Give us back our boys!

I just attended the community Tehillim event at Caulfield Shule, and I felt ill at ease.

Let me explain. I do not understand what Hashem wants from us. On the one hand he wants us to follow Him and we do, to the best of our ability amongst swirling stormy seas of שונאי   ימח שמם, ישראל,  and the vicissitudes thrown up by the modern world of temptation and diversion.

I have a son in Israel, whose birthday is tomorrow עד מאה ועשרים and who is barely older than the three captives, and who was in that area a few days earlier with my daughter and son-in-law. Another son had been there a few weeks earlier with my grandson enjoying the beauty that only the Holy Land can produce.

We said Tehillim. I concentrated with all my might. I was gratified to see a good cross-section of people from the religious community in attendance, including a number of representatives from Adass. I felt we were one, but I found myself questioning why Hashem was abandoning us. קלי למה עזבתנו. Didn’t we all suffer enough from Gilad Shalit’s ordeal and the tendentious decision to release murderers in return. Will that kid ever be a “normal” person?

I am reminded at such times of the genuine tears and wailing of my Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Goldvicht ז’ל, who repeated over and over and over צעקו והשם שמע ומכל צרותם הצילם at times like these: we are behoved to audibly cry out in anguish, and God must listen and save us from all our Tzores. The atmosphere then at Kerem B’Yavneh was one of numbness. I often still feel it. I visualise it. None of us were remotely close to the essence of the Rosh Yeshivah’s cries to Hashem.

I vacillate between feeling like a speck asking Hashem to listen to my wishes, and the power of the whole, the קדושה of oneness displayed when people are conjoined by external trouble. Rav Soloveitchik wrote that this causative oneness is admirable and natural, but he exhorted that the challenge was to have such feelings when we are not drawn together by Tzaros.

The Rav felt that this higher level of קדושה was the עצמות of what קדושת העם is meant to be. It is our collective existential submission to Hashem that is qualitatively superior to individual pain or external causes that draw us together. This oneness existed at the time of the Beis Hamikdash through individuals literally being לפני השם. This then is the challenge: to feel לפני השם even when things are nice and comfortable and all is comparatively well. I’m certainly not near that level which is probably why I felt rather ill at ease. I know,  like everyone, where I need to improve and what I need to do. The challenge is doing it, and doing it as a team.


Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah
Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim
Eyal ben Iris Tesurah

uppermost in your Tefillos

[Hat tip to BA] for the following

I’m simply speechless

Every day that we say Modeh Ani, we need to internalise it. As is well known, I have a life-long bond with the tragedy of the Bombay murders of my friends, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his Rebbetzin Rivki, Hashem Yinkom Domom. That the new tragedy below could occur as a segue, shocks me further in a way that I am not able to comprehend. When I go home tonight, I will try to find an appropriate essay from the Rav, which may help me cope with the incomprehensible.

The story is from the algameiner journal, and is reproduced below.

Names Revealed: Kiryat Malachi Victim Was Chabad Emissary From India Visiting Israel for Mumbai Victims’ Memorial Service

A victim of a Gaza rocket attack on Kiryat Malachi lies in a body bag.

Israeli political consultant Jonny Daniels citing an Israeli source and a Chabad leader in Israel told The Algemeiner that among the victims of this morning’s Gaza rocket attack on the Israeli city of Kiryat Malachi was a 25 year old Chabad “shlucha (female emissary)” to New Dehli, India named Mirah (nee Cohen) Scharf, who was visiting Israel for the memorial service of Chabad Mumbai terror victims Gabi and Rivka Holtzberg. The Hebrew anniversary of their brutal murder is today.

According to Chabad website, Scharf was pregnant. Sources told The Algemeiner that she had come to Israel to give birth, but arrived early in order to be able to attend the Holtzberg memorial. Chabad members on Facebook say she was the mother of 3 young children.

A second victim named Ahron Smadga said to be in his late forties was the father of the 8 month old baby girl who was injured.

“He was married for 20 years and couldn’t have children then he had twin boys nine years ago, and 8 months ago his daughter was born and he was walking around with a smile on his face that he had a daughter after all this years,” Daniels told The Algemeiner.

“He was one of the first Chabad soldiers to join the Israeli Army,” he said.

The third victim was 22 year old Yitzchak Amselam. The funeral is planned for later today.

Israeli Chabad websites Shturem and COL, reported that the rocket attack hit the neighborhood of Nachlas Har Chabad and that “the entire community is devastated from the tragedy.”

“The shelters in Kiryat Malachi were not readied for the onslaught, and the residents of the building that was hit were running to relative safety under the stairwell of the building, when a missile hit, taking precious lives and injuring the others,” writes

Kiryat Malachi is about 11 miles from Ashkelon, and has a population of approximately 21,000.

Mira Scharf, on the right. Hashem Yinkom Dama

It is Adar, but I am sad and angry

Like many of you, I have just watched the funerals of the five kedoshim of Family Fogel from Itamar. I don’t have words to describe the sickening feeling I had when I watched the pictures here (warning: graphic images)

They say everything is השגחה פרטית and I don’t deny it. My feelings have moved from utter despair and sadness to extreme anger. Just released on youtube is this footage from Iran TV from several years ago.

It is a most uncomfortable and disconcerting segue to the murder of the five Fogels הי’ד in Itamar. You watch it and ask yourself what can we do about neanderthals who parade themselves as supporters of those who encourage, cheer and perpetrate the butchering of innocent children in their beds on Shabbos Kodesh.

Do we have Neturei Karta supporters in Melbourne? Is the  Adass Charedi offshoot of שומרי אמונים closely aligned with this Neturei Karta offshoot? Are the שומרי אמונים the self-same people whose cars brandished anti-zionist sentiment driving around Melbourne “in protest” at Zionist activities in the State of Israel.

There is arguably a חיוב to protest against these types of מחללי שם שמים but how?

I just realised that this type of Jews has a collective noun, straight out of the מגילה


Update: our own daughter was planning to be in Itamar that Shabbos. The seminary had other plans.

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