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The Moment: Issue 979

A mesorah from the Brisker Rav that any extra time on Yom Kippur should be devoted to saying Tehillim

Living Higher

Rabbi Akiva Hirth of Passaic, New Jersey, was one of the original talmidim in the Yeshiva Gedola of Passaic, which was founded in 1973. On its 50th anniversary, Reb Akiva recalled the yeshivah’s first Yom Kippur davening, which was held in a small basement apartment.

There were just a handful of men who participated in the Yamim Noraim tefillos of the nascent yeshivah that inaugural year, and the one Kohein who attended for Rosh Hashanah decided to join a larger minyan for Yom Kippur. Anxious not miss the opportunity to hear Bircas Kohanim on the holiest day of the year, the gabbai of the yeshivah’s minyan approached a Kohein who was a member of the one other Orthodox shul in Passaic, and asked if he would be able to make the 15-minute walk over to the yeshivah for Bircas Kohanim. The Kohein acquiesced and agreed to come before the end of Mussaf.

On Yom Kippur day, though, there was no sign of the guest Kohein’s whereabouts. Mussaf came and went, as did Krias HaTorah and Minchah — and he still hadn’t come. Finally, as Ne’ilah began, the long-awaited Kohein showed up. The Passaic rosh yeshivah, Rav Meir Stern shlita, instructed the chazzan to hasten Ne’ilah so that there would be enough time to recite Bircas Kohanim before shkiah.

The chazzan dutifully followed the psak, allowing the yeshivah to hear Bircas Kohanim in time — but there was now a solid 45 minutes left until they could daven Maariv.

Akiva Hirth remembers approaching the Rosh Yeshivah, asking him how they should utilize the unexpected free time. The Rosh Yeshivah replied that he had a mesorah from the Brisker Rav that any extra time on Yom Kippur should be devoted to saying Tehillim. For the remainder of Yom Kippur, the small minyan concentrated intently as they joined together and read several perakim of Tehillim, line by line, led by the chazzan.

After Maariv, the small group of talmidim headed to the Rosh Yeshivah’s home to break their fast, when they heard the devastating news coming out of Eretz Yisrael, and realized that their tefillos were well-timed: The Yom Kippur War had broken out that day.

“Everybody Cry Together”

When the tragic news of the petirah of Dedi Graucher z”l hit the world, many were heartbroken that we had lost a great singer at such a young age. I had another thought, however.

To me, and to many others, there was so much more to Dedi than just being a singer. Dedi’s goal in life was to perform chesed and help other Yidden. He was unable to see people suffering without doing something about it. When he saw what HASC was all about, he channeled his talents to help those children. Aside from singing at so many HASC concerts, he and his friends raised enough money to build a multimillion-dollar, year-round dining room for Camp HASC, as well as a handicapped-accessible swimming pool.

When he heard that a child was sick in the hospital, not only would he make it his job to visit and cheer up the child, but he would remain in contact with them, and insist that they invite him to their wedding in the future, im yirtzeh Hashem. When Dedi was onstage, he performed as though he were sitting with each concertgoer at their Shabbos table; he made them feel that comfortable. He made the audience laugh, cry, but most of all, he made them happy.

He made it his life’s mission to visit different tzaddikim; Sephardic, litvish, chassidish, he saw no difference, and was honored to meet them all and show them respect. I personally believe that his urge to do chesed and help others came from the fact that he lost both of his parents at a young age. However, he never showed the outside world that pain, he just presented himself as a happy person.

He met his wife Malka at a young age and together they built a beautiful family, all of whom are continuing with the life of chesed their parents imbued in them. Although he suffered terribly during the last five to six years, he never lost his hope, his spirit, or his love for Klal Yisrael. It was so important to him to remain friends with all the performers, philanthropists, and acquaintances he made during his career, even though he hadn’t been actively singing for the last 15 years.

Although I knew Oded Dovid for over 40 years, I never considered him my business associate, but rather my best friend, even my brother.

Yehi zichro baruch.

—Dovid Nachman (Ding ) Golding

Happening in Queens

Rabbi Moshe Neuman was the legendary dean of Bais Yaakov of Queens, serving at the school’s helm for half a century. He was a man of great feeling, and infused his love for Torah and mitzvos into his students.

Rabbi Neuman made a point of greeting every student every morning. Rain or shine, Rabbi Neuman would be there as the girls got off the buses every morning, greeting each one with her first and last name and wishing a heartfelt good morning with his trademark smile.

Rabbi Neuman passed away in March 2022 at the age of 91, and last week, the street upon which he would stand every morning was renamed “Rabbi Moshe Neuman Way,” giving the students of Bais Yaakov of Queens the chance to look up and feel that lingering warmth.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 979)

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