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3 Kislev, 5784 - November 16, 2023 | Mordecai Plaut, director | Vayishlach - 5782 Published Weekly
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A Conversation with HaRav Chaim Kluft shlita

We all know that everything must be held up to the light of Torah. Even during a difficult time, we must examine what is happening according to the Torah viewpoint and understand why this has befallen us and what it is coming to tell us.

HaRav Chaim Kluft begins his message with the following quote:

'For My thoughts are not your thoughts.' We are unable to fathom the depths of His workings. The Ramchal says that we cannot even begin to grasp His ways; only in the future may we possibly have an inkling of those happenings. But certainly, Hashem does not do things without reason or arbitrarily so that we should not understand. Nor may we say that 'All is designed from Heaven but we do not comprehend it.' On the contrary, Hashem does indeed want us to contemplate and try to understand.

These days, we continually utter the verse, "I lift up my eyes to the mountains, from whence shall come my help." What have we to seek by the mountains?

The Malbim explains that if Hashem's help comes through natural ways, we must seek those ways. But if salvation comes from "The Creator of Heaven and earth," that is, from Him alone and directly, we should not seek natural explanations.

How, then, must we regard the developments?




Good Speech...

The Religious Zionist sector is in mourning over the death of the principal of a well known school, Yosef Hershkowitz HY"D, who fell in the battles of northern Gaza.

At the beginning of the war, several days after he was drafted, he sent a small video clip to his students in which he said:

"I am making a personal request — not to speak loshon hora against the Jewish people. Do not utter a single negative word. There are no Rightists, no Leftists, no chareidim, nothing! There are only Jews. The Nazi Hamasniks are not interested in whom you voted for and what you think. This is our own personal issue, that is, not to say a malicious word against one another, but simply to overcome such an urge."

A strong message which applies to each and every one of us; we must bear in mind that we are all Jews, including those who seem distant. But a Jewish spark burns in each one of us...




The Proof of the Pudding — A Story about HaRav Simcha Wassermann

This was first published in 1992, 31 years ago.

We are publishing this well-known story about HaRav Simcha Wassermann in honor of the shloshim.

"Well, bless my soul," thought Carolyn to herself when she opened the door. She had seen plenty of hippies in her time. Out in Santa Barbara, California, you could not escape them. These two young men looked weird, all right, no, different was the description, but she could not quite place them. The only thing that came spontaneously to her mind was that "Bless my soul". There was something pure and holy about them.

They stood there in their neat dark suits and hats, holding a funny metal box in their hand. They were far too young to be salesmen, and far too shy. She couldn't picture either of them sticking a foot in the door to command her attention. They were so unassertive. What could they be? What did they really want?

"Er, Mrs. Levine, we come from a new yeshiva in Los Angeles and we were wondering if you would be willing to take this pushke into your home."

Yeshiva? Pushke? Perplexed and outnumbered, she called to her husband, the successful young doctor, to come to her aid.




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Outstanding Articles From Our Archives

Opinion & Comment
The True Path to Happiness in This World

by Mordecai Plaut

"And may Hashem give you from the dew of the Heavens and the fat (choicest) portions of the earth and much grain and wine. Nations will serve you and the sons of your mother will bow down to you. Those who curse you are cursed and those who bless you are blessed" (Bereishis 27:28).

These are the blessings that Yitzchok Ovinu gave to his son - our father - Yaakov. The blessings promise him material cornucopia and political power. It would seem to fit right in with the modern, Western world. Money and power are, along with pure hedonic pleasure, what evidently drive the modern rat race, and the blessings of Yitzchok Ovinu appear to promise success in that race.

That, of course, is ridiculous...

Opinion & Comment
Parshas Toldos: A Conversation That Changed History

by Rabbi Yechezkel Spanglet

Conversations come and go. But in this week's parsha, a dialogue took place which changed the face of history.

Yaakov was preparing a lentil stew on the day of the death of his grandfather, Avrohom. Eisov entered from the follies of the field. He had a busy day. He committed murder, immorality, denied the belief in techiyas hameisim and Olam Habo. Now he was famished. Eisov declared to Yaakov, "How about pouring that red concoction down my throat?"

To which Yaakov replied, "Not so quick. I'll do it if you sell me your birthright."

Eisov retorted, "Behold, I am going to die and what profit would this birthright be to me?" (Bereishis 25:32)

Eisov's statement begs explanation. Have we heard previously of Eisov's imminent death? Why did he oppose the birthright?

Rashi elucidates this enigma. Eisov queried, "What is the nature of this service for me?" Yaakov replied, "There are many warnings, penalties and deaths involved in it . . . "(Bereishis 25:32)."

Yaakov explained, My brother, this avoda will spell only trouble for you. Whenever you step forward to offer korbonos, you are risking punishment, perhaps even death.

In the Proximity of Maran R' Yitzchok Zeev of Brisk, Ztvk'l -- Memoirs of Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz

by Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz

Chapter Sixteen: Whoever Despises Gifts Shall Live

Wages - Yes, Gifts - No

Maran was most scrupulous when it came to refusing to accept any benefit from others gratis. As the wisest of men said, "Whoever despises gifts shall live." The following story illustrates how, even in desperate straits, having arrived here penniless and threadbare, Maran refused to accept anything from anyone.

When Maran arrived in Eretz Yisroel in 1941, together with Morenu Rosh Yeshivas Mir HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel zt'l, a delegation including myself (a yeshiva bochur in Heichal HaTalmud at the time), went to receive them at the Haifa port. The English border police who operated there processed all the incoming passengers quickly. Only Maran and R' Finkel were detained.

Time passed and they had still not left the terminal. We approached some English officers and asked them why. They explained, "Those two old men don't have the money to pay the half-lira head tax (the equivalent of about 80 shekel today). We cannot possibly let them into the country until they pay."

People from the Jewish Agency were present at the time and one of them, Mr. Dostrovsky, a head of the Mizrachi, offered, "I'll go and give them the necessary money and there will be no problem."

The British let him enter the immigration office and he approached the two rabbonim, offering to pay their head tax. Maran insisted that he would not accept the money. "I have never taken money from anyone!"

Dostrovsky tried to convince him, saying, "You will be doing the greatest honor to the Jewish Agency if you allow me to pay for you both."

But Maran was adamant, "I refuse to accept money to begin with, and all the more so do I refuse to give honor to the Zionist Agency."

He persisted in his refusal and the British stubbornly refused to let him enter the country without his having paid. We were greatly concerned, knowing that the British officials would not relent.


These links were fixed, Tammuz 5781