Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement
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Exciting Hebron tour by Shalom Pollack - Still time to sign up!
A lot of people will be visiting Hevron this Shabbat for Parasha Chaya Sarah. Personally I love Hevron, but I don't love crowds. I will be going (bli -neder) with Shalom Pollock next Wendesday with out the crowds and coming home to sleep in my own bed. Let me know if you sign up and if you are coming please.Yehuda
Hevron as never before. Wednesday, November 27 We will visit the Hevron that most do not see or experience. Besides the Patriarchs and Matriarchs tombs, we will visit: - The recently excavated remains of Second Temple Hevron including the largest ritual baths ever found. - The remains of the city from the times of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs.- The new audio-visual presentation and the refurbished history museum. - The renewed Jewish quarter including the redeemed "Avraham Avinu" synagogue. - View of the city from the roof of the rebuilt "Shavei Hevron yeshiva" - Visit with a pioneer family of the renewed ancient Jewish quarter. We will have lunch in the "pioneers cafeteria". You can purchase food there or bring your own. On the way back to Yerushalayim we will visit Rachel's tomb. Departure at 9:00 from the Inbal hotel Return around 5:00 Cost: 200 shekels email@example.com
New Record! 40,000 Visit Hebron for Shabbat Chayei Sarah last Year!
Festive atmosphere amid prayer and celebration at Tomb of the Forefathers.
Over 40,000 people visited Hebron for Shabbat Parshat Chayei Sarah last year making it the biggest turnout of the 24-year-old event. The giant tent sponsored by Chabad of Hebron ranks as arguably the largest Shabbat kiddush in the world.
The Jewish Community of Hebron offers its thank to the security forces who maintained order for the event and all the organizations and individuals who helped with logistics such as the Hebron Fund, Chabad of Hebron, the staff of the Cave of Machpela historical site, the Israel Defense Force, Israel Police, Egged bus company, Egged Taavura, the Kiryat Arba municipality, the Knesset Ministry of Religious Affairs and of course all the individuals who came to make this day so special.
Photo credits: Night time photos were taken by non-Jewish IDF personnel. Other photos taken Friday afternoon.
The parashah is made up of 5,314 Hebrew letters, 1,402 Hebrew words, 105 verses, and 171 lines in a Torah Scroll (סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, Sefer Torah).Jews read it on the fifth Sabbath after Simchat Torah, generally in November, or on rare occasion in late October.
In Chicago, Reclaiming Jewish Identity Through Adult Circumcision By Menachem Posner
Standing in the sun-drenched sanctuary, large windows showing manicured lawns framed by verdant shrubbery, we could just feel that something special was happening.
In the floor above us, a circumcision was taking place. After nearly 60 years of life, Ilya would soon fulfil the first mitzvah given to Abraham, finally claiming the Jewish heritage that had been his all along.
Rabbi Shmuel Notik, who directs F.R.E.E., the Russian Jewish community of Chicago and Suburbs, says he facilitates an adult circumcision every few weeks, usually a Soviet-born male between the ages of 40 and 80, who has chosen to enter into the Covenant of Abraham.
"In the early '90s when people were streaming out of Russia by the thousands, we would have as many as 10 circumcisions a week," recalls Notik, who was born in Moscow and raised in the clandestine Chabad-Lubavitch underground community in Samarkand before emigrating to the United States as a teen. "Several years ago, we began a campaign to provide circumcisions for those who didn't do it when they first arrived, and we now have, thank G‑d, another circumcision or two every few weeks."
All told, he estimates that 6,000 Jewish men and boys have been circumcised through his organization.
While Ilya was being operated on, his wife, Alina, shared their life story.
She told how her father had become a member of the Communist Party in order to become a factory manager in her hometown of Bender, then part of the Soviet Union, now in the contested area of Moldova claimed by the mostly unrecognized state of Transnistria. Yet, even his professional accomplishments were not enough to secure his daughter a spot at university in a system that discriminated against Jews.
With no recourse, at the age of 17, she traveled to Kharkov in Soviet Ukraine to further her education. And it was there that she met Ilya, one year her senior.
Like her, Ilya was Jewish (his great-grandfather had been a well-known rabbi of Kharkov, author of the ethical work, Shem Tov, Vilna, 1913), but he knew little about his heritage other than the fact that he was different. Alina said her parents always made sure to get matzah for Passover, and celebrate with honey strudel and attend synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. It could have cost them their careers, but they took that risk and did what they could.
They pair felt an instant kinship and, after several years of courtship, decided to marry. In a dramatic story that spanned three decades and three continents, the two parted ways, married, had children with their respective spouses, divorced and reunited. By that time, her family was in Israel and his in Chicago. To further complicate things, he knew no Hebrew, and she knew just a little English.
But they finally accomplished their dream of building a home together in Chicago.
Rabbi Levi Heber, who flies to Chicago from New York once or twice a month to perform circumcisions, prepares for the brit milah. 'Every Jewish Milestone Should Be Celebrated Beautifully'
We interrupted our conversation when the rabbi came down to inform us that the bris had been completed. As Notik and the mohel heartily congratulated Ilya with lively calls of mazal tov, he smilingly told his wife that he was feeling great.
Then, holding a cup of wine, the rabbi recited the traditional blessings, including the prayer in which the celebrant was given his new Hebrew name, Yosef Yitzchak Meir, after his two grandfathers: Yosef and Yitzchak Meir. Yosef Yitzchak, the rabbi pointed out, was also the name of theSixth Chabad Rebbe, who had battled valiantly for the survival of Judaism during the darkest days of Stalinist oppression.
We then proceeded to the adjoining room for the traditional festive meal, and I was struck by how elegant it all was. It turned out that Shternie Notik, who has been spearheading FREE together with her husband since 1981, puts special emphasis on celebrating the circumcisions in a most appealing fashion. "Every holiday or Jewish milestone should be celebrated beautifully," she says, "and especially when an adult Jew reclaims his identity by having a bris. We make sure that a special feeling pervades the entire event, and over time, that itself has inspired many of the guests to go ahead with their own circumcisions."
As we feasted on an abundance of steak, turkey breast, challah and salads, the rabbi shared that he recently facilitated a circumcision for an 84-year-old man, along with his son and his grandson. Another man at the celebration, David, used the Russian term maladets, "hero," to describe the men who undergo circumcision in adulthood.
"In my experience, everyone eventually comes around and does the circumcision," asserts the mohel, Rabbi Levi Heber, who flies to Chicago from New York once or twice a month to perform circumcisions. "The Jewish soul is deeply connected to this mitzvah, and that comes through."
The conversation flowed naturally between Russian, English and Hebrew.
Having lived in Kharkov until 1995, when he came to the United States for work reasons, Yosef Yitzchak Meir heaped high praise on Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz and his fellow Chabad rabbis in Kharkov, who have rebuilt Jewish life in the city, which has approximately 30,000 Jews. One of his sons, then a student in the Chabad preschool in Kharkov, was circumcised as a child.
"My parents don't know about my bris yet," he continued. "They survived the Holocaust by escaping Kharkov until the Russians beat back the Nazis and lived most of their lives under the Communists, and they are still afraid."
Notik is no stranger to observing Judaism in spite of danger. His grandfather perished in Soviet prison for the "crime" of upholding Judaism, and he vividly remembers the fright his family experienced when a drunk banged on their door late one night. They were sure the secret police were coming for them, too.
In true Russian Jewish fashion, the meal was punctuated with frequent "lechaims" in which blessings were heaped upon those present, their families and anyone else. The blessings for the rabbi included wishes that he soon succeed in procuring the funds to build a new community center—one that would be the pride and joy of the entire Russian-speaking Jewish community in the area.
"The Russian culture is very rich and very strong," the rabbi explains, "and even children born in America still identify as Russian Jews. They enjoy Russian cuisine, Russian literature, playing chess and everything that they got from their parents."
'The Feeling of Coming Home' Celebrating the brit Milah.
A big part of that culture, I learn, is celebrating milestones like this one in an unhurried fashion. As a very occasional drinker, the extra Scotch was beginning to have its effect on me, but I couldn't leave until I had completed my interviews.
As we concluded, the mohel, who had a few minutes before David would take him to the airport,told me how he was exposed to the world of circumcision. "In 1990, I went to Moscow to serve as head counselor in the Jewish summer camp," he recalls. "We knew very little Russian and the kids knew virtually no English, but they so wanted to embrace Judaism."
With just poor Soviet-era anesthesia, boy after boy committed to undergo circumcision—no easy feat for a young man entering adolescence. "They saw how we lived as Jews, and they wanted it for themselves."
Upon returning to America that fall, Heber observed how circumcision was being done for the many Russian Jews then arriving in New York. He returned to Moscow the following summer with state-of-the art anesthetics, sutures, fine needles and medical know-how, which he passed on to the longtime mohel of Moscow, Avrohom Genin.
Today, he has the pleasure of performing circumcisions on the sons of his erstwhile campers, seeing how the seeds of Judaism planted nearly three decades ago have grown into vibrant family trees.
Even though he has performed thousands of circumcisions—sometimes in three states in a single day—he says that each one is special, especially when it involves an adult. "There is the feeling of finally coming home, fixing something that has been waiting to be corrected all along."
The greatness and kindess of Avraham Avinu
From: Rabbi Jeff Bienenfeld
There is no question that Avraham was extraordinarily unique in his greatness. If HaShem, Himself, chose to speak about Avraham – and only Avraham - as אוהבי, as one who loved Me (Isaiah 41:8), it certainly points to something quite special about HaShem's relationship with him. How might we understand this relationship?
Rav Soloveitchik proposes that, unlike Moshe and the other Patriarchs, it was Avraham who found Gd and not the reverse. When the presence of Gd in the world was eclipsed and hidden by the rampant worship of idols, Avraham courageously pioneered what then appeared to be the outrageous notion that the universe had only one Creator. (see Rambam, Avodah Zara 1:1-3) But Avraham's greatness went beyond his discovering and promulgating a monotheistic belief. His singular distinction was in his insistence that wedded to this monotheism was the moral law. Belief in one Gd ineluctably demanded a certain code of behavior, and central to that moral code was the radiant virtue of chesed, loving kindness. In this attribute, Avraham was preeminently supreme. Avraham not only preached the ethic of chesed, he practiced it as he related to others. As such, if Gd built the entire universe upon chesed,""עולם חסד יבנה (Tehilim 89:3), then living a life of chesed surely warranted HaShem's portrayal of Avraham as one who truly "loved Me."
Of course, the message in this observation is obvious. The Midrash states (Tana d'Bei Eliyahu 22:2) that "Everyone is obligated to say, 'When will my deeds resemble the deeds of my Forefathers.'" This means, in our context, that everyone must strive to be like Avraham and the other Patriarchs as well. Living a life of chesed, in addition to its own reward, mysteriously ripples across the lives of people with incredibly amazing consequences.
Here are two true stories, among so many, that illustrate this beautiful truth.
Sixty years ago, in Yeshivas Ponovezh in Bnei Brak, there was a rebellious youngster who not only was not learning, but was insolent to his teachers and was on the verge of abandoning his Torah observance altogether. And then once, he went too far. When the Rebbe was in middle of teaching, this student made a paper airplane and sent it flying only to crash-land on the Rebbe's face. The Rebbe furiously demanded, "Who threw the airplane?" No one stirred. "If you don't tell me who threw the airplane, I will punish everyone. Now tell me, who threw the airplane?" No one responded. Finally, the Rebbe declared, "Whoever threw the airplane should get up right now and leave the yeshiva. He can't come back." No one stirred. Then Reb Nachman Galinsky zt'l (son of the maggid, Reb Yankele Galinsky zt'l) stood up and left the room. Matters in the classroom settled down. Reb Nachman Galinsky didn't throw the plane, but he accepted the blame to save a fellow classmate from shame. (A couple of days later, his father, Reb Yaakov Galinsky zt'l spoke with the yeshiva heads and with the Rebbe and settled the matter so that Reb Nachman could return to yeshiva.)
Now, the guilty student witnessed this totally unexpected and outstanding act of chesed and concluded that only Torah can bring a person to such righteous behavior. With that sudden realization, this fellow turned his life around. He began studying Torah, became a talmidchacham and eventually headed up his own yeshiva in America with a large kollel for his alumni. Years later, Reb Nachman Galinsky was diagnosed with cancer and needed significant funds for his medical care. His friends traveled to America to collect the necessary money. They arrived at a yeshiva and explained to the Rosh Yeshiva why
they came. "Can we collect money among the kollel students?" The Rosh Yeshiva readily agreed, and asked for the name of the ill man as he wished to also pray for him. When he heard the name of the person, he asked them, "Is his full name Reb Nachman Galinsky?" "Yes! How did you know?" He told them, "You don't have to do anything. I will raise all the money you need." He gathered his entire student body and said, "If it weren't for Reb Nachman Galinsky, I wouldn't be a rosh yeshiva today. I wouldn't even be religious today" and he told them the entire story. "That is why I decided to raise all the money needed for this tzaddik's recovery."
Reb Nachman helped a rebellious student and years later the chesed was repaid. When one does chesed for others, Heaven does chesed for him.
The second story told by none other than the great Chofetz Chaim.
There was a blind, poor widow who would walk through the streets of Vilna, led by her dear son. Most people didn't pay attention to them. At best, they would cluck their tongues when they saw this unfortunate sight and then continue on their way. But the Dubno Magid (18th C.), who cared about every Jew, greeted them warmly. They told him about their great poverty, how their home was cold because they couldn't afford firewood, and about the little food they had. The Dubno Magid took them into his home and they warmed up by the fire and ate dinner. The Dubno Magid noticed that the son was very wise, so he hired a melamed to teach him Torah. They eventually became part of the Dubno Magid's household. This child became Reb Shlomo Kluger zt'l, one of the outstanding gedoleihador, whose Torah continues to illuminate the world. The ChofetzChaim would say: "Many people saw the blind widow and her son walking around the streets of Vilna. They shook their heads and said, 'nebach! What a rachmanus!' and that's about all. But the Dubno Magid took action. He fed them, paid for a tutor for the child, and earned the merit of raising one of the great rabbinic luminaries of all times …"
One can never know the extraordinary goodness that an act of chesed can generate. And it was this lesson that our Forefather Avraham taught us and the world. He loved HaShem deeply and no doubt the affection was reciprocated. When we choose to follow in the footsteps of Avraham's life of chesed, not only do we benefit everyone, but we proudly discover that we are emulating Gd, Himself.
We can do no better!
See you Sunday bli neder- Enjoy shabbat CHaya Sarah