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Nitzavim |  28th Elul 5776  |  Oct 1st, 2016  |  Issue 669
Our condolences to 
Eitan Grossman (Chicago, 1998-99) on the passing of his father, Andy
Rabbi Shaul Feldman (Memphis, 1996-97) on the passing of his mother, Miriam Devorah

   Rav Yakov Nagen

Ra"m in The Hesder Yeshiva in Otniel
Love Still Stands a Chance
The Sefer Yetzirah (Chapter 1, Mishna 1) relates that God created the world with a story. This teaches us that life itself is an ongoing story, and a true story does not end. Five years ago, on Rosh Hashanah, I was part of one of the most influential stories of my life, and later , I discovered that this story was far from over.
“The Gift of the Magi”
The story begins with a failed plan for my wife and I to come to the synagogue and hear the shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah. With a houseful of small children, including a baby girl and toddler being potty-trained, this was no easy task.
This was the plan:
There are three synagogues in the community I live in. I figured that if I were to begin tefillah at the earliest minyan and return home in the middle of the tefillah, my wife could go to the other synagogue to hear the shofar blows. After she comes back, I’ll have enough time to make it to the third synagogue in time to hear the shofar blasts.
Unfortunately, the plan was detached from with reality. Apparently, the Divine Presence must have rested upon the chazzan of the second synagogue, causing him to lengthen the tefillah. My wife understood that if she were to remain there until the shofar was sounded, I would be late to the third minyan, so she decided to forego hearing the shofar to allow me to do so. For whatever reason, the chazzan at the third synagogue sped through the tefillah, and when I got there, I realized that I had just missed the shofar blasts. I ran to the second synagogue, only to arrive just after the shofar blasts had ended. I reflected on the “togetherness” and equality of my relationship with my wife. We did not merit to hear the shofar blasts, but at least, we had missed them together. I was reminded of The Gift of the Magi, a story written by O. Henry about a couple, living in destitute poverty, who wanted to give each other gifts for the holiday. The woman gave up her most treasured possession - her long hair - to buy a leather band for her husband’s watch. Meanwhile, her husband sold his watch to buy a comb for his wife’s hair, now long gone.
“Bordering on Chutzpah”
After the tefillah had ended, I returned home, only to discover that the surprises were far from over. We began preparing the holiday meals, when all of a sudden, our house’s main fuse tripped. We had a three-day holiday ahead of us (two days of Rosh Hashanah immediately followed by Shabbat), we were to host two other families, and we had no electricity in the house – no refrigerator, lights, air conditioning, hot plate for our meals, and so on. My only hope for restoring the electricity was to find someone who was allowed to switch on the breaker on the holiday, that is, a non-Jew. After scouring the community several times I realized that this was not a mixed community.
While outside, I met Yossi, a Chabad hassid, who suggested that I go to the nearby military base. Maybe someone there could help me. I set out towards the base, and with each step I took, I liked the idea even less. I felt that having soldiers spend their holidays at the base in order to protect me and my family was asking quite a bit. Would I now ask a soldier to spend his free time walking in the blazing heat to help someone professing a different religion keep his religious laws? To me, it seemed like tremendous chutzpah, but faced with no other choice, I continued on my way to the base.
“The Pied Piper of Chabad”
I reached the base and discovered that Yossi, the Chabad hassid I had met earlier, was there, as well. Although he had already been to the base to make sure there would be tefillah, complete with the sounding of the shofar, he had returned to verify that anyone at the base who was interested could hear the shofar. He began sounding the shofar for one soldier, but like the story of the pied piper of Hamlin, the sounds of the shofar attracted a group of other soldiers who joined the first soldier. I felt that I was experiencing the deeper meaning of the mitzvah of shofar. The shofar blows were not meant just for those who were already at the synagogue, holding machzorim and dressed in their finest garments. They were also meant to awaken people, to call on them to gather and return to the Almighty. I was proud that these were the shofar blows that would replace those I had missed earlier that morning. I had now closed the first circle.
 “Israel and the Nations”
After the sounding of the shofar, I found a Muslim Bedouin soldier who was serving at the base. Rather humbled, I began to mouth my request, but the soldier didn’t need me to say too much. He immediately understood the situation, smiled back at me, and without hesitation, agreed to come help. While on our way back to my house, which was at the other side of the settelment, I was moved by the soldier’s profound piety. He kept saying that “everything comes from God”. I was also struck by his sense of humaneness, as he greeted every child or adult we encountered with a smile and a kind greeting. As we walked, I pondered the differences between my walk earlier that morning, to fulfill my own needs, and Yossi’s and the Bedouin walks and deeds, which were aimed at helping others. Hashem had been giving me a lesson on how one must walk.
We arrived at the house, the soldier switched on the power breaker, and light returned to our home. Our attempts to convince him to eat with us and rest at our house were in vain. He said he had work to do, and that he needed to return to his base.
“The Third Circle”
As I accompanied the soldier back to his base, he said to me that I had “cute children”. I told him that I wished him cute children as well, but then, his smile faded away as he told me his own story. As a child, he had fallen in love with a girl from his village. He loved her for seven years, with all of his heart, but before they could wed, the girl fell ill, and passed away. After she died, he made a vow to remain loyal to her and never marry. In any case, after all he had experienced, it must have been difficult for him to be with another woman. “But what about your smile?” I asked . “That’s just on the outside,” he told me. “The sorrow is on the inside.”
 I was very moved by his dedication to the love of his life, but the tragedy would be far worse if he were to keep his vow. Far be it for me to say anything comforting to someone who had gone through something so difficult, but perhaps I had come here to fill a missing link. I told him about our guests during the holiday, among whom was a widow whose husband had been murdered shortly after their wedding. After a difficult process filled with profound insights on life, she found her way back to life, to love, to having a relationship, and to becoming a mother. I shared what I had learned from her with the soldier, and eventually, we bade each other farewell.
“Love stands a chance”
Four years went by. One day, I received a phone call from an unidentified number. “Do you remember me?” asked the man on the other end of the line. It took me quite some time, but at last, I understood that the man calling me was the same Bedouin soldier who had gone to great lengths to track me down and let me know that he had gotten engaged, and that he wanted to invite me to his wedding.
“A Rabbi at a Bedouin Wedding”
A year later, on the seventh of Elul, the day of the wedding had come. I traveled to a Bedouin village in the Galilee, and there, next to his house, with the other villagers looking on, my Bedouin friend married the love of his life. I could not eat any of the lamb drenched in milk, but I had the pleasure of dancing with the groom for hours. After the dancing ending, I repeated the blessing I had given him five years earlier, which began our story. This time, he was very happy to accept my blessing.

   Hanoch Shalev


Former Shaliach, Melbourne 2003 - 2004

Rosh Hashana Around The Corner – Be Prepared!

Hanoch Shalev

“If I catch you smoking”, I was warned, “we’ll send you for a week of volunteering at
Dr. Ploni’s Oncology Department”.

This, I would have thought, is the appropriate approach towards a day of justice. Know your consequence, fear and so correct your deeds. So too, we find in Brachot (5a) – if one cannot overcome his yetzer hara, evil inclination, he should remind himself of his deathbed. Remembering your mortality tends to put things into proportion. In this manner, fearfulness and self-awareness surely would bring forth a significant Rosh Hashana.

Yet this seems not the approach of Rosh Hashana as we celebrate it today.
Instead of fasting (or at least not eating due to lack of appetite) we conduct festive meals.
Instead of wearing sack-cloth as would be expected of one bound to join death-row, we dress in festive white.

How is this possible? Are we Israelites going bananas on Rosh Hashanas?

The answer lies in a short passage following each Shofar blowing at Mussaf:
Hayom harat olam, hayom ya’amid bamishpat” – Today, the world was conceived
(not born/created but only conceived). Today, He will put the world to justice.
The day of conceiving is the day of justice?

There is an argument regarding the month the world was created. Was it during Tishrei or was it during Nisan? The solution found was that of any project. We distinguish between the day the project was initiated and the day the product was launched and presented. The Project was initiated on the first of Tishrei. The above passage calls this – “conceived”.

There is a big difference in attitude towards the project between the time it was first initiated and the time it was finally launched. I think it is better understood through the birth of a child. When a child is conceived in his mother’s womb his existence is mere potential. In his parents mind he is pure and perfect. He is everything they hoped for – every thing they could expect of him. This is what Chazal call – Midat Hadin – the Attribute of Justice. This attribute expects the world to live up to the letter of the law, or better yet, to manifest and implement all that was planned for in the original blueprint. Unfortunately, so it seems, the child is not born so perfect. He needs diper changing, feeding, guarding and nurturing. If we would expect the child to be now all that we hoped for and expected throughout the pregnancy, we would surely be very disappointed. The only way to raise a child is with compassion and patience. The is what chazal call – Midat Harachamim – the Attribute of Compassion.

On Rosh Hashana we are presented and exposed to the letter of the law, to the blueprint, to all that was expected of us, to all that we could achieve if we put all our effort and strength into it. We are flooded with light and clarity, represented and expressed through the all-encompassing unitary sound of the Shofar. We are drifted away to a world as it should have been, an experience that within itself is uplifting, joyful and certainly worthy of festive white cloths and festive meals. Yet with this in mind, we suddenly realize how filthy and far-off-the-original-road we are. This, in essence, is Rosh Hashana and its Shofar blowing – a terrifying happiness, joyful trepidation.

Gilu Be’re’ada.

Joy for the potential concealed within us and consequently joy for the hope of a better world. Tremble and anxiety as to the unfinished job and the distance from Hashem humanity has brought upon itself throughout history.

Shana Tova – Shinui Tov – May we all have a change for the good!

Around The World
Heres a picture , the day that Yoav Cohen Hadad, a former
shaliach (Memphis, 2006-07) and current Head of Shlichut Department donated a kidney, via the Matnat Haim organization!
In Cape Town , after a month of working hard , Auditions, practicing and fun , our shlichim Amitai Gordon and Yonatan Levine came together with the kids to participate in the marvelous Hebrew Talent Contest at Hertzlia Constantia .

The YU Torah Mitzion Kollel in Chicago had a great night at a 'Jewish Learning Together' Event

Tzevet Torah Mitzion in Melbourne had a lovely morning starting with
Shacharit and Selichot followed  by breakfast and Dvar Torahs from the local boys .
Biding farewell to Hodaya Ben Ari as she leaves Israel for the year to travel to Munich on Shlichut . She joins the Grunwald family and Pinny Mantzura and Or Parvar

     Arik Speaker                    In cooperation with: 

'Lilmod' Coordinator and Head of  European Desk in Torah MiTzion

The story of the most famous book manuscript of the Tanach, the Keter Arom Tzova (the Allepo Codex), fascinates and ignites the imagination extraordinarily. This manuscript has not only an amazing story but is also of tremendous historic and academic importancetill today.
Despite its name pointing to Aleppo in Syria, the source of the manuscript is in Israel of the 10th century. This full version of the Tanach written in one book (instead of many separate scrolls) was written in Tiberias by the scribe Shlomo Ben-Boia'a and edited by Aaron Ben-Asher. The latter is really the critical part of the manuscript and what gives it its tremendous importance.
A century later the book began its wanderings. First of all it was purchased by a Kara'ite Jew who transferred it to Jerusalem. Later the Ottoman authorities became aware of the important manuscript, robbed it and transferred it to Cairo in Egypt. The local Jewish community raised a huge sum to redeem the book and kept it for several hundred years. At this stage, Maimonides became aware of the Keter and based on it his exact version of the Torah in his Halachic codex.
Maimonides extensively praised this manuscript. Several generations later, a descendant of Maimonides moved together with the Keter to Haleb (Allepo) where the community religiously kept it in the Aron HaKodesh of the Great Synagogue. Only very few people got to see the manuscript first hand. Even researchers who asked to review it were often rejected and were allowed to do so only indirectly by an intermediary.
During the 20th century the Jewish community faced increasing pressure from the Muslim population which reached its peak in the riots and the burning of a synagogue after the vote in the UN on the Partition Plan in 1947.
Dozens Torah scrolls were burned purposely by the rioters. The fear was that the Keter was destroyed too, but shortly afterwards word spread that the book was saved and that it was told that it had been he destroyed only to prevent further looting from the rioters. Many inquiries have been made by various parties to restitute it to Israel.
Over a decade later came a Syrian Jew arriving from Allepo named Mordechai Ben Ezra Faham presented the book to President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi after he received it received from the community leaders of Allepo, hiding it in his washing machine transported through Istanbul. But the book was missing large portions - only 294 pages out of 487 pages of the original that had arrived. Almost all the Pentateuch is missing as well as the last books. Many members of the community kept and apparently still retain, individual pages from the book. From time to time parts of the book reappear.
The Ben Zvi Institute gave the book to the Israeli Museum displaying it in Shrine of the Book.
Yasher Koah to
Amichai Bannett
Who Provided the correct answer

  Where was this photo taken?


Please send answers to -


The answer, further information about this location, as well as the first person to recognize this site 
will be published in next week's edition.      

Torah MiTzion was established in 1995 with the goal of strengthening Jewish communities around the globe and infusing them with love for Torah, the Jewish People and the State of Israel.

Over the past twenty years, Torah MiTzion's shlichim have inspired and enriched their host communities through high impactful formal and informal educational programs.

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Our friend Benjy Singer has a very useful website,, which contains accurate and fresh information of what's going on in the Religious Anglo Community in Israel.

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