Friday, December 25, 2009

Parsha Vayigash, 3 miracles which are 5, halacha and stories

I have been unable to contact Eliyahu ben Rosa so until I receive an update, I have removed him from my list. Yehuda ben Chava Rivka is 90% cured. Rachamim ben Gamila is undergoing surgery, we should pray for him for about 10 days. Avraham Ben Deborah wrote: I have an infection of the big toe of the left foot, due to Diabetes. Zvi Yechezkel Ben Leah, has also an infection of the left foot, and has to wear a special shoe. Naftali Moshe Ben Tzipporah is still battling cancer, and he is slowly losing hair, is now wearing a glove on the left hand, and speaks very low.

Last week, I sent a note Fruma bas Rachel – one time only please continue prays as of now.

Last week, I was pressed for time to get out this by 13:30 Israel time for most of my readers. My memory suddenly went blank and I changed the story. Without the truth in my Drasha, I am nothing. I therefore give you the correct story this week. TORAH = EMMET!

Rabbi Aaron Kotler ZTZAL on Chanucha as told me by Rabbi Yacov Lustig Shlita

When Rabbi Aaron Kotler came to the United States, he wanted to open up only a Yeshiva Kodesh without any secular learning. The Rabbis told him that he would never succeed as “This was America and not Europe”. However Rabbi Kotler thought outside of the American box and within HASHEM’s box. He said regarding the Chanucha Candles something similar to “The Macabeam when the came into the Beis HaMikdash could easily have used Tumay oil for the Menorah. However, they especially chose Shemen Zayis (Olive Oil) which was extra virgin. They did not want to lower their purity but the highest degree of Tahor. We have Bochurim that can learn in the Yeshiva that are pure like Shemen Zayis so we should not corrupt them with secular studies and extraneous things to Judaism. What happened to the Macabeam in the end G-D took up his case and it will be so in America too.” From many American Jews, he received enough money to buy some land and open up a Yeshiva/Kollel with a handful of Jews who later became the Rabbis and Teachers of America. The Lakewood Yeshiva became THE Yeshiva of the USA. Today over 5,000 young men learn there which most likely is larger than the famous Torah Academies of Sura and Pumpaditha of Bavel which produced the Talmud. These are the men that build Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael and they are the people who really cause the rains to come to Eretz Yisrael to fill up the Kenneret. Don’t forget to support your local Synagogue and Yeshiva. Just as the Macabeam were strong, so too Rav Kotler.


Perkei Avos Chapter 2 - Hillel once saw a skull of a known murderer floating in the water: “Because you murdered others so too you were murdered…”.,2933,581053,00.html

The principle of measure for measure applies here. In modern times we call it Karma but it was well known to our Sages and even the brothers of Yosef. For when they threw him into the pit, their rage ruled their heads and not their logic. Now they had seen Shimon the instigator thrown in jail by the ruler of the land in the name of Pharaoh. But when they saw innocent Benyamin brought up on charges they knew it was not measure for measure. So Yehuda volunteered to get the measure that he deserved as it was he that sold Yosef into slavery. If not he was willing to fight all of Egypt for Benyamin.

44:18 Then Judah came near unto him, and said: 'Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not yours anger burn against thy servant; for thou art even as Pharaoh.

For you are like Pharaoh: This is its simple meaning. Its midrashic meaning is, however: You will ultimately be punished with צָרַעַת because of him, just as Pharaoh was punished because of my great-grandmother Sarah for the one night that he detained her (Gen. 12:17). Another explanation: Just as Pharaoh issues decrees and does not carry them out, makes promises and does not fulfill them, so do you. Now, is this the “setting of an eye,” concerning which you said [that you wanted] “to set your eye upon him”? [See verse 21.] Another explanation: For like you, so is Pharaoh-if you provoke me, I will kill you and your master. [From Gen. Rabbah 93:6]

Even though Rashi brings down the Medrash, it appears more feasible the Pshat.

19 My lord asked his servants, saying: Have ye a father, or a brother? 20 And we said unto my lord: We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loves him.

Just above, I mentioned that I am nothing without telling the truth. Here there was a matter of Pekuach Nefesh (immediately danger to life) so that for Shalom Biet one can lie. Thus we see the following: Yehuda lied for the sake of peace as this guy, Zaphenath-paneah, might want to see brother number 12 whom Yehuda could not produce. Rashi picks up the subject here: And his brother is dead: Out of fear, he made a false statement. He said [to himself], “If I tell him that he is alive, he will say, ‘Bring him to me.’” [from Gen. Rabbah 93:8]

21 And thou said unto thy servants: Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him. 22 And we said unto my lord: The lad cannot leave his father; for if he should leave his father, his father would die.

For if he leaves his father, he will die: If he leaves his father, we are worried lest he die on the way, for his mother died on the way. [after Targum Jonathan ben Uzziel] The counter argument of Yosef and final rebuke is that he confronts them with: He lived through my disappearance so too, he will live with Benyamin’s disappearance.

23 And thou said unto thy servants: Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more. 24 And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. 25 And our father said: Go again, buy us a little food. 26 And we said: We cannot go down; if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down; for we may not see the man's face, except our youngest brother be with us. 27 And thy servant my father said unto us: Ye know that my wife bore me two sons; 28 and the one went out from me, and I said: Surely he is torn in pieces; and I have not seen him since; 29 and if ye take this one also from me, and harm befall him, ye will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

And misfortune befalls him: For Satan accuses at the time of danger. [From Gen. Rabbah 91:9] you will bring down my hoary head in misery, etc.: Now that he is with me, I comfort myself over [the loss of] his mother and over [the loss of] his brother, but if this one [too] dies, it will seem to me as if the three of them died in one day. [From Gen. Rabbah ff. 93:8] I have mentioned a number of times that the Angel of Death has the right of way in war, plague and famine – Baba Kama 60B.

30 Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad is not with us; seeing that his soul is bound up with the lad's soul; 31 it will come to pass, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die; and thy servants will bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave.

It will come to pass, when he sees that the boy is not here, he will die: His father will die because of his calamity [of the loss of his son]. He has not stopped mourning for the loss of Yosef. We are told that after 12 months a person begins to forget the dead. This is perhaps so for parents, spouses, siblings but I don’t think that the grief of losing a child is ever forgotten. In the late 90’s there was a driver from my company who had a son who passed away in the Shalom HaGalil Operation by a sniper who shot a bullet direct to his heart HY”D. The father told us that every day the wife would look at the picture of the lad on the mantle even through she had a few other children and grandchildren. By losing Rachel and both her children, Yacov would be finished without a reason to live.

However, there is another Pshat here that I received from my teachers either Rav Yerachmiel Boyer Shlita or one of our other Rabbanim or guest lecturers. Yacov was still grieving for the loss of Yosef as if it were yesterday for Yosef was in truth alive and the heart might be able to forget the dead but never the living.

32 For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying: If I bring him not unto thee, then shall I bear the blame to my father for ever.

For your servant assumed responsibility for the boy: Now if you ask why I enter the fray more than my other brothers, [I will reply that] they are all [standing] from the outside [without commitment], while I have bound myself with a strong bond to be an outcast in both worlds. [From Gen. Rabbah 93:8] This is the essence of Tshuvah and measure for measure. Brave Yehuda having realized that the principle of measure for measure aka Karma had come around to get him because it was his suggestion to sell Yosef is not prepared to accept his lumps – just as he had done with the incident with Tamar.

33 Now therefore, let thy servant, I pray thee, abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. 34 For how shall I go up to my father, if the lad be not with me? lest I look upon the evil that shall come on my father.'

Please let your servant stay: I am superior to him in all respects: in strength, in battle, and in service. [From Gen. Rabbah 93:8] Take me instead.

45:1 Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried: 'Cause every man to go out from me.' And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.

The Medrash says that he removed all his servants from the room and asked them to send and the brothers cowered in fear. Then he yelled out send in Yosef ben Yacov. The brothers were surprised and were worried about revenge and yet relieved that Yosef was still alive. However nobody was in the room but Zaphenath-paneah and them. He yelled out again and still no Yosef and yet again. Then he showed them that he was circumcised and he said, with the exception that I am older with a trimmed beard or clean shaven as the case may have been and no peyos, one can see the relationship between Benyamin and myself and then he hugged them one by one and they wept. The story told in the Chumosh is:

2 And he wept aloud; and the Egyptians heard, and the house of Pharaoh heard. 3 And Joseph said unto his brethren: 'I am Joseph; doth my father yet live?' And his brethren could not answer him; for they were affrighted at his presence. 4 And Joseph said unto his brethren: 'Come near to me, I pray you.' And they came near. And he said: 'I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. 5 And now be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land; and there are yet five years, in which there shall be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to give you a remnant on the earth, and to save you alive for a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God; and He hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 Hasten ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him: Thus says thy son Joseph: God hath made me lord of all Egypt; come down unto me, tarry not. 10 And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast; 11 and there will I sustain thee; for there are yet five years of famine; lest thou come to poverty, thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast. 12 And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaks unto you. 13 And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall hasten and bring down my father hither.' 14 And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15 And he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them; and after that his brethren talked with him.

He then forgave them but they lived in fear of him all those years especially after the burial of Yacov which we see in next week’s Parsha and this suspicion haunted and saddened Yosef. Also it was only at this point that Benyamin learned the truth of the disappearance of his elder full brother.

16 And the report thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying: 'Joseph's brethren are come'; and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants. 17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph: 'Say unto thy brethren: This do ye: lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; 18 and take your father and your households, and come unto me; and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land. 19 Now thou art commanded, this do ye: take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.

Throughout the centuries of exile, there has a been good rulers towards the Jews and rulers who oppressed the Jews. Pharaoh here saw them to be smart like Yosef and could raise the intellectual and trade level of Egypt. However, the sheep god is what they worshipped. (One could see this in the movie “Murder on the Nile” where statues of sheep were there. This is the mention of “Toyavas Mitzrayim” = the abomination of Egypt later on in our Sedra.

20 Also regard not your stuff; for the good things of all the land of Egypt are yours.' 21 And the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way. 22 To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver, and five changes of raiment. 23 And to his father he sent in like manner ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she-asses laden with corn and bread and victual for his father by the way. 24 So he sent his brethren away, and they departed; and he said unto them: 'See that ye fall not out by the way.' 25 And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father. 26 And they told him, saying: 'Joseph is yet alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.' And his heart fainted, for he believed them not.

He became weakened that his sons were telling him a fib and believed it impossible.

27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them; and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived. 28 And Israel said: 'It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive; I will go and see him before I die.'

What was the reviving of Yacov when he saw the wagons (Hebrew Agalos) because he received a hint from Yosef that they had been learning the Parsha of a corpse found in between two cities in which case the elders bring an Eglah (calf) to break its neck in atonement.

46:28 And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to show the way before him unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. 29 And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen; and he presented himself unto him, and fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. 30 And Israel said unto Joseph: 'Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, that thou art yet alive.' 31 And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father's house: 'I will go up, and tell Pharaoh, and will say unto him: My brethren, and my father's house, who were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me; 32 and the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have. 33 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say: What is your occupation? 34 that ye shall say: Thy servants have been keepers of cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and our fathers; that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.'

He is afraid as many Jews in exile to reveal their true identity and keep it quiet. We saw this in Spain and my father after surviving the holocaust told me to do the same.

47:1 Then Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, and said: 'My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen.' 2 And from among his brethren he took five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh. 3 And Pharaoh said unto his brethren: 'What is your occupation?' And they said unto Pharaoh: 'Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and our fathers.'

They still have the proud Israeli mentality and not afraid to show the world whom they are and what they do.

4 And they said unto Pharaoh: 'To sojourn in the land are we come; for there is no pasture for thy servants' flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan. Now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.' 5 And Pharaoh spoke unto Joseph, saying: 'Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee; 6 the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and thy brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell. And if thou know any able men among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.' 7 And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

Just as we don’t usually come across a 130 year old man, so too Pharaoh was amazed at his age. My family had the privilege of seeing my step-father at the age of 100 plus at my son’s wedding and even that age is rare.

8 And Pharaoh said unto Jacob: 'How many are the days of the years of thy life?' 9 And Jacob said unto Pharaoh: 'The days of the years of my sojournings are a hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojournings.' 10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from the presence of Pharaoh. 11 And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. 12 And Joseph sustained his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to the want of their little ones. 13 And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished by reason of the famine. 14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house. 15 And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said: 'Give us bread; for why should we die in thy presence? for our money faileth.' 16 And Joseph said: 'Give your cattle, and I will give you [bread] for your cattle, if money fail.' 17 And they brought their cattle unto Joseph. And Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, and for the flocks, and for the herds, and for the asses; and he fed them with bread in exchange for all their cattle for that year. 18 And when that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him: 'We will not hide from my lord, how that our money is all spent; and the herds of cattle are my lord's; there is nought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands. 19 Wherefore should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be bondmen unto Pharaoh; and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, and that the land be not desolate.' 20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine was sore upon them; and the land became Pharaoh's. 21 And as for the people, he removed them city by city, from one end of the border of Egypt even to the other end thereof. 22 Only the land of the priests bought he not, for the priests had a portion from Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them; wherefore they sold not their land. 23 Then Joseph said unto the people: 'Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh. Lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.

This is the first welfare and unemployment in recorded history. One thing is for Pharaoh to own the land and the people but then he had to provide for them for he needed their labor to produce the goods and labor for himself. So it was with welfare can taxes and slavery of the people.

Halachos and Mitzvos from Danny Shoemann Shlita

It's a Mitzva to sanctify the Shabbat with words, when it starts and when it ends. This is known is Kiddush and Havdallah. It's also a Mitzva to bathe before Shabbat and to wear clean clothes. It's a Mitzva to eat three meals on Shabbat, as well as a 4th on Motzei Shabbat. There's also a Mitzva to remember Shabbat every day, which is why we say "Yom Rishon B'Shabbat" for Sunday, "Yom Sheni B'Shabbat" for Monday, etc. Included in this Mitzva is to buy and keep special food for Shabbat, all week long. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always - Pasuk: "Remember the day of Shabbat to sanctify it" (Shemos 20:8)
Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Positive Mitzvah 19

It's a Mitzva to desist from all 39 categories of forbidden work on Shabbat. (See a list at This includes not having ones animals doing work. By Rabbinic decree one may not request a non-Jew to do ones work on Shabbat. Applies to everybody, everywhere, on Shabbat - Verse: "and on the 7th day you shall rest" (Shemos 23:14) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Positive Mitzvah 20

One is prohibited from denying one has somebody else's property. This applies to money one has in ones possession as a result of taking a loan, receiving security on a loan, theft, robbery, or finding lost property. One transgresses once the other person requests the money, and one denies one has it. Until a transgressor makes amends, he is not qualified to be a Kosher witness. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always - Verse: "Do not deny" (Vayikra 19:11)
Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Negative Mitzvah 36

If you rightfully received another person's property, and refuse to give it to them, then you have transgressed this Mitzva. E.g.: Refusing to repay a loan, or refusing to pay the rent, is prohibited. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always - Verse: "Do not withhold from your fellow man" (Vayikra 19:13) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Negative Mitzvah 37

One may not delay paying wages. A day worker needs to be paid before the next morning. A night worker needs to be paid before the end of the following day.
An hourly worker who worked during the day needs to be paid on that day; if he worked during the night he needs to be paid during that night. One only transgresses if the worker demanded his wages and one has the money to pay him. Applies to wages as well as to rental fees for equipment, applies to everybody, everywhere, always. Verse: "Do not keep his wage to the morning" (Vayikra 19:13 and Devarim 24:15) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 38

Oil that was put in the Chanukah Menorah and was not burnt, as well as wicks that were used and candles that didn't burn fully should be burnt after Chanukah.
Since they were set aside for the Mitzva of Chanukah they cannot be used for any other purpose. If one had the explicit intention to use the left-overs, then they need not be burnt. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:20

It’s a Torah prohibition to cause pain to animals – and a Mitzvah to prevent such pain and even cure animals (even if they don’t belong to a Jew). One may not tie the legs of animals in such a way that they are in discomfort. One may not sit a bird to roost on eggs from a different type of bird. However, if an animal is causing harm to humans, or can be used to help cure humans, then one may kill it (as humanely as possible) for we see that the Torah allows one to eat meat.

Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 191:1, 3

No eating and drinking is allowed from dawn to nightfall. One may eat before dawn if one had the intention of doing so before one went to bed the night before. If one always drinks when one gets up, then one can drink before dawn even of one didn't think about it when going to bed. Pregnant and nursing mothers as well as people who aren't feeling well do not need to fast if fasting will cause them discomfort. Those who may eat, as well as children, should not indulge in food. If possible they should limit themselves to bread and water. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 121:8, 8

On Sunday will be the fast of 10 B'Tevet. On fast days we read the Torah during Shachris and Mincha. Three people are called up to the Torah. At Mincha the 3rd person also reads the Haphtarah (from Yeshayahu 55:6). A person who is not fasting should not be called up to the Torah. During Mincha, those who are fasting add Anaynu during Shema-Kolaynu. The Chazzan says Anaynu during both Shachris and Mincha as a separate Bracha before Rofa’aynu.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 23:15

Coloring is one of the 39 forbidden categories of work on Shabbat. One may not color anything on Shabbat even if the color is not permanent. One may not apply rouge, lipstick or eye-shadow on Shabbat. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:42

Henry from the Young Israel sent me this almost 2 years ago but a miracle is a miracle.

The Conclusion of this is one who observes the Shemita (Sabbatical) Year is watched over: Dvar Torah:

Shmittah By Rabbi Baruch Lederman A Shmitah Miracle! January 22, 2008

Rabbi Shmuel Bloom of Agudath Israel of America is a busy man involved in important matters concerning Klal Yisroel. Why would he, then, spend a considerable amount of hours traveling to look at bananas during his recent trip to Eretz Yisroel?

A completely secular farmer whose produce is bananas decided that he would undertake to keep Shmitah this time around. He approached the Keren HaShviis for assistance and they stipulated that he would be registered in their program if he would also undertake to be personally Shomer Shabbos throughout Shmitah. He agreed. Keren HaShviis undertook to cover his farming expenses in return for which all the produce would become the property of Otzar Beis Din and would be distributed in full accordance with Halacha.

Israel has suffered a significant cold spell over the past 2 to 3 weeks. Bananas don't like cold. Cold doesn't like bananas. Needless to say, they don't get along. When bananas are still growing and get hit with frost, they turn brown and become rock-solid hard.

The hero of our story, the banana farmer, knew he was in deep trouble when the relentless cold hadn't let up for over a week. He lived a distance from his orchard and hadn't yet seen the damage with his own eyes. He began to receive calls from his neighbor farmers, who have orchards bordering his, complaining bitterly that their entire banana crop had been destroyed by the frost.

He decided it was time to inspect the damage up close, no matter how painful it may be.

He drove up close to Tverya to inspect his orchard, as well as those of his neighboring farmers. As he passed from one orchard to another, he was overwhelmed by the damage. Not a single fruit had survived, no tree was spared. His neighbors took quite a beating. All the bananas were brown, hard as a rock. He could only imagine how bad his trees must have gotten it.

Yet when he finally got to his orchard, he was awestruck! ALL of his bananas were yellow and green. It's as if his orchard was not part of this parcel of land. His orchard bordered those of his neighbors, but not a single tree of his was struck by the frost. It's as if a protective wall kept the damage away. At first he thought he was imagining it, and as he rushed from one section of his orchard to another, the realization that more than the farmer keeps the Shmitah, the Shmitah keeps the farmer hit home.

He immediately called his contacts at Keren HaShviis and yelled into the phone, "Karah Nes!, Karah Nes!"

A miraculous modern-day manifestation of V'Tzivisi Es HaBracha!. There is no way to explain this other than that HaKodesh Baruch Hu keeps His promises. He says keep Shmitah, and I'll take care of you. He sure does!

Another Hidden Miracle:

Still another miracle as seen on Fox and Friends: You will recall a few months ago that I was supposed to undergo a heart reboot two days after Yom Kippur and my heart rebooted itself. We have in Israel seen cancer patients heal or Adam Levinson who was supposed to die of cancer one night manage to live for about a year plus due to prayers at the Kotel by hundreds of Orthodox Jews.

This is a Goyishe Story about a man in Texas with a 20% functioning heart. He needed a heart transplant to live. At first his wife would knell on the floor and pray for hours for a transplant. But then she realized that somebody had to die for her husband to live. Instead she began praying for a miracle to cure him. She prayed also for a sign like a white Nativity Day and a healing. On the evening of Dec. 24th last year after no snow in that area of Texas for 109 years, it began snowing and enough to make snowmen the next day. A few days later, the husband went to the hospital and his heart was functioning at 50% capacity and he was out of danger and feels like a new man. It happened to me so there is no reason not to believe this. G-D helps people who depend totally upon him – MY ADVICE TO YOU IS TO BELIEVE IN G-D AND TRUST IN THE L-RD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL AND ALL YOUR MIGHT.

A friend of mine visited a Conservative Schul and wrote me: Only three things really differentiated the service from the orthodox: Men and women were sitting together. A public sound system was in use. The bat mitzvah was reading from the Torah and leading the service, and women were called for aliyot.

I would not walk into a Synagogue that uses a sound system on Shabbos except to save another Jew. I would not pray in a Synagogue that does not physically separate into sections the men from the women either the women to the right, left or behind. Mixed prayers allow the Yetzer to have a field day for both sexes. As for the Aliyah to Torah, the Chofetz Chaim writes that it is permissible but one does not do it because of Shalom Tzibur (peace in the Congregation) which would not apply for the Conservative Schul in my humble opinion but would cause a riot in an Orthodox Schul.

From Ashes to Rebirth Life on Kibbutz Lavi

When Moshe's mother, Mrs. Winter, was compelled to leave the ghetto in search of food, she would swing young Moshe over her shoulder to cover her yellow star. With his blond hair and blue eyes, nobody suspected that little Moshe was a Jew or that his "caretaker" was his mother.

Moshe Winter exudes an aura of inner happiness and serenity. It is hard to imagine the pain and suffering he endured as a child of the Holocaust.

"I was born in 1943 in Budapest, Hungary's capital," Moshe begins. "At that time, until the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944, the Jews of Budapest were relatively safe despite widespread anti-Semitism and discriminatory laws against Jews."

With the German occupation, Jewish life in Budapest turned into a life of fear. The Germans began moving towards Budapest, rounding up and deporting the Jews from the Hungarian provinces and the suburbs of Budapest. By the end of July 1944, only the Jews in Budapest were left in Hungary. In October of that same year, the Arrow Cross Party, the Hungarian Nazi Party, installed a new government and began a reign of terror in Budapest, shooting hundreds of Jews or drafting them into brutal forced labor. A death march followed and those who survived were taken to various death camps.

"In the meantime, we were herded into ghettos by the Arrow Cross Party," Moshe relates. By the end of December 1944, most of the remaining Jews of Budapest were packed into those closed ghettos. Thousands of Jews were seized from the ghetto, shot along the banks of the Danube, their bodies thrown into the river.

"At last, in June of 1945, we were liberated by the Allied forces."

"My family was taken to the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons camp. My father worked for the Allied forces in his capacity as a tailor and also translator, being knowledgeable in several languages. I still have a picture of myself wearing a uniform my father fashioned out of blankets for me," Moshe says with a trace of nostalgia.

Finally, in 1949, the Winter's were permitted to enter the U.S. due to the efforts of an uncle, Mr. Winter's oldest brother who had immigrated to the U.S. before the war, who sponsored the family.

The Winter family sailed to America on the General Han. "During the trip, I turned six and I still remember the birthday party the captain of the ship prepared in my honor."

"We arrived in Ellis Island where we were held for a few days until allowed the privilege of entering the United States. Our family settled on Kelly Street in the Bronx. My neighbor, I found out later, was Colin Powell. He took pride in the fact that his father worked in the Beth Jacob, a Jewish girl's school on Kelly Street, the same school where my mother worked as the cook."

Moshe's parents never spoke about the Holocaust with Moshe or his older sister. It was just too painful. "But later," says Moshe, "when we were already married, my mother shared some of her experiences with our spouses."

Even in the golden land of America, young Winter experienced his share of anti-Semitism. "It was a Friday, and I was taking the train from Manhattan to Long Island to spend Shabbat with my friend, when someone knocked off my kipah. When I turned around, I faced three jeering hoodlums. I said, 'Give me back my kipah.' They laughed and said, 'Why should we?' A fight ensued. They punched me, broke my teeth, shattered my glasses. But by far, the most traumatic part was that out of the three or four hundred fellow travelers, not one person bothered to turn around or offer any assistance. I decided this was not something I would put up with."

That was the moment that convinced Moshe to move to Israel.

Forty-three years ago, after he graduated college, Moshe and his New York-born wife, along with ten other couples that he knew from the Bnei Akiva (a Zionist Youth Organization) moved to Israel where they looked for a kibbutz to join. "It was fairly easy to come since my wife and I had no jobs or responsibility, and not yet a family. We felt that it was the ideal opportunity for us to make the jump."

The Winter's chose to make their home in Kibbutz Lavi because "it was the only kibbutz where the children lived at home as opposed to a children's quarters where the children of other kibbutzim were housed, fed and put to bed."

The Founding of Kibbutz Lavi

Following the horrific pogrom staged by the Nazis upon Jews in Germany known as Kristallnacht, night of broken glass, the British government agreed to permit children from Nazi Germany and the occupied territories to enter their country until the crisis would blow over. Between 1938 and 1940 nearly 10,000 Jewish children were placed in British foster homes, hostels, and farms, literally saving their lives. Most of these children never saw their parents again, all murdered by the Nazis.

After the war, in 1949, a group of these children – already teenagers – managed to immigrate to Israel where they founded Kibbutz Lavi on a barren hilltop overlooking the Tiberias-Nazareth Road. Conditions since the founders of our kibbutz were from the Kindertransport, they were very family oriented. They wanted to spend more time with their children, to eat with them and sleep close by, even though this was against kibbutz ideals," says Moshe. "And the fact that it was one of the few religious kibbutzim also drew us to Kibbutz Lavi."

Kibbutz Lavi's ideology is based upon values that are expressed through partnership and democracy. Therefore, the community sees to the basic needs of all members throughout their lives, in return for the individual's contribution to a common good according to personal ability.

"Today I work in maintenance doing jobs that nobody wants, or has the time, to do. Like fixing the brooms but when I was younger, I worked in agriculture for twenty years and another twenty years in the Dairy. My sons work in the furniture factory."

Lavi's furniture factory specializes in synagogue furniture which is sold throughout Israel and exported around the world.

Members of the kibbutz don't receive a monthly salary. They do, however, receive a yearly budget for personal needs. Housing, food, healthcare and education are provided by the community.

Moshe derives much satisfaction from the kibbutz. "I've never wanted for anything," he comments. "This kibbutz is a part of me. Everybody works according to their ability and nobody tries to get out of work. It's like a family business; we all aim for success and we share the dividends with each other. Lavi was built as 'utopic' as possible."

After a full school day, the children join their family in the communal dining room for dinner. Sometimes, in inclement weather for instance, the family decides to take the food home and eat there so they don't have to haul their kids to the dining room. "The kids have a fantastic childhood, a wonderful culture, and are raised with values of mutual responsibility, of helping others," he says.

Indeed, the children are raised in what Moshe calls "real country life." They learn to care for animals and help in the kitchen from a young age. "For me, the nicest part about living in the kibbutz is that I see my grandchildren every day when they go for a walk around the kibbutz," he adds.

For those who have a difficult time making decisions, kibbutz life is a wonderful way of handing over the headache to the General Committee. Hardy individuals who thrive on choice may find relinquishing their decision-making rights a sacrifice. Decisions such as where to invest or spend money are decided by the General Committee. "In a kibbutz, one can't make their own decisions," says Moshe. "When certain decisions contrast with your beliefs, there's no point in getting angry, you just have to learn to live with it. And, of course, there will always be those who think a decision applies to you and not to me. For example, once there was a decision that all dogs should be tied up – they scare the kids, they dirty the grounds. But many people felt, 'my dog is all right, he doesn't cause problems.' So this decision went unheeded."

When the fledgling Israeli army was struggling to establish the country's freedom, kibbutz members were heralded as the heroes of the land and the elite of Israeli society. They were the ones who were the first to volunteer for every national task and they imbued the Israeli Defense Forces with a spirit of pioneering, bravery and determination.

Following the fall of communism, kibbutz style has lost much of its glitter and charm in the eyes of the world. Kibbutz Lavi has always been very liberal, and in recent years has become even more liberal. Yet there are changes. "Like everywhere else, we feel the economic crunch," says Moshe. "Recently there was a 10% cut off our yearly budget, but everyone understands. Another change that occurred is the way the children's clothes are distributed. In the past, all the children would get measured and the kibbutz would buy their clothes. Today, the younger couples get money for their children's clothes and buy what they want."

And many second or third generation members have left the kibbutz. "My five sons all married girls from outside of the kibbutz," Moshe notes. "Three of them don't live on the kibbutz because their wives preferred not to live here. They grew up in the city, so they want to make their own decisions, keep the money they earn, and live near their families."

In the last few years, most kibbutzim have privatized. The motivation of the founders, their strong convictions and their distinct ideology, forged a society with a unique communal way of life which their children adhered to. However, as Moshe looks to the future, he predicts that the chapter of kibbutz life is coming to a close. The present generation has been raised in a prosperous society. These young adults have set their sights elsewhere. They're looking to utilize their knowledge, efforts and talents to meet the challenges of modern life in the technological age.

"I don't think kibbutz life can last more than another twenty, thirty years. All our children are college graduates; they'll go out in the world to get married and work in their fields of expertise. They want to make their own decisions. The world is changing and so is the kibbutz."

Today, Kibbutz Lavi hosts many visitors and vacationers in their prestigious hotel. Situated in the heart of the Galilee, with luxurious rooms, gourmet meals and scenic landscape, Kibbutz Lavi Hotel beckons to Israelis and foreigners alike. The children's area, the cows in the milking parlor and the Rose Garden with an ancient olives press all guarantee a unique experience. But what is perhaps most apparent are the genuine smiles and willingness of staff members to fulfill the beck and call of just anyone for anything, a reflection of the readiness to give that has been instilled in these individuals from childhood.


The guest house of the Kibbutz provides a home atmosphere for Shabbos Observers and special Glatt Kosher is available for very religious Jewish. I have been going there since the 1980’s and there have been a number of scientific and religious meetings between Thursday and Shabbos. They are not cheap like a Zimmer but reasonable for one’s needs such as Synagogue and Shabbos and near the site where Salah Adin defeat Richard the Lion Hearted.

Last week, I put in my blog a Jewish Chinese Wedding video on U-tube – this is a story I published in 5768:

Chinese Jews

Abstract: Our knowledge of the Chinese Jews derives from two primary sources: one is the stone inscriptions, carved in grey limestone by the Jews and the other the eyewitness reports of missionaries, travelers and adventures who encountered Jews in Kaifeng in the 18th century and later. Scholars scrutinized both sources and reported many inconsistencies in the eyewitness reports. The inscriptions, however, were a source of puzzlement. The Chinese text posed particular challenges, and scholars had to rely on the translation of Bishop Charles White, a missionary who resided in China for forty years and had a good command of the Chinese language but little knowledge of Judaism. Weisz’s new annotated translation of the Chinese text identifies many biblical sources veiled in the intricacies of the Chinese language. This article is a summary of his findings.

What are the Kaifeng stone inscriptions and why are they important? Why the need for a new translation? And most important of all, is there anything that the inscriptions tell us about ancient Judaism that can serve as a lesson for today? These are just some of the questions that any sophisticated reader today has on his or her mind when thinking of the ancient stone carvings that the Jews in China engraved over five hundred years ago. For one thing, after living in China for over fifteen hundred years [1] devoid of any contact with other Jewish communities, the Chinese Jews felt that their community was on the verge of extinction. They were determined to record their existence in China and remind future generations that at one time some Jews played an important role in Chinese society: some acquired an education and competed in the examination system to become scholars; others earned the highest academic degrees to become officials and gained respect in the society. There we
re also prominent shopkeepers, artisans, traders and military officers.
But acceptance into Chinese society came at the expense of Judaism. Though the Chinese had never exerted any pressure on the Jews, or on any other minorities to convert, the social structure of Chinese society put enormous demands on the Jews and required them to accept and act according to local customs. The Confucian ethical code may have seemed to be compatible with many tenets of the Torah, but it was so inflexible as to accept nothing less than complete compliance. In addition, the rigid administrative system caused further erosion of the Jewish lifestyle. To climb the administrative and social ladder, Jews needed to devote considerable time and effort to the study of the Chinese classics. [2] All this came at the expense of study of the Torah. When the Jews felt that the end was near, they pooled their resources and inscribed their religious beliefs on a stele that was erected in the second year of the Hongzhi period, the equivalent of 1489. This was perhaps the most com
prehensive and informative of the inscriptions, but to our disappointment it was long on rituals and short on historical details. This stele can be seen today encased in glass in the Kaifeng Museum of Jewish History. It is five feet tall, about thirty inches wide and about five inches thick, made of dark grey limestone and sits on a base that is about twenty inches high. Some of the Chinese characters are still decipherable; others are so faded that it is hard to read them. This inscription contains about 1800 characters. Its content is divided into three sections, the first telling us about the Chinese version of the biblical story of Abraham and how the religion was born. The second section tells us about the rituals and worship of the Chinese Jews at that time. The third segment recounts the imperial audience that was handed down in oral tradition. [3] Each segment seems to be composed by someone knowledgeable in his field. On the back of this stele is another inscription
dated the Chinese equivalent of 1512, consisting of over 1000 characters. This inscription was composed by a Jew or someone who knew about Judaism. He stated that Judaism would not exist without the Torah. This inscription was perhaps the most puzzling to scholars as it appeared to contain no historical indicators and therefore was considered of very limited historical value. But from a Jewish perspective, it provided a wealth of information about the life of the Jews at the time. It constantly compared Judaism with Confucianism, perhaps the first ever attempt to compare the two cultures.
The other stele was dated the equivalent of 1663 on one side and has not been seen since its disappearance from the gate of the Anglican Church where it had been placed by Bishop White in 1912. [4] On the obverse side is engraved an incomplete text that appears to be the middle section of a text that largely pays tribute to the Jews who contributed to the restoration of the temple. This stele, according to White, is about two feet taller than the earlier stele. Fortunately, Bishop White preserved an ink rubbing that is reproduced in his book Chinese Jews. [5] Side one contains about 2200 characters written by a non-Jew who had Jewish friends or neighbors and made some very interesting observations about Jewish customs and rituals. It provided more historical details regarding the temple and the community in action. The composer also pointed out many similarities between Judaism and Confucianism. The reverse side of this stele is an acknowledgment of those Jews who had contributed to the restoration of the temple and the community. Since the introduction and the ending are missing, we have no way of dating it so by default it was dated 1663b, though it is more likely that it was composed at a later period.
The Chinese Repository [6] published a translation of the 1489 and 1512 inscriptions and Bishop Charles White improved it with his own translation in the 1940s. In addition, he also annotated the text, identified some of the Chinese sources and expressed his surprise that the inscriptions contained no biblical references. That was, as far as I know, the last English translation of the stele and it became the accepted, if not the “official” guide to the inscriptions. Many scholars and researchers intrigued by the topic of the “orphaned colony” [7] of the Chinese Jews published articles and books on the subject, basing their research on White’s translation. Then in 1972 Donald Leslie, an Australian scholar, published a monograph, The Survival of the Chinese Jews, [8] that was intended to be a definitive resource book about the Jews in China. It dealt with the many facets of the Jewish presence in China, and it incorporated many new details derived from local gazetteers
but, as far as the inscriptions were concerned, White’s translation was the standard. Leslie also agreed with White’s conclusion that “we hardly find passages from the Jewish Law translated into Chinese” (Leslie, p. 102), and expressed his frustration that the inscriptions lacked any solid historical landmarks. He attached little importance to the 1663a inscription as most of the material seemed to be addressed in the 1489 stele. He also wondered why the 1512 inscription was written. I addressed these issues and reported my preliminary findings in two articles published in Points East, a newsletter of the Sino-Judaic Institute. [9]
So why was there a need for a new translation? Differences of opinion would not justify such an endeavor, but when inaccuracies and mistranslation of characters went undetected for almost a century, that prompted me to take a closer look at the Chinese text. I came upon those errors while researching my book on a comparative cultural study of Judaism and China. A literary analysis of Chinese and Hebrew sources pointed to an indirect but unmistakable link between the land of Israel and China as early as the seventh century BCE. The wisdom of Solomon (965-926 BCE) had reached the ears of Laozi[10] (604-531 BCE), the composer of a five-thousand-character book called the Daodejing [The Annals of the Way and Virtue] and, in some ways, comparable to biblical wisdom literature. How did Laozi incorporate biblical literature into the Daodejing?[11] This prompted me to re-examine the stone inscriptions with a Jewish and Chinese historical context in mind. To my disappointment, neither
Western nor Chinese literature published on the Chinese Jews correlated the inscriptions to any historical context, let alone in to a Jewish context. I asked myself, why not? The obvious reason could be that the original text did not contain history, and the uninterrupted and unpunctuated text left us a story that we did not understand. Some of the style was standard Chinese but some extended segments contained irregular grammatical structures that appeared completely meaningless and incomprehensible. Could it be that those segments held the key to the inscriptions? They puzzled researchers and went unexplained until now.
To start with, I broke the Chinese text into individual phrases and sentences and set each phrase on a new line. The key was in the details and I kept an open mind to every possibility. The text contained many parallel structures and incomplete quotes that I found to be traceable. As I traced those quotes to their source, I started to get a picture that was very different from any previously translated texts. The 1489 inscriptions, for instance, revealed three different styles that I attributed to three different composers. I made a note of this in the introductory chapter on the “Testimony of the Inscriptions” (p. xix) in my book The Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions. Then the style of the1512 inscription reminded me of the writing of some Chinese neo-Confucians that depicted a tapestry of daily life in China. But the real revelation came when I realized that the last segment of the 1512 inscription resembled a Hebrew prayer. This particular segment puzzled many scholars because it contained a peculiar structure that hardly related to anything. It portrayed a vision and since it invoked the name of Heaven, I realized that it was a prayer. And indeed when I juxtaposed it with the Hebrew prayer book, I realized that it was the Chinese version of the Amida, a prayer that the Chinese Jews had memorized and, as time passed, composed their own version. Nevertheless it was the Eighteen Benedictions. This information also shed some light on the antiquity of the Jews in China: the text emulated a pre-Yavneh version composed in exile by members of the Great Assembly (Knesset Hagdola ca. 500-300 BCE). It did not include the birkat haminim (benediction against the heretics) or the nineteenth benediction which was added later, in the first century CE. I also realized that the English language compounded the problem. The Chinese Jews did not know English or any other Western languages, and they handed down the prayer through oral tradition in the original
Hebrew. As time passed they remembered less of the Hebrew but still remembered the spirit of the Amida and composed a Chinese version. The Chinese Jews added the text of the prayers to remind future generations of their tradition.[12]
The 1663a inscription confirmed my findings. It was composed by a non-Jew who described either what he had seen or what he had been told by his Jewish neighbors. Like the previous inscriptions, the 1663a stele described the rituals but, unlike the other stele, did not repeat the actual words of the prayers. The reason: the composer was a bystander who neither knew the prayers nor understood them. He jotted down his observations and noted that the Jews prayed three times a day and that was “when man was to see Heaven”. What he added after this observation was interesting. He recapped what he had heard the Jews say or chant at the conclusion of the ceremonies and when I juxtaposed this with the Hebrew text, I realized that it was the pronouncement of the birkat hakohanim [Priestly Blessing]. That custom was prevalent during the Temple periods when the kohen hagadol [high priest] performed the sacrificial rites. Then he would come down from the altar and, raising his hands over the whole assembly of Israel, pronounce the Priestly Blessing or the birkat hakohanim (Numbers 6:24-26). Though the words in the inscriptions were Confucian in nature, the structure and the intent coincided with the biblical Hebrew version. Another interesting aspect of this inscription was the composer’s descriptions of some of the practices of the Jews that corresponded to similar practices in China. He often quoted from Chinese literature to show that the Jews practiced something that was not too different from the Chinese. Inadvertently, he created the first comparative study of Judaism and China.
Long on rites and prayers and short on history, the inscriptions seemed to be of little historical significance. None of them elaborated on the past or on how and when the Jews settled in China. The little they did say about their past was hard to corroborate and their origin was shrouded in mystery. Even more puzzling was the fact that they mentioned an audience with a Song emperor (960-1279) without further explanation. This sentence became critical in recreating the history of the community, and unfortunately, a mistranslation diverted the attention of scholars who then built on the incorrect translation. Once I corrected the translation, the text displayed evidence of the roots of the community that could be traced to antiquity and their history could be corroborated by both biblical and Chinese sources. After captivity and exile, a group of Levites and kohanim [priests] left Babylon and wandered eastwards,[13] first heading toward India where they stayed for several generations. Later, after several more generations, the descendants continued their journey northwards where they came across a place that answered a biblical description. (Psalms 104:8-10). Being devout believers, they saw a biblical prophecy come true. They settled there and lived in isolation for several more generations until they were accidentally discovered by a Chinese military expedition in 108 BCE.[14] They would have stayed anonymous had not General Li Guangli left us a sentence describing their appearance as strange. That description was deemed insignificant in the massive amount of Chinese annals and very few scholars paid any attention to it. But from a biblical point of view that description depicted the (distinguished) headdress of observant Jews who lived by the precepts of the Torah. When the Chinese army withdrew from the Western Regions,[15] they encouraged the more domesticated tribes to come and live under the protection of the Chinese administration. For China this was a policy of pacification, the tribes would serve as a buffer zone between them and the Huns, and at the same time the settlers would be exposed to the Chinese culture. This was the first step of sinicization. Many, if not most of the domesticated tribes preferred the protection of the Chinese to the uncertainty and unpredictability of the Tatars. They migrated and settled in the area of Gansu Province of today. At the beginning of the second century CE, when the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) started to disintegrate, the Chinese abandoned the Western Regions and the settlers followed their journey unobstructed into the heartland of China. Thus the descendants of the isolated Jewish community, who left Babylon several centuries earlier and established a settlement at the outskirts of the Taklamakan Desert, found itself migrating again, this time into China proper. Based on the reading of the inscriptions, part of the community remained in the Gansu area while others dispersed to other regions. With the rising anti- Buddhist sentiments in the Tang Dynasty (609-960 CE), the Jews joined the mass exodus of religions out of China and went back to the Western Regions. Then, at the invitation of Emperor Taizong (976-998), the second Song emperor, the Jews returned to China and were bestowed land to build their place of worship.[16] They remained in obscurity until 1605 when Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit missionary, reported an encounter with a Chinese Jew in Beijing. Later missionaries also confirmed the existence of the community, but the strongest evidence of the legacy of the Jews in China was contained in the stone inscriptions.
Three of the four inscriptions were dedicated to the rebuilding of the temple. The community went to extraordinary lengths to preserve and restore the temple and one may wonder: what was so important about the temple to deserve such dedication? Reading the existing literature, the impression is that it was an ordinary synagogue: it functioned as a place of worship and community center. But when the text was juxtaposed with biblical history, it revealed that the temple played a far more important role. The Jews in China continued the biblical tradition that accorded the servicing of the temple to the Levites and kohanim (priests) who performed the rituals that were associated with the First Temple (960- 586 BCE). The temple became the focal point of the community. Besides being used as a place of worship and sacrifice, it was also a source of pride that provided the Jews a sense of belonging, and they attributed their long survival to the Temple. In the absence of the temple,
the function of the kohanim would have ceased to exist and the community would have vanished without a trace. In addition, the temple work (avodat kodesh) supplemented the income of the kohanim who received a salary from local sources and from teaching. Each time the temple was destroyed, the kohanim lost this source of income and they could barely provide the necessary services to keep the community together. After each disaster, the community lost members and some of them dispersed never to return. To rectify this situation, the entire Jewish community in China contributed resources to rebuild the temple. Some contributed their salary; others contributed labor, while the kohanim contributed their skill to restore the scriptures.
Each time the temple was rebuilt it was in Kaifeng, even though that city ceased to be the seat of the Chinese emperor after 1126 CE. The Chinese court relocated to Hangzhou to establish the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), and Kaifeng became the abandoned capital. Yet the Chinese Jews built and rebuilt the Temple in Kaifeng. Why? From a Jewish perspective, the events that led to the destruction and the fall of Kaifeng and the subsequent fall of the dynasty in 1126 CE were reminiscent of the Jewish experience in antiquity. The First Temple that was built by King Solomon in ca. 960 BCE was looted and destroyed along with the sacred city (Jerusalem) in 586 BCE. That also brought an end to the Kingdom of Israel, the Ten Tribes being led into exile. Seventy years later, Ezra, the last prophet that the Chinese Jews mentioned, rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem and asked the exiles to return. These events were ingrained in the mind of the Chinese Jews, and they viewed the conditions in China at the time (ca. 1100-1163 CE) as a prophecy come true. Their own times mirrored the events that led to the exile of their distant ancestors in the Land of Canaan. Kaifeng suffered the same fate as Jerusalem: it was destroyed the course of conquest, the Chinese emperor was driven into exile and the dynasty fell into the hands of the Jurchen “barbarians” who established the Qin Dynasty. The Temple in Kaifeng became the symbol of Jewish persistence in China, directly epitomizing their fate and indirectly the fate of the sacred city, Jerusalem. Equipped with the biblical blueprint of the Temple envisioned in Ezekiel, it was completed in 1163 and was modeled to be as imposing as the Bet Hamikdash [Temple].
In light of the new translation and readings of the inscriptions it is evident that the orphaned colony was Jewish in origin with roots that went back to the exile period. Does that mean that the Jews in Kaifeng today and their offspring are Jewish? Efforts were made by some Jewish organizations to recognize them as Jews but most of the Jewish authorities refused to recognize them as such. Their objection is based on the halacha [law] that says that every male Jew must be circumcised on the eighth day after birth (or after conversion), and follow the dietary laws of the Torah. A further obstacle was imposed by the “Who is a Jew” clause that stated that a Jew is a Jew only if born to a Jewish woman. Since none of these conditions prevailed, they are not Jews. The former commandment was biblical in nature while the latter one was halakhic, meaning that it originated in the Oral Law. Since they could not perform circumcision safely, they had to abandon that practice. The 151
2 inscription indicated that the Jews in China made every effort to follow the biblical commandment of the dietary laws. And since marrying a foreign woman was not a biblical precept, the Chinese Jews continued the tradition that was widely practiced in exile. They followed a tradition that was pre-rabbinic, and they had never heard of any development in Judaism that was post-exilic. The halacha started to develop after Ezra returned to Jerusalem and did not become the Oral Law until several centuries later, by which time the Chinese Jews had already been isolated for generations. They had never heard of Mishna, Midrash, Talmud etc., such terms being unfamiliar to them. They were unaware of the split between Judaism and Christianity, still calling themselves Israelites. In a sense we have a pure sect of observant Jews that lived according to the precepts of the Torah and not the oral tradition. Circumstances forced them to adapt to the environment, and to maintain their beliefs, formulating their own halakha incorporating many of the local customs. They did the same thing that our sages did in Jerusalem, Babylon and the Diaspora: they developed a set of rules that accorded with the local conditions without compromising the sanctity of the Torah. They followed their own halacha for over 1500 years in isolation and, even as late as the 18th century, when the missionaries encountered the Jews of Kaifeng, were still living by the same precepts. They never abandoned the ways of the Torah and never ceased to believe in Elokim; they built and rebuilt the temple, the symbol of their existence, and the Kaifeng Jews left the stone inscriptions so that future generations might know how to be a Jew in the sea of Chinese culture.

About the Author
Tiberiu Weisz, M.A. is a “cultural bridge builder” between Judaism and China. He is fluent in both Hebrew and Chinese and author of The Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions: The Legacy of the Jewish Community in Ancient China (iUniverse, Inc. 2006). Currently he is working on his book: The Covenant and the Mandate of Heaven: An In-depth Comparative Cultural Study of Judaism and China (scheduled for publication in 2007).

© Covenant - Global Jewish Magazine 2007

[1] The consensus among scholars was that the Jews settled in China in the early Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE), which would make them relative newcomers to China. However, in my book: The Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions: The Legacy of the Jewish Community in Ancient China. iUniverse, Inc., 2006 I have shown that the Jews settled in China proper as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE).

[2] The Jews had to master the Four Books: The Analects of Confucius, The Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean and The Works of Mencius. They also displayed competency of the Liji, [Book of Rites], an ancient text that incorporated similar topics to the Torah including the Book of Filial Piety, Book of History, Book of Poetry, etc. In addition, they also had to master the interpretations of the classics by the neo- Confucian philosopher Zhuxi (1130-1200 CE), the Chinese Rambam

[3] This distinction was not evident in any previous translations. This inscription was written by three people at different times and different places. The section about the imperial audience, its meaning and ramification is presented here for the first time in a historical context. Among other things, it provides us an insight of what the Chinese Jews knew about Chinese etiquette and customs.
[4] Bishop William Charles White was a missionary for the Anglican Church who went to China in 1897 and worked there for forty years, living in Kaifeng for twenty-five years, and returned to Canada in 1934. He was an accomplished archeologist and linguist, and later worked with the Royal Ontario Museum
[5] William White, Chinese Jews: A Compilation of Matters Relating to the Jews of Kaifeng Fu, (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1942; 1966).
[6] Bishop George Smith, “Visit to the Jews in Hunan: A Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jewish Synagogue of Kaifeng fu,on behalf of the London Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews.” Chinese Repository, Vol. IV, Shanghai, 1851.
[7] This term is borrowed from James Finn, The Orphan Colony of the Jews in China. London 1872.
[8] Donald Daniel Leslie, The Survival of the Chinese Jews. Monographies du T’ong Pao, Vol. X . Leiden: Brill, 1972.
[9]Tiberiu Weisz, “Jewish Settlement in Han China,” Points East, 18:2 (July 2003), and “Life of the Jews in China According to the 1512 Stone Inscription,” Points East, 18:3 (Nov. 2003).
[10] Laozi was one of the sage philosophers in ancient China and his influence was equal to that of Confucius. He was the founder of the Daosit school of thought which became one of the three principal religions in China, and was on a par with Confucianism and Buddhism.
[11] This topic is dealt with in detail in my forthcoming book, The Covenant and the Mandate of Heaven: An In-depth Comparative Cultural History of Judaism and China (ms., anticipated publication 2007).
[12] The last segment of the 1512 inscription contained the Chinese version of the Amida (see Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions, pp. 29-30)
[13] Graetz, H. History of the Jews, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1902. (6 vols.)
[14] Jian Bozan, Qin Han Shi [History of the Qin and Han] Taibei, Taiwan: Yunlong Publishing, 2003. (Copyright Beijing University Press, 1999) (Chinese).
[15] The Western Regions (Xiyu in Chinese) is roughly the area of today’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region in NW China. The Silk Route passed through it.
[16] Some of the Chinese Jews still claim today that they had owned land in antiquity. The book, Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions traces that claim to the returning Jews and the imperial audience.

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Many years ago, I wrote about the Aviva Glixman Landsman wedding where the father of the bride drove from FL to NY to catch the first EL AL flight out to Israel after 9/11 and how we ate the meal before the plan landed and my son drove the father, David, to the Chupa close to midnight. Well it was not the only wedding that things got botched up.

From Michelle N. Muslim terrorists in NY:


(Davie, FL) This week, the Chairman of Americans Against Hate (AAH), Joe Kaufman, had a telephone conversation with the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Davie, Florida, Braulio Rosa, explaining to Rosa why his town should act immediately to remove a sign that Broward County and Davie awarded to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a terrorist-associated organization.

Kaufman told him that, at this Friday’s upcoming Fort Lauderdale rally about the CAIR sign, Kaufman and his group would rather praise the town for removing the sign, than criticize the town for refusing to do so, as is planned.

However, Braulio said that, on the grounds of free speech, the sign would not be removed, and he used the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) as an example. Kaufman told him that it is not an issue of free speech, but an issue of terrorism, because, while CAIR is a hate group like the KKK, it is also a group that was founded by Hamas, an organization that has targeted and murdered innocent civilians, including Americans, with the most violent of means. According to the U.S. Justice Department, CAIR has been involved in the financing of Hamas.

Kaufman sent an e-mail to Rosa detailing CAIR’s ties to Hamas and global Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook and called on Davie not to be weak with regard to the subject of terrorism. In his correspondence, Kaufman stated, “Please remove the sign, as it a symbol of Broward County’s and the town of Davie’s weakness and reluctance to deal properly with the issue of terrorism.”

I wanted to attend the event which was held in the rain but my area of FL was having a torrential rainstorm at the time and road flooding. Joe and Emily Kaufman organized the event and he was interview on WIOD Radio the day that the protest occurred.


The viruses work as follows. Aleph sends to Bet a 'gift or Trojan' from the applications flowers. Bet then downloads the application. If bet does not have a good anti-virus, he/she sends you a msg on FB - wow click this link. Or Rabbi so and so sends me a link saying "great exy pictures" I know that this person has been infected.

Measure for measure:,7340,L-3824465,00.html

The word Peace and recognition of Israel is not in their vocabulary:


Lukas brought to my attention this article by Gil Ronen of the terrorist murder of a father of 7:

Now for Mr. M. Wolfberg’s Good Shabbos Story – Smoke Out

Good Shabbos Everyone. The Torah in this week’s portion Vayigash tells us about the emotional reunion between Yosef and his brothers. During his opening remarks to his brothers, Yosef refers to the divine intervention which brought about the unusual set of circumstances of the reunion, namely, that Yakov’s sons had come to Egypt to ask for food from their long-last brother whom they had sold into slavery many years earlier.
The verse quotes Yosef as saying, “Thus Hashem has sent me ahead of you to insure your survival in the land and to sustain you for a momentous deliverance.” (Beresheis 45:7) We see from here Yosef’s recognition of the concept of Hashgacha Pratis – divine intervention, which is one of the foundations of Jewish belief. As the Rambam teaches us in the first of his 13 Principles of Faith: “I believe in perfect faith that the Creator blessed is His Name, is the Creator and the Guider of all creations…”
Believing in Hashgacha Pratius – divine intervention means believing that Hashem guides even the minutest details of the universe. From this belief stems the belief that life is not random. Rather, everything that happens in life is for a purpose.
Once, one of the Baal Shem Tov’s students noticed that a leaf had fallen from a tree in the distance. The student asked the Baal Shem Tov about the significance of this occurrence; why did Hashem cause the leaf to fall? The Baal Shem Tov instructed his student to lift up the leaf, which the student did. Under the leaf was a caterpillar. Now the student understood the reason why the leaf had fallen; the leaf fell in order to provide shade for the caterpillar.
Another outgrowth of our belief in Hashgacha Pratius – divine intervention, is that everything that Hashem does is ultimately for the best. Although this belief may at times seem hard to internalize, it is a belief that is basic to Judaism. Because, if everything that happens in life is not for the best, then what is the purpose of Hashem creating this world? Hashem could have saved us the anguish and not created the world in the first place.
Let us now tell a moving story which illustrates the exact calculations with which Hashem guides the world.
The young man's name was Lazlo, or as his father called him, Ezra. His father was one of the most famous maggidim (Jewish inspirational speakers) in Budapest and traveled throughout Hungary holding drashos (inspirational speeches) in every Jewish community.
One day, in the maggid's home town, the tailor died. He had been a simple but deeply religious man, yet his son Moshe, who worked alongside him, had no religious convictions at all. Nevertheless, out of respect for his father, Moshe sat shivah (the mourning period of seven days).
During the week of shiva, Ezra's father, the maggid, went to pay a condolence call on Moshe. Little nine-year-old Ezra tagged along. When the maggid walked into the room where Moshe was sitting alone, Moshe was stunned. Everyone knew that Moshe was a rebellious lad and few in the community had much to do with him. That the esteemed maggid came and consoled him during his time of mourning, and then spent time chatting with him, was truly remarkable.
A day later the maggid came again. Moshe sat and listened attentively as the maggid said softly, "I think, for your father's honor, it would be nice if you would come to shul to say Kaddish." To everyone's surprise, Moshe agreed.
Throughout the months, as Moshe continued coming to shul, the maggid slowly began having a calming influence on the young man. At first they discussed Jewish concepts and attitudes and then they began to study together.
By year's end Moshe had become a religious man. With a rekindled spirit that burned enthusiastically, Moshe began performing mitzvos with a fervor that left very little tolerance for those less committed than himself. In shul it was he who would demand that others refrain from talking during the services, unlike past years, when people had silenced him constantly on the few occasions that he came to shul with his father. Eventually everyone got to know Moshe the schneider (tailor) as a man in whose presence one would dare not violate a mitzvah.
Two years later, the German barbarians overran their Hungarian town, and the Jews were taken to forced-labor camps. Moshe the tailor was swept off the streets as were the maggid and his son Ezra.
Together with multitudes of other frightened Jews they were crammed into the tightest quarters imaginable. With calculated cruelty, the Nazis tore children from parents — and that was the last time little Ezra, now twelve years old, ever saw his father. Ezra was placed in bunks together with other children his age, and soon began to pick up their bad habits and corrupt behavior, in the daily struggle for survival. Any religious commitment that he had before the war slowly began to ebb away as he battled to stay alive in any way he could, even if it meant cheating, lying, or stealing. Like everyone else he suffered from malnutrition and indecent living conditions, but together with a tight group of friends, managed to persist and survive.
When the horror finally ended, the feeble remnants of the Holocaust had to be taken to rehabilitation areas where they were slowly re-acclimated to normal foods and regular living conditions. Many could not eat solid meat, and it had to be ground so that their bodies could slowly relearn the process of digesting heavy foods.
The facility in which Ezra found himself was located high on a hill overlooking the city. The only way to get to the downtown area was to take a trolley down the long hill.
One Friday night, Tomas, a friend from another camp, suggested to Ezra (now called Lazlo) that they go downtown to enjoy themselves. They had begun to feel like human beings once again and Tomas said it would be interesting to see nightlife in the city. Ezra was in a dilemma, for in the rehabilitation camp he had begun to think about going back to the religious practices of his father.
In the labor camps it had been an insurmountable challenge for Lazlo to be observant, but now that he was back in civilization, perhaps it was time to return. He knew that the trolley was the only feasible way to town but that was an open violation of Shabbos. True he had been very lax these last years, but now that he was on his own, he was trying to become observant again.
"Have a cigarette," Tomas said, offering one to Lazlo. In an automatic reflex Lazlo stuck out his hand to accept it. The cigarette trembled in his hand. He wondered if Tomas noticed it. He wanted to throw it away because it was Shabbos, but he could not do so, not in front of his good friend Tomas. He thought that if he inhaled his first puff, he would surely choke on it. He was going to have to make a decision: would he make the return to a religious lifestyle now, or never?
Before he could organize his thoughts, Tomas lit a match and held it to Lazlo's cigarette. Lazlo put the cigarette in his mouth, bent forward, squinted as the flame caught on the tip, and inhaled slowly. It felt good. He was going downtown. Laughing nervously, they both got onto the trolley and began planning their night out.
The trolley rolled into the brightly lit town, while Ezra stood away from the window, hoping that no one he knew would see him. And then he saw him. It couldn't be! But it was, Moshe the Schneider - tailor, walking alone!
Ezra's stomach tightened. He recalled the first visit he and his late father, the maggid, had made to Moshe's home on a shiva call. Then he remembered Moshe reprimanding people in Schul to be more respectful during prayers, and he said to himself firmly, "I will never allow the man whom my father made religious to see that his son has become a irreligious." And with that newly formed resolution, he got off the trolley at the next stop, walked all the way back up the hill to the rehabilitation camp and has remained an observant Jew to this very day. (The Maggid Speaks, p.114 Rabbi Paysach Krohn)
Hashem created this world for our benefit. Therefore, Hashem guides this world with an exact calculation. By recognizing these eternal truths, we will all live happier lives. Good Shabbos Everyone.

Mr. Wolfberg’s Shabbos sponsored by: Refuah Shleima to Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah

In memory of Shosha Malka bas R' Avrohom 21 Cheshvan Refuah Shleimah to Chana Ashayra bas Dodi

Have a great Shabbos and a purposely 10 B Tevet fast with the proper rains in Israel. Be well,

Rachamim Pauli