R’ Dovid Winiarz – An Inspiration to Us All

By now, most of us have heard of the tragic loss of R’ Dovid Winiarz. You pretty much couldn’t be involved in the world of kiruv without having known Dovid. Most of our (Mark and David) interaction with Dovid was peripheral, online and through a phone call or two. But even on that level, you would quickly “get” who Dovid was: A proud but not prideful Jew, strong in his commitment but soft and caring in demeanor, a family man who loved Judaism and loved Jews. A man who saw the potential in every single person, Jew and non-Jew, and had a mission to better himself and help others reach their own potential. A man who not only gave out “Keep Smiling” cards to strangers but generously shared his own brilliant smile with everyone he met.

I (David) vividly remember seeing him at the Siyum Hashas dancing with so much joy that he stood out to me amongst the tens of thousands of attendees. He was in his glory: flanked by family members, young and old, surrounded by Jews of all types and rejoicing in the Torah.

R’ Dovid leaves behind a wife and 10 children. While we cannot take away the pain of this loss, we do have the opportunity to relieve some of the financial burden placed on their shoulders. Please click here to donate. Tizku l’mitzvos.

“Teiku” – In Loving Memory of our Beloved Brothers Eyal, Gilad and Naftali HY”D

Several years ago, I was in a shiva home as Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler was sharing a profoundly beautiful Torah thought from his revered father-in-law Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt’l with the mourners.

Reb Moshe posed the following question: “Why is it that we make the bracha (blessing) of ‘Dayan HaEmes’ (Blessed is G-d Whose judgment is just) when we mourn the death of a loved one, which basically means that we accept the bitter judgment Hashem gave us? Aren’t we obligated to believe that everything Hashem does is for our ultimate good? If that is the case, why don’t we make the blessing of ‘Hatov V’hametiv’ (Blessed is G-d Who bestows good upon us)?

Reb Moshe gently explained that our chachamim (sages), in their wisdom, crafted the “Dayan HaEmes” blessing to inform the mourners that it is perfectly understandable and theologically appropriate for there to be a deep chasm between what they know intellectually to be our Torah’s perspective on tragedy and the raw pain they currently feel due to their searing loss.

My dear friends, I share this with you in the hope that Reb Moshe’s timeless words will help us come to grips with the unspeakable tragedy of the heinous murder of our beloved brothers Eyal, Gilad and Naftali Hashem Yikom Damam (May G-d Avenge Their Blood).

We know what we are supposed to think, we know that our Torah expects us to process tragedy through its lens and accept Hashem’s Din as just and ultimately for the good – but we also know the searing pain that our human, broken hearts are feeling now.

Reb Moshe informs us that this is OK, and is part and parcel of our spiritual experience in this world as we do our best to see and feel Hashem’s presence in a world where it is often hidden from us.

Four times in the past fifteen years, I had the impossible task of explaining the inexplicable to our talmidim (students) as we lost a beloved teacher to a horrible automobile accident and three parents in our school passed away after long illnesses over that period of time. Here are some of the messages shared with our students.

Rav Ovadia Yosef was Niftar at Age 93

1:23PM IL: Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital officials’ announced the bitter news moments ago. HaGaon HaRav Chaim Ovadia Yosef ZTVK”L was niftar a short time ago, Monday, 3 Marcheshvan 5774, after his bodily organs collapsed despite doctors’ best efforts. The gadol hador was 93-years-old.

Unprecedented Crowds Attend Levaya For R’ Ovadia Yosef; Voz Is Neis
Jerusalem – A historic number of people turned out today in Jerusalem to mourn HaRav Ovadia Yosef, who passed away early this morning at age 93 in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center. One of the world’s most highly acclaimed halachic authorities, the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel and the spiritual leader of the Shas party, R’ Yosef’s appeal was so broad according to the AP police estimated the turnout for the levaya at 700,000, with several Israeli news sites reporting that 800,000 mourners that swarmed the streets of Jerusalem.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Spiritual Leader Of Israel’s Sephardic Jews, Dies at 93; New York Times
JERUSALEM — Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who became a fiery figure in Israeli politics as the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, championing the interests of Jews of Middle Eastern and North African origin, died here on Monday. He was 93.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef buried in largest funeral in Israeli history; Times of Israel
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the powerful, much-loved and sometimes controversial spiritual leader of Israel’s Sephardi community, passed away in Jerusalem early Monday afternoon after being hospitalized repeatedly over the last several weeks. He was 93. Ovadia was laid to rest Monday night in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sanhedria, with some 800,000 mourners converging from all over the country to attend what became the largest funeral in Israeli history. Despite the huge crowds, far beyond the numbers police had anticipated, there were no reports of serious injuries.

Tribute to Rabbi Avraham Ginzberg, zt'”l

by Jonathan Rosenblum
Mishpacha Magazine – February 17, 2012

Because magazines like Mishpacha work with advance deadlines my friend Rabbi Aryeh Ginzberg’s piece on Yerushalayim shel Ma’alah appeared last week, even though he was sitting shiva for his father Rabbi Avraham Ginzberg, the menahel of Yeshivas Chafetz Chaim for nearly six decades. Reb Aryeh, unfortunately, was back in Yerushalayim far sooner than he could have imagined when he wrote last week’s piece for Mishpacha, in order to accompany his father to his final resting place. I would like to share one of the stories Reb Aryeh told of his father, as he sat in Yerushalayim on Motzaei Shabbos before flying back to the United States.

Rabbi Avraham Ginzberg arrived alone in the United States before World War II, and began learning in Yeshivas Chafetz Chaim. He was virtually penniless, and worked nights in a bakery to support himself. While still single, he managed to purchase the bakery, almost entirely on credit. With the profits from the bakery, he was able to bring his whole family to the United States,after the War and the bakery provided parnassah for Reb Avraham’s father for the rest of his life.

The business acumen of the young immigrant did not escape the attention of Rabbi Alter Chanoch Henoch Leibowitz, Rosh Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, and he asked Reb Avraham to takeover the day-to-day running of the yeshiva for a period of two years to help put the yeshiva on its feet financially. That dream of financial stability was never fully realized. The Chofetz Chaim educational network spread across America, inspired by the Rosh Yeshiva’s educational vision. Yet because a very high percentage of musmachim of Chofetz Chaim went into chinuch and few into business, the yeshiva never developed a large donor pool of affluent alumni.

As a consequence, Reb Avraham’s two years extended well over half a century. Each penny the yeshiva raised was far dearer to him than his own money. Reb Aryeh Ginzberg related how classmates once directed him to the foyer of the yeshiva building to see what his father was doing. When he arrived, only his father’s trademark worn blue straw hat, with a red feather, was visible above ground. The latter was digging down to uncover a burst pipe before the plumber arrived in order to save the yeshiva the expense of the digging. When the yeshiva honored Rabbi Ginzberg after more than half a century of service, his son told the Rosh Yeshiva not to bother purchasing any kind of gift because his father would refuse to accept anything that depleted the yeshiva’s bank account in any way.

The story that made the biggest impression on me involved an older couple who had contributed to the yeshiva at one point. Their only son had passed away, and they were alone in the world. When the husband too passed away, Rabbi Ginzberg undertook to oversee all the wife’s needs, which, unfortunately, included numerous calls in the middle of the night to rush to the hospital when she hovered on the verge of death. In her will, she left $250,000 to Rabbi Ginzberg.

The older Rabbi Ginzberg told Reb Aryeh that the money belonged to the yeshiva, as his original contact with the couple arose out of his position in the yeshiva. Reb Aryeh pointed out that the will specified Rabbi Avraham Ginzberg, not Yeshivas Chafetz Chaim. But his father would not budge.

Reb Aryeh first went to Rabbi Leibowitz, who told him that he should take the halachic shayla to the posek hador, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. Reb Moshe ruled that the money belonged to Rabbi Ginzberg, and added that he could certainly give ma’aser to the yeshiva.

Reb Aryeh returned to his parents’ home to share Reb Moshe’s psak with his father. The senior Rabbi Ginzberg greeted the news with great joy and told his son that he had done him a great tovah. “How would someone in my financial situation ever hope to make a gift of a quarter of a million dollars to the yeshiva?” he explained. “You have made that possible.” And he proceeded to write out a check for the full $250,000 to the yeshiva, even though he was then carrying a couple of mortgages on his own home, the proceeds of which had also gone to help pay off the yeshiva’s debts.

That story characterized a whole life of thinking nothing of one’s own needs, only those of others, particularly the Yeshiva and the Rosh Yeshiva. That model deserves to be widely known, especially now that the hero of the story is no longer here to be embarrassed by its publication.

Petira of Alter Chanoch Henoch Leibowitz ZT”L

We regret to inform you of the petira of Alter Chanoch Henoch Leibowitz ZT”L of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yisrael Meir HaKohen, also known as Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim: Rabbinical Seminary of America (RSA), and often referred to as just Chofetz Chaim.

The levaya will take place Wednesday at 1:30 PM at the Yeshiva in Kew Gardens Hills.

There will be a phone hook-up to the levaya. The number to call is 218-936-1600 and the code is 7601147.