Sunday, January 4, 2009

Vayigash, Stories


Tehillim is needed for a young girl with a dangerous eye infection in the hospital Leora Zehava Bat Elisheva.

The Kassams, Katyushas sent from Gaza are meant for Satmar, Chabad, Litvak, Sephardi, non-religious and anti-Haredi Jews of all sizes, ages, colors and shapes.

There comes a time when we have to remember who is our brothers and who we are and who doesn't particularly like us. – I have been too ill this week and with the war and illness combined, have had no time to really put out a quality Drasha on Mekeitz Part 2 or Vayigash. INSTEAD I WOULD LIKE TO WRITE ABOUT A FEW MIRACLES AND TRAUMA IN ASHDOD.

Parshas Summary by Rav Aron Tendler

1st Aliya: Yehuda confronts Yoseph in the aftermath of the stolen chalice. Yehuda reviews the past events, starting from Yoseph's suspicious interest in their family.

2nd Aliya: Yehuda's final plea, that he would remain a slave instead of Binyamin, triggers Yoseph to reveal himself. Yoseph mitigates his brother's shock and obvious shame by explaining to them the hidden hand of Hashem in all that had occurred.

3rd Aliya: Yoseph instructs his brothers to bring Yakov and the rest of the family to Egypt. Pharaoh, having heard the news of the brother's arrival, confirms Yoseph's offer.

4th Aliya: Yoseph sends provisions and transportation for Yakov's entire household. Yakov is told of Yoseph being, "alive and well and ruling the land of Egypt".

5th Aliya: Yakov wishes to see Yoseph, but first asks Hashem for instructions. Hashem reassures Yakov that the time of slavery and nationhood has begun, and that he must go to Mitzrayim. The 70 direct descendants of Yakov are counted.

6th Aliya: Yakov and Yoseph reunite after 22 years. Five of the brothers and Yakov are presented to Pharaoh. Yakov blesses Pharaoh. The year is 2238.

7th Aliya: The remainder of the Parsha is a flashback to the two years preceding Yakov's arrival. Yoseph's master plan for reconfiguring Egyptian society is detailed. Yoseph follows the broad outline of his advice to Pharaoh regarding the administration of the 7 years of plenty. The famine must have been of enormous intensity for Yoseph to accomplish his plan in just two years. Although the people "sell" themselves to Pharaoh in order to get food, Yoseph's plan maintains their sense of dignity and independence.

The Fast of the Tenth of Teves

The Fast of the Tenth of Teves marks the day that Nevuzadran, the Babylonian general, laid siege to Jerusalem prior to the destruction of the first Holy Temple. The siege lasted almost three years until the city walls were breached and the Temple was destroyed. This was the beginning of a long line of disasters on the Jewish people, including the first exile, and the destruction of the second Temple.

This day is commemorated by refraining from eating or drinking from sunrise to nightfall. This year the fast falls on Jan. 6th.

All the information here comes from the Torah Organization and for more information. Like any other non-profit organization they can always use a donation found on their home page. This week’s Parsha and Fast information is also available from:

Besides Moshe, the Holzberg’s left a little boy with Rivki’s parents in Israel as he suffered from a genetic disease. From Esther S. : Baruch Dayan Emes – Dov Ber Holtzberg
During the predawn hours of Tuesday, 3 Teves, Dov Ber Holtzberg, 4.5, was niftar due to a serious illness. Dov Ber z”l was a son of the Chabad shluchim to Mumbai, Rav Gavriel Noach and Rivki HY?D. Dov Ber suffered from a serious illness and was hospitalized in Jerusalem. The levaya will begin at 10:00am in Shamgar Funeral Home and kvura will take place in Har HaZeisim. The hakamas matzeiva of the parents, Rav Gavriel and Rivki, will take place G-D willing on Thursday in Har HaZeisim.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

The following is a Kashruth Alert an unauthorized OU: Brands: Jack Rabbit Products: Ham flavored 16 Bean Soup Company: Trinidad Benham

Miracles in the News

This week the TV showed two areas where shrapnel spitting Kassams fell near or close to cooking gas tanks of houses. One man was filmed walking down the street by security cameras during the sirens in Ashkelon and just making it over the street and behind a wall when the Katyusha hit and exploded. The new Katyushas hitting Beer Sheva throw metal pellets and shrapnel 100 meters or 330 feet in all directions at high speed for maximum kill. Such one exploded in class Tet 1 in a High School on Dec. 31st in Beer Sheva thank G-D on the night of Dec. 30th school classes was cancelled. A few hours after a Kindergarten in Beer Sheva let the kids out on Dec. 30th a Katyusha did tremendous damage to the gathering place of pre-school children. There were many close calls and very few of the hundreds of rockets killed or physically injured people. Thursday, Jan. 1st a woman living in her 8th floor rented apartment goes shopping in Ashdod. While out shopping, a Katyusha hits the prefab structure destroying anything and everything in the apartment beyond all recognition and a good deal of the apartment below hers. The people from the apartment below are saved by running out to the stair way between the 6th and 7th storey. All 32 apartments in the building are evacuated until engineers can reinforce the structure that might be in danger of a collapse.

The following story is dedicated to R.L. who reads this in Braille

Lavi Greenspan lost his sight at age 26. The last thing he wants is for you to feel sorry for him. By Gavriel Horan

Ten years ago, at the age of 26 Lavi Greenspan became completely blind after surviving a benign brain tumor. He had just begun Fordham Law School in Manhattan when he noticed that he was often very thirsty. He went to visit the doctor who gave him a routine check-up and told him to come back in a few weeks. Figuring that it was nothing, Lavi decided not to go back.

Several months later, still having unusual symptoms, his mother urged him to return to the doctor. This time, the doctor took one look at his face, which had become very round and bloated and told him that he had Cushing's disease, a benign tumor on the pituitary gland. Over the next year, Lavi underwent numerous surgeries to remove the tumor. The operations were successful, allowing Lavi to return to law school at the end of that trying year.

In September 1997, Lavi was involved in a minor accident after he cut another car off on the highway. He did not see the car in any of his mirrors, even though it should have been clearly visible. A few weeks later, he lost all vision in one eye. Despite many attempts to reverse the process, it was too late -- he had endured damage to the optic nerve during the course of his many surgeries. It was just a matter of time before he was going to lose vision in the other eye as well.

Passing the Test

"All I remember was that I was more scared of going blind than being blind," Lavi recalled. "I wasn't focused on the fact that I was going blind. I was more focused on where it was going to happen." He was worried that it might happen in a place without anyone to help him. Fortunately, Lavi lost his sight in a Schul; a safe place where he could wait for someone to come and drive him home. "You don't want to end up going blind on the subway among strangers."

During that difficult time, Lavi had two law school finals and the bar exam to study for. He was so preoccupied with his studies, that the full impact of what happened never hit him. "I had no real time to think about losing my vision. I tell people that I think that's why the Almighty caused me to lose my sight when He did. If He had made me blind at the beginning of law school I would have dropped out. God doesn't give you a test that you can't pass. He knew that from January to July I wouldn't have time to think about not being able to see anymore!"

It finally hit him that first Chanukah when his father had to hold his hand to light the menorah. "It's the holiday where seeing is everything," he said.

Several months after losing his vision, Lavi was faced with his next challenge: studying for his Bar exam. Each night a Jewish lawyer from a pool of over 30 came over to help him study. Since the preparation course for the exam was once sued by blind people, all the material was available on cassette. He took the Bar with readers and in '99 got a job as a lawyer for IDT in New Jersey. He has also completed a comprehensive rabbinic program that he started only after going blind. "When I was taking the test I told them that if I failed I would sue them for discrimination against blind people!"

One Big Family

Lavi recalls that one of the hardest losses for him was not being able to learn Torah on his own. "Torah tapes are not the same as looking into the Torah," he explained. "I sure do appreciate the importance of learning Torah." Lavi has made an effort to develop a relationship with many of the leading rabbis in Israel and America, calling one daily to hear words of Torah and inspiration.

From the moment he was diagnosed with Cushing's disease, people were at his door 24/7 offering every imaginable assistance. A group of ten men in Kew Garden Hills still take weekly rotations to drive him to Schul. In the hospital, Lavi had people visiting around the clock. "Being part of the Jewish people is like being part of one big family, all brothers and sisters wanting to help you should you ever need them."

Lavi's rabbi, Rabbi Yehuda Parnes, was a critical factor in Lavi's success. "The last ten years since I lost my vision he's been an angel; he's been there for my family and me, we are in awe of him. He's a father figure for the entire family. Without him I probably wouldn't be where I am today." Lavi recalls when he was in the ICU just before his first surgery and he wasn't supposed to have any visitors. "I still remember Rabbi Parnes bending over my bed at 9:30 in the morning saying, 'Lavi, I told the nurse I was your Rabbi and she gave me special permission to come speak to you for one minute, but that's all I need. I need to tell you one thing: Lavi, I'm here for you.'" Those words gave Lavi comfort that helped sustain him throughout the long road ahead.

Seeing the Positive

Losing his sight didn't only improve Lavi's faith. "All of my senses have increased tremendously," Lavi notes. "My hearing is incredible; it's a gift from the Almighty. My sense of direction has increased. I sometimes have to tell my friends what direction to drive."

He especially misses being able to see people's faces, particularly little kid's expressions. "When you see a little kid smiling you melt," he said. Another difficulty is always depending upon others to get places or to read. "At the very beginning when I used to get down, my mother told me about someone in Israel who was hit by a nail from a terrorist's bomb in the spine and he became paralyzed from the neck down. How can I complain? He can't feed himself, dress himself, he's stuck in a wheel chair for the rest of his life. Not that I was happy about him, but at the very beginning that's what I used to do: stop myself from complaining by thinking that it could be much worse. Afterwards I started to look at what I did have, the positive instead of the negative. There are many people who have much worse problems than I do."

"Realize that God is our Father and that everything He does is for our best, and when you think about what you have, you realize that you have a lot more going for you. Before you go to sleep at night thank God for one good thing that happened to you that day. If you do that every night you start to realize how kind the Almighty is to you and that you have nothing to complain about. God never abandons us, He's always there. If you look at the larger scope of life, spilled orange juice doesn't matter. After what I went through it's not the end of the world if you break a glass. If a friend of mine is down I tell him to close his eyes and think about his wife and kids, think about the big picture. I'm not minimizing what you're going through but just think about the good that you have. Everything God does is for the good. You might not know how, but you know it's for your best. When Mashiach comes and all the pieces come together, I'll be singing before God and thanking Him for making me blind!"

"For the past ten years I feel like God is holding my hand. I feel Him wherever I walk. When I'm praying, I feel I'm talking face to face, eye to eye with God. I feel that He's walking with me wherever I go. Obviously I'd love to see again but I don't want to lose that feeling that God is holding my hand. The Almighty is the best Father you can have."

A longer version of this article originally appeared in Mishpacha Magazine.

A war story of a civilian

This story was told by the sister of Irit Sheetrit HY”D a mother of 4 who was killed by a Katyusha a few days ago. The second channel interviewed the sister after the funeral.

The poor sister, a girl in her late 20’s or early 30’s was trembling like a leaf when she told the following tale. “I was riding with Irit to pick up her children from a shelter. Irit worked for the city of Ashdod and was going home a little after 8 PM. We were in the car when the siren went off. As per civil defense instructions, we stopped the car and looked for shelter. Since we were in a city park, the only structure around was a flimsy bus stop rain/sun shelter. We sat on the bench bent low.” Irit was not in the Boy Scouts or Golan, she never learned what we call “Hit the Deck” lying flat on the floor with ones hands over their ears and head. “Then we heard a boom near-by us followed by a second boom and I felt a pain in my arm. Suddenly there was a third boom and Irit fell to the floor. When one hears that a Katyusha falls he expects something like one boom but no there was a second and a third more terrifying than the other two.”

In real life war is not a John Wayne Movie or even a reality movie like “Saving Private Ryan”, it is like Abraham Lincoln writing to a mother who lost 4 sons in the war or FDR writing to Mrs. Ryan who lost 5 sons in the war. Someone wrote “War is Hell” and those who have been in the army even if not in full combat and some civilians can tell you that too. Unfortunately, like most wars in Israel, we are left with no choice but to fight or go like sheep. The next stage of the war, the ground battle is not going to be a picnic but we cannot have close to 1,000,000 Jews living in fear from 60 rockets launched daily by a 15,000 terrorist army.

Torah Giants Issues a Degree despite Fascist Threats

Fascist* Deputy Attorney General Shai Nitzan instructed the police to launch an investigation against several prominent rabbis in the Orthodox community on suspicion of incitement.

Tuesday's decision followed petition filed by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) back in March. The IRAC filed its petition following several media reports suggesting HaRav HaGaon Chaim Kanievsky baal HaNiflaos Shlita decreed that Jews were no longer allowed to hire Arab laborers. The rabbi issued the alleged ordinance following the deadly attack on Mercaz Harav rabbinical seminary in Jerusalem. Also implicated in the case is Chaim Barzilai, Rabbi Kanievsky's operations officers, who reportedly sent "supervisors" out to the Orthodox community in order to ensure that the rabbi's word was adhered.

The Attorney General's Office did, however, find no grounds to launch an investigation against Rabbi Kanievsky at this time. The IRAC also asked the State to investigate alleged incitement by other prominent rabbis, the likes of Yitzhak Shapira Shlita, David Drukman Shlita, Daniel Stavsky Shlita, Ido Alba Shlita and Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer Shlita. The rabbis are suspected of issuing calls for revenge against Arabs following the attack on Mercaz Harav.

Two-dozen rabbis are also suspected of distributing flyers after the bulldozer attacks in Jerusalem, describing east Jerusalem residents as "the tip of the iceberg of a national problem which has become an existential threat to the people is Zion." Also under investigation is Rabbi Dov Lior Shlita of Kiryat Arba, who warned his followers against the perils of hiring Arabs or having them as tenants.

The Israel Religious Action Center issued a statement saying "over the past few months we have seen deterioration in incitement activity in Israel. This matter should concern anyone who cares about the Israeli democracy. We welcome these investigation and home the will serve justice.",7340,L-3647392,00.html

Fascist* National Socialist if written in German comes out NAZI. Members of the anti-religious Bund in Italian and Spanish: Fascist.

Please note the Rabbis listed above are across the political spectrum and concur with many Rabbis with freedom of speech outside of Israel.

Inyanay Diyoma

From Joey: Our speech at the UN

Assaf Wohl presents Gaza operation speech he wrote for our United Nations ambassador Assaf Wohl of Y-Net

Members of the United Nations,

Democracies, dictatorships, republics, and the honorable secretary-general:

Within a few hours, media outlets in your countries shall present horrific photos of blood, fire, and rubble from the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians will be screaming, in front of the cameras, about the massacre undertaken by the State of Israel. Initially, you may show understanding for our operations in the Strip, yet once the photos of wounded civilians reach you, you shall press us, as is your custom, to stop defending ourselves.

The first signs of this phenomenon can already be seen. Calls to “end the violence” from across the world are being heard loud and clear – yet they are only being heard now, after years of violence, and after Israel finally decided to respond. The European Union already rushed to declare that it condemns Israel’s “disproportional use of force.” Several news networks have brought together panels whose members are scrutinizing the law books at this very moment in order to ascertain whether the Jewish State violated some international law.

I do not intend to deal with the question of where were these condemners and critics for the past seven years, when Hamas’ murderers set the timers of their rockets to coincidence with the end of the school day in Israel, because of a declared aim to kill as many children as possible. The question we should be discussing at this time is as follows: Why do the countries of the world and global media outlets obsessively engage in strict criticism that is only directed at Israel? After all, there is not even one country out there that is required to adhere to the moral criteria which the world demands of us – of us of all people, the ones who as opposed to the rest of the world face threats of extermination.

Our Arab neighbors are well familiar with this double standard vulnerability. On their part, they are not bound by any kind of moral code. And so, they learned to exploit the international strictness towards Israel. A long time ago, they already understood that they cannot face the State of Israel on the battlefield. Indeed, when it comes to photographs and videos, they boast uniforms and weapons, yet once the fighting gets underway, they are quick to take off their uniforms and assimilate among women and children used as human shields.

They also make sure to place their arms depots in hospital basements and to fire rockets at population centers out of schoolyards. Their great hope is to elicit an Israeli response that would unintentionally hurt a few children. Once that happens, they will wave their bodies before the cameras and cry out to the world for help. This was the case in Lebanon, and this may happen tomorrow in the Gaza Strip.

Easing Europe’s conscience

The states demanding that Israel adhere to certain moral standards do not even dream of asking the same of her enemies. After all, we are dealing with theocracies and dictatorships, where homosexuals are publicly hanged, where women are regularly stoned for undermining their “family’s honor,” and where children suspected of theft have their arms severed. What do these states have to do with the value of human life? We should therefore ask representatives of global opinion: Be honest with yourselves - Do the lives of humans being butchered daily in Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur arouse you into similar action? Reality indicates this is not the case.

My answer to the question regarding the obsessive preoccupation with the actions of the Jews is purely sociological. Many of you, the shapers of public opinion, and mostly the Europeans amongst you, are interested in easing your conscience: If only can only show that the Israelis-Jews are not so moral or innocent, perhaps they deserve everything you did to them before they were able to establish their state? After all, here they are, occupying and butchering the poor Palestinians; they are certainly no better than us!

To that end, you are willing to help out the lowliest terrorists. Therefore, you bought into their slanderous Mohammed al-Dura tale, and therefore you will rush to buy into various blood libels in the coming days. Those who launch missiles and mortar shells into kindergartens know that they will always enjoy a protective umbrella from you. They draw their self-confidence from the intolerable ease with which they enlist your public opinion in their favor.

Therefore, you would do well to think twice before you move to stop the punishment they lawfully deserve. After all, you are the only lifesaver that can spare this radical terror group the measure of justice hovering above it.

Also from myself and Joey We must reshuffle the deck:,7340,L-3648454,00.html

National Union Brought Back to Life Under 'Katzaleh'
by IsraelNN Staff ( The National Union party was re-established this week with Yacov 'Katzaleh' Katz as the head. Katzelah was formally the head of the Beit El Institutions and Israel National News.

Women’s page:

From Tsila the IDF censored film that U-tube refused to put on line:

I mailed this out to my news group but it is a must read in my opinion about Hamas’s suicidal last stand plan.

As Israel's Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza entered its sixth day, the Israeli Air Force bombed a launching pad mosque in the village of Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip.

NOW FOR M. WOLFBERG'S "An Irish kid"

Good Shabbos Everyone. In our weekly portion Vayigash, the Torah tells us that "All the people of the house of Yakov who came to Mitzraim - Egypt were seventy." (Bereishis 46:27) The Torah then goes on to list the people who came down to Mitzraim. However, the Torah only lists 69 people. Why then does the verse say that 70 members of the house of Yakov Avinu (our patriarch) descended into Mitzraim?
Some commentators count Yocheved, who was born at the entrance of Mitzraim, as the 70th descendant. (Rashi and the Midrash cited by Stone Chumash, p.261) Other commentators tell us that Yakov Avinu himself is counted among the 70.
A third interpretation is perhaps the most inspiring: The 70th member of the house of Yakov Avinu was the shechina - the divine presence of Hashem. When the Bnai Yisroel - the children of Yisroel went down into Mitzraim, the holy shechina descended with them. (Ibid) The holy Shechina escorts us all in our current exile, the following true inspirational story illustrates this concept.
A woman from the Chabad-Lubavitch Community in Brooklyn was once pulled over by a N.Y.C. traffic cop for some traffic violation. Standing outside her open car window and watching her search for her license and registration papers, the police officer caught sight of a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in her open purse.
"Excuse me, maam," he asked, "are you one of the followers of this Rabbi?" "Yes," she replied. "Well, in that case I'm not giving you a ticket." He closed his ticket book and continued, "Do you know why? Because this Rabbi," he pointed to the picture she was now holding in her hand, "Did a very big miracle for me."
"Well," said the grateful woman, "since you aren't giving me the ticket, I have time to hear the story." The policeman smiled and said, "It's my favorite story, but I haven't told it to many Jewish people, in fact I think that you are the first."
The cars were whizzing by behind him and he had to raise his voice slightly. "The story goes like this: I used to be in the police escort that once a week escorted the Rabbi to the Montefiore Cemetery (where the Rebbe's father-in-law and predecessor, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, is interred). I got to know some of the young men who accompanied the Rebbe, and I learned a lot of things. They are very friendly people, which you probably already know, and we talked a lot while the Rabbi was inside praying.
"Well, one day I saw that all the fellows there were really talking excitedly to each other so I asked them what happened. So they told me that the Rabbi has blessed a lot of people, but today one of his blessings seemed to have accomplished something special. I didn't even ask what was the miracle that they were talking about, I just asked them if the Rabbi helps non-Jews also. "'Sure,' they said, 'The Rebbe helps anyone who asks. Why? Do you need something?' they asked me.
So I told him, this young fellow, that me and my wife had been married nine years with no children, and a week ago the doctors told us that we had no chance. We had spent a lot of money on treatments, seen all sorts of big professors, we were running around like crazy for the last six or seven years, and now they told us that they tried everything and there is no chance. You can't imagine how broken we were. My wife cried all the time and I started crying myself.
"So this young man tells me, 'Listen, the next time that you escort the Rebbe to the cemetery stand near the door of his car and when he gets out ask him for a blessing.' So that is just what I did.
The next time I was in the escort I stood by his door and when he got out I said to him: 'Excuse me, Rabbi, do you only bless Jewish people or non-Jews too?' "So the Rabbi looked at me like a good friend, it was really amazing, and said that he tries to help anyone he can. So I told him what the doctors said, and he said I should write down on a piece of paper my name and my father's name together with my wife's and her father's names and that he would pray for us.
So I did it, my hands were shaking so much I almost couldn't write, but I did it and you know what? My wife became pregnant and nine months later she gave birth to a baby boy! The doctors went crazy, they couldn't figure it out, and when I told them that it was all the Rabbi's blessing they just scratched their heads and -- Wow! I felt like the champion of the world!
"But here comes the good part. Do you know what we called him? What name we gave our baby boy? Just guess! We called him Mendel after the Rabbi. At first my wife didn't like the name because its not an American name, but I said, No! We're calling him Mendel! Each time we say his name we'll remember that if it weren't for the Rabbi this boy would not be here.
"But when our parents heard the name they really objected. They said, 'With a name like that, all the kids will think he's a Jew or something and they will call him names and be cruel to him. Why make the kid suffer for no reason?'
'That's just what I want,' I said to them. 'When he comes home and says that the other kids called him names and beat him up because he has a Jewish name, I'll tell him that I want him to learn from those other kids how not to behave. They hate the Jews for no reason, but you should love the Jews, you should help the Jews. You just tell them that without that Jewish Rabbi called Mendel you wouldn't be here at all, and then maybe they'll start thinking differently too!' Good Shabbos Everyone

Mr. Wolfberg' s stories not mine are sponcered by: In memory of Shosha Malka bas R' Avrohom 21 Cheshvan Refuah Shleimah to Chana Ashayra bas Dodi

Have a wonderful Shabbos and a safe & peaceful one.

Rachamim Pauli