Friday, November 5, 2010

The week of Parsha Toldos halacha and stories

This Shabbos is the Yahrzeit of my mother of blessed memory. I dedicate the Torah, Stories and Halacha to bring the soul of my mother to a higher spiritual plane - Charlotte Jacqueline bas Yosef Ha Levy.

A good friend of mine on the prayer listed passed away around the time of the high holidays. Yosef ben Chaya Rash-sha better known to the FL and Chicago communities as Joe Ray soul’s came to rest. He was a devoted Jew, Rabbi, Schochet (ritual slaughterer) active at first in the Democratic Party until it became the party of political correctness and he moved over to remove the Party from power. For years he was the Gabbai of the Grandview Minyan until his leg circulation did not allow him to stand up so long. His love for Eretz Yisrael was expressed by donations and a daughter grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in the Holyland.

Parsha Chaya Sarah

This Parsha is confusing as we start off in the Parsha talking about life and in reality we are talking about the death of Sarah, Avraham and Yishmael in this Parsha. When we speak about Sarah and Avraham we know that they are Tzaddikim and more alive in the next world than in this world. For the soul is bond to the body in this world and can be in only one place at a time but in the next the soul can be active in more than one place. The famous story of 9 men of the Chevron community Erev Rosh Hashanah looking for a Minyan and close to sundown an elderly Jew walks into town just in time to help them out. After Yom Tov, he leaves as quickly as he came. Later in a dream the Gabbai learns that he was Avraham our forefather who came to complete the Minyan of his children who prayed at his grave and kept his town alive.

23:1 And the life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.

And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years: The reason that the word “years” was written after every digit is to tell you that every digit is to be expounded upon individually: when she was one hundred years old, she was like a twenty-year-old regarding sin. Just as a twenty-year-old has not sinned, because she is not liable to punishment, so too when she was one hundred years old, she was without sin. And when she was twenty, she was like a seven-year-old as regards to beauty. — from Gen. Rabbah 58:1]

2 And Sarah died in Kiriat Arba--the same is Hebron--in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

Why the city is called Kiriat Arba because Arba (4) couples who were the foundation of the world are buried: Adam & Chava, Avraham & Sara, Yitzchak and Rivka, Yacov and Leah.

I have been busy with two things this week so what is written this week is short and sweet. The main one was a personal mission for me. I had planned my trip to the United States months ago. A few weeks before I left Israel I contacted HaRav (Firer, Vierer, Fuhrer) Shlita in Bnei Berak regarding the consensus among specialists that I have to undergo a relatively small elective procedure. I have been running around try to schedule it with a tentative date for early Dec. I came up with a date around mid Dec.

This has led to switching flight dates and I have to do something about my rental car etc.

Parsha Toldos

l wanted to bring down a little something and find myself mentally and physically exhausted with no promises for future weeks until I gather my strength together. Perhaps Esav who was only 15 at the time of his exhaustion in our Parsha came close to my 63 year old exhaustion. For a youth is exhausted he needs perhaps drink and little food and some rest and the next day he is a chipper as before but not so an older person.

Mitzvos and Halachos by Danny Shoemann

One is forbidden to shave off the corners of the head of a Jewish male. Even cutting them off with scissors is forbidden. Trimming them is allowed. ("The corners of the head" is the hair that grows in the triangular area from the top of the ear to the forehead to the sideburns all the way to the bottom of the skull near the hole in the ear.) One who shaves off both corners has transgressed twice. The one who does the shaving has transgressed; a woman's "corners" may be shaved, but a woman may not shave a man's "corners". The one being shaved has not transgressed, unless he assists in the process. It is also forbidden to shave a boy's "corners" - even if he is under Bar Mitzva.
Applies to everybody, on males only, everywhere, always Verse: "Do not round off the corners of your heads" (Vayikra 19:27) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 176 P.S. For more details see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 181 and Mishna Berura Vol. 3 page 32; the last Biyur Halacha. סימן רנ"א-ב' - בביאור הלכה ד"ה אפילו מספר ישראל

There are 5 sections of the beard that may not be shaved with a razor. Since we no longer are sure where these 5 places are, it's forbidden to use a razor to shave any part of one's beard. One who shaves his beard with a razor or knife has transgressed 5 times. Trimming or cutting one's beard with scissors is permitted. Applies to men, everywhere, always Verse: "...and do not destroy the corners of your beard" (Vayikra 19:27) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 177 for my upcoming operation, I will have to clip a portion under my goatee part of my beard in the way that the Orthodox use either depilation or an electric shaver

Women are forbidden to wear clothing or jewelry that is specifically for men. A woman may not have a "man's haircut". This Halacha is location-specific; the norm of the place you are in, defines what is "masculine". Applies to women, always, everywhere Verse: "A woman should not wear man's clothing" (Devarim 22:5)
Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 178

Men are forbidden to wear clothing or jewelry that is specifically for women. This Halacha is location-specific; the norm of the place you are in, defines what is feminine.
Included in this prohibition is grooming like women; to look younger than one's age. This includes removing or dyeing white hair from one's beard or head. Applies to men, everywhere, always Verse: "...and men should not wear women's clothing" (Devarim 22:5) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 179

It is forbidden to use an ox and a donkey, to pull a plough or a wagon together. One who does any type of work using a Kosher and a non-Kosher animal at the same time, deserves 39 lashes by Bet Din. Even one who sits in a wagon drawn by an ox and a donkey deserves 39 lashes by Bet Din. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always
Verse: "Do not plough using an ox and a donkey" (Devarim 22:10) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 180

It's forbidden to wear clothes that include both linen and wool from sheep. This mixture is called Shatnez. Even if the wool and linen are tied to opposite ends of a clothing item, it is forbidden to wear the item. One may not cover oneself with Shatnez; woolen blankets may not have linen threads or labels. Even if the Shatnez item is not directly on one's skin it's forbidden; even if one is sleeping under a huge pile of blankets, the top one cannot contain Shatnez. By Rabbinic decree it's also forbidden to sit on Shatnez. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always Verse: "Do not wear Shatnez; wool and linen together." (Devarim 22:11)
Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 181

If one sees an animal that has collapsed under its burden, one may not ignore it and choose not to assist unloading it. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always
Verse: "When seeing the animal collapse under it's burden, you may not ignore it" (Devarim 22:4) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 183

It is forbidden to break a promise; if you promise something you have to keep to it. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always Verse: "One who makes a promise... should not break his promise" (Bamidbar 30:3) Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 184

It's forbidden to delay the fulfillment of a promise. One does not transgress "delaying" until all 3 festivals (Pessach, Shavuos and Sukkos) has gone by. However, when pledging to give Tzeduka, one transgresses "delaying" as soon as one meets someone who deserves to get the charity, or a representative of the institution one pledged the money to. Applies to everybody, everywhere, always Verse: "When you promise... do not delay its fulfillment" (Devarim 23:22)
Source: The Chafetz-Chaim's Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar; Prohibition 185
Example if one is accustomed to give Tzeduka to a charity let us say a dollar a day but in one lump sum every year and one fell upon hard times and gave out more than 10% of his income to charity, he can delay the giving of Tzeduka to the next year and instead of $365 contribute $730 to the charity it might not be the ideal situation but there is a Halachic limit of 20% of income to charity this did not stop some people from giving more.

If you borrow or hire something, you are not allowed to let other people use it, without explicit permission from the original owner. If one knows for a fact that the owner lets this particular person use this item (or similar items) then one can lend or rent the item to that person. Even though it's a Mitzva to let other people use your Sefarim (Torah related books), if you borrow a Sefer you may not let others use it. If one borrows a Sefer for others to use, only one person at a time may use it. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 185:1

Yesterday we learned that if you borrow or hire something, you are not allowed to let other people use it, without explicit permission from the original owner. Money is different. You may lend out money that you borrowed, since the lender does not expect you to return the same coins and bills. However, if you are expected to return those same bills and coins, then you may not lend them to others. For example, if they are collector's items, or they are tied up and you are safeguarding them - not using them as a loan - them you may not let others use them. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 188:1

If somebody gave you an object to look after, then you may not use it without their explicit permission. Even if you are certain that the owner does not mind, it's better not to use it. This is forbidden even if the object will not suffer any wear and tear from being used. Letting other people use the object is absolutely forbidden.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 188:2

If somebody gave you an object to look after, you have to safeguard it in the best possible way for that object; some items need to be locked away, others need to be aerated, etc. Even if you are careless about looking after your own items, you still have to guard other people's items properly. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 188:3

Moving objects that are Muktza is not allowed on Shabbat. One may touch Muktza on Shabbat if it will not move. However, one may not use a tree on Shabbat even if it is solid and will not move; one not climb on it, nor hang from it. One may not hang things onto trees on Shabbat, nor remove items hanging on trees. One may not tie an animal by its leash to a tree on Shabbat. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:60

If you find Jewish property that is obviously lost, you have an obligation to return it to its owner. However, if the object was "put down" and not dropped, then you are not allowed to move it; if you move it you are preventing the owner from finding it. When in doubt, leave it alone, unless you know who the owner is and you will return it to them immediately. Similarly, if you can prevent somebody else's property from being destroyed, damaged or stolen, you have an obligation to do so.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 187:1, 3

Some years the Jewish calendar have 12 months, the rest (7 out of 19) are leap-years with 13 months. This year - 5771 - has 13 months; the 11th month - Shevat - is followed by Adar-I and then Adar-II. Purim is in Adar-II Jewish months alternate between being 29 and 30 days long. However, the months of Mar Cheshvan and Kislev sometimes both have 30 days (a full year), sometimes both have 29 days (a missing year) and sometimes follow the regular order with Mar Cheshvan having 29 days and Kislev 30.
As a result, Chanukah (which starts on 25 Kislev and lasts 8 days) sometimes ends on 2 Tevet and sometimes on 3 Tevet. This year - 5771 - is a "full year" with both Mar Cheshvan and Kislev having 30 days. Adar-I is always 30 days long, even though Shevat is 30 days long. This year - 5751 - is 385 days long, a full 55 weeks. As a result, Pessach will once again start on Tuesday, and Rosh Hashanah will once again be on Thursday-Friday. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 221:4

The day before Rosh Chodesh is called Yom Kippur Kattan. If Rosh Chodesh is on Shabbat or Sunday then Yom Kippur Kattan is on Thursday. In certain communities, Mincha (the afternoon prayers) on Yom Kippur Kattan includes prayers asking for repentance, so as to begin the new month with a "clean slate". Some even have the custom to fast on Yom Kippur Kattan. Tomorrow - Thursday - is Yom Kippur Kattan. Rosh Chodesh Kislev will be on Sunday and Monday.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 97:1, 128:1

This Sunday and Monday is Rosh Chodesh Kislev. When the 3rd Shabbat meal continues into the night, one still inserts Ratzei – רצה during Birkas Hamazon (grace after meals). When one starts a meal on Erev Rosh Chodesh and eats a Kezayis (the size of an olive – 27 cc) of bread after dark, one inserts Yaaleh VeYavo – יעלה ויבוא during Birkas Hamazon. What happens when both of the above happen together? If Rosh Chodesh is on Sunday and one eats a Kezayis of bread after dark during the 3rd Shabbat meal, then one inserts both Ratzei – רצה and Yaaleh VeYavo – יעלה ויבוא during Birkas Hamazon. However, some argue that mentioning both is a contradiction – since Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh aren’t on the same day. Therefore one should be careful not to eat after dark at the 3rd Shabbat meal when Rosh Chodesh is on Sunday.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 44:17
Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov - Danny

Clinically Dead

This was told to Rav Simcha HaCohain Kuk Shlita and he passed in on to others. The person involved had only a minor problem and was recovering nicely until suddenly, an infection set in and the person went from bad to worse to critical in the hospital and was in the ICU and the family was alerted to be prepared for the worst. Suddenly the person felt better and was hovering in the air over his body as the doctors made a frantic effort to keep him alive. He began to fly and then sped towards a great light but his eyes had no touble seeing though it was more powerful than the sun. He heard his Rabbi and congregation praying. The Aharon HaKodesh was open and the Rabbi said that 40 years he never missed a prayer. Still the Neshama was drawn higher and higher and closer to the light. He heard that for 40 years he never missed a Shuir in Schul and the accent slowed down but continued. Finally, the Rav asked the neighbor of the man if he could think of anything nice to say about his neighbor. Then he said, for 40 years, I never heard him speak a bad word about anybody. Suddenly, the Neshama was forced down and was within the body.

A twelve minute Holocaust story thanks to Catherine:!

Another Story:

Shades of the KKK

As an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi I think a Jew should be the last person to be racist - especially in public and I condemn this action in no uncertain terms. If I were KKK member this would be my wet dream: The Kike calling the American Hero Nigger or Schwatze. THE QUESTION REMAINS WHY DID THE MAJOR NETWORKS ALLOW THIS AD. TO RUN?

In the most disgusting races for Congress the Socialist Ron Klein during the last days of the Campaign began posting Racially disgusting advertisements against my friend Lt. Col. US Marines Allen West. Of all the victorious Congress Candidates, the victory last night gives me the greatest pleasure.

From Lenny not related to the above: Jewish Red Neck Rabbi:

Inyanay Diyoma

Nothing new under the sun:,7340,L-3973580,00.html,7340,L-3979444,00.html

From Lyn - Warning Arab Plot to kick Jews off of Facebook:


If you want people to buy in the manufacturing sector then cut taxes lower bureaucracy and let the wage earner bring out demand for local products Michael Kleiner is a good man in this area – I read about this but Lynette suggested that I post this:

Iran courts Egypt:


Synagogues on the alert thanks to mud slime in major cities gathering info:

Iran and the revolution via Gaza:


Watch the Iranian when the Israeli wins:

US targets Al Qaeda in Gaza:

Three Barbaric Judges removed by State Legislature:

From Stephanie K. Subject: Rabin was “Close to Stopping the Oslo Process” by David M. Weinberg Oct 20, 2010 01:59 am
Israel today marks the fifteenth anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s tragic assassination, with the usual festival of left-wing paeans to the Oslo process that Rabin oversaw. But earlier this month, Rabin’s daughter Dalia told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot (Hebrew, Friday October 1; summarized in English in Ynetnews on October 14) that, prior to his assassination, her father might have been close to stopping the Oslo process. “Many people who were close to father told me that on the eve of the murder
he considered stopping the Oslo process because of the terror that was running rampant in the streets, and because he felt that Yasser Arafat was not delivering on his promises. Father after all wasn’t a blind man running forward without thought. I don’t rule out the possibility that he was considering a U-turn, doing a reverse on our side. After all he was someone for whom the national security of the state was sacrosanct and above all.”
In his book The Long Short Way (Yediot Ahronot Press, Hebrew, 2008), Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon wrote that Rabin told him a few weeks before the assassination that, after the next Israeli elections, he (Rabin) was going to ‘set things straight’ with the Oslo process, because Arafat could no longer be trusted. (At the time, Yaalon was chief of IDF Military Intelligence). Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, surmised much the same thing in his award-winning book Yitzhak Rabin and Israel’s National Security (Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center
Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999, pages 149-165). “At the end of 1994, Rabin was very pessimistic about Arafat’s performance…. He told the Knesset on October 3, 1994 that ‘(Arafat’s) results up until now have been far from satisfactory – to use an understatement’… Rabin’s disappointment with the policy, which was not initiated by him but for which he was ultimately responsible, became more and more evident with the passage of time and reflected the public’s wary mood toward the peace process… He did not exclude the possibility that the Oslo agreements might not lead to reconciliation. He was not sure that an agreement on final status issues with the Palestinians could be reached… Yet he was caught in the dynamics of a process no longer fully under his control….” “Rabin wrote in 1979 that ‘there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the risks of peace are preferable by far to the grim certainties that await every nation in war.’ But even when many around him celebrated and were bursting with optimism, he remained the eternal skeptic and pessimist. Only rarely did he project enthusiasm and elation about his political path….” “More often than not,” continues Prof. Inbar, “Rabin expressed his doubts, his qualms about an uncertain future. He perceived an improved strategic environment containing less chances for existential dangers, but he knew that such military challenges still existed. He was unmoved in the belief that an armed peace was the best to which Israel could aspire in the near future. In an interview (in The Jerusalem Post on September 24, 1995) a month and a half before his assassination, Rabin said that for at least the next thirty years, Israel would have to maintain its military strength and not cut the defense budget.” Like the majority of Israelis, then and now, Rabin was willing to take risks and give the peace process a chance, but he remained suspicious of his partners and skeptical about the outcome. This is the true legacy of Yitzhak Rabin, which is worth honoring and remembering today.
View this and other blog posts at

Now for M. Wolfberg’s Surprise Guest and On Parole

Good Shabbos Everyone. In this week's parsha Chayei Sorah, we read about the deaths of Avrohom and Sorah, who were the father and mother of the Jewish people. The Rabbis tell us: "The deeds of fathers are an example for the children." Because we are all children of Avrohom and Sorah, we can learn from their actions.
One of the ways that Avrohom and Sorah distinguished themselves is in the decision they took to go against the cherished ideals of society and to build their own lives based on a belief in the One G-d. For this reason is Avrohom referred to in the Torah as "Ha'Ivri" - "The Hebrew". Rashi explains that the word "Ivri" is related to the root of the word meaning "on the other side."
It is as if Avrohom put himself on the other side of world opinion. The whole world at the time worshipped idols. Yet Avrohom believed in the One G-d. That is why we, the children of Avrohom, are called Hebrews, because we follow in the footsteps of a man who set himself apart from the entire world. Avrohom was not intimidated by the fact that he held a minority opinion. So too can we be inspired by the example of our forefathers and mothers who made the decision to worship Hashem against the popular view at the time.
The following inspirational story will encourage us even more to rededicate our lives to Torah and mitzvahs and the service of Hashem.
After the concluding prayer, Dan quickly walked to the front of the shul in Jerusalem. Dan said "Good Shabbos" to the rabbi and a few other people he knew, and at once made his way toward the back. It was time to get home to make Kiddush for the family. On his way out, a sudden impulse struck him and he turned around to watch the people filing out. His eyes slowly scanned the shul. Was there anyone who needed a place to eat?
Who's that sitting toward the side wall? I know almost everyone here, and I don't believe he's been here before. Thought Dan to himself. Dan approached the young man, scanning him with an experienced eye. Dungarees, backpack, dark skin, curly black hair -- looks Sephardi, maybe Moroccan. He extended his hand in warm welcome. "Good Shabbos. My name is Dan Eisenblatt. Would you like to eat at my house tonight?"
The young man's face broke in an instant from a worried look to a toothy smile. "Yeah, thanks. My name is Machi." The young man picked up his backpack, and together they walked out of the shul. A few minutes later they were all standing around Dan's Shabbos table.
As soon as the family started singing Shalom Aleichem, Dan noticed that his guest wasn't singing along. "Maybe he's shy, or can't sing," he surmised. The guest gave another one of his toothy smiles and followed along, limping badly but obviously trying his best.
Even after the meal began and the guest had relaxed somewhat, he still seemed a bit fidgety and was mostly silent. Dan picked up the signal, kept the conversation general and centered his remarks on the weekly Torah portion, mixed with small talk about current events.
After the fish, Dan noticed his guest leafing through his songbook, apparently looking for something. He asked with a smile, "Is there a song you want to sing? I can help if you're not sure about the tune." The guest's face lit up, a startling change. "There is a song I'd like to sing, but I can't find it here. I really liked what we sang in the synagogue tonight. What was it called? Something 'dodi.'" Dan paused for a moment, on the verge of saying, "It's not usually sung at the table," but then he caught himself. "If that's what the kid wants," he thought, "what's the harm?" Aloud he said, "You mean Lecha Dodi. Wait, let me get you a siddur."
Once they had sung Lecha Dodi, the young man resumed his silence until after the soup, when Dan asked him, "Which song now?" The guest looked embarrassed, but after a bit of encouragement said firmly, "I'd really like to sing Lecha Dodi again." Dan was not really all that surprised when, after the chicken, he asked his guest what song now, and the young man said, "Lecha Dodi, please."
"Don't you want to sing something else?" he suggested gently. His guest blushed and looked down. "I just really like that one," he mumbled. "Just something about it -- I really like it." In all, they must have sung "The Song" eight or nine times. Dan wasn't sure -- he lost count.
Later, when they had a quiet time to talk, Dan said, "I was just wondering, Where are you from?" The boy looked pained, then stared down at the floor and said softly, "Ramallah." Dan's heart skipped a beat. He was sure he'd heard the boy say "Ramallah," a large Arab city in the PLO controlled area north of Jerusalem. He quickly caught himself and then realized that he must have said Ramleh, an Israeli city.
Dan said, "Oh, I have a cousin there. Do you know Ephraim Warner? He lives on Herzl Street." The young man shook his head sadly. "There are no Jews in Ramallah." Dan gasped. He really had said "Ramallah!" His thoughts were racing. Take a deep breath and let's get this straightened out. (In the context of the political history and the current events in Israel, this was a highly unusual occurrence.) Giving his head a quick shake he told the boy, "I'm sorry, I'm a bit confused. And now that I think of it, I haven't even asked your full name. What is it, please?"
The boy looked terrified for a moment, then squared his shoulders and said quietly, "Machmud Ibn-esh-Sharif." Machmud was looking even more terrified now; obviously he could tell what Dan was thinking. Hurriedly he said, "Wait! I'm Jewish. I'm just trying to find out where I belong."
Dan stood there speechless. What could he say? Machmud broke the silence hesitantly: "I was born and grew up in Ramallah. I was taught to hate my Jewish oppressors, and to think that killing them was heroism. But I always had my doubts. I used to sit and wonder, Weren't the Yahud (Jews) people, too? Didn't they have the right to live the same as us? If we are supposed to be good to everyone, how come nobody includes Jews in that? "I asked these questions to my father, and he threw me out of the house. Just like that, with nothing but the clothes on my back.
By then my mind was made up: I was going to run away and live with the Yahud, until I could find out what they were really like." Machmud continued: "I snuck back into the house that night, to get my things and my backpack.
My mother caught me in the middle of packing. She looked pale and upset, but she was quiet and gentle to me, and after while she got me to talk. I told her that I wanted to go live with the Jews for a while and find out what they're really like, and maybe I would even want to convert. "She was turning more and more pale while I said all this, and I thought she was angry, but that was not it. Something else was hurting her, and she whispered, 'You do not have to convert. You already are a Jew.' "I was shocked. My head started spinning, and for a moment I could not speak.
Then I stammered, 'What do you mean?' "'In Judaism,' she told me, 'the religion goes according to the mother. I'm Jewish, so that means you're Jewish.' "I never had any idea my mother was Jewish. I guess she didn't want anyone to know. She sure didn't feel too good about her life because she whispered suddenly, 'I made a mistake by marrying an Arab man. In you, my mistake will be redeemed.' "My mother always talked that way, poetic-like.
She went and dug out some old documents and handed them to me: things like my birth certificate and her old Israeli ID card, so I could prove I was a Jew. I've got them here, but I don't know what to do with them. "My mother hesitated about one piece of paper. Then she said, 'You may as well take this. It is an old photograph of my grandparents, which was taken when they went looking for the grave of some great ancestor of ours. They went up north and found the grave, and that's when this picture was taken.'"
Dan gently put his hand on Machmud's shoulder. Machmud looked up, scared and hopeful at the same time. Dan asked, "Do you have the photo here?" The boy's face lit up. ""Sure! I always carry it with me." He reached in his backpack and pulled out an old, tattered envelope. Dan gingerly took the photo from the envelope, picked up his glasses and looked carefully at it.
The first thing that stood out was the family group: an old-time Sephardi family from the turn of the century. Then he focused on the grave they were standing around. When he read the gravestone inscription, he nearly dropped the photo. He rubbed his eyes to make sure. There was no doubt. This was a grave in the old cemetery in Tzfas, and the inscription identified it as the grave of the great Kabbalist and tzaddik Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz -- the author of "Lecha Dodi."
Dan's voice quivered with excitement as he explained to Machmud who his ancestor was. "He was a contemporary of the Arizal, a great Torah scholar, a tzaddik, a mystic. And Machmud, your ancestor wrote that song we were singing all Shabbos: Lecha Dodi!" This time it was Machmud's turn to be struck speechless.
Dan slowly stood up, still in awe about what had happened. He extended his trembling hand and said, "Welcome home, Machmud. Now how about picking a new name for yourself?" (From: Monsey, Kiryat Sefer, and Beyond, Reb Zev Roth, the names have been changed. verified by Reb Mordechai Neugroschel, who heard it from the host himself.)
Machmud surely risked his life to take the path that he did. Through Machmud's heroism we are reminded of the characteristics of Avrohom and Sorah, who put themselves on the other side of world opinion. When we see the self-sacrifice that one Jew went through in order to observe his faith, we can be inspired to put even more effort into our own service of Hashem. Good Shabbos Everyone.


Good Shabbos Everyone. In this week's parsha Toldos, we read about the blessings which Yitzchok blessed his son Yaakov. These blessings apply, of course, not only to Yaakov but also to the Jewish people for eternity. One of the blessings is "Cursed is everyone who curses you, and blessed is everyone that blesses you." (Bereishis 27:29) As more details on the story of an Arab ex-convict on his way to converting to Judaism are revealed, the more astonishing it becomes. The following true story which is currently on-going, will inspire us all to see the great lengths non-Jews are going through to join the blessed nation.
Yaniv Ben-David, an Arab from the territories and Haifa whose official name until recently was Busmon Abu-Ras, found Judaism and Hashem while serving a 12-year term in prison. The full miraculous story has come out in three interviews, including one with Arutz-7’s Hizky Ezra and another on Radio Kol Chai with the head of the Civil Administration, Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, known as "Poli."
Yaniv’s speech is liberally sprinkled with “May Hashem’s Name be blessed” and the like, as if he had grown up all his life in a traditional Sephardic neighborhood. But in actuality, his story is very different. Without getting into details, he explains that he became involved in criminal activity of which today he is very ashamed, but that once in jail, no one in his family ever visited him. “My crime was not related to terrorism, Heaven forbid, chas veshalom,” he says, “but I don’t want to discuss it.”
“Some of the Jews in prison with me,” he relates, “began talking to me, and said things like, ‘There’s something special about you, something that doesn’t seem to belong to that world that you came from... You seem to have a spark of Jewishness... Specifically, one very special guy began teaching me about Judaism, and little by little, I began to enter the world of holiness and Torah and the Chosen Nation, etc., may Hashem’s Name be blessed...”
At the same time, however, that he was undergoing changes in his religious outlook and identity, the prison authorities were preparing him for another change: Early release from jail, back into the areas of the so-called "Palestinian Authority" – where he knew there were many who would seek to kill him for his connections with Jews and Israelis.
Here’s where Providence stepped in. Gen. Mordechai relates: “I was driving shortly before midnight on Route 443 to Modiin where I live, when I saw a strange sight at the checkpoint, and I stopped; apparently, everything is truly from Heaven. I saw this young man, Yaniv, crying and sobbing at the checkpoint, and he told me an amazing story – of how he had come close to Judaism while in prison, and how all his requests and pleas to be recognized as a former prisoner whose life would be endangered in the PA were turned down, including from the Supreme Court. I had trouble believing this, but I saw him quoting Biblical verses and all... Meanwhile, he was stuck at the checkpoint; the soldiers wouldn't let him cross, and he refused to enter the PA. I did some quick checking with the social worker in the prison and with the prison rabbi, and they said very complimentary things about him, such as that he had been released for good behavior, and how sincere he was... I had no immediate solution for him, but I was able to have him brought to a nearby IDF base for a couple of days, and then, after some not-simple struggles with the Shabak and other bodies, we were able to find a place for him...”
Yaniv is now studying and living at a yeshiva in Jerusalem, whose name and location he will not disclose.

Both Gen. Mordechai and Yaniv do not cease to express their amazement at the Divine providence of the story. Yaniv said, “Poli is truly an agent of Hashem, blessed be His Name, sent specifically to save me. He is a true tzaddik [righteous person]...” Asked what he would have done had Poli not happened by at that time, he said, “I would have waited there all night, and put on my tefillin in the morning...”
“I was standing there at the checkpoint, I saw two Arabs coming close to me – I was afraid not only for my life, but even more that maybe they would take my tefillin! For them to take my holiness, the holiness of Hashem, I couldn’t take it!.. But I said, If Hashem wants me to put on tefillin next to these Arabs, I’ll do it! I stood and screamed out, Shma Yisrael, Hear O Israel, Hashem is our Hashem, Hashem is One!”
“...And then Hashem sent Poli to save me. I had already been rejected by all the courts, and I went to the synagogue and said, ‘Hashem, thank You for all you have given me – the good and the bad. If this is Your will, that I return and have to die for the Sanctification of Your Name, then I’ll do it... But Hashem sent the general Poli; Hashem never abandons anyone who doesn’t abandon Him, Blessed be His Name forever.”
Yaniv, who is towards the end of his formal conversion process, says he does not know exactly when he will become an official Jew. "Meanwhile, I'm enjoying learning Talmud, praying, etc... When I pray the Amidah, it is not from this world; I see lights..." He acted as the gabbai (sexton) of the prison synagogue. “Gathering people for the prayers, setting up the prayer books – this is where I feel my holiness, this is my blood, this is my life, nothing else, may Hashem’s Name be blessed.”
He related, as well, that he was forced to withstand many difficult situations in prison: “Hashem sent me many tests, but I believe that, with His help, may He be blessed, I was able to stand up to them.” On the day of his release, the deputy commander of the prison, a Bedouin, wanted to cut off his peyos - sidelocks – customarily grown long by religious Jews. “I told him, without fear: You can kill me, you can do anything you want – but no one will ever touch my payos, my holiness. I didn’t care about anything; it was unthinkable that I would lose my holiness, my payos... How could it be that someone wanted to take my holiness!”
Yaniv related that when he first began to observe Jewish customs in jail, “there were some goyim there [Arabs] who mocked me, and even threatened me. I couldn’t understand those people, that nation: I find something for my soul, why should they care? ... But I was not afraid. I felt that I would rather die to sanctify Hashem's name, than not be observant.”
He said that he hopes to continue studying in Yeshiva, and in the future, to possibly give lectures about Judaism and Torah: “The Jewish people – for some reason, I just don’t know why - many of these holy people don’t observe Hashem’s will. I hope I can help them to truly return to Hashem, and bring the Messiah – who is here, by the way; as soon as everyone observes two Shabboses he will be revealed... This is a very difficult generation, a very, very hard generation, Hashem knows, there are very strong temptations. But the place in which stands someone who returns to Hashem, even a righteous person cannot stand..."
"I want to tell all of Israel: Just like a convert loves Hashem with all his heart – I do His will with all my heart, He performed great kindnesses for me, and I serve Him with all my essence, with perfect faith and with serenity, even though I went through many tests – so too Hashem loves Israel... Hashem took care of me. Hashem never abandons anyone; we just have to try to perform His will; give Him an opening the size of a needle [as the Sages say – ed.] and He will open entire worlds for us..."
If a non-Jew can express these opinions and aspirations, how much more so Jews! We can be inspired by this story to be the best Jews possible and to merit the blessing "Cursed is everyone who curses you, and blessed is everyone that blesses you." Good Shabbos Everyone.

M. Wolfberg’s stories are sponsored by: Refuah Shleima to Mordechai Menachem Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta Refuah Shleima to Tsviah bas Bracha Leah Refuah Shleimah to Chana Ashayra bas Dodi.

Have a wonderful Shabbos, Please note that during the next few weeks, I will be very busy and may not produce the weekly during this time.

Rachamim ben Charlotte Jacqueline