrash Govoha rosh yeshivah Rav Malkiel Kotler shlita is seated beside a young child, completely absorbed in the text he is reading. Although the Rosh Yeshivah spends significant time attending weddings, this does little to impact his learning. With him come trusted sheets filled with Torah, allowing him to transport the beis medrash wherever he goes.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1001)

Oops! We could not locate your form.