Monthly Archives: February 2010

One Man Can Change the World

Amazing inspirational Hesped for Rav Noach Weinberg by Rav Baruch Horowitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Dvar Yerushalayim – Listen here it is well worth it (warning Large file 20 meg). It really makes you think about how much of an impact we can really make. I personally very much enjoy Rav Horowitz's drashas, and I think they should be advertised to a broader audience as in my perception he is unfortunately rather *unknown* in the wider community, despite his life long achievements and dedication to jewish education. Please see a collection of his video drashas here.

Achdut & Ahavat Yisrael

February 7, 2010

Maran HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita has called for an atzeres tefilla on behalf of Rishon L’Tzion Rabbi Mordechai [Tzemach ben Mazel] Eliyahu Shlita, whose condition took a sharp turn for the worse, now listed as critical in Shaare Tzedek Medical Center.

Rav Kanievsky stated the most appropriate place for the atzeres is the Rav’s shul in Kiryat Moshe, where he regularly disseminated Torah to the tzibur. In addition to that main tefilla event, others will be held around Eretz Yisrael, as per Rav Kanievsky’s call. Tefillos were recited at the Kever of the Chid’a on Har Menuchos on Sunday afternoon. 
An speacial atzeres tefilla was held in the Rav’s shul on Sunday evening for women.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


Minority vs Majority vs Critical Thinking

Sefer Am Ve-Artzo vol. 1, #11]

Question: The Torah scholars and great authorities of Israel who support the position of Gush Emunim (the movement to settle all of the historical Land of Israel) are the minority of Rabbis in contrast to those who are opposed. If so, shouldn't we follow the general principle of Jewish Law that majority rules?
Answer: I will deal with the essence of the question without discussing whether it is in fact the reality. After all, our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, was well known for his declaration that the majority of the world’s Torah giants did not oppose Zionism. Once, one of the students at the Yeshivah said that he would not dare make such a statement in the vicinity of the Holy Ark. The student’s words made their way to the ears of our Rabbi. Our Rabbi immediately ran to the Yeshiva, opened up the Holy Ark containing the Torah Scrolls and said, "Whoever says that the majority of Torah giants opposed Zionism is a liar. The truth should be told that Zionism was a new movement, and most of the leading Rabbis were uncertain as to how to relate to it. Most of those who did take a stand were actually in favor of Zionism."
The halachic authorities have written that the principle that we follow the majority only applies if all authorities sit together and there is give-and-take between them, and not if each one of them states his opinion on his own and we count up their opinions. Since perhaps, if the majority heard the opinion of the minority and had give-and-take with them, they would be convinced (Shut Ha-Rashba quoted in Beit Yosef, Choshen Mishpat, end of chap. 13). "Because we do not say majority rules except when a majority of them argue face-to-face" (Sedei Chemed, vol. 3, pg. 149), "When all of the judges are gathered together in one place like the Sanhedrin" (Get Pashut, kelali, klal #1, and see Shut She’eilat David in Makor Beit Av – ma’amar #2, Mishnat Hora’ah by Mahartz Chayot chap. 4-5, Sdei Chemed – kelalim ma’arechet yud klal #35, Minchat Chinuch, mitzvah 78 #1 and Chazon Ish – Kilayim siman 1).
Despite this idea, the authorities mention the issue of deciding based on "the majority of wisdom" (i.e. greater knowledge and expertise in a particular area of Halachah), and there are even those who say that we follow a "majority of wisdom" over a "majority of number" (Likutei Ha-Ramban, Sanhedrin chap. 4 in the name of the Rahag). One must distinguish between "the majority of wisdom" for each authority based on his area of expertise: there are Rabbis whose expertise is monetary laws, and there are Rabbis whose expertise is in Kashrut, etc… Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzhak Ha-Cohain Kook's expertise was in the area of the workings of Klal Yisrael relating the rebuilding of our Nation and our Land, the beginning of the Redemption and in understanding the Master of the Universe’s direction of our history. He investigated, clarified, arranged, and constructed a complete method of understanding, whose scope and depth is far above all of the Sages of the generation of Acharonim (later authorities).
For example, Ha-Rav Joseph Soloveitchik, with all of his brilliance, did not construct an all-compassing method of understanding, and all of his teachings were, in essence, about the phenomenon of the religious individual. He did not present a philosophy of communal faith: The Rav only discussed the religious experience of the individual as opposed to the communal religious experience which includes understanding Hashem's role is guiding the history of the Nation of Israel.
All that was said above is equally applicable in relation to students who did not sufficiently learn Torah, and came to create all sorts of lies about Maran Ha-Rav Kook. They forged documents in his name, and placed in his mouth the opposite of what he said. The proper way to understand his teachings is through his son, our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, who even in his youth, his father said of him, "…with gratitude of G-d, he is nearly one with me, he who is accustomed to remain faithful to my opinion and hears the conversation of my soul (Igrot Ha-Re’eiyah vol. 1, p. 121).
Based on the decisions of Rabbi Akiva, in matter of the Messianism of Bar Kochba, the Rambam ruled, "He and all the Sages of his generation considered him to be the Messianic King" (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 11:3), even though we find Sages who disagreed with his position (Sanhedrin 93b and see Jerusalem Talmud Ta’anit 4:5, Eichah Rabbah 2:2). How then did the Rambam write: "Rabbi Akiva and all the Sages of his generation"? Rather it was clear to him, that in all matters pertaining to the vision of Redemption and the resurrection of Israel and its Land, Rabbi Akiva was the expert; that is, he possessed "the majority of wisdom." Therefore, even though the majority disagreed with him, he was defined by Halachah as "all the Sages of his generation" (see Rambam, Hilchot Ta’anit 5:3 where there is a similar understanding.

Also see the following by the controversial, but articulate and intelligent R'Dovid Bar Chaim of Machon Shilo ( )

R' Dovid Bar-Chaim: Rabbinic Paralysis

During a student's first years in yeshiva he learns to think creatively and ask probing questions. However, when he embarks on his rabbinical studies, the rules change. Suddenly all that is a thing of the past. Now he is taught not to think, for his opinion is not important; he is now taught that he must simply accept. This approach, a far cry from the methodology of the Talmud, produces "rabbis" incapable of analyzing primary sources and reaching an independent conclusion. One tragic example is child abuse within the observant community.

 Download Part 1

 Download Part 2


Chabad laying down the law

Below is a letter that I was forwarded. It highlights to me that within Chabad there are those who are very much aware of what is going on and are prepared to take action to rectify the situation. The fact that we have reached this stage is a truly sad state of affairs. Either way, I am doing my part to get the message out there and hope these type of announcements will be more forthecoming in the future.

24 Shvat, 5770


To all Shluchim and friends of Chabad Lubavitch,


It has come to my attention that Alexander (Sasha) Milschtein – who is an “elokist”, rachamana litzlan, and who “celebrates” Tisha B’av with a public barbeque (complete with an announcement r”l in his published calendar) – has been traveling all over the world, fraudulently presenting himself as an affiliate of Chabad Lubavitch of Milwaukee/Wisconsin. 


He and his representatives, Yevgeny (Shlomo) Seskutov and Aleksander Shteyn, appeal to people in your community and are being supported by unsuspecting, rachamonim bnei rachamonim


It is my unpleasant duty, as a Jew and a Shaliach, to bring this to your attention in order to prevent you from supporting a fraudulent and a r”l… operation.  Needless to say, it is an absolute prohibition, an isur chomur, to say the least, to offer any support to anyone of his camp.  It is every Jew’s duty to prevent his constituency and acquaintances from R”L supporting the above, per these letters by Vaad Rabonei Anash and Beis Din of Crown Heights:


Letter by Vaad Rabonei Anash concerning Milschtein

Letter by Beth Din of Crown Heights about Milschtein


[I call your attention below to r”l similar letters from rabbonim.]


May the Al-mighty cause them to do teshuvah immediately.




Rabbi Yisroel Shmotkin

Director, Lubavitch of Wisconsin


Additional links:

Public Notice by Rabbi Telsner

A letter by Rabbi Axelrod – Haifa, Israel

Public announcement by Rabbi Axelrod



Rabbi Yisroel Shmotkin
Lubavitch of WI | Executive Director
3109 N. Lake Dr, MilwaukeeWI 53211
414.961.6100 | m 414.807.4900

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Black Jews* of Nigeria Praying

* I cannot vouch whether they are halachicly jewish, but either way, this is music to my ears :)