Letters to the Editor – Rabbi Sacks Edition 5782
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It was very gratifying to read your profile on our student Jonah Bash, class of 2017, an exemplary lone soldier and devoted Yeshiva student who recognizes his responsibility to protect Am Yisrael and defend the State of Israel. Many RKYHS alumni distinguish themselves in a wide range of combat units, special forces, and even as fighter pilots in the vaunted Israeli Air Force. Each one of our students has made a Kiddush Hashem through their service and, as I often tell my students, a “Kiddush Kushner.” We are very proud of Jonah and the generations of RKYHS graduates who have elected to serve in Tzahal and contribute to the Jewish people’s continuity, vibrancy, and vitality.
Rabbi Eliezer Rubin
Head of School,
Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy &
Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School,
Livingston, NJ, USA
I enjoy reading HaMizrachi and find the articles and columns very interesting. In her Rosh Hashanah edition interview concerning antisemitism in New York City, Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt presents the situation in New York very well. She describes the criticism Mayor De Blasio received after admonishing the Jewish community during the COVID pandemic and being accused unfairly of antisemitism. The cause of his complaint was the thousands of Chasidim who attended their Rebbe’s funeral. The world is suffering from a major pandemic that has already claimed thousands of lives, and yet too many of us continue to flout health recommendations by crowding together and not wearing masks. De Blasio’s tweet was correct. However, Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt tiptoes around the elephant in the room and cannot bring herself to criticize those in the Chassidic / Chareidi community who disregard COVID regulations and only worsen the spread of antisemitism.
A troubling story
I greatly appreciate the inspiring articles in HaMizrachi. In the Sukkot edition, however, I found the story by Rabbi Hanoch Teller about “An Etrog for Berditchev” troubling for several reasons:
How could the tzaddik Rabbi Levi Yitzchak ask his followers to refuse to host a fellow Jew in their sukkah resulting in his public humiliation?
How could Rabbi Levi Yitzchak buy an etrog in exchange for his portion in the World to Come when only Hashem decides places in the World to Come?
If the Rabbi regretted exchanging his Olam Haba for the etrog, rather than causing the merchant’s public humiliation, he could have simply explained that to keep his share in Olam Haba, the merchant would have to commit to living a life of Torah and mitzvot in the future?
It’s hard for me to believe that this story about Rabbi Levi Yitzchak is true, especially since he wrote that only he who “admonishes Jewish people gently, elevates their souls and always extols their righteousness is worthy of being their leader” (Kedushat Levi, as quoted in the Encyclopedia Judaica).
Petach Tikvah, Israel
Rabbi Teller responds:
Reb Daniel — You ask a legitimate question and exclusively because I heard the story from such an unimpeachable and authentic source, I do not in any way doubt what I reported.
Chassidic stories may always be questioned (firstly and foremostly, did they ever occur?). Let’s assume that this one did, which obviously I was banking on. The point of the story, despite problematic conflicts enroute is that The World to Come cannot be acquired with minimal ease.
This is a worthwhile lesson, even if regrettably, there are casualties along the way.