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Thursday, December 20

Torah Way North London ‎Update, Adar 5766‎


Communicated: 1 Adar 5766 (27/03/2006)

Jonathan Stern

Listeners to the Torah Way North London programme on Kol Haloshon, as well as the regular visitors to the Biala Shtiebel in Castlewood Road in South Tottenham were treated to an extraordinary discourse on Emunoh, Bitochon and Divine Intervention (lit. Hashgocho Protis).

The speaker was octogenarian Rabbi Yitzchok Wiesenfeld, acting Rabbi and spiritual leader to the New Shul's Minyan at the Victoria Community Centre in Egerton Road.

Spiced with sayings of our sages from previous generations and punctuated with his own insights, he skilfully wove a chain through the Parshyios relating our Egyptian stay and subsequent sojourn in the wilderness.

Regular fans will notice the growing number of recorded Shiurim on the Kol HaLoshon system, which has now reached over thirty.  These include sessions on Sundays and Thursdays, mostly delivered by local Rabbonim on a one-off basis. 

Rabbi Yaakov Mordechai Gee will deliver the coming Sunday's drosho (05/03/2006), followed by Rabbi Yechiel Fogel on the Sunday after (12/03/2006).

A new system is G-D willing now being introduced whereby there will be a regular speaker on Thursdays, every three to four weeks.  Each contributor will focus on a particular area in the vast expanses of Torah: the weekly Parsha, History, Hashkofo etc. - all with the aim to enrich the lives of our ba'aley battim and enhance their day in a Torah-dige fashion.

We now have the privilege of introducing some of the regular Maggidey Shiur for alternating Thursdays: Rabbi Mordechai Fine, Rabbi Gavriel Menashe Lamm, Rabbi Yechiel Fogel and Rabbi Yerachmiel Tzvi Halpert.

The beauty of Torah Way is that it becomes contagious; people tell their friends, who relate their new-found experience to family, who in turn make sure to bring along yet another newcomer-friend.  Indeed - regulars are being reminded to be generous, to share the joy and spread the word about the wonderful, uplifting words of wisdom they acquire in these short sessions with long ranging effect.

A special guest speaker is planned for Purim day - start it the Torah Way.  Watch out for more details on the Shul noticeboards and in the news. 

As has been previously reported, Yiddish-speaking listeners have not been left out - tune in on Kol HaLoshon and dial extension 3111 to hear the legendary Rabbi Hershel Eckstein every Thursday evening between 20:20 to 23:05 on the Mekadhsey Shevi'i channel.

Torah Way, the daily morning Shiur started two years ago in North Manchester and now operates in North and North West London.

We are now in the process of publishing a Torah Way Diary, an A4 flyer listing forthcoming Shiurim until Erev Rosh HaShana.  For further details, call Menasche Scharf on 07974 160 252.

Join our journey on the Torah ‎Way!‎ 21/12/2005

Communicated: 20 Kislev 5766 (21/12/2005)

Torah Way North London Update, Chanukah 5766.

Torah Way is pleased to announce the conclusion of a very successful
'Zman' this winter.  Over four hundred hours were accumulated during
the twenty-plus sessions, with a number of listeners on Kol HaLoshon
and other media.

This Sunday past, we had the privilege to listen to enlightening words
from Rabbi Yitzchok Greenbaum Shlita.
As usual, the lecture was given in the comfortable surroundings of the Biala
Shul in South Tottenham.
The topic this week was: The connection between Vayeshev, the weekly
Sedra and Chanukah - to invigorate the Jewish life with meaning in everyday
Avodas HaShem and Achdus: Bein Odom LaChavero.  Incidently, this was
also the topic of the previous Sunday speaker, Mr Yitzchok Silkin, of Project SEED.

For Chanukah, (which coincides with the local holidays,) we are running
a special range of daily Shiurim, in addition to the regular Sunday
and Thursday sessions.
Speakers lined up for Chanukah are:
Sunday, Erev Chanukah: Mr Joseph Sugarwhite FCA - "The Light of Chanukah"
Monday, First Day of Chanukah: Dayan Binjomin Eckstein
Tuesday, Second Day of Chanukah: Rabbi Pinchas Schneebalg Shlita
Wednesday, Third Day of Chanukah: Rabbi Shimon Knopfler Shlita
Thursday, Fourth Day of Chanukah: Dayan Levy Yitzchok Raskin Shlita
Friday, Fifth Day of Chanukah: Rabbi Moshe Margulies Shlita - Rosh
HaKollel Yad Torah - "Various Topics Which Apply For Chanukah"
Sunday, Seventh Day of Chanukah: Rabbi Shlomo Reich Shlita
Monday, Eighth Day of Chanukah: Rabbi Osher Baddiel

Due to popular demand from Torah Way fans, plans are now being
formulated to launch some Shiurim in Yiddish and Hebrew. This will
ensure no one goes without Torah on a weekday, thereby enhancing the
lives of our community members and strengthening Torah Life in North London.
With the coming of the light of Chanukah, may we all merit to discover
the Light in the Holy Torah and ultimately be redeemed to bask in the
eternal Light, which will emerge with the coming of our redeemer,
speedily in our days.

Torah Way, the daily morning Shiur started two years ago in North
Manchester
and now operates in North and North West London.
We are now in the process of publishing a Torah Way Diary, which will
list all forthcoming Shiurim until Erev Pesach.  For further details,
call Menasche Scharf on 07974 160 252.

Torah Way North London becomes a Daily Shiur


By Jonathan Stern

London, 14/06/2006

Rabbi Mordechai Fein Shlita - a regular contributor to the Start The Day The Torah Way in North London - expounds on the virtue of a daily dose of learning before going out to work

King Solomon says in Koheles (Ch. 7, v.8)  “טוב אחרית דבר מראשיתו”- as explained in the Jerusalemite Talmud that the beginning of any project lays the foundation and is the pivotal force behind it.  It requires much thought and contemplation but we cannot delay initiating since the opportunities will slip away.  A “ נחשון “ approach, like the Prince of the tribe of Yehuda Nachshon Ben Aminodov, who jumped into the Reed Sea first, is sometimes necessary since otherwise the יצר הרע steps in and gives too many convincing arguments not to begin.  The greater the קדושה involved, the more we are standing to gain in Torah - the stronger the resistance of the יצר הרע, which explains why כל התחלות קשותall beginnings are hard and difficult (Mechilta on Parshas Yisro).  The יצר הרע cannot fathom the thought of new projects increasing מלכות שמים and therefore puts in extra efforts to thwart the plans.  But once you overcome the initial opposition from the יצר הרע there is a special סייעתא דשמיא – help from Above, and you are bound to succeed.  
Our Sages said: any commandment that was accepted in the beginning with love had staying power with the Jewish nation.  E.g. performing Circumcision on all male newborns was accepted with total love and joy, so until this day we see that even estranged Jews will still perform the circumcision ceremony with enthusiasm and true interest.  The opposite holds true as well.  The initial concept of only marrying permissible parties was met with opposition – as it says in this week’s Parsha: “and they – Israel -were crying with their families” (Bemidbar Ch. 11, v.10), which is explained as crying over the new laws of familial relationships and therefore until today there is always some heartbreak involved in a marriage, in some form or another (Talmud Tractate Shabbos (Folio 130, p.1) and in Midrash Sifri).

The Ponovizher Rov when inaugurating his world-famous Yeshiva in Benei Beraq did not make a grand ceremony but rather recited Psalms.  Upon reflection, an assumption can be made, which might explain his seemingly uncharacteristic behaviour.  Just as when taking out the Holy Scrolls for the Torah Reading it is a time of clemency for the congregation, as is brought down in the Holy Zohar (Vayakhel) - so too when there is any “opening of the Holy Ark” – such as opening a Yeshiva to promulgate public Torah learning - there too is a “time of clemency. And that is the opportunity that the Ponovizher Rov wanted to utilise to the utmost. Beginnings have an extra measure of שעת רחמים - a time for clemency, and increased סייעתא דשמיא – help from Above. 

But let us not forget that it is not only the beginning that is so important, the continuity as well is vital for the success.  Unfortunately, too often projects will start off well - only to die out a slow death.  That is not the דרך התורה – the Torah Way!  Torah is referred to in many instances as"הליכה" -  “Going”, as it says "אם בחוקותי תלכו" – “whither in my laws you will trod”, or בהתהלכך תנחה אותך"” - “whence you will go in Her ways (of the Torah) She will guide you”, and "הוי כל צמא לכו למים" – “behold, whomever is thirsty go forth to the waters [of Torah]”.  Torah is a “walking process” - it is achieved with a consistent, continuous approach.  The idea is to attend the Shiurim constantly – without a break.  An example: someone running towards a goal may get to his destination faster but will have to take many breaks.  On the other hand, someone walking can continue for hours without a break, eventually reaching his destination in full form. To illustrate this point even further, let’s take a person who is fasting for twenty four hours consecutively cannot be judged against someone who fasts in shifts of two twelve hour stints with a ten minute break in between.  The former has fasted one long unbroken lap of twenty four hours, whilst the latter who fasted twice twelve hour periods – totalling twenty four hours, has not reached the aim altogether. 

And that is one of the key strengths of “The Torah Way” - it is continuous.  Whether it may be a Sunday, Monday a Bank Holiday or summer holidays – there is always that input.  And that is ultimately what HaShem wants: A constant and continuous focus on Torah-Learning – through “starting the day the Torah way”.

The above is an extract of Rabbi Mordechai Fein’s inaugural Shiur on the occasion of the first Shiur of the daily programme on Friday 9th June ‘06.  (The full Shiur can be heard on Kol HaLoshon’s dedicated Torah Way North London channel, Shiur Number 63).

V’ani Tefillah Foundation Aseres Yemei Teshuvah Tefillah initiative

19/09/2006

Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, author of “Praying with Fire”, visited the UK earlier this year, speaking in North West London at Start Your Day the Torah Way and in Manchester at a special tefillah event with Rabbi Mattisyahu Salomon, shlita, as well as a number of schools in both locations.  Last year, his foundation, “V’Ani Tefillah” issued thousands of booklets to enable people to enhance their davenning during the aseres yemei teshuva

This year, the Aseres Yemei Teshuva program is nearly double the size and scope of last year’s successful programme. It is hoped that more than one hundred thousand booklets will be distributed in North America, England, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, South Africa and in English speaking venues in Eretz Yisroel.  This year’s programme takes sections from the kavannah chapter of “Praying with Fire”, enabling people to focus, during these auspicious days, on practical strategies and insights that will increase the power of their tefillos.

A spokesman for V’Ani Tefillah in London told Hamodia that they have been inundated with requests from shuls, schools and other mosdos around Europe for copies of the booklet.  Fifteen thousand booklets have been printed in England and the programme is running in numerous schools in London and Manchester, as well as seminaries and yeshivos in Gateshead and Manchester.

In an effort to make as many people as possible aware of the initiative before Rosh Hashanah,  V’Ani Tefillah sent out information packs to rabbonim, and were distributing their material at the various large gatherings which have been held as Yom Tov draws near, such as the IT meetings in London and Manchester.  The organisers hope very much that once people have seen how their davenning has improved they will be inspired to try out the whole programme. 

“So many people have grown in tefillah from the entire 89-day learning program over the course of the year,” remarked the spokesman, “that this year, when we offered a new aseres yemei teshuvah booklet on kavannah, the response was tremendous. Especially now, at this moment in history, profound tefillah is a matter of crucial importance. Although the most recent, dramatic epoch in our history appears to have come to a momentary halt in Eretz Yisroel, a new level of awareness has been aroused. People want to know, they want to learn, ‘How can I come closer to Hashem?’”

V’Ani Tefillah has the backing of local dayonim and rabbonim as well as prominent rabbonim around the world.  V’Ani Tefillah is closely linked with Start Your Day the Torah Way, and together they are intending to run an annual leil hisorerus, for men, in English.  This unique event will take place in London, Manchester and  Gateshead, as well as other locations in Europe. It will feature exclusive audio-visual presentation from Rabbi Mattisyahu Salomon, shlita, mashgiach of Lakewood yeshiva, as well as a small number of short and direct droshos from local rabbonim in the style of “Torah Way”. This audio-visual has been prepared in direct response to requests from schools for an introduction to hisorerus in tefillah The beauty of this classic kiruv kerovim iniative is that it appeals to everyone – to men and ladies, to children and to all sectors of the religious spectrum.

Start Your Day the Torah Way is running the V’Ani Tefillah initiative in all its locations, with short programmes either before or after the shiur, for ten days, starting this week.  It can be accessed as usual on Kol HaLashon or by the other regular means.

To bring the V’Ani Tefillah Foundation’s the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah initiative or full 89-day tefillah learning program and to your shul or school, yeshiva seminary or to your home, please contact the V’Ani Tefillah Foundation at   0207 993 5044, or e-mail vanitefillah@yeshivanet.com

Summer Holidays at Torah Way


London, 28/08/2012
Shiurim at Torah Way (North London) were a great success this past August /Av during the Bein Hazmanim. When others were on holiday, Shiurim continued as usual at Start Your Day the Torah Way. 
To celebrate the 7th Anniversary of Torah Way, two sets of a few Shiurim took place this Sunday given over by our regular speakers, on a wide range of topics, the guest speaker being Dayan L.Y Raskin.  
Two Shiurim were also held on Bank Holiday, where Mr Abelesz from Golders Green who related his life experiences during the period immediately after liberation, until he arrived on these shores.
He was ably introduced by his nephew R’ Yeshaya Shulem Gross of Stamford Hill, who expounded on the topic of ‘Zechor’ and ‘Timche’, both being of unique value in Judaism from a Halachic and historic perspective.
Rabbi Yisrael Yaakov Katz enthralled the assembled with his beautiful speech on the timely subject of ‘Elvi’, exhorting us to ‘take refuge’ during this month so as to be able to reflect on our deeds of this past year, much like a person who has accidentally killed another person takes refuge in an ‘Ir Miklot’ where he is kept so that he can reflect on his whole past life and make the necessary adjustments, so required to improve in ways that would have been improbable, were he to remain in his normal routine setting, surrounded by his familiar environment. Similarly, we should invest our efforts during the Elul month to improve our conduct for the new year and the whole future life.
Chaired by Dayan Emanuel Levy of Palmers Green and Southgate synagogue, who gave the annual report, summing up the accumulated Shiurim, which, given on a daily basis six days a week, clocked up to the numerical value of the word Mizmor (293). 
Dayan Dovid Greenhaus of Chassam Sofer Shul gave a very informative shiur on the dinim of the sukkah, followed by a L’chaim, dayan Levy Yitzchak Raskin of Lubavitch shul explained the Gemara in Rosh Hashana: Hashem told the Jewish people: “Say for Me verses of Regency, say for Me verses of remembrance, and with what? With a ram’s horn”. This explained beautifully as always..
R’ Dovid Cohen chanted a chapter of Psalms for the success of the celebration, followed by the event
The organisers thank all those who participated.  

Monday, August 20

Why she only has one name

"Mazel tov, sach naches, oyf Simches!  What's the baby's name?"

They were coming in the droves, our family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances.  Bless them; to walk such distances in the hottest day of the year (so far).

Having had a sip of  Auchentoshan - Single Malt Scotch Whisky with the KLBD Hechsher, they now started interrogating me about the newborn's name.  "What a nice name, who was she named after, wasn't so'n'so's mother also called by this name?  How are you going to call her: 'Maealea', 'Meylah' or 'Mala'?"

Then came the more Lomdesha question:
"Wait a minute, if she's named after your mother OB"M*, why has she only one name?  Surely you would like the child to be blessed with long life; how then did you name her after someone who - besides being a Tzadekes and a real 'Ayshes Chayil', she sadly passed away in the prime of her productive life?!  At least you could have added a name to her - say Chaya, which denotes Life or a similar blessing-filled tag".

Go figure, what do they know!  This kind of argument is the prerogative of the parents and the parents alone, not just anybody can stick in their inquisitive nose!  OK, the young parents have surely asked Da'as Toyrah, before making such a decision, but where do all these well-meaning interrogators think they are, in the Birth Registrar's office?

On the other hand, why not answer their prodding with a good natured nod?  Just state the truth: "yes, you are right, she only has one name and there is a reason for it".  These well-wishers have come all the way to wish you Mazel tov and therefore deserve your consideration, regardless of their behaviour.  

So, here it is - in a nutshell: 
  1. Reason one: It is known that the parents have Divine inspiration at the time when they decide on a name.
  2. Reason two: The newborn's parents are answerable to no-one.  Their decision is final.
  3. Reason three: The baby's name is her property for life, why give her a hard time writing a two barrelled name.
  4. Reason four: Spare the Gabbai (or Rabbi), when he will have to read out the name at her wedding, during a Mee shebeyrach or when her children might need a Yeshuah.  One name is just right for the officiant to pronounce correctly, without having to be corrected from all sides.
  5. Reason five: Most people who carry more than one name are anyway called by one of their names; the other names are destined for oblivion.
  6. Reason six: Based on the previous argument, when it comes to Shidduchim, it will be much easier to ferret out the non-starters, as the future mother-in-law cannot have the same name as her daughter-in-law.  With one name there is less room for error.
  7. Reason seven: Just imagine how much ink will be saved by only having to write one name!
    * Of Blessed Memory

Friday, July 27

The blast from the past, through the eyes of a twelve year old

The blast from the past, through the eyes of a draft-dodger turned secret agent.

Remembering the Bomb Attack on European Pirchim boys, Summer 1980

Thirty two years have passed, since the sad events unfolded in Antwerp, my hometown. Nearly every year, as the month of Av rolls in, I remember those innocent victims, my classmates who lost an organ or school friends who were maimed for life.
Still, life continued and we slowly adjusted to new realities like terrorism, physio-treatment to ease the release of shrapnel. And then another word entered our young minds - Holocaust, the dreaded word the adults mentioned, were schmoozing about the bad times, thinking that we're long gone to bed.
It was another regular day in Antwerp, the same as any other – with a cloud-filled sky and smog filled streets. In our flat, we had a higher than usual traffic, for a number reasons. In our showroom-cum-bedroom, wide open Luggage was in the process of being filled up with our belongings, in preparation for an overseas trip. In the dining room, my parents were entertaining Mr & Mrs Lieberman who were visiting from Haifa in Israel.
I still remember the distinct noise that came as a thud in the distance, which saw our guests perk up. Mr Lieberman said that a bomb just went off, adding a wish that no one has been hurt. Having lived through half a dozen conflicts in the holy land, they were sadly well attuned to these kinds of sounds. I was the first out of the house, racing down the steps to the street, two floors below. My father was soon behind me, trying to keep me away from danger (and perhaps, mischief).
We met my younger brother on the Mercatorstraat, where he told us the sad news: an Arab attacked the Aguda boys, who were about to embark on a bus on their way to the Ardennes. There were many victims, all with as yet unknown injuries to all parts of their body.
My brother Aaron was outside his friend Shmuly's house when the father was coming out of the underground garage, where he had parked his car. With one fell swoop, the man pulled the heavy garage door downwards, until it closed completely. The sound of the garage door hitting the wall had an overstated echo, which made Shmuly's father remark that something must have happened just now. The two boys ran in the direction of the Lamorinierestraat, where – according to their guesstimate the 'boom' originated from.
Sure enough, they were of the few who managed to get to the scene, before the police cordoned off the whole area.
I commented to my father how Arele always manages to be where the action is. My father berated me, saying that I shouldn't envy him when such sad things happen to our people.
The rest of the day passed in a blur, with people offering new details of the sad event on a constant basis. One boy was killed and many lost vital body functions such as hearing, sight whilst others were being treated in trauma departments in hospitals across Antwerp.
The following day, at the levaya of Hakodosh Habochur Kahana from Paris, all of Antwerp attended. When cars started pulling out on their way to the Beys Hachayim in Putte, which is across the Dutch border, I also wanted to go. I felt it my duty – all of a thirteen year old – to be present at such a harrowing time, so that I could participate in the historic event unfolding in front of my young eyes. However my father would have none of it, especially as no other boys were going. With no other option, I made my way home and started switching into holiday mode. Our preparations to join the Bobov summer camp "Shalva" in the Catskills were now going to be in full swing.
Before I had a chance to reach our street, I saw my father as a passenger in a car that was passing by on its way to the cemetery. I quickly forgot my plans for a vacation and ran after the car, which slowly ground to halt. I peered into the vehicle, hoping there would be an empty space for me to squeeze in. Alas, the passengers had already squeezed in as much as they could, with no room left for me skinny little thing. As I was contemplating my predicament, a small car stopped in the middle of the road and the passenger asked something in Hebrew. I went over and realised that these two non-frum people are trying to make their way to the Beys Olam, to attend the funeral.
This was my chance! I told them that I would show them the way, if they only waited until I tell my father, to which they consented. Rushing over to where my father was waiting, I quickly told him that I am going with these people who are on their way to the Levaya. I jumped into the small car and in a panic told them: "don't lose sight of this car!", pointing to the old banger my father was travelling with
Did I pray! Just imagine we lose the car in the lead and they ask me for directions. The only other time I went to Putte was for the Levaya of Reb Itzikel Ztz"l and that was four years before. . .
During the trip I realised that the guy in the passenger seat is none other than the Israeli Ambassador to Belgium. He kept peppering me with questions about me and my family, about our schools and our knowledge of the Hebrew language.
Having travelled to Eretz Yisroel before, I knew that my status as a draft-dodger, as my mother A"H was an Israeli citizen, making me one by default. Therefore when the representative of the State wanted to know how come my Hebrew was so advanced, I quickly countered with a one-liner that I ended up repeating many times at passport control on my way out of Eretz Yisroel: we in Antwerp are being taught the Hebrew language as part of the curriculum. The guy must have been impressed as he didn't press any further . . . As if he would have arrested me on the spot for bolting from the draft before I was called up!
As we arrived into the cemetery the two officials donned head coverings and proceeded to the place where people congregated around the freshly made grave. We realised that we've just made it in time for the Ambassador to offer a few words, we heard the Kaddish and then returned to the car. I refused offers for a lift from other people, not wanting to forego the trip with these dignitaries. One of the bystanders, a Yeshiva boy many years my senior couldn't resist asking me if I was enlisted as a camouflage for possible terrorist attacks. This made me stop in my tracks and think again about making my way home with my hosts. However the lure of mingling with tack brass overcame my fear and I deftly followed them into the little white car.
When we arrived back home, I showed them my address and invited them for coffee. The ambassador amicably accepted the invitation and my father was duly impressed when he received the ambassador's own, personal, embossed business card.
I still remember people repeating speech that Reb Zalman Lehrer Ztz"l held, during the trial of the Arab terrorist (who has since been set free by the Belgian authorities, having sat out his sentence). It was a true Kiddush Hashem!
This story might only be an anecdote, still it shows that when calamity befalls us we learn to drop our guard, breach the walls that divide us and see our brethren as Yidden – however far they've gone. As the Gomorrah says: Yisroel, af-al-pie shechoto – Yisroel huh. A Yid, his grave sins notwithstanding – always remains a Yid! The ambassador was light years away from what we hold dear, however he understood that he must be part of such an event, to share the pain of Kellal Yisroel.
Next time you pass by a person who looks like a Yid and behaves like a goy – remember: by you greeting him nicely, you may pull the lever that may eventually propel him towards Yiddishkeit. And who knows, one day he might end up reminding you to stop schmoozing in middle of Leining . . .

Footnote:
Exact date:
1980(14th of Av, 5740): A Jewish boy from France was killed and others were injured when terrorists threw grenades at a group of children in Antwerp, Belgium (Source)

Wednesday, July 25

Beautifying Knowledge over Physique

With all the hype surrounding the Olympic games and the procession of the torchbearers, it is important to turn our focus to the real challenges in life.
I feel it is important for us as Jews – the People of The Book – to promulgate the studying of our life guide: the Torah. Whilst we all believe that the written and oral law were given at Sinai, it is sometimes out of our grasp to really delve into it on a daily basis. Some people tend to be intelligent, studious or principled; they will find the time, resources and the drive to become well-versed in our holy Torah. Not everyone is like this, so what is there the rest of us? Are we to remain ignorami forever?! 

It is therefore heartening that a solution is there for every Jew to familiarise himself with the words of wisdom, comportment and lore that is hidden in the fountain of wisdom. The Daf-Yomi* programme is just this: a daily learning programme, which has in it's dozen cycles brought the word of HaShem to millions of Jews.
Join the real torchbearers of our ancient rich heritage, which distinguishes itself with the power of the intellect – not raw physics. The Daf Yomi sets us apart as a species that thinks, analyses and grows from this continuous educational experience. Whereas the Greeks gave a competition-filled game to the world, the daily Daf gave us an even older future: to know the Creator though the blueprint of the universe – the Torah.
Next week, the current Daf Hayomi cycle is nearing its finishing line, which will be celebrated throughout the world in the form of grandiose Siyum Hashass** events. Perhaps the time has come to enlist more members to this uninterrupted learning programme.
Let's do it for the sake of HaShem, for the sake of the Torah and for the sale of Am Yisrael. Let us remember all those who gave their life for belonging to the People of the Torah: those who were murdered during the Hebron Disturbances in 1928, the victims of the Nazi monster, in the period leading up to – and in the course of – WWII, and the many individuals or whole communities who were killed or wounded in the Zionist-Arab conflict – on the holy soil of the holy land and elsewhere.
Let's hope that - in the merit of all the millions of hallowed pages, which ascend to heaven – we will soon be able to line the streets and witness the torch of Emuna, Tiqwa and Geulah*** being led through our streets, on its way to the Holy Temple where we shall celebrate the ultimate redemption from Galut Yavan and Galut Edom****, speedily in our days, Amen.
Thank you,
Menasche Scharf
* (lit. daily leaf/page)
** (lit. the finishing of the six tomes)
*** (lit. belief, hope and redemption)
**** (lit. the Greek exile and the Edomite exile)

Thursday, May 24

A Thought On Shavuot

This article was published in HERE, before I posted it:
Only three days are left until the big day of Shavuot, when we commemorate the giving of the Torah by HaShem, Blessed Be His Holy Name. If we remember this only as a historic event, then it is only a symbolic holiday; but what is there in it for us? 
Well, we’re dealing with a transaction here: if there is something being given, then there must be someone receiving it – we are this someone! Sinai wasn’t a one-off event, the receiving of the Torah is happening every day since when it was originally given. We all know that the Sinai experience – the Big-Bang that shaped us into the Jewish people - is part of our D.N.A.  We were all there - although we don’t remember it ourselves. The sound effects resonate through the centuries all the way to the present day for all of us to hear. We don’t hear it – at least us common folk - for one simple reason: we’re so enmeshed in our daily routine: street noise, work noise, gadget noise and gizmo noise – they all block out the voice saying: “I am your G-d”.  So, just put your ear to the ground, humble yourself and come down from all the high-tech, Hi-Fi and hi-risers, ye shall hear!  
Indeed, one of the commandments that form part of the six daily “reminders” is: Remember the day you stood before your G-d at Horeb – i.e. Sinai. This is a reminder for each and every one of us – regardless of age, physical condition or financial status – to connect with the teachings we received at Sinai. Everyone is given the option every day; every day is a new day – a new chance to reconnect. As it is told by the Sages: “every day a proclamation emanates from Sinai: dear children, come back home – let me heal your lapses”.  Meaning: even if there was a lapse in your way of life – you lost connection - just turn around, the rest will follow. It is up to us to decide if we want to take up the challenge!
With the kindling of the Olympics Torch in Greece, the countdown to the approaching Olympiad has started. We, as bearers of the ancient, current and future torch – the eternal Torah, are not counting down, we are counting up: Today is the fourty seventh day of the Omer, tomorrow will be the fourty eighth day of the Omer, and so on – we always add a rung to the ladder, we reinforce our commitment to our Torah with another layer, we add another dimension to our life by getting into shape and to be on the ready to become worthy receivers of the Torah, which is our guiding light and life coach. Be there! Good Yom Tov.

Wednesday, May 16

Ma tovu oyholeycho Yaakov …

Only 11 days are left until the big day, when we commemorate the giving of the תורה – the sacred bible – by השם, Blessed Be His Holy Name. If we remember this only as a historic event, then it is only a symbolic holiday; but what is there in it for us? Well, we're dealing with a transaction here: if there is something being given, then there must be someone receiving it – we are this someone! Sinai wasn't a one-off event, the receiving of the תורה is happening every day since when the it was originally given. We all know that the Sinai experience – the Big-Bang that shaped us into the Jewish people - is part of our D.N.A.  We were all there - although we don't remember it ourselves. The sound effects resonate through the centuries all the way to the present day – for all of us to hear. We don't hear it – at least us common folk - for one simple reason: we're so enmeshed in our daily routine: street noise, work noise, gadget noise and gizmo noise – they all block out the voice saying: "I am your G - d".  So, just put your ear to the ground, humble yourself and come down from all the high-tech and hi-risers, ye shall hear!  Indeed, one of the commandments that form part of the six daily "reminders" is: Remember the day you stood before your G-d at Horeb – i.e. Sinai. This is a reminder for each and every one usregardless of age, physical condition or financial status – to connect with the teachings we received at Sinai. Everyone is given the option every day; every day is a new day – a new chance to reconnect. As it is told by the Sages: "every day a proclamation emanates from Sinai: dear children, come back home – let me heal your lapses".  Meaning: even if there was a lapse in your way of life – you lost connection - just turn around, the rest will follow. It is up to us to decide if we want to take up the challenge!  With the kindling of the Olympics Torch in Greece, the countdown to the approaching Olympiad has started. We, as bearers of the ancient, current and future torch – the eternal תורה, are not counting down, we are counting up: Today is the thirty eighth day of the Omer, tomorrow will be the thirty ninth day of the Omer, and so on – we always add a rung to the ladder, we reinforce our commitment to our תורה with another layer, we add another dimension to our life by getting into shape and to be on the ready to become worthy receivers of the תורה, which is our guiding light and life coach. Be there! Good Yomtef. 

Thursday, April 5

Torah Way North London - 12/09/2005

By Jonathan Stern  


12 September, 2005

Weekly Shiurim "Start Your Day The Torah Way" continue unabated, with this week's Shiur - the third in what is anticipated to become a household name - sponsored by Osher Shapiro Arba Minim Centre.

This Sunday, a larger than usual gathering took place at the Biala Beis Hamedrash in South Tottenham, North London.  The Shul was packed with mostly English-speaking people eager to learn the Halachos of Arba Minim, as preparation to the upcoming Yom Tov of Succos.

Dayan Eckstein, of the Belzer Beis Hamedrash in St Kilda's Road, Stamford Hill expounded on the hidden and revealed "ta'amim" of the Arba Minim.  Showing the assembled an authentic Lulav, he proceeded to cover most Halachos pertaining the various points one has to look for when choosing it.  Next was the Hadass, of which the Dayan displayed several species explaining the significant characteristics that makes up a Kosher Hadass.

The Shiur, which took about forty minutes was rounded off with Divrei Agodo, as the Maharil promises in his Teshuvos (=responsa) - as quoted in the Sha'arei Teshuva Hilchos Arba Minim: "One should seek to purchase an exquisite set of species, for he will be amply rewarded in this world and in the world to come."  The assemblage dispersed in a Yom Tov mood with the scent of the Arba Minim in the air.

There are now requests to extend the Torah Way programme of Shiurim to run on a daily basis, following the path of the original Start Your Day The Torah Way in Manchester - which incidentally celebrated the start of their third year running this week - on which the North London programme is based.

For a weekly reminder, one can TxT their mobile number to 07974 160 252 or by eMail to menasche.scharf@gmail.com and an SMS will be sent prior to an upcoming Shiur.  These contact details can also be used for any suggestion one might have to improve this worthwhile Programme.

Past Shiurim are available in the English Section of Mussar and Chassidus of Kol HaLoshon.

Pending the input of a sound technician, Tapes or CD's might become available, once a volunteer to run this part will come forward.

Next week's Ba'al Darshan is Rabbi Avrohom Zonszajn, Maggid Shiur of Yeshivas Lev Simcha D'Gur in Stamford Hill.  The Shiur takes place at Biala Beis Hamedrash with plenty seating - and parking - space.

Let's pray and hope that the Kiddush HaShem engendered by this lofty endeavour will bring about the awakening of goodwill for the whole community for a blessed, healthy and prosperous year.

"Start Your Day The Torah Way" - North London is based at: Biala Beis HaMedrash, 110 Castlewood Road, South Tottenham, North London.

Wednesday, March 28

מה טובו אוהליך יעקב - פרשת בלק

The following essay first appeared in the Sefer Hayovel that was published on the occasion of the 25th anniversary for the Szcaranski "Beis Yaacov" Teachers' Seminary in Tel Aviv.  Written in לשון הקדש by Shoshanna Nebenzahl, a former student of the seminary, it has been translated into English for BYGS, its staff, parents and supporters.  The theme is "The Holy Family and Education in the Jewish Home, according to the teachings of Rebbetzin Soroh Schenierer", whose Yahrzeit falls on the 26th of Adar (tomorrow).
From the horse's mouth…
The proclamation מה טובו אהליך יעקב ("Ma tovu oyholeycho Yaakov…" - how good are your dwelling Yaakov) uttered by none other than our arch-enemy בלעם (Balaam), sums up his impression when he saw how Am Yisroel (the Jewish nation) arranged the layout of their dwellings: "How regal are Yaakov's tents and how pure are Yisroel's dwellings!".  Balaam horosho - being the greatest prophet in history, whom HaShem placed at the service of the non-Jewish world - perceived the essence of what makes the chosen nation so unique.  According to Chazal, one can decipher the "curse in disguise" that he had prepared - by analysing the blessing he was forced to pronounce.  As Rashi brings down, a mouthpiece appeared in his mouth, with which HaShem directed all the statements that he transmitted about the Jewish people.

A Lifestyle
Let us find out the qualities that Bilaam saw in bene Yisroel (the Jewish children); he didn't only see physical structures. He saw a whole lifestyle. He witnessed Jewish families leading a life of holiness.  This holiness envelopes them and wherever they go is their purity evident.

The perpetual wish
The most fervent dream of a parent is to see their child emulate the ideals and behaviours they believe in.  The best compliment you can give for a parent is to praise their child's stellar behaviour.  See a youngster swell with pride when you tell him: "you must be so'n'so's son" (or daughter). This is a chain reaction, where every link forms a qualifying 'tug' up and down the generations.  Young couples base their decision about their באשערטע (soul mate) by imagining their progeny experiencing a journey that they jointly created - a life path in which both of their footsteps are etched in the sands of time.  
Makes one wonder: where in the world do you still find a civilised society in which the role model is the father, where the mother is being idolised as the ideal person to emulate?
Calm amidst chaos…
After dismissing western civilisation - where role models are the idols of the sports or icons of the fashion industry, it is infeasible to even contemplate eastern extremism, which hails death as a goal to be emulated, we're left with the unique model of living, as promulgated by the eternal Jewish family.  As a lifeboat in a foaming sea of ever changing stars and fads, the Jewish family succeeds in perpetuating a continuum of holiness and purity.  What advantage did this people have over most others? Where did it take the power from? Whence did this holiness pour forth from?

Homing in on Home…
In order to adequately answer this enigma, let's take a walk down memory lane and watch our glorious past. Throughout the ages, we can trace the path that our forebears have paved, as it was hewn into the DNA of נשמת ישראל (our collective psyche).

In the [new] beginning…
נח (Noah) was the first man to set foot on dry earth after the flood.  By planting a vineyard he laid the foundations for a civilisation that will live a life of well-being, a life full of the nicer things that were embodied in יפת (Japheth) - the good-looking son. Then came his pious son שם (Shem) and realised that having a nice tent is bordering on the physical, that all the trappings of luxurious living are only useful for the here and now. In order to qualify for an elevated existence, one has to create space where the שכינה (Holy presence) can spread its protective wings over the dwellers of this משכן מעט (miniature Mishkon).

Ask your elders…
The first family of Hebrews - the Abrahams - set the example, which was emulated by their beloved and only son יצחק (Isaac). When choosing a match for his son, our patriarch Abraham insisted that the girl that will marry Isaac must be able to fill the void that was left bare upon the death of Sara, our first matriarch: ChessedTznius and an unconditional love for למוד התורה (Torah-learning). This last treat was evident when Sarah was letting her only son leave her side so that he could attend the ישיבה (Yeshiva) of שם ועבר (Shem and Ever).   Indeed, Rivka's love for her Yaakov is for him being יושב אהלים (the one who dwells in tents), alluding to his diligent Torah-learning.  Studying at the feet of Shem, his great-grandchild-protégé Yaakov learned from him how to plot his way in life.

Sticks'n'Stones
From Yaakov's proclamation - when he woke up all alone on Har HaBayis - surrounded by stones and with just his walking stick for company,  "אין זה כי אם בית אלקים" (this is but the house of HaShem) we learn that he is continuing to weave an unbroken chain for generations to come, where every generation that follows will build a Bays Eloykim. This secret formula - that in order to preserve the purity of Am Yisroel one must create the atmospheric condition that befits a Bays Eloykim - he perpetuated through his children, שבטי י-ה (the holy tribes).

Taking root…
These then were the patriarchs of our nation, who planted the powerful roots for their offspring. The saplings were empowered to fight off any materialistic aspirations, clinging to their goal of creating cocoons where the Shechina (the holy presence) will dwell בתוכם (amongst each and every one of them). This holiness was handed down from father to son and from mother to daughter until this day. This kept the flame of undiluted spiritual Judaism alive, enabling the inner beauty of our souls, to shine forth and influence their environs.  They entertained an aspiration to always reach higher, leaving materialism in the shade.

Unique amongst the nations…
Throughout the millennia, there is hardly a comparable phenomenon to the unique Jewish family values. These values were put to test time and again over the centuries, when the tightly-nit family was threatened by upheavals such as ant-religious coercion, exile or revolution. Throughout this long and bitter גלות (exile) the Jew always sought to ensure that his family perpetuates those lofty values, for which he and his forebears have offered up their very lives.  Generation after generation, the family life helped shape the super-seed that would take root in the quicksand of time, when all odds were stacked up against its survival.  This ensured the continuity of a people that survives without a land that it can call "Home".

(Un)expected Outcome…
When a family, tribe or a people immerses itself in a culture other than their own tradition, they would disappear after a generation or two. In contemporary parlance, this would be termed as integration, or assimilation.  Not so when children propagate the tenets that they saw at home.  The parents form the foundation on which the core family values are based. They act as live role models that cause the child to become imbued with the spirit of Torah.  They create an aura of holiness that is imbibed by their toddler even before he can talk.

Perfect Formulae…
The child grows up in an environment where it inhales all the good and purity, the holiness and love, the warmth and the contentment that his parents engender in their habitat. The education that the parents impart on the child acts as a launch pad of his/her future life and the stability to lead it correctly.

הביטו אל שרה תחוללכם
(watch your forebear Sarah)
Soroh Schenierer kept prodding her students on, by relentlessly demanding they grow in spirit and in deed. She expected maximum input from her pupils and realised maximum output for Am Yisroel. Just by looking at the worldwide network of Beis Yaakov schools (and the plethora of offshoots that have sprung up since the war, like Beis ChanaBeis MalkaBeis Rochel and Beis Trana - to name but a few) one realises the mega‑undertaking that this  Tzadekes (righteous woman) built up from scratch with her ten fingers.

By helping BYGS, you help to keep her legacy alive, furthering the assurance of an authentic and traditional Jewish continuity.  In doing so, you acknowledge her contribution to the survival of The Jewish Family. This treat - Hakoras Tova - was one of her hallmarks that our children at BYGS are being brought up with and by emulating her ways may we merit to see דורות ישרים ומבורכים, Amen.
Menasche Scharf lives in South Tottenham, North London

Tuesday, March 20

מה טובו אוהליך יעקב

מה טובו אוהליך יעקב 
Ma tovu oyholeycho Yaakov…

This proclamation, which was made by none other than our arch-enemy Balaam, sums up his impression when he saw how Am Yisroel arranged the layout of their dwellings. How regal are Yaakov's tents and how pure are Yisroel's dwellings!
Their holiness envelopes them and wherever they go is their purity evident.  Man's most fervent dream is to see his children emulate their own good behaviours. The best compliment you can give for a parent is to praise their child's stellar behaviour.  See a youngster swell with pride when you tell him: "you must be so'n'so's son / daughter". Young couples base their decision about their soul mate by imagining their progeny threading in the path they jointly created with both their proverbial footsteps in the sands of time together.  Makes you wonder: where in the world do you still find a civilised society in which the role model is the father, where the mother is being idolised as the ideal person to emulate?  Contemporary thinkers are grappling with the phenomena of children who lose interest in Jewish living. Instead of  hammering away at these innocent, good-natured youngsters, they would achieve far more by concentrating their well-intended efforts at the root of the problem: the Jewish Family unit.  After dismissing western civilisation and eastern extremism, we're left with the unique model of the Jewish family. As a rescue unit in a sea of ever changing stars and fads, the Jewish home succeeded in perpetuating an unbroken chain of holiness and purity.  Out of all nations on earth, the preservation of the family as torch-bearer was upheld by the "Yiddishe Mome".  What advantage did this people have over most other peoples? Where did it take the power from? Whence from did this holiness pour forth?

In order to adequately answer this enigma, let's take a walk up memory lane and watch our glorious past fly by. Throughout the generations, we can trace the path that our forebears have trodden(?) which was hewn into the DNA of our collective psyche. The first family of Hebrews, the Abrahams set the example, which was emulated by their beloved and only son Isaac. When choosing a match for his son, our patriarch Abraham insisted that the girl that will marry Isaac must be able to fill the void that was left bare upon the death of Sara, our first matriarch: Chessed, Tznius and an unconditional Love for Torah-learning. This last treat was evident when Sarah was letting her only son leave her side so that he could attend the Yeshiva of Shem & Ever.  Indeed, Rivka's love for her Yaakov is expressed as a reason for him being the one who dwells in tents, alluding to his diligent Torah-learning.
From Yaakov's proclamation when he woke up all alone on Har HaBayis "אין זה כי אם בית אלקים…" we learn that he is continuing to weave an unbroken chain for generations to come, where every generation that follows will build a Bays Eloykim. This secret formula - that in order to preserve the purity of Am Yisroel one must create the atmospheric condition that befits a Bays Eloykim - he learnt from his parents.

Noah was the first man to set foot on dry earth after the flood.  By planting a vineyard he laid the foundations for a civilisation that will live a life of well-being, a life full of the nicer things that were embodied in Japheth - the good looking son. Then came his pious son Shem and realised that having a nice tent is bordering on the physical, that all the trappings of luxurious living are only useful for the here and now. In order to qualify for an elevated existence, one has to create space in ones home where the Holy presence can spread its protective wings over the dwellers of this Mishkon. His great-grandchild protégé Yaakov learned from him and managed to implement this way of life and perpetuate it through his 12 son who in turn built Am Yisroel made up of the holy tribes.
These were the patriarchs of our nation who planted the powerful roots that enabled generations to come with the stamina to fight off any materialistic aspirations whilst clinging to their dream of creating cocoons where the Shechina will dwell amongst them, together with them. This holiness was handed down fro
 Father to son and from mother to daughter until this day: keeping the flame of undiluted spiritual Judaism alive so that the inner beauty of our souls, hewn from the partnership of all cocoon dwellers can shine forth and influence their environment with an aspiration to always reach higher so as to attain loftier ideals that place materialism in the shade.

There is hardly a comparable phenomenon to the eternal uniqueness that makes Jewish family values so unique. Over the centuries, those values were put to test time and again, when the tightly-nit family wad threatened by upheavals such as exile and revolution. Throughout this long and bitter ordeal the Jew always sought to ensure that his family perpetuates those lofty values for which his forbears have offered up their very lives.  Generation after generation, the family life helped shape the super-seed that would take root in the quicksand of time, when all odds were stacked up against its survival.  This ensured the continuity of a people made up of offspring that survives without a land that it can call "home", unlike all other nations on earth.  In contemporary parlance, this would be termed as integration, or assimilation.  When a family, tribe or a people immerses itself in a culture other than their own traditional they would disappear after a generation or two. Not so when children propagate the tenets that they saw at home.  The parents form the foundation on which the core family values are based. They act as real live role models that cause the child to become imbued with the spirit of Torah, they create an aura of holiness that is imbibed by their toddler even before he can talk.
The child grows up in an environment where it inhales all the good and purity, the holiness and love, the warmth and the אושר (bliss?) that his parents engender in their habitat. The education that the parents impart on the child act as a launch pad of the future life and the stability to lead it correctly.