Monthly Archives: July 2015

Happy Tu B’Av!


“There were no greater festivals for Israel than the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur.” (Gemara Taanis 26b)

Just like Yom Kippur, Tu B’Av was a day of forgiveness, when the generation that came out of Egypt stopped dying in the desert and Hashem forgave the Jewish people for the sin of the spies. On this day, certain restrictions on marriage were lifted. Also, the guards preventing Jews living in the kingdom of Yisrael from travelling to the Beis Hamikdash in Yehuda were removed. Rabbi Nivin says that Tu B’Av is a day of unity: between the Jewish people and Hashem and among each other.

In honor of Tu B’Av I wrote an article on matchmaking in Los Angeles. You can read it online here.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!



Dveikus in a Concentration Camp

It’s Tisha B’Av, and I’m reading a book called One Jew’s Power, One Jew’s Glory by Yechiel Granatstein. It’s about Reb Yitzchak’l — Rabbi Yitzchak Shmuel Eliyahu Finkler, the Rebbe of Radoschitz, and his spiritual resistance during the Holocaust. I find it very inspiring.

Early on, before the deportation to the camps, Reb Yitzchak’l lost his wife. He comforted his daughters:

“When a person is attached to the Holy, Blessed One with every strand and thread of his being… when he is bound to our Maker with every fiber of his heart, and with all his heart he believes that it is He alone who makes everything happen — then he must, absolutely must accept the good and the bad equally — in the very same way. We have to accept that both come from His knowledge and His will — for His higher reasons, that we cannot always understand…” (page 50).

Later on, in the Skarszysko concentration camp, Reb Yitzchak’l continued to live according to these principles. His corner in the barracks became the spiritual center where people came to daven and to receive advise and encouragement. Even the Nazis were afraid to interrupt his davening and interfere with his spiritual activities.

Another inmate describes Yom Kippur in the camp:

“The Rebbe together with other Jews — he was there himself, right in their midst — were working away, unloading freight cars that were stacked with very heavy steel beams. The time came, however, when they suddenly noticed that the Rebbe was standing at the side, on the [platform]… and with immense d’veikus he was saying the prayers of this most holy and awesome day of the year… Suddenly one of the commandants of the camp appeared — a terrifying Nazi tyrant… Evidently he wanted to check and see how the enslaved Jews were working on Yom Kippur… Then his glance fell on the Rebbe. He watched him praying fervently, swaying back and forth in d’veikus, like a man who was not really there, not at all in this physical world of ours, but completely sundered from it. And this Nazi, this utterly vicious human animal, remained standing there as though paralyzed… he turned around and disappeared” (page 102).

Reb Yitzchak’l encouraged his fellow Jews not to give up hope, to continue living and waiting for liberation. He himself maintained a positive attitude. Another inmate describes a roll call where a “selection” would be made:

“I was standing near the Rebbe. I watched his lips moving, murmuring, with a smile on his face. His pleasant mood never left him! There he stood, whispering now to this man, now to that one, rousing, heartening, consoling, pouring into them his faith and trust in Hashem” (page 109).

A lofty level, but something to aspire to.

Herod’s Temple

Jerus-n4iGemara Sukkah 51b: “He who has not seen Jerusalem in its splendor, has never seen a beautiful city in his life. He who has not seen the Temple in its full construction has never seen a glorious building in his life. Which Temple? Abaye, or if you want, R. Hisda said: This refers to the building of Herod. What did he build it from? Rabbah said: Of yellow and white marble. There are those who say: With yellow, blue and white marble. The building rose in tiers in order to provide a hold for the plaster. He intended at first to overlay it with gold, but the Rabbis told him, Leave it alone for it is more beautiful as it is, since it has the appearance of the waves of the sea.” (English translation from

I thought it was interesting that Herod, known for his cruelty and ruthlessness, managed to build the most beautiful building in the world.

Who was Herod? The gemara in Bava Basra 3b-4a says that Herod was a former slave of the Chashmonaim who rebelled against his masters and HerodtheGreat2killed all of the Chashmonai family. He pronounced himself king over the Jewish people, along the way killing all the rabbis so they wouldn’t object to a slave becoming king. He spared only one sage, Bava ben Buta, whom he blinded. Then, pretending to be somebody else, he attempted to provoke Bava ben Buta to curse him, but the sage refused. Realizing that killing the rabbis was a mistake, Herod asked Bava ben Buta how he could make amends for what he had done. The sage advised him to build a new and better building for the Beis Hamikdash, which Herod proceeded to do.

Did Herod become a better person by rebuilding the Beis Hamikdash? Highly unlikely, given that he murdered his own wife and sons. But he did make his mark on Yerushalyim – many walls built by Herod are still standing today.

Have a good Shabbos and a meaninful and inspiring Tisha B’Av!

Welcome to my blog!

Hi everyone!

This is the official first post of my new blog, located at

Today is erev Rosh Chodesh Av. We are about to intensify our mourning for the Beis Hamikdash. But this mourning is not meant to be a negative experience, crying about something we’re missing. The Nesivos Shalom (Bamidbar, page 190) says that the purpose of this time period is to arouse within us a desire for a rebuilt Beis Hamikdash.  This desire in itself is the beginning of the rebuilding process.

The more we learn about the Beis Hamikdash the greater is our desire to see it rebuilt. This article, which I wrote last year during the Three Weeks, walks you through the Beis Hamikdash and its service.

My new short story, The Secret Ingredient, which is set in Beis Hamikdash times, will be in Hamodia’s Inyan Magazine next week, July 22, IY”H.

Chodesh tov!