75th Holocaust Memorial Event

Melbourne was and probably still is a predominantly Polish refugee influenced community largely due to the 2nd largest group of Polish refugees coming to Australia. We are all the richer for that wide tapestry of different components which, I guess Warsaw alone represented. I don’t remember the number, but the sheer volume of different views and newspapers and groups therein was just astounding.

On the other hand we have had valuable refugees from the then Soviet Union who suffered also from the vicissitudes of the Holocaust and associated political atrocities committed there. Chabad, which is really a Lita (Litvishe) / White Russian movement that withstood the attempted erosion of Jewish identity in Russia was an early important element, but in more recent times many Russian Jews have enriched our community with their own contribution having escaped the so-called “Union” of Soviet Republics led by Stalin ימח שמו וזכרו.

Due to the hard work of Mordechai Oyberman and others Elwood Shule is commemorating the 75th memorial and I attach the flier and encourage those who are able to attend. Whilst it’s a pity that we haven’t fully united in commemoration (save for Tisha B’Av which consumes us with Jewish tragedy over the ages) I think it’s important that Jews of all “colours” make an effort to offer Tfilla, Kaddish and Kel Moleh Rachamim for the holy souls consumed by the sub-human element that comprises society.

Flier for 75 years from 22 June 1941 final eng

Women singing at public events or commemorations

The following is from the Jerusalem Post.

“A row has broken out after Bar-Ilan University earlier this week banned women from singing during its Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony on Wednesday night.

Female students were told they would be allowed to read passages of text for the ceremony and play musical instruments.

Rabbi Shlomo Shefer, Bar- Ilan’s campus rabbi who is responsible for the ceremony, told Channel 10, which first reported the story, the decision was made because women singing in ceremonies on campus was not the customary practice at the university. Jewish law, in general, prohibits men from listening to women sing in person, although some rabbinic authorities are more lenient on this issue.
The university faced criticism from several quarters, including the national-religious organization Ne’emanei Torah V’Avodah (NTA), which said that singing at national ceremonies is an Israeli custom and stringencies in Jewish law should not be imposed on the general, non-religious public.

“Even if within Jewish law there are different opinions regarding women singing at public events, there are enough opinions [in Jewish law] that do not prohibit this at public ceremonies, for religious ceremonies and other events,” the organization said.

“NTA holds that women can and should appear on stage at public events. Those who have a stricter approach are free not to attend these events, but they cannot impose their strictures on the general public.”

Separately, NTA also criticized the Israel Association of Students for inviting singer Eyal Golan to perform at its annual Student Day celebrations.

Golan was accused, in 2014, of having sexual relations with underage girls, although the police investigation against him was closed due to lack of evidence. During the investigation, the singer had told the police that there was a difference between sleeping with a girl of 17 compared to a girl of 16, saying the latter was a criminal act and the former was not.

“It is difficult to accept the indifference in which performers who are caught up in moral controversy are invited to such events,” said NTA.”

My view (Note very carefully that I am not stating any more than an opinion. Halachic rulings should only be given by Rabbis of recognised high calibre unless they are an “open and shut” case as per Shulchan Aruch, which this is not, as per the parameters in Responsa on similar questions e.g. Women singing Zmiros in the Sridei Eish 2:8 especially near the end of that responsa, and reciting Krias Shma in front of a female who is not wearing a head covering these days as per the Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 75:7) cf. Mishna Berura (Orach Chaim 75:10) who disagrees.

Rav Yechiel Michel Epstein ז’ל, the Aruch HaShulchan
  1. It is proper for a University of this type to have a Rabbi to whom it refers Halachic questions and advice.
  2. It is proper for such a Rabbi to proffer his opinion on such matters, as well as providing these to students who consult him.
  3. On weighty halachic issues, I would expect any Rabbi, unless he is a recognised Posek and/or who writes Responsa which leave them open to peer review, to confer with Poskim of note who already have no halachic issue with attending this type of University establishment
  4. I think I have been at Bar Ilan once; I do not know the University except for some academic Computer Science issues (e.g. its responsa project) and some academics who publish Judaism-oriented articles.
  5. The issue of women singing (many consider this a Rabbinic prohibition) together with men at a formal ceremony, as in a remembrance ceremony or the singing of an anthem, is one which is not new. Although one may be sitting or standing relatively close to a female and hear her particular voice clearly despite a group setting (מגילה כא, ב), I would be inclined to respond as follows (assuming the questioner was free to make their own decision 🙂 ):
    1. If this issue is one which you personally feel is halachically problematic, do not attend.
    2. If your own Posek has advised you that you may attend or may not attend, then follow his Psak Din.
    3. I would consult with a renowned Posek and suggest to that Posek that, perhaps based on the Aruch Hashulchan and those who quote his interpretation, it can be argued that it is highly unlikely that anyone who is already attending Bar Ilan, and today might be sexually aroused from this group form of singing, might be permissible.
      Either way, I would suggest though that they look straight ahead or up at the sky while singing, or close their eyes (looking and “staring” are two different things halachically). In my opinion, any permissive ruling should be accompanied by a qualifier to remind the person of the fact that there is always a prohibition of a male listening to a female singing. [I was privy to a permissive ruling for my band, Schnapps, from Rav Moshe Feinstein ז’’ל. Schnapps offered a male singer only for many years, but over the last few years (in my opinion this changed when certain Rabbis did not, and some still do not, leave a Simcha when a female was singing) now offers either a younger new male singer or a male and female combination).]
    4. I would offer to discuss parameters that are inviolable according to Orthodox opinion (I exclude Open Orthodoxy and Shira Chadasha from such, as they are not considered Orthodox by Orthodoxy.)
    5. An interesting sub-question that came to mind is the case of a male who had a homosexual disposition and קול באישה ערווה. I’m reminded of one of my teachers of Halacha, Rav Yosef Efrati שליט’’א  many years ago who would answer such questions when asked publicly (on Thursday evenings when he gave his packed Halacha Shiur at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh) with: “Nu, Is this a question להלכה ולמעשה?” I don’t doubt that it is a question for some, however, my inclination is that it would be not advised to advertise such a disposition, despite the reality that those in this category are more vocal, and ask for acceptance. On the issue of acceptance, there should be no barrier placed which causes them to feel disenfranchised to the extent that they feel uncomfortable in a largely heterosexual Shule.

What would I do personally? I come across this each year at Yom Hashoa events where the partisan song and the Israel national anthem are sung (according to a Psak I received many years ago, I replace להיות עם חפשי with להיות עם תורה). I do not leave the Hall. I sing these, and usually concentrate on the lyrics, looking straight ahead. On the other hand, if a female sings alone, which is much rarer these days, I look to leave the hall earlier (there is a printed program) as if I need a bathroom break, and return some time after. I have found myself in the company of Orthodox Rabbis who attend such events and do not enjoy bothering people in the row that I sit if I don’t get an aisle seat. I attend because my father ע׳ה, a survivor, attended and my children attended with him together with my mother, עמו׳ש, who is also a survivor. I won’t digress into a discussion of forms of commemoration and Halacha, though, there are substantive views on this from Mori, VeRabbi, Rav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik ז’’ל.

I want to repeat: please do not under any circumstance treat this blog post as anymore than Pitputim. In practice, if you have such a question, please consult your Posek.

On the void that is a parent

There are many people who say,

“A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about my father”,

after their father (or mother) has departed this world. I don’t doubt them. Thinking about my father ע’’ה is scratching the surface. I don’t think about him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There isn’t a day, however, that doesn’t pass wherein I don’t reflect, either during the day, or as I try to fall asleep. I sometimes reflect on things I may or may have not done which would have met with his approval or disapproval. At other times it is surface tension.

The irony is that we have been married for more than 3 decades. During that time, I couldn’t put my hand on my heart and say I listened to everything he suggested. There were times we disagreed. However, I rarely over-argued my position, and if I we chose to take a slightly different path, I did so without fanfare or disrespect. I tried to make him unaware, but that was nigh on impossible. He had a sixth sense, and could simply tell from my voice on the phone in the car, if I had a good day.

What I have become acutely aware of during his physical void from this world, is a magnification and perhaps even the creation of my own frailties. It is true that some of those frailties were born because of the vacuüm connected to the history from whence they germinated.

A good analogy might be marking your own test. Until then, I may not have been aware or concerned to compare my test results with those of my fathers. It just wasn’t on the agenda. I was living life from day-to-day, navigating through morass and happiness (comprising much more of the latter). Comparison of test results or similar weren’t remotely registered or on any agenda.

It is only now that there are occasions where I am sure that

  • I know how my father would have wanted me to react and pass on the values of the Mesora/tradition;
  • there are instances where I am not sure, and indeed, others are also not sure.
  • the remote: the new situation that he may not have encountered where one needs to extrapolate.

That is the most difficult of all because subjective influences will doubtless infiltrate what might have been a logical or historical process.

Professor R’ Chaym Soloveitchik, the son of the Rav, wrote a seminal essay in Tradition magazine, many years ago, about the mimetic (think mime) tradition. I tended then to look at his thoughts through a more prism vis a vis Halacha recorded and the growing paper trails versus the מסורה/tradition handed down manually from family to family (and sung so well by Topol in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’). Tradition can subsume technico-legal aspects of Halacha and extends to Middos and behavioural mores.

One of my teachers, R’ Nochem Zalman Gurewicz ע’’ה had an uncompromising view of Halacha. He also had an uncompromising love of Jews. Although we were ostensibly learning Gemora with him in Year 12, the refrain, often accompanied by a bang on his desk was that we needed to self-imbue ourselves/become acquainted with the so called “missing” tome of Shulchan Aruch, known as the “Fifter Chelek”. This mythical tome, of course doesn’t exist in writing. R’ Chaym Soloveitchyk would probably identify some of the fifth tome as osmosis from one’s parents and grandparents.

I have heard (to the best of my recollection) Mori V’Rabbi, R’ Hershel Schachter talk about the fifth chelek of Shulchan Aruch. Likely he used that terminology as it is the terminology that is common today.

Again, to the best of my recollection, the Rav, Rav Soltoveitchik, didn’t use this terminology as much if at all. His main language: and the main language if R’ Hershel  was the terminology of

והלכת בדרכיו

Go in His ways

Based on the Ramban, this is an onus we carry each day. We are to conduct ourselves in ways that God would conduct himself. We know many of God’s traits (values is probably a better word). These are enunciated. The Rav and his father R’ Moshe and his father R’ Chaim of Brisk (after whom Professor R’ Chaym was named) held that the contents of the fifth chelek if you will, are in-between the lines of the other four chalokim. One needs to develop an acute sense of how to read a line of anything: be it Shulchan Aruch and Gemora (for which the Rav did have a formal Mesora passed down to him) and even Chumash (for which the Rav bemoaned that he never went through the exercise of reading between the lines with his father or Grandfather (The Rav does identify the Ramban, though, as the most outstanding pirush in that direction).

So, you are probably wondering why I am allowing a conscious and personal stream burst forth onto the internet about my father ע’’ה all of a sudden.

To be honest, I was re-arranging pictures, and each time his visage confronted me the פסוק of והלכת בדרכיו based on the foundation of מסורה confronted me and disturbed my status quo.

והיו עיניך רואות את מוריך

 

Back to work.

Our holiday. Part 3: 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn New York

Dear Readers,

I’ve scribbled out part 1 (and thanks to a reader for the english correction wherein I learned that I had understood a word incorrectly all my life!)

I’m jumping to Part 3 before Part 2. Why am I doing so? Perhaps you will understand when I have finished writing. I apologise as always for errors but I don’t proof-read much if at all.

My dear father’s 2nd Yohr Tzeit is on Friday. Leading up to that has been somewhat teary. A way to cope is to try to divest from  thoughts and memories and ever presence. It only helps partly. Every which way life turns, the touch and influence of his Neshoma and memory is raw and palpable. Call it second generation holocaust survivor syndrome. It’s my existential reality; I can’t escape it.

This morning I had five injections in my feet (for plantar fascia) after enduring pain for way too long. The specialist kept saying, “this is going to hurt, this will hurt a lot more etc as he dug the needle and spread it around while squirting in places where needles don’t normally wander”. I answered each time. It doesn’t hurt. Just do what you have to do. When the procedure was finished and my feet felt like they had fallen asleep from the block used in my heels, he was ready to move on quickly (too quickly to his next patient). I stopped him and explained that nothing any doctor could do would cause me to show pain. He asked why? I replied that my parents are holocaust survivors in a world of insulting and sick denial, and their pain was far worse than anything I could ever imagine. Accordingly, I stridently refuse and refused to show visible pain; what I experienced was a drop in the ocean.

He stood there somewhat speechless. He asked me if my parents had passed away. I said my father had “just” passed away. That’s not true of course. His second yohr tzeit is in a few days and ברוך השם he is weaving his magic 2005-10-09_14-47-22 with השם and cajoling him to shower our family and wider family with Simcha after Simcha. To me though, it is like yesterday, and hence my instinctive but unintentionally dry incorrect answer.

So what has this to do with Crown Heights and Part 3 of a holiday? Is Isaac Balbin off on yet another emotional outpouring? Maybe he needs to see a shrink. Maybe I do need to see a shrink but not because of this 🙂

We were only in Crown Heights for a few days. The truly wonderful Tzirel Goldman led us on a walking tour of important places, and then our Mechutonim graciously took Leonie and I out to a very nice restaurant. Unfortunately due to a gig, I couldn’t make the wedding of their son, which had just taken place.

I felt an “agenda” happening yet I wasn’t in usual control. I was moving from place to place. The area was buzzing from Chanuka to Hey Teves (& silly meshichisten) and it was on for young and old. Let’s not forget to mention the aufruf I was looking forward to attending (oh and the Kiddush in Getzel’s Shule, someone I had heard lots about)

Suddenly, our Mechutonim, the Goldmans said, let’s go and introduce you to Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky. I had momentarily forgotten he was their brother-in-law. I keep getting mixed up between Duchman and Kotlarsky for some reason, and Mendel Duchman (who I also met on this trip in Montreal) is also a Mechutan of the Chaitons.

Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky

I recognised his face, had seen him in Melbourne, and was aware that he supervised the shlichus operations for the Lubavitcher Rebbe זי’’ע. “Fine, I responded thinking perhaps I might just say a few niceties and perhaps share a tiny piece of Torah”. We came into his room and he is a big man in several ways. His office looked organised and tidy. Emails were constantly flowing in. He looked tired and weary as if the world was on his shoulders. We shook hands and I sat in front of his desk, with Rabbi Yossy Goldman, and the lady folk including Rabbi Kotlarsky’s wife (who is my mechuteniste’s sister), Leonie et al on the side.

After the usual platitudes. I mentioned to him things he (made out he didn’t know) about Rav Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg הי’’ד

The horrid Holtzberg Kvura

and we immediately had a rapport based on our collective experiences with these special korbanos tehoros. He asked me if I had been back to see what they had done to Nariman House. My response was “no” and I wasn’t sure I could anyway. On my last trip, I somehow managed to get into the bullet-riddled, blood-stained building and took a video, which I won’t show, as it is nauseating. I mentioned my chelek in the miracle that is Moshe Holtzberg and he nodded, seemingly knowingly. I had the impression that this figure knew a heap more than he was letting on. Nonetheless, I told him how Rav Gavriel’s parents majestically appeared in Melbourne for our daughter Talya’s wedding to Zalman Bassin. The others were moved, but he seemed to show less emotion. I had the feeling that he was “used to” these types of happenings and for him, they were but another confirmation of what he had experienced and what was driving him with a sense of unstoppable purpose.

Suddenly he turned to me and asked “Have you been to the Ohel?” 

I answered truthfully. A בית החיים gives me the heebee geebies and I avoid them. As a Cohen I am somewhat cocooned but that came to an abrupt end when my father passed away and a scene I had never been close to, invaded me with shock. I mentioned the opinion of the Gro and Beis HoRav (Soltoveitchik) and Mori Rav Schachter and explained I was a soul with a foot from Brisk and a foot from Amshinov. It’s a contradiction in terms, which might explain my often ebullient meshugassen and eccentricity (well maybe not, but it’s a good try :-). I explained that I find it very difficult to go to my father. I unashamedly attend the least of my entire family. He asked me for the reason, and I explained that I was ממש a nothing compared to him and feel emotionally distraught even from the distance, after which I would be disturbed for days. He asked why? “That’s a good Midda to have. One should feel useless when standing next to giants”. I countered that the giants are around even outside the בית החיים and that is a fundamental. Why did one need to effectively go to a “sack of bones” which was even Tomei to experience their special presence. I suggested that maybe people can achieve things in different ways.

He cajoled me undoubtedly through his demeanour and presence, to “not” leave Crown Heights without a visit.

I launched into the issue of Doresh Al HaMeisim (I can make grown Rabbis scream, but he was very calm) and that I had no Minhag to go to Mikvah, wear slippers and knock on doors. He responded that’s all unnecessary. You can go in the way you feel “comfortable”. I said that DAVKA at a Tziyun, there is a natural tendency to “ask” from the Niftar, and tried to side track him with Brich Shmei and Shalom Aleichem which aren’t said by some for similar reasons. He then said, “Nu, take a simple Maaneh Loshon and say that”. I heard what he said, and understood him well. He had more than a touch of charismatic “Rabbi Groner” about him.

When I go to my father’s Tziyun, I say very specific Tehillim. I do that to stop myself from ASKING my father to do things. You can’t do that, but it’s a very natural tendency. I said I’d consider it seriously, but if I did go, it would be a very great mental strain to stop myself from lapsing into Doresh Al Hameisim when standing in front of two people who were responsible for my Torah education and much more.

In another part, I will explain what eventuated in terms of decision time.

I then mentioned that I had written but once to the Lubavitcher Rebbe yet had never received a reply. He didn’t ask what I had written, but I was comfortable saying it. I said that Melbourne was going through a particularly difficult and potentially splitting moment where two icons were jousting and Lubavitch was splitting. I had mentioned my family history, and made it clear that I could not be considered a Chosid in any shape, but I knew that the only person who could resolve the issue was the Rebbe himself and I asked him to. I never got an answer, and the Rebbe then had a stroke. I always assumed that the reason I hadn’t received an answer was because the Rebbe was B’Sakono and wasn’t in any position to respond with the same immediacy and wisdom as people were accustomed. I left it as a תשבי. One day I’d find out.

At that moment, Rabbi Kotlarksy said but you did get an answer, you just didn’t know it. I will now tell you what happened. As a result of the momentum of letters such as mine (I don’t claim any special powers!), he was summoned immediately to the Lubavitcher Rebbe who instructed him to travel to Melbourne and sort out the “mess”.

Rabbi Kotlarsky then told me how he sorted it out, and he did so quickly. I was very impressed by the ביטול of Rabbi Y.D. Groner ז’’ל about whom I could never imagine as “lower” than anyone, given his towering presence. That was a new greatness that I discovered. I was blown away by what Rabbi Groner had done. I was also blown away by the fact that on this particular trip after our daughter married into a well-known family, I had about an hour with someone who I never expected (or had a desire/need) to meet. I had no common business, so to speak.

But “the Aybishter Firt Der Velt”, and it was השגחה that I was to unravel a long mystery. I liked Rabbi Kotlarsky. He gave me the impression that he’s someone who I could sit for five hours listening to at a farbrengen. His finger was literally on the Chabad pulse.

We said our good byes, and I thanked him for allowing us to interrupt his very busy schedule. He was due to spend Shabbos at the Ohel for Hay Teyves and seemed to always be on planes, in cars and any vehicular transport, as he explained to me.

I’ve obviously not gone into all details, as they aren’t necessary and help nobody today.

So I come home to the Golus of Melbourne, and I’m due to now go the Tziyun of my dear father. I’ve had a practice run, so to speak, and it was mentally draining for me to keep my thoughts halachically sound and emotionally relevant.

I have to admit, that I am still implacably against people who write “to” the Rebbe as I noticed in many letters (even though they were torn) the people either didn’t know the Halacha, or were never taught it properly by some single-minded teachers who probably assumed something transcending Halacha. I don’t change my views on that and don’t apologise. I understand Chassidim emulate, but I am sure that the Lubavitcher Rebbe never ever was Doresh directly of his father in law. He was a Medakdek B’Mitzvos K’Chut Ha’saaroh and could not be questioned on such issues. I feel this was also why he had a common thread with the Rav, who is also known as the איש ההלכה.

So, until my next post, I will try to do the things one should do to give my dear father’s Neshoma nachas, although I can’t help but feel that there ought to be a motive to pile these up during the year, and just unload so to speak on the Yohr Tzeit when the Neshoma will go up a level (or levels).

I hope I haven’t bored you too much, but most of my posts are rather selfish. I heal myself through writing them.

Torn between what I think is right and a Torah law

In the evening, as I lie in bed hoping I can fall asleep quickly, I often take to my iPad arguing the outright lies put out by Hamas sympathisers disguising themselves as spokesman for the Palestinian cause.

In an among one stream of debate, a past moral and respected alumni of mine called for money to help the citizens of Hamastan. I asked her whether she was motivated by helping only Muslims or whether it was a civilian gesture to help all citizens caught up in the war begun by Hamas. She didn’t like me introducing that angle to her appeal, although she had published figures where she had already politicised the debate. She was, I believe, one of the vocal supporters of the rabble-like demonstration together with the great unwashed: consisting of the Marxists, Socialist Alliance, and other anti-Semitic no hopers living on Government subsidies in the main. I see them putting up posters all around my workplace. I take them down, if I pass such posters. I have the same right to take down a non mandated poster as they do putting them up.

Suddenly, one of my alumnus’ friends posted a horribly offensive picture of Hitler ימ’’ש with the words “I didn’t kill all the Jews, I left some for you to kill” followed by Share the post etc

I was fuming. I tried to control myself, but as a child of holocaust survivors and like many of us who lost relatives in the genocide targeting a race–the largely helpless Jews–I felt that justice needed to be effected. I quickly took pictures of the said disgraceful post and researched the background of the person who sent it. I asked him to contact me as he was in breach of State and Federal Laws, after which he quickly took down the post.

He wasn’t a Yobbo. He is very intelligent, having completed an Aeronautical Engineering degree from RMIT. He was from Pakistan, living in Melbourne, occupying a very senior role in a well-known company, and was undertaking a part-time MBA part-time at Melbourne Uni.

I asked our common acquaintance to contact him. Our common acquaintance/alumnus is a nice person, also a Muslim, and she and I have mutual respect. He refused to contact me. When a week passed, and I saw another objectionable post from him, I decided that I had to do react. The Police were outraged and informed me that he had likely broken both a local and federal law and if convicted faced a term of up to 3 years in prison and all that flows from that. The police suggested that we need to react to such hate speech.

Yes, it is also true, I was grossed out by the assault perpetrated by Zach Gomo, and this was also on my mind. Zach has been to our house several times, with his lovely partner to be.

There was a rally, which I couldn’t attend. I understand it was poorly attended. In my opinion the proper JEWISH response was not to wear red (a colour we are enjoined to avoid), but to blow the Shofar, to the sound of Teruah (it is a Machlokes Acharonim whether this applies today) and to issue prayers for the safety of the defenders of our Holy State. The agenda should not be led by Zionist organisations alone. They sometimes invent new modes of protest and rally. As Rav Soloveitchik stressed: the Chachomim defined the limits of Torah according to tradition-Mesora. We should not be inventing new traditions. The Mesora informs us what we should be doing. We must follow the Mesora at all times. Unfortunately I could not attend. I was teaching Torah at the time to two people who are the future of our people. I hope the rally achieved success and the organisers were pleased.

Now, I wanted my interlocutor to visit the Holocaust Museum and issue an advertisement apologising for his racially genocidal incitement. In other words, I wanted him educated.

I had rung the Neil Mitchell program on Monday when the topic arose, and related what a low-life had perpetrated. Neil took my number off air but never followed up. I wouldn’t expect Jon Faine to have any more sympathy even Neil although he is technically Jewish and has two very fine traditional parents.

Yes, my angst is trivial compared to a family that has lost a love one, but I can’t help the seething frustration, where weeds are permitted to sprout with impunity in a “multi-cultural” Australia. That being said, a Torah Law prohibits me taking the next steps, and one must bow to the Torah and I will leave it at that.

This is from Debbie Schlussel. It’s not what he posted. What he posted was much worse and I dare not even let anyone see it as it is distressing.

Beit Raphael: An act of Chessed from Adina and R’ Shimon Allen

I sit next to Shimon Allen at Yeshivah Shule, in Melbourne Australia. I have done so for many years, as has my father. We’ve developed a rapport and he teases me about the fact that my wife doesn’t offer Griven (a heart attack causing, cholesterol laden morass of congealed and fried chicken fat, which happens to be delicious (think of it as real chicken bisli). I’ve mentioned it before. I point out that whilst he has herring on occasion, his isn’t the real McCoy because there aren’t copious lashings of Tzibelle (onion). We also share our “delight” that when invited to modernishe houses, they serve copious amounts of rabbit food, and one is expected to force a smile through the mountains of lettuce leaves, broccoli, pine nuts and every meshugass they find at the vegetable shop. Yes, they are “healthy for you” but when was the last time that you felt “full” one hour after such a meal? Why do our bodies require this gas-forming roughage. Is this Oneg Shabbos, let alone Kavod Shabbos? Sometimes I feel the right response is “Moo” while eating, as opposed to a hearty greps after a good choolent, washed down by some Bromfen, and followed by an antacid (pareve of course) and two cholesterol tablets.

Enough of the mirth.

Erev Shabbos, and my father took gravely ill due to a series of life threatening blood infections. I rushed from work to be at his bed side, as were my siblings and all our children. I was still in my work clothes, and asked many to say Tehillim, while I did so myself. We rang R’ Shimon and his wife, and immediately the key to their apartment across the road was made available to us. After davening Mincha and then Kabolas Shabbos, my stomache reminded me that I had not had anything all day other than a single cup of coffee. Baruch Hashem, I asked my incredible wife to organise 24 Vurst Sandwiches so that team Balbin, Leibler and Waller would not go hungry. Diana and Yirmi Loebenstein, for whom my parents are like a second set of parents (they live across the road and are very close) brought a stack of Schnitzels and some Challah etc. My own incredible wife even managed to buy little electric incandescent lights and relying on (at least) R’ Chaim Ozer, we made brachos over the licht.

Words cannot describe the effort that Adina and R’ Shimon have put into the unit directly across the road from Cabrini. Every last thing was available. The fridge was stocked a plenty. There was wurst, and drinks, and beer and nash, you name it, it was there. It was on the bottom floor. The key had already been made into a shabbos belt. There was a Shabbos light next to the beds. I can go on and on. None of us should ever need to use such a facility, but it gave us a dose of menuchas hanefesh and meant my father had more support than he could ever have dreamed about. It was also a rather hot day, and yet we didn’t feel any heat. We only felt true warmth.

Baruch Hashem, my father is slowly but surely improving, albeit slightly, each day.

Shaul Zelig HaCohen Ben Toba Frimet, may he have a Refuah Shelema B’Karov.

All the grandchildren brought sleeping bags, and were able to sleep in the lounge room. It was amazing, really. I’ll stop here because Shimon and Adina will be angry that I have written the above anyway and mentioned them explicitly.

That they are able to use their financial resources and care for the community in such a way is simply inspirational. I’m sure that in Gan Eden, their teacher and mentor, R’ Zalman Serbryansky is alerting HaKadosh Baruch Hu to their Mitzvah and is lobbying for appropriate Brachos to come their way.

Shimon and Adina Allen are pleased to advise of the opening of Malvern Beit Rafael Hospital Accommodation.

All members of the community are welcome to avail themselves of this fully furnished apartment which is situated close to Cabrini Hospital, whilst they have family members receiving treatment at the hospital.

A pantry stocked with kosher non-perishables and a fridge/ freezer containing kosher meals will be at your disposal.

Beit Rafael continues to offer accommodation at North Melbourne assisting families with loved ones receiving treatment at the Royal Children’s Hospital,

Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Royal Women’s Hospital.

Please enter the contact numbers into your telephone:

0421 408 522 – Shabbat: 0421 327 859

Beit Raphael

Respecting your elders

My experience has been that the older I get, the easier I find it to listen to my parents. It’s paradoxical in one sense. When you are younger and less mature, you might expect to be more in need of the sage counsel of parents. At the same time, while one develops their own firm views of life, there is a tendency to perhaps discount alternate suggestions. After marriage, one ought to learn the art of joint decision-making. Someone who ignores the views of their spouse, may also ignore the requests from their parents. There are pathological extremes, but they aren’t  in my purview. When one is more “independent”  that doesn’t mean they don’t show כבוד or יראה to their parents. There is perhaps something missing: the element of being able to be מבטל one’s approach and adopt the (sensible) wishes of one’s parents. Graphically, I’d present it like this. Your mileage may vary. The cosine coefficient varies for different people of course.

Interestingly, I’ve found that as I get older, and perhaps finds it easier to be מקיים this מצווה, at least as far as minimising  personal views on a given matter, the level of inherent joy in following a missive is enhanced. It’s a cause to celebrate even though it is ironically a voir dire. I find that the older I become, the more joy I derive from quashing my own predilections and views and submitting to those of a well-meaning (and sensible) parent. You might say this is all so obvious and no חידוש. Perhaps so, but my blog isn’t about חידושים per se; it’s about giving expression to those things that temporally invade my head space.

והמבין יבין