Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Av 5761 - July 25, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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Large Catskills Gathering Pleads for Divine Mercy, Safety of Fellow Jews
by Rabbi Avi Shafran

When the Jewish people in Moshe Rabbeinu's time went out to war, the Torah teaches, they blew the chatzotzros. "Today we don't have the chatzotzros, but we have our tefillos."

Those words were among the first in the impassioned remarks of Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, the Novominsker Rebbe and Rosh Agudath Israel of America, as he opened the program this past Sunday afternoon in Loch Sheldrake, New York, where an estimated 10,000 Jews gathered to pray for the welfare of their brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisroel.

The day was sunny and warm, and graced with a refreshing mountain breeze. But those who traveled from an assortment of Catskills homes, bungalow colonies and summer camps -- as well as others who journeyed from the New York City area -- were focused not on the picturesque surroundings but on their Creator.

The nearly 10 months of Arab violence against Jews in Eretz Yisroel was the impetus for the unusual gathering, which beseeched the Creator en masse to protect His people from the evil intentions of their enemies. Gedolei hador felt that it was a proper time to call on Jews summering in the mountains to come together to be mispalel as one. They asked Agudath Israel to use its storied staff and experience in coordinating mass events to organize the atzeres tefilloh, which was done in a matter of days.

"None of the means that people use to try to counter the violence, and the verbal violence of so much of the press, have the power of tefilloh," said one participant, echoing another sentiment voiced earlier by Rabbi Perlow. "And nothing else has worked. Perhaps Hashem's message to us is that we need to do just what we're doing here."

The Novominsker Rebbe also noted the timeliness of such a gathering on the first of the Nine Days, when Jews are in mourning over the Beis Hamikdosh that remains unbuilt. He stressed the need to focus on teshuva, tefilloh utzedokoh and on improving ourselves both in the realm of bein odom laMokom and bein odom lechavero.

Rabbi Perlow related divrei brochoh as well from a number of gedolim in Eretz Yisroel: HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, the Vishnitzer Rebbe, HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, the Gerrer Rebbe and the Belzer Rebbe.

The Atzeres Tefilloh commenced with Mincha at 2:00 p.m. The honor of leading the large kehilla in tefilloh was given to HaRav Shmuel Miller, rosh hayeshiva of Yeshivas Bais Yisroel, in aveilus for his renowned father HaRav Avigdor Miller, zt"l.

After the Novominsker Rebbe's introductory remarks, the program continued with the recitation of Tehillim led by the Klausenberger Rebbe; Rabbi Zalman Unger, the Skverer Dayan; Rabbi Simcha Schustal, rosh hayeshiva of Yeshiva Bais Binyomin (Stanford); Rabbi Dovid Magid, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshiva of Bayonne (NJ); Rabbi Yitzchok Baal Haness, rav of Shiraz, Iran; Rabbi Reuven Feinstein, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshiva of Staten Island; and Rabbi Eliezer Eichler, Boyaner dayan. Ovinu Malkeinu was recited by Rabbi Yosef Frankel, the Vyelopoler Rebbe. Selichos were recited by Rabbi Shlomo Gross, the Belzer Dayan. The program concluded with kabolas Ol Malchus Shomayim, led by the Skulener Rebbe.

Among the prominent roshei yeshiva on the dais were Rabbi Elya Svei, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshiva of Philadelphia; Rabbi Aharon Schechter, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshivas Chaim Berlin; Rabbi Chaim Epstein, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshiva Zichron Melech; Rabbi Lipa Margulies, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshiva Torah Temimoh; and Rabbi Elya Ber Wachtfogel, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshiva of South Fallsburg.


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