Friday, May 23, 2014

Parsha Bamidbar and 5 stories

Prayers for Men: Eliezer David HaCohain ben Naomi, Avraham HaCohain ben Yocheved, Asher ben Esther Malka, Avraham ben Devorah, Zvi Yechezkel ben Leah, Naphtali Moshe ben Tziporah, Shalom Charles ben Gracia, Yoel ben Esther, Zev ben Rachel, Yehonatan ben Malka, Zvi ben Chava, Shlomo Chaim ben Basya Raizal, Shmuel ben Zahava, Yosef Manus ben Sheina Pesia, David Zvi ben Sarah Leah. Yosef ben Shifra, Yisroel, Alter ben Chava Chana

Women: Karen Neshama bas Esther Ruth, Chaya Melecha Rachel bas Baila Alta, Rachel bas Chana, Hodaya Nirit bas Mazel, Rivka bas Idit, Kayla Rus bas Chaya Rachel, Tsvia Simcha bas Devorah Yachad, Miriam bas Irene Taita Malka, Ruda Itzka Minya bas Liba, Henshi bas Nashe, Naomi Esther bas Tziporah. Hena bas Gezella, Bella Chava bas Pearl Leah  adding to the list - Miriam Leah bas Bayla
The following people are recovering from long term non-threatening injuries and need Psalms. Binum Benyamin Tuvia ben Chana Friedel, Adele Chaya bas Edva, Adina bas Sara,

Please pray for the childless couple Shaul ben Rivka and his wife Michal Rachel bas Geula.

I received this plea this week Please re-emphasize Ruda, Itka, Minya bat Liba who has an advanced stage now of cancer – prayers help ease pain and suffering and in one case a miracle is still alive.

Parsha Bamidbar

Novi Yermiyahu wrote: ”Thus says the L-RD I found grace in the desert”. We were for 40 years a Torah Nation living on bread from heaven water and not much need for work. So the devotion to Torah was easy. It is unknown time wise if Bamidbar also overlapped laws given in Shemos and Vayikra and there is reason to believe so. One thing is certain we have a date telling of the opening of the Sefer which is the first of Iyar 2450. The Sefer ends 40 days before Moshe’s passing or approximately the 26th or 27th of Tevet depending on a 29 or 30 day month or not.

1:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying: 2 'Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male, by their polls; 3 from twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: ye shall number them by their hosts, even thou and Aaron. 4 And with you there shall be a man of every tribe, every one head of his fathers' house.

Please pay attention to the wording here. “sum of the congregation”, “by their families”, “by their fathers’ houses”, “according to the number of name”, every male”; the reason for this is to show how dear each and every son of Yacov is to the congregation of Yisrael. This is followed by “every tribe” and “everyone the head of his father’s house”. Do not belittle yourself with being too humble. For every male of the Bnei Yisrael whether in a lost tribe or in Eretz Yisrael and a known Jew or Levy is dear to HASHEM.

5 And these are the names of the men that shall stand with you: of Reuben, Elizur the son of Shedeur. 6 Of Simeon, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.

There is an oral tradition about this man that exists among us to this day. He was a Tzaddik perhaps very elderly who fumbled things due to his poor coordination at his age but his name is associated with clumsiness whether rightfully or not. Remember at the time of the giving of the Torah, Moshe with a speech impediment rather than Aaron the most eloquent speaker of his generation was chosen by HASHEM. Perhaps Schlemiel was chosen for his accidents or Shogeg to show the people that sinning through Shogeg deserved forgiveness just as a person with shaking hands spilling coffee or tea where a normal person would not.

7 Of Judah, Nahshon the son of Amminadab. 8 Of Issachar, Nethanel the son of Zuar. 9 Of Zebulun, Eliab the son of Helon. 10 Of the children of Joseph: of Ephraim, Elishama the son of Ammihud; of Manasseh, Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur. 11 Of Benjamin, Abidan the son of Gideoni. 12 Of Dan, Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. 13 Of Asher, Pagiel the son of Ochran. 14 Of Gad, Eliasaph the son of Deuel. 15 Of Naphtali, Ahira the son of Enan.' 16 These were the elect of the congregation, the princes of the tribes of their fathers; they were the heads of the thousands of Israel.

The ones summoned of the congregation: They were summoned for every important matter concerning the congregation.

Who elected or summoned them? Not the politicians or people but HASHEM dictated their names to Moshe.

17 And Moses and Aaron took these men that are pointed out by name. 18 And they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month, and they declared their pedigrees after their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls. 19 As the LORD commanded Moses, so did he number them in the wilderness of Sinai.

And they declared their pedigrees according to their families: They brought the records of their pedigrees and witnesses of their birth claims, so that each one should trace his genealogy to a tribe.

We have here an interesting situation. I have a cousin from my grandfather’s older brother who is six years old than I but he is from a daughter and a cousin from a son, who was like a baby brother to my father, who is 13 years younger than I but he essentially is the family head by hierarchy – we shall examine this is chapter 3 with Korach’s claim.  Below we have the counting of the Tribes by numbers except Levi which is separate.

20 And the children of Reuben, Israel's first-born, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 21 those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Reuben, were forty and six thousand and five hundred. 22 Of the children of Simeon, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, those that were numbered thereof, according to the number of names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 23 those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Simeon, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred. 24 Of the children of Gad, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 25 those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Gad, were forty and five thousand six hundred and fifty.

Please make a note that group of three tribes makes an encampment at the side of the tent of meeting against the four directions. These first three fall under the ensign of Reuven.

26 Of the children of Judah, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 27 those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Judah, were threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred. 28 Of the children of Issachar, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 29 those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Issachar, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred. 30 Of the children of Zebulun, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 31 those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Zebulun, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred.

These tribes fall under the ensign of Yehuda known as Machane Yehuda or encampment of Judah.

32 Of the children of Joseph, namely, of the children of Ephraim, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 33 those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Ephraim, were forty thousand and five hundred. 34 Of the children of Manasseh, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 35 those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Manasseh, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred. 36 Of the children of Benjamin, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 37 those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Benjamin, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred.

All the children of Rachel are lumped together under one banner.

38 Of the children of Dan, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 39 those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Dan, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred. 40 Of the children of Asher, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 41 those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Asher, were forty and one thousand and five hundred. 42 Of the children of Naphtali, their generations, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 43 those that were numbered of them, of the tribe of Naphtali, were fifty and three thousand and four hundred.

The census took place and covered all the tribes but one which is Levi as they are not the warriors against the external enemy but the warriors of the Neshama against the internal Yetzer.

44 These are those that were numbered, which Moses and Aaron numbered, and the princes of Israel, being twelve men; they were each one for his fathers' house. 45 And all those that were numbered of the children of Israel by their fathers' houses, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel; 46 even all those that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty. 47 But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them.

At the time of the census the man are about ready to enter the land of Yisrael. There is a sense of pride and honor for each household of their genealogy and going back on one’s own genealogy one can find many well-known Rabbis. One person theorized that every Ashkenazi Jew is from Rashi somewhere over the last 1000 years and I have seen in my own family marriages between certain families and besides Rashi many great and well known Rabbis but it is not these Rabbis that will give me or detract from my Olam HaBa but my own actions and behavior. For the merits of the fathers is good in prays as we say “G-D of Avraham, G-D of Yitzchak and G-D of Yacov” but our actions can enhance or nullify our prayers. Judaism does not believe in vicarious atonement but self-repentance.

48 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 49 'Howbeit the tribe of Levi thou shalt not number, neither shalt thou take the sum of them among the children of Israel; 50 but appoint thou the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, and over all the furniture thereof, and over all that belongs to it; …

So HASHEM set the Leviim apart for holy work and they were exempt from owning land in Israel except the 24 cities which would be assigned in the future.

2:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying: 2 'The children of Israel shall pitch by their fathers' houses; every man with his own standard, according to the ensigns; a good way off shall they pitch round about the tent of meeting.

There were going to be 4 camps against the 4 directions each Machane with his flag and they would signal to the men when it was time to march forward. Each section had their own guardian angel. To the east was Michael, to the west Gavriel, to the north Uriel, to the south Rafael, and finally the Shechina resting on the Aaron HaKodesh in the middle.

3 Now those that pitch on the east side toward the sunrising shall be they of the standard of the camp of Judah, according to their hosts; the prince of the children of Judah being Nahshon the son of Amminadab, 4 and his host, and those that were numbered of them, threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred; 5 and those that pitch next unto him shall be the tribe of Issachar; the prince of the children of Issachar being Nethanel the son of Zuar, 6 and his host, even those that were numbered thereof, fifty and four thousand and four hundred; 7 and the tribe of Zebulun; the prince of the children of Zebulun being Eliab the son of Helon, 8 and his host, and those that were numbered thereof, fifty and seven thousand and four hundred; 9 all that were numbered of the camp of Judah being a hundred thousand and fourscore thousand and six thousand and four hundred, according to their hosts; they shall set forth first.

The accounting of the tribes continues with Yehuda representing the kingship in the east. They set out first and was the most massive section of the camp.

10 On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their hosts; the prince of the children of Reuben being Elizur the son of Shedeur, 11 and his host, and those that were numbered thereof, forty and six thousand and five hundred; 12 and those that pitch next unto him shall be the tribe of Simeon; the prince of the children of Simeon being Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, 13 and his host, and those that were numbered of them, fifty and nine thousand and three hundred; 14 and the tribe of Gad; the prince of the children of Gad being Eliasaph the son of Reuel, 15 and his host, even those that were numbered of them, forty and five thousand and six hundred and fifty; 16 all that were numbered of the camp of Reuben being a hundred thousand and fifty and one thousand and four hundred and fifty, according to their hosts; and they shall set forth second.

On the south side was the camp of Reuven with the average amount of soldiers.

17 Then the tent of meeting, with the camp of the Levites, shall set forward in the midst of the camps; as they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place, by their standards.

Even though it was the Kedusha of the Shechina that protected Am Yisrael, the encampment provided a physical protection for the center of the camp.

18 On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim according to their hosts; the prince of the children of Ephraim being Elishama the son of Ammihud, 19 and his host, and those that were numbered of them, forty thousand and five hundred; 20 and next unto him shall be the tribe of Manasseh; the prince of the children of Manasseh being Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur, 21 and his host, and those that were numbered of them, thirty and two thousand and two hundred; 22 and the tribe of Benjamin; the prince of the children of Benjamin being Abidan the son of Gideoni, 23 and his host, and those that were numbered of them, thirty and five thousand and four hundred; 24 all that were numbered of the camp of Ephraim being a hundred thousand and eight thousand and a hundred, according to their hosts; and they shall set forth third.

The rear guard in the west was the smallest camp and was mainly the protection against strangers like Amalek that sneaks and hits stragglers in the rear.

25 On the north side shall be the standard of the camp of Dan according to their hosts; the prince of the children of Dan being Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai, 26 and his host, and those that were numbered of them, threescore and two thousand and seven hundred; 27 and those that pitch next unto him shall be the tribe of Asher; the prince of the children of Asher being Pagiel the son of Ochran, 28 and his host, and those that were numbered of them, forty and one thousand and five hundred; 29 and the tribe of Naphtali; the prince of the children of Naphtali being Ahira the son of Enan, 30 and his host, and those that were numbered of them, fifty and three thousand and four hundred; 31 all that were numbered of the camp of Dan being a hundred thousand and fifty and seven thousand and six hundred; they shall set forth hindmost by their standards.'

The north flank like the south flank had an average number of soldier to prevent an attack.

32 These are they that were numbered of the children of Israel by their fathers' houses; all that were numbered of the camps according to their hosts were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty. 33 But the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses. 34 Thus did the children of Israel: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so they pitched by their standards, and so they set forward, each one according to its families, and according to its fathers' houses.

Now we are going into the genealogy of Moshe and Aaron as they are the chosen leaders from HASHEM.

3:1 Now these are the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that the LORD spoke with Moses in mount Sinai. 2 And these are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the first-born, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 3 These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests that were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest's office. 4 And Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when Tthey offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children; and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest's office in the presence of Aaron their father.

This was the Kahuna mentioned in the Torah and it could be that Pinchas was not yet born at this time.

5 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 6 'Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. 7 And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, to do the service of the tabernacle. 8 And they shall keep all the furniture of the tent of meeting, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle. 9 And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons; they are wholly given unto him from the children of Israel. 10 And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, that they may keep their priesthood; and the common man that draws nigh shall be put to death.'

This is similar to the end of chapter 1 51. When the Tabernacle is set to travel, the Levites shall dismantle it; and when the Tabernacle camps, the Levites shall erect it; any outsider [non Levite] who approaches shall be put to death. Here again the death penalty is on the agenda for strangers that violate their distance.

11 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 12 'And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every first-born that openeth the womb among the children of Israel; and the Levites shall be Mine; 13 for all the first-born are Mine: on the day that I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto Me all the first-born in Israel, both man and beast, Mine they shall be: I am the LORD.'

They were the only tribe that did not participate in the golden calf so the first born lost their rights which the Leviim gained.

14 And the LORD spoke unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying: 15 'Number the children of Levi by their fathers' houses, by their families; every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them.'

Like a Pidyon HaBen the Leviim will be counted at one month old. This is in contrast with 20 to 60 years of age for the other tribes.

we skip now to the family of Moshe and Aaron and see where Korach gets his anger from.

27 And of Kohath was the family of the Amramites, and the family of the Izharites, and the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites; these are the families of the Kohathites: 28 according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, eight thousand and six hundred, keepers of the charge of the sanctuary. 29 The families of the sons of Kohath were to pitch on the side of the tabernacle southward; 30 the prince of the fathers' house of the families of the Kohathites being Elizaphan the son of Uzziel, 31 and their charge the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith the priests minister, and the screen, and all that pertaineth to the service thereof; 32 Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest being prince of the princes of the Levites, and having the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary. . 39 All that were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the LORD, by their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand.

This is the total male population of Leviim from one month upwards.

40 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Number all the first-born males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names. 41 And thou shalt take the Levites for Me, even the LORD, instead of all the first-born among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel.' 42 And Moses numbered, as the LORD commanded him, all the first-born among the children of Israel. 43 And all the first-born males according to the number of names, from a month old and upward, of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand two hundred and threescore and thirteen.

This number is 273 people larger than a Levi for all persons  This would mean that 273 people could not be redeemed by a Levi.

44 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 45 'Take the Levites instead of all the first-born among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be Mine, even the LORD'S. 46 And as for the redemption of the two hundred and three score and thirteen of the first-born of the children of Israel, that are over and above the number of the Levites, 47 thou shalt take five shekels apiece by the poll; after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them--the shekel is twenty gerahs. 48 And thou shalt give the money wherewith they that remain over of them are redeemed unto Aaron and to his sons.' 49 And Moses took the redemption-money from them that were over and above them that were redeemed by the Levites; 50 from the first-born of the children of Israel took he the money: a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary. 51 And Moses gave the redemption-money unto Aaron and to his sons, according to the word of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.

They put in 22,273 pieces of parchment that was either blank or written ‘Levi’ on it. If one got a Levi then he was exempt from further redemption like we do today with the son of the daughter of a Cohain or Levi.

… 4: 49 According to the commandment of the LORD they were appointed by the hand of Moses, every one to his service, and to his burden; they were also numbered, as the LORD commanded Moses

Editorial: Prime Minister Speaks with Forked Tongue

It was no wonder to me that when Obama and Sarkozy were caught with an open microphone they said “You can’t trust Mr. Netanyahu”! We talk about settlements and ruins our image abroad and then he has the Defense Minister dismantle three and says ‘court order’. The court ordered it because the government had not declared them legal. He says build and in effect there is another building freeze on new settlements. Who is he fooling? - The general public that is out of the circle of reality busy with their everyday activity. He says “Livni speaks for herself” but in reality she speaks for him we remember Sharon saying that about Olmert but Netanyahu likes his public image. He says to the public that he is from the right of center but does all the policies of the left. Isn’t it time for us to get him out in the Likud Primaries or alternatively in the next election? I don’t even want to go into his wife Sarah interfering in the Presidential Elections in Israel and day to day politics and how she has to walk down the red carpet in Japan when he could have sent Peres to the do the same for a more modest cost.
Now incase that Netanyahu was telling the truth about Livni then we have to go according to this statement: Do you know why Israel needs new elections because Sarah Netanyahu did not like Bennett and Lapid did not what the Charedim in. So thanks to Sarah right now Bibi is being blackmailed by the left even when he moves right. Whatever the case is the fact that the spouse is running the politician is bad.

Unfortunately sometimes we get a few punches. Not everybody suffers like Iyob but we sometimes get a one, two and three punch. This happened to one of my cousins. Earlier this year, her sister-in-law passed away at a relatively young age. Last week she buried her brother who passed from a sudden heart attack and this week her mother-in-law. I sent her this about Jewish Mourning and Death

Disguised as a Nazi, Pinchas Rosenbaum saved hundreds of Jews in Hungary.
This month was the 70th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Hungary. The invasion occurred in 1944, with the allies advancing and Germany nearing defeat. The Nazis, nevertheless, prioritized the killing of Jews, which they would proceed to carry out very rapidly. As a result, many were killed in the city as opposed to concentration camps; the killing of Jews on the Danube River was one infamous method. By the end of the war, 560,000 out of the 800,000 Jews in the country were killed. Coinciding with the anniversary is a new film, Walking with the Enemy, based on the untold heroic story of Pinchas Rosenbaum.
German occupied Hungary, 1944. SS men flood the city and are rounding up Jews. You pray and hope for no interaction with them and try to avoid eye contact. You know the allies are making progress against them. You hope they will not get to you before the war ends.
And then that day comes. They come to your home and you are forced to march. At various points, you are hit with the most dreaded sound in the world: orders shouted in German.
That was an experience shared by millions of Jews. Only a lucky few hundred experienced what happens next.
One SS man leads you to a basement. You discover an enormous spaced filled with Jewish families. The SS man reveals in Yiddish that he is in fact your rescuer, himself a Jew, and that you are to hide in this basement until the end of the war.
That was the story of the hundreds of Hungarian Jews saved by Pinchas Rosenbaum, the man who disguised himself as a Nazi in order to save Jews.
At the beginning of the Nazi invasion, Pinchas was active in the efforts of the Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz. Lutz’s unauthorized distribution of Swiss “letters of protection” saved the lives of 62,000 Hungarian Jews. Pinchas was one of a number of young Jewish men who helped deliver the Swiss permits.
While doing this underground work and living in the Budapest ghetto, Pinchas acquired a weapon that would save the lives of hundreds of Jews: a Hungarian Arrow Cross uniform.
It was at this moment that Pinchas began to launch operations to save even more Jews. He eventually acquired a second uniform: this time it was the attire of the German SS. His uniform and his fluency in both Hungarian and German allowed him to fool and intimidate Hungarian Arrow Cross and to confidently ask questions. He would receive lifesaving answers.
His modus operandi was simple: He would speak to Nazi and Arrow Cross soldiers while disguising himself as one of their own. He would obtain information about upcoming arrests. Then he would pretend to arrest the Jewish families himself, and lead them to the Lutz’s glass house.
His Most Dangerous Mission
In an interview with, Pinchas’ son Moshe described his father’s most dangerous mission. Pinchas heard from Nazi soldiers that they had orders to arrest Frankle, a prominent Jewish leader, that very day. Fankle and Pinchas knew each other from their B’nei Akiva days as children. That would pose a risk of the acquaintance inadvertently revealing Pinchas’ true identity. It would be especially hard to avoid with such a short time window.
Pinchas was forced to make a decision. To save this one Jew, he would need to risk his life, and with it, the ability to save thousands of others.
He decided to go ahead with the mission to save this old friend. He arrived at the building in his Nazi uniform and asked the doormen for Frankle’s apartment number. “Where is the dirty Jew Frankle?” To Pinchas’ misfortune, another doorman was present when he knocked on Frankle’s door.
When Frankle opened the door, Pinchas was forced to play the part of a Nazi to the fullest. As he was being arrested, Frankle said, “Pinchas! What are you doing?”
With the non-Jewish, Hungarian doorman looking on, Pinchas thought his identity was blown. He yelled at his old friend, verbally abusing him until he understood to play along.
In another incident, Pinchas arrested a Hassidic family. The mother, father, and children cried hysterically with fear. The child of the family, a survivor still living in Brooklyn, says that Pinchas could not bear the sight of their misery. He broke character and whispered in Yiddish: “Ich bein a Yid--I am a Jew.”
Harrowing Dilemmas
Saving lives on this scale came with gut-wrenching decisions. One of those harrowing dilemmas is portrayed in the film. Alec, the character based on Pinchas, intercepted a convoy of trucks carrying Jews to the camps. He commanded the Iron Cross soldiers to allow all Swiss document holders off of the convoy. Alec was checking their paper work personally, which allowed him to turn a blind eye to those without the necessary documents.
Halfway through the mission, a high ranking SS officer arrived. Alec was forced to watch the Nazis kill his fellow Jews. There was nothing he could do.
It is not clear whether that specific scene happened to Pinchas in real life, but Moshe told that his father did have to live with the stories of those he could not save. His biggest regret was that he could not save his family, even though he acquired false papers for them in March of 1944. During the Passover Seder of that year, he attempted to convince his father to take the papers and move the entire family out of Hungary. His father, the rabbi of his community, refused to leave.
That Seder night was the last time Pinchas saw his family. Moshe recalls that throughout his entire childhood his father would cry at the Seder table.
Pinchas carried his positive spirit and his desire for good deeds throughout his life. Moshe says that he learned from his father to “do anything to help another Jew. That’s the way he behaved. It’s not only what he did during the war, which was literal mesiras nefesh (risking his life to save another). But that was his entire life – to give and to give and to give. He was always helping others. This is a message we were raised with.”
Throughout his life, Pinchas was proud of his role in helping hundreds of Jews make Aliya to Israel. He would live the rest of his life in Geneva, Switzerland, and was buried in Jerusalem according to his wishes. He passed away in 1980 at the age of 57. Today, all three of his children live in Israel.

A Memorable Lag B'Omer Bonfire by Rabbi Tilles
"You endangered your whole unit by abandoning your post, and you could have been killed at the same time!" accused the IDF military court prosecutor.

Aryeh was standing in front of three judges in an Israel military court. His crime: leaving his post without permission and, what was considered a much more serious matter, he did so in order to go to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron at a time when the area was infested with violent Arab Muslim bands. Indeed, this was only a few weeks after the new State of Israel had been declared in May 1948 and the War initiated by the Arabs of the surrounding countries in retaliation was at its fiercest.
"What can you say in your defense?" the judges probed. "You endangered your whole unit by abandoning your post, and you could have been killed at the same time!"
"But I had to," protested Aryeh. "I owed it to Rabbi Shimon!" Whereupon he launched into his story:

"During the Shoah (Holocaust), at a certain point, I managed to join a troop of partisans. I participated with them in many operations against the Nazi enemy. Once, we were commanded to approach a house which served as headquarters to a small group of Nazi officers. We got there undetected and quickly observed that the house was built over pillars and below the house, right in the middle, were a few barrels of tar.
"'All we need is one volunteer to get there and though a single match we'll get a spectacular fireworks!' said our commander.

"I immediately lifted my hand, but so did a couple of other boys in the group.
"'We have to select only one of you. So let's have each one tell us why you think that you are best suited to do the job.'
"When my turn came, I explained that tonight is Lag b'Omer according to the Jewish calendar, and on it we celebrate the day of the passing of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai , which is also the day that ended the epidemic that killed Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 disciples. I told them about Rabbi Akiva and Bar Kochba who fought against the Roman Empire just like we are fighting against the Nazis, and how the combined merit of Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Akiva will protect us.
"'Tonight, we Jews have a custom to light bonfires, and this is exactly what I intend to do,' I exclaimed excitedly, 'to grill up these Nazi officers!'

"Well, I was unanimously selected for the operation and, thank G-d, it was a complete success. By the time I ran back into the forest, the Nazi beasts were cooking in the midst of the most formidable bonfire that I ever saw.
"Everyone cheered. Then the partisans told me: 'When you go to Israel, be sure to go to Rabbi Shimon's tomb and tell him how our unit honored his celebration by lighting a special bonfire in his memory on Lag b'Omer.'
"Now, tell me: Could I possibly be so near Rabbi Shimon's tomb and not fulfill this mission from the Shoah and thank the great sage who covered our operation against the Nazis with his merit?"

Source: Submitted by Eliyahu Ellman, who received it from… who received it from…etc. etc. who received it from a "Rav Serloi" a few years ago.

Biographical note:
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, one of the most important sages in Jewish history, lived over 1800 years ago. Teachings in his name abound throughout the Mishnah, Gemarah, and Midrashim, while the Zohar, the primary source text of Kabbalah, is built around Rabbi Shimon's revelations to his inner circle of disciples. During the hours before his passing, on Lag b'Omer, he disclosed the "most sublime" secrets of Torah, in order to ensure that the day would always be an occasion for great joy, untouched by sadness because of the Omer period and mourning for him. The seminal importance of the Zohar in Jewish thought and the annual pilgrimage to Meron on Lag b"Omer are testimonies to his success.
It should be noted that Rabbi Shimon was one of the younger Talmidim of Rabbi Akiva and he survived the Bar Kochba Revolt.

An Indispensable Requirement for a Blessing
In 5664 (1904), when Tsfat' sages learned that the venerable Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer Alfandri had moved to Israel, they invited him to serve as their city's chief rabbinical judge. .

Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer Alfandari was born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1820*, into a well-known rabbinical family. His father Rabbi Yaakov was a great G-d fearing scholar, but he did not live a long time. At his death, Rabbi Shlomo was still a small boy. He was first brought up by his mother, Chana, a learned woman who was well-versed in the Torah, the Talmud and the Laws.
His piety and wisdom was evident even as a youth, and while still a young man, he was appointed to the Spiritual Council of Istanbul. At that time he already was involved in correspondence with two of the greatest rabbinical authorities of the generation, Rabbi Akiva Eiger and Rabbi Moshe ("Chatam") Sofer.
Many of Istanbul's Jews pleaded with him to accept the position of Chacham Bashi (chief rabbi of the city), and to join its rabbinical court. Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer, however, refused to accept any rabbinical positions, preferring to devote himself to Torah study. He also refused to wear the customary dress of the Torah scholars of Istanbul, which consisted of a turban and a silk robe. When people referred to him as the city's chief rabbi, he would reply, "I am not a rabbi - just a simple layman."
Instead, he recommended his student, Rabbi Yitzchak Akarish, for the position of Istanbul's chief rabbi. Rabbi Yitzchak was one of Rav Shlomo Eliezer's most outstanding students. He tried to devote himself solely to Torah study, but when his family's financial situation became desperate, he sought Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer's advice.
Rav Shlomo Eliezer promised to find Rav Yitzchak a rabbinical post - on one condition: he had to accept any position offered to him. The latter agreed to his teacher's terms, but was startled when Rabbi Shlomo Eliezer secured him the position as Chacham Bashi of Istanbul. How could he serve as chief rabbi in the very same city in which his illustrious mentor lived? But he had already accepted Rabbi Shlomo Eliezer's condition, and couldn't renege on his word.
Istanbul's Jewish leaders were likewise reluctant to appoint Rav Yaakov, and for the very same reasons. However, they couldn't disregard Rav Shlomo-Eliezer's directive or his demand that Rabbi Yaakov receive a respectable salary.
From then on, whenever questions were addressed to Rabbi Shlomo- Eliezer, he would refer them to Rabbi Yitzchak, stressing that he was the city's chief rabbi.
Appreciating Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer Alfandari's greatness, Istanbul's Jews founded a yeshiva for him, and many outstanding scholars studied there. One of his most distinguished students was Rav Chaim Chizkiyahu Medini, author of the encyclopedic Sedei Chemed, who was to become the chief rabbi of Hebron.
Once, when Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer was seated at a celebratory meal at the home of one of the most prominent members of Istanbul's Jewish community, he heard two secular Jews discussing the "natural" causes of earthquakes. His face ablaze, Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer rose from his seat and vehemently countered their arguments.
"According to your scientific theories," he cried, "an earthquake can't occur here at this moment. But if the Al-mighty wills it, an earthquake will occur here this moment, in defiance of the laws of nature."
At that very moment, an earthquake shook the entire city. And that was when Istanbul's Jews came to regard Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer as a miracle worker, and he became even more precious in their eyes.
When he was nearly 80 years old, in 1897, he accepted an invitation to be Chacham Bashi (chief rabbi of the city) in Damascus. He held the position for seven years.
* * *

In 5664 (1904), Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer Alfandari resigned his position as chief rabbi of Damascus and moved to Israel. He settled in Haifa, where he studied undisturbed for the next several years. When the sages of Tzefat (Safed) learned that Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer had made Aliyah, they invited him to serve as their city's chief rabbinical judge.
Rabbi Shlomo Eliezer accepted the position, even though he was already nearly 90 years old. It began a new period in his life. And he served in this position for close to twenty years! The aged sage surprised everyone who saw him by his vigor and sharp mind.
All the great scholars of Torah came to him in order to benefit from his knowledge and wisdom [including Baba Sali on a special trip from Morocco - see story #118 in this series -YT], and all who came into contact with him sensed that they were dealing with a holy man. He was referred to fondly as Sabba Kadisha, the "holy grandfather," a title he has already acquired even before his decades in Tsfat.
In Nissan of 5674 (1914), Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer, accompanied by many of Tsfat's residents, went out to bless the new moon. After completing the prayer, he looked upward, clapped his hands and let out a piercing cry. Then he said: "I see that a large-scale war will soon break out."
Four months later, World War I began.
During the war, Tsfat's residents suffered from a lack of food and water. One time, the Turkish pasha (governor) visited the city. He was perched on a white steed, and was accompanied by an entourage of soldiers. He wore a flashy uniform, and a glossy medallion, which indicated his high rank, hung from his neck.
When Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer heard of his arrival, he went out to greet him. The pasha was awed by the Sabba Kadisha's majestic appearance, and asked him for a blessing.
Rav Shlomo-Eliezer replied, "Only the humble can receive blessings. I will bless you after you come down from your horse."
The pasha got off his horse and lowered his head to receive Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer's blessing. "May Almighty G-d help you in your efforts to see to the needs of the oppressed Jewish Nation," Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer said.
The pasha was very impressed by Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer and, as a result of that encounter, he made sure that Tsfat's residents had sufficient food and water.

* * *

In 1925, Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer contracted a serious illness. He was in Tiberias at the time, and he refused to undergo treatment in a hospital where tznius, the Jewish laws of modesty, were not meticulously observed. Instead, he was brought to Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem. When he recovered, the sages of Jerusalem pleaded with him to settle in the city. The elderly rabbi acceded to the sages' request, and rented an apartment in the Ruchama neighborhood, near Geula and Mekor Baruch. Today, the street on which he lived is named in his memory.
So Rabbi Alfandari spent his last few years in Jerusalem, surrounded by a multitude of admirers and disciples. He was already more than 100 years old at that time, yet his mind was lucid and his vision clear. He didn't even need glasses!
In 1930, the Rebbe of Munkacz, Rabbi Chaim-Elazar Shapira, made a special trip from Hungary to meet with Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer face to face. He even tried his best to speak with him using Sephardic Hebrew, in order to facilitate better communication. The Rebbe told him that he had learned from great tzadikim that the closeness of the Final Redemption depended primarily on the tzadik of the generation - if he would decree by the power of his Torah that Mashiach should arrive. Therefore the Rebbe was imploring him to make such a decree. Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer, in his humility, immediately replied: "I am not a tzadik," whereupon the Munkaczer burst into tears.
This conversation took place about eight days before his death. On Tuesday morning, the 22nd of Iyar 5690 (1930), he asked his disciples to envelope him with his Tallit and to put his two pairs of Tefilin upon him, on his arm and head (according to the custom of the Sephardic Chachamim). He immediately recited Shema, and when he came to the word emet [truth], he signaled his disciples to remove his Tefilin. He then said, "Enough, enough. The main thing is emet (truth). I can no longer continue.…"
Shortly afterward, at his suggestion, he was served a glass of warm milk. After he recited the appropriate blessing (shehakol) and had sipped some milk, his pure soul departed to the World of Truth. He was buried just before sunset on the Mount of Olives, at the age of 110! *
[Source: Excerpted and adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from //, //, and //]

Biographical note:
Rabbi Shlomo-Eliezer Alfandari (1820* - 22 Iyar 1930) was born in Istanbul, Turkey, where his reputation for piety and wisdom was established at a young age. He served as the chief rabbi in Istanbul (unofficially) and Damascus, and subsequently in Safed for 20 years toward the end of his life. He passed away at age 110 (!) in Jerusalem. Eight days before, the world-renowned Rebbe of Munkacz, Rabbi Chaim-Elazar Shapira, made a special trip from Hungary to meet with him, calling him the "the top tzadik of the generation." Many of his rabbinical correspondence on topics in Jewish law are included in his book, Sabba Kadisha. For more information on his life and writings, see our website.

* Editor's note: There are conflicting opinions about his year of birth. The three main candidates are 1815, 1820 and 1826. I used the middle position. But it could be that he lived to at least 115!

THIS COMING WEEK IS YOM YERUSHALAYIM: Youtube videos about Jerusalem

Video Charedi Nahal Convert greets his Catholic Mother and Sister:

Note the cameraman did not cover the religious areas but these are typical Israeli Scenes:

Video on why Orthodox Women cover their heads thanks to Rabbi Eliezer Goldstock:

I caught them twice on simple things that I knew:

From Dennis: A new book is out: Hitler’s Jewish Neighbor written by an 89 year old man:

The Mitzvos we must remember were given to the Bnei Yisrael on Sinai and these people witnessed the 10 Makkos in Mitzrayim and the splitting of the Yam Suf and yet they were warned to be monotheistic, observe Shabbos, not to commit adultery, want their neighbor’s possessions etc. Some of you may have read or heard these stories which made headlines this week and I would rather you hear this from me than read it on Ynet or Foxnews or elsewhere. In NYC a bust of a pedophile ring led to among other things in the news a woman and a Rabbi was involved in the ring. Another Rabbi was arrested in Boston for having stolen funds from the Synagogue to the tune of $480,000 to pay off blackmail for having been caught having sex with a 16 year old boy. [Remember the man who claimed a Heter to be ‘gay’ because he knew ‘gay’ Rabbis –ugh!!!] Last but not least a Jew in Israel filmed himself and sold it on the net of having relations with his own daughter – the vice squad went from school to school until they found the girl and arrested the father. WE ARE NOT ANGELS we have free will but doing repulsive and revolting sins are a great Chillul HASHEM. It is time to purge the Yetzer from our system and to examine our own deeds not just Yom Kippur. More stories that did not make the papers have come to me but there are good and normal people out there and most of us behave. However we are bombarded by this news we tend to build up a resistance to being repulsed. We cannot be innocent with such news but we can be vigilant in our observance.  

Inyanay Diyoma

From Ted an editorial of Caroline Glick on freedom of the press:

Israel soon to be beyond the point of new return. 41 years ago we started from almost zero:,7340,L-4520510,00.html

Kerry blames poverty for Muslim terrorism but how come poor Hindis, Buddhists, Christians and Jews don’t become terrorists?,7340,L-4520180,00.html

Syria moves from defense to offense:,7340,L-4520740,00.html

US military surplus saves the IDF money:,7340,L-4521008,00.html

Iran lickiddy split can have the bomb and Euro-Jihadists threaten the world:

Nigeria has Israeli drones that they don’t use or maintain where are the girls?,7340,L-4521910,00.html

On the second channel they showed how the 'dead' or "dying' carefully put out their hands to fall so that they will not be injured. Hmm   - Danny Ayalon: In the past two days, a video where two Palestinian teens are supposedly seen collapsing in front of cameras next to Camp Ofer has been spreading across the social networks. Palestinian commentators explain that the boys were intentionally shot, for no reason at all, by IDF soldiers.

This isn’t the first time that the Palestinians have used hard-to-watch videos of the supposed deaths of innocent children in their campaign of incitement against Israel. In many of the cases, we learned in retrospect that the videos and photographs were edited or fabricated. The most notable case is the story of the child Muhammad al-Durrah from Gaza, who despite accusations against IDF soldiers, was proven to have been shot and killed by Palestinian bullets.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but in the Palestinian’s case, one thousand words are required to explain one picture. These propaganda videos are a part of the Palestinian campaign of delegitimizing Israel on the international scene. The Palestinian concentration of effort on the propaganda front, especially on social media, is a result of their inability to face Israel, militarily or economically.

The Palestinian goal was and remains the destruction of Israel by turning her into an illegitimate state and crumbling away her position on the international scene by presenting Israel as a perpetrator of war crimes. Every country under threat or being attacked has the right to self-defense, and Israel acts by virtue of that right, just like other democratic states who operate in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen and every other place in the world.

The organization for the “protection of Palestinian children” stands behind this latest video, as they were behind the Muhammad al-Durrah video. The organization is a part of a network of Palestinian NGOs who work to isolate Israel and attack her diplomatically. Israel and the IDF must internalize that we are in the midst of a fierce advocacy and diplomacy campaign. During every operation, as a part of the operation orders, the IDF must include documentation that will unequivocally prove in real time the real circumstances, truly showing the IDF as a moral army doing everything it can to minimize harming innocent civilians. Perhaps documentation such as this could have prevented the notorious and infamous Goldstone Report.

When it is revealed that this video is fabricated, we must hit these organizations where it hurts them the most: the tax-exempt fundraising. Israel ambassadors in countries where these organizations seek funding,

Peaceful neighbors from the religion of peace they have plans to hit the Sedrot train too:

The best way to support Al Qaeda is to take Opium the best way to support Hezballah is to have a stash of hash:

From Barry Shaw Democrats ditch Israel to appease Obama on Iran. That's a double smack on the face for America's greatest ally in the Middle East!

If you make Aliyah do not expect US 1st Amendments but British Parliamentary Law:

The IDF delaying “Magic Wand” and “Iron Shield” is one thing but no reserve drills even for pilots is dangerous:,7340,L-4522375,00.html

BDE One of the first settlers in the group with Chanan Porat Zal and I back in 1973 passes away:

Rocket that has extra boost to 180 km anything south of Beirut is a target.,7340,L-4521514,00.html

Terrorizing the terrorists – the way to go!

Was ist los heir? What is wrong here?,7340,L-4522793,00.html

Hezballah helps Assad regain control and the west is twiddling their thumbs:,7340,L-4522894,00.html

Now for M. Wolfberg’s Good Shabbos Story “Fear This” and “Ko-sure”

 Good Shabbos Everyone.    The Haftorah this week for parshas Bechukosai, brings a very powerful verse which is a foundation in our service of Hashem.  It states, "Blessed is the man who trusts in Hashem, then Hashem will be his security."  (Yermiyahu 17:7)
        While explaining the beauty of faith and trust to his chassidim, Reb Noach of Lechovitch told the story of a simple Jew who arrived at the level of pure, uncomplicated faith, and prospered thereby. This simple fellow, Hirschke by name, used to earn his living by bargaining with the gentile farmers over the merchandise that they used to bring to town on market day — hides, honey, wax, milk, boar bristle, and so on. Stallholders at the market, like himself, were accustomed to go out to the countryside two or three hours before daybreak in order to meet the gentile merchants on their way to the market, in the hope of clinching their deals before the merchandise arrived in town. 
          Now one day an itinerant preacher came to spend Shabbos in town, and he held forth in the synagogue on the virtues of living with perfect trust in Hashem. He explained the teaching of the Talmud that the world is so ordered that in the final analysis no man ever trespasses on the earnings that have been divinely ordained as the particular livelihood of another.
          This speaker was a Hashem-fearing man, so it is not to be wondered at that his words found their way deep into Hirschke's heart. The next day, Sunday, was market day, but instead of rising hours before daybreak in order to meet the gentile farmers before his competitors did, he decided that this time he was not going to do so.
          Whatever Hashem had set aside for him he would be able to buy at home -for is it not written that "no man ever trespasses on the earnings" and so on? His wife, seeing him lying snugly in bed at a time when he was normally up and about, urged him to get up and start moving. "I'd like you to know," he answered, "that I myself heard the preacher say that no one can take away the earnings that have been set aside for someone else. Why, then, should I rush out in the freezing snow on the lookout for these simple gentile merchants? For nothing is stopping Hashem from seeing to my needs right here in my house." 
          His wife was not one to submit meekly. She buried him in abuse, and then declared: "This preacher of yours will be paid for his sermon, that's for sure! And you? You'll sit home idle — and starve!" Hirschke did not answer a single word — but neither did he step out of the house. 
          After a little while they heard the loaded wagons of the gentiles creaking past their house. They could even hear Hirschke's friends slapping their hearty handshakes with the gentiles as they settled their deals. This was too much. "Tell me, Hirschke," she pleaded. "Are you stark crazy, or just a fool? Can't you see that your friends will buy up every last ounce of merchandise?" 
          "Those merchants can jolly well come in here, if they like!" he retorted. "Why should I go out to them in this bitter cold?" 
          Then, right under their very shutters, they heard the insistent voice of one of the gentile farmers: "We're not selling any more stuff until Hirschke turns up!" One of Hirschke's competitors gave a quick reply: "Hirshcke's dead!" 
          "A bunch of lies!" shouted the gentiles, and began thumping with their fists on the shutters. "Hirschke, get up!" Hirschke obliged. 
          He got dressed, and opened the door, and the farmers with whom he was accustomed to do business came right inside, and he bought up whatever merchandise he had always bought from them, without even having to bargain. 
          From that day on he never had to leave his house, for the farmers used to bring him their goods, and he made a respectable livelihood to the end of his days. 
          Reb Noach had finished his story. "Now this worked for him," he added, "because he was a simple fellow whose faith was whole and uncomplicated. Things would hardly be the same for someone who tried to improve on Hirschke's kind of faith by adding the sophistication of reason."  
          The Chovos HaLvovos teaches us an important lesson about trusting in Hashem.  One who puts his trust in some force or person other than Hashem, Hashem removes His heavenly control over that person and gives it over the force or person in whom the person has put is trust.   For example, if someone believes that his livelihood depends on the kindness of his boss at work, then Hashem removes His Divine supervision over that person and, as it were, gives the boss at work control over the person's livelihood!   Let us all know where our bread is buttered: by the Holy One Blessed is He!
Good Shabbos Everyone

   Good Shabbos Everyone. This week we begin Sefer Bamidbar.  Bamidbar means "in the wilderness" or "in the desert."  It is in a wilderness where the Jewish nation would wander for 40 years in preparation of their entrance into the Holy Land.  The wilderness symbolizes a place with little resources.  Yet, it is in this very wilderness where the Jewish Nation received the Torah.  This comes to teach us that Hashem will find us and give us inspiration to come closer to Him, even in a wilderness.  The following inspirational true story, told by Hanna B. Geshelin in her own words, illustrates how even in a spiritual wilderness, a Jew can be awoken from slumber to change her life.
        The route of every Jew who becomes observant is unique. One of the turning points on my journey occurred at a large Iowa university with a minuscule Jewish population, where during my freshman year of 1963-64, I was the only undergraduate female who identified herself as Jewish.
        Among my roommates during my first term was a junior taking a child development class on cultures. She decided to join the committee researching the Jewish culture because she had a ready-made resource to interview - me. As a fourth-generation American descendent of Reform Jews who emigrated from Germany before the U.S. Civil War, I didn't know much about Judaism, but I did my best to answer her questions.
        The relief that I felt when she finished questioning me was short-lived, however. Every term after that, the child development professor gave my name to the committee studying Judaism. To meet this challenge, I would have to learn something about my heritage.
        The college library had two shelves of books on Judaism. I started at one end of the upper shelf and began reading. They gave me basic information about Jewish history, tradition and beliefs. With the help of the books I managed to get through the questions during the winter term.
        Then, in the spring of my freshman year, I met Janet. Janet was a Southern Baptist from a small town in Iowa. Like many students at college, she came from a family for whom church was a major focus. Her beliefs guided her behavior in all aspects of her life. I was the first Jewish person she'd ever met. She told me that she had chosen to write about the Jewish culture because she wanted to learn about the origins of her faith. Could she come with me to synagogue?
        The town had a small Reform congregation that met Friday evenings in the parlor of one of the churches. I agreed to take her, and as we strolled through the quiet streets she asked me about my religious life.
        "Where do you eat?" she asked suddenly. Mystified, I gave the name of the dorm dining hall. "How do you manage?" she asked.
        "What do you mean? I just eat." With an edge to her voice she said, "How can you 'just eat?' We get ham, pork or shellfish three or four nights a week, and most of the rest of the time there's meat and milk at the same meal." "Oh," I said confidently, "You mean kosher. I'm Reform, and we don't keep kosher." "You don't keep kosher? But from everything I've read, kosher is one of the cornerstones of Judaism. Why don't you keep it?"
        I shrugged. "I don't know, we just don't." Janet stopped and turned to face me, hands on her hips. I can still picture her standing there in the light of a street lamp, dressed the way she would for church in a navy suit, a small white hat and white gloves. She looked me up and down as though I were a bug on a pin. Then she said words that still reverberate through my mind: "If my church told me to do something, I'd do it."
        In the long silence that followed, I rolled the words over and over through my mind. And I wondered, why did the Reform movement say keeping kosher wasn't important? I decided to find out.
        The next day I found, on one of those shelves of Jewish books, a history of the Reform movement. Breaking bread with others, said the book, is a universal gesture of friendship and goodwill. Keeping kosher prevents Jews and non-Jews from breaking bread together; thus it prevents casual communion between "us" and "them." When Jews stop keeping kosher and eat non-kosher with their neighbors, anti-Semitism will end and Jews will be fully accepted into mainstream society. I thought of the Jewish history I'd been reading, of Moses Mendelsohn and the Emancipation; of my mother's family, which hadn't kept kosher in at least four generations; and I thought of the Holocaust, which began in Mendelsohn's and my great-great-grandparent's home-land, Germany. I turned to the title page of the book and saw that originally the book had been published in German in Berlin in 1928.
        Maybe in 1928 German Jews could say that eating with non-Jews would end anti-Semitism. But they were about to be proved disastrously wrong. Could I continue to eat in a non-Jewish fashion, when the reasoning for permitting Jews to eat non-kosher was based on a complete fallacy? "If my church told me to do something, I'd do it."
        Janet's words took one end of my Yiddishe neshama (Jewish soul) and the book's glaring fallacy took the other end, and they shook me until I had to sit down, right there on the floor beside the library stacks. When I stopped shaking, I knew that until I could find a good reason, a true reason, to not keep kosher, I had no choice. I was a Jew, and the Jews kept kosher. It was that simple.
        My complete transformation from a secular to a Torah observant Jew took many years and many more lessons in faith. But my first big step began that Shabbat night, when a Southern Baptist girl challenged me to stand up and act like a Jew. 
Good Shabbos Everyone.
M. Wolfberg is sponsored by: L'illui Nishmas Aryeh Leib ben Avrohom and Malka bas Tzvi Refuah Shleima to Reb Mordechai Mendel ben Tziporah Yitta  Refuah Shleima to Leah bas Tziporah

Wishing all my readers a healthy, happy and peaceful Shabbos with good food, prayers and plenty of relaxation for the body and soul,
Rachamim Pauli