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Baruch Gordon founded the Arutz Sheva-IsraelNationalNews.com website in 1995 and directed its English Media Department for 14 years. Baruch studied and taught at the Bet El Yeshiva Center, later serving as Dean of its Program for Overseas Students and Program for IDF Veterans.
Baruch is certified by the Dor v'Dor Institute to counsel married couples and prepare hatanim for marriage.
Thousands of people per day are voting in an online survey regarding support in the Israel-Arab conflict. I have been told that CNN is promoting the online poll.
To be honest, there is an underlying tension between Jews of the Diaspora and their brethren in Israel. While mutual respect abounds in general, I meet many Jews in Israel who feel that their counterparts in the Exile have copped out of the ultimate calling for Jews of this generation – coming home to live in Israel. The Diaspora Jews, they contend, prefer the luxuries, comforts and higher salaries of North America over the challenges of settlement and defense in the Holyland.
The same goes for the Diaspora rabbis, they say.
Diaspora Rabbis counter with the argument, "I am on a mission – shlichut – teaching Torah and leading a congregation. I am working to strengthen my congregants' connection to Hashem and the Land of Israel." They say that under the circumstances, they are justified in staying.
They've got a point.
But, reason dictates that there is a single indicator to know if a Diaspora Rabbi is genuinely connected to the land of Israel and his whole reason for living in the Diaspora is to answer a spiritual calling or if his choice of residence in North American suburbia is merely to satisfy his addiction to pickled lox and peppered pastrami.
What is the litmus test? When the rabbi retires, does he imediately make aliya?
The Bet El Yeshiva Center today had the honor and privilege of hosting members of a Toronto congregation along with their rabbi who passed the Diaspora Rabbi test with flying colors. Click here for the story on Rabbi Baruch Taub of the Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto (BAYT) Here is his story in a few sentences.
Rabbi Baruch Taub established a synagogue in Toronto in 1980 with 15 families holding prayers in the basement. Under his leadership, the synagogue has grown to 700 families strong and has become a major force in Torah learning and promoting the Land of Israel. Rabbi Taub recently retired and announced his immediate aliya to Netanya, Israel.
In my humble opinion, he is the perfect example of a Diaspora rabbi.
I participated in a festive lunch in his honor today in BAYT's sister city of Bet El along with congregants who are on the synagogue's annual Israel mission. I could see that Rabbi Taub and his wife Malkah had cultivated warm, personal relationships with the synagogue members. It was evident to me that he was not a distant rabbi, but rather deeply loved and held in high esteem by his congregants.
The Taubs' decision to pick up and leave their friends, students and connections of 30 years was undoubtedly a painful one. The Talmud in the tractate of Brachot teaches us that it is only through such pain and suffering that one can acquire the merit to live in the Land of Israel.
I salute Rabbi Taub and his wife and suggest that the rabbi may have taught a greater lesson in his retirement and aliya than he did in many years of teaching. I salute the rabbi and his wife and extend the wish that many other rabbis will follow his example and thus teach their congregants that full worship of Hashem means living in His land.
My dear brethren, Jews of the Diaspora, I know that you are not there just for the lox and pastrami. I know that it is extremely difficult to pick up and leave. But, I urge you to start planning your aliya today. Start learning to speak Hebrew; start saving to purchase an apartment in Israel before the prices get even higher. Tell your children to choose professions that they can easily take to Israel. Moreover, send your kids to Israel for their university study (much cheaper!). There are many programs in English. Start seeking employment information and contacts in Israel. In short, start thinking Israel. It is your only true home.
I am personally not so much into weightlifting, but this award ceremony is worth the 3-minute viewing. Watch who comes in 3rd, 2nd, and 1st places, and what happens when 1st place tries to shake hands with his fellow atheletes.
It is ironic, and perhaps prophetic of future global competitions.
Hat tip to Chaim Jutkowitz, Ramot, Jerusalem.
Click here for a good time or watch below
Many of us who work are serious about Torah learning, but don't quite have a set regime of study. We cherish the Torah, observe the mitzvot, and open various books and commentaries several times a week to delve into the depths of our ancient heritage. But our Rabbis told us, "Kva itim l'Torah" [Set times for Torah study].
I am writing to highly recommend a daily regime of study of the mishna berura commentary to the Shulchan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law]. The pace of study is one amud (a side of a page) per day. And an organization in Chicago provides a link to a short English audio class (3 - 6 minutes) which gives an overview and introduction to the page. It is great. Go for it:
In the winter of 1995, Gittel Sarah Deutsch, of blessed memory, passed away. She was known in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood for dedicating her life to acts of charity and loving kindness. Her husband, Rabbi Yehuda Deutsch, who died young leaving his wife with ten children.
Despite the tragic loss, Gittel Sarah remained strong. She continued her daily routine of providing food and clothing to the needy and entertaining Jewish guests who were on the path of returning to religious observance.
She dressed in the finest clothes, while maintaining a strict, modest appearance. She always celebrated the Shabbat and Jewish holidays with great joy. An aura of spiritual courage permeated her home.
She married off her ten children to the finest Rabbinic families.
Gittel Sarah's granddaughter Yochi Goldman from Beitar had a special relationship with her, and felt great sorrow at her passing. One night, after the conclusion of the Simchat Torah holiday in 2005, Yochi had a dream.
Yochi saw herself walking in the Mea Shearim market, near the home of her late grandmother. Suddenly, she saw her grandmother walking towards her wearing her majestic, holiday clothes and jewelry and looking especially happy. Yochi knew in her dream that her grandmother was deceased and, puzzled, she asked, "Grandma, what's going on? How can it be that I am meeting you in the market?"
"I am in the World To Come, and I have a good place there, and all is well," the grandmother answered with a face radiating light. "But there is one thing that is causing me great discomfort and I am begging you to help me in this matter," she said.
Yochi wondered to herself how she could possibly help her grandmother who was already deceased and had a good place in the World to Come.
Gittel Sarah continued: "About a year before I passed away, I did renovations in my home in honor of the approaching holiday. There is an outstanding debt of 875 shekels from the work which I owe to Moshe the Painter. If you are in a position to pay my debt, then marvelous. If not, please contact one of my boys – Amram or Mattitiyahu and ask them to immediately remit funds to Moshe the Painter."
Yochi walked in her dream with her grandmother to the Yeshuot Yaakov Synagogue in the middle of the market. Gittel Sarah entered the synagogue, and Yochi awoke.
Within a few moments, Yochi came to her senses and realized it was already morning. She remembered the dream in detail and felt she had to act with urgency on behalf of her grandmother. She called her parents, who lived in Jerusalem, and described the dream in great detail to her father and mother - Gittel Sarah's daughter. Yochi's parents grew anxioius, but were at a loss of what to think or do.
Yochi suggested that they all initiate a conference call to Moshe the Painter to see what he says.
Yochi's mother remembered well the renovation that her mother did and placed a call to the known Mea Shearim painter. He answered immediately.
Gittel's family asked Moshe the Painter if any debt remained from the work. "Well let's see," he said, flipping through his small notebook. "Gittel Sarah owes me… uh…here it is - 875 shekels."
Once their emotions subsided, the family members decided that Yochi's mother would go over to Moshe the Painter's house and clear the debt. But Yochi still knew no rest. She sensed that her grandmother was hovering above her and urging her, "Go already. Go already." Yochi called her mother several times to ask her to do this chore immediately.
A short while later, Yochi's mother called her from the home of Moshe the Painter as she paid the debt, and heard Moshe saying, "That's it. The debt is erased. No need to worry anymore."
At that moment, Yochi felt great relief. She pondered upon how the living can still help the deceased and, more importantly, how meticulous one must be in his dealings with other people.
This story appeared in the Aug. 26. 2010 edition of Besheva Newspaper, Arutz Sheva's hardcopy weekly, Hebrew magazine. Before translating to English and posting here, I called Yochi Goldman in Beitar to verify the details. Baruch Gordon