Gedolim Pray for the IDF

Rav Shteinman, Rav Chaim Kanievsky Daven for IDF Soldiers Fighting in Gaza

rav-kanievsky-rav-shteinmanIn light of the IDF’s ground incursion into Gaza, Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman and Rav Chaim Kanievsky gathered today – as did Jews across Eretz Yisroel – at shuls and botei medrash at 1 p.m. to say Tehillim and daven for the soldiers currently in harm’s way, battling murderous, blood-thirsty terrorists.

Rav Shmuel Auerbach instructed bnei yeshiva to remain in their yeshivos for Shabbos, without exception.

The Vizhnitzer Rebbe davened at the kevorim of the admorim of Vizhnitz shortly after midnight for the success of the IDF operation.

The Sadigura Rebbe instructed his followers to gather and daven in light of the situation.

Rav Shalom Cohen, Rosh Yeshivas Porat Yosef, called on the public to daven for the soldiers fighting in Gaza


The Terrible Beauty of the Evil Man

The Terrible Beauty of the Evil Man is a memoir of the life of Finis Leavell
Beauchamp, a child born into Southern Baptist evangelical royalty who in his early 20s made the fateful decision to convert to Orthodox Judaism.  The book traces his journey from his youth until the day he converted, chronicling the people and the events who led him to this life changing moment.  It was not a decision without a price, as it cost him his friends, family, home, and identity. Finis has to create his world anew and make sense of a world that has rejected him as well as reconcile his struggle with faith, commitment, and a sense of purpose.

The book is not a light-hearted read; it is raw and brutal in its honesty, introspection and judgment. It does not shy away from the true dark aspects of human existence, the loneliness, the angst, the depression, the abuse and unrequited love that the author had to experience on his journey. The author bares his soul in recounting incidents that no one should have to experience, and the reader can feel the pain seeping through the pages.

At the same time, as these moments of darkness are being recounted, the author finds a way to look at the brighter side of things—humor and whit are the tools of choice to find meaning and laughter in a world of absurdity and disappointment. The notion of faith, that good triumphs evil and that there is ultimately a greater purpose are themes that are brought to life in a real and tangible way. This is not a book of “fluff,” but a mature, balanced and subtle approach to faith in the modern world.

This book will move you and give you a fresh perspective on existence. Everyone will be able to relate to this book on some level, as the themes are universal, and for anyone who has gone on a similar journey of transformation and renewal, you will be able to see yourself in the life, mind and soul that is Finis. The book is wonderfully written, the author is truly a master of the English language. Prose, poetry, philosophy, and dream sequences are all seamlessly intertwined making for a truly cinematic reading experience. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe this  is likely to be one of the most consequential Jewish publications in recent years, due to the author’s ability to relate very real events in a highly literary and creative fashion, a unique talent I have not seen in other authors.

The Terrible Beauty of the Evil Man is available on

Hair, Got that Covered?

Higher Criticism Higher Anti-Semitism

An important address by Solomon Schechter the architect of the Conservative Jewish movement in America. (Source: ====

Below is the full text of Solomon Schechter’s address, “Higher Criticism—Higher Anti-Semitism”, delivered at the Judaean Banquet, given in honor of Dr. Kaufman Kohler, March 26, 1903. The text is from Seminary Address and Other Papers (Cincinnati: Ark Publishing, 1915), 35-39.

My acquaintance with Dr. Kohler dates from the year 1901, when he did me the honor of paying me a visit at Cambridge, England. There is no scarcity in that ancient seat of learning, “full of sages and scribes,” of learned conversation. But the day with Dr. Kohler was one of the most delightful I have ever experienced in that place. The day was spent in roaming over the contents of the Genizah and in conversation. Our thoughts were turned to Judaism and the subjects which occupied our minds were all of a theological or historical nature. We probably differed in a good many points, and please God we shall differ in many more—but this did not prevent our short acquaintance from ripening at once into what might approach friendship. I felt that I was in the presence of a scholar and a seeker after truth. His is an intellect devoted entirely to what he considers the truth, and his is a heart deeply affected by every spiritual sensation which is in the air. He also delights to engage in what he considers the “Battles oo the Lord,” and Judaism has need for men of valor.

To speak more clearly: Since the so-called emancipation, the Jews of the civilized world have been lulled into a fancied security which events have not justified. It is true that through the revelation in the Dreyfus case, anti-Semitism of the vulgar sort has become odious, and no lady or gentleman dares now to use the old weapons of the times of Drumont and Stoecker. But the arch-enemy has entered upon a new phase, which Boerne might have called “the philosophic ‘Hep-Hep.’ ” And this is the more dangerous phase because it is of a spiritual kind, and thus means the “excision of the soul,” leaving us no hope for immortality. I remember when I used to come home from the Cheder, bleeding and crying from the wounds inflicted upon me by the Christian boys, my father used to say, “My child, we are in Galuth (exile), and we must submit to God’s will.” And he made me understand that this is only a passing stage in history, as we Jews belong to eternity, when God will comfort His people. Thus the pain was only physical, but my real suffering began later in life, when I emigrated from Roumania to so-called civilized countries and found there what I might call the Higher anti-Semitism, which burns the soul though it leaves the body unhurt. The genesis of this Higher anti-Semitism is partly, though not entirely—for a man like Kuenen belongs to an entirely different class—contemporaneous with the genesis of the so-called Higher criticism of the Bible. Wellhausen’s Prolegomena and History are teeming with aperçes full of venom against Judaism, and you cannot wonder that he was rewarded by one of the highest orders which the Prussian Government had to bestow. Afterwards Harnack entered the arena with his “Wesen des Christenthums,” in which he showed not so much his hatred as his ignorance of Judaism. But this Higher anti-Semitism has now reached its climax when every discovery of recent years is called to bear witness against us and to accuse us of spiritual larceny.

Some time ago I saw in one of the numerous sheets of this country a reference to the Hammurabi Code, concluding with the words, “this means a blow to Orthodoxy.” I hold no brief for Orthodoxy in this country or elsewhere. But, may I ask: Is there any wing in Judaism which is prepared to confirm the reproach of Carlyle, who, in one of his anti-Semitic fits, exclaimed, “The Jews are always dealing in old clothes; spiritual or material.” We are here between ourselves, so we may frankly make the confession that we did not invent the art of printing; we did not discover America, in spite of Kayserling; we did not inaugurate the French Revolution, in spite of some one else; we were not the first to utilize the power of steam or electricity, in spite of any future Kayserling. Our great claim to the gratitude of mankind is that we gave to the world the word of God, the Bible. We have stormed heaven to snatch down this heavenly gift, as the Paitanic expression is; we threw ourselves into the breach and covered it with our bodies against every attack; we allowed ourselves to be slain by hundreds and thousands rather than become unfaithful to it; and we bore witness to its truth and watched over its purity in the face of a hostile world. The Bible is our sole raison d’être, and it is just this which the Higher anti-Semitism is seeking to destroy, denying all our claims for the past, and leaving us without hope for the future.

Can any section among us afford to concede to this professorial and imperial anti-Semitism and confess “for a truth we and our ancestors have sinned’” we have lived on false pretenses and were the worst shams in the world? Forget not that we live in an historical age in which everybody must show his credentials from the past. The Bible is our patent of nobility granted to us by the Almighty God, and if we disown the Bible, leaving it to the tender mercies of a Wellhausen, Stade and Duhm, and other beautiful souls working away at diminishing the “nimbus of the Chosen Peope,” the world will disown us. There is no room in it for spiritual parvenus. But this intellectual persecution can only be fought by intellectual weapons and unless we make an effort to recover our Bible and to think out our theology for ourselves, we are irrevocably lost from both worlds. A mere protest in the pulpit or a vigorous editorial in a paper, or an amateur essay in a monthly, or even a special monograph will not help us. We have to create a really living, great literature, and do the same for the subjects of theology and the Bible that Europe has done for Jewish history and philology. It is in view of this fact that I hail Dr. Kohler’s election to the Presidency of the Hebrew Union College as a happy event in the annals of American Jewry; for under his guidance I am sure Cincinnati will, in good time, contribute its share to this great “battle of duty.” Some amiable persons predict jealousy and strife between the two colleges, and are already preparing to enjoy the fight as disinterested spectators. I am certain that they will prove false prophets, for the old dictum that the students of the Torah increase peace in the world, holds good also in our day. But let me say to you that this yearning after peace, on my part, is not to be taken as a sign of my entertaining any doubt as to the soundness of my theological position, or fear of a strenuous life. I am, as a rule, not given to mental squinting, nor have I ever shunned a fight. But I honor and admire Dr. Kohler too much to take up the position of an antagonist. Besides, you have probably heard the story of that Methodist parson who rebuked one of his parishioners who occasionally indulged in wife-beating, with the words: “How can you spend your time in fighting your wife, when you both should be fighting the devil?” In fact, I feel that we are standing now before a crisis which would stigmatize the indulgence in such a fight as treason to the cause of Judaism; we must gather our forces and fight the enemy; and Dr. Kohler, by his wide learning, contagious enthusiasm and noble character, is the right man in the right place to marshal a part of these forces, which may, by the blessing of God, help us to victory.

Schechter’s “philosophic Hep-Hep” refers to the Hep-Hep Riots of 1819 beginning in Würzburg and spreading to other areas. It was the most widespread Western European pogrom in modern times until the Holocaust, and was instigated by those opposing emancipation (i.e., an equality of civil rights) for the Jews.



Beauty Part 4

Rabbis Sing Hotel California

Rav Ovadia Yosef Blesses Israeli Soldiers

Letter from Rav Elyashiv to Rav Ovadia Yosef

Letter from Rav Elyashiv to Rav Ovadia Yosef, saying it is mitvah for him to run for the position of Chief Rabbi

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A Yom Kippur Message with Rabbi Benji Levy