The death and destruction our nation experienced last week on a scale not seen since the days of the Holocaust have left many with a feeling of hester panim, of Hashem proverbially hiding His face from His nation. How could this massacre happen? Israel has all the technological advances to prevent the type of attack that occurred, yet when Hashem makes a decree, none of seemingly impenetrable protections will work to prevent the horrors inflicted by Hamas animals. And perhaps that is the point. I’m not a navi and obviously do not know why all this occurred, but perhaps Hashem is telling us to look upwards towards Him.
The Gemara (Sukkah 29a) states that when it rains on the first night of Sukkos, it is like when a servant comes to pour for his master, and he pours the pitcher on his face. This year, we all felt Hashem’s Divine presence in such a special way on the first night of Sukkos. After a deluge of rain fell on the New York City area on Friday, and with the modern-day navi sheker/false prophet meteorologists predicting rain to continue through the night, Hashem decided to simply stop the rain with enough time before Yom Tov for nearly everyone to sit in their sukkos and fulfill the mitzvah properly.
The Zohar states that Hoshana Rabbah is the final day of judgment and atonement. How then are we to feel when the day after Hoshana Rabbah, Hashem decrees the slaughter of hundreds of Jews? In a parallel way, it is almost as if Hashem is throwing our t’shuvah back in our faces. The commentaries explain that the t’shuvah of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur is done mostly out of fear, while the t’shuvah of Hoshana Rabbah is done out of happiness. Perhaps therein lies our take-home message. It is nearly impossible for one to always be happy, as everyone goes through some times of suffering. However, if one understands that the suffering is only temporary and for his own good, since it is meant to cleanse him and increase his eternal reward, then he can rejoice even in the worst situations (see Ben Yehoyada on Taanis 8a).
For those of you, like me, who remain unsatisfied with speculative answers, the approach offered by Rav Mayer Twersky is on point. (His brother Rav Moshe Twersky was killed in a 2014 terror attack.) He asks a simple question: Can and should we expect to understand all of Hashem’s hashgachah? He offers a mashal: A set of parents, who do not want to upset or frustrate their baby, will only do for the baby what the baby can understand and appreciate. If the baby doesn’t understand it, they will not do it. So, they avoid having someone with a white coat stick the baby with a needle and do not provide any essential inoculations. The parents have limited their looking out for the child’s best interest to his infantile understanding. Most people would call this child abuse. Now take this mashal and multiply it by a factor of infinity. Hashem is infinite with infinite understanding while we are limited to our finite understanding. How can we possibly expect to have an understanding of darchei Hashem unless he contains it to our own feeble understanding?!
May we all be zocheh to experience the revelation of the Divine Spirit through events that are joyful and not tragic.
The ramifications of the cataclysmic events of Shabbos Sh’mini Atzeres are still being felt and will be felt for many weeks to come. The pogrom that resulted in the largest loss of Jewish life in one day since the Holocaust is simply devastating. The ineptitude of the current administration occupying the White House has emboldened our enemies around the world. President Biden expressed 100 percent support for Israel a few hours after the attacks. However, Hamas, acting as the shaliach of Iran in murdering 1,300+ Jews in one day, mere weeks after the Biden administration sent Iran $6 billion for no good reason, cannot be ignored.
Blaming Democrats for foreign policy failures based on their foolish misunderstanding of the Middle East is not the purpose of my letter. Far more important for us is to understand where this came from and what we should be doing in response. What took place, just as everything else that occurs in this world, is from Yad Hashem, the Hand of G-d. The same Hashem that arranged for, in chronological order: a dim bulb from Texas with a drinking problem, followed by a low-level community organizer with a Muslim father and an anti-white, anti-Semitic pastor, followed by an orange game show host, followed by a man who should be in a dementia ward with round-the-clock care, to ascend to the Presidency in a country of 350 million people, is still running the world. Yes, missing a well-coordinated air, land, and sea attack on the surface appears to be a colossal intelligence failure of the Mossad, but the reality is every event is orchestrated by Hashem.
The Gemara (Makkos 10a) provides guidance for all of us who are not on the battlefield regarding what we should be doing at this time. The Gemara there states:
“Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi states: What is the meaning of that which is written: ‘Our feet were standing in your gates, Jerusalem’ (Psalms 122:2)? What caused our feet to withstand the enemies in war? It is the gates of Jerusalem, where they were engaged in Torah study. He interprets the term “in your gates” to mean: because of your gates, the place of Torah.”
It is incumbent upon all of us to redouble our efforts in limud haTorah and continue to daven for the welfare of our brethren in Israel and in the merit of these z’chuyos, the pain we all experienced this week should not be in vain but merely the pain of the Chevlei Mashiach, the birth pangs before the imminent arrival of Mashiach.
Nine Americans and hundreds of Israeli citizens have died as a result of the Hamas terrorist attack. Other Americans and Israeli citizens have been taken hostage. Iran provided Hamas with financial support and training. President Biden paid a $6-billion ransom payment to Iran in exchange for freeing five hostages. He now has blood on his hands.
Great Neck, New York
To all the people who persistently criticize and vilify former President Trump, perhaps some serious soul-searching is now in order. As the bloody war on Israel escalates, is it not improbable that the Iranian-engineered invasion, by its Hamas proxy, may have been aborted if Donald Trump was President?
Mr. Trump, a mercurial, dynamic, and volatile leader, who once threatened to nuke the Taliban, may have caused Iran sufficient uncertainty as to the American response to an invasion as to negate its implementation.
May G-d speedily heal the thousands of wounded and safeguard the State of Israel and its courageous citizens from any further attacks.
Flushing, New York
My non-Jewish neighbors have been asking me why they have not seen any major pro-Israel demonstrations. I have no answer. It has been almost two weeks since the Hamas massacre, and our major Jewish organizations are yet to be heard from. Where is the Young Israel? The OU? Agudah? Why haven’t they organized major demonstrations backing Israel? We can all recall the massive outpourings for Soviet Jewry at the UN. And the hundreds, if not thousands, of buses carrying Jews of all persuasions to Washington, DC, in support of Israel. Why are they quiet now?
I say that the Young Israel and the OU and Agudah coordinate with roshei yeshivah and chasidishe rebbes to initiate a mass turnout of Jews in support of our brethren. Let the world see that Jews care about other Jews.
If I were in a position of leadership, I would enlist Mayor Adams to entice Cardinal Dolan to bring out his troops, as well. All civilized people must stand together.
This is an “eis la’asos.” I am waiting for someone to cry out, “Mi laShem eilai.”
Rabbi Schaye Schonbrun
Kew Gardens, New York
Let me stop complaining about gnat attacks in Kew Gardens Hills. I must stop carping about pigeons-cooing all night long, car alarms going off incessantly, and cats making ferocious sounds. Also, no more kvetching about changed airline trajectories increasing the noise over KGH. Enough! After experiencing the booms of the Iron Dome and the sounds of sirens going off, I’ve come to the conclusion that we Americans have nothing to complain about.
Instead of talking about my “chavayah” in Israel, I’d like to make this an ode to every single Jew living there. My four-year-old granddaughter and nine-year-old grandson are among those heroes. My daughter and son-in-law, as well as your family members in Israel, belong to a pantheon of tzadikim. It was the secular Jewish neighbor who knocked at my daughter’s door on Simchas Torah morning to give her the news of the attack and warn her to keep vigil. It was the non-frum Yid who jumped out of his car, ran over to a frum family, and gave them a heads-up concerning the attack.
I, on the other hand, felt like the ten M’raglim (not Joshua or Caleb), desperately trying to find a flight back to New York (but not via Lisbon, Madrid, Egypt, Turkey, or Iceland). To be continued.
Anyone with a sense of decency and humanity had to shed tears and daven upon learning of the barbaric attacks on Israel by Hamas animals on Sh’mini Atzeres/Simchas Torah. I had tears in my eyes watching Fox News and seeing the subsequent pro-Hamas rallies defending the barbarism and blaming the attacks on Israel and the United States. I had more tears in my eyes when I observed the numerous “Jewish” groups defending the slaughter of their brothers and sisters by the Hamas butchers.
And then, of course, are our old friends from Neturei Karta. You know, those guys who dress like fine frum Jews, but actually support those whose goal it is to murder millions of Israeli Jews. Since the attacks, dozens of these low-lives have participated in various pro-Hamas demonstrations around the world, standing proudly with those who want to annihilate us. On October 11, “Rabbi” Dovid Feldman of that vile organization spoke at a pro-Hamas rally in Montreal. They are so proud of their appearances at these rallies that they post the videos on their website. Who needs Hamas when we have Neturei Karta?
Kew Gardens Hills, New York
I understand Moshe Hill’s call, “It’s Time To Expel The Hamas Caucus,” after the barbaric attacks by Hamas on Israel during their barbarous genocidal attack on Simchas Torah. As a lifelong Democrat and Zionist, I have called for the Democratic Party to primary any elected official who could not immediately and unequivocally condemn last weekend’s brutal genocidal attack on Israel by Hamas. I unequivocally stand with Israel, as did Democrats who represent me, including Congressman Greg Meeks, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Queens DA Melinda Katz, and Councilmember Selvena Brooks-Powers, when we held our vigil in Kew Gardens Hills on Monday.
But now I call upon Mr. Hill and the GOP to immediately condemn and shun Donald Trump for attacking Israel after the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust, when he said that he’ll “never forget” that they didn’t participate in the Soleimani operation. In addition, Trump stated last night that Israel “let us down” and needs to “straighten it out.” He disgracefully and unforgivably called Israel weak, saying they should “strengthen themselves up.” Trump then compared Bibi to the “very weak” majority of US Jews, like me, who wisely voted for President Biden.
Chris Christie called Trump a fool for these unhinged comments. Even Ron DeSantis said Trump “makes no sense” for attacking Bibi Netanyahu days after 1,300 Israelis and 25 Americans were murdered by Hamas.
In stark contrast, President Joe Biden stated, “The terrorist attack on Israel has brought to the surface painful memories and the scars left by a millennia of anti-Semitism and genocide of the Jewish people.” He added, “So, in this moment, we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel and the Jewish community.” And our President was very clear when he warned: “To any country, any organization, anyone thinking of taking advantage of this situation, I have one word: Don’t. Our hearts may be broken but our resolve is clear.”
In response to President Biden’s powerful speech, former Israeli Prime Minister [Ehud] Barak stated that “It is very encouraging to hear just now President Biden… It was a great speech. Not just as an American leader, as the leader of the Free World. Standing clear and on the right side of history and on the right side of humanity.”
The Mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai said, “Tonight we light City Hall in recognition of the steadfast support from President Joe Biden and the entire United States following the horrific attack on our country. To my friends in the US and all over the world: we will always remember who stood by us during our darkest hour.”
Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Orin said, “The president stood four square behind the Jewish state and the Jewish people and unequivocally against terror and anti-Semitism, and pledged the power of the US to our defense. Our people will always remember and cherish this speech and the man who delivered it.” And “President Biden’s speech was the most passionately pro-Israel in history.” Jerusalem Post editor Herb Keinon said, “Joe Biden’s speech set a new standard for US-Israel ties.”
Based upon this side-by-side comparison, it is crystal clear that, in addition to condemning Trump, if Democrats are expected to expel multiple legislators, then I expect that if the race for President in 2024 comes down to President Joe Biden and Trump, that Mr. Hill and every Zionist join me in voting to re-elect President Biden! If not, then Mr. Hill’s calls are hypocrisy that threatens the survival of the Jewish State.
David S. Pecoraro
Former Vice President
Rosedale Jewish Center
You may have heard that at this time, perhaps for the first time in history, there is a shortage of tzitzis in Eretz Yisrael. What is causing it? Soldiers who did not grow up frum have become very interested in them, and many organizations are donating to them and teaching them how to make the brachos.
A friend told me that Reb Lazer (Louis) Scheiner of Monsey, New York, has donated some 25,000 pairs.
So, in addition to the soldiers’ bullet-proof vests, they are interested in something that – we know – can protect them even more!
I once read about bullet-proof vests. While various versions have been produced over the course of history, the modern vest is made out of a material called Kevlar. Invented by Mrs. Stephanie Kwolek in the 1960s, it is made from lightweight and ultra-strong plastic polymers that are tightly woven into a flexible fabric. It is used in many items – including tennis rackets, boat sails, and very thin microphone wire housing. For the vests, they layer ten sheets of this paper-thin material, and a bullet will typically not go past the third layer. Although in tests in labs it can be seen that a bullet will leave an indentation in a foam board behind it, about the depth of ¼ of an orange, still, it will not go through, and thus at most, would break the rib of a wearer.
So, if thin sheets of plastic can stop a bullet, it is not hard to understand that tzitzis certainly has a special s’gulah!
And there are many hashgachah pratis stores of people who were saved by their tzitzis. There is the story in Chazal about a Yid who was about to do an aveirah, and his tzitzis lifted up and slapped him in the face, and he caught himself.
Not wearing tzitzis is not an aveirah; the mitzvah exists only when one is wearing a four-cornered garment. However, Chazal say that in a time of strict judgment (‘b’idan rischa’ – which currently seems to certainly be such a time), they judge a person even for not obligating himself in the mitzvah by wearing a four-cornered garment.
Rav Paysach Krohn brings in one of his first books about a Yid who was not so steady in wearing tzitzis. His rav told him it would be a great z’chus to do so, and he accepted it upon himself. Soon after, he was in a strong car crash – with the car flipping over and all the windows shattering, yet he was rescued alive and well, and all the rescuers had to do was lift up his tzitzis, and with it came all the shards of glass; not one had entered his body!
Another great anecdote about tzitzis, I just heard, as related by the Carlebach mishpachah of Lakewood:
Their mother, the rebbetzin of the late mashgiach, Rav Shlomo Carlebach z”l (cousin of the singing rabbi), was just niftar. At the shiv’ah, a son related that a cousin from Eretz Yisrael had mentioned to him the tzitzis shortage, and he replied that it reminded him of a story about his father.
After surviving the Holocaust, Rav Shlomo had attempted to immigrate to Eretz Yisrael. However, as a frum yeshivah bachur, he was told by the Medinah that “they are not looking for tzitzis shpinners (spinners – i.e., frum people).
“It seems that now they are!” he said.
On a similar note, I remember hearing from Mr. George Topaz z”l of Lakewood, a Yid who grew up in Warsaw, survived the camps, then became a soldier in the US Army and returned to fight the Germans. He authored several books and lectured extensively. He once related that, after the Six-Day War, what with all the miracles that had been seen, there was such a demand for t’filin, that for the first and only time since, t’filin had to be imported into Israel!
May we hear more good tidings!
Biden is a monster. After giving the green light to Iran to massacre innocent Jews in Israel (thru their proxy, Hamas), he sat down to enjoy a barbecue.
Biden placed sanctions on Israeli companies that do business over the green line.
Biden relaxed sanctions on Iran and gave them an additional $6 billion.
Biden scuttled the Abraham Accords, which was so important to Israel’s security.
Biden backstabbed organizations that opposed Iran.
Biden resumed payments to suicide bombers.
Biden cut US oil production. This caused the price of oil to skyrocket. Iran made a fortune from this.
It is time for Jews to wake up and smell the coffee. Biden and the Dems want to annihilate the Jews in Israel. We should not be giving them our support.