Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Men's Morning Krav Maga Class in Woodmere!

We are putting together a men's Krav Maga class two mornings a week in the social hall at Aish Kodesh so we can get healthy and learn some self-defense as well. It would be taught by Eilon Even-Esh, a frum fellow who served as a captain in the Marines and as a staff seargent in the IDF, where he served as a special forces soldier in the Dubdevan and Oketz units. During his career, he has studied Krav Maga, Muay Thai, Ju (Jew?)-Jitzu, kickboxing, and in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Eilon also teaches Krav Maga to individuals and other groups so if you would like to set something up for yourself somewhere else or at a different time, feel free to get in touch with him using his contact information on his website.

The Aish Kodesh morning class would be Tue. and Thu .mornings from about 7:45-8:45, right after the 6:55/7:05 minyan. It will therefore be over in time to catch the 9:06 train. It would take place in the social hall and the mechitza or dividing wall would be set up for privacy. 
The first class will be free so anyone who thinks he may be interested can see what's involved, how it works, and what we'll be learning. That first sample class will take place a week from this coming Tuesday (Feb. 4th) at 7:45 a.m. People who want to explore joining the class at a later date will also be able to get a free class to see what it's about before starting.
Because of Eilon's and his wife's special connection to Aish Kodesh, we have a special price which I can discuss with anyone who gets in touch with me (don't want to put it on the blog). In order to get that rate, we'll need a minimum of 8 guys.
Please contact Binyomin Wolf at 516-668-6397 or using the email address at the top of the right sidebar for more information and/or to let him know you may be interetsted (though you can just show up for the first class). You can learn more about Eilon from these articles (one, two, and three) and his website.

Update Jan 30, '13: You can now click here to listen to Charlie Harary's interview with Eilon from this  morning. Very interesting!
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Pictures courtesy of Crown Heights Shmira and

Monday, January 20, 2014

Favor! Pictures re Bezalel School of Art - 1906 and 2014

Special favor: Maybe I'm using the wrong search terms, but can anyone email me or comment with the following two pictures:

  • Can you send me a picture/pictures from some sort of event with many rabbonim there from last week innaugurating or announcing the opening of a chareidi division of the Bezalel School of Art in Yerushalayim?
  • Can someone send me a picture of one of the pashkevilim from around 1906 declaring the opening of the Bezalel School of Art as asur/treif/avoda zara?
Any help with those is greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Pictures, Audio, & Source Sheet for Rav Moshe Weinberger's Packed Tu B'Shvat Shiur in Beit Shemesh

The world is so fortunate that it has Rav Moshe Weinberger. B"H, not only we at Aish Kodesh in Woodmere and those who listen to his shiurim in one way or another have access to this remarkable Rav's perspective, but with his new position as Mashpia at YU, his light is spreading even further. I have heard that between 500 and 700 talmidim and rebbeim at many of the yeshivos participating in YU's joint Israel program came to Rav Moshe Weinberger's drasha this past Thursday night at 11 p.m. in Reishit Yerushalayim's hall in Beit Shemesh.
  • Click here to hear the shiur he gave that night.
  • Click here to see a copy of the Beis Yaakov Rav Weinberger quoted in the shiur (courtesy of Daniel Green)
  • And click here to see a number of amazing pictures from that night. See below for a few of the pictures!
In addition, please see below for an email sent out today by Rabbi Josh Frohlich to students and rebbeim in the various YU joint Israel program yeshivos talking about the event. Beautiful! Ashreinu sheyesh lanu Rebbe kazeh!
Dear students, 
If you weren't with us on Thursday night at the late night mishmar with Rabbi Moshe     Weinberger, you seem to have been in the minority. More than 650 talmidim and rebbeim, from about fifteen different yeshivas, joined together at Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim's beautiful hall to sing and hear divrei chizzuk from the Mashpia of YU. The energy was palpable from the get-go, as guys began piling in and were clearly excited to see 'all' their friends joining together for a night of inspiration. The anticipation only intensified when the crowd simply burst out dancing as soon as Rav Weinberger walked into the room. After a few opening words from Rabbi Josh Frohlich, it was beautiful to see so many guys singing together- "ish echad b'lev echad". Rav Weinberger then inspired the crowd in a way that only he can, as he shared his stirring divrei chizzuk. We all shared one more dance together before chulent was served and talmidim headed back to their respective yeshivas well after 1:00 am.
We've run many events in the last few years, but none quite like this! It was truly beautiful for all of us to see so many talmidim get together simply to be inspired by Rav Weinberger and by each other. When you join us on campus at YU, you'll have tremendous opportunities to continue to grow in so many ways and join an already existing chevre that you simply can't find anywhere else in the world.
A tremendous yasher koach to all Roshei Yeshiva and Rebbeim who accompanied their talmidim and really added to the ruach, and especially to the talmidim themselves who helped create such a special evening. We hope you enjoy some of the pictures from the event found HERE and feel free to download [or listen online to] Rav Weinberger's divrei chizzuk HERE...
Additionally, Mr. Moish Kranzler, Director of Admissions, will be visiting a number of the yeshivas this week. If you'd like to hear more about some of the wonderful opportunities on campus, please let us know.
Looking forward to seeing you soon,

Rabbi Josh Frohlich, MSW

Assistant Director
YU S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program

Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum (Hebron Fund) and Rabbi Shlomo Katz listening to Rav Moshe Weinberger's shiur

Listening intently

Rav Moshe Weinberger speaking with Rabbi Ari Waxman!

Great shot


Rabbi Dovid'l Weinberg and his talmidim at the shiur

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Jew Can Always Recreate Himself - The Phoenix in Chazal

Here are a few sources from chazal regarding a creature that sounds somewhat similar to the Phoenix of Greek mythology.

The Chol/Avarshina.

First is a source commenting on the pasuk in Iyov regarding a bird known for its longevity, the "Chol," as the pasuk (29:18) says, "וכחול ארבה ימים, And like the Chol I will multiply days." The below is quoted from Yalkut Shimoni on  Iyov (29, Remez 917), which I have also seen quoted from Bereishis Raba 19:
רבנן אמרין כיון שאכלה חוה פרי האילן האכילה את הבהמה ואת החיה ואת העופות הכל שמעו לה חוץ מעוף אחד ושמו חול דכתיב וכחול ארבה ימים, דבי רבי ינאי ורבי יודן ברבי סימון, דבי רבי ינאי אמרי אלף שנים הוא חי ולסוף אלף יוצאה אש מקנו ושורפתו ומשתייר בו כביצה וחוזר ומגדל אברים וחיה
The sages say, when Chava ate from the fruit of the tree, she fed it to the domesticated animals, the wild animals, and to the birds. Everyone listened to her except for one bird which is called "Chol," as the pasuk (Iyov 29:18) says, "And like the Chol, I will multiply days." [this was taught by] the house of Rabbi Yanai and Rabbi Yudan in the name of Rabbi Simon. The house of Rabbi Yanai says, "It lives for a thousand years and at the end of a thousand, a fire emerges from its nest and burns it up. All that is left from it is something the size of an egg. It returns and grows limbs and lives."
This source seems the closest to the version of the Phoenix story I'd heard before. It makes sense that the Midrash says that because the Chol did not eat from the fruit of the tree of good and evil, it lives indefinitely. Death is not a natural state. As long as creation was not touched by sin and was connected to Hashem, the source of life, there was no reason why anyone should die. When sin entered the world, creation cut itself off from the source of life. The automatic result is death. Since the Chol never ate from the fruit and did not sin, it is not subject to the curse of death.

Interestingly, sefer Iyov (the source of the Midrash's reference to the Chol) was written by Moshe Rebbeinu (Bava Basra 15a), which is a source predating the time of the Greeks. It should be noted that according to some meforshim on the pasuk in Iyov, however, this refers to a bird with a long life, but not one which burns up or dies and regenerates itself.

The Gemara in Sanhedrin (108b), however, tells a different version related to Noach:
אורשינה אשכחיניה אבא דגני בספנא דתיבותא א"ל לא בעית מזוני א"ל חזיתיך דהות טרידא אמינא לא אצערך א"ל יהא רעוא דלא תמות שנאמר ואומר עם קני אגוע וכחול ארבה ימים
[Shem, the son of Noach said:] My father found the Avarshina [the Gemara's word for the Chol - Rashi] hiding in its quarters in the ark [instead of going out to eat like the other animals]. He [Noach] said to it, "You do not require food?" It said to him, "I saw that you were preoccupied. I thought that I would not trouble you." He said to him, "May it be His will that you should not die," as the pasuk [in Iyov] says, "I will perish with my nest, and like the Chol I will multiply days."
According to this Gemara, it sounds like the bird merits an extraordinary long life because of Noach's blessing. The Maharsha points out that this seems to contradict the Midrash quoted above, which indicates that the bird merited long life from the time of Chava. According to the Artscroll Gemara, the Maharal and other meforshim offer various pshatim to explain why this is not a contradiction. If I remember correctly, the Maharal says that Iyov was merely reaffirming the bird's existing blessing.

The "Eagle."

The Radak discusses a somewhat similar bird based on a pasuk in Tehillim (103:5). The pasuk says "תתחדש כנשר נעוריכי, renew your youth like an eagle." I can't find the Radak online in Hebrew so I'll just translate what he says about the nature of this "eagle:"
They say that the eagle renews itself every ten years. It ascends very high to the face of the firmament of the heavens and when it approaches the heat of the primordial fire, it causes itself to fall into the sea because of the great heat. And it dies and renews itself and regrows its limbs and returns as in the days of its youth. It does this every 10 years until one hundred. And when it reaches one hundred, it ascends in its usual way and causes itself to drop into the sea and dies there.
This version is markedly different from the Chol/Avarshina bird discussed in the Yalkut Shimoni/Midrash Raba and the Gemara in Sanhedrin so I'm not 100% sure it's talking about the same creature. In addition, this version of the story sounds like an amalgam of the Phoenix and Icarus stories.

Bottom line.

Whether the Chol, Avarshina, unique Eagle, or the Phoenix actually exist or existed historically or zoologically is really irrelevant. Similarly, whether the Greeks knew about this bird from Moshe in sefer Iyov or had a separate tradition from the same source Iyov/Moshe got it from, is also irrelevant. The story clearly resonates with people because it carries a truth deeper than its historicity.

The real point of chazal's and Dovid Hamelech's references to this creature is that no matter what a Jew has been through or done, he can always begin again. This is true on a national level and on an individual level. I wrote here and  in this follow-up post how (similar to the Phoenix), the fundamental truth is that one must first destroy the old in order to build something new and greater in its place. That is personified by the Phoenix, but it is true for us as well.

IY"H, may we all be zoche to recreate ourselves from scratch so that we will never be weighed down by the baggage of the past!

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P.S. Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Keep Cholov Yisroel (and read Dixie Yid)!!!!!! :-)

Just for fun, enjoy and share the picture above. And remember, keep Cholov Yisroel and read Dixie Yid! :-)

Update: But for more on Cholov Yisroel and the Dixie Pack, check out this nachas story about our daughter.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

As a Favor to "the Dixie Yid," Please Read This about Talmud Torah Siach Yitzchok

Y'all know I don't ask much. But as in past years, I ask again as a favor if you can please buy a raffle ticket to support my son's cheder, Siach Yitzchok (and write my name in the referral box). The drawing is this Sunday, Jan. 5th. Tickets are $100 for one ticket and $360 for five. The prize is a choice between (i) $20,000 cash or (ii) $25,000 toward a Sefer Torah, a trip to Israel for 10, or a new car.
I wrote a little about it last year, when my son was in 2nd grade, and Reb Dovid Sitnick (who was picked by Rav Shlomo Freifeld to head the school) and the whole hanhala have continued to make the cheder so awesome in so many ways. It so rare to find rebbeim who love Torah and everything about Yiddishkeit so much that the boys absorb that excitement and geshmak in their own learning and davening. The rebbeim's whole life's ambition is to be machanchim. It is such a pleasure to visit the school and speak with them. Please don't think that I'm exaggerating in any way about this either. Baruch Hashem, my son has had rebbeim since he was 4 (in kindergarten) and every one has been so fantastic.
A few random representative observations:
  • When I drop off my son and some classes are already davening, you can hear the classes davening so loudly, putting their energy into it, through the windows.
  • When my son's kindergarten rebbe, Rabbi Kviat (son of the famous R. Dovid Kviat, author of Sukkas Dovid), would line the boys up for dismissal, they would enthusiastically sing Tehillim together.
  • When we visited Siach Yitzchok in the process of choosing a yeshiva for our son, the thing that most impressed us was that in every class, we noticed a pattern that virtually all of the boys were really engaged with the rebbeim. Usually many or most kids are drifting off in one way or another, but the engagement between the boys and their rebbe in this cheder was very noticeable.
  • It has happened countless times with all of my son's rebbeim that when he or another boy finishes a masechta or parsha, or does some great mitzvah, that the rebbe makes a really big deal about it with the whole class which (i) reinforces the desire to do great things in the boy being "honored" and (ii) gives chizuk to other boys to do the same.
  • The cheder has a no-tolerance policy toward bullying, B"H, so that's a very rare occurrence and when it does happen, it's dealt with swiftly and decisively, which is unfortunately not always the case with some other schools. (P.S. there's of course no corporal punishment in the cheder.)
  • I could go on and on with various things, but the common denominator is that it's a place where the boys find the "soul" within their Yiddishkeit.

With all of the lack of excitement about Yiddishkeit and the focus on externals that we see are so prevalent in some yeshivos, I feel so blessed that we have merited to find and be able to send our son to a cheder like this.
I therefore ask you to please go right away to buy a raffle ticket before the end of the day this Sunday, Jan. 5th! Thank you!
In the website form, please write "Dixie Yid" or my real name in the "Referred By" box. If you feel more comfortable, you can also call the cheder's office number (718-327-6247) to give them your credit card info or you can give it to me at 516-668-6397 to do it by phone. Note that the system allows you to buy the ticket all at once or split it up over 4 payments. Shkoyach!!
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"If I am not for Myself" - Another Great Song I Picked up in Uman - Music Video

Here's another great song I picked up in Uman, "Im Ein Ani Li" by Yuval Tayeb. I heard that the last song I posted, Hashem Melech, was subsequently played at a full school assembly at a school in Brooklyn! Thank you Rabbi for letting me know! Hopefully he and everyone will appreciate this fun song as well. :-)
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