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11 Tishrei, 5780 - October 11, 2019 | Mordecai Plaut, director | Succos-5780 Published Weekly
Please note that the next scheduled issue is the week of parshas Noach (Oct 31).

We wish to draw your attention to the articles from our archives that are highlighted. There is a piece written right after the disaster of 9/11 with important lessons for us still today.
We have the divrei Torah said by the famous Mashgiach HaRav Yeruchom Levovits of Mir Yeshiva on his last Simchas Torah. He passed away the following Sivan.

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Stories about the Brisker Rov, Sixty Years Since his Petiroh

9 Tishrei 5780 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the passing of HaRav Yitzchok Zeev Soloveitchik, son of HaRav Chaim Soloveitchik who served as rov of Brisk, Lithuania. His son HaRav Yitzchok Zeev took over the position from him upon his passing in 1918. HaRav Yitzchok Zeev (also known as HaRav Velvel and as the Griz) served in that position until the start of World War II when he fled first to Vilna and then to Eretz Yisroel in 1941.

The Soloveitchik family has been enormously influential in the Torah world for over a century, first in eastern Europe and later in America and Israel. They are known for their deep perception of current issues, and unwavering interpretation of the Torah in the modern world.




Agudath Israel Guidelines for Travel with Succos Minim

As in the past, Agudath Israel of America's Washington Office has worked closely with agencies of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help avoid potential problems for travelers carrying arba minim.

Both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have notified their respective field personnel about the upcoming Sukkos holiday and the increased level of travel by persons of the Jewish faith, many of whom will be carrying arba minim. The agencies have also made this information available to the public.





A Torah Sense of Smell — A Hesped on the Brisker Rov


The following hesped has become in itself a classic work that is often referred to, because of the fundamental ideas that R' Chaim elaborated therein. It is certainly a tribute to the great niftar, but it is also a tribute to the great maspid. The Brisker Rov was niftar forty years ago.

We first published this essay almost exactly 20 years ago.

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From Our Archives

Tishrei in the Beis Medrash of Rabbeinu Chaim Volozhin

by Rav Dov Eliach

Part II -- Succos

The first part discussed teshuvoh and the yomim noraim.

Zeman Simchoseinu

There was one great principle upon which Volozhin - - the Mother of all Yeshivos -- was founded. That is, as Reb Chaim explains in Nefesh HaChaim, " . . .that if the world -- even for one split second -- would be devoid of talmud Torah, the universe would collapse entirely on the spot." Because of this, Reb Chaim set up shifts in the yeshiva, that there be continuous learning twenty-four hours, seven days a week! Even on motzei Yom Kippur, when everyone went home to revive themselves after the fast, Reb Chaim himself would sit and learn, reviving his soul with talmud Torah. As a matter of a fact, Volozhin Yeshiva did not have bein hazmanim over the yomim tovim. The zeman continued. "Shabbosim and yomim tovim were given to Klal Yisroel to busy themselves with talmud Torah" -- and Volozhin upheld that firmly.

Yomim noraim, Succos, Shemini Atzeres-Simchas Torah and all other yomim tovim, were celebrated together with the talmidim within the walls of the yeshiva. Every Yom Tov had its own signet which Reb Chaim impressed upon his talmidim. It continued thus throughout the years of Volozhin's existence.

Succos in the Shadow of Current Events

by Mordecai Plaut

Note: Succos 5762, when this essay was written, came just weeks after the 9/11 disaster, and that very much informed this piece. Nonetheless, there are important lessons to be learned even for us today, eighteen years after those events.

What is the connection between Succos and the World Trade Center disaster?

It is clear that the huge dimensions of the terrible destruction that befell New York City and America in general were not just the work of evil terrorists. Though they are certainly responsible for the full consequences of their actions, no schemer could, in his wildest dreams, have expected to produce the awful wreckage that has ensued. Some 6,000 missing and presumed dead, disruption and shock for many thousands of others, two towers wrecked and three other buildings totaling about 15 million square feet (1.5 million square meters) of office space -- more than the total in many other cities, billions of dollars of lost equipment, and no telling when the wound will really heal.

Seen in this way, the terrible blow suffered by America cannot be attributed solely to the evil people who planned and executed it. It must also be recognized as a message from Heaven as well.

Transmitting The Legacy Of Brisk: A Tribute To HaRav Binyomin Paler zt'l

by Rabbi A. Gefen and M. Musman

His First Yahrtzeit, 5th Menachem Av 5761


He was a Brisker in almost every way that one could be. Born into one of Brisk's distinguished families, he grew up there and learned in the Imrei Moshe's yeshiva, going on to become a talmid muvhak of the Brisker Rov zt'l, under whom he studied for ten years. He escaped from Europe with the Mirrer bnei yeshiva, spending the war years as part of the yeshiva in Shanghai. After his arrival in the United States, he taught in and later headed Yeshivas Chasam Sofer, the yeshiva of the Mattersdorfer Rov, HaRav Shmuel Ehrenfeld zt'l, whose son-in-law he became. Subsequently, he opened his own yeshiva, Mekor Chaim, where he continued raising talmidim right up to the end of his life.

HaRav Paler was once described by HaRav Aharon Kotler zt'l, as "the amkon hador, the deepest thinker of the generation." His shiurim were masterpieces, both for their depth and clarity, as well as for the utter command which they showed he had over all areas of Torah, not only when and as they pertained to the subject at hand but constantly, as an integral whole. He was a prolific mechadeish, whose novel ideas and interpretations were repeated by his talmidim to their talmidim, and also served as material for other roshei yeshiva and maggidei shiur -- even some who had not learned under him.

There was moreover, a rarely encountered wholeness and balance about his Torah. He was a master of Shas with Rishonim. As a result of his own tireless effort, he attained the highest goal of Torah study, the ability to deduce practical halochoh from the sources (See Rav Yisroel Salanter's essay Eitz Pri, #20, and Rav Chaim Volozhiner's preface to the Vilna Gaon's commentary to Safra Ditzni'usa.)

Ashreichem Yisroel! -- Reb Yeruchom's Last Simchas Torah

Divrei Torah delivered by HaRav Yeruchom Levovitz, the Mirrer mashgiach, zt'l, on his last Simchas Torah, in 5696 (1936).

HaRav Wolbe writes (in Ho'odom Biyekor, his biographical work on Reb Yeruchom), "We will never forget Simchas Torah with him. He used to give a rousing talk, in great excitement. He would end each section of the ma'amar with the melody of Ashreichem Yisroel, [which] he would sing and dance [to on the platform in front of the Oron Hakodesh], his hands raised heavenward. The group of his talmidim, who were crowded together below, would dance in front of him.

When he finished speaking he came down from the Oron Hakodesh and a dance took place, as tears, prompted by the extreme emotions of holiness, streamed from everybody's eyes. What a glorious sight, to see his hundreds of talmidim, among them truly great men, dancing in tears and in song. Our master and teacher himself once cried out in the middle of one of these rousing ma'morim, "Ich veis nit voss is helter bei'em Borei Olom, der Yom Kippur unzerer, tzu der Simchas Torah! (I don't know which the Creator prefers, our Yom Kippur or our Simchas Torah!)"

Ashreichem Yisroel!


Av, 5765 - Kislev 5766 (August-December 2005)

May-July, 2005