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The Short Vort’ -” Nuts about Nuts” (12/18/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is the 26th of Kislev 5755 and December 18, 2014


Nuts about Nuts


The article said it all:


Cho Hyun-ah, 40, a daughter of the Korean Air’s chairman, became enraged when a flight attendant in first class served her nuts in a bag instead of on a plate on Dec. 5.

She forced Korean Air Flight 86, already taxiing at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and bound for Incheon, South Korea, to return to the gate to kick the senior steward, Park Chang-jin, off the plane.

In an interview on Friday with KBS, he said that Ms. Cho had made him and a junior steward who had served the nuts apologize on their knees, and that she had also hit his hand with a plastic folder of in-flight service manuals.

Last week, under snowballing public pressure, Ms. Cho’s father and Korean Air’s chairman, Cho Yang-ho, apologized for her “foolish” behavior and stripped her of all jobs in his family-run conglomerate.

Prosecutors questioned Ms. Cho for 12 hours on Wednesday about allegations that she broke aviation laws by using verbal and physical violence against the crew and by forcing the plane to return to the gate.



Just two weeks ago Cho Hyun-ah was at the top of her world.

 She was the daughter of the chairman of a major international airline; and she herself was a vice-president of the company.  

“Travel retail magazine The Moodie Report stated that the airline is expected to generate inflight retail sales of around US$190 million (S$247.4 million) in 2014, placing it as the world’s leading onboard duty free retailer. In a 2006 interview, it attributed this consistent success to Ms Cho’s drive and passion.”


Just two weeks ago she was a rich heiress, a mother of twin boys who were born in Hawaii thus giving them U.S. citizenship which exempts them from the two year mandatory military service that all other Koreans must do, and in general she was a feared and respected executive.


Today is she a reviled and loathed capitalist bully who used her power and wealth to intimidate and humiliate hard working ‘simple’ workers who are giving their sweat and blood to make a dollar to support their families.

She is despised as representing the thuggish mentality of the rich who force the common worker to figuratively and literally bow to her.

Over the last two weeks she who humiliated others is now the humiliated one.

She who was dismissive of others is now the one dismissed by millions of her countrymen as being a harsh and abusive taskmaster.


Oh, what Cho Hyun-ah would not do to turn back the clock to December 5th?

If only she could do it all over.

She would gladly kiss the feet of the steward if only she could replay the scene and graciously accept the macadamia nuts even if they were thrown in her face.

 Alas, Cho Hyun-ah cannot go back in time and all of her wealth and all of her power can do nothing now to reverse the events of two weeks ago.

She will go down in Korean aviation history as the wicked woman of the Far East who used her position to trample on the poor workers who have no one to stand up for them.

She will be preserved in posterity as the “Korean Queen of Mean”, an infamous symbol of cruelty and the paradigm of a bully.


Friends, there are those of you who are reading this and saying, “Those silly people out there… they ruin their lives over such silliness as macadamia nuts… they fail to know what really matters in this world. Not like us; we would never act that way!”


As for me, I am not thinking that at all.

Friends, I am Cho Hyun-ah!!!

How many times in my life did I open my mouth when I should have kept it closed?

How many times did I go ‘nuts’ over things even sillier than ‘nuts’?

I cannot lie; the answer is: much too many times than I care to remember.


I thank you Cho Hyun-ah; indeed, from the bottom of my heart I thank you.

You once again reminded me how careful I have to be and how on guard on I must be.

You reminded me that macadamia nuts can sometimes change my world.

If only I could remember Cho Hyun-ah every day of my life; imagine what a better person I would be?


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ



The Short Vort’ -” Am I Dreaming?” (12/16/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 25th of Kislev 5775 and December 17th, 2014


Am I Dreaming?


My daughter Aviva is currently learning in Eretz Yisroel in Seminary. It has been a very hard adjustment….for me!

When your youngest child is already learning in Israel, you know you are old.

When the ‘baby of the family’ is on her own navigating the streets of Yerushalayim while I still am caught in the time warp of her needing assistance to cross Waverly Place (the one-way small street where we live)- that is a wake-up call that my baby is growing up.

Today she spoke to me from the Old City of Yerushalayim as she went there to daven at the Kosel.

As we are speaking she suddenly said, “Wow, this is beautiful, all over the Jewish quarter there are Menorahs in the window and by the doorways. Every house has at least one Menorah, this is so beautiful.”

After ascertaining that she indeed knew her way around the Old City, I asked her if there was a Menorah at the Kosel; she told me there was a great big one which could be seen from far away.

As I listened to her description of the Menorahs illuminating the streets of the city where the Beis HaMikdash stood and will stand, I felt tears welling up in me.

On a personal level, my daughter Aviva is now an adult and she is no longer a little child for me to shelter and guard; and for that I cried.

On a national level, my daughter is walking freely in a totally Jewish neighborhood just yards away from where we will soon gather all together to greet Mashiach and she is moved as she describes the hundreds of Jewish families who are publicizing the miracle of Chanukah in a free and secure Jewish state.

My eyes began tearing as I think of my youngest child walking securely and safely surrounded by frum Jews in Yerushalayim and absorbing the holiness and the powerful impact of the miracle of Chanukah as it is celebrated publicly and without shame or hesitation in Yerushalayim.

My entire being is moved to realize the greatness of the moment.

My daughter is walking in Yerushalayim and hundreds of thousands of Jews, more than any time perhaps in history, are lighting Menorah all over the city in the most public and ‘mehudar’ way possible and I should not be moved?

How can I not be moved?

Jews walk freely in Yerushalayim and people are able to light the Menorah freely and without fear.

Let us appreciate what we have and what Hashem has given us.

As for me, I miss my daughter.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -” The First Light ” (12/16/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 24th of Kislev 5775 and December 16, 2014


The First Light


Tonight in homes all over the world, we will light the singular flame which signifies the beginning of “The Festival of Lights” which we refer to as Chanukah.

Everyone loves Chanukah.

It is the only time of the year when we have eight days of rejoicing and with the exception of Shabbos; all of the days are permitted in travel enabling families to be together for an evening or two.

Chanukah is so special; family togetherness and the privilege to recite Hallel for eight days, what could be better?

Who doesn’t love Chanukah?

Children all over the world look forward for the holiday and so do adults and kids of all ages!

Yesterday, I removed my Menorah from the cabinet. I have the privilege of using my wife’s grandmother’s Menorah which was somehow smuggled out of Vienna after the war. It has dents and bumps and is no longer perfectly straight; however, that is why I love it so much.

It is real! It is me! I also have my dents and bumps and I am still a work in progress to become ‘straight’.

As I placed my Menorah near the window I could not help but notice that this year there is only one other Menorah next to mine. With only one child still living at home, the table which used to be crowded with Menorahs, now has sits someone lonely as only two Menorahs are placed on it.

As I looked at the two Menorahs on the table, I thought to myself of all the different phases of my life.

I recall my brother and I and my father lighting the Menorah in Brooklyn 50 years ago and I recall lighting with my own children when they were just able to participate in the lighting. Now, they are assisting their own children in lighting their own Menorah.

That is life; sometimes the table is crowded with many Menorahs, and sometimes there sits a singular Menorah on the table. Whatever stage of life you are in, rejoice; for as you light your Menorah remember you are not alone. Even if you are lighting you own lone Menorah you are joined by millions of Jews all over the world who will be celebrating Chanukah tonight.

As the first singular light is kindled tonight remember that no matter where you are and no matter how many people are with you, you are not alone. You are connected by virtue of your lighting to the inclusive family called the Jewish people who are united tonight in the light of celebration.

We all have our ‘peckel’ (personal package of problems); however, remember as you light the Menorah tonight that the light of redemption is closer than we imagine.

Enjoy Chanukah!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort’ -” Recognize Me for Who I Am” (12/8/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 16th of Kislev 5775 and December 8, 2014


Recognize Me for Who I Am


It was a time of great joy in the Schwartz (name changed) home.

Rabbi Schwartz had been involved in teaching Torah for over fifty years. Beginning at age 26 until this year, Rav Schwartz had a long and illustrious career of disseminating Torah in many different Yeshivos all over the country.

 He had begun his teaching back in 1957 as a second grade Rebbe and now as was approaching retirement he was the seventh grade Rebbe of a well-known yeshiva.

He had thousands of Talmidim and was beloved by generations of students and parents alike.

Therefore, when Rav Schwartz finally agreed after all of these years of refusal to be the dinner honoree for the yeshiva, it was a time of excitement and happiness in the community and in the immediate family. At least that is what I thought until the phone call.

Yiddel Schwartz was calling.  “Can I come speak to you? It’s important.”

Yiddel was the youngest of the six sons of Rav Schwartz. He was a wonderful Baal Chesed. I recall how as soon as he married he joined ‘all’ of the volunteer organizations which was an excellent outlet for him.

He was a good man and had a wonderful wife as he worked in the food service industry.

Yiddel came right to the point. “I know my father is a great man and I love him with all my heart. I know that he loves his family with every fiber of his being. It’s just that…well, it’s just that I always felt he was never really proud of me because out of his six sons I was the only one who did not follow his path and enter the field of Chinuch. I know he loves me, yet, there is a part of me that feels that he is disappointed in me for not being a Rebbe. I sometimes still feel that he never fully accepted me for who I am and that he always wanted me to be the person who I could never be.”

I was sure that this was not the case, however, how could I tell this to Rav Schwartz so he could deal with Yiddel’s feelings?

How was I to communicate to Rav Schwartz Yiddel’s feelings without hurting him?

As the day of the dinner approached I was still clueless as to what I could do.

At Shacharis that morning, I davened to Hashem to figure out how to tell Rav Schwartz how meaningful it would be to Yiddel if at tonight’s dinner, he would publicly acknowledge him.

I decided to approach Rav Schwartz after davening. As soon davening ended I made a beeline to him, however, as if often the case, I was ‘intercepted’ in the middle of the aisle by Sam.

“Oh no, not now Sam”, I thought to myself. “Can’t the latest edition of ‘Sam’s tall-tales’ be delayed today? I must get to Rav Schwartz and he is already folding his Tallis!”

Sam was not to be deterred and he began his morning saga. Sam was not helping the situation; or so I thought.

 Sam suddenly announced in a loud and clear voice and most importantly in ear-shot of Rav Schwartz, “My wife fell yesterday in the kitchen -and you should only know-if Yiddel Schwartz would not have responded with his Hatzolah crew as quickly as he did, she would not be here today! Rabbi, Yiddel Schwartz should be the one publicly honored!”

I could not have davened for a better pitch!

Rav Schwartz was all ears as he heard the ‘message’ clearly.

The dinner that night was perfect. When Rav Schwartz got up to speak the first person he mentioned was Yiddel. “Friends, I am so proud of all my sons; especially of Yiddel as he became not what I thought he should be; rather, he is what Hashem wanted him to be and that is the greatest Nachas a father can have.”

As I looked up at Yiddel, his face was shining as only a son who knows how proud he is making his father can shine.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -” Torah! Torah! Torah!* ” (12/7/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 15th of Kislev 5775 and December 7, 2014


Torah! Torah! Torah!*

* The title is the Japanese code-word used to indicate that complete surprise had been achieved in their surprise attack against Pearl Harbor. Torah literally means "tiger", but in this case it was an acronym for totsugeki raigeki(lightning attack"). (Wikipedia)


“December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan”  declared President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his address to Congress on December 8th 1941 in asking for a declaration of war.

Congress responded with an almost unanimous consent as war was officially declared on Japan.


When I was growing up in the 1960’s, December 7th 1941 was to anyone over thirty as 9-11 is to anyone over twenty today.

I could ask any of my parents friends (who were American born or had arrived before 1941), “Where were you on December 7th 1941?” and they could tell you exactly where they were, much the same as we all know exactly where we were on the morning of 9-11.

Most people recall December 7th 1941 much the same as 9-11; a date which represents an unprovoked attack against the United States.

Indeed, it was a tragic and horrific and deadly attack; however, out of the destruction of Pearl Harbor was born perhaps the singularly most important and meaningful event of World War Two with regard to saving the doomed Jews of Europe.

What event could I possibly be referring to? How was the attack on Pearl Harbor ‘responsible’ for the saving of the remnant of European Jewry?

The bombing of Pearl Harbor surprised even Germany.

Hitler had made an oral agreement with his Axis partner Japan that Germany would join a war against the United States, provided that the United States attacked Japan first!

As mentioned on December 8th 1941, after the Pearl Harbor attack, America declared war on Japan. Japanese Ambassador Oshima went to German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop to nail the Germans down on a formal declaration of war against America.

Von Ribbentrop stalled for time; he knew that Germany was under no obligation to do this under the terms of the Tripartite Pact, which promised help if Japan was attacked, but not if Japan was the aggressor. Von Ribbentrop feared that the addition of another antagonist, the United States, would overwhelm the German war effort.

But Hitler thought otherwise. He believed that Japan was much stronger than it was and that once it had defeated the United States, it would turn and help Germany defeat Russia. So at 3:30 p.m. (Berlin time) on December 11, the German charge d’affaires in Washington handed American Secretary of State Cordell Hull a copy of the declaration of war.

On December 11, 1941, the United States Congress declared war upon Germany; only hours after Germany declared war on the United States.

There were many pacifists and isolationists still in America at the time. If Germany had not taken the silly and unnecessary step of declaring war on the US, it is highly probable that America would have remained neutral in the European War theatre and limited its combat forces to the Pacific in fighting only Japan. Only when Germany had taken the initiative and declared war on the U.S. did America feel threatened and therefore it was Germany itself which ‘dragged’ America ‘kicking and screaming’ into the European War which ultimately as Van Ribbentrop knew too well led with the help of Hashem to the defeat of Hitler and to the saving of the remnants of European Jewry.

We are not gladdened by Pearl Harbor and we mourn the almost 2,500 Americans who lost their lives on that tragic day. Simultaneously though, we recognize that even in the midst of inexplicable tragedy and destruction, this one act led to the most crucial and decisive event in finally ending the Nazi genocide of our people, namely, the entry of the United States into the war against Germany.

Of course we would have preferred if Hitler would have been eliminated early on and we would have preferred never to have Pearl Harbor. That being said, as we learn Torah today and as we lovingly look at the many Yeshivos and Torah learning institutions which dot our country and in Israel, let us never fail to remember that most of those Yeshivos were started by those remnants of European Jewry who were mercifully saved from the jaws of the Nazis by Hashem through the entry of America into the war.

We mourn our losses; yet, we never ignore the compassion of Hashem, even if we would have wanted it differently or earlier. Let us never forget that without the “Sheris HaPlaita” (the remnants of Torah Jewry) we would not have the Torah institutions we now benefit from.

So in essence, the night of December 7, 1941 was a declaration of Torah! Torah! Torah!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ



The Short Vort’ -"Jewish Pride” (12/4/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 12th of Kislev 5775 and December 4, 2014


Jewish Pride


I was nearing the end of almost two weeks visiting with my family in Eretz Yisroel.

It is a delight to be able to enjoy quality time with my children and grandchildren.

As a Rav it’s not often I have the ‘privilege’ of having my beard pulled by anyone!

The opportunity to be just ‘Zaidy’ and not Rabbi Eisenman is worth every expense and discomfort that the long and expensive trip entails.

All good things must eventually end and soon it was time to return to the ‘real world’ of the rabbinate. Zaidy would have to go back into the suitcase and Rav Eisenman would emerge on the other side of the Atlantic.

Before I could complete the transformation from Zaidy to Rabbi, I had to endure a stopover in Dusseldorf, Germany.

As I arrived in the airport, I looked at the different stores selling perfumes, spirits and electronic appliances.

It was while gazing at a store which featured a dazzling and dizzying display of digital devices, I sensed the man staring at me.

I turned toward him.

“Are you Jewish?” he asked.

I nodded.

“I have been watching you here in the airport. How does it feel to be part of a nation which is hated by so much of the world?”

My jaw dropped at his audacity as I realized that for once in my life I was actually at a loss as to what to say!

“I don’t mean to be insulting; however, you are standing in Germany, a country which certainly does not have good memories for your people; in a continent which constantly condemns your homeland the State of Israel; you are wearing your black hat and beard for all to see. How can you publicly display that you are a member of a people whom so much of the world despises?”

I had no idea what to answer this man and I had no clue as to his purpose in approaching me.

Finally, I decided, that honesty is the best policy and I quietly said, “Maybe there are many who hate us and maybe many in the world despise us. I cannot answer for all Jews as I am not their spokesman; however, since you asked me I will answer for myself. I don’t feel hated and I don’t feel despised. I am proud to be a Jew and therefore even if what you claim is true, it would not change for one moment my pride in being who I am.”

I was somewhat shocked by my own boldness and I began to wonder if perhaps I was being too daring in my response.

I waited to see his reaction.

He moved very close to me and whispered to me in a near inaudible voice in the middle of Dusseldorf Airport, “I did not expect you to say that. You see my mother was Jewish. She went through the camps and settled here in Germany after the war. She insisted on one thing at home. No one should ever know we are Jewish. When I married a Protestant German woman she was thrilled. I have never told anyone, not even my wife that I am Jewish. When I saw you walking in the airport with your beard and hat, something in me made me approach you. Something in me made me confront you. I have to admit, I was not prepared for the answer you gave me and therefore, I have to thank you, because today, for the first time in my life I also feel proud to be a Jew. You showed me that one can be proud to be Jewish”

“What is your name? Can I have your email address?” I pleaded.

“You have done for me more than you can imagine; I must go now, thank you and Shalom.”

He turned and disappeared among the scores of people.

In an instant he was gone; he had evaporated into the mass of Germans in front of me. I could no longer distinguish him from any other German.

Perhaps that is exactly what he wanted; however … perhaps not.

The sad thing is that I will never know for sure.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -"The Lighter Side of The Rabbanus” (12/1/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 9th of Kislev 5775 and December 1, 2014


The Lighter Side of The Rabbanus


Being the Rav of a Shul where many congregants came to Torah Judaism at a later period in their life has its lighter moments.

I can recall the time Sam Fishman (now Shmulik) was regaling me with his tale of his first Shabbos in America.

He had just returned from a stint at Aish HaTorah and was excited about spending Shabbos in Boro Park by his only frum relative, his grandmother who lived right off 13th Avenue.

His grandmother informed him that he would have to do some shopping as it was a long time since she had guests for Shabbos. She gave him a list of things to buy and informed him that he could acquire everything on ‘the Avenue’.

Sam set off on Friday morning to the famous 13th Ave to shop like so many other thousands of Jews for his Shabbos needs. As he looked at this list, his challenges began. The first item on the list was a ‘blech’. Sam had never encountered the term ‘blech’ and was unsure what it was. Was it a food? Or was it an item in which you stored food? It actually sounded like something a person does when he wants to relieve himself of indigestion; however, he had learned many things in ‘Aish’ which at first glance were strange so he decided not to ask too many questions and get the ‘Blech’. He was hoping at least it tasted good.

Assuming it was a Jewish food; he walked into Landau’s Supermarket and asked one of the workers, where would the blechs be? He was still struggling with the ‘ch’ sound (the Hebrew Ches) so when he asked the man his question it sounded like ‘Where are the blacks?”  The man looked at his in a shocked and surprised way, however, by some miracle he realized that Sam needed a ‘blech’ and directed him to Gottlieb’s Hardware store about a block down.

Sam entered the store and thought he had entered a hoarder’s paradise. There were pots and pans hanging from every corner of the store and every electrical gadget you could imagine lined the six inch wide passageways of the store. There were women with double strollers jamming the counter-space and everyone was talking and yelling at once.

Somehow, in the midst of this cacophony of Yiddish, English and mostly Yinglish, Sam was able to ask the proprietor, “Excuse me; I need a blech, where do you have them?”

The man pointed to a corner in the back of the second aisle and Sam fought his way down the walkway ignoring the gummy bears which the four year boy was attaching to his cashmere winter coat and attempting to dodge the ‘gooey looeys’ which the little boy’s three year sister was throwing at him. When Sam arrived at the back of the aisle he realized his problems had only begun. Sam had no idea what a ‘blech’ was. Was it the extra burners which were piled high to the ceiling? Was it the precipitously stacked oven racks which looked to Sam would collapse if he exhaled? Or was it the extra stove-top nobs which were strewn all over the place? The only item he could not figure out what they were was the flat sheets of metal in different sizes which were in the corner. Finally, he returned to the proprietor, “I’m sorry, I cannot find them?”

The elderly Yinglish speaking owner of the store shouted, “Vat do you mean? You were standen on dem! All right, I vill get it faw you. Vat size do you vant? Big or small?”

Sam did not know what to answer, however, he had learnt in yeshiva that nowadays we have ‘’big Shiurim” and that ‘big’ Tzitzis are better than small ones so he told the man, “Big, please”.

Needless to say his grandmother was not pleased when he brought home a blech made to cover eight burners when her small stove only had four!

The next item on Sam’s list was equally perplexing. His grandmother had written, “luction kugel”. Once again his six months in yeshiva did nothing to prepare Sam for decoding his grandmothers cryptic request and he had no idea what “luction kugel” was;  so he went back to the hardware store and asked in a loud voice, “Excuse me, but where can I find a suction cooker?”

I am not sure what Shmulik and his grandmother ate that Shabbos; however, one thing is for sure, there was more laughter in his grandmother’s house that Shabbos than had been heard for years.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -” “Nu, So You Messed Up; Now What?”” (11/26/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 5th of Kislev 5775 and November 27th, 2014


“Nu, So You Messed Up; Now What?”


Today (the 5th of Kislev), is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz Zt”l (1864 – November 17, 1939 - Kislev 5, 5700).

Rav Baruch Ber was a student (Talmid) of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik Zt”l; his magnum opus, Birkas Shmuel is a standard text found on the shtenders of the finest Roshei Yeshiva in the world.

When a Yeshiva Bochur is able to master a piece in the Birkas Shmuel he is the envy of his peers in the yeshiva.

Rav Baruch Ber’s depth of understanding and his mastery of the most nuanced points of the Gemara have guaranteed his Sefer as a classic among Talmudic commentaries of the twentieth century.

Rav Baruch Ber’s genius is never doubted by anyone; however, we must also never forget that besides excelling in learning, he excelled perhaps even more in his exemplary character traits (Midos Tovos) and particularly in his extreme exactness with which he performed the mitzvah of Kibud Av (honoring one’s father).

During the first World War Rav Baruch Ber was forced to flee to the city of Kremenchug and finally to Vilna. During this time Rav Baruch Ber took care of his father and provided him with all of his needs.

After the war, Rav Baruch Ber’s father took ill and Rav Baruch Ber would not leave his father’s sick bed even for a brief respite. Eventually his students were concerned that the pressures of caring for his father were impacting in a negative fashion on Rav Baruch Ber’s own health.

After much pleading and cajoling, Rav Baruch Ber agreed to take a brief break to rest and his students assured him that they would maintain the watch by his father’s bedside.

As Hashem would have it, during this brief break Rav Baruch Ber’s father returned his soul to his maker.

Rav Baruch Ber fell into a deep state of self-guilt as he felt he had failed his father precisely in his greatest moment of need. His depression increased as his feelings of culpability in the death of his father heightened to such an extent that his students feared for his well-being.

The Chofetz Chaim went to meet with Rav Baruch Ber.

The Chofetz Chaim did not attempt to alter Rav Baruch Ber’s own self-perception, nor did he attempt to assure him that there was nothing more he could have done for his father.

Quite the opposite; the Chofetz Chaim said, “Perhaps you are correct. Perhaps you should not have left your father’s bedside precisely at such a precarious time; perhaps indeed you erred in your judgment. Where does that leave us now? Does not the Torah speak about Teshuva? Does not the Torah recognize that people err and when they do they always have the option of turning over a new leaf and beginning a new page in their life through Teshuva? Even if you were culpable, does life stop? Is there no tomorrow to improve upon the mistakes of today?”

Rav Baruch Ber was shaken to the core and the words of the Chofetz Chaim elevated him from the doldrums of depression to the burning desire to improve and re-embrace life.

Rav Baruch Ber would often say of that encounter, “The Chofetz Chaim brought me back to life!”

(From “Chofetz Chaim HaChadash Al HaTorah”- arranged by Rabbi Shalom Meir HaKohen Vallach; Bnei Brak, 5767, pages 205-206)

How often in life do we need the reality ‘wake-up call’ from the Chofetz Chaim?

How often do we allow ourselves to wallow away our lives while drowning ourselves in a sea of self-pity?

We all make mistakes; some big and some little; however, a mistake should never be coopted and utilized as an excuse for a failure to engage life and meet tomorrow’s challenges head on.

Everyone falls and everyone stumbles, the greatness of the Chofetz Chaim and his advice to Rav Baruch Ber was stressing the necessity to recognize that once you have fallen and once you have stumbled, get right back up and take on tomorrow. Using yesterday’s mistakes as excuses for failing to act today is never acceptable or valid.

So let’s say yesterday you messed up, you should have called your Aunt Sylvia for her birthday and you didn’t; however, that doesn’t mean that today you stay in bed paralyzed by guilt and remorse.

Get up, wipe yourself and become another Rav Baruch Ber!


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ - “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"” (11/25/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 3rd of Kislev 5775 and November 25th, 2014


"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"


Many of us recall with horror the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School which occurred almost two years ago.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff members (Wikipedia)

What ever happened to Sandy Hook Elementary School?

 Is there a memorial somewhere in the school?

Are children still learning the ‘three R’s’ there?

No, there are no children learning at Sandy Hook; indeed, the building no longer exists.


 Construction crews completely demolish former Sandy Hook Elementary School

01/02/14 02:30 PM-By Michele Richinick

The Town of Newtown, Conn., spent almost $1.4 million on the abatement and demolition of the former Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Construction crews recently finished demolition, which cost $850,000, according to a press release issued Thursday by the town. Additionally, abatement cost $1.3 million.

Residents voted last October to raze the structure … Nothing will stand where a gunman killed 26 individuals in December 2012.{}


Compare this fact with what happened at the Shul in Har Nof where a week ago today we awoke to the news of the horrific massacre.


Mispallelim Return to Har Nof Shul to Daven Shacharis 24 Hours After Massacre

Wednesday November 19, 2014 6:40 AM -

About 30 mispallelim arrived this morning to the Bnei Torah shul in Har Nof, Yerushalayim, for Shacharis the day after two Arab terrorists horrifically massacred four Yidden and one police officer at the Shul.

One of the attendees, Yitzchok Heshig, a doctor at Shaare Tzedek Hospital, who was injured in Tuesday’s attack, made it a point to return to the shul for the davening, Arutz Sheva reported.

Yossi Brazzeni, who was also present during the attack, wept upon his return: “I went to daven at the exact same spot I stood in yesterday and said a prayer thanking G-d for the miracle that took place, because I see exactly where I was standing and where the terrorists was. Thank G-d.”


Why the difference?

Why the need to return to the Shul the next day while in Sandy Hook there was a need to “completely demolish” the building?

Perhaps the reason is simple.

Often when terrible things occur, the ‘normative’ human reaction is to repress and even erase the incident from the collective consciousness of the public.

Who wants to face and deal with horrific and evil acts?

 We would much rather occupy our time with happy thoughts and pleasant events.

Therefore, too often people would rather ‘not be bothered by the facts’ and ‘completely demolish’ any vestige of anything which reminds them of that which they no longer want to be reminded of.

We are different.

The Jewish people are no strangers to tragedy.

Our mesorah teaches us not only to never forget the past, no matter how unpleasant it is; indeed, quite the opposite, we are implored to embrace the memory of the tragedy.

Only by dealing with the tragedy head-on can we attempt to learn some of the lessons from the horror and attempt to rectify ourselves and the situation for the future.

We do not erase buildings as if they never existed.

We do not raze the sights of mayhem and murder; we embrace them as vehicles and as reminders for constant improvement and for our own spiritual betterment.

We also state unequivocally that evil and its pumps can and never will deter us from doing what we know is correct.

The Har Nof Shul is not only a place not to be avoided, it is a place to be embraced; a place of where holiness resides even more so now than before and it is a privilege to be able to daven and learn there.

The Rambam instructs us to learn from all and Chazal have taught us “Chochma (wisdom) B’Goyim Taamin” (You should believe that there is wisdom among the nations of the world).

There is no doubt that one can apply this instruction of our sages to the wisdom of the Spanish Philosopher George Santayana (December 16, 1863 – September 26, 1952) who so insightfully stated: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort’ -"The Fifth Victim” (11/23/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5775- November 23, 2014


The Fifth Victim


There has been much pain and anguish for all of us over the brutal cold blooded murder of the four unarmed, Tzadikim killed last week adorned in their Tallis and Tefillin while in the middle of davening.

Our hearts are aching and our eyes are still tearful; however, let us not allow our sincere and worthy tears to dim our vision and the pain must not muddle our clarity of thought and cause us to forget the fact that there is a fifth victim as well.

Although this fifth victim was armed and was a member of the Israeli Police Force and indeed, he was not even Jewish, nevertheless, this fifth victim is in many ways the true hero of the story.

Who is this fifth victim? His name is Master Sergeant Zidan Nahad Seif, 30, of Yanuh-Jat in the Galilee. He is a member of The Druze (The Druze are a monotheistic religious and social community. The Druze call themselves Ahl al-Tawhid "the People of Monotheism". The Druze are Arabic-speaking citizens of Israel, who are drafted into mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces, in which the same process goes for the majority of citizens in Israel. Members of the community have attained top positions in Israeli politics and public service. Wikipedia)


According to media reports of the incident:

Druze police officer Zidan Seif joined the Israel Police in April 2011 and served as a traffic control inspector at the Jerusalem Police Department. He was one of the first two policemen to arrive at the scene and was shot in the head during a gunfight with the two Palestinian assailants who entered the synagogue and attacked worshippers. He was posthumously promoted to First Sergeant. Despite the doctors’ efforts to save him, the critically wounded police officer succumbed to his wounds.

Druze community leaders and residents of Seif’s village of Yanuh-Jat in the Galilee praised him as a hero. "We are proud of our sons who act fearlessly on the front against terrorist attacks," said Muefek Tarif, a spiritual leader of the Druze community.

Master Sergeant will be buried in his home village of Yanuh-Jat. He is survived by his wife and infant daughter, parents and five siblings.

( Sergeant Zidan Nahad Seif, 30)


National Police Commissioner Inspector General Yochanan Danino eulogized Saif at his funeral on Wednesday, saying that the officer “ran into the heart of the murderous inferno, without fear, without concern” and that he “endangered himself for the security of the citizens of Israel.”

Danino credited Saif for stopping the rampage and for saving the lives of other potential victims.

“The people of Israel owe Zidan a great debt – a great debt to this man and this great officer - to remember his greatness, his character, his heroism and his courage.”

President Reuven Rivlin also attended the funeral, as did Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and leaders from the Druse community of Israel. 


Participation in his funeral by Jews not limited to State officials, as was also reported in the media:

 “The funeral was also attended by members of the Haredi community in Jerusalem and beyond who organized buses to take them to the Galilee village to pay their respects to the officer who risked his life and ultimately died to stop the attack Tuesday.” (Ibid)


 “A haredi woman from Beitar Illit -Ariela Sternbach- took upon herself to organize bus rides from Jerusalem to the Druse town of Kfar Yanouch in the Galilee for the funeral of Zidan Saif…for dozens of haredi residents of the neighborhood and beyond.” (Ibid)

 As she properly stated: “This policeman had so much courage. He lives in this country and he was not of the Jewish people but he put his life on the line for us and sacrificed himself for us,” Sternbach told The Jerusalem Post. “He leaves behind a widow and an orphaned child and I think his deeds must be recognized,” she said.” (Ibid)


Ariela Sternbach said is very well, when she stated: “I think his deeds must be recognized.”

Hakoras HaTov- Recognizing the ‘good’ which others have done for us is a fundamental and paramount principle of our faith.

It has been stated by the greats of our people that without Hakoras HaTov one’s entire service to Hashem is lacking and deficient.

There is no limit to Hakoras HaTov and we as Jews must never forget the goodness and kindness which others, especially non-Jews do for us.

In many ways Master Sergeant Zidan Nahad Seif is the true hero of the entire tragic incident.

He was not part of an elite anti-terrorist unit who are trained in hand to hand combat and he possessed neither the know-how nor the proper weaponry to neutralize the evil perpetrators who defiled the holy and pristine confines of the Shul.

He was a traffic cop.

 He would have been totally within the proper parameters of his job description if upon arriving at the Shul and realizing that there were armed gunmen inside, he would have radioed for the elite SWAT team and remained outside the synagogue maintaining and securing the parameter of the building; however, Master Sergeant Zidan Nahad Seif did not do that.

He entered the lion’s den and literally ‘took the bullet’ for others as he was shot in the head while simultaneously alerting the elite SWAT anti-terrorists units who were able to respond precisely and effectively.

 Master Sergeant Zidan Nahad Seif prevented more Jews from suffering the fate of the four holy Kedoshim.

He did not opt out of helping his fellow citizens by claiming he is just a ‘traffic-cop’ and what can he do?

He did not hesitate to enter the building even though he was not Jewish and ethnically and religiously the Druze are Arabs and a ‘break-off’ from Shia Islam and the overwhelming majority of them live in Arab lands. Master Sergeant Zidan Nahad Seif did not make such calculations. He entered the death zone and paid for this heroism with his own life.

We all owe him a debt of gratitude.

If anyone reading this knows of his address or how to contact his family and/or the leaders of his community please forward me this information as I feel all of us should communicate our feelings of appreciation to him.

I also ask if anyone knows of any fund which has been set up to support his family- as he left behind an orphaned baby- please inform me as I want to personally contribute to this fund.

As we mourn the great Tzadikim and holy Jews who were butchered for no other reason than being Jews in the land of Israel, let us make sure never to forget the heroic efforts of the non-Jewish Master Sergeant Zidan Nahad Seif.

He was not the prime target of the murderers and he alone among the victims placed himself in the line of fire out of free choice and out of a commitment to his adopted homeland.

Remember Master Sergeant Zidan Nahad Seif and perhaps ask yourself, would you have done the same if you were in his place?

May his memory be an inspiration to all of us of the potential of the fulfillment of the prophecy “For then I will convert the peoples to a pure language that all of them call in the name of the Lord, to worship Him of one accord.” (Tzephania 3:9)


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort’ -"A Dose of Happiness for a Difficult Week “ (11/21/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 28th of Marcheshvan 5775 and November 21st 2014


A Dose of Happiness for a Difficult Week


Isaac Stein is a very special young man.

I can personally attest to the fact that Isaac has never spoken even one word of Loshon Hora in his life. Indeed, he has never spoken any words.

He has never lifted his hands in anger against another human being; for he has never lifted his hands in his entire life.

Isaac is a special beautiful young man with an infectious smile. If you ever have met him, even once, you will immediately be taken in by his pristine Neshama and his warmth and love.

For many years, one of the highlight of Isaac’s challenged life has been coming to Shul with his father for Hakofos on Simchas Torah.

However, this year was not like every year.

This year, Isaac’s father was having his own personal health struggles and as Yom Kippur arrived; his father was in the hospital involved in his own delicate battle.

And even though Isaac’s father was able to fight off the decree, he was still hospitalized the first days of Succos and who knew if he would be well enough to be home for Succos.

Finally, with the help of He who helps all, Isaac’s Dad arrived home for Chol HaMoed.

Would he be healthy and strong enough to make it to Shul for Simchas Torah?

Simchas Torah arrived and I waited with a hopeful heart for Isaac and Dad to arrive.

The first and second Hakofos were finished and still no sign of Isaac and Dad.

Finally, as the third Hakofa began in walks the father. He was weak; however, he was in Shul.

“Would Isaac be coming?” I hesitantly asked.

He nodded hopefully.

The fourth and fifth Hakafa are completed and still no sign of Isaac.

The Sixth Hakofa is winding down, Isaac is not here and the seventh and final Hakofa is soon to begin.

As the sixth Hakofa is quickly evaporating into a few die-hard dancers desperately attempting to keep a dissipating nigun alive, suddenly, the door to the Shul opens.

Isaac Stein has arrived.

 Sitting in his two hundred pound special wheelchair, complete with computerized pumps and other high-tech apparatus, Isaac is wheeled into the Shul.

As soon as I see him I make a bee line to greet him; however, how will the rest of the Shul react?

Are they simply drained from a long morning of dancing?

Have they been ‘danced out’?

How will they react to the physically challenged boy with the ill father?

Will they keep a safe distance?

Without one word of instruction from me and without any formal announcement, and as if on cue, the entire Shul erupted with a newly found, formally unknown burst of energy.

Everyone, from the sixty year old plus plump and paunchy “never-have-I-danced-more-than-five-minutes-“ Yid, to the eighteen year old Yeshiva Bochur, spontaneously encircle the wheelchair bound Isaac and his father.

To paraphrase Chazal in the Mishna in Succah (5:1): “Whoever has not seen the Simchadik dancing of when the entire Shul danced with Isaac Stein and his father, has never seen Simcha in his life.”

The entire Shul was unified in their joy and gratitude to Hashem for granting us this privilege.

We danced and danced; suddenly no one was tired.

There were only two places to look: at the cherubic smile of Isaac Stein as circles of men revolved around him and on the face of his father who just a week before was not sure he would reach this day.

I looked at Isaac and realized that the sparkle of his eyes, combined with the smile on his face had inspired dozens of men to reach spiritual heights never known before.

As the dancing continued and Isaac and his father looked on, Hashem’s presence was felt by all. 


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort’ -” The Day After” (11/20/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 27th of Marcheshvan 5775 and November 20, 2014


The Day After


It’s already been two days since the news of the Har Nof massacre reached our ears.

Two days of crying and pain; two days of numbness and of living in a fog of disbelief.

The world has changed since Tuesday.

When I went to sleep on Monday night, Har Nof was a neighborhood where no one had to worry about terror attacks.

It was not near “Ben Yehuda” and was not even near ‘town’.

It was a quiet, frum, residential neighborhood where if you wanted to ‘go out’ you were satisfied to frequent the simple and modest food-stop: “Holy Bagel” to enjoy a bagel with an Israeli imitation of American cheese cream.

It was a place where so many of our daughters attend seminary (including my own) and we as parents were always consoled by the fact that it was ‘out of the way’ and safe and secure.

It was a place where Sefardim and Ashkenazim live in peace and harmony.

It is a place where men are serious about their learning and women are serious about their Mitzvohs.

It is a place where children play freely and where English is commonly heard as many serious American immigrants to Israel decide to settle there as they view Har Nof as a place where they can grow and be inspired to higher levels of Torah and Mitzvohs.

That was until Tuesday morning.

The world changed on Tuesday.

On Tuesday Har Nof joined the unenviable list of places such as Maalot and Chevron, Mercaz HaRav and Ben Yehuda; places which have been seared into the collective memory of Klal Yisroel as locations of tragedy and calamities.

No longer will anyone enter a Shul in Har Nof and feel the sense of security and calmness which permeated the neighborhood prior to Tuesday.

For now on, every Mispallel must look over their shoulder and wonder if the Middle Eastern man standing in the doorway is a friend or potential murderer.

Children will no longer frolic as they did before Tuesday and mothers will no longer sit in a care-free mode on the benches.

The world of Har Nof will never be the idyllic, tranquil and serene world it was up to 7:01 AM on Tuesday the 25th of Marcheshvan 5775.

And although life goes on and the Shul is once again functioning and learning will continue and Simchos will be held there and Minyanim have already resumed…

Still, something has changed; something has been altered and defiled and that is sad.

Perhaps then, this allows us to comprehend the real meaning of the words of our prayer, “Chadesh Yameinu K’kedem”; ‘renew our days to the pristine, carefree and unspoiled ways of old.’

May that prayer be fulfilled speedily and in our days.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -” What is there to say?” (11/18/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 25th of Marcheshvan 5775 and November 18, 2014


What is there to say?


“O God! Nations have come into Your heritage; they have defiled Your Holy Temple;

 They have given the … the flesh of Your pious ones to the beasts of the earth

They have spilled their blood like water around Jerusalem…” (Tehillim 79)


It was 5:30 AM and my bedroom was still pitch black.

I gently picked up my phone to look at the time and I am surprised to see so much ‘activity’ on the phone. There are ‘alerts’ and many messages from my family members.

“Har Nof…terror attack…. Many casualties… in middle of davening…axes…savage attacks….Rav Moshe Twersky Hy”D…”

Was I dreaming?

Har Nof….terror attack??? It was the safest place in the world…

I was not dreaming.

The vicious murder of innocent men who innocently went –as they did every other day of their lives- to daven was true.

Rav Moshe Twersky Zt”l, brother of my friend and former Chavrusa Rav Meir Twersky Shlita (who has spoken in our Shul) was no longer among the living along with three other Kedoshim.

I staggered back to the bedroom and out of fear and of the need for my own comfort; I wake my wife to inform her of the tragedy.

 “Men going to daven have been killed and hacked to death while being adorned in their Tallis and Tefillin. Men standing Shmoneh Esrei shot to death, their blood soaking their Tallesim”, I stammer.

I retreat into myself.

My daughter is in Seminary in Har Nof, I was just there two weeks ago.

I have friends all over Har Nof.

Did I ever imagine as I went to Shul in the morning that this would be my last davening?

How does one react?

What does one do or say?

I am suddenly shaken from my stupor as I look up and see my wife preparing to leave.

“I’ll see you later.”

 “Where are you going this early?” I ask.

My wife looks at me and says, “Where else is there to go at a time like this? I need to go to Shul; I need to daven in Shul, it’s just about time for Vasikin.”

I watch my wife leave and realize she has given me my answer, she has once again showed me the way.

Jews are killed in Shul while davening to Hashem.

Our response is clear; our reaction is the same as it will always be.

“Where else is there to go at a time like this? I need to go to Shul; I need to daven…”

I follow my wife to Shul.

Where else is there to be?

What else is there to do?

Only Hashem has the answers and only through Him is there hope.

I slowly walk down the cold still dark street to Shul; will this be my last davening? Will I merit leaving Shul alive today?

I don’t know; nevertheless, “Where else is there to go at a time like this? I need to go to Shul; I need to daven…”


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort - Feeling Their Pain (11/17/14)

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The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 24rd of Cheshvan 5775 and November 17, 2014


Feeling Their Pain


Over the last few weeks we all have suffered.

Almost one month ago a three month old baby was killed together will a recent convert to Judaism while standing by the Jerusalem Light Rail in the heart of the city.

A week or so later, a woman was stabbed to death in Gush Etzion.

A short time after that, a soldier was stabbed to death in the heart of Tel Aviv.

Yesterday, a man was stabbed not far from the Old City of Yerushalayim.

And there have been other cases of violence and attempted murder; however, I am too pained to list them all.

There are many responses to these tragedies.

There are those (group A) who claim that they (and only them) know the spiritual causes of these tragedies.

And there are those (group B) who claim that ‘they’ know the ‘real’ reasons for these tragedies.

Indeed, too often, group A will claim that the reason for the calamities is the actions of group B; while group B will counter claim that the opposite is true. Namely, it is precisely the fact that group A does not follow the path of group B that Hashem is upset with His people.

Both groups are convinced that they and they alone know the secrets of why and when Hashem reacts in a punitive fashion.

Both groups marshal the words of previous ‘Gedolim” to buttress and ‘prove’ the correctness of their opinion.

Often the exact same “Gadol” of yesteryear is quoted by both sides as prove-positive as to the correctness of their opinion.

Both groups assemble appropriate quotes and passages from Chazal to bolster their view of how and why G-d reacts.

Personally, I have no idea of why and when Hashem chooses to react.

I leave those questions to those with more insight that me.

I have no quotes from Chazal to inform you who is right and who is wrong.

I will not quote anecdotal evidence from this great person or that great person as to why Hashem reacts the way He does.

I will just quote one story which I heard many years ago which made a deep impression on me and still impacts on my life.

When I was younger I was informed that a man came to the Satmar Rebbe Zt”l (Rav Yoel Teitelbaum-13 January 1887 – 19 August 1979) and weaved before the Rebbe a web of woe and pain. The man’s tale involved multiple members of his family being stricken with massive maladies and extreme poverty overtaking the unfortunate family.

The Rebbe was so moved by his plight that he contributed generously to the man.

A while later, the Rebbe was informed by his confidants that upon investigation it was discovered that the man’s misfortunes were fabricated and untrue.

He was not impoverished and all were well and healthy in his abode.

The Rebbe responded with an enthusiastic “Baruch Hashem!”

The Chassidim fearing the Rebbe had misunderstood them, questioned him as to his reaction.

“Rebbe, why did you respond with Baruch Hashem? The man swindled you out of a great deal of money?”

The Rebbe smiled and said, “Money comes and money goes; however, Baruch Hashem there is not a Yid in this world who is subject to such suffering!”

The Rebbe cared about the loss of his Tzedoka funds; however, more than his Tzedoka funds, he loved all Jews unconditionally and therefore he never lost sight of the fact that when a Jew is suffering, first and foremost, that must cause pain to all of us.

 Therefore, when he realizedthat a Jew was indeed not suffering, his first reaction was relief and joy.

I choose to react to the current crisis as the Satmar Rebbe Zt”l did.

I do not know the ‘thoughts’ of Hashem for as the Navi Yeshaya says "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," says the Lord.” (55:8)

Ido know though that Hashem is pained when a Jew is pained as it says, “Imo Anochi B’Tzara” (I am with him in distress; (91:15).

And therefore, irrespective of the unknown reason to me, I am in pain.

We must feel the pain of those who have been injured and the pain of the family members of those killed.

We must feel the pain of all Jews, especially those in Eretz Yisroel where each passing car could contain (G-d forbid) a crazed Jew-hating motorist.

Feeling their pain and empathizing with their fears and their anguish is for sure a G-dly reaction.

Pointing figures is nothing more than speculative.

The Talmud teaches: “Ain Safek Motzi M’dei Vadai”- ‘When you have one path which is certainly correct and one which is speculative at best, go with the certainty.’

It is for certain that Hashem is in pain; so too, certainly we must first and foremost feel their pain.

The pointing of fingers is at best a ‘safek’.

Why speculate when you can do what for sure is correct; feel their pain, sense their fears.

Our brethren now need the clear and for certain compassion of the Satmar Rebbe, not the pointed fingers of speculation


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ

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The Short Vort’ -"Feeling Their Pain” (11/17/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 24rd of Cheshvan 5775 and November 17, 2014


Feeling Their Pain



There are many responses to these tragedies.

There are those (group A) who claim that they (and only them) know the spiritual causes of these tragedies.

And there are those (group B) who claim that ‘they’ know the ‘real’ reasons for these tragedies.

Indeed, too often, group A will claim that the reason for the calamities is the actions of group B; while group B will counter claim that the opposite is true. Namely, it is precisely the fact that group A does not follow the path of group B that Hashem is upset with His people.

Both groups are convinced that they and they alone know the secrets of why and when Hashem reacts in a punitive fashion.

Both groups marshal the words of previous ‘Gedolim” to buttress and ‘prove’ the correctness of their opinion.

Often the exact same “Gadol” of yesteryear is quoted by both sides as prove-positive as to the correctness of their opinion.

Both groups assemble appropriate quotes and passages from Chazal to bolster their view of how and why G-d reacts.

Personally, I have no idea of why and when Hashem chooses to react.


The Rebbe was so moved by his plight that he contributed generously to the man.

A while later, the Rebbe was informed by his confidants that upon investigation it was discovered that the man’s misfortunes were fabricated and untrue.

He was not impoverished and all were well and healthy in his abode.

The Rebbe responded with an enthusiastic “Baruch Hashem!”

The Chassidim fearing the Rebbe had misunderstood them, questioned him as to his reaction.

“Rebbe, why did you respond with Baruch Hashem? The man swindled you out of a great deal of money?”

The Rebbe smiled and said, “Money comes and money goes; however, Baruch Hashem there is not a Yid in this world who is subject to such suffering!”

The Rebbe cared about the loss of his Tzedoka funds; however, more than his Tzedoka funds, he loved all Jews unconditionally and therefore he never lost sight of the fact that when a Jew is suffering, first and foremost, that must cause pain to all of us.

 Therefore, when he realized that a Jew was indeed not suffering, his first reaction was relief and joy.

I choose to react to the current crisis as the Satmar Rebbe Zt”l did.

I do not know the ‘thoughts’ of Hashem for as the Navi Yeshaya says "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," says the Lord.” (55:8)

I do know though that Hashem is pained when a Jew is pained as it says, “Imo Anochi B’Tzara” (I am with him in distress; (91:15).

And therefore, irrespective of the unknown reason to me, I am in pain.

We must feel the pain of those who have been injured and the pain of the family members of those killed.

We must feel the pain of all Jews, especially those in Eretz Yisroel where each passing car could contain (G-d forbid) a crazed Jew-hating motorist.

Feeling their pain and empathizing with their fears and their anguish is for sure a G-dly reaction.

Pointing figures is nothing more than speculative.

The Talmud teaches: “Ain Safek Motzi M’dei Vadai”- ‘When you have one path which is certainly correct and one which is speculative at best, go with the certainty.’

It is for certain that Hashem is in pain; so too, certainly we must first and foremost feel their pain.

The pointing of fingers is at best a ‘safek’.

Why speculate when you can do what for sure is correct; feel their pain, sense their fears.

Our brethren now need the clear and for certain compassion of the Satmar Rebbe, not the pointed fingers of speculation


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ




The Short Vort’ -"The Drosha Was Meant For Me” (11/10/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 18th of Marcheshvan 5775 and November 11, 2014


The Drosha Was Meant For Me


When Baruch Weiss approached me after Shabbos Shuva to thank me for my Drosha as it really ‘hit home’, I had no idea what he was referring to.

I had spoken about the need when approaching Yom Kippur of not just asking for forgiveness from those we have harmed; I had also stressed the need to inform others who may not even realize it, how they have hurt us.

Baruch is the quintessential LMC (“Low Maintenance Congregant”). Rarely did he ask me for anything, and for the most part, he came to Shul, he davened, he smiled and he left.

Therefore when we said to me, “Rabbi, your Shabbos Shuva Drosha was exactly what I needed to hear;” I was dumbfounded as to what he meant.

 “Rabbi, when you spoke about “the need to inform others who may not even realize it, how they have hurt us”, your words touched me deeply.”

I was sure at this point that Baruch was about to relate how because of my words he had been able to open up to his wife about a pain which he has kept concealed for many years and I would be lauded as the catalyst for causing greater Shalom Bayis. My not so subtle feelings of superiority began to burgeon within me as I eagerly awaited another well-earned dosage of accolades to come cascading on my already over-inflated ego. After all, how many people have the opportunity to have 300 people come to listen to them for over an hour on a Shabbos afternoon?

I leaned back in my chair waiting for the praises and expressions of gratitude to begin.

“Rabbi, this is difficult for me to say.  However, I have been containing my pain and negative feelings for quite a while now.”

I already had painted a clear picture in my mind of what was about to follow, Baruch would tell me how he had held back on telling his wife or mother or some friend how they had hurt him and because of my insightful words of wisdom on Shabbos Shuva he had found the strength and resolve to confront them and this had brought about a reconciliation and renewed understanding between them.

That is what I thought and hoped for; however, the painful truth was: “Der mentsh tracht un G-t lacht” (Man plans and Hashem laughs).

Baruch looked me straight in the eye and said, “Rabbi, about six months ago I informed you that my son was going through a tough emotional time. I opened my heart to you and confided with you. Since then, I cannot recall even once when you have inquired as to his well-being. I am hurt and I must confess I am pained.”

There were many things I could have said to Baruch then.

I could have told him that since his son was suffering from an emotional issue, I did not want to bring it up and since he didn’t I figured his son had recovered.

I could have told him that I was planning to inquire; however, since he always leaves Shul in such a discreet and unobtrusive way, I never had the chance to.

I could have said that and I could have claimed other ‘valid’ excuses.

I did not.

I paused, allowed his words to sink in and with a humbled and chastened soul I said the only words which were the absolute truth.

“Baruch, I am sorry, you are right. I cannot change the past; please forgive me and I will try better in the future.”

Baruch accepted my apology and left the office; and as I put on my hat to leave, I finally, albeit very belatedly, realized just how big my hat really was for my ever shrinking head.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort’ -” Back in the US of A ” (11/7/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 14th of Mar-Cheshvan 5775 and November 7, 2014


"Back in the US of A"

The Upsherin


I am somewhat comfortable in navigating differences between a husband and wife.

I never thought though, that I would be asked to mediate a dispute over the guest list for an Upsherin!

The Upsherin which in times past was optional by some and low key at most by others, has now become de rigueur by all with even elaborate celebrations by some.

When Devorah Richburg (name changed) approached me about her insistence that her sister not attend the upsherin of her son, this was a new one for someone who had imagined he had seen and heard everything!

Devorah is a perfect Bas Yisroel. I have never seen anything even close to anger emanating from her usual calm self. Her current fury was totally out of character.

As she sits she relates the following:

“When I was 18 I had a sleep over with three friends in honor of my high school graduation. Sima, my 14 year old sister had one friend over in order to avoid unnecessary rivalry between us.

Everything was going fine when at 6 AM; there was a piercing cry from Sima’s room. As we ran to her room, we see Sima holding her long and much-beloved pony-tail in her hand.

“What happened?” Through a sea of tears, Sima blurts out, “Mommy, last night when I was sleeping, Devorah and her friends snuck into my room and cut off my pony-tail!”

 Mom was beside herself; how could I, her ‘angelic’ daughter do that to Sima?

The proof however, was in Sima’s hand!

Mom sent my friends home and grounded me from the graduation trip.

Despite my protestations and outright denials Mom was obstinate and the punishment remained in force.

The incident passed, and in the fall I went off to seminary and after two years in Eretz Yisroel I returned, married and am now I am the proud mother of a three year son.

However, somehow the relationship between Mom and I and Sima was never quite the same.

Sima went to sem and ended up marrying a boy in Eretz Yisroel.

I have not seen Sima since her Chasuna and now she is coming in and of course my Mom expects me to invite her to the upsherin.

 I can’t.

Every time I think of cutting my son’s hair I think back to that night when she accused me of cutting her hair!

I cannot have her at the upsherin!”

“Who do you think cut Sima’s hair?” I asked.

“Maybe her friend did as a joke and they blamed me, I don’t know.”

I decided to play detective. I called Sima and asked her to come to speak to me.

When she arrived at my office I mischievously arranged for Devorah and her mother to be there as well.

They were all startled to find each other together; however, out of respect for me they remained civil.

Finally, after a minute of chit-chat I asked, “Sima, tell me the truth, who cut your hair that night seven years ago?”

Sima began to cry; however, through the tears she said, “I cut my off my own hair; I did it. Devorah was getting all the attention for graduating. I was jealous. To spite her, I cut off my own hair and blamed Devorah; I know it was wrong. I am sorry”; and with that that her voice dissolved into a sea of tears.

Devorah too began to cry as seven years of being accused of something she never did was finally lifted from her heart.

Their mother also began to cry as for seven years she had been certain about Devorah’s guilt. 

And I too cried as I realized how jealously had caused a family to miss out on each other’s love for seven long years.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort- The Internet Connection (11/5/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Today is Wednesday the 5th of November 2014

The Internet Connection

It is always a privilege to be in Eretz Yisroel, however, for me, considering that my father’s family arrived there over two hundred years ago, I have literally thousands of relatives there.

At a recent Chasunah, one of my Israeli relatives came over to me and asked me if he could tell me a story about himself.

Why Pinchas chose me I cannot say, perhaps it was Hashem’s way of getting the story out there.

Pinchas is a wonderful person with sterling middos and a heart of gold, and it took a great deal of courage for him to unburden himself.

Our protagonist used to live in Yerushalayim and while there, more for convenience than out of commitment, he decided to send his daughter to a Yiddish speaking primarily Chassidic gan.

The Gan was close to home, the Morah was excellent and the price was affordable and so his daughter attended.

Pinchas is a real doer and is always looking for ways to improve.

After serving his three years in the IDF in an elite fighting unit, he began a successful business with his major clients in the States as he resides in Israel.

Pinchas ‘begins’ work at 3 PM Israeli time as that is 8 AM New York time.

Pinchas therefore would bring his daughter to Gan every morning and pick her up at 1:30 when Gan ended.

He began to notice a Chassidic man who also was ‘Mr. Mom’. He also always brought his daughter to Gan and picked her up when it ended. In fact, Pinchas noted that this Chassidic man was always around. Even when Gan had to end early for a special reason, this Chassidishe man was always ‘around’ to pick up his daughter. 

Pinchas thought to himself, "I served for three years in the IDF and now I work from 3 PM to 11 PM to support my family and this fellow who probably never served in the army and is supposed to be learning is always available to pick up his daughter.

Despite the not so suppressed feelings of resentment, Pinchas began to slowly see a different side of Mr. Chosid. For just as Pinchas always gave his daughter a kiss before leaving her at gan, so did Mr. Chosid. When it was cold and rainy, Pinchas could not help but notice how both of them were so careful that their daughters were properly protected and after a while they began to exchange a few words of hello and good bye.

Pinchas begrudgingly liked the Chosid, however, he still held him in contempt for his perceived shirking of his responsibility.

And then came the big snow after Chanukah last year.

Mr. Chosid came to daven in the Shul where Pinchas davened as it was closer to his home.

After davening Mr. Chosid came over and asked Pinchas, "Does you internet work? Mine at home is very weak and I was wondering if I could come over to use yours."

Pinchas was now dumbstruck, not only does this fellow not work, he also has internet? And that’s what is on his mind today?"

Pinchas could no longer contain himself; he looked at his Chaddishe companion and blurted out, "You have internet? For what reason in the world do you need internet?"

Without missing a beat, our Chossidshe friend answered, "What to you mean why do I need it? I am a free lance computer consultant and I work from home and I need the internet to support my family, why else would I need it?"

Suddenly a mountain of misunderstanding was conquered and a hardened heart was melted as Pinchas embraced his new found friend while saying, "Of course, why else would you need it? Please come to my home, ‘our’ connection is unbreakable."

You never know, one’s man internet connection can sometimes be the connection to the heart of another Jew.

"If Not Now, Then When?"- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort- What’s Wrong With This Picture? (11/4/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Today is Tuesday the 4th of November 2014

Learning from All

Dear Friends,

As I am about to head back to the States I have many dual feelings at this time.

On one hand, I miss those members of my family who are in America and I miss so many of you who are in Passaic and make up the greatest Kehilla a Rav could ever want.

It is true that at times my job is stressful and tense and therefore I do appreciate these times when I am ‘off duty’. Nevertheless, I miss my job as I am privileged to have wonderful and caring congregants who I care about them and they care about me; what more could a person want?

I will relate one final story about my time in Yerushalayim.

Some of you will be touched by this story, others will be upset that I sent it out, all that is good. F

For more important than what I did or should or should not have done is your feelings and your reaction to a true story.

As usual I will relate it as I saw and leave the commentary to you.

My daughter and I were walking near the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall and we noticed a homeless man lying in the street.

There are many beggars in Jerusalem, however, he was somewhat different in that we noticed that he had a blanket with him and as we passed him he lied down and covered himself and ‘went to sleep’ in the middle of the pedestrian mall.

Everyone, including the esteemed rabbi, just walked passed him. I did not see anyone even notice him.

About one hour later after my daughter had gone back to her seminary, I retraced my steps and there he was still covered by his blanket and still being ignored by all.

And then it happened.

As I was about 15 feet from him I noticed a woman emerge from a bakery with a pastry in her hand.

She walked over to the man, gently nudged him and placed the new and fresh pastry in his hand.

I was amazed at this random act of kindness and compassion especially when everyone else was ignoring him.

I followed the woman who went back into the bakery and noticed her in the back of the store talking to some people.

I went over to her to commend and tell her what an important lesson she taught all of us.

I wanted to tell her how I will write this up in the Short Vort and I wanted to hear what seminary she studies at and what Chesed organization does she belong to.

As I neared where she standing I hesitated to hear what language I should address her.

Perhaps Hebrew or English or maybe another language.

When I was standing just a few feet away, I noticed that she was with a group of four people; two men and two women.

They were speaking a language I did not recognize, perhaps a Slavic language.

However, just as I was about to break the ice and ask her who was her Rebbe where she learned such middos tovos I suddenly pulled back.

One of the men who was clearly the leader of the group as all eyes were on him was wearing a Catholic Clerical Collar!

As I drew away I noticed her bag, the logo read: Holy Catholic’s Holy Land Mission 2014.

I slowly stepped back onto the Ben Yehuda Street looking at the homeless man and the pastry provided by the Gentile woman in the middle of Yerushalayim surrounded by many Jews and ignored by all except for one Gentile woman.

Something is wrong with this picture.

"If Not Now- Then When?"-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort - Getting Closer (11/2/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Today is Sunday, November 1, 2014

Oy, Getting Closer....

First off, I apologize for the confusion resulting in the multiple Short Vorts which were sent. The system in a little different here and hence the duplication.

Shabbos is Israel is Shabbos.

From the Jewish music which plays on Friday afternoon, to the siren which announces the arrival of Shabbos, to the lack of vehicular traffic all of Shabbos, to the hearing of Zemiros which cascade throughout the city, Shabbos is Shabbos.

Rav Soloveitchik once commented that he had heard while still in Lita that there is no Shabbos in America. However, when he arrived in America in the early 40’s he saw that there was some Shimiras Shabbos, however, there was no observance of Erev Shabbos.

In Eretz Yisroel one senses again the feeling of preparation for Shabbos.

I hope all of you are well and I must go now as Eretz Yisroel beckons and the time is short so I will keep this Vort Short.

Stay well.....

R. Y. Eisenman


The Short Vort- Jewish Pride (10/29/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 29th of October 2014


Jewish Pride


This morning I once again had the privilege of showing honor and respect to HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita.

 As many of my readers are aware, I have had this zechus many times over the last decade; this was the first time I was able to bring my two oldest grandsons and have them appreciate the visit as well.

After Mincha in the Lederman Shul, we made our way to his home and were escorted into his dining room. 

I approached first and asked for a brocha for Refuah Shleima for a number of specific individuals and of course for my family; and then (as I always do) I asked him for a brocha for the entire Kehilla.

I then reached for my grandchildren and pulled them close to  Rav Chaim for him to give them a brocha.

He smiled broadly as the children were brought into his line of sight. He asked each of them their name 

He was enjoying their company as if they were his own grandchildren when suddenly as he continued to smile and laugh he looked up at Eliyahu, my oldest grandson and said, "Why are you hiding your peos? You should not be ashamed of them!"

My grandsons who keep their peos behind their ears were smitten with Rav Chaim’s smile and with the loving kindness of his ‘rebuke’ and they quickly removed their peos from behind their ears to in front of their ears!

Rav Chaim explained, "In Chutz L’ Aretz" (outside of the land of Israel) Jews sometimes had to conceal their outward signs of being Jewish. Here in the Land of Israel there is nothing to be ashamed of and we can Thank Hashem wear our Jewishness out in the open!"

Here I was standing with my Yerushalmi (Jerusalem born) grandchildren, who are conversing with a Torah giant of our generation in the biblical tongue of Hebrew and he is giving them a lesson in Jewish pride.

Wherever you go in this country you cannot escape it.

There is a sense of being ‘’home"; and when you are ‘home’ you can "let your peos down"!

Rav Chaim was telling my grandchildren with a smile and with love, "Jewish children, remember where you are! You are home; and as such you can proudly and boastfully display your Jewish identity. Here there is no one to be ashamed from; here you are home.

As my grandchildren Eliyahu (age 8) and Benyamin (age 7) kept pulling their peos from behind their ears the entire way home, I kept thinking of the fact, "I am home, I am home,"


"If Not Now, Then When?"- Hillel

y is Wednesday the 29th of October 2014

Jewish Pride

This morning I once again had the privilege of showing honor and respect to HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita.

As many of my readers are aware, I have had this zechus many times over the last decade; this was the first time I was able to bring my two oldest grandsons and have them appreciate the visit as well.

After Mincha in the Lederman Shul, we made our way to his home and were escorted into his dining room.

I approached first and asked for a brocha for Refuah Shleima for a number of specific individuals and of course for my family; and then (as I always do) I asked him for a brocha for the entire Kehilla.

I then reached for my grandchildren and pulled them close to Rav Chaim for him to give them a brocha.

He smiled broadly as the children were brought into his line of sight. He asked each of them their name

He was enjoying their company as if they were his own grandchildren when suddenly as he continued to smile and laugh he looked up at Eliyahu, my oldest grandson and said, "Why are you hiding your peos? You should not be ashamed of them!"

My grandsons who keep their peos behind their ears were smitten with Rav Chaim’s smile and with the loving kindness of his ‘rebuke’ and they quickly removed their peos from behind their ears to in front of their ears!

Rav Chaim explained, "In Chutz L’ Aretz" (outside of the land of Israel) Jews sometimes had to conceal their outward signs of being Jewish. Here in the Land of Israel there is nothing to be ashamed of and we can Thank Hashem wear our Jewishness out in the open!"

Here I was standing with my Yerushalmi (Jerusalem born) grandchildren, who are conversing with a Torah giant of our generation in the biblical tongue of Hebrew and he is giving them a lesson in Jewish pride.

Wherever you go in this country you cannot escape it.

There is a sense of being ‘’home"; and when you are ‘home’ you can "let your peos down"!

Rav Chaim was telling my grandchildren with a smile and with love, "Jewish children, remember where you are! You are home; and as such you can proudly and boastfully display your Jewish identity. Here there is no one to be ashamed from; here you are home.

As my grandchildren Eliyahu (age 8) and Benyamin (age 7) kept pulling their peos from behind their ears the entire way home, I kept thinking of the fact, "I am home, I am home,"

"If Not Now, Then When?"- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort’ -"You Never Know” (10/29/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Today is Wednesday the 29th of October 5775


Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 29th of October 5775


"You Never Know"


The last few days have been a phrenetic swirl of travel, spending time with family and re-connecting (most importantly) with myself.

A few highlights before I leave for Bnei Brak,

 On Shabbos I davened at the Kotel on  Shabbos morning and after davening I attended a kiddush in Silwan, a predominately Arab neighborhood east of the city. A new house was purchased by Jewish investors and more Jewish families will now be able to make their home in Yerushalayim. Their self-sacrifice for settling the land of Israel is admirable and remarkable.

If there would not have been some people to start the process, we never would have reached the success we have attained.

On Sunday I took an in depth tour of the Old City of Yerushalayim guided by my son Meir.

Because of his expertise, he was able to point out to me stones which date back to the time of Shlomo HaMelech! To realize that I am walking on the same stones where Dovid and his son Shlomo walked gave me goosebumps; however, when I realized that even Moshe Rabbeinu was not privileged to walk here filled me with a sense of awe and gratitude as I and my son are able to walk here!

There are so many tourists (Baruch HaShem) in Yerushalayim. One hears every language known to man and the fulfillment of the verse, "For my house will be a house of prayer for all nations" is tangibly recognized.

One particular lesson stands out.

I was with my sons and another Israeli at a work site (one of the many going on all over the city area). I was particularly interested in one aspect of the building and approached a worker (I am never shy) to ask him some questions.

He was very friendly and nice and I told my friend and sons how informative he was,

They told me to be cautious because he is an Arab and ‘you never know with them’.

In fact, my Israeli friend told me that I should give him a few shekels because he is not a ‘tour guide’ and you should give him a money, after all, ‘he might help a Jew at some point’,

I returned to the man who was speaking Arabic with the other workers and placed some bills in his hand as I thanked him.

He looked at me and refused the money as he said, "Hashem has given me all I need. Baruch HaShem I am fine, Give the money to Tzedoka!"

I looked at him and very awkwardly said, "You are a Jew?"

He smiled and said, "Of course I am, I was born in Persia and came here as a little boy, I still remember going to Cheder in Teheran and after serving proudly in the IDF I have been working as a builder for thirty years, Hashem has given me all I need, Thank you for the money, however, if I can help another person I don’t expect to be paid, Baruch HaShem I am fine!"

I walked back to my Israeli friend as I shook my head and once again realized, Never judge a person  by his work-worn hands or his Arabic speech, This hard working Persian Jew was a lot holier than many other people I know, After all, how many people do you know who would refuse free money?"

There are so many hidden Tzaddikim among us; you just have to open your eyes to find the.


"If Not Now-  Then When?"- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 



"You Never Know"

The last few days have been a phrenetic swirl of travel, spending time with family and re-connecting (most importantly) with myself.

A few highlights before I leave for Bnei Brak,

On Shabbos I davened at the Kotel on Shabbos morning and after davening I attended a kiddush in Silwan, a predominately Arab neighborhood east of the city. A new house was purchased by Jewish investors and more Jewish families will now be able to make their home in Yerushalayim. Their self-sacrifice for settling the land of Israel is admirable and remarkable.

If there would not have been some people to start the process, we never would have reached the success we have attained.

On Sunday I took an in depth tour of the Old City of Yerushalayim guided by my son Meir.

Because of his expertise, he was able to point out to me stones which date back to the time of Shlomo HaMelech! To realize that I am walking on the same stones where Dovid and his son Shlomo walked gave me goosebumps; however, when I realized that even Moshe Rabbeinu was not privileged to walk here filled me with a sense of awe and gratitude as I and my son are able to walk here!

There are so many tourists (Baruch HaShem) in Yerushalayim. One hears every language known to man and the fulfillment of the verse, "For my house will be a house of prayer for all nations" is tangibly recognized.

One particular lesson stands out.

I was with my sons and another Israeli at a work site (one of the many going on all over the city area). I was particularly interested in one aspect of the building and approached a worker (I am never shy) to ask him some questions.

He was very friendly and nice and I told my friend and sons how informative he was,

They told me to be cautious because he is an Arab and ‘you never know with them’.

In fact, my Israeli friend told me that I should give him a few shekels because he is not a ‘tour guide’ and you should give him a money, after all, ‘he might help a Jew at some point’,

I returned to the man who was speaking Arabic with the other workers and placed some bills in his hand as I thanked him.

He looked at me and refused the money as he said, "Hashem has given me all I need. Baruch HaShem I am fine, Give the money to Tzedoka!"

I looked at him and very awkwardly said, "You are a Jew?"

He smiled and said, "Of course I am, I was born in Persia and came here as a little boy, I still remember going to Cheder in Teheran and after serving proudly in the IDF I have been working as a builder for thirty years, Hashem has given me all I need, Thank you for the money, however, if I can help another person I don’t expect to be paid, Baruch HaShem I am fine!"

I walked back to my Israeli friend as I shook my head and once again realized, Never judge a person by his work-worn hands or his Arabic speech, This hard working Persian Jew was a lot holier than many other people I know, After all, how many people do you know who would refuse free money?"

There are so many hidden Tzaddikim among us; you just have to open your eyes to find the.

"If Not Now- Then When?"- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort- You Never Know (10/29/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Today is Wednesday the 29th of October 5775

"You Never Know"

The last few days have been a phrenetic swirl of travel, spending time with family and re-connecting (most importantly) with myself.

A few highlights before I leave for Bnei Brak,

On Shabbos I davened at the Kotel on Shabbos morning and after davening I attended a kiddush in Silwan, a predominately Arab neighborhood east of the city. A new house was purchased by Jewish investors and more Jewish families will now be able to make their home in Yerushalayim. Their self-sacrifice for settling the land of Israel is admirable and remarkable.

If there would not have been some people to start the process, we never would have reached the success we have attained.

On Sunday I took an in depth tour of the Old City of Yerushalayim guided by my son Meir.

Because of his expertise, he was able to point out to me stones which date back to the time of Shlomo HaMelech! To realize that I am walking on the same stones where Dovid and his son Shlomo walked gave me goosebumps; however, when I realized that even Moshe Rabbeinu was not privileged to walk here filled me with a sense of awe and gratitude as I and my son are able to walk here!

There are so many tourists (Baruch HaShem) in Yerushalayim. One hears every language known to man and the fulfillment of the verse, "For my house will be a house of prayer for all nations" is tangibly recognized.

One particular lesson stands out.

I was with my sons and another Israeli at a work site (one of the many going on all over the city area). I was particularly interested in one aspect of the building and approached a worker (I am never shy) to ask him some questions.

He was very friendly and nice and I told my friend and sons how informative he was,

They told me to be cautious because he is an Arab and ‘you never know with them’.

In fact, my Israeli friend told me that I should give him a few shekels because he is not a ‘tour guide’ and you should give him a money, after all, ‘he might help a Jew at some point’,

I returned to the man who was speaking Arabic with the other workers and placed some bills in his hand as I thanked him.

He looked at me and refused the money as he said, "Hashem has given me all I need. Baruch HaShem I am fine, Give the money to Tzedoka!"

I looked at him and very awkwardly said, "You are a Jew?"

He smiled and said, "Of course I am, I was born in Persia and came here as a little boy, I still remember going to Cheder in Teheran and after serving proudly in the IDF I have been working as a builder for thirty years, Hashem has given me all I need, Thank you for the money, however, if I can help another person I don’t expect to be paid, Baruch HaShem I am fine!"

I walked back to my Israeli friend as I shook my head and once again realized, Never judge a person by his work-worn hands or his Arabic speech, This hard working Persian Jew was a lot holier than many other people I know, After all, how many people do you know who would refuse free money?"

There are so many hidden Tzaddikim among us; you just have to open your eyes to find the.

"If Not Now- Then When?"- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort - All in the Family (10/24/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Today is Friday Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan 5755

All In the Family

As I arrived at the Kosel for Vasikin today on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan I had no idea of what an experience it would be.

i don’t mean just the size of the crowd, there had to have been thousands!

And besides the intensity of the davening; some minyanim felt more like Neila than Rosh Chodesh while others looked more like Simchas Torah than Rosh Chodesh!

More than all that, was the diversity of the crowd.

There were Ashkenazim and Sephardim, Chassidim and Litvaks, non-Frum and not yet Frum and probably even a few not-yet-non-frum. However, all that didn’t matter.

In fact, even the one hundred or so ‘Women of the Wall’ did not impact on one point which struck me so powerfully as I stood at the parameter of the plaza observing the goings on at the Wall.

What was this one wonderful epiphany which struck me as I stood by the ancient stone of our Beis HaMikdash?

What impacted on me was the fact that although there is much security in place to make sure no one brings weapons etc into the Kotel area, however, once we are all inside, there in no danger at all.

Notwithstanding the fact that there were many different expressions of spirituality, even some which no doubt offended others; no one, and I mean no one, seemed scared or in fear.

Even those whose halachik practice was certainly questionable, nevertheless, there was no fear of physical danger to anyone.

Where else in the world can you observe so many different groups expressing their religious identity in their own way without fear of being hurt or attacked?

Although there were definitely passionate expressions of spirituality, there was also the feeling that we are all one family and although there are strong and passionate differences of opinion, however, there was a sense of family and on does not hurt their own family.

As I walked amongst the different groups spending a few minutes with each one, I could honestly feel that everyone there without exception was my brother and my sister.

Those who were not meant to be there were not there, while whoever was allowed in was our family,

Family members can disagree; they can argue; they can debate; however, they feel safe.

And that is beautiful.

"If Not Now- Then When?"- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, currently 200 yards from the Holy of Holies!

Good Shabbos to all! The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Today is Friday Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan 5755

All In the Family

As I arrived at the Kosel for Vasikin today on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan I had no idea of what an experience it would be.

i don’t mean just the size of the crowd, there had to have been thousands!

And besides the intensity of the davening; some minyanim felt more like Neila than Rosh Chodesh while others looked more like Simchas Torah than Rosh Chodesh!

More than all that, was the diversity of the crowd.

There were Ashkenazim and Sephardim, Chassidim and Litvaks, non-Frum and not yet Frum and probably even a few not-yet-non-frum. However, all that didn’t matter.

In fact, even the one hundred or so ‘Women of the Wall’ did not impact on one point which struck me so powerfully as I stood at the parameter of the plaza observing the goings on at the Wall.

What was this one wonderful epiphany which struck me as I stood by the ancient stone of our Beis HaMikdash?

What impacted on me was the fact that although there is much security in place to make sure no one brings weapons etc into the Kotel area, however, once we are all inside, there in no danger at all.

Notwithstanding the fact that there were many different expressions of spirituality, even some which no doubt offended others; no one, and I mean no one, seemed scared or in fear.

Even those whose halachik practice was certainly questionable, nevertheless, there was no fear of physical danger to anyone.

Where else in the world can you observe so many different groups expressing their religious identity in their own way without fear of being hurt or attacked?

Although there were definitely passionate expressions of spirituality, there was also the feeling that we are all one family and although there are strong and passionate differences of opinion, however, there was a sense of family and on does not hurt their own family.

As I walked amongst the different groups spending a few minutes with each one, I could honestly feel that everyone there without exception was my brother and my sister.

Those who were not meant to be there were not there, while whoever was allowed in was our family,

Family members can disagree; they can argue; they can debate; however, they feel safe.

And that is beautiful.

"If Not Now- Then When?"- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, currently 200 yards from the Holy of Holies!

Good Shabbos to all!   

the short vort- dreaming (10/23/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Erev Shabbos- Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan 5775

Dear Friends,

5 AM - I about 200 yards from the Holy of Holies, was could be better!

Sleeping in the city of where Moshe just dreamt about and here I am living his dream.

I dreamt that I was went to sleep in Yerushalayim and behold I am awake and "I was not dreaming!"

I am here in the flesh and the now.

There were some Jews in Dusseldorf: however, that there are hundreds of thousands of Jews in Yerushalayim today is nothing short of a dream.

I must excuse myself now, my heart needs to say Hallel, thankfully today is Rosh Chodesh so my halachik mind says the same.

Gotta go i am on my to the Beis HaMikdash.

I miss you all and wish we were here together

All my love to all.....

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Presently near the Holy of Hokies"

"In Not Now-Then When"? 

The Short Vort- To the Right or to the Left (10/22/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Today is Wednesday the 22nd of October 5775

Either to the Right or To the Left

As I am about to begin my trip to Eretz Yisroel I am flying Air Berlin with a stopover in Germany before heading off to Israel.

As I walked through the security check, I asked the woman, "Which way should I go now?"

The woman looks at me and she says, "You can go either to the left or to the right, the choice is in your hands."

As I looked up I noticed the sign "Air Berlin" was looming over my head as the woman said, "You can go to the right or the left".

As I heard the words ‘to the right or to the left’ with the name Berlin so visible in the background, a chill went down my spine.

I am able to go to Berlin and from there to Israel and I can go either to the left or to the right.

Was it so long ago that Jews near Berlin were told to go either to the right or to the left?

What is so long ago that Jews trembled as they heard the verdict that you must ‘go to the right’ or you ‘must go to the left?’

Just another reason to be thankful that I am going home.

"If Not Now- Then When?"- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort’ -"Good Bye Joey” (10/19/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 26th of Tishrei 5775 and October 20th, 2014


Good Bye Joey


I received the phone call at about 11 AM.

Joey Diangello was no longer among the living and was going to be buried today in the Monsey cemetery.

The details of the burial seemed to be shrouded in mystery and it was unclear what time the burial would take place.

On account of the lack of clarity and to avoid any sort of discomfort for anyone, I did not attend.

I have not seen Joey Diangello since 2010.

I was told that he was born ‘Yoel Deutsch’ into a Hasidic family in Williamsburg.

He apparently attended a Chassidic educational institution in his youth and I can imagine that he must have arrived home on Friday afternoon with a parsha sheet with questions and Torah thoughts eagerly waiting to share them with his parents.

I can imagine he sang songs in Cheder with the Rebbe and the other Jewish children and was no doubt taught that Hashem and His people are kind and beloved.

Perhaps he watched his mother light the Shabbos candles on Friday evening and anticipated a warm and love-filled kiss from her as she turned and wished him a Gutten Shabbos.

And I am sure his father blessed him on Erev Yom Kippur that he should grow to become a Torah scholar and a model Orthodox Jew.

When I met Joey, his arms were covered with tattoos depicting scenes I did not want to stare at.

His fingernails were painted with black nail polish and he was drinking large glasses of non-Kosher wine at a rate which made me wonder how a human being could ingest so much alcohol.

He no longer studied the parsha and no longer received a kiss from his mother on Friday evenings.

Who was Joey Diangello?

Was he a successful businessman?

Was he married and did he settle down and have his own child to raise as he thought proper?

He was not a successful businessman and he never did marry and his friends were not to be counted in the hundreds.

However, he did his best to help others.

Most of all, Joey Diangello was in pain.

When I visited him twice in the hospital over the years, he was in pain.

When I spoke to him in Shul in 2009 he was in pain.

And he was in pain when he left this world.

I had not had any contact with Joey from 2010 until this past summer.

Out of the blue I received the following email from him:

“Good morning. There’s a TV show called CSI that I never watch but I do remember on scene maybe 6 years ago. Where a male sees his female colleague is not having a gr8 day.

Whn he asks her about it she goes on. About this and that. at the end of him listening "and not interrupting eveb once". She huggs him says, you always have the perfect thing to say, of which I wanna thank u for saying all the prct things when I nEed it. You just listened and thank u.  

Best, Joey”

He went on to say that he read the Short Vort and was touched by what I wrote.

Needless to say, I was touched by his email and encouraged him to visit.

I was disappointed that when he actually took me up on my offer and on Thursday before Yom Kippur, I missed his visit and he later that day he wrote the following:

I just wanted to pass along my hello from earlier today when I (stopped by outside the Shul)  in Passiac to get my hair done.  Have a gr8 rest of yomtov and easy fast

Best, Joey

I was happy though we had reconnected and he called me soon after to tell me had taken up marathon running and seemed to be finally getting into a ‘good place’.

He even sent me a Rosh Hashanah greeting that when I went back to read today sent shivers up my spine:

I just wanna say "Leshana tovah" to you and your family. May this upcoming year b a suicide death free year is all I ask.  Luv, me.

Best, Joey

Joey Diangello came into this world like me and like you.

He had dreams and he had hopes; he had happiness and joy.

No one ever dreamt that at 34 years old his funeral would be held in a flurry of secrecy and misinformation.

No one imagined that ‘Yoeli Deutsch’ would end up as Joey Diangello being quickly and almost clandestinely buried alone in so many ways so far from the Williamsburg of his youth.

I cannot and will not judge Joey Diangello.

I will not iconize him as much as I would never demonize him.

He was a human being with all of the foibles and strengths which come with the human experience.

There is though one thing I will say about Joey Diangello.

Joey Diangello lived a life a pain.

He suffered through his life and he could never escape the pain which constantly hounded him.

And for that pain and for that agony which defined his life I am sad.

I am sad for the man who will no longer write: “May this upcoming year b a suicide death free year is all I ask.  Luv, me.”

And I am sad for Yoeli Deutsch who ceased to exist years ago.

Most of all though; I am sad for us.

For whatever the bloggers will write and whatever the ‘experts’ will say, Joey Diangello did not have to have his life tragically ended at 34.

And for all of us whom he touched and for those of us who attempted to touch him, I cry.

I cry for Yoeli Deutsch who never was and for Joey Diangello who never will be.

And I cry as I wonder what more could have been done and what should be done.

Good bye Joey, I am sorry I missed your visit.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -"Two Pictures” (10/6/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 12th of Tishrei 5775 and October 6, 2014


Two Pictures


Yesterday’s Short Vort was (a record?) 3,582 words!

Today’s Vort will be very few words, however, if a picture is worth a thousand words, (“The adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image”. Wikipedia), then today’s Vort can be considered 2000 words.


Picture number one is George Shuba shaking hands with Jackie Robinson (see yesterday’s Vort)

And picture number two is an example of how “All of us, despite our differences, can still work together in sharing our common burden.”



“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -” I Give You My Hand ” (10/5/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 11th of Tishrei 5775 and October 5, 2014


I Give You My Hand


(This Short Vort is based on the words which I spoke yesterday evening before Neilah 5775)


This past Monday, September 29th- the 5th of Tishrei, George Shuba of Youngstown,

Ohio died at his home at the age of 89.

For the majority of his life he was a postal worker in Youngstown, the city in which he was born in 1924 and where he was an altar boy in his youth at the local Roman Catholic Church.

From 1948-1955 he also had a short, unexceptional, mediocre career as a second string outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His lifetime stats are nothing to get excited about; in the seven seasons he played for the Dodgers, his batting average was an unremarkable .259 with 24 homeruns.

What then distinguishes this Roman Catholic former Altar Boy, former mediocre Major League Baseball player from anyone else which caused his demise to be worthy of an obituary in the NY Times?

What is so admirable about George Shuba that on the holiest day of the year, at the holiest time of the holiest day I choose to eulogize him?

The Mishna in Pirkei Avos teaches us:

 “Do not scorn any man, and do not discount anything. For there is no man who has not his hour and no thing that has not its place”

This Roman Catholic former Altar Boy, former Postal employee and former second string baseball player epitomizes for us this teaching of our sages!

For “that man” was George Shuba and “that hour” was the afternoon of April 18th 1946 and “that place” was just a few miles from Passaic, NJ in Jersey City at the now non-existent Roosevelt Stadium.

What occurred to that former postal worker at Roosevelt Stadium on the afternoon of April 18th 1946?

We pick up with the New York Times obituary from this past Tuesday- September 30th (and another article in the Times which was published in 2006 commemorating the 60th anniversary of the event. Note: I have cut and pasted different parts of the two articles in order to have thought flow):

“On the afternoon of April 18, 1946, Jackie Robinson became the first black player in modern organized baseball when he made his debut with the Dodgers’ Montreal Royals farm team in their International League opener against the Jersey City Giants”.

 “In the third inning, Robinson hit a three-run homer over the left-field fence. As Robinson approached home plate, teammate George Shuba, in that era long before high-fives and power-fists, extended his right hand and Robinson shook it—a simple, silent, seminal moment in baseball history.

The act of Shuba extending his hand to a smiling Robinson was captured by an Associated Press photographer “has endured as a portrait of racial tolerance.”

Shuba would say years later, “I had no problem going to the plate to shake his hand instead of waiting for him to come by me in the on-deck circle.”

A simple extension of the hand, made by a simple, self-effacing unassuming man became a symbol of America’s successful struggle and ultimate success in eradicating one of the ills of our society: racial hatred, a form of national Sinas Chinam (baseless hatred) from our midst!

The road to the White House by Barak Obama was paved by the actions of people like George Shuba.

One’s man extending of his hand to another human being has endured as a representation of the ability of one man, in one hour and in one place to make a huge difference in this world.

In just a few minutes –when we say Neilah- we are going to read about another extending of the hand.

In Neilah we say:

“You give Your hand to the sinners and Your right hand is extended to receive those who want to return (to you).”

(Ata Nossen Yad L’Posheim V’Yiminicha Peshuta L’kabel Shavim)

Hashem is about to extend His hand to us.

Hashem is about to stretch out His hand- are we going to accept it?

Are we going to grasp it?

Are we going to embrace Hashem as Hs stretches out His hand?

I have no doubt that all of you will grasp His hand…

I have no doubt that you will accept His embrace…

However, we need more …

We in Judaism have a concept of Imitatio Dei (imitating Hashem) which is derived, in part, from the concept of imago Dei – which states that we are all made in the image of G-d.

 Jewish people must aspire to take on G-dly virtues and act like G-d acts!

The concept is arguably best expressed in the following passuk from Vayikra:

“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your G-d, am holy.”

Jews are exhorted to perform acts of kindness similar to the ones ascribed to G-d.

 Examples are burying the dead (as Hashem buried Moses), visiting the sick (as Hashem visited Avraham) and some very similar mitzvoth.

The Talmud states: "As He is merciful, so should you be merciful".

Therefore, we also have to be G-dly and we also have to begin to ‘give our hands to all- including sinners’.

We need to imitate Hashem as George Shuba did… we must give our hand to all irrespective of who they are and what color their skin is and irrespective if they are wearing a Yarmulke or not or even if they are not Jewish.

The true test is tomorrow at the store and the next day at work.

Are we extending our hands to all people, Jew and non-Jew, Hareidi and not-religious?

It is interesting first it states You give Your hand to the sinners”

And only then does it add: “and Your right hand is extended to receive those who want to return (to You).”

Meaning, the first step is the GIVING of the hand, without any reservations and without any ‘kiruv moments’- just give your hand.

I have had my fill of people calling me and asking me how to act towards co-workers where they feel the only reason they have to be nice is because it is a ‘kiruv moment’ or “There is a kiruv opportunity”.

 Sometimes I feel we have lost the major Jewish concept which is applicable to Jew and non-Jew of Tzelem Elokim- that all men and women are created in the image of Hashem!

And therefore we should be nice because they are a human being.

The Mishna in Avos 3:14 states:

“Rabbi Akiva would say… “Beloved is man, for he was created in the image [of G-d]; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to him that he was created in the image, as it is says, "For in the image of G-d, He made man" (Genesis 9:6).”

According to the commentators, this statement of “Beloved is man, for he was created in the image [of G-d];” applies to Jews and non-Jews alike!

We have to be G-dly in GIVING our hand to all because the person is just that, a person- a human being created in the image of Hashem!

This should be done with or without the buzz word of “Kiruv”.

Only after Hashem ‘gives’ His ‘hand’ unconditionally to the sinner does it add “And His hand is extended to those who ‘want’ to return.”

First it states His hand his given, in the same manner as George Shuba gave his hand to Jackie Robinson, without any hope of ‘kiruv’ or something in return; rather as a sign of humanity.

Then, once the hand is GIVEN, Hashem says (and we must do the same) “I extend (NOT- GIVE) just ‘extend’ my hand; you want to get closer, fine; however, first I give you my hand unconditionally and then (and only then) you should know my hand is extended for those that want to return.”

Do we have to remind people that non-Jews are people too?

Do we have to remind people that non-religious Jews are also Tzelem Elokim!

Let us learn a lesson from George Shuba who really was learning a lesson from Hashem himself.

Let us begin to GIVE our hand to all without reservation and without hesitation.

Too often we distance ourselves from common courtesies and simple humanity by forgetting to GIVE our hands to all.

We are not talking about becoming buddies with all; however, common civility dictates a sense of friendliness and civility to all.

One woman recently commented the following observation about us; she works in one of malls in our area:

“I work at a very high-end mall in New Jersey and yes Hasidic Jews ARE THE RUDEST GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT SHOP THERE. The whole mall agrees.

I’m black, i work at a high end store, and i have close friends and associates all over the mall that work and we all agree that their way of speaking, asking questions, walking through people, are just vile. It’s just disgusting.

I try not to place generalizations on any group of people because I’m just not that person. However, i am reminded EVERYDAY by them, except on their holy days, that they are rude and kind of barbaric.”

I am not saying that this woman is the “begin all and end all” and ‘ultimate judge’ of the issue, however, this does not seem to be a casual uncommon remark which we can write off as ‘anti-Semitism’.

Just last week- right before Rosh Hashanah- the following story was picked up by the Washington Post, the NY Post, The Guardian in the UK, the Chicago Tribune, The South African Mail and Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail (UK), The Daily News, The Independent (UK) and the Economist among many other news outlets which I am too tired to list.

El Al passengers heading to Israel to celebrate the Jewish new year were delayed leaving New York on the eve of Rosh Hashanah when ultra-Orthodox passengers refused to sit near women.

Because their beliefs require men and women to be segregated, the ultra-Orthodox men, recognizable by their black hats and curly tendrils over the ears, attempted to trade their pre-assigned seats with other passengers, offering money in some cases.

“I ended up sitting next to a … man who jumped out of his seat the moment we had finished taking off and proceeded to stand in the aisle,” a woman passenger identified only as Galit said.

“I went to the bathroom and it was a mission impossible, the noise was endless,” Galit said of the men crowding the aisle and praying loudly.

Lest you think this was an isolated incident, it wasn’t.

Just a day before the above mentioned incident, Elana Sztokman author of the book: The War on Women in Israel: A Story of Religious Radicalism and the Women Fighting for Freedom reported in Tablet Magazine a similar story which divine Providence decreed had ironically happened to her!

“The plane took off 20 minutes late because an ultra-Orthodox man was negotiating with passengers so as not to have to sit next to a woman—me—on the 11-hour flight.

I asked myself if this was karma or poetic justice. After all, I had just spoken to hundreds of people about exactly these issues and the way women are made to feel like second-class citizens as a result. Part of me wanted to smile and hand out copies of my book.

 But I sat there silently for a long time, watching all this happen, witnessing all these men around me talking about me, mostly in Yiddish, but also in Hebrew and English, without looking directly at me.

So, finally I spoke out. Right before the man found a replacement to sit next to me, I said, “Can I say something?” and without looking at me, he said yes.

 I said, “Imagine if instead of men and women, we were talking about Jews and non-Jews. Imagine how you would feel if a bunch of non-Jews were standing around saying that they can’t sit next to you because you’re a Jew, that they are willing to sit anywhere but next to you, because their religion won’t allow it, because you are impure or different, or whatever. How would you feel? How would you ever get over that insult?”

The original man, the one who refused to sit next to me, muttered to another man as he was walking away, “She doesn’t understand.”

 I said, “I understand everything, and don’t talk to me as if I’m not here.” He ignored me, and all the other men turned their backs and did not respond or even look at me.

I sat down, put on my seatbelt, looked out the window, and suddenly started to cry.”(Emphasis added by me)

Friends, I have no problem if someone is stricter than me in their understanding of the laws of modesty and of their perceived halachik imperatives with regard to the laws of gender separation.

I have no issue with any person or with any  group within their self-contained community requiring a more stringent interpretation of the law than I would give; indeed, if I were in their insular community I would respect and abide by it, making sure to dot my “I”s and cross my “T”s.

I do have a problem when someone purchases a ticket at someone else’s company and begins to dictate policy for the company.

Even if one believes that EL-AL has a financial imperative to change seats; and even if you believe your perceived knowledge of Jewish law preludes you from sitting next to the opposite gender; however, what about the fact that the ‘thing’ you are refusing to sit next to (a ‘female’) is a human being with a Tzelem Elokim?

What happened to her feelings and her pain?

What did she do to deserve your treatment of her?

The one line which tugged at my heart and brought me to passion and tears was the line “I sat down, put on my seatbelt, looked out the window, and suddenly started to cry.”

How can you as G-d fearing Jew bring another Jewish human being to tears????

You are about to return to the holy land for the Day of Judgment and on the way there you make sure to make another human being cry?

Even if you cannot sit next to a person, female or not, what right do you have make the person feel like “as if I’m not here”?

What ever happened to being G-dly and to You give Your hand to the sinners”?

Is this what anyone would call acting G-dly?

What right did that man have to make a Jewish woman who did absolutely nothing wrong except that Hashem decided to create her ‘KIRSONO’ (According to His will)-cry???

Why do we hear more and more stories of Orthodox Jewish people who seem to lack basic civility and politeness?

This is not the way of our Sages (Chazal) and certainly not the way of our great Rabbinic leaders.

Why don’t we hear stories such as these anymore?

(Written by Dr. Isaac Steven Herschkopf, an attending psychiatrist at the NYU Medical Center)

One summer I was spending a week with my aunt and uncle in upstate Ellenville. Uncle David and Aunt Saba, survivors themselves, as the doctor and nurse in charge of the concentration camp infirmary, had managed to save the lives of innumerable inmates, including my mother and sister. After “the War” they had set up a medical practice in this small Catskill village, where, I discovered, to my amazement, they had one celebrity patient — Rav Moshe.

My aunt mentioned casually that Rav Moshe had an appointment the next day. Would I like to meet him? Would I? It was like asking me, would I like to meet God.

I was seated in the waiting room, in the best clothing I had with me, an hour before his appointment. It seemed like an eternity, but eventually he arrived, accompanied by an assistant at each side. He didn’t notice me.

My aunt had heard the chime when he entered and came out of the office to greet him: “Rabbi Feinstein, did you meet my nephew Ikey? Can you believe a shaygitz [unobservant] like me has a yeshiva bochur [student] in the family?”

Rav Moshe finally looked at me. I was mortified. My aunt was addressing him irreverently. She was joking with him. She had called me Ikey, not Yitzchok, or even Isaac.

Then it got even worse. She walked over to him. Surely she knew not to shake his hand. She didn’t. She kissed him affectionately on the cheek as she did many of her favorite patients. She then told him my uncle would see him in a minute and returned to the office.

Rav Moshe and his attendants turned and looked at me, I thought accusingly. I wanted to die. In a panic, I walked over to him and started to apologize profusely: “Rabbi Feinstein, I apologize. My aunt, she isn’t frum [religious]. She doesn’t understand…”

He immediately placed his fingers on my lips to stop me from talking. He then softly spoke two sentences in Yiddish that I will remember to my dying day: “She has numbers on her arms. She is holier than me.”

There are those who point to this story to impress upon us the lesson of how Rav Moshe sympathized with Holocaust survivors.

I am sure he did; yet, this sympathy would never allow him to transgress Halacha!

He never would have eaten non-kosher with a holocaust survivor because: “She is holier than me”!

He would never have desecrated the Shabbos with a holocaust survivor because “She is holier than me.”

It is obvious to anyone with an even limited knowledge of Halacha that sympathy for holocaust survivors never suspends one’s obligation to properly observe Halacha!

It is obvious to all that the real reason he allowed himself to be kissed was that he did not want to embarrass this woman and since the kiss was totally one of friendship and chaste and in no way carnal, he knew that although he never would have solicited or even encouraged such a kiss, he knew that the woman in front of him was a human being and he was doing his best not to hurt, embarrass, or cause even the slightest pain to another human being; even if meant he had to endure himself some level of embarrassment and rely on a lenient opinion in Halacha!

Or why don’t we hear more stories like this one:

A story is told about a great rabbi (one of the greatest in his generation) named Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky (an ultra-Orthodox rabbi) who lived in New York and died around 20 years ago. After his funeral, when his family was sitting shiva (the Jewish week of mourning); a prominent nun from the community came to the house of mourning to pay her respects. She said that this rabbi would pass her by on the street every day with a big smile and a friendly “hello” and it really meant so much to her.

Rav Yakov knew what religion the nun represented and what the cross meant to a Jew from Eastern Europe.

Rav Yakov also knew that there is something in the Torah world called civility and proper respect for all human beings.

Does not the Gemara say about no one less than Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakai that no one ever said “shalom” to him first?

He was always the first one to greet all; and lest you think this behavior was relegated to exclusively Jews, the Gemara adds that this practice included even the non-Jewish person in the market! (Brochus 17a)

Imagine this?  Raban Yochanan Ben Zakai would walk around the market-place constantly saying, “Hello, how are you?” to everyone he ran into, even to women!

Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman, the Gadol HaDor who succeeded Rav Elyashiv, when asked how come if we have so many people learning full time (more than any other time in history) and there are so many fine kehillos, why are there so many Tzaros which are constantly causing us so much pain and anguish?

Rav Shteinman answered with a clear cut answer: “We have to work on correcting the sins between man and man!” (HaRotzeh B’Teshuva, Brooklyn, NY 5775 page 236).

The Chazon Ish was asked, “What is the highest level a person can aspire to in this world?” after thinking it over for a few minutes, the Chazon Ish answered, “Never to hurt another human being in one’s life!” (Ibid. page 233)

Friends, have we forgotten that women are people too and non-Jews are people too?

Let us learn a lesson from George Shuba who really was learning a lesson from Hashem himself.

Let us begin to GIVE our hand to all without reservation and without hesitation.

Too often we distance ourselves from common courtesies and simple humanity by forgetting to GIVE our hands to all.

As we conclude Yom Kippur let’s improve in this one area where improvement is so sorely needed.

Let us accept upon ourselves to observe basic human civility and common compassion to all.

Hashem’s hand is given to us, dare we not imitate Him?


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort’ -"Mussar for the Rabbi ” (10/3/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Erev Yom Kippur 5775 and October 3, 2014


Mussar for the Rabbi


The pressure of having to prepare numerous yet distinctive droshos can be overwhelming.

Combined with teaching Daf Yomi; rising early for Selichos and explaining to people that adding even one more seat constitutes a fire hazard despite their pleas: “Are you telling me  you have no seat for a fellow Jew on Rosh Hashanah?” does not leave me with much ‘down time’ during ‘holiday season’.

However, as Rosh Hashanah passed, one item gnawed at me.

I had unintentionally insulted Sam Goldstein last winter and I knew that time was running out.

I drove to their house.

The Goldsteins welcomed me cautiously.

“What can we do for you Rabbi?”

Over the last winter their son Yanky was asked to leave his Mesivta and the Menahel asked me to speak to him. At the meeting I asked:

“Whats up, Yanky?”

“I like to hang out with the janitor and help him mop.”

I thought I had the perfect reply.

“When I was in 8th grade we had a non-Jewish janitor and one day I carelessly spilled milk on the floor. The principal made me borrow a mop and clean it.

While I was fumbling with the mop the janitor took the mop out of my hands and said, “Go back to your studies, being a janitor is no job for a Jewish boy!”

So too I tell you, Yanky, go learn for being a janitor is no job for a Jewish man.”

Yanky said nothing, however, his face reddened with humiliation.

The next day Yanky’s father arrived at my office.

Sam Goldstein quietly said, “You told my son that being a janitor is no job for a Jewish man?

I have been the janitor in a local yeshiva for thirty years.”

I was stunned; I mumbled an apology; however, Sam just turned and left.

Now on Erev Yom Kippur I stood before Sam Goldstein.

 “Sam, I am sorry. I hurt you and there is nothing in the world I can do to take back the hurtful and inconsiderate and insulting words I leveled against you in front of your son.

I am so, so sorry that I hurt you and your son. Please forgive me; I will be more careful in the future.”

 “Rabbi, I can forgive you; however, how can I forgive the impression you left with my son?”

Sam was correct; his son was still hurt.

I davened Mincha that Erev Yom Kippur with the Kavanah of Neilah, beseeching Hashem to allow me to find a way to rectify my mistake.

Finally it came to me, Sam davened in a different Shul at night. I called the Gabbai of the other Shul and asked him how much would it cost for me to purchase for Sam the privilege of opening the Aron at Kol Nidrei. I made one stipulation; when you call Sam up make sure you announce, “R Shmuel is honored with opening the Aron by an anonymous donor who wants to show his gratitude and pride for the man who is the pillar of the Yeshiva as he keeps the Yeshiva clean and comfortable.”

In the morning, I saw Sam but of course we could not speak.

I was on pins and needles not knowing if Sam had forgiven me.

Finally, during Krias HaTorah I was called to the Torah; I was not expecting an Aliyah and asked the Gabbai who bought it for me. He said, “Sam and his son Yanky bought it for you.”

 I looked over at Sam and noticed that Yanky was looking admiringly at his father and both were smiling broadly as they nodded approvingly.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I realized how a simple Jew had taught me a lesson in Teshuva more valuable than any other.


Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort’ -"“Bull-work” versus “Bulwark”” (10/1/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 8th of Tishrei 5775 and October 2nd , 2014


“Bull-work” versus “Bulwark”


If only life was so easy.

Yesterday, in the Short Vort I wrote the following: “The Minyan Appeal is the bull-work of our budget”.

A number of you pointed out to me correctly that the word is bulwark not bull-work!

A couple of people even apologized for correcting me.

Of course, not only was I thankful that they corrected me; I would hope people would correct me. After all, why would I want to continue with my life constantly thinking that the word is ‘bull-work’ when it’s really ‘bulwark’?

That ‘correction’ is the easy part of life.

What happens when someone points out to me that I am incorrect in my approach to their problem?

What happens when someone tells me that I have offended them?

Am I as quick to respond in such a magnanimous fashion? Obviously the answer is a resolute: ‘no’.

Why not?

Why is it that when someone tells me ‘bull-work’ should be ‘bulwark’ I am able and willing to accept the critique; however, when they tell me that my opinion on this subject or that topic is wrong I become defensive and offended?

The answer of course is that in the former, it is clear to all that I was just careless and slothful with ‘spell-check’ and it does not reflect anything negative about my actual essence.

 Not so in the latter, when  I am taken to task over an opinion or an action; in this situation I am more prone to becoming defensive and probably offended as well.

For in the latter, you are attacking my mind, my essence, the ‘me’ of who I am, and that is much more difficult and uncomfortable for me to accept.

Isn’t this what Yom Kippur is all about?

Is not Yom Kippur the one time a year when we finally attempt to confront our true self and honestly attempt to revisit and perhaps even adjust, correct and reframe aspects of ‘me’?

That is the real work of Yom Kippur.

It is easy to change ‘bull-work’ to ‘bulwark’; however, it is much more difficult to change ‘me’.


Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort’ -"Part of the Group” (10/1/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 7th of Tishrei 5775 and October 1, 2014


Part of the Group


When our great and revered Navi (prophet) Elisha asks the Shunamite woman who had aided the Navi in multi-faceted ways what he can do for her; for example, can he intervene on her behalf before The King (’Behold you have busied yourself on our account with all this trouble. What is there to do for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or to the general of the army?”- -Hashem), she replies, "I dwell in the midst of my people." (Kings 2: 4:13)


What does her reply "I dwell in the midst of my people" mean?

The commentators explain that the Shunamite woman was teaching us an important factor in being judged favorably by ‘The King’; and that is ‘being a part of the community’.


There is no greater Zechus (merit) a person can have on Yom Kippur than to be counted among the people; as a person who is a necessary and an indispensable part of the ‘klal’.


One way to guarantee that on Yom Kippur you will be counted and judged in this way is to support the klal.

What better way to support and be part of the klal is to be a part of our annual Minyan Appeal?

The Minyan Appeal is the bull-work of our budget which facilitates the proper running of the Shul and of all the services supplied by the Shul to you and your community.


If I can ask each and every one of you to please (if you have not yet done so) to take the time and go to the Shul website ( or to call the office with your contribution today, that would be (as the kids say) amazing!


Be part of the Klal, be judged favorably, and contribute to our Minyan appeal today!


Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort’ -"SOS” (9/22/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is the 27th of Elul 5774 and September 22, 2014




In response to all of you who have inquired, I am happy to announce that this year I will have official hours for the Selling OfSins.

Many of you have been clamoring for this for years, and I have finally consented.

The selling of sins (SOS) will commence on Sunday morning September 28th at 10 AM and will continue every evening until Yom Kippur from 8-10 PM.

I am proud to announce that I have personally also arranged for all the sins of the local establishments to also be included in this year’s sale.

All sins will be sold on Friday morning October 3rd to a handpicked atheist.

This atheist is a former FFB so he truly understands the reality of sins.

Please fill out the form below and come to my office any day next week.

The sins will be sold at 11 AM on Friday and therefore no indulgences are permitted after 11 AM on Friday.

 If everything goes as planned, the sins will be ‘bought back’ for your enjoyment not before 9 PM on Saturday night October 4th.

What sins can be sold?

All types of sins can be gotten rid of in this manner.

Obviously, the larger donation you leave for the Shul, the better the chances you have of making sure your sins are sold on the day of the sale.

So if you are looking for a quick fix, why bother with all that Teshuva stuff which involves so much self-introspection and change?

 With the old fashioned Teshuva method, you have to cleanse your entire soul; that’s hard work!

Who needs it?

Fill out the form below; have all your sins sold to a local atheist and the next thing you know-you are ‘sin-free’; and the best part it involves changing absolutely nothing in your mode of behavior!

I am sure this will catch on very quickly and soon everyone will be doing SOS.

Don’t delay, I am sure the lines will be long; so get on line today with your filled out form.


I hereby authorize Rabbi Eisenman to sell my sins to the atheist of his choosing.

I recognize that the buyer has full access to my sins during the period of the sale.

Included in this sale are all of my sins, those that I know about and even those that I do not know about.

Signed by me_______________________________________________


Oy, if only it was so easy……


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -"The Yarmulke” (9/19/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday 24th of Elul 5775 and September 19th 2014


The Yarmulke


The Bris was right after Tisha B’av.

Dovid and Dina Michelowitz (names changed) had waited ten years for their first son.

I was honored with naming the baby. Dovid whispered in my ear the name: “Mordechai”.

At the seuda Dovid made a point of telling all that the baby would be called Moti.

And then he explained why.

“I was born in Cherry Hill, NJ.  With the exception of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, my family never saw the inside of a Shul.

When I was in my freshman year of college, I noticed a sign inviting all the Jewish students to a Seder at the local Hillel house.

My roommate was Angelo Normano and I thought it would be hilarious if Angelo came as my guest to the Seder. Who would have thought to bring a Roman Catholic to a Seder except a silly jokester like me?

I originally thought the Seder was a big joke, however, I was intrigued by the entire experience and it left a deep impression on me.

That summer I decided to volunteer at a kibbutz.

I chose ‘Saar’, a secular kibbutz in the north of the country.

For some reason which I now attribute to divine intervention, I decided to remain for the High Holy Days in Israel.

The year was 1973 and on Yom Kippur, Arab armies invaded and the next thing I knew, I was ‘recruited’ to deliver mail around the city of Nehariya.

Finally, the war ended and I went back to the kibbutz before heading back to the States.

When I arrived I found out that my friend, Yishai, who worked with me in the chicken coop, had been taken prisoner by the Syrians.

I made a firm commitment to myself: as long as Yishai was a POW, I would remain at the kibbutz.

Finally, in November a prisoner exchange took place and Yishai returned.

Yishai looked different.

He head was adorned with a Kippah.

He explained he would be leaving the kibbutz and going to yeshiva; he announced that he had been ‘chozer B’Teshuva’ a man who returned back to Jewish observance.

That night, I asked Yishai, “What’s with the Kippah?”

Yishai said,

 “When I was a POW, I cannot describe the torture we had to endure.

One day we prisoners decided we would make a run for it; it was madness and suicidal.

 We knew they would kill us but we did not care; we just wanted the pain to end.

 As we were about to run, one soldier pleaded, “”Chevra, do not despair, Hashem has not abandoned us! Stay put and have faith! He decried we should not die in the battle and He will free us. If we give up now, what will we answer to the children we should have had and didn’t?”

We were all moved by his plea.

 I asked this soldier, “Where did you get the courage to say such things?”

He pointed to his yarmulke which he always wore and he said, “From here!”

That day I decided that when I get out I would return to the ways of my grandfather and I too would become religious.

I then asked the Yarmulke wearing soldier, “What is your name?”

He said, “My name is Moti.”

We were freed the next week and I have decided to become a “chozer B’Teshuva”.

As I sat there that night in Kibbutz Saar listening to Yishai’s story I realized that I too was ‘going no-where’ with my life.

The next day I left Saar forever, went to Yerushalayim and enrolled in the newly founded Yeshivas Ohr Somaich and remained there for four years.

I kept up with Yishai as he too moved forward in his studies and together we became fully observant Jews.

After my marriage I moved back to the States, and eventually moved here to Passaic and became part of the Shul.

We had been married for a number of years and we were still not blessed with a child.

One day, Yishai called me. Moti, our ‘mentor’ had been killed in a car accident.

I told Hashem that if He would bless me with a child I would name him after Moti.

And now Hashem has answered my prayers and we have a son.

I am naming my son after the POW Moti; a man I never met, yet, who altered the course of my life.

It was his wearing of his yarmulke and his Bitachon which changed my life and the life of my friend Yishai.

I never met Moti; however, it is because of him I am here today.

And that’s why we will call my son Moti; the man I never met yet, whose bravery and Bitachon allowed me to be here today and bring my son into the Bris of Avrohom Avinu.”


“If Not Now, Then When? - Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -"Falling on My Face(book)” (9/18/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 23rd of Elul 5774 and September 18, 2014


Falling on My Face(book)


Recently a colleague of mine in the rabbinate was extolling the amazing benefits of Facebook. “You can reach so many people with it”, he declared.

“You will see, it will give you a venue to impact on the lives of so many more people and reach people who are closeted at home and you will now have an avenue to connect with them.”

Maybe he is ‘right’ for his ‘people’, however, either I do not know how to utilize this elixir of modern communication (this is most likely as I just recently learned how to ‘cut and paste’), or I have ‘lost the moment’.

Meaning, I somehow sense that by the time I joined the ‘Facebook crowd’ it has already become passé, as there seems to be lot’s more new APPs out there which have captured the imagination and time of the ‘in-crowd’.

Whatever, the reason, I have fallen ‘totally on my face’ with regard to Facebook.

Most of the people who are my ‘friends’ and ‘post’, seem to post the most “interesting” things which I can imagine.

Some of my ‘friends’ use Facebook as a resource to find all types of workers, products and services they need which has zero interest for me. (How do I know where to buy a ‘smart phone’? I am still trying to find a ‘smart person’ to help me use my rotary phone!)

Others are constantly posting things about what they do during the day.

For instance, a bunch of people posted videos of themselves in their bathing suits or underwear pouring ice water on their heads or who how they took their kid to the park. (Hey, guess what? I took my kid to the park in Washington Heights 30 years ago and still haven’t told a soul about it and you know what? He got married anyway! Imagine that!)

Hey, if you get your ‘kicks’ from pouring ice water on your head, well, as they say: ‘go for it’; however, why do you want me to know how you look in your underwear with ice water running down your face?

Other times people who I have had nothing to do with for 30 years suddenly started to want to re-connect.

 Nothing wrong with that of course; however, for some (read: most) of them, there was a reason we were not in touch for so many years!

Therefore, for me Facebook has been Face-Flop!

So in the hopes of attempting to find one redeeming usage of this halcyon of social media I will attempt one last time to do something meaningful with it.

I am posting the following question.

How many of you who are reading this- {and assuming most (many? some?) of you are believing and practicing Jews and will be in Shul on Rosh Hashanah which is according to Jewish tradition A Day of Judgment}- are:

1.       Actually in fear or at least worried about the judgment?

2.       Have done some sort of contemplation on how they will persuade the judge to pass a favorable judgment on them?

3.       Looking forward to “their day in court?”

4.       Really not looking forward to the ‘three day Yom Tov’ but are afraid to admit this to anyone lest they think you are not a good frum person?

You do not have to write me your answers (in fact, don’t- unless you really feel the need to) - however, perhaps ask and request an answer to the questions from the most important person you know, namely, yourself.


Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -"The Principal” (9/15/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 20th of Elul 5774 and September 15, 2014


The Principal


There are many decisions in a person’s life which are often life altering.

However, one issue which impacts on our children’s lives is the education which we provide for them.

When I met Naftoli Landau (name changed) at a Chasuna last week I was very intrigued by his last name. Although I was the rabbi from the ‘Chosson’s side’, it is always interesting to meet people from all walks of life at Jewish weddings.  And although I realize that quite often they are coming to me because they have no one else who will listen to them; that is my gain and other’s loss.

I immediately asked Naftoli about the name Landau, as that was the name of the Noda B’Yehuda (Rav Yechezkel Landau 1713 –1793). He proudly informs me that he is a ben acher ben (a direct male descendent) of the Noda B’Yehuda.

He then pulls out pictures of his children and I cannot help but notice how his children are all adorned with peyos and large velvet yarmulkes. I look at Naftoli who is clean shaven and wearing a blue shirt and red tie and wonder how his children became Chassidish.

He tells me how he grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the 1960s. He was one of those Jews who were sent to public school and had their Jewish education relegated to after school Talmud Torah. He married and soon after his marriage he and wife abandoned Jewish practice and moved to a suburban New Jersey community.

When the couple had their first child, Naftoli and his wife decided that although neither of them was no longer observant at the time, nevertheless, they wanted to give their children some sort of Jewish education.

They attended an open house at a local non-denominational ‘community school’ where the tuition was almost double of the local yeshiva and the clientele was not even exclusively Jewish.

However, the Landau’s felt that since they were not personally observant, this non-denominational school seemed their best choice for the Jewish education of their children.

They were almost ready to enroll their children when as they were leaving the building after being duly impressed by the curriculum, they met the secular studies principal in the hall. Almost without thinking Naftoli Landau said to the principal (who was not Jewish), “This is some impressive school you run here! You have Jewish studies and secular studies of the highest caliber.” The principal looked at the Landaus and remarked, “You are correct; we provide our students with the best education in both Jewish and secular studies. However, do not worry about their future, all of our students, almost without exception attend the best private collegiate prep schools and all of our graduates go on to the finest private colleges and universities this nation has to offer.

Naftoli looked at his wife and immediately said, “We are going to be spending $10,000 a year on Jewish education only to have our kids attend the best college prep schools and lose their entire Jewish identity?”

Naftoli and his wife decided to send their sons to the local Orthodox day school and soon they too returned to full observance. They eventually moved to Brooklyn where their children attended “Heimish” schools. One step led to another and soon his children were firmly entrenched in the Chassidic world of Brooklyn donning peyos and large black velvet yarmulkes.

I looked at Naftoli and asked him if he is proud of his children?

“How could I not be?” he replied. He then added, “And to think this all came about from the off the cuff remark of the non-Jewish secular principal? You never knew through whom Hashem is sending His message. You just have to open your ears to be able to hear it.”


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -"Revisiting Dave Gordon Z"L” (9/14/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 19th of Elul 5774 and September 14, 2014


Revisiting Dave Gordon Z"L


As the final judgment is lurking just ten days away, it is a proper time to reflect and revisit; it is a time to attempt to reevaluate events and actions of the previous year.

As a writer of a spontaneous and at times highly emotional column, namely The Short Vort, there is no doubt that at times words were written too quickly, off the cuff and honestly, just plain wrong.

I could enumerate a number of Short Vorts where the ‘send’ button should never have been pressed; however, such is the nature of the human being and such is the nature of the written word.

There are readers who have felt I was too critical of this group or that Gadol; there are those who felt I was too strong on some issues and those who felt I was not strong enough.

There were readers who were in agreement and readers who were outraged.

There were those who were honored by what I wrote and those who were horrified; however, one point I can say.

I never intentionally set out to hurt or insult any group, individual and certainly never a Talmid Chochom. If I ever inadvertently did, I humbly offer my apologies.

However, there is one particular issue which I do want to revisit.

The reason this subject it being revisited is because of its closeness to my heart in many respects.

This Friday the 24th of Elul, the Yahrtzeit of the Chofetz Chaim is certainly a fitting time to attempt to rectify those transgressions of the spoken and written word which need rectification.

This Friday the 24th of Elul is also the Shloshim of Corporal David Gordon whom I wrote about on Wednesday the 24th of Menachem Av 5774 and August 20, 2014.

Dave Gordon’s death touched me in a deep and personal spot. The story of his abuse at the hands of co-religionists and his inability to achieve justice resonated with me deeply.

Why did his issue resonate so deeply with me?

As an analogy, I know that when I write about the challenges of mental health; those that are sufferers are invariably understanding of the issue.

However, if you (thankfully) have never suffered clinical depression you can never really understand the challenge of those who do suffer from anxiety/depression.

It is the difference between empathy and sympathy.

While sympathy is always possible as it is “acknowledging another person’s emotional hardships and providing comfort and assurance”; empathy is much greater. Empathy is: “understanding what others are feeling because you have experienced it yourself or can put yourself in their shoes”.

When I read David’s article about his own personal suffering I became not just touched, I became empathic, and I felt his pain in a very visceral fashion.

However, as I reflect on my visceral reaction to his death, I realize that my empathy caused me to simultaneously cause unintentional pain to those I love, and to them I must apologize and I must do so in the exact same public format where in the pain was caused.

As my beloved son Aryeh Ho has so eloquently stated in his article (See:, we do not know how Dave Gordon left this world.

And although every word of the pain which Dave experienced in his life was real, as he himself stated (; however, if that pain was the cause of his death or not is still an undecided issue.

There is no doubt that in my empathic mind which related too intimately than I care to articulate, I made the undetermined conclusion that indeed it was the demons of the past which ultimately took the life of Dave Gordon.

However, the facts are that the cause of his death are still not known in a definitive way and my own visceral pain and my own empathic mind do not justify concluding that which has not been proven or implying that which need not be implied.

In my haste to express my own exasperation and frustration at the lack of movement in our camp at dealing with the pain of victims of pedophilia, I caused pain to those I love; namely to Aryeh and Nomi Ho, Dave’s brother-in law and sister and to his siblings and parents.

The Halacha is very clear that without clear and indisputable proof, no one should ever be assumed to be a victim of their own hand and when I implied otherwise, I was wrong and for that I apologize and I do so unabashedly and publicly; in the exact same venue in which the incorrect and hurtful implication was first published.

Now, mind you, this is no way impacts on the facts of David’s life as sufferer and as a spokesperson for the defenseless victims.

It no way impacts on the lessons we must take in our recognition of the unimaginable pain which victims such as Dave suffer at the hands of molesters. Indeed, this pain is so great, that it immediately led me -because of my intimate awareness of the pain- to perhaps prematurely jump to the conclusion that this was the cause of his death; as indeed, often it is the cause of death.

However, that never gave me the right to make a conclusion which is not to be made or to imply that which is not necessarily true.

And therefore I apologize if in my haste to scream from the roof-tops about the pain and destruction abuse can cause- I myself have caused pain and unneeded agony to the family of Dave Gordon.

When Dave Gordon died the Halacha mandated Shiva and that is all we need to know at present.

Everything else is speculation.

Dave Gordon suffered and his family is suffering and if I added even one iota of pain to their suffering notwithstanding any noble intentions I had in writing the original article, I humbly apologize to them and ask all, most importantly myself to be even more careful and vigilant to write factually and accurately.

To the Gordon’s I offer my apologies and my condolences.

And to everyone else, I encourage all of us to continue Dave’s legacy by keeping our world safe for our children by always being vigilant and on guard.

May Hashem heal all wounds and protect us from being pained and causing pain.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -"Dating or Duping? (Shidduchim or Shtusim?)” (9/11/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 16th of Elul 5774 and September 11, 2014


Dating or Duping? (Shidduchim or Shtusim?)


Often I receive phone calls and emails requesting information on a possible Shidduch for someone’s daughter or son or friend.

Eventually the question will be posed, “Are there any health issues in the family?”

Besides the fact that ‘who doesn’t’ have some health issues in their family; there are some strongly held ‘bubba maises’ (urban legends) which although they may have been relevant 50-60 years ago, today with the help of Hashem are totally controllable.

And therefore, I am never comfortable with the question of “Are there any health issues in the family?” Just because I know of an issue with is totally controllable and a ‘no-big-deal’, however, the inquisitor is convinced that it is indeed a ‘real’ issue, am I obligated to inform them?

However, even more frustrating is the amount of effort and the energy expanded to hide or cover up a ‘perceived health issue’, even if the issue only pertains to a relative of the perspective suitor.

Recently I was told of the following incident from a friend who witnessed this dubious deception.

My friend was staying by his Aunt Baila for Shabbos.

Aunt Baila has an adolescent son who has diabetes. Therefore, he must check his blood numerous times during the day including Shabbos.

The device he uses is a compact rectangular unit similar in dimensions to a mobile phone.

One Shabbos, about an hour after he checked his blood, there was a knock on the door. A neighbor came to pay what was ostensibly a friendly Shabbos visit to my friend’s aunt.

In the middle of the visit the neighbor gave out a ‘kvetch’ and solemnly said, “Oy, Baila, I see that no family is immune. Even a Chashuva family such as yours is no longer untainted by the ‘mageipha’ (plague) that has hit so many of our young people.”

Aunt Baila had no idea of what she was talking about and innocently asked, “What are you talking about?” The neighbor looked up and said, “Baila, you don’t have to hide from me; I am your good friend, Fruma Yenta; you can be straight with me. About an hour ago I looked out my window, minding my own business and oy, Hashem Yisborach Shemo wanted me to see something, no doubt to be able to help you.”

The aunt still had no idea what was going on and said, “Fruma Yenta, what are you talking about?”

“Baila, I looked out the window and who do I see?  I see your son Yanky and I see that Rachmana Litzlan, he too has been smitten by the Yetzer Hora. I looked out and saw him, what do the young people call it? Oh yes, I saw him texting on Shabbos! Oy, that I had to see this gefairliche zach (horrible thing)! However, Baila, don’t worry I only told Miriam Esther, Shani, Chanala and Tzippy, and also Shaindel; of course we all agreed that we will support you and will all be there for you in this time of trouble. Oy, Baila, how did it happen? How did it happen?”

Suddenly Baila understood. Her son’s diabetes checking was confused for texting on a cell phone.

Baila had to think fast.

On one hand, her son, who is a good, sweet and frum young man was being accused of being a Mechalel Shabbos (Shabbos desecrator).

On the other hand, if she told Fruma Yenta the truth that her son has diabetes she runs the risk of her two daughters who are ‘in the parsha’ being tainted forever.

(Editor’s note: According to modern medicine: If you have diabetes, there’s no reason that you can’t have a healthy and successful pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. What it does mean is that you will probably have to work closely with your doctor and other healthcare professionals to ensure you manage your diabetes well during your pregnancy.)

Without hesitation, Baila knew what she had to do.

She knew what the correct and proper decision was.

Baila looked at Fruma Yenta and with a serious and mournful face quietly said, “Oy, yes, it is indeed terrible. It hurts my heart that my son texts on Shabbos. Come let’s say a kapitel Tehillim for him and for all those who have lost their way.”

Baila is correct; we desperately need Tehillim for ‘all those who have lost their way’.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort’ -"The Picture Worth A Thousand Words” (9/8/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 13th of Elul 5774 and September 8, 2014


The Picture Worth A Thousand Words


Lately there has been much fan-fare about ‘Achdus’-unity, which many have claiming has prevailed amongst us over the summer and during the tragedies which befell us.

There are those who have been very self-congratulatory in their assessment of their perceived manifestations of communal unity over the past two months.

However, before the back slapping gets out of hand and before heads swell to messianic proportions, perhaps a proper a more careful and accurate analyses of the situation is needed.

We should first focus on what exactly is unity?

The dictionary defines unity as:

1. The state of being one; oneness.

2. A whole or totality as combining all its parts into one.

3. The state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification.

4. Absence of diversity; unvaried or uniform character.

5. Oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement.

Based on these five definitions one cannot deny that the abduction and murder of the three boys in July and the subsequent tragedy of Ahron Sofer in August certainly brought about a sense of ‘harmony or agreement’ in that we were all united in our hope and prayer that each one of these precious Jewish souls would be returned to us unharmed and safe.

Based on that definition there certainly was an “oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons” and assuredly there was a sense of “absence of diversity; unvaried or uniform character”, as Shuls and institutions throughout the Jewish world were in ‘uniform character’ as they davened for the three boys and for Aharon Sofer.

However, that only covers the last two of the five definitions.

What about the first three?

1. The state of being one; oneness.

2. A whole or totality as combining all its parts into one.

 3. The state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification.

Did we become ‘one’ in any way other than davening for the safe return of the boys?

Is that enough to be considered as being one?

Were all of our parts ‘combined into one’?

 Did we really all consider ourselves as ‘parts of a whole’?

I presented this question to three individuals whom I respect.

One is a “Brisker” who learnt many years by Rav Avrohom Yehoshua HaLevi Soloveitchik Shlita and is now a prominent Maggid Shiur in America.

The second is a “Mirrer” who besides being a Talmid Chochom who learns most of the day, he is also a successful business man.

The third is an Orthodox psychologist and Talmid Chochom whose children are proud Chareidi yeshiva alumni; some are still ‘learning’ while some are now ‘working’.

All three were in agreement that none felt that the demonstration of tefillah was indicative of any meaningful metamorphosis with regard to the status of unity or disunity Vis a Vis Klal Yisroel.

And despite many well-meaning media pundits who do their best to offer their readership ‘warm and fuzzy’ and ‘all is good’ stories; there was absolutely no change with regard to the divisions within our community.

 Nor did they feel that the communal praying signified anything more than a temporary response to the tragedy of the moment and certainly not an indication of any movement toward reconciliation or greater unity amongst the community.

Sorry to burst bubbles, however, we are in Elul and if was not going to be honest with ourselves now, well, “If Not Now, Then When?”

Mind you, I am not against ‘feel good’ stories; we all need them and they serve a purpose.

However, when the dream fades and the crisis passes and we are still in the same state of unity/disunity as we were before the summer then the eventual communal disappointment will outweigh the perceived ‘Achdus’ promulgated for the sake of ‘feel good’ Judaism.

My insightful friend who is both a Talmid Chochom and a professional psychologist remarked in explaining why he did not perceive the reactions over the summer as indicative of ‘real’ Achdus with the following analogy: Imagine you attend a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. In the final inning the Yankees hit a homerun and surprisingly, the game which seemed lost has now been won by the Yankees.

There are 60,000 people who are on their feet cheering and clapping.

Everyone is dancing and hugging; strangers are embracing.

The bleachers are full of African-Americans, Latin-Americans, Asian-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Irish-Americans and all are cheering, clapping giving each ‘high-fives’ and are in joyous celebration.

The next day you open the New York Times, and there in big black font headlines it reads: “New Yorkers Are in Achdus!”

Is that Achdus?

Is the fact that 60,000 are moved by the moment considered Achdus?

No, it is not.

What then is it?

It is many people reacting in the same way to a momentary emotional experience; however, no sane individual would claim that because they celebrated together for a few moments, this varied and diverse group is now considered ‘b’Achdus!

The moment the game ended, everyone boarded the subway and went home; never to see or to interact with the person they hugged and danced with just one hour before!

So too, in the realm of the tragic; we were moved (as we should have been) by the horrific abduction of the three boys.

We were moved to daven for them as we were when he heard that Ahron Sofer went missing.

We responded the way caring Jews responded, we davened and we gave Tzedoka.

However, once the fate of the boys was known and once Ahron Sofer’s body was discovered, everyone boarded their own ‘spiritual subway’ and went back to their lives.

No one is changing their hat or their dress; Chassidim did not join Dati-Leumi yeshivas and Kippa Sruga wearers did not run to purchase Shtreimlach.

Was there caring and compassion? Yes for sure!

Was there communal concern and prayer? Indeed!

Is all that positive? Of course!

However, is that indicative per se of ‘Achdus’?

That I highly question.

Please don’t get me wrong; I am not minimizing the caring and the communal tefillos.

 However, I am attempting to provide a ‘reality check’ and not to let something relatively ‘minor’ and ‘expected’ to be elevated to the holy and ethereal to the point of where we may be suffering from communal hubris!

What then is Achdus?

Why is the fact that Jews davened for Jews not considered ‘real’ Achdus?

Here I must give credit where credit is due and I publicly thank Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz for a most inspirational article he wrote in Elul of 5770 (Friday, August 13, 2010).

In the article Rav Lipschutz prepares us for Rosh Hashanah by brilliantly stating:

 We need to live for others. We need to become involved with the klal, doing things that we do not necessarily enjoy, even performing acts that we may think are beneath our dignity. The more people need us, the more sunshine and happiness we bring into the world and spread around, the more reason there is for Hashem to keep us here.

Meaning, being a part of the klal ‘the whole’ is the main focus of Elul.

And then Rav Lipschutz defines the true meaning of Achdus:

The challenge of achdus is to subordinate your selfish inclinations and conquer your hubris so that you can work with others for the common good.

What we really need to achieve Achdus is for us as individuals and as communities to “subordinate our selfish inclinations and conquer our hubris so that we can work with others for the common good”.

We talk about Achdus while in reality everyone one of us is sure we have the correct path and the other person and/or community is either just plain wrong (at best) or heretical (at worst)!

As Rav Lipschutz goes on to state:

 “The Botei Mikdosh were destroyed because we lacked achdus and judged others with a jaundiced eye. To merit the redemption, we have to overcome the temptation to judge people cynically and belittle others who are different, based on superficial, false notions.”

Achdus is not achieved by responding properly to common tragedies (although it is a start).

Real Achdus requires ‘subordination of our inclinations’ and by ceasing to judge people “based on superficial, false notions!”

Yes, we did merit seeing a small step toward Achdus over the summer; however as Rav Moshe Wolfson Shlita pointed out:

“Achdus, achdus,” the Mashgiach repeated. “The entire Klal Yisrael, no matter who they are, participated in tefillah, had a deep interest. This achdus should persist. We shouldn’t let go of it.”

If we really want to take the small window of Achdus which was opened just a crack this summer and capitalize on it, we must force the window wide open with real and concrete steps of meaningful togetherness and unity between Jewish groups.

What steps should this Achdus take?

How should it manifest itself?

That is a difficult question.

However, here is one example of the ‘real’ Achdus which I believe Hashem expects and wants of us:

Yoeli and Steven were an unlikely pair.

Yoeli lived in Williamsburg and worked as a plant manager for a factory near Passaic.

Steven was a stock broker who lived in Passaic.

Yoeli began to daven at my Shul when he realized that if he left before 6 AM he could avoid traffic.

One day he was looking for a place to sit, Steven informed him that the seat next to him was free.

After a month of davening near each other Yoeli asked Steve if they could learn together.

Steven readily agreed and soon the sounds of Torah were being heard from the corner of the Beis Medrash.

They were “The Odd Couple”. Steven grew up in Queens, attended Yeshiva University and had earned a MBA from Wharton Business School in Pennsylvania and was a proud Religious Zionist. Yoeli, on the other hand, grew up in Williamsburg, did not have a high school diploma; yet, ran a multi-million dollar company dealing with everything from production through delivery.

He was schooled in Satmar Hashkafa and had minimal involvement in the outside world. However, Torah is Torah and after a while I was invited to a Siyum which was held at Steven’s house attended by Yoeli and his family.

As the months went by, through the sweetness of Torah, the two were fast becoming good friends; and that is when they approached me.

They had both heard and felt the ‘achdus’ which was generated with the abduction and murder of the three boys.

 “Rabbi, this feeling of achdus; we cannot let it slip away. “What can we do to continue and build on this wonderful feeling of unity which was generated? How can we continue and enhance the Achdus?”

I looked at the Yoeli with his Yiddish accented English; and I looked at Steven with his Ivy League command of the language and I thought about their wonderful friendship.

 “You both want to really to take a giant leap ahead with Achdus, correct?” They both nodded vigorously.

“Are you really prepared to be avant-garde?” (I had to explain to Yoeli what avant-garde was).

They both readily agreed.

“How about you spend a few minutes of each day learning the following in addition to your Gemara learning? Each day spend ten minutes learning the Torah thoughts (Chiddushim) of the Satmar Rebbe Zt”l on the sugya (topic) you are discussing and the next day learn the novella of Rav Soloveitchik Zt”l on the same Sugya.”

They were both a little shocked as neither had ever been exposed to the other’s Rebbe. However, they wanted Achdus, so somewhat cautiously they agreed.

Fast forward to just before Yom Kippur.

They are both excited. Yoeli never realized the depth of thought of Rav Soloveitchik and Steven never knew how great a Talmid Chochom the Satmar Rebbe was!

They invited me to their next siyum which would take place at Yoeli’s house in Williamsburg.

I arrived and was treated to a wonderful meal filled with achdus and kinship.

However, I was never prepared for what happened at the end of the Siyum.

Yoeli announced that he had purchased a special gift for Steven.

Simultaneously, Steven announced he too had a present for Yoeli.

As Steven opened his gift he saw that Yoeli had given him a framed portrait of the Satmar Rebbe.

And as Yoeli opened his, he received a framed picture of Rav Soloveitchik.

Each one of them beamed as they lovingly held up their newly discovered Gadol picture.

Suddenly Yoeli took his portrait of Rav Soloveitchik and affectionately placed on a shelf right next to the Satmar Rebbe.

And as we all watched in silence as Yoeli set the picture in its place, the footsteps of Mashiach could be heard coming just a little bit closer.


Did this story really happen?

Could it really happen?

Or is it a fantastical fairy tale?

My friends, the answer to this question is ready and waiting for you in your heart; you just have to want to find it.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -"Why Are You Here?” (9/5/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 10th of Elul 5774 and September 5, 2014


Why Are You Here?


Often when people come to my office I am mystified as to why they want to see me.

When couples come asking me for marital advice, I remind them that I have no accreditation, or qualifications which indicate I possess any expertise in human relations; and there is no reason to assume my advice is better than anyone else’s.

When parents come asking for my opinion related to educational matters regarding their children, I assure them that I am not expert in the field of Jewish education.

When singles come to my office asking me if I approve of their potential Shidduch prospect, I shudder in fear and trepidation. I am not cognizant of any prophetic powers which would indicate me being a reliable predictor as to the success of the marriage.

And when congregants ask me to explain the reasons and rationale for their troubles and tribulations, I am often more at a loss to explain life’s challenges than they are.

In short, I am sincerely and totally baffled as to why people seek my advice; as I am unaware of any divinely designated distinction which grants me license to dispense sagacious advice.

And therefore, when I can be a ‘clearing house’ for referrals to trained marital therapists, and for educational experts and for veteran matchmakers; I am satisfied that I have done my job well.

It is only when my head begins to swell and my hat feels tight on my head that I become concerned that I will misinterpret the congregant’s need not for what it really is, namely, a request for a professional reference; but, as a false sign of validation of me that I am equipped to deal with that which I am unqualified and dispense advice and suggest solutions to problems which are way beyond my purview.

However, there are exceptions.

Shimon Graber (name changed) was married for over 40 years. At first glance he had a perfectly happy marriage. However, I learned very early on in the rabbinate that: “any resemblance between one’s outward appearance and their internal reality is purely coincidental”.

To put it mildly, Shimon was not happily married.

From the beginning there was tension.

However, back then marriages continued if nothing else for the children.

When he came to see me, Shimon had just retired at the age of 70; there was no question of divorce; after all, they were married for 40 years.

And there was no question of going for therapy.

His wife would never hear of it and Shimon himself was too tired and worn out for therapy anyway.

So every Tuesday after Shacharis Shimon would drop my office for a schmooze.

He would begin with a question but invariably the conversation would gravitate to his dysfunctional marriage.

They were together for so many years; yet, they had shared so many tears.

He felt trapped and was in pain; however, he was also resigned to his lot in life.

There was no therapist whom I could refer Shimon to; this was his life and so it would be.

One Tuesday morning I asked Shimon, “Why do you keep coming every Tuesday? I have not offered you one bit of sound advice to alleviate your suffering; why do you keep coming?”

Shimon looked at me somewhat surprised and simply answered, “Rabbi, you know very well why I come; because you are the only one who listens to me. Just to have someone non-judgmental listen to me is the greatest help you can do for me. I don’t need a therapist; however, I do need a friend who listens and cares and for that I come.”

I sat there in silence and continued to do what I do best, I listened; and inside I cried.


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort’ -"“I Just Need To Be Listened To”” (9/2/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 7th of Elul 5774 and September 2, 2014


“I Just Need To Be Listened To”


Often when you are on the phone with someone nowadays, you are unsure if the person on the other end of the line is really listening to you or not.

Sometimes you can hear the little pitter patter of their fingers typing away at the keyboard as you are talking to them.

Other times, it seems as if the person is talking to another person who is with them simultaneously as you are attempting to talk to them.

One of the most challenging conversations is when you are talking to a man or a woman and they are watching their children.

Too often as I endeavor to talk to a father (or mother) who is attempting to tend to his flock while asking me for advice or a halachik question, I am frustrated by the lack of attention he is giving to both the children and to me.

As I say, “Well the meat has to be discarded…” he says in the background, “Yanky, stop jumping on your brother or I will have to ‘time you out’.”

At that point I will say, “Reuvain, maybe we should talk later when you are not preoccupied with the children?”

Unfortunately, Reuvain will too often answer, “Oh no, Rabbi, this is fine; let’s continue… Leahla, put down that knife right now, you can hurt someone! Rabbi, like I said I am with you all the way… Leahla, I am not going to ask you again.”

I begin to plead with the father, “Look, call me whenever you are free. I will clear my phone lines and my calendar for you…however, now seems to be neither fair to your children or to me.”

“Rabbi, no please you have my undivided attention, I am totally with you. Now you said the meat from the Chulent which the baby’s bottle fell in can be eaten for Shabbos?”

“No, I did not.  In fact what said was…”

“Rabbi, just one second… Yechiel, I told you many times not to pour your juice on your sister’s head, now she is full of apple juice! Yechiel, go to your room and say tehillim for 10 minutes.”

I am getting pretty exasperated, however, he insists…

“So about your meat, you cannot eat it as the baby’s bottle was milchig and there was not 60 times the amount…”

“One more second Rabbi, sorry; Leahla, thank you for putting down the knife, however, take it out of the garbage and put it back in the drawer. I know that you think putting your hand in the garbage pail is icky and yucky; however, you put the knife in there in the first place! Ok, Rabbi, so the meat needs to be washed with the bottle, correct? That’s what you are saying, right?”

I am desperate now; the father is not listening to me or paying attention to his kids.

The kitchen is becoming treif; the children are beating each other up and if I hang up the father will post on his Facebook account that Rabbi Eisenman is a mean and inattentive Rabbi.

I am my wits end.

Finally in total desperation in order to change the subject and in the hope of having Reuvain realize that this conversation is totally unproductive I ask, “By the way, how are your parents? I have not seen them for a while. Last time they were here I was in LA; how are they?”

“Leahla, I am counting to three and you must put your hand in the icky garbage to get back the knife… Oh, yes, Rabbi, my parents, yes, they like you so much.”

At this point I am reaching the breaking point. I am spent and at the end of my rope.

I know it is wrong and I know it borders on “gallows humor”, and I know it is un-rabbinic…however, to finally prove to myself that this entire conversation is a waste of time for all parties involved and because my level of frustration is off the charts…I finally blurt out, “I have not seen your parents for so long they must think I have died? Correct?

Without missing a beat the overwhelmed and overworked father who already has ‘far too many balls in the air’, answers me without missing a beat, “Of course they do rabbi, and they are so excited about it!”

What did he think I said?  

I can only conjecture; however, I knew at that point, our conversation was counter-productive at best and outright insane at worst and finally I excused myself and said good bye.

Moral of the story: “Don’t talk on the phone and take care of your kids (or drive, type, answer emails…) as you are not giving either party the attention they deserve.”


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -"Righting the Wrong” (8/31/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 5th of Elul 5774 and August 31, 2014


Righting the Wrong


Today in 1935 Rav Avraham Yitzchok HaKohen Kook Zt”l passed away.

His actual Yahrtzeit was on the third of Elul (which was Friday), however, the secular date that year was August 31, 1935.

Rav Kook who lived from 1865-1935 was the first Chief Rabbi of Palestine in the twentieth century.

He was a great Talmudic scholar, halachik adjudicator, teacher, thinker and a compassionate and kind and beloved Rav.

Many of his followers study his works and attempt to emulate his personality as seen through his teachings and his students.

However, the tragedy of Rav Kook Zt”l is that through a ‘revisionism’ of the past and because of those who resort to Orwellian techniques to rewrite history, many average Frum Jew when they hears the name of Rav Kook the image which pops up in their mind is a sandal wearing, perhaps guitar strutting ‘semi-observant’ ‘rabbi’ who might be sporting Bermuda shorts and whose Talmudic learning is limited to reading translated portions of Gemara in English while trimming his fashionable goatee and wearing a bottle-cap size yarmulke covering his right ear as it tips precipitously off his head.

He is too often portrayed as a Rav who interested in finding all types of questionable halachik leniencies which have minimal if any halachik substance.

He is thought of as a cavalier and careless rabbi who vacillated between true Orthodoxy and those other denominations whose halachik acceptability is shaky at best.

However, worst of all, is the fact that outright untruths and vicious lies have been promulgated about him that during his life time, the ‘true’ and authentic Torah leaders of his time distanced themselves from him and dismissed him as second rate rabbi of no consequence.

One gets the impression after listening to these revisionists that if we would be transported back to Yerushalayim of the 1920s we would find Rav Kook surrounded by a cadre of secular followers with maybe a handful of lukewarm Orthodox ignoramuses sitting and half listening to his farfetched and perhaps semi-heretical ideas about Torah and Judaism.

People have disseminated the ‘fact’ that the real ‘Gedolim’ of Eretz Yisroel had no contact with this ‘radical’ and they will even claim that his books were banned because of their heretical content.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

And this is a ‘wrong’ which must be ‘righted’!

Let me be clear, I do not study too often his works because of their difficult and what I find almost cryptic language.

Let me also disclose from the outset, that my Rabbeim rarely used his Seforim as his scholarly approach to Talmud and Jewish thought was clearly not your standard Lithuanian bent.

His approach certainly bordered more on the Chassidic and on the Kabbalistic and neither of these important disciplines were part and parcel of your typical Lithuanian styled yeshiva curriculum in which all of my Rabbeim were educated in (and are still not).

So therefore, I am not advocating the study of his works per se, as I am no equipped to make that determination.

However, what I am advocating is the following.

Irrespective of his unique and semi-Chassidic/Kabbalistic approach to Torah and Judaism one wrong must be righted.

And that is the clear and unchallenged fact that he was considered in his lifetime as a true and authentic Gadol.

Indeed, ‘the righting of this wrong’ is one of greatest testimonials to truth that a person can contribute to today’s misunderstanding of this great and beloved and respected Gadol HaDor.

Please do not take my word on the issue.

Please allow his ‘peers’ to do the talking for me and then you can decide on your own.

Here is a list of ten ‘authentic’ Gedolim and what they said or wrote about Rav Kook Zt”l.

1.       The Imrei Emes

(HaRav Avraham Mordechai Alter (25 December 1866 – 3 June 1948), also known as the Imrei Emes, was the third Rebbe of the Hasidic dynasty of Ger, a position he held from 1905 until his death in 1948. He was one of the founders of the Agudas Israel in Poland and was influential in establishing a network of Jewish schools there. It is claimed that at one stage he led over 200,000 Hasidim. Wikipedia)

He refers to Rav Kook as an “Ish HaEshkolos” which is a title reserved for someone who contains ‘everything’ (Torah, Mishna, Talmud, and Aggadah). (See Shir HaShirim Raba 1:60).

It is title given to some who has Torah, Middos and Chesed (see T.B Temurah 15a and T.B. Sota 47b). It is a title reserved for Moshe Rabbeinu and Rabbi Akiva!

 And it is the title which the Gerrer Rebbe referred to Rav Kook with in an open letter to his Chassidim in 1924 (page 78 “Osef Mechtavim of Admor M’Ger”)

2.       Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski : "Our friend, the Gaon, our master and teacher, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, shlita" and "The Glory of Honor, My Dear Friend, Ha-Rav Ha-Gaon, Ha-Gadol, the Famous One… The Prince of Torah, Our Teacher, Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Kohen Kook Shlit”a..."

3.       Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz: "The true Gaon, the beauty and glory of the generation, the tzaddik, his holiness, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak, may his light shine, may he live for length of good days and years amen, the righteous Kohen, head of the beis din [court] in Jerusalem, the holy city, may it soon be built and established"

4.       Rav Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn of Lubavitch: "The Gaon who is renowned with splendor among the Geonim of Ya’akov, Amud HaYemini, Patish HaChazak..."

5.       Rav Chatzkel Abramsky: "The honored man, beloved of Hashem and his nation, the rabbi, the Gaon, great and well-known, with breadth of knowledge, the glory of the generation, etc., etc., our master Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, shlita, Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel and the head of the Beis Din in the holy city of Jerusalem"

6.       Rav Yitzchok Hutner: "The glorious honor of our master, our teacher and rabbi, the great Gaon, the crown and sanctity of Israel, Maran [our master] Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, shlita!"

7.       Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer and Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein: "Our honored friend, the great Gaon and glory of the generation, our master and teacher, Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen, shlita"

8.       The Brisker Rov- Rav Yitzchok Zev HaLevi Soloveitchik: “To his honor the Rav, the great and famous Gaon, and the honor of the generation…Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim…”

9.       The Satmar Rebbe- Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum- When asked why he refused to meet with Rav Kook- the Rebbe answered: “I certainly won’t be able to influence him, and on the contrary, I am afraid that he might influence me.”  (The Rebbe; Rabbi Dovid Meisels; page 43).

From this honest admission from the Satmar Rebbe we see how even he realized how great and persuasive and what erudition Rav Kook possessed as the Satmar Rebbe was not known as a man to back away from his position.

(One has to question how honestly the Satmar believed in his own worldview if he refused to meet with someone who would and ostensibly could change his entire worldview; however, that is for another discussion.)

10.   Rav Zvi Pesach Frank – Rav of Yerushalayim. As is well known Rav Frank was active in establishing the office of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and was instrumental in appointing Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook as the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi.

I believe these  ten Gedolim speak for all of us (or certainly should) in establishing the fact that even if many of the aforementioned Gedolim did not necessarily embrace the views of Rav Kook, nevertheless, they respected him and accepted him as their peer and their fellow Gadol.

If there is one aspect of Teshuva we can all engage in during this month of Elul as we prepare for the Day of Judgment and we all desire to be judged fairly, let’s begin by ‘judging’ someone who deserves the reverence and admiration that our teachers and great Torah leaders accorded him during his life time.

It is high time that all of us when we mention the name of Rav Kook we should do it with the same love and respect we show to all the Gedolim of the last generation.

In the merit of ‘righting this wrong’ and judging he who truly deserves respect and love and reverence ‘fairly’, may Hashem judge all of us with compassion and mercy.


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -"The Brocha” (8/27/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 2nd of Elul 5774 and August 28, 2014


The Brocha


For those who felt that Tuesday’s Vort was a little on the long side (1,802 words!)- Today I will keep it a “Short Vort”. (Less than 370 words!)

I was at a Vort tonight -a real Vort- you know like when a couple gets engaged?

Anyway, as I am walking up the pathway to the house I hear Bochur A say to Bochur B, “Wow, you got a brocha from Rav Ploni?” Bochur B proudly answers, “Yes, and it was difficult, however, it was well worth it.”

At that point, I could not just walk by and mind my own business.

I looked at the two of them and asked, “Whose Brochos are you talking about?”

 Bochur A looks at me and says we are talking about Rabbi Ploni- his brochus are so gevaldig they are for sure going to come true. I would run to Eretz Yisroel right now just to get a brocha from him.”

I looked at Bochur A- in one hand he held a bottle of beer and in the other hand he had clinched between his fingers a proven carcinogenic which he kept inhaling into his young and impressionable lungs.

I said, “Would you like a real brocha for long life? One that is sure to work better than the Brocha of anyone else?”

“Of course I would” He said as he leaned closer to me to hear the brocha.

As I backed off so not to inhale the carcinogenic, I looked at him and said, here is the brocha, “You will have a definitive better chance of living a longer life if you stop smoking! Stop smoking and Hashem will most probably ‘bless’ you with a longer life.”

I turned and went into the house while wondering why would someone rely on a Brocha which maybe works and maybe doesn’t work while something which is proven to be detrimental to one’s health this Bochur would embrace out of his own free will??

Strange world out there.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ



The Short Vort’ -""Yes, Virginia, the Rabbi does take a nap”” (8/26/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 30th of Av- First Day of Rosh Chodesh Elul- 5774, August 26th 2014


"Yes, Virginia, the Rabbi does take a nap


Part One-

The Sleepy Rabbi


One day in 1971, a little boy was banging on the door of a rabbi in Yerushalayim on a hot Shabbos afternoon.

It was very hot and everyone sought out the comfort of their beds to escape the punishing ‘chamsin (heatwave); including the rabbi.

The rabbi heard the incessant knocking as he was dreaming of an air-conditioned Beis Medrash which had not yet arrived to Yerushalayim; however, he had heard that in America they exist.

At first he attempted to ignore the knocking hoping it would go away; it didn’t.

Then he attempted to sleep through it; he couldn’t.

Finally after figuring it could be a crucial Shabbos life and death question, he schlepped himself from his bed, put on a robe and answered the door.

He thought that Eliyahu HaNavi had arrived and was invisible as he saw no one as he peered onto the quiet streets of Jerusalem.

However, as he looked down he noticed the small boy who standing right in front of him.

“My son, HaKol B’Seder?” he asked. (Is all okay?)

The child nodded.

“Is anyone sick?” the rabbi prodded.

“No” came the reply.

“Well, why did you come?” asked the rabbi as he recalled the comfort of his bed and felt the hot wind blowing in his face.

“I have a question on the Parsha and my Abba said I should ask the rabbi when I get a chance and since everyone else was sleeping I figured it was a good time to ask the Rav.”

The little boy proceeded to ask his question and the Rav patiently answered.

After the question and answer period was concluded, the Rav gently said to the little boy,

“My precious son, thank you for coming to my house and sharing your question with me. However, perhaps Shabbos afternoon is not the best time to knock on someone’s door as especially today on a hot day; most people take a Shabbos nap and you would be disturbing them.”

The little boy looked up at the Rav and with a look of total amazement he said with the innocence which only a little boy can muster, “The Rav takes a nap on Shabbos!?”


Part Two- Two Endings

There are two versions as to the end of the story.

The ‘accepted and approved’ and “hagiographic appropriate” ending of the story is the following:

“After the Rav heard and internalized the heartfelt question of the little boy, (“The Rav takes a nap on Shabbos?”) He accepted himself never to sleep again on Shabbos afternoon.

Such is the power of the innocent question of a little boy.”

This ending is heartwarming and inspirational (and perhaps even true!) and can be a lesson for all of us.

However, there is a second version as to the ending of the story and this version is according to me.


Part Three- The Ending According to Me


Here is how the story would have ended if I was the rabbi in the story (no joke).

The little boy looked up at Rav Eisenman and with a look of total amazement he said to the Rav with the innocence which only a little boy can muster, “The Rav takes a nap on Shabbos?”

Rabbi Eisenman looks down at the boy and says, “My precious child, sorry to burst your little bubble, however, I do nap on Shabbos and with Hashem’s help I will continue to nap on Shabbos for many years to come.

I am also not embarrassed to tell you that your assessment of me and of most Rabbonim in general is incorrect as many Rabbonim nap on Shabbos afternoon.

However, since I am already awake allow me to share with you a life-lesson which I believe is imperative that you internalize.

Please know my precious child that rabbis are human beings as well as being Rabbonim and it is a good idea that you learn this sooner than later.

If I would allow you to continue to live in the delusional world that rabbis are all petrified perpetual paradigms of piety and perfected purity, I would be doing you a disservice.

Trust me my holy child, if there is one thing which all Jewish men and women agree upon with total and complete belief it is that they all are united in their opinion that there never has been a Jew who claims that in his entire life he was never once disappointed by ‘the rabbi’.

Everyone at some point in life is disappointed with someone who attached to his name is the title: rabbi.

It can be your fourth grade rebbe who gave you a 65 in Gemara; or your ninth grade rebbe who caught you smoking and told the principal; or it can be your Shul rabbi who did not return your call within what you considered to be reasonable time (a recent study of 1800 congregants revealed that anything after 16.4 seconds from the time the caller hangs up is already ‘beyond reasonable time’ and the congregant is justified in feeling ‘dissed’ by the rabbi.)

Perhaps your Shul rabbi wrote a Short Vort which you did not agree with?

There are many reasons; however, most certainly every Jew will at some time in their life feel disappointed or disillusioned by a person who goes by the title of rabbi.

Why is this true?

Why do all of us (including rabbis themselves) find themselves at some point in time disappointed by rabbis?

The obvious reason is that rabbis, as any other human being, sometimes act in ways which disappoint us; no different than our mother or father or husband or wife; everyone disappoints at sometime.

Why then do we feel it so deeply when the disappointment comes from the rabbi?

Perhaps the reason that the pain is so acute when it comes from the rabbi is because too many of us were taught as children to worship and iconize our rabbis.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some rabbis who are worthy of (almost) iconizing; however, they are few and more uncommon than people realize.

Those rabbis, who are indeed (almost) iconic, are self-evident and easily recognizable.

However, most rabbis should not be iconized, rather they should be respected for what they are: well meaning, hardworking human beings; however, they are not angels.

The rabbi should be respected not revered.

He should be admired without adoration.

He should be valued without being venerated.

He should be honored without needing to pay him homage.

And he should be esteemed, however, never exalted.

Too often we make the mistake of deifying the rabbi instead of just showing him deference.

We must be devoted to him without displaying toward him our total and absolute devotion.

He may be granted divine assistance; however, he is not infallible.

Those who have chosen the rabbinate or Jewish education as their profession certainly should attempt to maintain a higher standard of behavior especially in their dealings with other human beings.

However, this striving for a higher standard should never be a reason for you or me to assume that a rabbi is foible-free or that he is more perfect than the next guy.

The rabbi must have recognition that his choice of profession and the higher expectations of him which accompanies the turf are his responsibility to maintain.

If he is scholar and learned in Torah he deserves respect for that knowledge; however, any individual irrespective of their chosen field of employment who has achieved expertise in Torah learning is deserving of respect due to a scholar. Indeed, many of our greatest rabbis who are mentioned in the Talmud were never employed or served in the rabbinate.

Therefore, my impressionable little friend, please do not think that Rav Eisenman does not nap on Shabbos.

Treat me with respect as I will do to you; however, do not worship or iconize me.

Know that I am human and have foibles and weak-spots as all those born of flesh and blood have.

Please do not think that I never nap on shabbos afternoon, this will only lead to disappointment and possible disillusionment for you as you mature.

If you think of me as angelic then my only option is to eventually prove you wrong as indeed, I am far from the celestial world of the seraphim.

Know my child that I am human and need sleep as much as (if not more) than you and your parents.

Realize my precious child that I struggle with anger and jealousy as my neighbor does.

And never think for a minute that I don’t appreciate friendship and or a good story or a laugh as anyone else.

The lionizing and idolizing of rabbis has its drawbacks.

I must tell you this, because if you keep on growing and maturing while simultaneously being ingrained in the false belief that rabbis don’t nap ultimately you will be disillusioned with me.

If you would look at me as a person who attempts to do his best as being a good rabbi, while never ignoring my limitations then we can have a wonderful relationship.

However, if you begin our relationship by viewing me as being perched on the top of a pedestal of perpetual piety, then I am afraid our relationship will be short lived.

You see, I do not live on a pedestal.

I attempt to constantly remind myself that my profession represents the creator more than other professions; however, it does not mean I am higher than thou and please do not consider me as such.

So my precious child, if you ever have a true emergency please know that my door is open for you 24/7.

However, if you have a question which does not need an immediate answer and it is a time or place which may not be the most conducive or convenient of places or times, then please delay the question for a more appropriate time and place.

I know my son you have received a much longer answer than you expected; however, I feel this lesson is important for you to learn sooner than later.

You can respect me and love me; however, never iconize me.”



After Rabbi Eisenman concluded his soliloquy which lasted until Motzei Shabbos, he remembered he was talking to a little boy.

Rabbi Eisenman looked around; however, the boy was nowhere to be found.

Finally he looked at the couch in the living room and there was the little angel, sleeping soundly with his Chumash at his side.


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ



The Short Vort’ -"The Kaddish” (8/25/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 29th of Av 5774 and August 25, 104


The Kaddish


The Schwartz’s were an ‘old Passaic family’.

They were not meticulous in their observance; however, they were proud Jews.

 Of their three children; Julie, Sheila and Joseph, only Joseph retained some Jewish association. He spent a summer in Israel and decided to stay on in yeshiva.

He married, settled in Yerushalayim and works as a fund raiser for a yeshiva.

He never learnt Hebrew fluently so when he attends parent-teacher conferences, he nods and smiles and assumes his son is doing well.

One day is sister called; “Mom’s sick, you’d better come in.”

Joseph returned to Passaic.

On Shabbos, his mother took a turn for the worse and decisions had to be made.

Joseph said, “We need to consult a Rabbi”; the family came to my door.

Contrary to hagiographic reports of my life, I rest on Shabbos so my wife came to wake me.

I sleepily came downstairs, welcomed my guests and answered their questions.

Fast forward a week and I see Joseph; “How is your mother?”

He informs me, “Her condition has stabilized, and I will be returning home tomorrow.”

 “Rabbi, I want to really thank you for being so kind to me and for taking an interest in my mother. Especially I want to thank you for being so gracious when I woke you on Shabbos day; it was really appreciated by my entire family.”

I looked at him quizzically; after all I really did not do much for him during the two weeks he was here.

I wished him well and told him to call me if I can do anything for him.

He then said to me the following words which seared into my heart.

              “Rabbi, I am going to take you up on your offer. There is something you can do for me and perhaps it will help others as well.”

I was starting to regret my offer; however, it was too late and this is what Joseph Schwartz told me:

“A number of years ago, my father passed away, and I had to do that which I always dreaded doing, I was forced to daven ‘for the Amud’.

I hesitantly approached the Amud in my local Shul where I have been davening for years.

Surprisingly, no one approached or asked me why I was davening for the Amud.

 I wasn’t expecting an outpouring of emotions; however, I was hoping that at least one person would ask, ‘What happened?’

However, as is too often the case with large neighborhoods, people are overlooked and that was painful. And therefore, I just wanted to tell you, that I really appreciate your reaching out to me and inquiring about me.

Rabbi, you have many people here in your Shul who are just like me.

They are often unnoticed and then, suddenly they are forced to come out of the shadows and daven before the Amud.

 Rabbi, please realize, that when they finally approach the Amud- as difficult as that is for them-they are desperate for a warm smile and for emotional support.

It’s as if being forced to be the Shaliach Tzibbur is their way of calling out for support and emotional sustenance.

Please, make sure that what happened to me never happens to anyone else.

When someone is suddenly thrust into the spot light, do not ignore them.

That person needs friendship and companionship.

Please be the one who recognizes this need and provides it.

Tell everyone that when they answer “Hashem’s great name shall be blessed” (“Yehei Shemei Rabba Mevarech”) they should consider for a moment the Shaliach Tzibbur who is asking of them to “Glorify Hashem’s name” (Yisgadeil V’Yiskadeish Shemei Rabba”)”

Tell them that when they praise the name of Hashem, they should also remember for a moment the human being who is so desperate for their empathy and their connection.”


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ




The Short Vort’ -"Yesterday” (8/20/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 25th of Av 5774 and August 21st, 2014




Yesterday I cried; a lot.

But I also smiled.

I was up by 4:15 AM and by 5 AM my hands were doing the only thing that helps when the anxiety level begins to go through the roof; I write.

I write to communicate and I write to purge the pain which envelops my brain like an octopus whose tentacles continually wrap themselves in concentric circles around the lobes of my cerebral cortex.

As they constrict the pain becomes unbearable and I write.

Writing is my escape route and simultaneously my entry point.

It is cathartic yet, at the same time immerses me deeper and deeper into those precise recesses of my mind I am desperate to escape from.

However, the immediate need for my personal catharsis overrides all other concerns and I write.

I write to be free although the words are concurrently the chains which bind and incarcerate me in the prison of my mind.

And yet I write.

I continued to write until the Vasikin Minyan, and I write after Vasikin until the Daf Yomi.

After the Daf I continue my feverish writing, not stopping for any food or drink.

It is almost 10 AM; the Short Vort: “In Memory of Corporal David Menachem Gordon Z”l” is completed.

I am drained and exhausted; however it is time to head to Borough Park; to attend the Levaya of Mrs. Silberstein.

The funeral ends close to noon; I am hungry, tired and sapped.

I call my son who knows every eatery in Borough Park and directs me to “Fallsburg Bagels” on 16th Avenue.

The restaurant is somewhat comical; indeed, it is exactly what I need for my emotional escape.

There are no tables, just a long counter-top which even in the best of times could have accommodated ‘maybe’ six people.  

However, at least two of the seats are piled high with extra Styrofoam cups and plates and last week’s uneaten bagels.

I am hungry and tired, and I order my bagel, wash, sit down and mind my own business as I pretend I am in Yerushalayim on vacation without a care in the world.

My surreal fantasy is suddenly interrupted by the piercing sound of a crying two year old.

Someone is pulling my frock and as I turn to face my two feet high attacker, I realize that the two women and four children who have just arrived for lunch could use some more counter space.

I offer to move over onto the two hot and huge pots of vegetable soup and allow the moms and their charges to have more space.

However, I soon realize that Ms. Mom from Boro Park speaks no English!

She acknowledges with a nod my benevolence and soon Ms. Mom and I are sitting close enough for her two year old to spit his cream cheese into my beard.

I wonder if her Rebbe would approve of this seating arrangement.

I can literally hear every word of her conversation with her friend.

Fortunately, the rapid fire Yiddish requires too much concentration that I care to give now and I go back to enjoying my bagel and dreams.

Suddenly, the proprietor himself emerges from behind the counter with an apron which has seen one bagel schmeared with cream cheese and lox too many and queries Ms. Mom.

“Do you want Splenda in your latte or sugar?”

Ms. Mom says Splenda.

“Do you want crushed ice or ice cubes in your latte?”

“I wanted a hot latte, not a cold one!” demands Ms. Mom in Yiddish.

Suddenly the small restaurant erupts in a debate so fierce and passionate, that Abaye and Raba would have been jealous.

One old man standing near the sink chimes in, “Why drink hot on a hot day? Drink a cold latte.”

Her friend says, “No, she ordered a hot coffee and she deserves a hot coffee.”

A small elderly woman seated at the end of the counter suddenly asks “Vos iz a latte?” (What is a latte anyway?).

Finally all the disputants go back to their bagels and the woman is getting a hot latte.

However, just when it seemed that peace had been achieved, the little Yiddle in the front of the store announces, “One large latte ready”

Ms. Mom looks up and miracles of miracles, she suddenly has learned English as she states, “large? I ordered medium!”

The word “medium” was actually uttered in English to the amazement of all us present.

The fellow pours the ‘large’ into a ‘medium’ cup and it looks like its back to our bagel.

However, before I can return to dream world, I feel a pull on my beard.

Little yingel, son of Ms. Mom has grabbed my beard with his cream cheese filled little hands.

He begins to run his little holy hands down my beard making sure every single follicle which has not yet turned white because of age, has now been whitened a wonderful shade of J & J Cholov Yisroel Cream Cheese.

As I attempt to untangle myself, Ms. Mom is totally turned away from me as she is chatting aimlessly to her friend on the opposite side of us.

Finally, little Tzaddikal releases his hold on my facial whiskers and as I attempt to retrieve a few napkins, I notice that my sleeve has immersed itself into the hot vegetable soup.

The old lady at the end of the counter demands of me to use seltzer to wipe the stain while the little Tzaddik looks to me that he is getting for round two.

I realize (a bit too late, but, hey, I never said I was quick) that it’s time to leave as all good things must end.

I bentch, thank the counter man, deposit my trash in the receptacle to the surprised looks of the onlookers and make my way back to my car.

With cream cheese in my beard and vegetable soup on my sleeve I feel invigorated and prepared to meet the challenges of a new day.

Thank Hashem for Boro Park; like no place on Earth.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ







The Short Vort’ -In Memory of Corporal David Menachem Gordon Z”l (8/20/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 24th of Menachem Av 5774 and August 20, 2014


In Memory of Corporal David Menachem Gordon Z”l

I was planning to write about Dave Gordon for a few weeks’ already. However, there were details to be verified and the one person who knew them was on vacation for two weeks.

Then there were other communal emergencies which arose which distracted me even further.

However, his story was timeless and there was no rush.

Finally though, it was my ‘ultimate editor’ who finished the story.

Yesterday, the final paragraph in the story hit my doorstep with a crash.

At first I was stunned and in disbelief; could this be true?

The phone call arrived at 9 AM- Dave was missing; please daven for him.

Less than four hours later I was overcome with tears and grief.

Dave was no longer among the missing.

He was not a casualty of Hamas.

There was no freak or unexplained vehicular accident.

Dave was found in a hole with his weapon at his side.

After serving with honor through the horror of Gaza; Dave Gordon had succumbed to the demons of the mind.

Dave was somewhat of a celebrity among ‘Survivors’.

His chilling personal account of the pain afflicted upon him not by Hamas but at the hands of his fellow Jews was a trigger piece which took me months to finally fully read as I kept dissolving into a sea of tears when I attempted to read it (see:

And because of this article and others there are those who have attributed his untimely departure from us as being a caused by this pain (see and:

Whatever the reason, both of his personal challenges, namely, being a victim of sexual molestation at the hands of fellow Jews and his battle with depression and fear are very close to home for me, and at present I cannot even ‘go there’.

His wounds are my wounds and his struggles are mine.

However, what I would like to mention is my own indirect yet, directly and deeply meaningful connection I had with Dave.

This is my small tribute to Dave; this is my small contribution to his memory.

Dave was a Corporal in the IDF and was stationed in Gaza.

He was part of the elite Givati Brigade and needless to say he saw horrors of war which are unimaginable.

A few weeks ago, Dave’s sister Nomi and her husband Aryeh Ho were eating at my home for Shabbos dinner.

In the course of the conversation Nomi mentioned how Dave informed his family how a letter had arrived in Gaza.

Many of these letters were addressed to no soldier in particular and were letters of support and encouragement sent to any and all of the soldiers whoever they happen to be.

As the ‘mail-call’ was going on, the ‘caller’ announced that there is a letter here in English; “Are there any soldiers here who know English?” he asked.

Dave arose, acknowledged his proficiency in English and took the letter.

He assumed it was an ‘anonymous’ letter from ‘someone’ and ‘somewhere’ with whom he had no connection or particular bond.

However, as he read on his eyes widened and his heart opened.

The letter was from Passaic!

He knew Passaic, his sister lived there.

And as he read on, more connections followed.

The writer (Mrs. Shaina Worthman) wrote:

“My heart and prayers are with you as you defend Israel and Jews everywhere.

As my Rabbi, Rabbi Eisenman in Passaic, NJ, pointed out.....

For many, many centuries until the modern state of Israel, Jews were regularly slaughtered in huge numbers at the whim of governments and anti-Semites. Men, women and children were brutally tortured and murdered. Now we have our blessed state and all of you brave soldiers who defend us all.

People all over the world are united in davening and saying tehillim for you, asking Hash-m to grant you success and vanquish our enemies.”


Dave knew me.

He had eaten in my home.

We danced together at his sister’s wedding and we held each other at the Chuppah.

When Dave saw my name, (as he related to his family) he felt connected; he felt a part of the community and he did not feel alone.

In his last message on his Facebook page, Dave wrote:

"Unbelievably overwhelmed, not from this mission but from the support and messages of encouragement from family, friends and strangers.

 I am OK and I’ve never felt more loved. Thank you all!"

Was Dave referring to me and Mrs. Worthman when he wrote that he felt overwhelmed from the support and messages of encouragement from family, friends and strangers? I hope so.

Was I a small contribution in his emotional state when he proclaimed, “I am OK and I’ve never felt more loved. Thank you all!”

I certainly want and need to think so.

I will never see Dave again.

I will never dance with him again.

We will never hug again.

Ultimately he wrote his own final and fitting epitaph.

On June 12, 2013 Dave wrote:

“One reason why victims of abuse are also called survivors is because so many don’t make it.

 So many are too ashamed to reach out and frequently fall into depression, violence, addiction and ultimately into death’s arms.”

Dave, I danced with you and I celebrated with you.

Later on I realized we were blood brothers in mutual suffering and in pain.

We were connected by the endless shame and constant pain which as you so correctly stated, “Simply studying the Bible and its commentaries did nothing to help me or the other victims in the community. I still feel betrayed by their (the Rabbinical leaders) lack of sympathy and action.”

And if I helped make you feel somewhat more loved in your last painful days on this Earth then I have some comfort.

Dave, I will miss you.

I loved you and I will miss you.

I will miss your courage and your courageousness.

Your insistence that silence breeds apathy and continues and encourages the cycle of pain and suffering was prophetically correct.

You suffered more than we realized; your pain was far greater than was known.

And ultimately you needed to escape from your pain in a way which leaves all of us knowing that we cannot exclaim, "Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it done” (Devarim 21:7).

Your blood is on our hands, we cannot exclaim “Our eyes did not see this crime!”

We saw it Dave and we ignored it.

We cannot communally declare, “Our hands did not shed this blood”, for Jewish hands did spill your blood.

I love you Dave and will always remember your words, “We can be brave and stand up for what we know is right. Together our voices can be louder than ever. I know that I alone cannot change the world, but together we can make a difference.”

Dave, you could not change the world alone.

However, together we will make a difference.

Good bye Dave; I know you are finally pain free.

I know the demons of the night can no longer touch you.

I know you need no longer worry about escaping.

Rest my dear friend, rest.

Rest in the knowledge that your death is not in vain; as many of us will continue to fight the fight and battle the battle of ignorance and indifference.

Rest my friend; your mission in this world has been completed.

It is now up to us to continue.

I love you Dave.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -"An Ode to His Majesty and His Holiness” (8/19/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday (I think- although the days and nights seems to blend together one into the other lately and I am no longer sure if it is Tuesday)

The 22nd of Menachem Av 5774 and August 19, 2014


An Ode to His Majesty and His Holiness


It is a long overdue.

Indeed, I am pained that it has taken me so long to finally pay homage and show my admiration to He who has captured the hearts of so many of my coreligionists.

And therefore, because of my tardiness in addressing this most important of subjects, I am embarrassed to finally do that which should have been done years ago.

However, as they say, ‘better late than never’; and therefore I am proud to present:

·       A Tribute to He Who has succeeded where all others have failed.

·       A homage to He who has successfully penetrated and infiltrated the lives and actions of all holy men and women.

·       A statement of reverence to He has accomplished a level of influence and obedience amongst out people not only with the tacit approval of the leading Rabbonim and lay leadership of even the most strict and insular of the Ultra-Orthodox world, but with their enthusiastic approval and participation.

·       His Majesty and His Sacredness has prospered and in many ways He has achieved His ultimate victory of our total subordination to His will.


Of course I am referring to He who goes by many names and He who causes grown men and women to shutter and act with alacrity and zeal just by the slightest indication of His request for our undivided attention.

He is the most holy and all powerful; the One and Only one who demands our immediate and total attention and who tolerates not even the slightest laziness in His service.

 His Majesty, His Holiness; He who retains a position both physically and emotionally by our hearts;

 He who demands of us the right and indeed obligates us to fulfill His every request irrespective of where we are or what we may be doing.

 He who is jealous and envious of any and all of those who compete for His total devotion, attention and demands of us His total financial backing.

Who is “He”?

He is, may His name be blessed forever and ever- His Holiness ….the “mobile phone” also known as “His Celestial Holiness The Cellular Phone”,  “Cell Phone”, “Hallowed Hand Phone”, or simply “The Phone”.

Indeed, He is our leader and He is our constant companion; he accompanies us even to the room where men pride themselves on their privacy.

Chassidic men carry “His Holiness” in their bosom next to their heart.

Litvishe Yidden place “His Hallowedness” next to their Tefillin in the morning.

And all of us never, ever, leave our abode, our office or Chas V’Shalom for even thinking such heresy, would never dare enter the car with “His Supremeness”.

There are those who consider the words of Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim (16:8) “I have placed the Lord before me constantly; because [He is] at my right hand, I will not falter;” to be prophetically indicative of “His Holiness the Phone”.

This is of course because so many of us can say without exaggeration and embellishment, “I place Him (the phone) before me constantly and He (the phone) is indeed my right hand!”

Who among us does not believe with complete belief, “because He is at my right hand (literally!) I will not falter”?

And therefore it is long overdue that I offer my feeble tribute and modest accolade to He who has succeeded where so many others failed.

The internet was battled and nothing short of war was waged to limit its influence.

The television was eradicated and eliminated from the homes of the holy ones.

However, nothing, indeed absolutely nothing has been able to limit or confine the influence of “His Holiness the Phone”.

Roshei Yeshiva proudly walk the streets with their prized possession in public view.

Pure and pristine Jewish mothers talk away on their prized and cherished ‘cells’ as they drive their eleven children in their three ton full-size Suburbans barreling down small two-way pedestrian lined city-streets at speeds which defy gravity.

And Jews of all types and stripes talk away and email away during Chazaras HaShas.

Lest one think that “His Holiness” has only had a detrimental effect on our community, think again.

Nothing has unified us as “His Holiness” the phone.

Chareidim and Secular, Dati and Anti-Dati, Litvishe and Chassidish, Black hat and no hat, knitted yarmulke and no yarmulke have all dropped their ideological differences to unite in their tribute, their loyalty and most importantly in their total and complete subordination and subjugation of their philosophical difference in honor of “His Holiness the Phone”.

White hats, black hats and no hats, we all join together in serving and paying sincere and heartfelt lip service to His Holiness the phone.

May his reign continue uninterrupted for many, many years to come and may the coming of our ultimate redeemer unite us totally in our commitment and in our loyalty to His ‘cell service’.

When Mashiach proudly arrives, he will undoubtedly be riding on a donkey and chatting on his iPhone as he call, texts, WhatsApp, and tweets us to announce His arrival.

May it be His will that my phone be operable to in Wi-Fi range as we await together His coming.


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ The Great Equalizer * (8/13/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 17th of Av 5774 and August 12, 2014


The Great Equalizer


Yesterday I had the privilege of accompanying someone to Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is the world’s largest and oldest dedicated cancer hospital. As of 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranks MSK as the #1 cancer hospital in the country. Wikipedia)

The hospital is world renowned and people from all over the globe travel to it for treatment.

When one arrives at the facility one sees and hears people from all over speaking in all of the “70 languages”.

There were languages heard which I never knew existed. Even Mordechai who knew all of the seventy languages would have been challenged at Sloan Kettering.

Each person is a “peckel (package) of problems” unto themselves.

Divisions between Palestinians and Israelis melt away as they wait together on the same bench to see the cancer expert who hopefully will offer up the cure to their debilitating condition.

Shiites and Sunnis, Satmars and Sefardim, Protestants and Pagans, Catholics and Confucianists, sinners and saints and atheists and Zoroastrianists sit together while sharing their problems and crying together in ways they would never have imagined if not for their infirmities.

At first glance it seems their maladies have caused them to be more malleable and their tragedies have motivated them to be tolerant and compassionate of others who just the other day were infidels worthy of being eradicated.

No one can claim as they sit in the waiting room of Sloan Kettering that this group or those individuals are being divinely smitten for their iniquities for alas, they themselves have been assailed by the very same illness!

And therefore they sit together, hoping, praying and sharing the common dream that they should be among those who emerge from the confines of the Cancer Center as survivors rather than statistics; counted among those who succumbed to the dreaded disease.

However, lest one think that this panacea of paradise is indeed as pristine and genuine as it appears, I am sorry- however, I must burst your bubble of perceived utopia.

The exterior illusion of togetherness is in truth a delusion; for in fact it is precisely the illness which is the catalyst for this temporary lull in the conflict.

When one is sick and infirmed, one has no time to devote to the doctrinal divisions which divide men. The cancer patients are all consumed with themselves and their health concerns which preclude them from investing depleted energies in theological disputes or national disagreements; all of their focus and their time must be devoted to their health and nothing else.

However, if and when they are successfully treated and recover from their malady, more often than not they will forget the conceptual cease fire which was observed while waiting to see the doctor at Sloan-Kettering and they will quickly resume their religious ravaging of their perceived adversary.

 Often their enmity has increased with even greater zeal and fanaticism as they are convinced that their second chance has been divinely granted them to continue the theological/national battle against their perceived disputant.

How unfortunate it is that we too as Jews often fail to learn the valuable lesson of the “Great Equalizer” from Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

While I was there it was quite obvious that the feelings togetherness, tribalism and affinity for each other were ever present.

Indeed, the organizations which were provide support and succor for the infirmed and their families never distinguish between hat color or wig preference.

However, unfortunately, the larger question to be asked is, ‘are we indeed better than the Sikhs and Shintos who sit together as non-combatants as they await their turn to see the doctor yet, are quick to resume their disputes once the crisis has passed?’

We are all quick to support each other and ignore factional differences when we are confined to the Cancer Center; however, ‘are up to the task of maintaining the same feelings of togetherness and unity when we stand healthy and well, ready and willing to expend our energy to ‘fix the world’?’

Are we as tolerant and compassionate to each other as we were in the waiting room at Sloan?

Or do we fall back to our old bad habits once we are free to devote time and energy to our own specific traditions?

What happened to respect and tolerance at that point?

The real test is not to act “Jewish” and familial at Sloan Kettering, the real test is when you shop on 13th Avenue or when you are on the line to check your luggage for your El Al flight.

Do you still maintain your familial love?

That my friend is the real question.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort’ -Rabbi Yosef Raksin Hy”D. (8/12/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 16th of Av 5774 and August 12, 2014


Rabbi Yosef Raksin Hy”D.


“On Saturday, Aug. 9 2014 at 9:00 in the morning, Rabbi Yosef Raksin, who had come down from Brooklyn, New York to meet with family, was on his way to temple to observe the Sabbath. While en route to temple, he was heinously gunned down,” quote from Criminal Investigations Division Chief Alfredo Ramirez of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

All of us have heard and mourned for Rabbi Raksin Z”l who was on his way to Shul on Shabbos morning, Shabbos Nachamu 5774 when he was killed in cold blood by two men who accosted him.

And we no doubt have heard and perhaps even speculated ourselves whether this crime was a botched robbery or a heinous hate crime and Rabbi Raksin was targeted for being a Jew.

I will not weigh in on this question as obviously my emotions have no relevance as to the facts of the case.

And until the perpetrators are apprehended and admit why they committed the murder, speculation serves no positive at all.

To those Orthodox Jews who seem to enjoy embracing the martyr mentality and insist without any forensic or circumstantial evidence that this was much more than a botched robbery and state with certainly that this was a ‘hate-crime’, I question their credibility.

Why the need to almost gleefully embrace the “everyone hates us” attitude before proven? What is to be gained by spreading unneeded and potentially dangerous anxiety and fear among Jewish communities across the country and even worldwide?

For all we know, the perpetrators may have seen a man adorned in holiday clothes, assumed he had a bulging wallet to match his nice wardrobe, were disappointed when he claimed he had not a penny on him and killed him in frustration. It is highly possible that the assailants never even realized their victim was Jewish.

Crowning Rabbi Raksin the title of a ‘Kadosh’, a Jew who dies because he was a Jew- when the facts fail to corroborate the claim is not doing Rabbi Raksin or anyone a service.

On the other hand, we certainly cannot be blind to the upsetting reality that anti-Semitism is on the rise world-over and perhaps indeed the murder was racially and religiously motivated and it should serve as a wake-up call for all Jewish communities as to the dangers which lurk in our midst.

However, whatever the real reason, one thing is clear; it is too early to jump to conclusions which will not necessarily help us.

To embrace martyrdom and cause people to live with perpetual fear as they walk to Shul on Shabbos morning is certainly not beneficial to anyone.

Similarly, to poo-poo the event as being happenstance and totally unrelated to the Jewish community can be Just as reckless and dangerous.

The facts are still not known; so the best course of action until the facts can be revealed is to adopt a “wait and see” approach. Be on guard, however, don’t be panicked and convinced that anti-Semites lurk behind every corner.

Let’s hope the murderers are apprehended soon and we can then decide as to what- if any new measures - should be implanted.

Until that time, we should be cautious without being panicked; vigilant without resorting to vigilantism.

However, one lesson which I believe we can implement immediately, even before the criminal report is completed is the following.

Rabbi Raksin -as I do every Shabbos morning and as thousands of us do every Shabbos- was walking to Shul without a care in the world before he was killed.

What was he thinking about as he walked to Shul that morning?

How did he say “Good Shabbos” to his wife and family as he left the house that morning?

Did he even say “Good Shabbos” to them?

Did he speak to his mother before Shabbos or did he assume he will catch up with her on Motzei Shabbos?

Did he ‘forget’ to say to the rabbi of the Shul on Friday evening how much he enjoyed the Dvar Torah that evening and figured he would just tell him in Shul on Shabbos morning?

Did he figure he would apologize today to the fellow whose seat he took on the night before?

And did he tell his children and grandchildren how much he loved them before he left for Shul?

What would he have done differently if he was told that this might be his last walk of his life?

What parting words would he have wanted to convey that morning?

Did he chide his children for being tardy?

What tone of voice did he employ?

So many questions and very few answers; however, one thing we can learn from Rabbi Raksin and implement it immediately.

Make the most of every second, after all, “If Not Now? Then When?”


Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ “I’ll Let You Go Now”* (8/11/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 15th of Av 5774 and August 11, 2014


“I’ll Let You Go Now”


The other day I met a guy on the street in front of the Shul.

I wasn’t really in the schmoozing mood; however, he insisted on telling me this long winded, complicated and somewhat convoluted story about how he and his mother in law don’t get along and how he wished they would, however…..

The story went on and on; seemingly without any ending or even a beginning for that matter.

Finally, after what seemed to me to be at least one hour, he said, “So Rabbi, how are you doing?”

I was happy he finally asked about me instead of just jabbering about himself.

However, faster than I could say “Baruch Hashem” he cut me off in mid ‘Baruch’ and said, “Look  rabbi, I know you are busy and I’m sure you have a million things to do so “I will let you go now”.

I looked at him and wanted to say:

 “Are you for real?

 You spend an hour “hocking my chinak” about your mother-in-law and your brother-in-law and your sister-in-law and you included everyone’s birthday and Yahrtzeit in your saga and I say one work and suddenly you are ‘letting me go’?

Look, why can’t you tell the truth?

You are not interested in what I have to say, and now that you said your piece you are ready to go.

 So please don’t pander to me by making believe you are ending the conversation for my benefit. You have no interest in hearing my ‘stuff’ and that’s the truth.

 Don’t make yourself a Tzaddik by claiming you are doing me a favor by ‘letting me go’ now!”

However, the question is why do we all do that?

If we want to end a conversation, why can’t we say, “Excuse me, however, I did not realize the time and I have to be somewhere now?”

Why do we too often insist on creating the false impression that we are really interested in continuing the conversation; it’s just that we are doing the other person a favor by ‘letting them go’?

I’ll tell you why!

Because we are truthfully not at peace with ourselves for ending the conversation when we feel the other person has what to say.

So to cover up for our own rudeness, we create the illusion that we doing the other person a favor by concluding the conversation while in truth it is we who are ending it.

The next time someone tells me “I’ll bet you have to go now- so I’ll let you go”- I am going to answer, “No not at all. In fact I have all the time in the world. Let’s sit down and have a drink of water for I am in no rush at all and I have a lot to fill you in about”.

How will the person react then?

I have a hunch it will not be the most pleasant of responses.

Bottom line: if you want to end the conversation, say so; but don’t pin the blame on your listener.

You never know, he may be a reader of the Short Vort and you will have a long wait until your conversation is concluded.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ You Never Know * (8/7/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 11th of Av 5774 and August 7, 2014


You Never Know


It was the Sunday before the start of “The Three Weeks”.

I have two weddings, one in New Jersey and one in Brooklyn.

The Chuppahs are an hour apart.

 Although the two locations are only 32 miles apart, predicting New York traffic can be like predicting when the rabbi’s Drosha will end on Shabbos morning; more often than not, it goes on and on, however, on rare miraculous occasions it goes quick and to the point.

I arrive at the first wedding and fortunately I am able to speak to both the Chassan and the Kallah privately before I rush out to make Chasunah number two.

I arrive in Brooklyn with even time to have a drink of water before filling out the Kesubah.

I attempt to explain to the Chassan the seriousness of the obligations he is accepting upon himself; unfortunately, the significance of the moment can often be compromised by the photographer who wields more influence than anyone else at the Chasunah.

Woe to that unfortunate individual who takes his life in his hands as he dares pass between the camera and its intended target.

Finally the Kesubah is completed and we are off to the Chupah.

I have a few minutes to gather my thoughts in my attempt to communicate something meaningful and personal to the Chassan and Kallah under the Chupah.

As is usually the case I know one side better than the other.

I would like to have something ‘real’ to say about the Chassan but alas I only met him once.

My eyes are tightly closed as I am deep in concentration.

 Suddenly I hear a voice, “Can I move in please?”

I look up and I see standing by my seat a well-dressed man asking me if he can sit down.

I wonder to myself, “Why does this man need to sit next to me? There are so many empty seats in the row behind me? Does he have to push in here?”

Of course I keep my thoughts to myself and stand up and allow him to sit down.

He sits down and I go back to my thoughts when suddenly the man asks me, “Are you here from the Choson’s side or the Kallah’s side?”

“Oy”, I think, “not only does this guy have to sit next to me with fifty empty seats - now he has to chit-chat with me about whose side I am from?”

I don’t bother telling him that I am Mesader Kiddushin and instead I just mumble, “Well, sort of both.” He then says, “Me too, I am also here for both.”

He then takes a deep breath and says, “I was in the hospital for four months, and every single Shabbos, no matter what the weather; even in the snow and ice, the Chassan and the Kallah visited me in the hospital. They would stay every Shabbos until after Havdalah and you know what? They really made me happy. Do you know what it is to spend 17 Shabboses alone in a hospital?”

I look at this man and suddenly realize just what amazingly hashgacha protis it is that he decided to sit next to me!

As I hear my name being called as Mesader Kiddushin, I quickly get permission from my new found friend and I confidentially approach the Chupah fortified with exactly the ‘right’ words to convey to the Chosson and the Kallah.

When I sheepishly return to my seat, I once again marvel at how He who orchestrates all, is constantly reminding me that as much as I think I do for others, and as much as I imagine that others need me, it is they who in reality are doing more for me and it is I who really needs them.


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ




The Short Vort- “ Ahuva’s Blanket * (8/3/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 7th of Av 5774 and August 3, 2014


Ahuva’s Blanket


There are many ways to communicate with each other in the modern world.

Much attention has been given lately to what’s referred to as “social media”.

 This new method of communication has been criticized by some, while being embraced and touted by others.

I will not add my two cents to the debate and instead comment on another method of communication which has become accepted by virtually everyone as a necessary form of communication, namely the telephone.

The telephone which was first patented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell derives its name from two Greek words; ‘tele’which means distant and ‘phone’ which means voice.

Therefore the word telephone actually means ‘the distant voice’ as it facilitates our communication with another person who is distant from where we are standing.

There was a time I can still recall when the telephone rang everything and everyone in the house came to a standstill. The ‘holy phone’ was ringing and woe to the person who dared not jump to respond when the bell began to ring.

However, as I aged and my time became less and less up to my discretion as to how it should be utilized, the phone lost its luster and its desirability and became more of a nuisance than a necessity and burden as opposed to a bonanza.

Indeed, I began to despise its sound and it interrupting ability; as it seemingly always rang at precisely the wrong time.

However, alas, such is the life of the rabbi and I recall that which has been stated by rabbis greater than I: “There is no greater fury than that of a congregant who feels scorned”; and therefore the phone must be answered and the phone must be given its proper attention.

However, who could have imagined that it would be my two year granddaughter Ahuva who would teach me the real meaning of the phone.

My son Tuvia called me to inform me that Ahuva had lost her ‘blankie’.

I innocently asked, “What is a blankie?”

My son patiently explained to me that my granddaughter has a brown and pink blanket since she was born and she has never gone to sleep without it.

When they were out one day in Yerushalayim the blanket suddenly went missing.

At first I thought to myself, “What’s the big fuss over a silly blanket? So get another one and get on with your life”. However, when I heard that my son was up with her until three in the morning consoling her, I began to regret my initial reaction.

And then came the phone call; my granddaughter called and with the verbiage which only a two year could muster she said, “Zaidy, I am so sad. I lost my blankie; I am so sad.”

At that moment I realized that what does it matter if the blanket is replaceable?

In her outlook and with her mindset the loss of the blanket was painful and what she needed from her Zaidy was not rationality or perspective, what she needed was warmth and compassion.

She needed her Zaidy to commiserate with her.

She wasn’t asking for my advice, she was seeking my compassion.

As if in an epiphany, I suddenly realized the importance of the ‘distant voice’ of the telephone.

The telephone facilitated connection and potential empathy between two distant parties.

It allowed my granddaughter and me to connect and for her to feel consoled by her old Zaidy even though I was 6000 miles away.

The phone is not a vehicle for interruption and disturbance; it can facilitate closeness and a sense of compassion from one far away person to another.

That night the phone rang at home and as usual I answered it.

When my wife saw that I was tired after a long day and now I had an additional long phone call, she asked me, “Was that phone call so important that you had to take it now? Could it not have waited till tomorrow?”

After speaking to Ahuva about her ‘blankie’ I answered, “It depends who you ask. If you ask me, “Was it important to me?” The answer is “Not really”.

However, if you ask the caller they would say, “Wow that phone call to the rabbi was very urgent!”

 To the caller, that phone call gave them the solace they needed.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ Inverted Compassion* (7/31/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 5th of Av 5774 and August 1st 2014


Inverted Compassion


I received a phone call today.

 The caller asked me if they should travel to Israel during this time of conflict and warfare.

 I was somewhat unsure as to what the question is; after all, there were probably more people killed in traffic accidents in New York City in the last month than civilians who were killed directly from the rockets from Gaza.

Obviously if one does not want to go, they don’t have to; however, I was unsure as to what was really behind the question.

The caller then clarified the reason for the call.

They had spoken to their local Rav (which of course is what one should always do) and asked advice on the matter.

Somewhat surprisingly their Rav said that they should not go as although: “Maran HaGaon HaRav Aaron Yehuda Leib Shteinman Shlita has not come out saying ‘bein hazemanim’ should be canceled, the Gadol HaDor is quoted saying that tiyulim (trips)  or hanging around on streets is a Chillul Hashem. When asked about bein hazemanim the Rav did not state definitively but it is quite clear from his words this is not a time for taking trips or interrupting one’s limud. He spoke of the aveira of bittul Torah and the need for continued limud at this time.”

Based on the above statement, their Rav said, if they would go on vacation in Eretz Yisroel they would be in violation of Rav Shteinman’s ‘Daas Torah’ as he clearly stated: “this is not a time for taking trips”;  and therefore they should not go.

In my humble opinion one of the following three things occurred.

1.       Either the caller misunderstood their Rav (seemingly unlikely)

2.       Either the Rav misunderstood Rav Shteinman’s words (perhaps)

3.       The Rav misunderstood ‘who’ was asking and ‘what’ they were asking. (most likely)


Rav Shteinman clearly was speaking specifically to Yeshiva Bochurim and Kollel men.

 Meaning, as Rav Shteinman stated “that tiyulim (trips)  or hanging around on streets is a Chillul Hashem”!

What he clearly meant was that if you are of military age and you contend that your Torah is as important for the security of the nation as the fighting of the soldiers, well then how can you stop learning when the soldiers are still fighting???

Obviously as the battle continues to rage and soldiers are going with minimal sleep and putting their lives on the line every minute of their day; it follows that those who contend that they are ‘also in battle’ must adopt a battle stance and cancel their vacation plans and stay put at their Shtender.

Especially at this time when every other young man cannot go on a trip or to a park, so too the yeshiva man should also cancel his trips and his vacation plans.

This is obviously what the Gadol HaDor meant.

However, for you the average American, of course and for sure you should go to Israel.

And you should go touring and lots of it!

Is it better that you sit in your palatial summer home in the Catskills with the air conditioning at full blast and with a refrigerator filled with goodies and cookies and cakes?

Is it better to sit in America spending your hard earned dollars here when you could be helping the Israeli tourist industry which has been crippled by the fighting?

If you have the time and the money, go to Israel.

Support the economy and the restaurants.

Go to a hospital to visit wounded soldiers.

Go to a shiva home and console the family of a soldier who will never be coming home.

Now more than ever our brethren in Israel must feel that we are with them!

Rav Shteinman was not talking to your American family who anyway will be on vacation; he was talking to the bochurim and Kollel men who must feel sensitive to their peer group who are in Gaza.

However, for us, if you can do it, do not hesitate; go for it!

You will never regret it.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi,  Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort- “ “I am with him in distress” (Tehillim 91:15)* (7/31/14)


The Short Vort


Good Morning!



Today is Thursday the 4th of Av 5774 and July 31, 2014



“I am with him in distress” (Tehillim 91:15)


Every day the New York Times chooses one quote from among the thousands of quotes which appear daily in their newspaper and designate it as “The Quotation of the Day”.

Ostensibly, this quote is a poignant and meaningful quote which succeeds in conveying a feeling or message which is critical for all to know and captures accurately a universal truism.

On Tuesday, the “Quotation of the Day” was from a Jew living in Israel near the Gaza border.


“It’s not a pleasant thought that you sit one day on the patio drinking coffee with your wife and a bunch of terrorists will rise from the ground.”

EYAL BRANDEIS, a political scientist who lives on Kibbutz Sufa in Israel, a mile from where 13 militants emerged from a tunnel at dawn July 17.


Why is this quote so critical that I wholeheartedly applaud the Times as choosing as the “Quotation of the Day”?

The answer is because this quote conveys the feeling that all of us should be feeling as best we can during these days of pain and conflict in Israel.

The quote by Eyal Brandeis conveys succinctly and accurately the feelings of ‘fear of the unknown’ which the underground tunnels have caused the Jews in the vicinity of Gaza to live with.

Imagine you are at home and without warning and without any indication of anything awry, the ground in front of you suddenly opens up and out of the bowels of the Earth emerge human forms who are acting more in sync with predatory carnivorous animals than human beings.

They emerge knowing and almost longing to die for their evil and wicked and religiously motivated cause. Their entire goal is to kill, maim, kidnap and wreak havoc and destruction on the lives of innocent men, women and children all in the name of their corrupted version of a ‘compassionate god”.

There are no warning shots and there is no leaflet informing you of the impending danger.

Indeed, the element of surprise on the innocent non-combative civilian population is crucial for their success.

The New York Times has correctly and accurately conveyed through this quote the real danger which our brethren in Israel face daily.

However, it’s not enough to just applaud the New York Times for getting it right (for once); you have to realize that this quote is a message for you and for me.

The passuk says that Hashem is with us in all of our pain and ‘tzaros’.

As the passuk says in Tehillim: “I am with him in distress” (Tehillim 91:15); the word ‘him’ refers to the Jewish people as a whole.

Hashem is in pain when we are in pain; Hashem is hurting when we are hurting.

We are commanded to be G-dly: Imitatio Dei – ‘imitate Hashem’.

As the Gemara says: "As He is merciful, so should you be merciful"; so too as He feels the pain of His people when they are threatened, we too must and should feel the pain of ‘our’ people.

Imagine for a moment that you are Eyal Brandeis and as you are drinking your morning cup of coffee you are filled with the dread and the trepidation that some vicious and compassionless religious, ‘god-motivated’ murderer is emerging from the ground with the singular purpose of killing you and your children, indeed,  the more the better.

How would you feel?

How would you cope?

I am not saying we will (Thank Hashem) ever truly be able to feel what they feel; however, at the very least, make an effort to feel their pain and their feeling of dread.

If “I am with him in distress”-is a G-dly concept, then certainly it must be a Jewish human concept that we must adopt.

Feel their pain when you drink your coffee today.

Maybe stop a minute between sips and be thankful for the soldiers who are giving their lives that you and I can be safe and to the true Commander in Chief who has allowed us to have soldiers to protect us.



“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ



The Short Vort- “To Live and to Die* (7/29/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 2nd of Av 5774 and July 29, 2014


To Live and to Die


Last night I had the privilege of attending an event at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan sponsored by Project Witness (

The event which commemorated the 70th anniversary of the destruction of Hungarian Jewry was very moving and meaningful.

A film was premiered which sadly documented the steps which led to the destruction of Hungarian Jewry and focused on the lives of those too few survivors who rebuilt their lives after the war.

Chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau Shlita was the keynote speaker and as holocaust survivor and a former inmate at the infamous Buchenwald Concentration Camp he was certainly amply qualified both as a Rav and as a survivor to speak about the horrors of the Holocaust.

He recalled how almost three decades ago when The March of the Living* was established (*the program was established in 1988 and takes place annually for two weeks around April and May, immediately following Passover. Marchers come from countries as diverse as Estonia, New Zealand, Panama, and Turkey. On Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom HaShoah), thousands of participants march silently from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp complex built during World War II. Wikipedia) the question was raised as to what flag(s) the marchers should carry.

Most of the steering committee felt the most obvious answer was that each delegation should fly their particular country’s flag.

The Americans would carry the “Stars and Stripes”, the Brits would carry the “Union Jack” and the German delegation would fly the flag of Germany; a tricolor flag displaying the national colors of Germany: black, red, and gold. The flag was first adopted as the national flag of modern Germany in 1919, during the Weimar Republic.

However, Rav Lau, who was part of the committee rose and stated emphatically and compellingly, “No! The marchers will not fly the flags of their respective countries. They are representing the martyrs of the Holocaust and those holy people were not killed because they were Austrians, Poles or Germans; they were killed only because they were Jews! And therefore we who represent their surviving relatives will carry with pride the only flag in the world which represents the Jew and only the Jew; and that flag is the flag of the Medinat Yisrael- the State of Israel! Everyone will carry one and only one flag and that is the one emblazoned with the Star of David – the Magen David; The Israeli Flag!”

Rav Lau had seen the horrors of the holocaust on the flesh of his parents and siblings. He saw the apathy of the world and therefore, he and all of his children and all of his grandchildren live in only one country and that is the Jewish State of Israel.

I thought about his comments this morning as once again when I awoke I was saddened to learn that more of our precious and holy soldiers were killed in the latest conflict.

Have you ever seen a funeral of an Israeli soldier?

The coffin is draped in an Israeli flag.

Before I heard Rabbi Lau last night, I used to think, “Just like the American army drapes its coffins of its soldiers in the American flag, Israel does the same.”

However, after hearing his speech I realized it is not the same at all.

When an Israeli soldier makes the ultimate sacrifice, he is not just giving his life for his ‘home country’; no, he is sacrificing his life for ALL Jews ALL over the world.

His Jewish flag draped coffin is representative of all Jews, all over the world.

He died not just defending the county of his citizenship; he died defending world Jewry from all of its enemies.

As Rav Lau pointed out last night: “We are not pursued and hated and killed because we are Americans or Poles or even because we are Israelis; we are hated and killed and pursued because we are Jews”.

Therefore, when you see an Israeli Flag draped coffin realize and know that that flag is representative of every Jew in the world, including you and I.

It makes no difference if you are a Zionist or an Agudist, a Satmarer or a Dati Leumi; a Chareidi or a Chiloni; the flag which bears the Magen David is the flag which represents the Jewish people.

As Rav Lau concluded his remarks he bemoaned the fact that in the holocaust the Jews were forced to learn the same painful lesson which has been taught to us too often in our long and painful history. That lesson is, “we are very adept at knowing how to die together. When Chassid, secular, religious or non-religious Jews are faced with death, they go together without dispute or fractionalization to their final journey”.

And then Rav Lau took a long breath and said the words which sent shockwaves through the hearts of every Jew in the room:

“If only we were able to learn to live together as well as we have learnt to die together imagine just how much better this world would be.”


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ The Peaceful Man* (7/28/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 1st of Av 5774 and July 28, 2014


The Peaceful Man


Today is the Yahrtzeit of Aharon HaKohen, his is the only Yahrtzeit mentioned explicitly in the Torah; indeed, we mentioned it in this past week’s laining of Parshas Maasei.

Aharon HaKohen is described as an “Oheiv Shalom V’Rodef Shalom”- he loved peace and pursed peace.

What does it mean to ‘love peace and pursue” peace?

We all claim to be peaceful people, however, how many of us, really ‘love peace-and pursue peace’?

Meaning, when you argue with your spouse, do you do your best to get in the ‘last word’?

If you do, then you are not being a ‘pursuer of peace’.

A great person once told me a good tip to help with Shalom Bayis (household peace) is to always allow your spouse to get in the ‘last word’.

How often does that ‘last word’ which is said with rage and pain and with intention to hurt cause an escalation of the fight which could have been avoided?

Once I wrote a Short Vort which some felt was correct and others did not.

After I wrote it I received a call from one of the local Jewish radio stations do come on the show and ‘discuss’ (read: stir the pot) it further.

I thought about it a little and then I thought of Aharon HaKohen. I concluded that what I said was said and that the matter was now finished and I declined the invitation.

I have thought about Aharon Ha Kohen often in my life and although I do not come to his ‘shoestrings’ in success of being a pursuer of peace, nevertheless, I try.

Besides the fact that his name and mine are similar; we also share a common birthday.

Because besides being the Yahrtziet of Aharon it is also his birthday as it is mine.

Today I am going to try to be a little bit more peaceful and engage in the trait of Shalom just a little more.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort- “ How Long Do I Have to Wait?* (7/25/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 27th of Tammuz 5774 and July 25, 2014


How Long Do I Have to Wait?


One of the best parts of being a Shul Rabbi (after writing the Short Vort that is) - is the chance to meet with the little people of the kehilla.

When children approach me for help with their Mishnayos homework or to learn a difficult piece of Gemara, there is no joy greater than that.

Moishele Schreiber (name changed) was a very bright boy at just 7 years old. He was always in Shul looking intently into the siddur. I never noticed his father and soon realized that Sarah Schreiber was a single mom.

One day Mrs. Schreiber approached me and asked if I could meet with Moishele once a week to learn and ‘schmooze’ with him.

She said she told Moishele that he can ask the rabbi any question and then she added, “I told Moishele that the rabbis knows ‘all’ the answers.”

I was a little uneasy about my being the ‘answer man’, however, I readily agreed to learn with him and we began to review Sefer Bereishis.

It was on the second week that I first noticed something different about Moishele.

 There was a slight sadness which seemed to always envelop Moishele even when everything seemed to be going fine.

One week I decided to reward him and ask him if he would he like to go with me to the Pizza store.

When we arrived and I told him he could order whatever he wanted. 

“I really want French Fries, however, usually my Mom doesn’t let.”

I said to Moishele, “Let me try a little rabbinic pressure.” And after calling Mrs. Schreiber and getting the okay, we sat together laughing and giggling as we took turns dipping our French Fries into the mound of ketchup we created out of the small ketchup packets.

However, even as we laughed there was still that ever present sadness which Moishele never seemed to be able to shake.

I had once asked Mrs. Schreiber about it, and she said, “Well you know his father just disappeared on him one day. When Moishele was three he took Moishele aside for about three minutes, kissed him good bye and left his life forever. He lives on the West Coast and we have had no contact with him for almost four years now.”

I asked her if Moishele ever mentions his father. “Oh he used to for about a year or so. However, eventually, anytime he mentioned him I would change the subject and I guess by now he forgot about his father.”

I thought about that conversation as I sat with Moishele in the Pizza store.

“Moishele”, I said, “Today you can ask me anything you want, whatever it is.”

“Really- I can ask you any question I want? My mother told me I could ask the rabbi any question and you would always have the right answer?”

Slowly Moishele looked up at me and with his wide and sad blue eyes asked, “My Abba said to me on the day he left that he would be gone for just one month and then he would be right back.

 I told him I would be very sad without him. My father said to me, “Moishele, I promise you, it will only be one month and then you no longer have to be sad as I will be back in your life.”

 Rabbi, now I want to ask you something which I have always been afraid to ask my mother.”

“What is that Mosihele?”

“When is one month going to be over? If feels so long and I really miss my father; when will one month be over?”

I looked at Moishele as tears rolled down my cheeks.

“Moishele”, I stammered, “there are some questions that even the rabbi has no answers for.”


“If Not Now- Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “Special Edition-*The Battle of the Bulge (7/24/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Special Edition

Friday 27th of Tammuz 5774 and July 25th, 2014


The Battle of the Bulge


Dear Shorty Vorty,

I feel I can confide in you because you have known me for so long.

 We have been communicating via email for over ten years now and we have developed a close enough relationship that I feel I can open up and confide in you.

Thank you for allowing to express my most confidential and sensitive feelings with you.

Believe me; this is hard for me so I appreciate your patience and your understanding.

As we both know for the last 45 years or so I have been fighting ‘the battle of the bulge’.

If we add up all of my losses over the years it probably comes to hundreds of pounds.

 Unfortunately when compared with the gains-too often the gains outweigh the losses.

Over the last few years I had made great strides in the battle.

Indeed, I had succeeded in losing over 100 pounds.

However, to my chagrin and my huge embarrassment, the last six months have seen a reversal of my fortunes as the bulge has re-grown and made significant gains.

The reasons for the gains are not germane to this letter.

However, the reality is that I know it and you know it and I know that you know it: I am no longer ‘Mr. Skinny’.

It bothers me and causes me much pain and humiliation.

However, it is the truth and it is something I have to live with and struggle with for now.

However, can I ask of you just one favor?

When you see me can you please not tell me, “What happened to you? How did you gain so much weight?”

Do you really think I don’t know?

Do you think my wife is so in awe of me that she has not made me aware of the fact?

Reminding me that “You were so good for so long; why did you blow it?” does not give me the warm and fuzzies.

I know I have gained weight and therefore when you see me and you say, “Hey, looks like you have gained weight”, please forgive me if I do not respond by saying, “Oh really? I had no idea! I am so happy you told me. Do you know that without you I never would have known and I just would have eventually exploded; so thank you so much for telling me.”

Yes, it is a fact, and it pains me more than it pains you and I know it is not good and it is not healthy and that I was good for so long and, and, and…..

However, you reminding me about it is rubbing salt into my already wounded body.

Yes, I have a problem.

 I have had this struggle for over four decades and probably (G-d willing?) will have it for another four decades.

I struggle with it every day of my life and every minute of every day.

However, if I could ask of you just one small favor; please, please do not pain me with lines such as, “Wow- someone is eating well lately” (which is not even true); or, “I guess you need some new clothes these days”.

If you think you are being funny, you are wrong; rather, your words hurt and they hurt a lot!

So if you want to cause me pain just come right over and say, “Hey you are fat!”

However, if you want to be nice and somewhat civil, just say hello and don’t worry about not informing me of my growing girth. By your bulging eyes I can tell that you are conveying to me the message that I am losing the Battle of My Bulge.”

So let’s just be clear about it and out in the open.

I know it; you know it; and now I know that you know it: I need to lose weight!

Now that we got that out of the way, we can move on to better and ‘smaller’ things.  

Thank you for your consideration and stay well and healthy.


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ “In the Merit of the Righteous Women the Jewish People Were Redeemed”* (

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 26th of Tammuz 5774 and July 24, 2014


“In the Merit of the Righteous Women the Jewish People Were Redeemed”*

*(Yalkut Shimoni Shir HaShirim: 993)


I met my good friend Hymie Gluck from the Bagel Store yesterday. Hymie is a warm and friendly person who I (and many others) like and admire very much. He always has a good Vort or story to relate to me any time he sees me.

Yesterday was no exception as he related to an incident which brought tears to my eyes.

Hymie lives in Brooklyn and commutes daily to Passaic. He is very close to Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Rav of Agudath Israel of Madison and often will relate to me Torah thoughts in his name.

However, yesterday’s comments demand dissemination.

Rav Reisman, who is in Israel at the present, related the following to his flock via email.

Word reached the Arzei HaBira neighborhood in Jerusalem that many of the soldiers who man the Iron Dome defense system have been relegated to consuming army rations during these trying days of war, and are craving for something else.

Perhaps because they are attached to their post and can never leave- as who knows when the enemy will choose to fire-, they are especially dismayed by not having a home cooked meal in over two weeks.

The word reached the Arzei HaBira neighborhood where Rav Reisman is staying and suddenly as if automatically and without prompting, a group of holy women spread the word that Jewish boys are in need of home cooked real Jewish food.

These holy women, the majority of them are Kollel wives who have sacrificed the comforts of America in order to facilitate and assist their husbands Torah learning, sprang into action.

Ignoring the fact that all of them live on tight Kollel budgets, which often means happily giving up eating chicken or meat daily for the sake of a spiritual life of Torah, they took their chickens which perhaps were being saved for Shabbos and began to cook for Jewish boys.

They spared no effort and no food and no expense to supply the culinary needs of the Jewish boys at the front.

Many of the women used a rare piece of meat which was being saved for a special occasion or they used that night’s chicken -which was to be dinner for the family and they substituted tuna fish for their family’s dinner-to cook for the soldiers.  

There was no talk of whether army service should be mandatory or not.

 There was no question if these boys are religious or not; there was only one concern, a Jewish boy is hungry and a Yiddishe Momma responds to the call of hunger.

In a matter of minutes, hot, fresh, home cooked meals, complete with fresh bread and cakes were carefully cooked and baked and wrapped with the love which only a Jewish mother can give- were ready to be  delivered.

Soon Yeshiva bochurim offered their services and personally drove the fresh food to the south of the country into the waiting hands of the hungry soldiers.

No one cared if these boys were Chareidi or Dati or secular; there was only one concern, these boys were hungry Jewish boys who are serving the Klal.

And as in the times pf Mitzrayim, it was the righteous women of the generation who showed us the way and who once again taught us that a Jewish child needs his Jewish mother and whatever life style he has chosen, he is always our son.

The Nashim Tzadkanios (the righteous women) of Arzei HaBira have once again showed us the path of redemption.

They sacrificed their meager rations -which they are already compromising on to support their husband’s learning-, for the sake of soldiers of the IDF.

Their families would manage that evening on tuna.

I can just visualize the conversation which took place that evening in homes all across Arzei HaBira.

The father returns home with a smile after a tiring and productive day in the Mir Yeshiva. He sits down at the table surrounded by his children and wife and all are surprised as his wife places a plate of tuna and some cut vegetables out for dinner.

The husband although surprised remains quiet and does nothing which could embarrass his wife.

However, one the little children asks, “Mommy, how come there is no chicken tonight for dinner?”

The mother responds, “Sheifela, there is chicken for dinner tonight. It is being eaten by the soldiers who are down south who together and in tandem with Tatty’s Torah- protect us from our enemies. Tonight, the soldiers are eating our chicken and we eat tuna.

The husband who has no idea that his wife has done this wonderful mitzvah is full of pride and admiration for his “Aishes Chayil”.

He looks up at his children and proudly proclaims, “Kinderlach, you should know that the tuna we are eating tonight is like the finest meat from the finest Korban. For by us eating the tuna, we have allowed Jewish soldiers to enjoy a home cooked meal from our Mommy which reminds them that although we do our part in the ‘war effort’ through Torah and Mitzvohs; we have not forgotten them who do their part on the front lines.

 Tonight we are one people.

You must know my children, that your mother’s chicken which was prepared with love and sent to our sons on the front lines is considered in Hashem’s like the ketores (the sweet smelling incense) of the Beis HaMikdash. 

Kinderlach, I am enjoying this tuna more than any steak in the world, for I know it was brought about by the Chesed and kindness and caring of your mother for others.”


“Mi K’amcha Yisroel”- Hashem- who is like your people?”


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ The Most Powerful Shabbos Teshuva Drosha ever given. * (7/22/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 24th of Tammuz 5774 and July 22, 2014


The Most Powerful Shabbos Teshuva Drosha ever given.


Today is the Yahrtzeit of the only person to be ‘officially’ given the title of “Chief Rabbi of New York”.

Rabbi Yakov Yosef was born in Krozhe, a province of Kovno; he studied in the Nevyozer Kloiz under Rabbi Yisrael Salanter and in the Volozhin yeshiva under the Netziv. In Volozhin, he was known as "Rav Yaakov Charif" (Rabbi Jacob Sharp) because of his sharp mind. Rav Yakov Yosef was born in 1840 and died July 28, 1902; he served as chief rabbi of New York City’s Association of American Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, a federation of Eastern European Jewish synagogues. (Wikipedia)

His tenure as Chief Rabbi was short lived as although many congregations united to hire him, not all of the congregations were united behind him.

Secondly, he was never supported by the anti-religious Jews who lived on the Lower East Side and ultimately his Chief Rabbinate collapsed and soon afterward he suffered a stroke and spent the last years of his life bedridden and impoverished.

He even had no rest at his own funeral as a group of anti-Semitic iron workers pelted the funeral cortege with scrap metal and when the then Irish-anti- Semitic police were called they beat the mourners.

The melee was so intense that for a while his coffin was dropped and left in the street as the mourners ran for cover.

Rav Yakov Yosef was finally buried at the Union Field Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens since they offered his wife a lucrative financial settlement for the privilege of having the Chief Rabbi of New York in their cemetery.

Rav Yakov Yosef came to New York to escape the crushing poverty of Europe; instead he suffered more poverty in New York.

He assumed he would be taking on a wonderful rabbinical positon with the accouterments of honor and prestige as well.

He thought he would create a centralized rabbinate in New York and put an end to the ‘every man for himself’ and schismatic approach to organized Jewish life which was rampant.

However, his positon just added fuel to the fire of Machlokes as rival congregations appointed two additional ‘Chief Rabbis’.

Perhaps because of the all the abuse and humiliation he suffered (as opposed to ‘in spite of’) his Yahrtzeit is remembered by many thousands of Jews who will trek to Union Field Cemetery today to honor the man whom his contemporaries failed to honor.

He was an honest and sincere and esteemed Talmid Chochom.

After he suffered his stroke, he made one final attempt to present a Shabbos Teshuva Drosha in Shul.

He was carried to the Shul and placed on the Bima.

He began by saying, “The Rambam says in Hilchos Teshuva…. “(A long uncomfortable pause followed); he began again, “The Rambam says in Hilchos Teshuva…”- however, once again his mind went blank and he could not continue.

He then began to cry and as he cried he wailed, “Friends, see what can happen to a mentsch? See what a man can be reduced to in this world?”

His attendants gently carried their crying rabbi out of the Shul as Rav Yakov Yosef just kept saying amidst the tears, “Woe to me; see what a man can come to in this world?”

Those who were present recall that is was the most powerful Shabbos Teshuva Drosha they had ever heard,


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Rabbi Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort- “ The Sadness of Life* (7/21/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 23rd of Tammuz 5774 and July 21, 2014


The Sadness of Life


Over the last few days we have been informed of the loss of 25 Jewish soldiers as Israel continues its ground offensive again the evil Hamas.

It is important that we realize that there is indeed evil in this world and that people make choices to be either good or evil.

Hamas has chosen to be evil and therefore Israel is correct in attempting to eliminate this evil from this world.

However, today we focus on the 25 young lives that were lost defending and protecting other Jews from rocket attacks.

As we write these words, there are 25 families who will never hug their son, husband, father, or brother again.

The dreams and the plans these 25 soldiers had for their lives have evaporated instantly as they were killed in the prime of their lives.

Of course we know that Hashem is the ultimate Shomer Yisroel (the protector of Israel); however, his human agents are the brave and courageous soldiers of the IDF who loyally and sincerely carry out Hashem’s directives in the Holy Land.

When you go to the doctor and he heals you, although we know that Hashem is the true Ropheh (healer); however, it is only civil, correct and indeed mandatory to give thanks to the Shaliach (the agent) of Hashem, in this case the doctor, in tandem with thanking the M’Shalaiach (the sender) – meaning Hashem.

So too, while we thank Hashem for protecting His people, let us not forget to thank His messengers- the holy soldiers of His army who are protecting His people.

So too, we must feel the pain of the families who have lost their loved ones.

We have to feel their loss and we have to empathize with their loss.

Perhaps we can even in some small way identify with their pain by reducing our unnecessary daily pleasures.

Perhaps we can say one extra chapter Tehillim today for them.

You can decide what and in which way you can empathize with the families of the soldiers.

However, just feeling their pain and recognizing their pain, is something which is needed and important.

Is there anyone reading these words who has never walked the streets of Jerusalem?

Is there anyone out there who has never been in Bnei Brak?

The next time you find yourself in Yerushalayim (which hopefully will be soon), and you see an Israeli soldier, go over and tell him, “thank you”.

By doing so you are also thanking Hashem as the Shaliach represents the M’Shalaiach- meaning, the agent represents the cooperation and the CEO is Hashem.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “Why is This July 15th different from all others? * (7/15/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 17th day of Tammuz 5774 and July 15, 2014


Why is This July 15th different from all others?


As I was preparing for today’s fast day- Shiva Asar B’Tammuz (17th of Tammuz) - I recalled the horrific tragedies which befell our people on this day.

Most of us are familiar with the Mishna in Taanis which states:

 “Five major catastrophes occurred in Jewish history on the 17th of Tammuz: (1) Moses broke the tablets at Mount Sinai, in response to the building of the Golden Calf. (2) The daily offerings in the First Temple were suspended during the siege of Jerusalem in the 5th century BCE. (3) Jerusalem’s walls were breached, prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. (4) Prior to the Great Revolt, the Roman general Apostamos burned a Torah scroll—setting a precedent for the horrific burning of Jewish books throughout the centuries. (5) An idolatrous image was placed in the Holy Temple—a brazen act of blasphemy and desecration.” (Quoted from

However, in my historical research I came across an additional and more recent tragedy which not only happened today on the 17th day of Tammuz it also happened on the 15th of July- in the year 1099! (Since I have not seen anyone else point this out- I am excited to present this to you.)

On this day -in both Jewish and secular calendars, (17th of Tammuz and July 15th) the holy city of Jerusalem fell as it was conquered by the Crusaders during the first Crusade in 1099.

The Crusades were a horrific time for the Jews; many Jews were butchered and many Jewish communities were totally destroyed. And although their primary goal was to liberate the Holy Land from the infidel Moslems, the Jews suffered greatly.

The First Crusade was launched on 27 November 1095 by Pope Urban II with the primary goal to repel the invading Seljuq Turks from Anatolia. An additional goal soon became the principal objective—the Christian reconquest of the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land and the freeing of the Eastern Christians from Muslim rule.

At a local level, the preaching of the First Crusade ignited violence against Jews, which some historians have deemed "the first Holocaust".

At the end of 1095 and beginning of 1096, months before the departure of the official crusade in August, there were attacks on Jewish communities in France and Germany. In May 1096, Emicho of Flonheim (sometimes incorrectly known as Emicho of Leiningen) attacked the Jews at Speyer and Worms. Other unofficial crusaders from Swabia, led by Hartmann of Dillingen, along with French, English, Lotharingian and Flemish volunteers, led by Drogo of Nesle and William the Carpenter, as well as many locals, joined Emicho in the destruction of the Jewish community of Mainz at the end of May. In Mainz, one Jewish woman killed her children rather than see them killed; the chief rabbi, Kalonymus Ben Meshullam, committed suicide in anticipation of being killed.

The attacks may have originated in the belief that Jews and Muslims were equally enemies of Christ, and enemies were to be fought or converted to Christianity. Godfrey of Bouillon was rumored to have extorted money from the Jews of Cologne and Mainz, and many of the Crusaders wondered why they should travel thousands of miles to fight non-believers when there were already non-believers closer to home. (Wikipedia- emphasis added by me)

Although the Crusade began in 1095 the final conquest of Yerushalayim occurred on the 17th of Tammuz- July 15, 1099.

The massacre that followed the capture of Jerusalem has attained particular notoriety, as a "juxtaposition of extreme violence and anguished faith".

The eyewitness accounts from the crusaders themselves leave little doubt that there was great slaughter in the aftermath of the siege.

The slaughter continued for the rest of the day (on the 15th of July); Muslims were indiscriminately killed, and Jews who had taken refuge in their synagogue died when it was burnt down by the Crusaders. (Ibid)


Indeed, on this day in 1099 Jerusalem was conquered and Jewish blood once again ran like water.

As one source from the time writes: "...[our men] were killing and slaying even to the Temple of Solomon, where the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles..." (Ibid)

And another source records: "In this temple 10,000 were killed. Indeed, if you had been there you would have seen our feet colored to our ankles with the blood of the slain. But what more shall I relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children were spared". (Ibid)


It was a horrific blood bath which our brothers and sisters in Jerusalem suffered on this day in 1099 and indeed even in our times as I write these words rockets and missiles are raining down on our Holy Land and the code red siren has been heard more than once in the holy city of Yerushalayim; and that is sad and for that we pray and weep.

However, there is one big difference; there is one great and important distinction between what went on in the times of the Mishna and again in 1099.

What is that difference and how do these incidents differ?

 Today, with the help of Hashem Yisborach, we are no longer defenseless; we are no longer cowed into submissiveness and timidity.

With the help of Hashem we have a Jewish army which valiantly defends the Jewish people.

With the help of Hashem, Jewish blood no longer flows in Jerusalem.

Indeed, as Rav Moshe Shternbuch Shlita said this past Shabbos (I heard this from an eye witness who was present at the Gr’a Shul where he is the Rav): “Together with the Tehillim we say for salvation we must add Tehillim thanking Hashem for  His miracles as of today 1,090 rockets fired into Israel, 193 of which had been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and I do not believe there has been even one major injury and not one death attributed directly to the any of the over 1000 rockets fired! If that is not miraculous, than what is?”

Rav Moshe Shternbuch is not a Zionist; indeed: “He strongly opposes the Zionist State of Israel and was against its establishment. Formerly holding a high position of authority in the anti-Zionist Edah HaChareidis, he is of the view that there is no connection between the existence of a Jewish state and the beginning of the redemption of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel which will precede the Messianic Era.” (Ibid)

However, his non-Zionistic stance does not preclude him from seeing the obvious; and that is that this time- things are different.

Yes, we fast today.

Yes, we are sad today.

And of course we daven for our brethren in Israel.

However, as Rav Shternbuch points out, together with the wailing and the praying there has to be the sense of gratitude that on this 17th day of Tammuz we have a powerful and G-d supported army and air force which prevents Jewish blood from flowing in the streets until our enemies can proclaim “the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles...”

Today, life goes on in Jerusalem for the most part normally.

We are the ones with the upper hand; we no longer run in fear and terror before our enemies.

We no longer have to cower before them as in the times of the Crusades when the Jews begged the local Roman Catholic clerics to allow them to take refuge in their pagan monasteries for fear of the mob; only too often to have the Catholic Cleric with whom they put their trust betray them and open wide the doors of the monastery to the blood thirsty mob after securing their money in his coffers.

No longer do we have to stand timidly and fearfully shake before our enemies begging them for mercy and forgiveness.

Hashem in His ultimate kindness has made this 17th of Tammuz different from all others.

Of course we daven for complete victory and salvation; however, as Rav Moshe Shternbuch pointed out, in tandem with our concern and our tefillos has to be infused a feeling of gratitude and thanks to Hashem and to His soldiers who are so bravely and valiantly protecting us and preventing Jewish blood from flowing in the streets of Israel.

Today you should be sad and fast, however, simultaneously, there also has to be a feeling of thankfulness to Hashem that today’s Shiva Asar B’Tammuz is so different than July 15th 1099.

May Hashem continue to protect His people and let us merit seeing the time when the 17th of Tammuz is transformed into a complete and joyous holiday.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort- “ FYSH* (7/13/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 15th of Tammuz 5774 and July 13, 2014




When Mordy Gibberstein (name changed) called for an appointment I was more than a little perplexed. After all, Mordy was serious fellow who worked hard as contractor and worked even harder as a father and a husband.

It was rare that he was ever seen in Shul without one of his sons with him.

I knew that Mordy and his wife had wonderful Shalom Bayis as they had been by my home for Shabbos and you could feel the wonderful chemistry between the two of them.

The reality of a rabbi’s life is that people never make appointments to inform me that their marriage is going merrily along or that they are making more money than they know what do with or that their children are giving them so much nachas they just had to make an appointment to show me the children’s report cards.

When people come to the office, I make sure the tissue dispenser is filled as crying is de rigueur for all those who venture into the rabbi’s recess.

Mordy, although being very friendly, very frum and a great father and husband was not a ‘Rhodes Scholar’ when it came to learning.

When he would attend my Gemara Shiur, he would more often than not nod off.

Why then was Mordy asking for an appointment to see me?

I doubted if he was going to ask me to explain a Tosfos and most of the halachik questions in the home were asked to me by his wife.

So what was Mordy coming to see me about?

After schmoozing with me for a while about the weather he got to the point.

“Rabbi, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure, ask whatever you want!”

“Rabbi, we began a new minhag (practice) in my family and I wanted to know if it is alright according to Halacha to ‘add on’ this additional practice.”

I pressed him for details.

“Here is what I instituted in my house.

Every time one of the children or even my wife or I get upset and it seems we are bordering on ‘kaas’ (anger) we all in unison tell the person, “Remember the fish!”

And then all is forgotten and all is calm.

 So Rabbi, I wanted to know is that alright?

Is it permissible to remind everyone before they get too angry to ‘remember the fish’?

Is it permissible to add on this additional minhag?”

I had no idea what a fish had to do with anything and why the fish would prevent anyone from getting angry.

“Mordy, it is always a good idea to have some sort of code word to remind each other never to become angry. Anger is one of the most destructive middos; it is wonderful to do anything to lower the level of anger in the home.  However, what does fish have to do with any of this?”

“Rabbi, don’t you get it?

Anytime someone in the family approaches anger, which usually has to do with something irrelevant and mundane, we remind the person of the three holy boys who lost their life sanctifying Hashem’s name.

Their names were Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar.

 When we say ‘remember the ‘FYSH’ it reminds us of them.

The letter ‘F’is for Naftali (Frenkel); the letter Y” is for Eyal (Yifrach) and the final letters SHare for Gilad (Shaar). I utilized the first letters of the boy’s last names to form the contraction: FYSH.

So when we say FYSH- we think of Naftali, Eyal and Gilad and then we realize that no matter how upset we may feel it’s not worth it.

The three boys remind us how precious our family is to each other and how we must always cherish and treasure every second we have together.

The word FYSH allows us to realize that so many and indeed too many of the things which cause us to be upset are just meaningless.

So rabbi is this allowed, are we adding on an extra mitzvah not commanded by the Torah when we say FYSH?”

With tears in my eyes I looked up at Mordy and all I could say was, “Not only is this ‘allowed’, it should become an accepted “Minhag Yisroel”.

Mordy, your ‘FYSH’ is of the holy of the holies; it is a sacred and precious FYSH which all of us would remember every day of our life.”


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort- “ “If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words- Then a Good Memory is Worth a Millio

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday 13th of Tammuz 5774 and July 11, 2014


“If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words- Then a Good Memory is Worth a Million Diamonds”


Morris and Ida were married in 1934 in Odessa (presently in the Ukraine) overlooking the Black Sea.

Ultimately, they decided to emigrate to the “Goldene Medinah” to find their fortune.

Morris and Ida had two children.

Their oldest, Sarah was born in 1940.

Their son, Shmuel, was born in 1942.

They settled in Newark in the Weequahic (pronounced wih-QWAY-ik) neighborhood.

The neighborhood was very Jewish with its own Jewish hospital and Shuls and organizations.

Unfortunately, they hoped their children would somehow remain good Jews without formal Jewish education as was the popular theory with too many of the early Jewish immigrants.

However, it was not to be.

 Both Sarah and Sam became part of the ‘counter-culture’ of the 1960s.

They trekked to San Francisco and were soon more comfortable in ‘Haight-Ashbury’ then in any shul.

However, Hashem always has His plans and in 1989 at the age of 47 their son Sam ‘found himself’, settled down and married a wonderful Jewish woman named Hindi who brought him back to Judaism.

Sam and Hindi moved to Passaic and became part of my Shul.

 Eventually, they were blessed with a child.

Fast forward to 2009, Morris and Ida, now both 96 are living in a rent-subsidized housing complex near Elizabeth.

They never made it financially in America.

Morris eked out a living as a furniture restorer and now they were living off Social Security.

 They were leaving this world with no savings, no home and with the exception of their one grandchild, very little Yiddish nachas.

Surprisingly, Morris decided to make a modest celebration for the couple’s 75th wedding anniversary.

Sam and Hindi invited me to attend.

As I arrived at the apartment, I felt as if I was entering a time-warp.

The furniture was circa 1950 with thick plastic slip covers encasing everything.

In the hall was a semi-desk on top of which sat a rotary telephone.

When I noticed the large black and white tubular television set, I did a double take.

I thought that if I would turn it on the set and allowed it to ‘warm up’- “I Love Lucy” and Andy Griffith would appear on the screen.

Many wondered aloud why Morris had planned this ‘party’ as he seemingly did not have much to celebrate.

They had few material possessions and no savings.

Morris suddenly asked to speak.

“Ida, I have to apologize to you.

When we were married 75 years ago, I promised you a life of luxury in America.

I promised you diamonds.

 Unfortunately, I never bought you even one small diamond.

So I want to apologize to you for failing to buy you a diamond.”

Everyone was very moved by the impromptu and heartfelt words of Morris.

However, no one could have ever predicated what happened next.

Ida rose to respond.

“Morris, you did promise me diamonds; and you did not fulfill that promise.

However, you did give something even more valuable than diamonds.

You gave me precious memories which are worth much more.

I fondly recall all of the caring and compassion you showed me throughout our lives.

I remember you getting up early to make me tea in the winter so I would have something warm to drink.

I recall the small gifts of costume jewelry which you gave me which although they never really matched my outfits since they were given with love -they complemented perfectly whatever I wore.

I remember how you never forgot to bring in the newspaper every morning so I could do the crossword puzzle at breakfast.

And I remember your smile and your comforting words which always assured me that whatever tests Hashem sent us, together we would get through it and we did.

Morris, it’s true, you never gave me a diamond.

However, you have nothing to apologize for; you gave me beautiful memories which are more precious than any diamond could ever have been.”

Suddenly their rent-subsided apartment no longer had the smell of moth balls but rather the scent of Gan-Eden.

And as Morris and Ida looked in each other’s eyes the sparkle in their eyes was brighter than the glitter of any diamond.

That night I learned that: “If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words- Then a Good Memory is Worth a Million Diamonds”


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “True Fanaticism* (7/10/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 12th of Tammuz 5774 and July 10, 2014


True Fanaticism


We have all been stunned by the fact that the accused murderers of 16 year old Mohammad Abu Khdeir are Jews.

 Even more shocking are the allegations that the nationalistic and revenge motivated murder was perpetrated by individuals who came from Mitzvah observant homes.

If indeed the allegations are proven correct and the crime was ‘nekama’ (revenge) and those who carried out the crime perhaps even (incorrectly) thought that their vengeance was vindicated by the acts of Pinchas in this week’s Parsha, then this is quite disturbing.

It is critical to note the comments of the Netziv (HaRav Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, -b. Mir, Russia, 1816 - d. Warsaw, Poland, August 10, 1893) with regard to the ‘fanaticism’ of Pinchas.

The Netziv points out that the reward given to Pinchas by Hashem was “Brisi Shalom”- “My covenant of peace”.

The reason that this was given to Pinchas is that normally a violent action impacts on the individual and they in turn become violent and vengeful personalities.

However, explains the Netziv, since in this one exceptional case Pinchas acted correctly in being ‘zealous for Hashem’ he was spared the debilitating effects of violence and was able to maintain and indeed be blessed with a calm and peaceful personality.

Perhaps that is the key to gauge if one’s action are ‘true fanaticism’ or false.

If one is constantly looking for more issues to be vengeful about and if a person seems to enjoy the fight, then that would indicate false fanaticism as the motivation for their fanaticism stems from their violent personality.

However, if one maintains a peaceful and calm composure, especially after being forced to exhibit fanaticism then they can be assured that their one time exceptional act of extremism was justified and in place.

Fanaticism is a tool which must be used sparingly and with caution; if not it can turn the person into a vengeful and violent person.

May Hashem bring true Shalom to Eretz Yisroel speedily and in our times.


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ Reb Elchonon Zt”l* (7/8/14)


The Short Vort


Good Morning!




Today is Wednesday the 11th of Tammuz 5774 and July 8, 2014




Reb Elchonon Zt”l


Today is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Elchonon Wasserman, one of my heroes. (There are those who claim it is on the 12th of Tammuz as no one knows for sure).

Rav Elchonon Wasserman a great Talmid Chochom; he was a Talmid of the Chofetz Chaim and was the son in law of Rav Meir Atlas Zt”l.

He was the Rosh Yeshiva of the Baranovitch Yeshiva in Poland which boasted more than 300 students.

He was very dedicated to his students and even returned to Europe on the eve of the war in order not to abandon them.

He was killed Al Kiddush Hashem in the infamous Seventh Fort of Kovno where he lies among thousands of other Jews in an unmarked grave.

As we being taken out to be killed he said the following to those who were also about to killed by the Nazis and their collaborators:


"In Heaven it appears that they deem us to be righteous because our bodies have been chosen to atone for the Jewish people.


Therefore, we must repent now, immediately. There is not much time.


We must keep in mind that we will be better offerings if we repent.


 In this way we will save the lives of our brethren overseas.


 Let no thought enter our minds, God forbid, which is abominable and which renders an offering unfit.


We are now fulfilling the greatest mitzvah.


With fire she (Jerusalem) was destroyed and with fire she will be rebuilt.


The very fire which consumes our bodies will one day rebuild the Jewish people."

 As the Jewish people in the Land of Israel are suffering, let us daven that Hashem will look upon the murdered martyrs of the holocaust with compassion and let us pray that in their merit their martyrdom Hashem should protect and save the lives of all the Jews of Israel.

May the brocha of Rav Elchonon, “The very fire which consumes our bodies will one day rebuild the Jewish people”- be realized in our days.



“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel


Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 


The Short Vort- “ A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words* (7/8/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 10th of Tammuz 5774 and July 8, 2014


 A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words


Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita instructed all of us to increase our Tefillos during this tense period in Eretz Yisroel.

Enclosed please find a picture of a soldier on the front lines in Gaza preparing for possible deployment.

If he is davening under pressure, certainly we should do so as well with even greater intensity and sincerity.

Let us all together increase our davening for all of fellow Jews.


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ What is there to say?* (7/7/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 9th of Tammuz 5774 and July 7, 2014


What is there to say?


Many of my readers have asked me to comment about the horrific murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu-Khenin committed by Jews in response to the murder of the three Jewish boys.

What is there to say?

That I condemn the act?

That is obvious; after all, I normally do not condone the murder of innocent human beings in cold blood that I now need to condemn this act of murder.

That there action caused ‘us’ to lose any sort of moral advantage?

That is also quite apparent.

To state that which has been stated already by others that we are do not advocate revenge killings as such?

Many greater minds that mine have already stated so very eloquently.

What then is there to say?

Nothing; however, perhaps we can just all ask ourselves- “How did we ever sink so low?”

“How did Jewish boys snuff out the life of a 16 year old boy who apparently they never knew and cruelly and viciously end his young life?”

“What thoughts go through the minds of a Jew which allow him to kidnap and set fire to a fellow human being who was just 16 years old?”

“How can we call others ‘heatless and savage’ when among ourselves we find equal savagery?”

Did they not know that Muhammad Abu-Khenin was a human being born- according to most Rishonim- with a Tzelem Elokim (a divine form)?

Today we are ALL in mourning; we are no longer mourning for the three boys killed; that mourning period ended today.

 Today we are in mourning for the Jewish trait of “Rachmanus” (compassion and mercy) which has been tainted and sullied forever.

And for that we must all mourn together.


“IF Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ “What Now?”* (7/6/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 8th of Tammuz 5774 and July 6, 2014


“What Now?”


There has been must talk about unity and unfortunately much talk about disunity.

However, the hatchet must be buried and more than ever we need healing.

Healing; that is the elusive element which too often we never seem to properly achieve.

Tomorrow the Shiva period ends for the three families and they will go back to their lives and we to ours.

The statements made on all sides of the spectrum will fade away and everyone will retreat back to their corner of the Jewish world and their lives will continue.

The question to ask ourselves, each and every one of us is, if we really believe that an unprecedented unity was achieved during these last three weeks then what shall we do with it?

Where does it leave us now?

How can we channel it for the good of all us?

No one assumes that today we should wear a black hat, and tomorrow a Shtreimal and the next day a knitted yarmulke!

However, perhaps one lesson we can take away is respect.

The fact of the matter is that the three boys lived lives which for many of us were very different than the ones we live.

They attended yeshivas where the dress code may have been different than the dress code of our own yeshivas.

Their life styles and hobbies may (or may not) have been different than the life styles and hobbies we embrace.

And there is no reason we should change ours.

However, when the kidnappings occurred we realized they were Jewish boys and that is all that mattered,

Their yarmulkes and the color of their shirts no longer mattered; all that mattered was that they were Jewish boys.

And that feeling is precious.

We are entitled and privileged to hold onto to our personal or communal ways of dressing, speaking and learning.

Whoever dresses Yeshivash should be proud of their dress and a Chassid should and is proud of his mesorah.

However, these differences should never allow us to forget that no matter how different our dress and our hobbies and our music may be, at the end of the day we are in ‘this’ Galus together.

Let us focus on those things which unite us as opposed to looking at those things which divide us.

Perhaps if you are Modern Orthodox Jew it would be an eye opening experience to spend a day in a Chareidi Yeshiva and experience the fire of Torah learning at its best.

Perhaps if you are Chareidi you could one day daven at a Modern Orthodox Shul and realize there is serious and intense davening going on there as well.

Perhaps a non-Chasid could spend a few hours in a Chassidic neighborhood and appreciate the Yiddish being spoken and the sense of community.

Perhaps you can think of your own ideas.

However, remember the greater the commonality we can find between us- the greater the unity which can be forged among us.


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ



The Short Vort- “ Independence Day* (7/4/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 6th of Tammuz 5774 and July 4, 2014


Independence Day


The Mishna in Pirkei Avos teaches us (6:2)- "And the tablets are the work of G-d, and the writing is G-d’s writing, engraved on the tablets"; read not "engraved" (charus) but "liberty" (chairus)---for there is no free individual, except for he who occupies himself with the study of Torah.”


At first glance this statement is perplexing.

After all, the Torah contains laws and dos and don’ts, restrictions and prescriptions. Why would learning Torah provide ‘freedom’?

There are various answers to this query.

However, perhaps one answer is that the Mishna actually states that one is free “with the study of Torah”.

It is well known that for many years most Catholics were ignorant of their Bible.

However, Torah study has been the birthright of every Jew.

As the Rambam writes in Hilchos Talmud Torah


Halacha 1

Three crowns were conferred upon Israel: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of royalty. Aaron merited the crown of priesthood, as [Numbers 25:13] states: "And it will be an eternal covenant of priesthood for him and his descendants after him."


David merited the crown of royalty, as [Psalms 89:37] states: "His seed will continue forever, and his throne will be as the sun before Me."


The crown of Torah is set aside, waiting, and ready for each Jew, as [implied by Deuteronomy 33:4]: "The Torah which Moses commanded us is the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob." Whoever desires may come and take it.


Lest you say that the other crowns surpass the crown of Torah, [Proverbs 8:15-16] states: "By me, kings reign, princes decree justice, and nobles rule." Thus, you have learned that the crown of Torah is greater than the other two.


Perhaps the reason that only someone who occupies himself with the study of Torah is truly free is because only through a thorough and incisive study of the precious and holy Torah can a person really feel that he has arrived at a true intellectual decision.

Too often in life we may be influenced by other factors which prejudice our decision making process.

Only someone who is totally immersed in Torah can truly feel he is ‘free’ of outside agendas and has made an ‘independent’ decision.


Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l was commented, “all of my life I have involved myself only in the study of Torah; so at least I know that my decisions are free of outside influences.”


Let us all attempt to be truly free through the study of Torah.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort- “ “An Open Letter to Rabbi Avi Shafran Director of Public Affairs for Agudath I

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 5th of Tammuz 5774 and July 3, 2014


“An Open Letter to Rabbi Avi Shafran Director of Public Affairs for Agudath Israel of America”


Dear Rabbi Shafran,*

*Abraham (Avi) Shafran is a Haredi rabbi who serves as the Director of Public Affairs for Agudath Israel of America. Agudath Israel was established to meet the needs and viewpoint of many Haredi Jews.(Wikipedia)


I write to you today in your official capacity as Director of Public Affairs for Agudath Israel of America. As you know doubt know better than I, the Agudah has taken the initiative to comment on important issues concerning the Orthodox Jewish community especially when a viewpoint was expressed which they felt was contrary to normative Jewish thought.

Often, the Agudah has taken the unique position of commenting on statements and points of view made by Orthodox Rabbis when the Agudah felt that these ‘Orthodox’ positions were worthy of being critiqued.

I will quote just two instances:


1)      The Agudah strongly condemned Orthodox Rabbi Avi Weiss for his position on women in rabbinical roles:

Indeed, you were quoted in October of 2013: “Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public policy for Agudath Israel, took issue with the ordination on the basis that it violated the Jewish principle of modesty, which he said “isn’t a mode of dress. It includes the idea that women are demeaned and not honored when they’re put in the public eye and put on a pedestal.”


Your statement was consistent with a public pronouncement from the rabbinical leadership of the Agudath Israel made in February of 2010 when Agudath Israel announced its opposition to Rabbi Avi Weiss conferring Semicha on Women.

Here is the Statement:

“Rabbi Avi Weiss has conferred “semikha” upon a woman, has made her an Assistant Rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale where she carries out certain traditional rabbinical functions, and has now given her the title of “Rabbah” (formerly “Maharat”).  He has stated that the change in title is designed to “make it clear that Sara Hurwitz is a full member of our rabbinic staff, a rabbi with the additional quality of a distinct woman’s voice.”

These developments represent a radical and dangerous departure from Jewish tradition and the mesoras haTorah, and must be condemned in the strongest terms. (Emphasis by me) Any congregation with a woman in a rabbinical position of any sort cannot be considered Orthodox.

Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah

Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld

Rabbi Yitzchok Feigelstock

Rabbi Dovid Feinstein

Rabbi Aharon Feldman

Rabbi Yosef Harari-Raful

Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky

Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler

Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin

Rabbi Yaakov Perlow

Rabbi Aaron Schechter


2)      In July of 2013, the organization which you are the spokesperson for, released the following statement regarding Rabbi Johnathan Sacks who was then Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth:


In consultation with rabbinic leadership, Agudath Israel of America issued the following statement:


Public remarks attributed in the media to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the outgoing Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth of Britain, as well as his comments in a recent pamphlet he published, are dismaying, deeply misguided, and harmful to both Jewish unity and Jewish integrity. (Emphasis added by me)


The rabbi bemoans “the world of inward-turning, segregationist Orthodoxy.” He portrays the multitude of Jews who came together to celebrate the Siyum HaShas nearly a year ago – an event that captured the hearts, minds and souls of countless Jews, and the reverent wonder of much of the non-Jewish world – as representative of such an “extreme.”


Rabbi Sacks sees Jews who choose to “embrace Judaism and reject the world” as parts of a phenomenon he calls “worse than dangerous” and “an abdication of the role of Jews and Judaism in the world.”


Rabbi Sacks’ sentiments are not only inaccurate but un-Jewish and uncouth. (Emphasis added by me)


We call on him to apologize for the derision and condescension that, intentionally or not, were embodied in his recent remarks and writing.


[Full statement:]


As can be seen by the above mentioned public statements, the organization which you represent as Director of Public Affairs has never hesitated to express its disapproval of statements made by other Orthodox Rabbis if these statements were deemed, “not only inaccurate but un-Jewish and uncouth”.


Ostensibly, when your organization feels that an opinion is offered which is worthy of public rebuke, the Agudath Israel of America has not hesitated in the performance of the mitzvah of Tochacha (rebuke) irrespective of the rabbinical position of the person making the questionable remarks.


Therefore I respectfully turn to you for direction and indeed I speak as well for many of my congregants who are equally perplexed and plead with you to respond to the recent statements made by Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum.

Rabbi Teitelbaum who goes by the title of ‘Satmar Rebbe’ (he is presently embroiled in litigation in a secular non-Jewish court with his brother over who is actually the titular head of the congregation) has stated publicly (and his words have been disseminated internationally) the following:


“During the funerals, the parents eulogized their sons, but I think it would have been preferable if they had done Teshuva, if they had said viduy with tears, in the nusach that is used on Yom Kippur, to repent for their decision to live and learn Torah in a place of barbaric murderers.

Who gave them permission for themselves and for their children to live and to learn Torah in the midst of the lion’s den?  To put their lives at risk, and the lives of their families at risk?

 It is all because of the yetzer hara and the desire for Jews to inhabit the entire State of Israel.  It is Zionism for the mehadrin min hamehadrin.”

“It is incumbent upon us to say that these parents are guilty.  They caused the deaths of their sons and they must do Teshuva for their actions.” (Emphasis added by me)


I plead with you to offer direction and guidance with regard to the above quoted words which certainly to my feeble and meager mind can (and should) be interpreted as “… a radical and dangerous departure from Jewish tradition and the mesoras haTorah, and must be condemned in the strongest terms

Please, I am reaching out to you, my esteemed colleague and friend, Rabbi Shafran, as Director of Public Affairs for Agudath Israel of America for help. Are his words not “…dismaying, deeply misguided, and harmful to both Jewish unity and Jewish integrity”?  Per your organization’s statement with regard to the words of Rabbi Sacks?


Perhaps my feeble mind is unable to fathom the difference between the words of Rabbi Sacks and what I feel are the extremely, harmful and insensitive remarks of Rabbi Teitelbaum.

And therefore in utter humility, I am begging you as representative of an organization which has never shied away from commenting and criticizing other Orthodox rabbis when the Agudah felt their public comments were, un-Jewish and uncouth to please publicly comment on the words of Rabbi Teitelbaum and clarify for those of who are confused and hurt if the words of Rabbi Teitelbaum are indeed not “harmful to both Jewish unity and Jewish integrity”? 


If the organization does not comment,  can I assume that “Shtikah K’Hoddah”; meaning that the deafening silence which comes forth from your organization and your lack of critique can only lead me to the realization that your organization shares his views?


I must confess that if no comment is forthcoming and therefore the assumption is that your organization agrees with his views, this assumption would personally make me and many others feel very alienated from such an organization and that is painful.


I personally find the words of Rabbi Teitelbaum (although he is entitled to his opinion as any human being, Jew or non-Jew is) not at all consistent with the Jewish concept of compassion and concern.

I am pained by his words and have been questioned the entire day by confused Jews who are shocked by his insensitivity and his lack of compassion at this time of national mourning.


I realize that you are not the ‘head’ of the Agudath Israel of America organization; however, I am confident that you can pass on my letter to the proper channels and I am confident that you in your position as Director of Public Affairs for Agudath Israel of America are certainly the correct address for this letter.


 I conclude my humble request for clarification with the following anecdote which I heard from an extremely reliable source regarding the great and revered Gadol, HaRav HaGaon Elazar Menachem Man Schach Zt”l.

After Dr. Baruch Goldstein perpetuated the massacre at the Maaras HaMachpeila in February of 1994, followers of Rav Schach asked him how they should react to the incident; after all, there was talk of Arab revenge and if and how and in what way the act should be condemned.

His students were listening carefully and were no doubt expecting a fiery and feisty response. Instead, Rav Schach looked at them and with tears streaming down his face simply said, “Right now a widow and four orphans are sitting Shiva. That is all I see right now; an Almonah and four Yesomim. There is a time to comment; however, now is a time to console and show compassion for a widow and her four orphans.”


For Rabbi Teitelbaum to publicly hold accountable for the murder of these boys the parents the day after the levaya is (in my humble and feeble mind and to quote your own organization’s words with regard to Rabbi Sacks,) “not only inaccurate but un-Jewish and uncouth”.


I respectfully await your reply.


Your friend,

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


PS- to my readers

If you do agree with my words please feel free to forward this letter through social media outlets.

You can also contact Rabbi Shafran as well at:


The Short Vort- “ The Levaya* (7/1/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 3rd of Tammuz 5774 and July 1, 2014


The Levaya


I spent a good part of this morning participating in a Levaya (funeral) which took place almost 6000 miles away.

Through the wonders of the internet I was able to be part of a live hook up to the funeral of the three Kedoshim who were buried today in Modiin.

The boys were buried together as they left this world together.

The need on my part to feel a part of this national mourning was exceptionally powerful.

And I must admit that amidst the pain and sadness and between the tears there was also consolation. There was the consolation that the parents despite their pain and grief at least have closure and the ability to bring their children to a Jewish burial.

However, there was also a sense of consolation for me.

I was amazed and touched by the behavior and by the words of the parents of the children.

Although their pain can never be felt by anyone else; nevertheless, I was touched that their words dealt not with calls for revenge or even justice; rather, their words focused on their sons.

There was one family whose only son was killed.

There was the boy who led the family in zemiros as he loved to sing; his voice will now resonate in their hearts as opposed to their ears.

There was the family who heard the courageous phone call made to the police just seconds before he and his Chveirim were killed.

Perhaps it was this phone call- which caused the murders to abandon their plan to trade the bodies for other terrorists and they instead quickly buried the bodies which allowed their discovery before they could be traded.

However, most of all I was consoled by the sense of unity which was so evident at the funeral.

The sense of togetherness and the sense of a communal loss were palpable and intense.

While watching the various speeches and eulogies from all segments of the population, I felt proud and privileged to be part of a people who feels the pain of the parents of boys who they never met and whose names they never even knew before 18 days ago.

May Hashem allow all of us to feel each other’s joy with the same realness as we feel each other’s pain.


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ Please, Leave Me Be* (6/30/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 2nd of Tammuz 5774 and June 30, 2014


Please, Leave Me Be


If you are seeking from me words of comfort and consolation you will not find them.

If you are reading this in order for you gain some sort of insightful understanding of the tragic events then I advise you to stop reading.

This missive will not be one of comfort and consolation.

If you are looking at me as the rabbi who undoubtedly has the proper response and is able to theologically articulate and make sense out of the tragedy, then you will be utterly disappointed.

I have no words of comfort.

I offer no consolation.

I have no insight and no comprehension.

I am numbed and I am left wondering and wandering in my grief and my loneliness.

I cannot see the ‘good’ in this and I cannot comprehend the ways of the creator and certainly not of some of His creations.

I cannot and hope to never be able to understand how a human being can murder three innocent human beings with the justification that they are following the word of their (imaginary) ‘god’?

I cannot fathom the level of cruelty and savagery a person must lower themselves to in order to murder a child in cold-blood.

However, alas, it has occurred.

I am angry and I am confused.

I am pained and I am mourning.

I feel lost and alone and abandoned.

The only passuk which comes to my mind is the one said by Iyov (Job) so many years ago:

“If I have sinned, what have I done to You (why does it bother You so much)?  

You (Hashem) who have created me, why do you make me the target of your wrath?”

(Iyov 7:20)

I am sorry to disappoint those of you who were searching for answers and consolation in the words of the rabbi; however, I too am human and my heart aches just as yours.

Today I have no answers.

Today I have no comfort.

Today I have no comprehension or insight.

Today I just have tears;

Tears for Naftali, for Gilad and for Eyal

However, most of all I cry for their parents who as they attempt to sleep tonight, they now know that their lives will never be the same.

The laughter of their sons will never return.

All of us will thankfully eventually return back to our normal, mundane lives.

However, for the three parents of the boys they have reached a period of no return.

You may see them next month or next year; you may see them in fifty years; the pain will always be there; the emptiness will never be filled.

Please do not turn to me for answers today.

Please let me be as is; please don’t ask me any questions.

The only questions I feel I can relate to today are the ones asked many years ago by Dovid himself:

“How long, O Lord will You forget me forever?

 How long will You hide Your face from me?

How long will I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart by day?

How long will my enemy have the upper hand over me?”

(Tehillim 13:2, 3)

When the answers to these questions become known there will be no more questions which need answering.

May that day arrive soon.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ Adopt a Kollel* (6/29/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the first of Tammuz 5774 and June 29th 2014


Adopt a Kollel

Mendy Kleinman (name changed) group up in Williamsburg in the 1940’s. He attended a local yeshiva; however, his experience in yeshiva was less than idyllic. He was often at loggerheads with the Rebbeim, who although were well meaning and sincere, he felt they could not relate to his American upbringing.

After high school he attended college and learning was relegated to hearing the Shabbos morning Drosha of the rabbi. Mendy and his wife established their home together; however, set times for Torah learning were not part of the daily regimen.

His sons were sent to the finest yeshiva however, as the children grew, Mendy was never there to help them with their homework. He left home at seven in the morning and did not return home until ten.

Mendy built up a successful consulting agency and he was busier than he could have ever imagined he would be. His day began early by arising at 4:4 5 AM, and off to his 50 mile commute. The money was good; however, something was missing in the life of Mendy Kleinman.

One day a letter arrived from his son’s yeshiva informing the fathers that every Sunday there would be father and son learning. Somewhat hesitantly and cautiously Mendy arrived at the yeshiva with his son.  As he entered the walls of the school, memories of not fitting in filled his mind as he recalled his own yeshiva experiences of fifty years before. However, as the session began, Mendy observed that the boys loved the Rebbe. They were constantly going over to the Rebbe and asking him to explain Rashi. Mendy realized that the boys truly enjoyed his company. This was something totally novel and never experienced by Mendy. Mendy was filled with a desire to also connect to Torah and to a Rebbe.  However, what could he do? He had a family to support and a business to run and how could he find the time to learn Torah?

That night, Mendy’s son asked his mother, “How come Daddy is never home during the week so I could learn Torah with him?  I miss Daddy during the week and other boys in the class are able to learn with their fathers every day.” His mother explained, “Your father has to make money in order that we can pay the bills to send you to yeshiva. That is why he is not home during the week.”

The next morning at 4:45 AM as the alarm was chiming away by Mandy’s bed, he simultaneously heard the pitter-patter of little feet walking in the hallway. He wondered if one the children were feeling ill when suddenly the door to his bedroom opened and in walked his small son; the one he learned with the day before. His son approached the bed and said, “Daddy, I know that the reason you have to be away from us the whole day is because you need money. I emptied out my Chanukah Gelt collection and here is seven dollars and thirty two cents. Please Daddy take it and then you will have money and be able to stay home with us!”

That day, Mendy informed his staff that he leaving his consulting firm and limiting his work to a few private clients near his home. His life had changed; he would now learn Torah every day.

Mendy is now retired and learns most of the day. He is in the midst of finishing Shas and has children who learn Torah full time. He is an accomplished Talmid Chochom.

And to think this all was brought about by a donation of $7.32.


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort- “ Reconciliation * (6/27/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 29th of Sivan 5774 and June 27th 2014




R’ Shaul Saperstein (name changed) was known by the bochurim in his yeshiva as RSS.

It was a title of endearment which the boys had bestowed on their beloved Rebbe.

I knew R’ Shaul from town although he was not a regular mispallel at the Shul.

He had never asked to speak to me privately; however, often people only approach me when they have something which they cannot handle on their own.

When R’ Shaul entered my study I could tell it was a serious issue.

R’ Shaul informed me that his father was on his death bed.

R’ Chatzkel Saperstein was a well-known Talmid Chochom from Europe and was over 90; however, R’ Shaul was very broken at the thought of losing his father.

R’ Shaul asked me a few question dealing with the pertinent Halachos and then fell silent.

When he began talking again he said, “My brother from Eretz Yisroel is arriving tomorrow morning to see our father.”

There was something about the way he said it which was unsettling.

 I knew that he had a brother in Eretz Yisroel; however, I could not recall his ever coming in to visit.

R’ Shaul looked up and with tears streaming down his face said to me, “I have not seen my brother in over twenty years. We have not spoken in all of that time.”

I had no idea that he was estranged from his brother and certainly I had no idea as to why.

I was at the hospital when his brother Raphael entered his father’s room.

 Shaul and Raphael looked at each other and then Shaul turned while mumbling, “You can be alone with Poppa now”, as he exited the room.

The tension in the room was so thick and palpable I too quickly left and went back to my office in Shul.

The next night Rav Chatzkel Saperstein left this world.

The levaya was set for Tuesday morning and I began to organize my thoughts for the hesped.

Suddenly there was a knock at my door and in walked R’ Shaul.

“Rabbi, I need your help. My brother is refusing to sit Shiva in my house. This will further break our mother’s already broken heart. He wants to sit Shiva by himself by a distant cousin who lives in Lakewood. Rabbi, if we do not sit Shiva together I fear for my mother’s health!”

I told him I would speak to Raphael and see what I could do.

When Raphael came to see me he was cordial and polite; when I asked him why he could not sit with his brother he simply replied, “After what he did to me, you expect me to forgive him?”

“What did he do to you?” I asked.

“You can ask him yourself; he knows what he did to me!” And with that Raphael Saperstein left my office.

When Shaul came back to see me, I asked him why his brother was so upset.

He told me that their father was a well-known Sofer already in Poland. In fact they came from a long string of Sofrim.

His father had written Tefillin and mezuzos for all of the great Roshei Yeshiva.

There is two years between him and his older brother Raphael.

When they were growing up they began learning “Safrus” when they were very young boys.

They both dreamed of continuing the family legacy by being Sofrim.

“Rabbi, there was great completion between my older brother and me.

 One day, when he was fifteen and I was thirteen our father was driving us to see R’ Getzel Hoberstein who was known as the best Sopher in all of America.

As we pulled into the parking spot, I jumped out first and said, “I’ll get to see R’ Getzel before you!” And as I jumped from the car I quickly closed the car door to delay my brother from getting there before me.

Suddenly I heard a scream.

I turned to see that I had slammed the door on my brother’s right hand.

 He needed surgery to repair the damage to his hand and he suffered permanent nerve damage in his right hand. He would never be able to be write properly again.

 Although I apologized, that was the beginning of the end.

We went to different Mesivtas and my brother went off to Eretz Yisroel at 17 and has never returned.

We as a family went to his Chasunah; however, when I married two years later he did not come in for the Simcha.

We have not spoken since his wedding and although I have asked mechilla, he has never forgiven for taking his dream away.

Rabbi, I don’t what more to do; please, please help me bring Shalom to my family.”

I looked at Shaul and felt his pain; I picked up the phone and told his brother to come to my office right away.

I then looked at Shaul and said to him, “R’ Shaul I want you to ask mechilla from your brother. However, this time, mention something from the heart that you have never told him before. I don’t know what that is, however, if you daven to Hashem I am sure He will help you find the words.”

Raphael entered the room.

Shaul said, “Please Raphael, please be mochel me.”

“Why should I?” asked Raphael “Don’t you know that you ruined my life? I wanted so much to be a Sofer like Poppa and like Zaidy and you took that dream away from me. How can I forgive you and why should I? Look at my hand, I can barely feel a pen in my hand; and I can no longer write Safrus. Why should I forgive you?”

Suddenly, R’ Shaul moved close to his brother and very gently and tenderly held his brother’s hand in his own.

“Raphael, I want you to know something which I never told you or anyone for that matter.

From the day I hurt you, I have never picked up a kulmus (a sofer’s pen) in my life. From the day I took away from you the privilege of continuing the family legacy, I too have taken away from myself the privilege of writing.”

Raphael looked at his younger brother with a look of incredulity.

“You have never picked up the Sofer’s pen since that day?”

Shaul nodded.

Suddenly, as if a weight had been lifted from the world, Raphael grabbed his brother Shaul in a hug which contained the pent up emotions of over twenty years.

“I forgive you my brother and I love you.”

And as the two brothers fell into each other’s embrace and cried on each other’s shoulders, if one listened closely the faint sounds of Mashiach’s footsteps were no longer as distant as they were just minutes before.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort- “ Humiliation * (6/26/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 28th of Sivan 5774 and June 26, 2014




Today is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yisrael Zev Gustman Zt”l (1908-1991); Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Netzach Yisrael Ramailles, located in the Rechavia section of Yerushalayim.

I miss him.

When I first met Rav Gustman in 1979 he was the embodiment of the true Litvishe Rosh Yeshiva.

He had lived in Vilna, the headquarters of Litvishe Jewry.

 His appearance was somewhat disheveled as if the need to make sure his tie was ‘just right’ was not priority number one on his daily agenda.

What most impressed me about the man was that he was so ‘real’.

 I can recall his davening; it was total concentration and total absorption in his communication to Hashem.

He wore the squared and elevated Litvishe Rosh Yeshiva Yarmulke worn by Rav Schach and Rav Moshe Feinstein Zichronom L’Brocha; it added to his image of being a vestige and remnant of a world which no longer existed.

When he would give Shiur, I was shocked by those who would attend the Shiur.

The Shiur took place on Thursday and lasted about two to three hours; among those who attended was Yisrael Aumann a Nobel Prize Laureate and professor at the Hebrew University.

 There were many in attendance who wore Kippot Serugot (knitted yarmulkes) and many with black fedora; many with long Chassidishe peyos and many with business suits and even those who were moderately observant.

 They came for two reasons; primarily to hear Torah at its best; Torah from a man who was a member of the Beis Din of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski at the age of 22.

There was no fluff here; this was the real thing.

Deep, incisive and profound, heard from someone who had absorbed the depth and profundity of Torah in his mother’s milk; someone who had seen and spoken to Rav Shimon Shkop, Rav Chaim Ozer and Chofetz Chaim.

Although the Shiur took place in Rechavia, as soon as Rav Gustman began speaking we were all back in Vilna, where nothing in the world mattered except for Torah and the understanding of the sugya.

The intensity of his intellectual exertion was compellingly evident for all to see.

However, there was another perhaps equally important reason that they came to Rav Gustman.

That was because he was real.

He never noticed what yarmulke you wore or what political party you were affiliated with.

If you were there to learn Torah you were on his team; what you wore on your head was about as important to Rav Gustman as how many sugars you took in your coffee.

He treated all of us the same.

When I would timidly approach him I can still recall -as I looked into his awe-inspiring countenance- I would begin to shudder and quake. Looking at him was for me was looking at Rav Chaim Ozer and the Vilna Gaon.

 However, he patiently allowed me to compose myself as I stuttered through my question.

I davened and learned there quite often as it was a five minute walk from my uncle’s home and I loved the atmosphere in the Beis Medrash.

One day I noticed that there was no kitchen in the yeshiva and I innocently asked someone, “Where is the kitchen; don’t the bochurim have food?”

I was told that next door is a retirement home and Rav Gustman pays the home to supply meals from their kitchen. As the yeshiva was on the small side, not more than a few dozen students, the arrangement worked well.

As I acclimated to Yerushalayim I also learned that there were ‘hechsehrim’ (kosher certifications) which some ate from and others which they did not eat from.

Innocently I mentioned to someone in the yeshiva that I was somewhat surprised that the yeshiva took its meals from the local old age home as it did not have one of the ‘well-accepted hechsehrim’, rather it ‘just’ has a local hechsher of the Jerusalem Rabbinate.

The Bochur looked at me and said to me,

“When the yeshiva began Rav Gustman looked into the hechsher and found it to be acceptable and he concluded the arrangement for food to be delivered and went back to his learning.

 One day when we were all leaving for the lunch break we saw a group of young men talking to Rav Gustman.

As we never saw these men before and we imagined they were talking in “Torah” we hung around to listen in.

One of the young men said to Rav Gustman,

“We noticed you are allowing that food is being brought into the yeshiva with a hechsher we do not accept. Please switch to a different supplier with our hechsher and if you do so we will ‘reward’ you with honor and ‘kavod’ as we will add your name to our rabbinical board and your name will appear on all of our broadsides and public statements.

 However, I am sorry to say that if you do not agree, we will be forced to publicly humiliate you and add your name to the list of those rabbis whose names are plastered on signs and proclamations hung all over the city publicizing their laxity in mitzvohs.

 Rav Gustman, certainly you do not need humiliation; and of course we all need honor.”


We as bochurim were astounded by the audacity and arrogance of the young men. However, Rav Gustman was not fazed. He looked at the young men in the eyes and said the following.


“Kinderlach, (children) let me tell you a little bit about Kavod and humiliation. When I was twenty two years old there was a rabbinical meeting in Vilna. I was delayed and arrived ten minutes late. As I walked into the room to my shock and to the surprise of all who were there, as soon as I entered the room Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, the undisputed prince of Torah Jewry stood up for me. As soon as he stood the entire Rabbinate of Vilna stood up for me. Whatever Kavod you can promise can never compare to the honor I received that day in Vilna.

And if you are talking about humiliation, let me tell you about what happened just a few years later in the same city of Vilna.

I had one son in my life; he was the apple of my eye and his name was Meirke.

When Meir was just four years old the Nazis found my hiding spot.

I grabbed Meir and held him in my hands to protect him.

However, the cruel and sadistic Nazis beat the child while in my arms until his blood flowed like water all over my body.

When the Nazis were convinced he was dead they pushed me into a pile of manure with my dead son.

I buried him with my own hands and removed his shoes, cleaned off the blood and traded his little shoes for food for my wife and surviving daughter.

 Do you know what it is to barter your dead son’s shoes for food?

Do you know what humiliation it is to be thrown into a dung heap with your murdered son?

Kinderlach, I have experienced more Kavod than you can ever give me and have suffered more humiliation than you can ever heap on me.

So I will continue to take food from the local facility with the local hechsher and you will do what you will do.

Now please excuse me because for five years during the war I never saw a Sefer so I have still had a lot of learning to make up for.”

Rav Gustman turned and went back to his shtender and to the only world he knew, the one of Toras Emes- the world of Torah and of truth.”


That is why I miss him.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ




The Short Vort- “ The Continuity of Life* (6/25/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 27th of Sivan 5774 and June 25, 2014


The Continuity of Life


As of the writing of these words, the three boys who were abducted almost two weeks ago are seemingly nowhere to be found.

I have no doubt that the Israeli government and the IDF and security services are sparing no effort or expense in attempting to secure their safe release.

As is well known, Israel is on the cutting edge and is the gold standard with regard to the gathering of intelligence and it sits on the cusp of effectiveness in the area of counter terrorism activities.

Tens of thousands of well trained and motivated troops have been mobilized and utilized in house to house searches in attempting to locate the boys.

Even Abu Mazzen, the Palestine President has involved his security forces in facilitating the search.

However, as of this writing, it seems as if the three boys have vanished from the face of the Earth. The security forces seem no closer today than they were two weeks ago in locating the boys.

The American State Department is looking into the kidnapping.

The European Union has condemned the action; however, the boys remain missing and with each passing day the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness seems to gain momentum.

The Davening has been ceaseless, the outpouring of care and compassion has been unparalleled; however, the only fact which remains stable is that the boys are gone and no trace of them has been discovered.

We feel powerless and helpless; our hearts are pained while our arms and feet feel paralyzed.

We want to be able to reach out and deliver the boys back to the embrace of their loving parents; however, alas we cannot.

What can we do?

Of course we continue to daven, to increase our Torah study and mitzvah observance and our commitment to acts of Chesed and Tzedoka.

Perhaps though there is one more thing we can work on.

And perhaps this activity does not have to be specifically tied to the release of the boys- even though we continue to pray and spiritually attempt to bring them back home.

Perhaps we can right now use the tragic lesson of the abduction of the boys for all of us to improve in one area of our lives which I am sure all of us can use improvement. I know myself that I need improvement in this aspect of my life.

And that lesson is the lesson of appreciation of the present.

How too often in life do we go to sleep without telling our loved ones just how much we really love them?

Imagine if the three parents were allowed to have just two minutes with their boys prior to the abduction? What would they have said?

Would they have reminded their children to put their clothes in the hamper?

Would they have utilized the two minutes to rebuke them for failing to put away their laundry?

I am not advocating that we never rebuke our children and loved ones when rebuke is needed; indeed a parent who refuses to rebuke is not a parent.

However, what I am suggesting is that at least when we sign off for the night; when our children leave for camp or for school we make sure that notwithstanding any discipline issues which need to be resolved, they can be put on hold for the time being and we instead make sure that no matter what, our children feel loved and cared for.

Discipline is needed; however, never to the degree where is conveys a feeling of being rejected or unloved.

If there is one lesson I am attempting to take from ‘the boys’ is the knowledge that who knows what tomorrow will bring and how would I like to recall the last conversation I had today before tomorrow’s new reality?

Most often children arrive home safely from school and most times spouses wake up healthy in the morning, however, sometimes that which ‘should’ happen- doesn’t happen.

Hug your child today; tell them you love them.

Hug your loved one- after all; what do you have to lose?


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “The Phone Call* (6/20/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 22nd of Sivan 5774 and June 20, 2014


The Phone Call


Sorry to bother you on Erev Shabbos, however, I just got off the phone with Mrs. Rachelli (née Sprecher) Frankel, mother of Naftali Frankel (Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah) one of the three boys abducted by Hamas last week.

The phone call lasted about 7 or 8 minutes; however, I am still shaking from the experience.

Mrs. Frankel related to me how she received a text message from her son Naftali last Thursday night at about 9:30 PM informing her that he would be home soon.

Having heard that he was on his way home and thinking that this Thursday night would be the same as any other Thursday evening, she replied via text that she and his father would be going to sleep and they would see him on Friday morning; no different than any other weekend when he came home from Yeshiva.

They were awakened in the middle of the night with the news that their son was missing and was abducted.

And from that day on all she and her family have been attempting to do is ‘stay sane’.

From that phone call in the middle of last Thursday night her life has been thrown into a confused and painful existence.

 From a mother concerned with the normal mundane things of life, she has been transformed into a one woman spokesperson and representative of all Jewish women and of their love and concern for their children.

She told me how the ‘achdus’ (unity) she has witnessed has been ‘amazing’.

She specifically told me how both the Chareidi and secular communities have been unbelievable in their outpouring of support and caring.

She told me that numerous secular Jews have contacted her to tell her that although they have not put on Tefillin for years, this week they put on Tefillin!

Evan Yair Lapid, the secular Minister of Finance said, “I haven’t prayed in six years. I haven’t gone into a synagogue since my son’s bar mitzvah. When I heard what had happened to your sons, I turned my house upside down to look for my grandfather’s prayer book. I sat down and prayed.”

Mrs. Frankel related to me how people from all over the country have informed her of acts of kindness and about learning they have taken upon themselves for the sake of the boys.

She ended the conversation by saying, “I have never seen such ‘achdus’ as displayed by all Jews of all stripes as I have witnessed this last week.”

She then paused and added, “You know, if Hamas- whose mission is to destroy us- would have realized how much unity and how much harmony they have generated among us, they would have never kidnapped the boys in the first place.”

She begged me to tell all of you to continue your acts of Tefillah and kindness and mitzvohs on behalf of the boys.

She pleaded with me to spread the message among my congregants and among Americans (Jew and non-Jew) of the importance of remaining united and focused on the task of doing whatever we can do to keep the pressure on to get the boys released.

She then added, “You never know which act of kindness, which Chessed, which person saying Tehillim and which Tefillah offered by which person is going to be the one to finally tip the scales in Heaven in their favor. Please, please tell everyone to continue. Please tell them to remain unified and to continue their mitzvohs until I can once again hug my Naftali.”

He voice became week and I could hear and sense the tears swelling in her eyes.

“Shabbat Shalom” she whispered, and hung up.

As I placed the phone down, I thought to myself, ‘She said “Shabbat Shalom” which means a Shabbos of Shalom, of peace; indeed, she is correct, that is exactly what we all need: a Shabbos of Shalom.’

May all Jewish mothers- including (and especially) the mothers of the three boys- be privileged to hug their children this Shabbos.


“If Not Now, Then When”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort- “ The Test* (6/19/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 21st of Sivan 5774 and June 19, 2014


The Test


The wisest of all men observed:


There is a time for everything,

And a season for every activity under the heavens:

A time to be born and a time to die,

A time to plant and a time to uproot,

A time to kill and a time to heal,

A time to tear down and a time to build,

A time to weep and a time to laugh,

A time to mourn and a time to dance,

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

A time to search and a time to give up,

A time to keep and a time to throw away,

A time to tear and a time to mend,

A time to be silent and a time to speak,

A time to love and a time to hate,

A time for war and a time for peace

              (Koheles 3; 1-8)


Everyone agrees to the notion that ‘timing is everything’.

When you want to call someone for a favor, the best time to call is not right before Shabbos when his house is hectic and everyone is running around getting things ready for Shabbos.

Motzei Shabbos, when a person is generally well rested and at peace is a much better time.

The Gemara in Brochus 7a informs us that, “You should attempt to appease a person when he is still in the midst of his anger”.

Amazingly so, this is learned from Hashem Himself!

Hashem informs Moshe to “first allow Me to calm down and then you can appease me!”

Recently I have begun to hear the ‘machlokes mongers’ (those who seem to thrive on ‘stirring the pot’ of conflict) ‘claim’ that they know ‘who’ is the true guilty party of the underlying spiritual cause as to why the boys were kidnapped.

I have heard murmurings that there abduction was the result of this group’s actions or that group’s decrees or beliefs.

The test for us is to avoid at all costs the temptation to not only not become a ‘machlokes monger’ ourselves; rather, we must avoid even indulging these contentious and destructive groups by allowing ourselves to answer them or even acknowledge their opinions.

They can only continue in their contentiousness if their position is granted some sort of legitimacy which is accorded them when we respond to their preposterous claims.

Now is not the time to break ranks and allow ourselves to fall into the abysmal pit of divisiveness and disunity and discord.

The entire Jewish people are united in their prayers and in their total commitment to ‘bring our boys home’.

Chinks in our armor will appear as there are those marginal groups who will blame these Jews or that group for the abduction. However, so far we have seen the wonderful unified response of togetherness and of single-mindedness with regard to the realization that now is not the time to point fingers.

Now is the time for prayer and for togetherness.

Now is the time to remain united in purpose and in prayer.

Now is the time to be nice and friendly to all.

 Now is not the time for schisms; now is the time for unity and love.

And now is not the time to even respond to those marginal groups who are attempting to break our unity.

If we are truly unified in feeling lacking and bereft of a loved one, then just maybe Hashem in response to our unified feeling of loss will unify us by having us merit to be unified with our three missing boys.

May it come speedily and today!


“If Not Now- Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort- “ The Bostoner Rebbe and the Angelic Child* (6/18/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 20th of Sivan 5774 and June 18, 2014


The Bostoner Rebbe and the Angelic Child


My son in Israel had injured his hand and it appeared that surgery would be required to mend the hand.

My wife and I were faced with the question if we should fly my son back from yeshiva in Yerushalayim to have the surgery in New York where perhaps the medical treatment would be superior to that in Israel, or to do the surgery in Israel thereby minimizing my son’s absence from his learning and yeshiva.

It was difficult to get reliable information from 6000 miles away so I decided to go to the one person who in my opinion was the medically, spiritually and practically best equipped person to answer the question; and that was the Bostoner Rebbe Zt”l, (HaRav Levi Yitzchak HaLevi Horowitz (born 3 July 1921, Boston, Massachusetts, died 5 December 2009, Jerusalem).

The Rebbe, besides being a spiritual giant who cared for each and every Jew irrespective of their affiliation or non-affiliation with Judaism, was a man with great knowledge in the medical field as he founded ROFEH International, a community-based medical referral and hospitality liaison support agency.  Added to these two qualifications, was the reality that the Rebbe was well acquainted with the medical and spiritual reality of both Israel and America as he split his time living six months in each country. Therefore, I decided that he was the man to go to.

I called his secretery and the appointed was made. I happily made the four hour plus trip to Brookline, Massachusetts to be able to spend private time with this spiritual giant.

The Rebbe granted me a private audience for over 45 minutes. Besides the autographed photograph from President John F. Kennedy which proudly adorned his desk, I was touched and warmed by his paternal love for me and my family which oozed from his very being.

He advised me to have the surgery done in Israel, informing me that Israel was on the ‘cutting edge’ (pun intended) of treatment of knife wounds.

Indeed, the Rebbe’s advice was followed and my son’s surgery was successful and he would go on to proudly serve three years with distinction in the fighting brigade of the Nachal Chareidi unit of the IDF. He was involved in the exact same dangerous operations of searching for terrorists which are going on now in Yehuda and Shomron as they search for the boys.

However, something else happened at that visit to the Bostoner Rebbe which changed my entire outlook on life.

As I waited outside his study for him to receive me, there was a father and son who were meeting with the Rebbe. The door was wide open and although I did not intend to be an eavesdropper, I could not help hearing aspects of their conversation. Finally, as they were beginning to leave, the father mentioned to the Rebbe that his son had just become a new father and asked the Rebbe for a brocha for the new father and grandfather.

The Rebbe asked the father, “So this is your bechor, your first born?” The young man answered in the affirmative.

Then the Rebbe said the following words which entered straight into my heart and have remained there forever.

The Rebbe, said, “You know I remember the day I became a father. I can still recall the minute when the nurse brought me in to see my bechor (HaRav) Pinchus Dovid (now known as the Chuster Rav). As I looked at his angelic face I could just not believe the purity of spirit and the pristine and cherubic and angelic face of my son.

This was right after the war, and as I gazed into the eyes of my new son, I thought to myself, ‘How could the Nazis (Yimach Shemam) kill a million children? How could they bring themselves to be so brutal and cruel? How could anyone be so cruel as to destroy such a pure and pristine creation?”

I thought I was coming to Boston to get advice about my son’s medical condition; however, I was also getting advice for life.

Three weeks ago, Hashem blessed me with my first grandchild to be born here in America.

And although, I am proud and thrilled that all of the rest of my grandchildren were born in the holy land of Israel; nevertheless, I would be lying if I did not admit to you that not having the privilege to watch my grandchildren grow or for them to be a larger part of my life then just once (or sometimes) twice a year visits is painful. And even when I see them, I am guest in their home and I cannot host them in my home.

Therefore yesterday, when my son and daughter in law went shopping and dropped off my grandson Yisroel for us to watch, it was a special treat which I relished.

As I sat holding my grandson and I looked into his pure and angelic face, I recalled the words of the Bostoner Rebbe which I heard years ago. However, this time, as I looked at the innocent and blissful face of my grandson, I asked myself a slightly different question, “What type of people abducts innocent and sincere and guiltless teenagers? What type of people terrorizes others by kidnapping uninvolved and pure and beautiful teenagers?”

And as I looked into the heavenly face of my grandson I turned my eyes and heart to heaven for an answer to a question which has troubled our people for far too many years.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ Fear of the Unknown * (6/17/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 19th of Sivan 5774 and June 17, 2014


Fear of the Unknown


It has now been five days since the three innocent and pure boys: Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah, Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim and Eyal ben Iris Tesurah were abducted while attempting to come home from yeshiva.

They are missing now for more than 100 hours with still no clue as to where they are.

How can we imagine the pain of the parents?

In March 1979 a young Orthodox man, Steven Gladstein was killed while chaperoning a group of Jewish boys at Madison Square Garden. 

He was bludgeoned to death by a 22 year old anti-Semite named Dennis Mannix.

Steven Gladstein was just 21 years old.

I can vividly recall the incident.

Steven Gladstein was a friend of my brother and was often at my home.

I recall him from the dormitory at Y.U. and I recall his zest for life and his love of learning Torah.

However, he never had a chance to marry and never had a chance to mature and become a family man as he was cut down in the prime of his life.

My rebbe, Rav Yehuda Parnes commented at the time, “One day you may see the parents of Steven Gladstein. It may be in a year and it may be in thirty years, it makes no difference. For whenever you see them you must know that there is a hole in their heart which will never heal and will never close; their lives will be forever changed with the loss of their son.”

Right now there are three families, who are facing a crisis the likes of which most of us– with the help of Hashem- will never know.

It is the fear and panic of the unknown.

Not knowing where their children are; if they are alive and what condition they are in, is in many ways more frightening and painful than anything else.

About 15 years ago, my daughter who was a mere six years old, failed to return home from day camp.

It was a sunny Friday in July and my wife asked me to be home when my daughter would arrive home.

The time came and she never arrived.

My wife was out shopping and there were no cell phones then.

I went to the neighbor; I called the camp.

The camp director said that one girl had reported seeing my daughter entering a purple van; my heart sank in fear and dread.  A feeling of terror and trepidation gripped me such as I never knew before.

I was panic stricken and paralyzed with anxiety and concern.

I called the police; suddenly every police car available in Passaic and Clifton were looking for a missing six year old girl.

After what seemed like an eternity, my wife called me and informed to check one friend where maybe my daughter went after camp.

I then remembered that my daughter actually mentioned to me the night before that she would go to her friend after camp and a quick phone call verified the fact that my daughter was indeed there.

However, before the emergency could be declared officially over, the police required me to go with them to the friend’s house and identify my daughter in the presence of the police officer.

This was my first and only time in my life to actually ride in a police car and as we drove I could hear the police radio crackling away, “The missing child alert has been called off; child apparently has been located.”

When I asked the patrolmen if there were many police involved in the case he replied, “All available units were mobilized for the search. The first hour after child abduction is the most crucial. Therefore, as soon as got the call, all units dropped everything and responded.”

As we arrived at my daughter’s friend, my daughter came out to see me as I had to identify her for the police.

As I embraced my daughter, it was an embrace filled with love and relief.

The scare had been just a scare.

However, I will never forget that feeling of fear and dread during the hour or so when I thought my daughter was abducted and how my life was now going to be changed forever.

Thank G-d my story has a happy ending.

Let us continue to davening to Hashem that our three beloved boys who remain missing and who whereabouts remain unknown are also soon and speedily reunited with their families in simcha and in joy and happiness.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ My Three Sons* (6/15/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 17th of Sivan 5774 and June 15, 2014


My Three Sons


As the news arrived it was unclear as to the severity of the situation.

The boys were teenagers; and teenagers sometimes disappear for a few hours.

However, as time continued to pass by it became apparent that something was very wrong.

And then the official announcement, three of our boys, our sons, our pride and joy had been abducted by those who want to kill and eliminate us.

And then the panic and the worry, the dread and the waiting set it.

We feel hopeless and helpless, abandoned and disillusioned.

We turned to the only source we have and that is to Hashem.

We must feel their pain and feel their fear.

Empathy is an important Jewish trait.

We can no longer go on with our lives today as if all is normal and all is the same; for it is not.

Three of our boys are missing.

They are the true “Shevuyim”- the true captives.

What can we do?

Besides beseeching Hashem and pleading for His mercy to bring the boys home, we can attempt to feel their pain.

Daven for them when you enter your car today; daven for them when you hug you kids today; and daven for them as you go to sleep in your own comfortable bed tonight.

Identify with the pain of the parents; deprive yourself of some extra luxury today.

If your own biological child was missing, would you be able to take that extra piece of meat?

Or would you just eat the minimal you need to keep alive?

Feel the boy’s pain; feel the pain of the parents.

We are all one today.

It makes no difference who you are and what group you belong to; today we are all parents of:

1. Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah

2. Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim

3. Eyal ben Iris Teshurah.

Today we all grieving parents.

May Hashem bring our children home safely.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort- “ Eyes Which Do Not See* (6/12/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 14th of Sivan 5774 and June 12, 2014


Eyes Which Do Not See


Quite often I am the ‘go to’ person with regard to whatever someone may need in Israel.

As I have three married children living there and my father who was a sixth generation Yerushalmi, I have hundreds if not thousands of relatives in almost every corner of the land.

I was therefore not surprised when Dovid contacted me for my input.

Dovid who is just turning 20 is a good natured and a ‘some-time’ serious Yeshiva bochur.

He has had his ups and downs in the system and lately he been struggling with his ‘spiritual health’.

He asked me if I could help me find a family in Yerushalayim where he could spend a Shabbos.

He wanted to spend Shabbos in a total Torah environment and he also wanted to be able to taken around to experience some of the spiritual sights and sounds of Yerushalayim on Shabbos. He hoped he could witness a Tisch and be part of the some of the special davening experiences which only Yerushalayim can offer on Shabbos.

I did not have to think long as to where to steer Dovid.

 It was clear that he should spend Shabbos with my Uncle Shlomo in Yerushalayim.

D’Feter Shloima (the uncle Shlomo) was the perfect person for me to send Dovid.

My uncle is “kulo Torah”- a total and complete Torah Jew.

R’ Shlomo himself is getting elderly and he himself may not relate to Dovid; however, R’ Shlomo has a “bein Zekunim” (a child born later in his life) named Gavi who is not yet married. Gavi who is 22 is the perfect person to host Dovid.

Gavi is outgoing, friendly and most importantly he spent a year learning in a yeshiva in America. He speaks English fluently and just as critical, he understands the American Bochur’s mindset. He can relate to the struggles and challenges of the American Bochur and I could so see Dovid and Gavi siting up and schmoozing till the wee hours of Friday night talking about Hashem and Yiddishkeit to their hearts delight.

I quickly called D’Feter Shloima and asked him if a Bochur from my Shul could spend a Shabbos with him.

He replied in his typical Torah fashion, “Hachnosas Orchim is a big Mitzvah and of course he can come.”

I called Dovid; gave him my uncle’s address and was so happy with myself for making the “Shidduch” between Dovid and Gavi. I just knew they would get along just fine.

As the Shabbos approached I called Dovid on Friday morning (New York time) to see if he had arrived safely at my uncle’s house in Shaarei Chessed. He told me he had arrived and everything looked great. I then casually asked if he had met Gavi yet. Dovid said, “No, I haven’t seen him. I think your uncle said he will not be here for Shabbos.” I quickly asked to speak to my uncle and asked him where is Gavi? He calmly answered that Gavi went to help out his older sister who had a baby on Thursday and would not be home for Shabbos. “Why didn’t you tell me? Who will speak to Dovid?” I asked.  D’Feter Shloima just answered, “What’s the big deal? I can speak to him.” And with that we wished each other a Good Shabbos and hung up.

I was beside myself with worry.

D’Feter Shloima is a wonderful person; a Talmid Chochom and a truly Frum Yid.

However, in the family he is also known as ‘the Davening Dod” (the uncle who (always) prays) or alternatively, “Shloima D’Schlepper” (Shlomo who ‘drags’ things out).

This appellation was earned by virtue of his constant davening. Indeed, although he has finished Shas many times, his lengthy davening was the coup de grâce in the family decision to award him the title of “Shloima D’Schlepper”.

He could daven for hours; literally.

He also could not- or better said would not- speak a word of English.

His knowledge of America was that the people there ate this food called Pizza which he prided himself as never even having tasted! He had no patience for a struggling American Bochur who was particularly grappling with the challenging daily task of davening.

I could not imagine how this Shabbos would play out.

There would not (or could not) be any conversation between the two of them over Shabbos.

What would David do the entire Shabbos?

As I davened Mincha I put in special request that Dovid would not at least back-slide over Shabbos.

When Shabbos ended I could not call as it was the middle of the night already in Yerushalayim.

Finally on Sunday morning I called Dovid.  “So how was Shabbos?” I hesitantly asked.

“It was amazing! It was the most uplifting Shabbos of my life. I feel like a changed person. I am enrolling in a Yeshiva for the summer and can’t wait to begin. Rabbi, how can I thank you enough? This was absolutely the best Shabbos of my life!”

“Wait”, I said. “Was my cousin Gavi there?”

“No, he wasn’t.”

“Did my uncle speak to you over Shabbos?”

“Not really, as when he wasn’t davening -which was most of the day- he was learning and since I don’t speak Hebrew or Yiddish and he doesn’t speak English we really did not speak much over Shabbos.”

“Wait, I don’t get it”, I protested. “If you did not speak to my uncle and my cousin was not home and ‘all’ you did was watch my uncle daven, what was so life changing?”

“Rabbi- that is exactly the point.”

“What is the point” I desperately asked, wanting to understand.

“Did you ever watch your uncle daven?

Did you ever observe him during Shmoneh Esrei?

Did you ever see his face as he speaks to Hashem?

  It is something I have never seen in my life.

It is a son talking to his father and servant pleading before his master.

It is a work of art and a sublime and inspirational display of communication.

Watching your uncle daven in watching a man connect with his creator; seeing your uncle daven with such sincerity and clarity strengthened my Emunah more than any other experience of my life; I am a changed person. However, Rabbi, I am sure you know all this as you have no doubt observed your uncle davening many, many times.”

I was holding the receiver and not believing what I was hearing.

It was not the long mussar schmooze with Gavi which turned things around.

It was not the Rebbe’s Tisch which did it.

It was not even speaking to anyone.

Rather it was ‘just’ being able to witness a Jew in total communion with his creator.

“Rabbi,” Dovid asked again, “You know what I mean, right? After all, you have been by your uncle many times. So you know what I am talking about?”

As I recalled the playful comments that the family- including myself- would say about the “Davening Dod’ or “Shloima D’Schlepper” the only thing which came to mind were the words of another Dovid written many years ago: “…they have eyes but do not see.” (Tehillim 135:16)

Dovid had seen more in one day than I had seen in twenty years.



“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ





The Short Vort- “The Boat People* (6/10/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 12th of Sivan 5774 and June 10, 2014


The Boat People


Today (June 10th) in 1977 an Israeli freighter ship, the ‘Yuvali’, en route to Taiwan, sighted 66 half-starved and sickened Vietnamese refugees who were part of the thousands of “Boat People” who were desperately trying to escape the tyrannical Communist regime of Viet Nam.

Captain Meir Tadmor telegraphed Haifa for permission to take them aboard, even though his ship carried only enough life rafts and jackets for his 30-member crew. Still, he had no choice but to pick up the refugees, he said, because "they are poor in body and morale."


Yet the Yuvali found no port willing to accept the starving men women and children. Captain Tadmor made an unscheduled stop in Hong Kong for desperately-needed medical attention; authorities in the British crown colony refused to allow them ashore. Equally inhospitable were authorities in Taiwan: they prevented anyone from getting off. The refugees received a similarly cold reception at Yokohama, Japan.


Menachem Begin’s first act as Israel’s new prime minister was to offer asylum to the 66 Vietnamese. Only then did Taiwan allow the group to disembark, where they were whisked to Sung Shan Airport for a flight to Israel.

As Begin explained to then-U.S. President Carter:

"We never have forgotten the boat with 900 Jews [the St. Louis], having left Germany in the last weeks before the Second World War… traveling from harbor to harbor, from country to country, crying out for refuge. They were refused… Therefore it was natural… to give those people a haven in the land of Israel."


For a full story of this incident see:


There are many times in life where a Jew is granted an opportunity to make a true Kiddush Hashem.

There are times we have the privilege of showing the world that we as Jews are compassionate and kind people to all of G-d’s creations and all of G-d’s children; Jew and non-Jew alike.


The acceptance of moral responsibility is not an easy task.

Misplaced tribalism and of prejudice can offer stain our moral compasses and preclude us from doing what is right and compassionate.

Thirty seven years ago today, Menachem Begin, a man who lost his family in the Holocaust and saw up close how racial hatred and bigotry can bring about horrific consequences was determined that the State of Israel would never repeat the mistakes of the past.

He realized that by embracing these downtrodden souls and by aiding and supporting them he was doing the only possible Jewish response to human suffering and that is to reach out and help.


Never forget this lesson.

Never forget that compassion towards all human beings irrespective of their race, religion and certainly skin color is a Jewish ideal.

Our Patriarchs were all compassionate individuals towards all humans, irrespective if they were ‘part of the tribe’ or not.

Too often we forget our Patriarchal roots.

We forget that Avrohom Avinu reached out and attempted to help even the evil city of Sodom.

We forget that Avrohom was forgiving towards Avimelech after an apology was offered.

We forget that Avrohom was warm and compassionate to all people, even to the three “Arab” visitors who came to visit just three days after his Bris.

In the current atmosphere of xenophobia and tribalism which is so pervasive in religious circles it is incumbent upon us never to forget our moral foundations; which is compassion to all people.

We are “Gomlei Chassadim” and “Rachmanim”; we are people who act charitably towards all and are compassionate to all.

Remember, caring about another human being is a Jewish thing to do.

You don’t have to vote with liberal democrats to be a caring person; and just because you are Orthodox does not mean you cannot reach out and be compassionate to all of Hashem’s children.

The opportunities are endless and the results profound.

When a  “good morning”, a ‘warm hello’, a ‘thank you’ is offered you are being a good Jew; all of these small gestures are so needed and necessary in our current society.

When you are compassionate to someone, you are not just doing the right thing, you are doing the “Jewish thing”.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort- “ “The Heilige (holy) Mall”* (6/9/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 11th of Sivan 5774 and June 9, 2014


“The Heilige (holy) Mall”


The mall is an interesting place.

The entire concept of one centralized place to buy one’s needs is certainly a novel idea.

However, the idea is not as new as you might think.

Indeed: One of the earliest public shopping centers is Trajan’s Market in Rome located in Trajan’s Forum. Trajan’s Market was probably built around 100-110 CE by Apollodorus of Damascus, and is thought to be the world’s oldest shopping center and a forerunner for the shopping mall.

The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul was built in the 15th century and is still one of the largest covered shopping centers in the world, with more than 58 streets and 4,000 shops. (Wikipedia)

These shopping areas were of course open aired.

However, irrespective of the novelty of the modern indoor shopping mall, it has today become one of the most popular daytime excursions for the young woman of our community.

When I once mentioned to the Bais Yakov class I was teaching that I could not recall the last time I was in ‘the mall’ they were incredulous. For them “The Mall” was a semi- sacred place; a holy habitat of commercial establishments where one goes to acquire the basic and not so basic necessities of life.

However, low and behold the day arrived when the rabbi himself had to make the trek to the hallowed ground of “The Mall”.

A purchase was to be made which required my personal attention and therefore, armed with nothing more than my Bitachon and my wallet, off I went to the maddening and mesmerizing place my daughters and students refer to with an air of sanctity as “The Mall”.

As I arrived I was amazed at the amount of people who were there in the middle of the day.

There were all types of stores I had never heard of and I wondered to myself what could possibly lie beyond the glittering glass doors of stores with names such as “Bed, Bath and Beyond”?

What exactly was ‘beyond’ the bath? Perhaps a towel?

And then there was a store called “The Gap”.

Why would anyone want to shop in a store which publicizes that it has ‘gaps’ in its merchandise?

And what about the store called ‘Old Navy’?

What did they sell?

Perhaps they acquired old worn out and discarded Navy apparel and re-sold them at a reduced price?

However this was not the time to ponder such important questions as I had to meet my purchasing partner, and therefore, with my head held not too high and my glance not exactly focused forward I continued on to my destination.

However, as Hashem would have things, I soon realized that what I thought was the primary reason for ‘my-once-in-a-decade’ arrival at “The Mall” was no longer applicable.

The person who I thought I was meeting was not coming and therefore I found myself surrounded by a “Banana Republic” and by a big “Apple” which someone took a bite out of and by a store called ‘Foot Locker” which I could not even imagine what they sold.

Just as I was about to make my way to the exit as fast as I could I heard the voice.

At first I was not sure I heard it correctly. After all, what would the voice -the ‘kol’- be doing here in “The Mall”?

However, there was no questioning it.

I listened again and this time I was sure; it was the voice.

I picked up my head and quickly noticed two Israeli men who were chattering away in Hebrew as they were attempting to sell skin care products from the Dead Sea to the passerbys.

I approached them with a big Shalom Aleichem and began to chat with them in the Mama Lashon.

Soon enough I was inviting them for Shavuos to Passaic and after they assured me they were set for Yom Tov, we conversed a little more; I gave them my contact info and began to leave.

Suddenly, one of them looked at me and said, “Wait, “K’vod HaRav” (honorable rabbi), before you leave can you just do one thing for us?”

I surmised they wanted me to promote their product in Passaic; however, as usual I was just being too cynical.

“HaRav, can you please teach us some Torah? We have not learned Torah today and we want to hear some Torah. Please, please, before you leave, teach us Torah.”

I stopped in my tracks and right then and there between the “American Eagle” and “(R’) Neiman and (R’) Marcus” the three of us began to learn Torah.

We discussed Torah thoughts about Shavuos and plumbed the depths of our Holy Torah.

And only after we finished talking did I began to exit while still scratching my head in disbelief.

I thought I was going to the mall to meet someone and to buy something.

However, that was not to be and I then wondered if the trip was for naught.

However, in reality “the Master Planner” needed two Jews from Tel Aviv to travel to half way around the world to Paramus, New Jeresey and for a rabbi from Passaic to travel to the “The Heilige (holy) Mall” so the three of them could share some Torah in the midst of Gucci handbags and Godiva chocolates.

What Hashem won’t do to bring three Jews together to study Torah?

Perhaps this is the true meaning of the verses: “It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?" Rather, [this] thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.” (Devarim 30: 12-14)


Next time you are in “The Heilige (holy) Mall” look up my friends Rami and Lior; tell them the rabbi with the whitish-red beard from Passaic sent you.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ




The Short Vort- “ Saturday- the Rabbi Overslept** (6/7/14)

The Short Vort

Good Voch!


Motzei Shabbos Parshas Behalosecha 5774- June 7, 2014


Saturday- the Rabbi Overslept*

*The title is based on the Rabbi Small sleuth series authored by Harry Kemelman (November 24, 1908 — December 15, 1996). He was an American mystery writer and a professor of English. He was the creator of one of the most famous religious sleuths, Rabbi David Small. The series included the following books:

Friday the Rabbi Slept Late – 1964; Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry – 1966; Sunday, the Rabbi Stayed Home – 1969; Monday the Rabbi Took Off – 1972; Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red – 1973; Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet – 1976; Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out – 1978


Today I overslept.

Not that I was late for Shacharis, indeed, not oversleeping for Shacharis was the cause of the entire problem.

In fact, I was in my office this morning way before 5 AM.

Last night I could not sleep.

Perhaps it was ‘learning lag’ from Shavuos; perhaps it was all of the excitement of having the privilege of celebrating the Bris of my first American born grandson on Friday and perhaps it was just simple exhaustion.

Whatever the reason, I was up at 4 AM today and needless to say I was not “all bright eyed and bushy tailed” this morning.

I would not be exaggerating if I confessed to not being sure if all seven Aliyos were heard by me today. To the best of my recollection, I think sometime between Levi and Shishi my soul departed to the upper regions of firmament.

To those of you who noticed that my eyes were closed during laining and thought the rabbi must be contemplating the secrets of the universe, rest assured that this was not the case at all.

I nodded off during Shlishi, ‘chapped a drimmel’ (Yiddish for napping) during revii; and entered REM during Shishi.

After struggling my way through the Drosha, Mussaf and the Bein Adam L’Chaveiro Shiur after davening, I ate a quick Seuda and ‘retired’ to my berth and entered a semi-comatose state until my wife was kind enough to wake for the final Mincha of the day at 7:55 PM

So therefore, for all of you who came out at 6:30 PM to hear the “The Shiur You Do Not Want To Miss”, I can only humbly say, “I am sorry”.

And although I ‘did not want’ to miss the Shiur, I was a no show- and for that I ask your forgiveness.

Unfortunately, this was the “Shabbos when the rabbi was shluffing”.

Let’s hope we all sleep better tonight.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ 

The Short Vort- “ Imperfection Perfected* (6/2/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 4th of Sivan 5774 and June 2, 2014


Imperfection Perfected


Part One- The Difference between Me and You


We all make mistakes, I know I do. In fact, I probably make more mistakes in a day than correct decisions!

However, too often I expect others to be tolerant and forgiving and forgetting when it comes to my mistakes while I am too strict in not being as tolerant with regard to the mistakes of others.

This double standard is unfortunately too often the norm with regard to human relationships.

With regard to my faults and failures I expect you (at least after I have said, “I am sorry”) to forget the incident and to no longer hold a grudge.

However, when you have wronged me, for ‘some reason’ I allow the incident to be ‘saved’ in the ‘memory’ of my mind to be resurrected when needed and never to be forgotten.


Part Two- Armando Galarraga


Did you ever hear of Armando Galarraga?

Did you ever hear of baseball?

Are you American?

 Do you like apple pie, hotdogs and Chevrolet?

Armando Galarraga was a mediocre pitcher for the Detroit Tigers; he now plays baseball for a team called “Brother Elephants” which is part of Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League.


What does Armando Galarraga have to do with mistakes and forgiveness? Everything.

Today, on June 2, 2010 Armando Galarraga made baseball history, well, sort of.

On this day four years ago Armando Galarraga was one ‘out’ away from pitching a ‘Perfect Game’.

No batters from the opposing team- the Cleveland Indians- had reached base during the entire game. The 27th and what should have been the last batter hit a lazy ground ball to the infield.

And although the runner seemed to be ‘out’ so clearly that Armando Galarraga and his teammates and the television announcer who was calling the game, all began to celebrate, however, shockingly, the umpire, Jim Joyce, a veteran umpire with over twenty years of experience and who was well respected by the players as being a fair and evenhanded umpire, ‘blew’ the call and declared the runner ‘safe’!

The instant replay clearly revealed that indeed the umpire had missed the call and that the runner was really out, without any question.

The perfect game was gone.

In the entire history of Major League Baseball, only twenty three Perfect Games have been pitched.

This was Armando Galarraga’s one chance for immortality and stardom. However, because of the clear mistake of the umpire, the accomplishment which he had rightly earned was taken away from him.


Part Three- Perfection through Imperfection


The reaction in the media and among the fans was immediate and fierce. There were those who called for the umpire’s dismissal.

 There were those who wanted the commissioner to reverse the call and right the wrong.

However, how did the two directly involved individuals react?

How did Armando Galarraga react? “Galarraga was forgiving and understanding of the mistake. Without irony, he told reporters after the game, "Nobody’s perfect." (Wikipedia).

Meaning, Armando Galarraga was understanding towards the umpire and forgiving.

What was the umpires’ reaction? “Joyce, a 22-year veteran, tearfully admitted after reviewing video of the play after the game that "I did not get the call correct," insisting that he "took a perfect game away from that kid over there …". (Ibid)

Armando Galarraga was sympathetic and forgiving.

Jim Joyce the umpire took responsibility for his mistake; apologized and offered no excuses: "I did not get the call correct," he stated clearly and without reservation.


Part Four- The Lesson of Imperfection


Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and we all ‘miss calls”.

Often we see that when mistakes are made by us, we feel the need to do everything and anything to somehow, no matter how far-fetched to justify our actions and we cannot say the magic words, “I am sorry”.

However, simultaneously, irrespective of our inability to apologize, we expect of others to be benevolent and forgiving towards us notwithstanding our apparent lack of sincerity.

However, when others harm us, too often, no matter how apologetic they may be, we cannot bring ourselves to forgive and forget.


There are no coincidences in this world.

The fact that I ‘came across’ this incident today- (I had never heard of it before this morning at 5 AM) - as we stand before the anniversary of the Jewish people’s acceptance of the Torah- perhaps this is a message for all of us.

Hashem in His Torah teaches us about forgiveness and about second chances.

The Torah teaches us about being forgiving to people and to not hold a grudge.

The lesson of Armando Galarraga and his ability to be forgiving and the example of the honesty of Jim Joyce as he declared without hesitation:  "I did not get the call correct”; is something we must all take to heart.

When someone says to us ‘I am sorry’ and they are sincere, we have to listen to them and to forgive.

And when we hurt someone else we must have the strength of character to turn to that person and state that which is must uncomfortable to state, namely, "I did not get the call correct”.

Only by being forgiving of others while simultaneously taking responsibility for our own actions can we achieve the elusive feeling of Achdus (unity) we so desperately need and want.


If Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce could do it, why can’t we?


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


PS to the Short Vort (5/30/14)


PS to the Short Vort

“Lost and Found”


As per the request of many I am enclosing two pictures the Siddur

1.       A picture of the inscription of the siddur from 1960

2.       The Green Siddur as it looks today

Good Shabbos to All! 

The Short Vort- “ Lost and Found” (5/30/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 1st of Sivan 5774 and May 30, 2014


Lost and Found


Lawrence Bernstein (name changed) was born to holocaust survivors in the East Tremont Section of the Bronx in 1951; the family davened by Rabbi Moshe Bick Zt”l on East 169th Street.

Lawrence knocked on my door on Erev Pesach minutes before I was about to sell the Chometz.

Larry was obviously a not-a-regular and I had no time on such a busy day to ‘chap a schmooze’.

 He said he was here to: “sell me his hoometz”.

I had him fill out the form, wished him a good Yom Tov and escorted him to the door.

As he is leaving, Larry turns and hands me a small siddur. “Maybe you can use this? It has been sitting in my home for 41 years.”

I’m used to people ‘dumping’ their unneeded ‘Shaimos’ at the Shul and as I glanced through the worn pages I was about to tell him we don’ t accept ‘donations’ of used books when something about the small siddur caught my eye.

On the inside cover was an inscription by a grandmother to her grandson written almost 55 years ago.

My interest was piqued and I asked Larry where he got this Siddur.

              “As a child in the Bronx the only day we only went to Shul besides Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur was the day before Passover. My father would schlep me out of bed to attend a service with cookies. He would then approach the rabbi, talk to him in Yiddish and then pick up the corner of his garment. My father said this had to do with “hoometz”.

              Anyway, in 1973 when New York was a dirty decrepit, declining city, I was riding the IRT from 177th Street and suddenly a menacingly looking man approaches me and shows me this small book. “What is this?” he asked me. I told him it was a prayer book. He asked me if I wanted it, I said yes.

A week later we made our annual pilgrimage to the Shul and I decided to bring my book with me. I asked Rabbi Bick  what to do with it. In broken English he said, “Hold on to the book, “You never know, one day you may return it to its owner.”

I soon forgot about the prayer book and placed in a box.

 Fast forward 41 years. Last night I could not sleep. I decided to leaf through some old photo albums and I came across a picture of me and my parents on the day before Passover. Every year my mother would photograph the family right before the Seder. In the picture I am holding my green little prayer book proudly.

Suddenly I felt a pain of nostalgia for my father and my youth. I have not attended synagogue on Passover eve since my father passed away 28 years ago.

I called my friend Bernie whose son became, how do you call it? A Bale Shumuva? You know what I mean; a born again Orthodox Jew.

Bernie’s son lives in Passaic. He told me about your shul and the schedule of services. So this morning in honor of my father I came to Shul to do the “hoometz thing.”

 As I am leaving the house I noticed the green siddur and I decided to bring it with me.

So Rabbi, do you know whose book this is?”

I look at the man who I was thought I was doing a favor and I look at the inscription on the siddur.

 I know very well who this siddur belongs to.

“Larry, this siddur is mine.  I left this is Siddur on the IRT two weeks before Pesach in 1973; Larry this siddur was given to me by grandmother almost 55 years ago.”

Larry looks at me and I look at him; we are speechless.

Larry breaks the awkward silence, “I guess that Rabbi Bick was a smart man; I did return it to its owner. It took 41 years, but, I did it!”

I am dumfounded and say nothing; and as I lovingly open the siddur the first words I see are “Return us our father to serve you.”


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ


The Short Vort- “ We Have To Say Thank You* (5/27/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is the 28th of Iyar 5774 and May 28th 2014


We Have To Say Thank You


Today, the 28th of Iyar is the day when in 1967 the city of Yerushalayim was liberated and reunited. The Kosel HaMa’aravi was returned to Jewish hands and for the first time in almost two thousand years Jews were granted by Hashem total free access to the Western Wall.

For the first time in almost 2000 years any Jew of any affiliation could approach the Wall at any time of the day or night; on any day of the calendar; in snow, in rain, in summer and in winter; the Wall was open for all to come and pour out their hearts to Hashem.

The Jewish Quarter was returned to Jewish hands and the city of Jerusalem became united.

There are many different Jews in the world and they have many different ways of marking different calendric days.

The 28th of Iyar is one of those days where the Jewish people have different ways of observing the day.

There are those who say Hallel and there are those who don’t.

There are those who celebrate openly and there are those who do not.

However, obviously we have to respect all of our Jewish brethren and never ridicule them for what they personally do or do not do.

Today is also the Yahrtziet of the Navi Shmuel.

The Navi Shmuel who is buried near Ramot in Yerushalayim and his resting place is called Nebi Samuel (‘the prophet Shmuel’ in Arabic).

While many Jews go to the Wall or other places in Yerushalayim to celebrate, there are also many people who go to the Kever (gravesite) of Shmuel HaNavi today.

In the year 1979 I was one of those who climbed the minaret atop the kever of the prophet.

As I was exiting the gravesite, I noticed a number of IDF soldiers who were guarding the sacred place.

It was a hot day and the soldiers in their battle dress and helmets were no doubt hot and sweaty.

Suddenly I noticed an elderly Chareidi Jew with a rabbinic frock and stiff wide-brimmed hat leave the ‘line’ of those exiting the gravesite and make a bee-line to the soldiers.

He removed from his bag a small meimea (canteen) and some plastic cups and proceeded to pour water for all the soldiers while thanking them and making friendly small talk.

I watched in amazement as the majority of the petitioners just walked on not even noticing the soldiers. It made no different if these Jews were Chareidi, Modern Orthodox, Dati Leumi or whatever; almost everyone else except this elderly Chareidi Rav quickly passed the soldiers without so much as a hello.

As I intensely observed the elderly Rav’s behavior he turned to me and said, “Why do you look so surprised by my actions? Whatever my point of view is about Zionism, the State and the army; one thing is for sure; without the soldiers we could not have come here to pray today.

Without their valor and bravery we would not be permitted to daven at most of the holy places of the holy land. So whatever I personally feel one thing is for sure, I and all of us have to remember to say thank you. That is what I was doing, I said to the soldiers “thank you”. For one thing is for certain, whatever my personal philosophical outlook is regarding the State, thank you must always be said.”

I then said to myself, “If Hashem will one day grant me the privilege to be a Rav, then that Chareidi Rav will be a role model for me. For whatever happens I must never forget to say ‘thank you’.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ



The Short Vort- “ The Cab Ride* (5/23/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 23rd of Iyar 5774 and May 23, 2014

Candle Lighting in Passaic, NJ- 7:56 PM


The Cab Ride


I can recall the cab ride many years ago:

As I entered the cab in Yerushalayim almost a score of years ago, I was more than a little nervous.

With all of the rhetoric and rancor about rabbis and Chareidim being tossed around in the media at that point in time, I was concerned that with my obvious Chareidi-rabbinic appearance that perhaps my secular looking cab-driver would be less than appreciative of me.

Therefore, when I entered the cab I attempted to be even more than friendly; I attempted to be outright sociable. I inquired of his birthplace (Yokneam); I asked him what he did in the IDF (communications officer). And I even asked him the names of his children (Itai and Ido). However, despite my attempts at détente, Nehorai (I asked his name as I entered his taxi) remained reticent as his monosyllabic replies to my queries did not leave me filled with the warm and fuzzies.

However, I reasoned that he is tired and just wants to enjoy the quiet of the ride to Ramot and I was soon engrossed in the Parsha as I removed my Chumash from my pocket.

I did not notice when we left the city proper and began the climb to Ramot as the words of Rashi kept me focused on my Sefer.

Suddenly, as if I was being awakened from a dream I heard Nehorai say, “Shum Davar Lo Yazor Lecha Achshav!” (Nothing can help you now). And as he finished his sentence he quickly opened the ‘secret’ compartment located between his seat and the front passenger seat.

I looked up from my Sefer and was unsure if I heard correctly. “Selicha?” (excuse me?) I muttered.

As Nehorai continued to rummage through the storage compartment he repeated again the phrase, “Nothing can help you now”.

Was this really happening?

Was I dreaming?

I looked out the window and as Nehorai sped along at 60 plus miles per hour, I knew I was not about to exit the cab at any time soon and indeed realized:  “Nothing can help me now”.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity, Nehorai began to pull some black cloth from the compartment.

“What could that be?” I wondered as my heart pounded so loud, it drowned out the sound of the Chadashot (hourly news) which were blasting on the car radio.

Suddenly, just as I imagined the black cloth being used as a blindfold, Nehorai unfolded the cloth and gently and lovingly placed a black yarmulke on his head.

He then turned around to face me as he continued his 60 plus mile per hour race to Ramot and with a wide smile stated proudly:

“Nothing can help you now; all the rabbis who enter my cab are required to tell me a Dvar Torah and you will be no different!

I sit in this cab all day thirsty for spirituality and silently praying that Hashem should send me a Talmid Chochom who can share some Torah with me in the car.

When you entered the cab and I saw your frock and beard I was so excited.

However, you kept on engaging me in small talk and I hoped you would eventually get the hint by my terse answers that I wanted to hear Torah.

However, when you went to your sefer and left me alone I had no choice but to state clearly and to the point: Nothing can help you now- I need a Dvar Torah and I need one now!

I keep this Kippah in the car just for these precious moments; now please HaRav, please teach me Torah.”

There was no acrimony or hostility, no feeling of being taken advantage of, just a Jew who was desperate to bond to His creator.

As we drove on and discussed Torah I realized once again just how united we all really are.

However, as I think about that incident from 15 years ago, I wonder if today the situation would repeat itself.

Would the present Chareidi Rabbi who enters into a cab today attempt to be as a conciliatory and compassionate as so many of us attempted to be 15 years ago?

Has the current rhetoric, rancor and (I shudder as I write these words) constant comparison of secular (and even Kippah Sruga wearing) Jews to our arch-enemy Amalek, created a new emboldened and hate-filled Chareidi persona which perhaps openly and unabashedly avoids contact with the secular cab driver?

Has the constant portrayal of secular and non –Chareidi politicians (notwithstanding the Chareidi media consistently claiming they are the ones under attack) as ultimate epitomes of evil to the extent that one prominent Rosh Yeshiva from the most prominent yeshiva in Israel recently publicly stated that when he saw his five year son searching for a hammer to kill government ministers, he kissed his son on the head- caused your average Chareidi Rabbi to avoid contact with secular Jews?

This Rebbe proudly told his son that we should really (if the leadership would be backboned enough to give the order) be ready to take swords and kill off the JEWISH (emphasis my own) democratically elected officials.

 The Rebbe was very publicly proud of his son’s ability to be able creative and substitute a hammer in lieu of a sword.

This type of Chinuch (upbringing)  certainly does not bode well for that five year old boy and for our hope that the boy will soon be reaching out and be embracing of his fellow secular Jew.

The Rebbe has since ‘clarified’ his position, however, once the cat is out of the bag….

What does the current rabbinic looking person think of the secular cab driver as he enters his cab?

For some reason (and I hope I am wrong), feelings of compassion, love of your fellow Jew and reaching out to each other somehow no longer come to mind as the correct answer.

Perhaps at best, Rabbi Ploni enters the cab and minds his own business while the secular cab driver no longer thinks about removing his dishelmed and dust filled Kippah and no longer asks to hear words of Torah.

Indeed, I wonder if when Nehorai cleaned his cab for Pesach, he found the long-unused relic of a religious yearning long squashed through the constant critical and often salacious portrayal of the members of the Zionist secular community by the religious media outlets.

Perhaps as he picked up the old and not-recently used skullcap, he said to himself, “Why keep this in my cab? If they say I am Amalek and they believe I am Amalek, than I must be Amalek.”

And with that Nehorai took his Kippah and discarded it along with his faith and trust and even love of rabbis and of Torah.

After all, how can you love someone who tells his child to kill the person you voted for?

How can you emulate the man who tells you that because your Yarmulke is different than his you are an Amaleiki?

And even when Nehorai attempts to question Rabbi Ploni he is answered with evasive and off the mark platitudes and with nonsensical ‘frum-babble’; the common denominator always being that the person who made the hate filled invectives never meant what they said or those who listened were not of the intellectual capacity to understand what was said.

 However, never, but never is the answer the one Dovid HaMelech said when taken to task for his impropriety: “Chatasi” (Shmuel Beis 12:13); never is the answer “I have sinned- with no ifs-ands or buts”.

And therefore Nehorai takes his long-forgotten Kippah and discards it with his Chometz and that is a tragedy.

However, perhaps even more tragic is the fact that when Rabbi Ploni enters Nehorai’s cab today and asks to go to Ramot, he makes no attempt to engage Nehorai; he makes no endeavor to connect and to bond; he takes out his Sefer and learns alone, and in solitude; never even considering that the person who sits just two feet from him is a warm and beloved Jew by G-d Himself; irrespective of the type of Yarmulke which he may or may not choose to wear and irrespective of who he voted for.  

After all, do we not say every evening in our prayers: “Blessed are you Hashem, (who) loves His People Israel?”

We do not say: “He who loves those who wear a black or knitted or any sort of head covering, we simply say “He who loves His people Israel.”

And therefore tragically Nehorai no longer reaches out or yearns to hear the words of Torah from his Torah passenger. He sits also alone, engrossed in the Chadashot, listening to Jews from all sides of the aisles of the Knesset trade barbs and insults; each side never taking responsibility, each side equally blaming the other.

And as Rabbi Ploni learns his sefer alone and disconnected from Nehorai, and as Nehorai continues -for lack of being able to engage or being engaged by his passenger- to listen to the political posturing and put-downs which emanate equally from all sides being broadcast from his radio, Hashem looks down from the heaven and wonders, “When will anyone ever consider how I feel about this?

And perhaps as if we listen closely and open our hearts wide and unconditionally, we can hear the muffled cries of Hashem as He sees His people spiraling down faster and faster into the venomous and enmity filled world of Sinas Chinam (baseless hatred).  

Friends, if we don’t stop our ever increasing outright hatred and abhorrence of each other we may one day be forced to hear Hashem wondering aloud something even more chilling and terrifying.

We may one day be compelled to listen to He who loves all His Jews cry and lament: “Shum Davar Lo Yazor Lecha Achshav!” –“Nothing can help you now.”

May that day never arrive.



“If Not Now- Then When”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ






The Short Vort- “ The Banality of Evil* “ (5/21/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 21st of Iyar 5774 and May 21, 2014


The Banality of Evil*

*Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil is a book by political theorist Hannah Arendt, originally published in 1963.


Today, exactly  90 years ago on  Wednesday, May 21, 1924- Nathan Leopold (November 19, 1904 – August 29, 1971) and Richard Loeb (June 11, 1905 – January 28, 1936), more commonly known as "Leopold and Loeb"- who were two wealthy University of Chicago law students- kidnapped and murdered in cold blood 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks in Chicago.

All three of the participants of the event, the two murders, "Leopold and Loeb" and the victim14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks were professed Jews.

The two murderers Leopold and Loeb were extremely wealthy and privileged young men from the upscale Jewish community in Chicago.

The murder victim, Bobby Franks was also part of the ‘privileged Jewish community’; indeed, the two murderers Leopold and Loeb were concerned that when the body was discovered the authorities would see from the victim’s circumcision that he was Jewish.

The murder shocked the entire nation.

The crime which was committed by two privileged Jewish young men for no apparent motive than to commit the ‘super-perfect-crime’ and perpetrated on a promising young Jewish man was totally incomprehensible.  

How could two cultured, educated and seemingly ‘moral’ boys go off the straight and narrow and become cold blooded murderers?

There are those of my readership who will no doubt claim that it was their lack of belonging to a Torah community which allowed them to be swayed to the vile and evil ways of crime and violence.

However, Chazal (our sages) do not agree with this approach.

After all, our Rabbis related to us (and did not attempt to cover this up with apologetic statements or far-fetched rationalizations) that Yochanan, a Tzaddik who served with distinction for eight decades in the office of High Priest (Kohen Gadol) nevertheless, at the end of his days became a heretic.

Indeed, this is what Hillel taught us in Avos (2:4), “Hillel would say: Do not believe in yourself until the day you die.”

Meaning no one, not even the Kohen Gadol is immunized against sinning.

Too often in life when we hear about contemporary “Leopold and Loebs” or a modern day Yochanan Kohen Gadol we choose to disregard and be dismissive of the facts.

We say, “This Jewish and Torah fellow could not have done this or that”, without even bothering to hear the facts.

We have a knee jerk reaction to circle the wagons and defend and dismiss the Yochanan Kohen Gadols of our times. We take comfort in convincing ourselves that the accusations are false and the work of an anti-Semitic media.

However, ostensibly this is not the view of Chazal.

Chazal dealt head on and openly with the Yochanan Kohen Gadols among us and never wavered in their commitment to expose the few among us who are criminal and need to be exposed for what and who they are.

Chazal never covered up for someone just because he was a member of the privileged group or because of their societal standing.

As Hillel hammered home many years ago: “Do not believe in yourself until the day you die”.

Yochanan Kohen Gadols can and do continue to exist and latent Leopold and Loebs can and do exist among us.

When we expose them we deter others from thinking they can remain under the radar and we make the world a better place for all of us.

It might have been easy for Chazal to cover up for Yochanan Kohen Gadol and not have his name preserved for posterity as a paradigm of hypocrisy.  

However, whoever said life was easy?


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

An important message to readers of the Short Vort (5/19/14)

Dear Short Vort Readers,

The vorts may be short, but the time and effort that goes into writing them is not. Rabbi Eisenman’s Short Vorts provide inspiration, enlightenment, amusement, and reflection to readers worldwide. If you are on this email list, you are a beneficiary of the Rav’s dedication. And what better way to show appreciation for those efforts than to contribute to the shul’s annual dinner campaign.

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The Short Vort- “A Tale of Two People in One City* (5/18/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 18th of Iyar- Lag B’Omer 5774 and May 18th 2014


A Tale of Two People in One City


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way– “

Opening Paragraph of “A Tale of Two Cities” (1859) is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. With well over 200 million copies sold, it ranks among the most famous works in the history of literary fiction. (Wikipedia)


As I write these words it would be very easy for me to join the club.

Which club is that?

The club which is enraptured and captivated by the excitement of Lag B’Omer as hundreds of thousands of Frum Jews from all segments of Jewry are seemingly sharing a rare moment of unified celebration.

The estimates are that over half a million people will celebrate over the next 24 hours in Meron at the tomb of Rav Shimon Ben Yochai.

So Rabbi Eisenman, why must you play the contrarian?

What causes you not to join in what is seemingly a wonderful and unified celebration of joy as frum Yidden from every single religious community in Israel are dancing together in harmony and love and unity?

C’mon Rabbi Eisenman, why can’t you just join the masses of celebrants in their merriment?

What could you possibly have against Lag B’Omer and celebrating?

Could it be that you are wary of the harsh words of the Chasam Sofer? (Moses Schreiber (1762–1839), was one of the leading Orthodox rabbis of European Jewry in the first half of the nineteenth century. - Wikipedia)

Who wrote very strong words against the celebrations in Meron?

Are you concerned by the fact that he felt it might be a transgression of adding on an additional holiday onto the established Jewish calendar (Ba’al Tosif)?

Or perhaps you are upset -as the Chasam Sofer points out- that the Yahrtzeit of a great man is a time of fasting and not for feasting?

Perhaps, but that is not the main reason for my sadness; as I am aware that there are other equally strong halachik differing opinions.

Perhaps then you are upset because as you yourself was told by Maran Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlitta that it is more important to learn Torah than to make the long pilgrimage to Meron?

Perhaps, however, here as I well I recognize that different communities sometime disagree as to what trumps what; and there are different communities which often stress certain days more than other communities.

What then is your problem Rabbi Eisenman?

Why can’t you for once go with the flow and just follow and be part of the wave of people who are frolicking and ‘fressing’, dancing and dining, praying and prancing on this auspicious day?

Why can’t (for once) you just join the crowd?

The reason I can’t be happy is simple; it is the “Tale of Two Men in One City”; it is because of Yotav and Yaacov the Policemen.

Yotav and Yaacov barely know each other.

They are both employed by “Mishmeret Yisroel”- (the Israeli National Police Force-) and they both live in Teveria in the north of Israel.

Yotav is married and has two wonderful daughters.

The younger one is Adi (which means Jewel) and the older one is Noya (which means beautiful); they are six and eight and attend the local school in Teveria.

Yotav parents were Moroccan immigrants who arrived in Israel in 1951. They were not afforded the opportunity to be given a religious education and although he grew up in a traditional home he drifted to a more secular life style.

 However, Yotav’s wife lights the Shabbos candles every Friday evening and Yotav does his best to avoid working on Shabbos.

Yaacov who also lives in Teveria is also from a Moroccan family. However, his parents sent him to dati (religious) school and although according to most Ashkenazi definitions of the term he would not be considered a true-Chareidi as he served in the IDF and he works for the Israeli Police Force; however, he wears a black hat on Shabbos and sends his children to the school run by the Sephardi Chareidi school system. He has two sons, Guy and Eitan.

He began attending Shiurim a few years and as they say in Israel, he has been “Mitchazek” (strengthened) in his religious observance over the last few years. He has managed to arrange his work schedule that unless there is a matter of life and death, he never works on Shabbos.

About a month ago the work assignments were given out for the month of May. Yotav was surprised as he noticed he was assigned to work in Meron on Shabbos May 17th.

Yaacov received no such notice.

When Yotav when to his superior he asked him why was assigned to work on that Shabbos?

His superior explained to him, “That although the chief rabbinate had suggested -that due to the logistical necessities of accommodating 500,000 people who are expected to come to Meron on Lag B’Omer- that the bon fires be pushed off to Sunday (as is the practice in many Chassidic courts anyway) in order to avoid forcing many civil servants to work on Shabbos- their pleas fell on deaf ears and they answered, “None of ‘our’ people will be Mechalel Shabbos”, so the fires will go on and you must work on Shabbos.”

So today on Shabbos Parshas BeChukosai – Erev Lag B’Omer – while Yaacov sat comfortably with his family in Teveria enjoying Shabbos, Yotav was out in the hot sun setting up police barricades and other necessary activities to accommodate the ‘other’ 500, 000 Jews who apparently felt their bon fires were more important  than Yotav’s Shabbos.

When Yotav returned home after Shabbos he was still unsure why if Chazal pushed off the blowing the Shofar on Shabbos in order to insure that no Jews would be Mechalel Shabbos, why did these people have to insist on having their fire at a time which forced him and thousands of other Jews to desecrate the holy Shabbos?

As someone once asked me, “If four sons who were Baalei Teshuva told their not-yet-frum- mother that they are coming to visit her on Motzei Shabbos and she replied, “That’s great! However, I will have to start cooking at three PM on Shabbos to prepare for you!” Wouldn’t the children say, “That’s okay Ma; we will come on Sunday?”

That’s why Rabbi Eisenman is sad today.

While 500,000 are dancing, Yotav from Teveria is crying.

Is that not a reason to be sad?


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ Don’t Skirt the Issue* (5/15/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 16th of Iyar 5774 and May 16th 2014


Don’t Skirt the Issue


Estee Rothman is a fine young woman who attends my 12th grade class at Ateres Bais Yakov in Monsey, New York.

Many of the girls ask me if I am the same Rabbi Eisenman who writes for Mishpacha Magazine.

After initially attempting to remain humbly anonymous, I admit to the young women that indeed I have the admirable distinction of being a columnist for Mishpacha.

Besides the fact that I am always amazed at how many people read the magazine, I am equally shocked at how the realization of my notoriety effects a change in their entire attitude toward me. They are abruptly transformed from somewhat disinterested adolescents into motivated and mature young women who have hopes of seeing their names appear in print.

They will ask me, “Rabbi Eisenman, can we be in Mishpacha this week? Can you write about our class and what we do?”

I always answer the same, “Of course I can. However, first you have to do something which is noteworthy of being published!”

And at the end of every class they ask, “Did we do something this week? Will we see our names in Mishpacha?”

Finally, last week I was able to answer them, “That story is worthy of being told to all!”

It was the week before Purim and I devoted the last few minutes of the class to inspirational incidents.

We began with Queen Esther and how she attempted to maintain her Tzinus even in the face of the danger to her life.

I related to them the story of Leah Neiman and how when she was still a non-Jew, she was walking the streets of Bayonne, New Jersey in July. She was perplexed when she noticed a young man clad in a black jacket and fedora turn his head and averts his eyes from seeing the summer clad Leilani (she was not yet-Leah). This ‘small’ aversion of the eyes of a Bochur from the Bayonne Yeshiva led Leilani to research this strange group of people and ultimately led to her conversion to Judaism.

The girls were spellbound by the story.

Many of them confessed that the laws of Tzinus (modesty) are certainly challenging; especially to the young people of our generation.

I told them that since there are so many temptations and pressures to compromise the cherished Mitzvah of Tzinus that when a story is related which inspires others to observe the parameters of Tzinus, that incident is worthy of being told and re-told.

Such is the story told by Estee Rothman.

As is the case with many of today’s young women, Estee Rothman shops at the numerous clothing establishments in the ‘mall’ which cater to both a Jewish and non-Jewish clientele. And as many young frum women, she is always faced with the challenge of deciding if the chosen skirt or sweater is not only fashionable, but, also if it meets the lofty levels of modesty which our precious Torah requests of us to strive for.

On this day, after searching the racks Estee had found the ‘correct’ skirt. It was fashionable; the precise color and seemed perfect. The only issue was that the length was not exactly appropriate. Estee rationalized her purchase by convincing herself that she could add a lengthening piece to the skirt after she purchased it.

As she approached the checkout counter, the non-Jewish woman looked at her and in utter innocence asked, “Are you sure this skirt is long enough for someone like you?”

The words penetrated Estee’s heart more than any mussar talk she had ever heard.

She looked at the non-Jewish woman, then looked at the skirt and realized her decision was simple.

Estee looked at the woman and said loud and clear, “You are correct; this skirt is not for someone like me.”

Although she left the store without the skirt, she never felt more fulfilled after shopping than she did that day.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “ Second Chance Judaism?* (5/14/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 14th of Iyar 5774 and May 14, 2014


Second Chance Judaism?


 Today is referred to as Pesach Sheini- ‘the second Passover’.

 During the time of the Beis HaMikdash (Temple) if a person was impure or too distant from Yerushalayim, and therefore they were precluded from bringing the Pesach sacrifice in Nissan, they could ‘make it up’ by offering the sacrifice thirty days later on the 14th of Iyar.

Although the day no longer has any halachik significance, nevertheless, on a psychological and emotional level the day has a timeless and timely meaning.

Namely, that often in life when we initially fail in accomplishing something, we give up.

Often when a person has been searching for a job or for a Shidduch or for a child or for happiness and they feel that every turn they make in order to reach the ‘straight and narrow’ seemingly leads them to an apparent dead end, they throw their hands up and give up.

Meaning, more than giving others in our life a second chance, let us first attempt to give ‘ourselves’  a second chance.

Too often the person who is aching and pining to be given a second chance from me is me.

We are our own severest critics.

 We tend to shut down and be forlorn and give up on ourselves.

Too often we have such a warped and inaccurate appraisal of ourselves that we give up and stop trying.

I once visited a young woman who was battling the debilitating disease of anorexia.

When I came to see her she weighed not more than 80 pounds and was chillingly skeletal in her appearance.

As I entered the room her first comment was, “I am so sorry you see me looking like this I am so embarrassed.”

 In attempting to lift her spirits I remarked, “You look fine and there is nothing to be embarrassed about.”

She then said, “Oh, you cannot fool me I know I am obese and fat. It is so obvious, you don’t have to make believe I am not overweight; I know I am.”

I was initially happy that she was able to maintain her sense of humor even in the midst of her struggle with her malady. However, as I looked at her I realized to my surprise and amazement, she was serious!!!

Her disease had been able to convince her that black was white and light was dark.

She was so obsessed and convinced of her corpulence, she could not give herself a chance of recovery. She was absolutely sure that she was morbidly obese and there was no hope in her life.

Although most of us never reach the intensity of self-deception as the anorexic person does, all of us are too harsh and demanding and critical of ourselves.

“Chill out”- the kids say and there is much truth in that phrase.

It’s nice to eat matzah today; however, even nicer is to give yourself a second chance.

Try it, you’ll like it!


“If Not Now- Then When”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  


The Short Vort- “ “Kids are People Too”* (5/13/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 13th of Iyar 5774 and May 13, 2014


“Kids are People Too”*

*From Wonderama, a long-running children’s television program that appeared on stations from 1955 to 1986, the program’s closing theme song, was called “Kids Are People Too”. (Wikipedia)


On Sunday I had the privilege of attending a meeting with Jews of different opinions and beliefs (you can see a write up about it here: in Monsey, New York.

Some are referring to the meeting as “A Groundbreaking Meeting”; maybe for some it was. However, personally for me it was more of “Bread-breaking meeting” as I had the pleasant opportunity to meet and talk and ‘break-bread’ (there was a really tasty and free catered mutli-course dinner) with some really nice people.

However, perhaps that is exactly part of the problem.

Why when Jews (or even more precise-human beings) of different beliefs and opinions meet is it necessary for the event to be termed ‘groundbreaking’?

What is so news-worthy about talking to someone who is different than you?

Why are we all so nervous, fearful and defensive about speaking to anyone who is one iota different than us?

I have previously mentioned to you that my father, Yoel Moshe ben Yosef Nosson Z’L was a sixth generation Yerushalmi.  His great, great grandfather was already born in Yerushalayim in the early 1800s as they had arrived in Eretz Yisroel with the Talmedei HaGra (the students of the Vilna Gaon who ascended to the land in the late 18th century and the early 19th century).

The family was originally extremely pious and observant as they were meticulous followers of the halachik practices of the holy Vilna Gaon.

However,  as the 1800s moved into the 20th  century and as the winds of change began to blow all over the world, many of the descendants of the original patriarch of the family, Rav Shlomo Zalman Tzoref who arrived in Eretz Yisroel in 1811 were no longer totally halachik observant Jews.

Indeed, by 2011, 200 years after Rav Sholom Zalman Tzoref arrived in Israel,  there is estimated to be over 20,000 of his descendants in the world; the majority of them in Israel.

Many were still observant and many were not; however, they were all family.

My father had first cousins who lived and breathed a total life of Torah and Mitzvohs and although they had a fiery love of the land they were in no way ‘Zionists’.

He had other cousins who were card carrying ‘Mapai’ members (the Labor Anti-Religious party); nevertheless both of these cousins were first and foremost family.

I recall how at my second cousin’s wedding, how the Chosson’s father whose long beard reached his waist, embraced and kissed his own first cousin who was razor shaven and hatless.

Family was family.

I saw my father’s cousin in Shaarei Tzedek who was close to Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach hug her own sister who lived in Tel Aviv and was an outspoken atheist after her son was killed in the Yom Kippur War when they met at my Bar Mitzvah.

Family was family.

My father would talk with equal love and compassion and care for every one of his cousins without any distinction based on their religious observance or lack of.

Therefore, although I was privileged to be part of an event which many would term ‘groundbreaking’; for me it was a day in my life as a human being.

Of course, birds of a feather will flock together and of course we generally share company with those people with whom we share common beliefs and interests and there is nothing wrong with that.

However, family is family.

And this past Sunday was just another family day with my extended family.

Perhaps if we would remember that family is family we would no longer require ‘groundbreaking events’.


“If Not Now- Then When”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “The War is Over “ (5/8/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 8th of Iyar 5774 and May 8, 2014


The War is Over


Today (May 8th) ) in 1945, the Germans unconditionally surrounded to the Allies thus ending the European portion of World War and was therefore designated as V-E Day (Victory in Europe).

Although there were pockets of German soldiers who may have fought on for another day or two, for all practical purposes, the European side of the war ended with the surrender of Germany.

Indeed, not only did the Germans surrender, they would eventually go on to build a democratic society which today has one of the most robust economies’ in the world and is home to a large segment of Jews from the former Soviet Union.

They have a true democratic government and any form of anti-Semitism is illegal.

How was this accomplished?

How did Germany go from being a tyrannical demonic state run by a despotic madman, to becoming a free and democratic county welcoming Jews and other minorities of the world?

Obviously the answer is more complicated than the usual purview of the Short Vort; however, a brief explanation is offered.

Two of the main reasons for the success of the rebuilding of Germany were:

1.       The acceptance of the Allies of the surrender of Germany and their avoidance of punitive and crushing sanctions against the defeated country. Indeed, Germany was re-built in large part by the re-embracing of Germany into the family of nations.

2.       The acceptance of Germany that they were defeated and that the war is over. This is in contra-distinction to Japan where only the two eventual atomic bombs were able to cause Japan to realize that the war was lost.


Too often in our lives we fail to remember these two important lessons.

Two often, when we have an argument or disagreement with someone and they apologize and are repentant; we still do not re-embrace them as a part of our community.

So too, often, when have a disagreement with someone and  even when we do ‘surrender’ and admit our wrong doing or realize that our position is no longer tenable; nevertheless, we continue to fight on and to carry on the battle!

If we would learn to re-embrace those of community who are truly sorry for hurting us and simultaneously we would be more sincere in realizing when to stop our fight and concede, we would all be a lot better off.


“If Not Now –Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ  

The Short Vort- “A Necessary, Albeit Unenviable Honor * (5/5/14)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 5th of Iyar 5774 and May 5, 2014


A Necessary, Albeit Unenviable Honor


From Ha’aretz May 5th 2008

The first official victim of terror

Rabbi Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref was killed trying to rebuild the Churva Synagogue in 1851.

By Nadav Shraga- May 5, 2008


It is doubtful the name Rabbi Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref, who was killed in Jerusalem in 1851, will ring familiar with most Israelis. Nonetheless, Tzoref was the first victim of terror recognized by the State of Israel. In two days, his name and those of over 3,000 victims of hostile acts will be read in commemoration.

Tzoref managed to obtain from Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali, and then later from Turkish authorities, the permits to rebuild the Churva Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Old City, which Arab creditors burned down in 1721.

Tzoref did not live to see the synagogue rebuilt. He was murdered in 1851, five years before the reconstruction work started.


It is doubtful that the name Rav Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref will ring familiar to any of my readers. However, to me, the mention of his name and his murder goes straight to my heart.

It is not that I am such a caring and compassionate Jew that I can claim that every Jew who was ever killed pains me to the depth of my soul; I wish I could say it does, however, alas, I would be lying.

However, I can say it with regard to Rav Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref; for he was my great, great, great, great grandfather.

Rav Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref who was born in Lithuania and settled in Eretz Yisroel in 1811 was directly responsible for me being who I am.

If he did not have the foresight to move to Eretz Yisroel in 1811, thereby saving my family from the holocaust of the twentieth century and from the assimilationists’ of the nineteenth century, would I still be a caring, observant Jew?

His self-sacrificial act of moving to Israel and his martyrdom at the hands of our enemies paved the road of survival for me and my family.

However, he is just one of the many, many Jews who have given their lives so you and I can continue to live in safety in the Land of Israel.

Today is Yom HaZikaron in Israel.

It is not a political day, nor is it a specific religious day.

Rather it is a day to recognize the debt of gratitude every single Jew in the entire world owes to those soldiers and common men and women who died on the hallowed ground of Israel so that you and I can go there anytime we want to.

It is about the almost 25,000 men, women and children who have fallen in the line of duty or have been killed because they insisted on being Jews in the Land of Israel.

It is about my father YoelMoshe ben Yosef Nosson Z”l who fought in 1948 War of Independence and was injured in the Battle of Latrun* in May 1948, while it was under the control of the Arab Legion.

*Latrun commanded the only road linking the Yishuv-controlled area of Jerusalem to Israel, giving Latrun strategic importance in the battle for Jerusalem.

Despite assaulting Latrun on five separate occasions Israel was ultimately unable to capture Latrun, and it remained under Jordanian control until the Six-Day War. (Wikipedia)

My father suffered a permanent loss of hearing in one ear from that battle.

Yom HaZikaron is about the almost three thousand men and women who were killed during the Yom Kippur War; many of them ran to battle still with their tallesim wrapped around them.

And Yom HaZikaron is a day when I recall how my own son Tuvia (voluntarily) served bravely and courageously for three full years in the highly specialized and trained anti-terrorist unit of the Nachal Chareidi battalion of the IDF.

Yom HaZikaron has nothing to do with what yarmulke or what hat you wear or even if you wear one at all.

It is a day which transcends religious affiliation or non-affiliation; it is a day when we honor all of those Jewish men and women who served and who continue to serve in the defense forces of Israel so that all the rest of us can live and continue to live in security and safety.

At the conclusion of the Prayer Gathering held in Lower Manhattan on Sunday March 9th 2014, the Agudath Israel spokesman in his concluding remarks, correctly and properly stated “We want to express our tremendous appreciation to the New York City Police Department for their incredible efforts in insuring the safety and security of all of the tens of thousands of participants here this afternoon.”

Dare we say anything less to the men and women who “insure our safety and security” in the land of our fathers?


“If Not Now- Then When?”- Hillel

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ