Letters to the Editor – Tu BiShvat Edition 5782

Send us your comments editor@mizrachi.org


No more blame game

I thoroughly enjoyed your special tribute to Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l edition (Vol. 4, No. 6).

However, I must take exception to one of David M. Weinberg’s comments. While he is certainly correct that many Religious Zionists (myself included) were perplexed that Rabbi Sacks chose not to make Aliyah after his retirement, his theory that this was due to the narrowness of the Chief Rabbinate seems to me an easy way out. No doubt, had Rabbi Sacks come to Israel, he would certainly have been welcome to teach at Bar-Ilan University and any number of Yeshivot Hesder. We don’t know what prompted Rabbi Sacks’ decision to remain in the UK, but blaming everything on the “Charedi-influenced Rabbinate” can’t be our go-to answer whenever we are stuck.

Rabbi Dr. Zvi Leshem


An active choice

I’ve been wanting to share my deep appreciation for your lovely issue on Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ legacy. It was clear from the essays how respected and beloved he is to so many. My copy of that issue is dog-eared and marked up and I continue to derive great inspiration from it.

I had the privilege of meeting this great man just once and only for a minute. I’d heard him give a touching talk about his father in a Jerusalem shul on a Shabbat morning some six years ago.

Encountering the rabbi on a stairwell enroute to kiddush, I asked “Do you want to know why I choose to use the Koren Siddur?” He expressed both surprise and curiosity. I flipped open my copy to the page of the Shema and explained: “Your siddur says, ‘Listen, Israel,’ not ‘Hear O Israel.’ I said, showing him the page. “Because listening is an active choice, not a passive experience. I love that.” He grinned broadly and thanked me. I remain grateful I was given this sweet little walk-on role in the life of this great man.

Deborah Fineblum
Writer, Jewish News Syndicate



Thank you for a very interesting issue (Vol. 4, No.7) concerning the history of the Mizrachi movement. A few corrections: In the article “Yeshivah Students at War’’ by Rabbi Shlomo Brody, he refers to Rabbi Moshe David Glasner as being from Germany. In fact, Rabbi Glasner was the Rav of Klausenberg, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the First World War and part of Rumania after that war. In his old age, Rabbi Glasner lived in Jerusalem and was niftar there. Rabbi Glasner was one of very few Hungarian rabbis who supported Zionism and was bitterly criticized for this by his colleagues, despite his being a grandson of the Chatam Sofer.

The second photo accompanying Yehuda Geberer’s article, “Mizrachi in the Interwar Second Polish Republic”, is also mislabeled; it is in fact a photo of the Central Committee of the 1919 Mizrachi conference in Poland. The men in the picture include Gedolei Yisrael who were leaders of Mizrachi. Seated at left is Rabbi Moshe Avigdor Amiel, who later became the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv. Standing at left is Rabbi Yehuda Leib Zlotnick, a well-known author, folklorist and communal rabbi. For details about the men in the picture, see A Movement in a Period of Transition (Hebrew) by Abraham Rubinstein, Ramat Gan: 1981, p.333–334 and fold-out photo reproduction.

Thank you again for a well-produced issue!

Zalman Alpert
Librarian, Mendel Gottesman Library,
Yeshiva University (Retired)


The greatest gadol

I rejoice in seeing Mizrachi resuscitated and reborn as a vibrant world institution. In the latest issue of HaMizrachi (Vol. 4, No. 7), there is a picture accompanying Rabbi Doron Perez’s article, Trailblazers of Partnership, picturing participants in a convention of Chovevei Tzion groups in Katowice in 1884. Many may not realize that the greatest gadol to associate with the new movement is the little rabbi in the first row, Rabbi Dovid Friedman of Karlin. Rabbi Friedman was the author of the Sheilat David and Yad David, significant contributions to halachic literature. For some evaluation of the awe in which he was held, see Making of a Godol, by Rabbi Noson Kamenetsky zt”l.

Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet
Professor of Rabbinic Literature at Yeshiva University’s Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Jerusalem



I enjoyed Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon’s article, “Operating the Kitchen During Shemitta” (Vol 4, No. 5), in which I learned that “one is permitted to eat [Shemitta produce]… but not to destroy or waste.” As Rav Rimon writes, there will inevitably be some leftovers and inedible trimmings, such as orange peels and the like. Rav Rimon explains that these leftovers and peels should be placed in a separate Shemitta can and ultimately in the trash.

Personally, I think that the injunction against wasting Shemitta produce would be best fulfilled by establishing a compost system on the household grounds. This will prevent much valuable organic material from ending up in a smelly landfill. The Shemitta leftovers will eventually break down and produce new soil to nurture the next season’s growth.

Rotting vegetative material in landfills is a prime cause of excess methane emissions, which promote global warming.

Central Illinois

Editor’s Note (based on the guidelines of the Torah VeHa’aretz Institute):

The challenge with using a composter during Shemitta is that peels and leftovers are added daily, which directly causes the Shemitta peels from earlier days to rot. This is forbidden, as one may not directly spoil Shemitta produce.

It is permissible to place peels and leftovers in a paper bag or newspaper (and thus not directly cause rotting) in the compost bin/pile, but one must wait a week after the last fruit or vegetable peels/leftovers are added before mixing the content of the composter. At this point, it is permissible to add materials that accelerate the decomposition process (red worms, etc.).

It is permissible to place scraps and peels of food without Shemitta sanctity together with sacred Shemitta leftovers – provided that the former do not cause the Shemitta produce to spoil.

When the compost is ready, it is permissible to remove it from the composter, bag it, and place it in storage in an organized fashion. However, one should not pile it in the yard. It is permissible to add dry twigs to the compost pile since their purpose is to keep the compost from drying out.

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