Archive for Spreading Torah

The Jewish Ghetto; a Must or Not?




          Is it important to live in a Jewish neighborhood with a positive influence? There are many Rabbinical students, who, when ordained, go throughout the world to help and educate their brethren in Judaism. There is a lot to learn; our religion is rich of customs, tradition, and laws which have preserved Judaism for 4000 years since the first Jew, Avraham. However, many Jews are not familiar with many important elements of our rich deep religion. So it’s our job to care about each other because we are all responsible for one another. Nevertheless, one has to be concerned moving to a non-observant neighborhood; after all, some of us have taken great pains to reach the level that we are so proud of. We must preserve our precious Judaism.

          Rav Henoch Leibowitz, z”tl guarantees, quoting, the prominent and holy commentary, Sforno, “Whoever goes out and reaches out to our brethren, they and their children will not be negatively affected.”

The Chachamim closely observe the first “Mr. Outreach”, our forefather, Avraham, who as the Avnai Nezer compares him to a Mikvah. A mikvah purifies individuals. However, in the process, it never becomes impure. So too, Avraham, in his education of people, was never influenced.

Rabbeinu Bachai teaches us that Avraham was an exceptional human being. He had the ability, whoever he made contact with, would be healed from their depressed state of mind, and that’s how he was able to bring people back to G-d. The healing took place through Avraham’s power of speech and his soothing voice. Avraham was a charismatic towering presence; whoever would listen to him would feel uplifted. He had a precious stone wrapped around his neck and anyone who would look at it would get healed. I guess he was a jewel of a guy. After Avraham’s death, G-d took back the jewels and placed it in the sun. That’s why we say in Tehillim “The skies preach the word of G-d”. Avraham was given a gift from G-d and lived up to his billings.

Interestingly, Rav Henoch mentions that G-d instructed Avraham to move out from his environment and pry away from his past, because G-d didn’t want him to get influenced. But wait, didn’t we learn Avraham was immune from outside influence? Therefore, we see that one has to be very careful. Everyone is susceptible and one should take the necessary precautionary measures to protect himself and his family. Advice might be extremely recommended.

The Charismatic Genius

Albert Einstein


         G-d chose a very special person to construct the Mishkan, the holy Tabernacle. Betzalel was chosen not just because of the self-sacrifice merit of his grandfather, who gave up his life for G-d. One can properly label Betzalel as a gifted young man who had precise knowledge in many areas. He knew science, mathematics, engineering and all the kabalistic knowledge of the soul and creation. In his breath of knowledge, he surpassed his contemporaries at a very young age. Unlike some craftsmen who are experts in one field and not so in others, he was on top of his game in all areas of expertise. He was a genius, a wonder boy! One could appreciate Betzalel’s gifts by what the Ibn Ezra, Abarbanel, and the Chasam Sofer point out.


Often, one finds, when very wise men focus on certain issues, their grasp of the practical world weakens and they become fools in worldly matters. It’s easy to sell an egghead the Brooklyn Bridge. Many cultures have a character “the absent-minded professor”, highly intelligent but socially awkward. They’re not able to relate to the average Joe. They possess one attribute or the other but not usually both. Those blessed with great intelligence have poor motor skills and the opposite. Great athletes most often never become successful managers. Betzalel had no deficiencies. He was able to master both sides of the spectrum. Because of this universal appeal, the most important contribution Betzalel made and the greatest gift he possessed by far – according to the commentaries above – was that he knew how to teach all those skills to others, a natural communicator. That showed true greatness!


We read every day before Shema, in morning prayers, “Lilmode Ulelamed”, to learn and to teach others. Rav Daner says one does not get full credit of learning Torah unless he conveys what he learns to others, thus getting a half-mitzvah. It’s not enough to forward an email, although I wouldn’t mind. One has to deliver the message himself. So if one learns something in a shiur, in order to receive his brownie points he must share it the next morning on the subway, at the office, or at every avenue of communication with his fellow Jew. Some people, despite their great wisdom, are not good teachers. The ability to teach is a unique gift. The Or Hachaim says, “Besides talent, you need a generous spirit.” We are all responsible for one another and we show it by being kind and considerate to each other. But the biggest kindness is sharing knowledge, especially of our holy Torah. Out of all the gifts Betzalel possessed, teaching was the most crucial and essential part of his work. “Observe! G-d selected Betzalel.” What a rare wonder he must have been!