Archive for May 2016

Does one know his real potential in life?

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Akiva Grunblatt, Yissachar Frand, Yossi Bilus, Asher Hurtzberg, Dr. Abba Goldman

We all have dreams that for the most part never materialize. I always wanted to be a chazzan, however I can never hit the high note without scaring the cat. But what is incredibly frustrating is that many times, forgetting the crazy unreachable dreams, there are very realistic, albeit hard to earn, dreams which require capabilities we possess! We just aren’t recognized for them, or they never truly come out to fruition.
For example, when I was growing up there was a Rabbi who lived not far who happened to be a man of tremendous talent. He was a great orator, charismatic and very personable. Both he and his wife were considered good looking and good qualities didn’t drop one iota with his children either. They were all successful and all married into good families. The Rabbi and his wife had seen their fabulous grandchildren. A “picture perfect” Rabbi along with a “package deal” that any congregation would want. However he was a Rabbi of a very small shul, on the outskirts of the neighborhood, where there were scarce Jews. There were approximately ten to fifteen old men on a Shabbat morning; the shul was dying out. I never understood why he wasn’t grabbed and showcased on the big stage. He was certainly respected in the community. Why didn’t he command a big pulpit position?
In fact, years later when there was an opening in one of the big major shuls in the neighborhood he wasn’t even given a chance to interview! When asked by many why he wasn’t considered, the choosing committee responded that “He was too old for the position.” WHAT!! How can they pass up on this all-around talent? Do you know what kind of respect he would bring to the Judaism? What kind of great potential was wasted? It could have been glorious!!
This week we read about the aftermath of the most tragic event in the Torah: the death of the two eldest sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu. They offered a sacrifice with ‘strange fire’ before G-d, disobeying his instructions, and were immediately consumed by G-d’s fire. Two rising stars cut down in their prime, at the height of one of history’s greatest celebrations. The fall from glory, for Nadav and Avihu and the entire Jewish nation was swift, stunning, and it could be said that Klal Yisroel never recovered fully recovered from it. They were the heirs to Moshe and Aharon, the two leaders of the Israelites.
It seems like their story is a reoccurring frustrating nightmare of unrecognized gift like “our neighborhood Rabbi”. In this week’s parsha, it is unanimously agreed that Nadav and Avihu had high potential and talent and their gifts were not yet not achieved, buried in the “what if” and “if only”.
Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt relates a story of Frank Lautenberg who became a Senator later in his life after striking it millions working in sales building the payroll company “ADP”. Lautenberg developed a computerized system making payrolls for other companies. Interestingly, a few years earlier someone else developed the same idea, however it just never took off. It basically was ignored. Two people develop the same idea, one ends up taking out the garbage after a long hard day at the office, and the other is a millionaire. One’s potential is recognized, one’s is not.
Why does life seem so unfair?
In order to have a better idea of why such talented people are not recognized or their potential is cut short for whatever reason, we have to first define potential and categorize what it really is, and why it exists. To do so, we must see how the Torah approaches potential.
We can shed some light from the Torah when it introduces Moshe for the first time in parshat Shemot. There, when discussing the birth of Moshe, the pasuk [Shemos 2:1] ambiguously says: “A man went from the House of Levi and took Levi’s daughter.” Surely it would have been more logical to tell us about Moshe Rabbeinu’s father when initially mentioning his birth? Why does the Torah omit the full identity of the parents when first narrating Moshe’s birth, and wait until the next parsha of Vaera to mention it then?
Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that when two people bring a child into the world – at that early stage in the child’s life – the parents really have no great “claim to fame.” At that stage, we do not know who the baby is or what the baby will become. At that point, the baby is only “a bundle of raw potential” (b’koach, not b’po-al). Therefore, giving accolades and honors to the parents of Moshe Rabbeinu at the stage of his birth would be premature. He was only a baby!
However, later on in Parshat Vaera, we already know who Moshe Rabbeinu is. This is a person who could have remained comfortably in the house of Pharaoh, but he grew up and went out amongst his brethren and saw their suffering. Moshe Rabbeinu stuck up for the oppressed Jew. Moshe Rabbeinu had to flee for his life and go to Midian. Moshe Rabbeinu stood up for the oppressed daughters of Yisro at the well. This is only a fraction of what he will yet accomplish. But he is now 80 years old; he has already demonstrated his character.
Now the pasuk can inform us that he is the product of Amram and Yocheved. Here the parents can now proclaim: “See the child that we have raised.” They can now stand up and take credit. Let the world know who Moshe Rabbeinu’s father was. Let the world know who is mother was. Moshe Rabbeinu is more than just raw potential. The potential has been realized.
Even at birth, though Moshe’s potential is not realized, we see that the Torah still is careful and goes to many different steps for it to be nurtured and protected. Jewish law states that a Jewish baby cannot be breast fed by a non-Jewish woman. The question is asked why?
We have learned in the famous Midrash: this little boy Moshe one day, will talk to G-d. It’s deemed inappropriate for him to drink milk from a non-Jew. The answer makes sense for Moshe who saw the back of G-d, the only human to ever witness G-d in any form and survive; however that law applies to all Jewish babies. Why does this law apply to all?
The answer is that we all have the potential to talk to G-d, we all have the potential to see G-d, to make a tremendous spiritual impact and therefore we are just as obligated not to drink only from a Jewish mother.
Therefore, there seems to be a clear distinction between potential achieved and potential not achieved. However, caution has to be maintained for we all have the ability to reach the levels of the highest regard. It seems like we leave the door open for potential.
Nevertheless, if it doesn’t happen, then it wasn’t meant to be. People have to take into account that the potential that you have is not the potential that you see.  Everyone is sent down to this world with a purpose, and that purpose is your real potential. This can be better illustrated by the following true story.
There was a student who was valedictorian, the highest honor one can receive graduating, at his high school commencement ceremony. He gave a speech, thanking one classmate, in particular, who he credited for himself standing at the podium.
He began to describe the ninth grade and how terrorized he was. He was the butt of all jokes and the class, grade, school were relentless in trying to make his life miserable. They succeeded in abandoning any self-esteem left in this poor boy’s body … One day, he decided “That’s it”. He was going to take his life.
On the very day which he designated for his desperate act, he wanted to ease the anguish that his parent will feel. He decided that he will unload his locker, saving the added burden so they won’t have to do it. As he was leaving school, with piled books on his shoulder, a boy approached him and asked “Can I help you?” They struck a conversation which led to friendship as the boy talked him out of doing the desperate act. “I am at this podium alive today because of this boy and the words “Can I help you?”
Aside from the tremendous lesson that this story teaches us about the innate potential that everyone has, there is something else to consider. The valedictorian almost didn’t live up to his potential, but in the end, he did. Why? Because of the boy who said “Can I help you?” Perhaps that boy’s task in life was to say those magic words “Can I help you?” and save him from suicide. It didn’t matter what he grew up to be or what his talents are. That was his purpose. While you have to take an active seat in life, and try the bet you can, you must keep everything in the proper perspective, which is the knowledge that you never knows the reason you came to this world.
Doctor Goldman Psychologist at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim asks “How does one know what his true calling in this world is? Take a situation that a neighborhood’s Rabbi’s wife is ill and he has to spend more time at home and therefore would not be able to devote the time required for a large congregation. Maybe taking care of his wife is his true calling in life. This is what he came to this world for. This is the test he has to pass. The talent as a Rabbi is perhaps an obstacle, a challenge, a temptation not to achieve his true task in life. Seeing his wife’s well-being is the primary goal. It’s a kindness that he may not have achieved in the previous life.” Though this seems counter-intuitive, the good Doctor is following our holy mystical Torah. We are here in this world to fix our previous mistakes from a different reincarnation. Although one doesn’t know what he has to fix, it could be something as insignificant as saying “Can I help you?”
The good Doctor continues and gives an example “We are like soldiers taking orders from the General. The General has an overview on how to win the war. If one is placed in reserves then he has to stand idle until he is called upon. The General is the one who calls the shots. He may or may not be called to battle. One can be a lawyer with no work or a chazzan without an opportunity. However it doesn’t matter he is still a soldier and doing his duty in reserves, talent and all. G-d runs the world. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have. You do your best and the rest is up to Him. We each have our assignment weather it’s the Rabbi or the one that payroll computer invention was passed up.”
Dr. Goldman mention that Rav Henoch Leibowitz zt”l use to like poetry and would always be moved by the poet, John Milton. Milton lost his sight at his later age and could not continue his work. He would be quoted as saying “G-d put me in the reserves, and that is how I am supposed to live”. One just has to look at history, whether it’s the Holocaust, pogroms or any terrorist act against us and see how much potential has perished. I know someone who is still single and he’s not a spring chicken. He lost his mother at a young age. I have often said if his mother was alive she would have made sure her son would marry. With his mother alive there is more of a chance; there is more of a potential for marriage.
However, this is not what the General laid out on the battle field. Our job is to be a soldier. We have to live up to the potential we were given, but always retain the knowledge that there is a specific task we were meant to fulfill, which may not be what we want. We, as Jews, have an obligation to be G-d’s soldiers.


A Tribute to Rabbi Yitzchak Aminoff

 A Tribute to Rabbi Yitzchak Aminoff
Right before Pesach, my hero, my inspiration, suddenly past away. Rabbi Yitzchak Aminoff, an important Rabbinical figure had a heart attack while he was sleeping and just like that, the angels escorted him to heaven.

The good Rabbi entered my life, at a time when I was stunned, numbed by the death of my father. His presence and guidance at the time was immeasurable.

It’s difficult to remember such a painful time of my life, but out of tribute to Rabbi Aminoff, it’s important to express some thoughts in order to bring out some of the positive attributes of this great man.

How true and full of wisdom is our Torah that, by law, one cannot do any of the mitzvot-commandments when one is an ONEN – someone who just lost a loved one. An ONEN cannot perform the Torah’s commandment from the time of the loved one’s death until the deceased is buried. The reason, and I can truly attest to this, is that the mourners are in such a confused state they would have difficulty adding two plus two. That is exactly what occurred to my mother and me when we arrived at the airport in Israel for burial of my father. We were like two lost puppies; we couldn’t even locate my father’s remains from cargo!

There are some people who enter one’s life briefly; for G-d sends them to help. An Orthodox Rabbi with a beard approached us and asked “Can I help you?” and proceeded to guide us to the right cargo. He helped us find our relatives, then he disappeared into the sunset. It is funny that such stories happens to many people; that a mysterious messenger comes to help out and then vanishes. How great are our brethren! Give Jews as a whole all the credit they deserve.

When I buried my father I felt relieved. The duty, the responsibility, the dignity of providing the last honor was a huge load off my back. However, even after the burial, I was still rattled with disbelief and anguish beyond comprehension. Enter Rabbi Yitzchak Aminoff, who we called to help us conduct the shiva ceremony. During those moments that I was looking for guidance and comfort, Rabbi Aminoff did just that in a tremendous way.

The first thing he said, which was comforting, was “I remember your father well. Your father in the mid 1960’s spotted me once on 47th street (the heart of the diamond district where my father worked). I came with a senior Rabbi whom he knew, to collect money for our Yeshiva. He insisted that we come to his house that evening for Palov (a famous Bukharian dish). He then proceeded to call his wife (my mother) to place the order. I’ll never forget it” he said.

Rabbi Aminov led the ceremonies throughout the week of shiva, he brought 10 students to the gravesite traveling from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim so I could say the required Kaddish and he even helped me with the wording on my father’s tombstone.

Ever since then, approximately fourteen years ago, we kept in touch speaking once a week via telephone. He was one of the cartels of Rabbi that provided me insights, first with my lectures, then with the Cup of Coffee material.

What fascinated me about Rabbi Aminoff, which made me gravitate towards him weekly, and I look forward to speak to him was that we shared something very special in common. All of us, we all have our personalities and we are all a bunch of characters. I have been criticized that I am nostalgic and there many who are close to yours truly that have complained “you’re living in the past” and “get with the times”. I argued, trying to defend myself, that looking back gives me energy. It gives me an identity, one that I am very proud of. It connects the past with the present. The past gives the present an identity.

Rabbi Yitzchak Aminoff was the same. He was nostalgic and we would speak at great length about the past. He knew my parents, grandparents and that wonderful golden period of yesteryear. He echoed my sentiments and was living proof that the nostalgic method worked. Just look at his accomplishments! Whether it be family (he saw great-grandchildren), whether it was the Yeshiva he headed, whether it was the kindness he radiated, he led a productive life. We, the nostalgic people that we are, practice what is one of the most fundamental aspects of Judaism, appreciation. Not just to appreciate what one has today but also what one had then, the people, the moments and the period of the past. When given the opportunity, we would often talk about our historic past and give each other that high, the high of the privilege to be part of those years.

Rabbi Aminoff himself lost his father at a young age and told me there was not a day that goes by where he feels the tzar- anguish of not having him there, sharing his joy. We would speak about the people who passed on with tremendous respect. It is as if we categorized life as us, the living and them, the deceased. I guess that is part of what makes it so difficult to comprehend that now he’s on the other side.

Do you ever wonder why we never get used people passing away? Even people who perished that we are not so familiar with we are startled. The answer lies with the famous concept that we are built in G-d’s image. For this reason we put on tefilin and keep Shabbat and do kindness, because He did it. G-d will never die. Since we are built in G-d’s image, it’s instilled in our psyche that we to will never die. Perhaps now we can realize how devastating Adam and Eve’s sin was. They brought death to the world, an unpleasant surprise to all of mankind every time it strikes.

When my father past away, it opened the door for me between the world of the living and the world of the no longer. Rabbi Aminoff opened the door even wider. I only hope that his tzar- anguish is no longer, for he has re-united with his father and for that matter, mine as well.


his article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s  Akiva Grunblatt, Yossi Bilus, Asher Hertzberg,  Label Lam, Dovid Green

Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt poses a very interesting scenario that we as humans are often susceptible to in our relationships. As a matter of fact, as soon as he made yours truly aware of this fascinating discovery, I realized that it happened to me in my relationship with a loved one.

First things first, though. Here is the scenario Rabbi Grunblatt conveyed:

Suppose a father is approached by his daughter as he is getting comfortable on the couch, fifteen minutes before an important televised football game. She requests that he take her to a friend’s house. The father, puzzled, answers, “Honey why didn’t you tell me an hour ago? It’ll take me a half hour to go there and a half hour to come back. I’ll miss half the game.”
The daughter irately responds, “What’s more important: taking me to a friend or your silly game?” The father gave it a momentary thought, and responds reluctantly, “OK, I’ll take you.”

But then the daughter shakes her head and retorts, “No, thank you.”

Rabbi Grunblatt observes; initially the daughter wanted her father to take her to her friend and the father was reluctant to do so. Now it seems they switched roles. The father said “I’ll go” while the daughter says “Don’t bother.” Why are they reacting the opposite of what they originally requested?

It’s an interesting lesson in human nature. People would rather feel angry then guilty!! It’s a much more comfortable role. This is what many of us subconsciously do. The father would rather take his daughter than feel guilty about no taking her, and the daughter would rather stay home rather than feel guilty about forcing her father to take her. Perhaps there are even those that cleverly play this game consciously and manipulate others whether they are loved ones, friends, or coworkers.

This week’s parsha is one of the thirteen times that Shabbat is mentioned in the Torah. “My Shabbat you shall observe and My sanctuary shall you revere-I am G-d” (19:30)

We all know that Shabbat is a major part of Judaism and we for the most part observe it as best as possible. Every Jew is required to keep it. Here is an interesting story told over by Rabbi Label Lam that can only occur in Israel.
One Shabbos, a zealous young man was standing by the side of busy road in Israel shouting, “Shabbos!” as cars raced by. (Editor’s Note – I don’t believe this is the way to go about educating and I am not endorsing this approach.) A car came to a screeching halt and a big tough guy stepped out holding a tire iron in his hand.

He approached the fellow threateningly, advising him to say his last prayers because he’s about to meet his Maker. The young man asked him why he was so violent and angry. The man growled back at him, “Because you’re out here shouting ‘Shabbos’!”

The young fellow answered him softly, “But you didn’t stop your car because I shouted ‘Shabbos’.”

Angrier than ever, the tough fellow shouted, “What do you mean?!”

The young man tried again, “I can prove it to you! If I was out here on Tuesday yelling, “Yom Shlishi!” would you have stopped your car?” “No!” the fellow admitted, “I would just think you’re crazy.”

The young man concluded, “When I shouted “Shabbos” it wasn’t me you stopped for. Something inside of you shouted “Shabbos” along with me. That’s why you stopped your car!”

What’s the lesson? The one who stopped his car and acted with anger, for it was far better than facing the guilt of hearing the word ‘”Shabbos”.
Jewish guilt is a popular topic. It seems that Jews are always finding something to feel guilty about. Those who talk about Jewish guilt like to blame Jewish mothers for its continuity. But let’s be fair, guilt has gotten a bad rap in our generation. Perhaps even one which is undeserved. It is so powerful, we do almost anything to avoid it. Guilt is the driver of our internal system of checks and balances, the stubborn little inner voice that stops us from eating 5 glatt kosher hotdogs at the Met game in a row even though ballgame and franks are a marriage made in heaven.

We need guilt, that dreary engine of morality, in order for society to function. Without its looming prospect, we would turn into sociopaths. Or politicians. Guilt is our inner police force, but if we give it too much emotional power, we risk turning into a police state.

Guilt plays tricks on you. When I was working in the Jewelry business on “The Street”, 47th street that is, there was a mandatory vacation time, the first two weeks of July. I decided to go and learn in Yeshiva for those two weeks. However, as I was learning in the study hall I felt guilty I wasn’t in the office, even though the street was closed! Then, when I returned to the diamond district after two weeks, I felt guilty I didn’t spend more time in the study hall!

Interestingly, I once read a New York Time article and there was a Jewish female writer had a funny take on guilt: “My mother makes me feel guilty because her mother made her feel guilty. We will probably continue to transmit our guilt down the generations until our great-great-great-grandchildren jump in their spaceships and flee the planet. When they do, they’ll almost certainly be made to feel guilty about it.”

Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twersky writes in “Let Us Make Man” that guilt is to the emotions what pain is to the physical body. Physical pain is very useful and beneficial. Without pain we would not know that we have touched a flame, or dropped something heavy on our foot, etc. Pain alerts us to stop whatever it is that we are doing which is inflicting damage on us. When a person is whole emotionally, doing things which we know are wrong causes us guilt. The pain we call guilt lets us know that there is something we ought to stop doing. There is guilt which is founded in morals and conscience. That is healthy guilt. Guilt which lacks a foundation is not healthy and needs to be dealt with.

But be careful! There are many situations when guilt is not beneficial. One such one is that if one does not know clearly what their true obligations are there is room to be manipulated and made to feel arbitrarily guilty. As well, transforming guilt to anger to relinquish one’s responsibility is not good either. It’s the easy way out. It’s the cool thing to do. Perhaps one will win the argument, but it’s certainly not the ethical road.

Let’s get back to this week’s parsha and Shabbat. There is an important observation told over by Rabbi Yossi Bilus said by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein.

In the early 1900 in New York it was very difficult for a Jew to keep Shabbat. If one doesn’t show up for work on Saturday he might as well not come on Monday, for he most likely lost his job. Unfortunately for those that did keep Shabbat, their children, for the most part, astonishingly did not remain Shabbat observers. The question is asked why, they sacrificed so much to do so?

Rabbi Moshe observes the children sensed the uneasiness; they sensed the sacrifice; they sensed the guilt, the anguish of not being at work. It was a miserable guilt ridden atmosphere. Children are smart, they pick up on the feeling of parents. The parent brought the pain home with them.

At the beginning, I mentioned how this concept personally affected me. One Friday, when I was a teenager, my father came from work uncharacteristically very late. He had some bruises on his face and arms. He told my mother and I that, as he was very rushed coming home, he fell in the subway trying to catch the train. That Shabbat was as fun and wonderful as any other usual Shabbos orchestrated by Pop. After, Shabbat, though, he disclosed to us that two men who tried to rob him in his office and there was a struggle where then they ran away.

That is a powerful lesson. My father loved Shabbat and he was able to leave behind every day, business and all its anxieties, guilt and worries and enjoy Shabbat the way it’s supposed to.


his article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s  Berrel Wien , Yossi Bilus, Asher Hertzberg, Jay Shapiro, Yitzchak Frankfuter, Abba Goldman

The first lady Jacqueline Kennedy was very much a private person.  When she went on mini vacation her husband, the President, decided to have a public photo shoot with the kids….opposite attract
One advocate of a dethroned leader complained “How can you disclose embarrassing information about our great leader?” The reply was, “Why not? He has committed himself to the public, therefore he has exposed everything about himself to the world. Nothing is private anymore for him. He’s fair game! A public figure has no right privacy.”

However that is insane!! It’s a recipe for disaster for any leader or public figure, or really anyone for that matter, as we all have skeletons in our closet. No one is ‘squeaky clean perfect’ and if someone happens to actually be the “white puritan”, frankly my dear, that would constitute abnormality and would be considered a freak of nature.

Does the reader agree?
Perhaps the reply of “a public figure has no privacy” is rooted in this week’s parsha. In parshat Emor, it teaches us special laws and obligations that the Torah places upon the High Priest, he Kohen Gadol. He is limited in his marriage choices, his bereavement behavior and in other matters of seemingly personal life. Is it not sufficient that he perform his duties – especially his detailed Yom Kippur duties – in a competent and efficient manner? After all, is not one entitled to a private and personal life, even if one holds high public office? Apparently the Torah does not feel so. Being the High Priest is not a job. It is not even what our non-Jewish friends refer to as “a calling.” It is rather a position of moral leadership and a role model stature in Jewish life. What is the lesson involved in these restrictions and guidance of the High Priest?

The scrutinizing of the High Priest has may have been a springboard for all leaders thought history to be hounded and examined with a magnified glass, but in truth there is no comparison between the High Priest and other leaders. That is because the High Priest’s chief scrutinizer is none other than G-d. Evidence of this is that if he has skeletons in his closet, G-d will smite him on Yom Kippur.

As explained by the historian Rabbi Berel Wein: One of the signs of corruption that doomed the Second Temple Commonwealth of Judea (Bais Sheni) was the unethical behavior of many of the High Priests who served in the Temple during that period of Jewish history. The Talmud teaches us that many of them died when entering the Holy of Holiness because of their unworthy private behavior. There where Kohanim that seemingly had the confidence of the people however “G-d examines the hearts.” He determines which Kohen Gadol is worthy and moral. For this reason a rope was attached to their leg so they can be pulled out in case they perish. Nobody but the Kohen Gadol is allowed in the Holies of Holies.

The public figure, the leader has been the object of the paparazzi and the National Enquirer ever since.

A question is posed: With the exception of Kohen Gadol, is it fair to judge personal behavior of a leader, such as Rabbi, head of State, or congressmen to determine if they are suitable for such a lofty position? Shouldn’t we look at other factors – economic issues, issues concerning our rights to live as Orthodox Jews, religious freedom, and liberty issues? There are issues that relate to bringing resources into our communities. There are other issues, too. Who services the constituency best? Who is most likely to be responsive to individual phone calls for assistance on individual matters? Aren’t these issues just as important as morality?

We need to look where the leader stands on other issues, such as the resource issues, the economic issues, the religious liberty issues, and accessibility. You have to judge a candidate based on the totality of the situation. Though moral issues are certainly a relevant factor, they are not the only factor.

Reflecting what we discussed earlier, morality is the classic Jewish tradition of picking a leader. Interestingly, there was clever message conveyed by a Politian (scholar) who felt the importance, or for that matter non-importance, of the moral issue: “The Jewish children in exile were always dependent on intermediaries to represent their interests in the countries where they sojourned…. Such an intermediary is nothing more than a messenger. No one ever checked the morality of a messenger, or was interested in his private life, as long as he gave the desired results-i.e., the proper representation of Jewish interests.”

That was the language of an ad that ran in Der Yid, a Satmar paper based in Williamsburg, during a re-election campaign for Fred Richmond, the congressional representative for Williamsburg during the late ’70s and early ’80s. Richmond had a depraved personal life; the ad was promoting the idea that the chassidic readers of the paper, who were so careful in their own lives about any hint of immorality, should overlook Richmond’s immorality because he was helping the community with its needs. The ad was obviously countering those who had objected to Richmond on those grounds.

Dr. Abba Goldman mentions the number one factor is that the leader has to earn the respect of the people. Perhaps, he says it might override in some instances the morality importance.

King David didn’t care about his honor by dancing with the Torah; he did it for the sake of G-d. Michal, his wife, who witnessed this, didn’t think it was dignified to do so. She thought it was unbecoming that the king dance and show a glimpse of his legs. The act shows a disregard for modesty and would hamper the respect and dignity of the King. Nevertheless, G-d was honored by David’s devotion and Michal was punished for criticizing. It’s not an easy understanding for Michal’s train of thought was in line with her father, Shaul’s, philosophy of modesty and respect.

Not with standing, one sees at what degree our ancestors value modesty and respect of a leader. Here is another example pertaining do King David again: When Shimi ben Gerah insulted King David the incident was not forgotten. On his death bed the King instructs his son Shlomo to “do what is right”. At the end Shimi ben Gerah was executed and the King’s honor had been defended.

Dr. Goldman and many relates that the blame and failure of 9/11 should be pointed to the Clinton administration. A year before, there was a terrorist attack against the United States Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG-67) on 12 October 2000, while it was harbored and being refueled in the Yemeni port of Aden. 17 American sailors were killed, and 39 were injured. This event was the deadliest attack against a United States Naval vessel since 1987. The terrorist organization al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. Clinton had such a poor relationship with congress following the Lewinsky debacle that any proposal including how to deal with Al Quade would and did go on deaf ears. Congress had no respect for the President and in turn he was ineffective.

Part of the blame has to be directed to the press for reporting and making a mockery of the Clinton/Lewinsky incident. Interestingly, John F Kennedy was just as immoral as Clinton, however he was an effective President. The press never reported his indecency even though it was occurring regularly in the White House.

Can one imagine if they did report the indecency and made light of the President? Does one think Cuba, neighboring communist country at the time, would have backed down and pulled their missiles?

As an example, in Syria, before the civil war there, it was a crime to make fun of the president of the country. No comedian was immune. This concept was taken to an extreme where no one was permitted to laugh in Nevuchadnetzar’s Babylonia, for the king had an inferiority complex and thought they were laughing at him for being short. It was ‘respect through fear’ that these leaders tried to force on their people. Seemingly respect is needed to have an effective leader. Astonishingly, respect is what Ronald Reagan received without the use of force and with the late night comedians whose job it was to ridicule politicians and the establishment.

One of our beloved leaders who had to admit an embarrassing moment in his private life was Yehuda, Yaakov’s son. Even though his act was considered lowly, Yehuda admitted and faced up to his guilt and was hailed in high regards for doing so by his brothers and by G-d. He took responsibility for his action. Yehuda is a prime example of “nobody’s an angel, but be a man and pick up the pieces”. For reward for his admission he and his genealogy were appointed royalty, leaders of the Jewish people forever

Some say there are more crucial character traits we should look for then to poke into the private life of a candidate. One of the aspects of a good leader is the ability to get along with others. This character trait is a must when dealing with subordinates, heads of state and so forth. In the up and coming election, there happens to be such a person. One has to ask can he make rational decisions if he has constantly dismissing and berating everyone. Can his subordinates do the optimal best in their field dealing with such mental abuse?


In the late 60’s many religious Jew broke from the mold and voted Republican. Although, the Democrats supported Jewish cause and education the Jewish Rabbinical leaders including Rabbi Avigdor Miller were vocal in voting for Nixon. “Don’t make calculations concerning the yeshivas – it’s not a concern because the Ribbono Shel Olam feeds and gives sustenance to all. Don’t rely on princes. They are not a source of parnassah. G-d has many messengers. The reason to vote” – this was even with Nixon – “is because Nixon is against Russia, and Russia was the enemy of Hashem. It says, ‘Ohavei Hashem sinu ra.’ Comunist were atheist. [Those who love Hashem hate evil.]’ He said, ‘I have no love lost for Nixon or for any of them, but when I come to shamayim, they’ll ask, “Did you stand on my side?”

Rabbi Avigdor Miller said that when we vote, we vote the same way. He said, ‘I’m not afraid of Russia personally. The President, who is against Russia, is against them for his own reasons, because they are the Big Bad Wolf and they are having an arms race with nuclear ballistic missiles. Our interest has nothing to do with that. We’re not afraid of them; we just have to stand against them because they are kofrim [deniers] in Hakadosh Baruch Hu.’ That was his position.

It is important to note many clarify the moral issue: not so much the moral personal life of the candidate but what does he/she morally stand for. Perhaps that is the moral issue!! This brings us to the other prime candidate of this election. Perhaps it’s commendable that she had taken the abuse and humiliation of her husband and stuck with the marriage, however does she approve of same sex marriage and abortion, which is directly against the Torah?

Traditionally Jews in this country have always voted Democrat for they help financially to our Yeshivas. We value a Torah education which is our prime directive. However the Democrats of today are in favor of same sex marriage and abortion, someplace they weren’t 20 years ago. It seems like though todays Republicans are yesterday’s Democrats.

We can learn much from the two king that Avraham and Sarah visited. Both were immoral. Avimelech did everything in secret while Pharoah was not discreet and shameful, he did everything in the open.

On the last meeting between Avraham and Pharaoh, Pharaoh suggested something to Avraham which the latter acknowledged “This place is not for you.” In other words, we have different moral values. Perhaps, we should take some of the suggestions of some of the prominent Rabbis who denounced President Clinton. If he can do what he did and not feel remorse, it’s time we should depart this country. However there are those that say “Let’s remember we are in a non-Jewish state, what do you expect?

We see that although traditionally the primary decision on a leader was the moral issue many Rabbi’s or heads of communities look for other factors in picking a leader. Perhaps yes or perhaps not the private lives of leaders is best be left alone and not disclosed there are other important issues? That is a hot debate in today’s times.