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The Short Vort’ - “ Gobble Gobble “ (11/26/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 14th of Kislev 5776 and November 26, 2015


Gobble Gobble


There has been much talk about Thanksgiving in Jewish circles.

“To participate or not to participate”; that is (just one of) the (many) questions.

As I have mentioned before, I probably get more questions about ‘Hilchos Thanksgiving’ than about Hilchos Chanukah!

The reason is simple.

Since so many of ‘us’ come from homes where Thanksgiving is ‘celebrated’ and many of our ‘not-yet’ (?) frum relatives can drive on Thanksgiving without any halachik question, it certainly is a convenient time for families to share quality time together.

And that is good.

Families should spend time together.

Yes, I know, that others claim, ‘Well, you can spend Chanukah together and relatives can drive on Chanukah as well’.

That is true; however, both “Chanukah Sundays” this year have candle lighting in the evening (December 6th and 13th) and that obviously limits ‘our’ ability to travel to non-frum relatives.

Therefore, today, the legal holiday of Thanksgiving affords many of us the opportunity to get together with parents, friends and relatives in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere.

If you are ‘participating’ in the festivities, I have one piece of unsolicited advice for all of you.

When you go to your ‘not-yet-frum-almost frum-long-shot becoming frum-’ relatives and your realize that they have made a serious attempt to make you and your family feel comfortable; e.g. they bring in kosher food; they don’t mind if you bring your own food; they kosher the kitchen for the day; they allow you to cook for all…. Then please, please respond accordingly.

Show your gratitude!!!!

Meaning, HaKoras HaTov (GRATITUDE) is a most basic Jewish concept; and if your relatives have made an earnest attempt to make you and yours’ feel part of the family; then make sure you earnestly and sincerely express your gratitude to them!

In some ways I feel that Thanksgiving is a much better opportunity for ‘kiruv’ (whatever that means; perhaps we will deal with this in another Short Vort) than Chanukah or any ‘authentic’ Jewish holiday.

Why do I say that?

The reason is simple.

Most of us don’t enjoy being lectured or preached to.

Today is a day when you can show your ‘not yet/coming closer/almost there/far-away from becoming/ frum’ relatives that your becoming frum did not turn you into a Martian.

Today is a perfect day to show your relatives that you are still a caring, loving person who can engage in small talk and good quality regular family conversations with people who are wearing a Shaitel or have multiple earrings.

Today is a day where you can show your relatives that you still remember how Uncle Jerry carved the turkey and how all the kids would laugh and how Aunt Rose would make cranberry sauce and her hands would be red from the preparation.

Today you can show all that being frum is really being normal; and the first and best way to show this is to say ‘thank you’.

Appreciate what your mother is doing for you today to make you feel at home.

And appreciate the fact that your brother drove three hours just to see you.

Bring them ‘close’ to your heart; after all isn’t that what ‘kiruv’ (‘to bring closer’) is really all about?


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “ A Moment of Talking “ (11/23/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 11th of Kislev 5776 and November 23, 2015


A Moment of Talking


As I write these words, The New England Patriots football team are about to observe a ‘moment of silence’ in memory of Ezra Schwartz, a native of Sharon, Massachusetts, who was killed in a terror attack on Thursday.

The ‘Moment of Silence’ originates with the Quakers.

Since silence contains no statements or assumptions concerning beliefs and requires no understanding of language to interpret, it is more easily accepted and used than a spoken prayer or observance when persons of different religious and cultural backgrounds participate together.

In the colonial period Pennsylvania Quakers and Lenape Native Americans worshiped silently together on several occasions, yet neither group thought that this implied that they had altered their traditional belief system in doing so.

Over time, the effectiveness of Quaker-style silence for non-sectarian and non-controversial public observances has led to its almost universal use in the English-speaking world as well as other plural societies. (Wikipedia)

We are respectful of the Patriots and admire the respect they are showing Ezra, and we certainly can understand why in such a setting, ‘A Moment of Silence; is appropriate; nevertheless, as they are observing the ‘Moment of Silence’; I will engage in a more authentic Jewish response: A Moment of Verbal Tribute.

I did not know Ezra.

Like most of you, I never heard of him until he was killed on Thursday.

I don’t know his family and I don’t know anyone who lives in Sharon Ma.

That being said, I feel as if I knew him well.

Like Ezra, I also went off to study in Eretz Yisroel when I was finishing high school.

And like Ezra I was searching for growth and for inspiration.

Indeed, I would not be writing these words today if I had not learned in Eretz Yisroel in 1977.

My life changed forever when I was freed from the materialism and the comforts of American consumerism and from the hedonistic American way of life and was exposed to the life of Torah and authentic Judaism.

I would eventually spend many years learning and growing in Eretz Yisroel and it impacted on my life and the lives of my entire family.

Ezra went to Eretz Yisroel with those same dreams which I had almost 40 years ago.

He went to Yeshiva with the same hopes and thoughts which I had at his age four decades ago.

Ezra Schwartz never lived to see the fulfillment of those dreams.

Ezra Schwartz was never privileged to marry, raise a family and establish another link in the traditional Jewish family unit.

Ezra Schwartz came home yesterday to Sharon Ma.

However, he came home not in the way his parents, siblings and friends ever thought he would.

Ezra Schwartz will never dream again.

Ezra Schwartz will never again hope and strive to better his life and the lives of those with whom he made contact.

Ezra Schwartz died for one reason; he was a Jew in the land of Israel.

And for that reason, and that reason alone, he was killed.

Good bye Ezra; I will miss you although I never met you.

Although we never met and although we lived miles apart and although there was almost four decades which separated us; there is much more which united us than doesn’t.

Good bye Ezra, and remember, more meaningful than any Moment of Silence can ever be are all of the Mitzvohs and good deeds which continue to pay tribute to you forever.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “ One More on Trust “ (11/20/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 8th of Kislev 5776 and November 20, 2015


One More on Trust


When I wrote about “trust” last Thursday, I had no idea how Europe’s trust in their life style and safety would be severely challenged by the events of just twenty four hours later.

Since last Friday night, France in particular and Western Europe in general has been reverberating from the shock of the cold blooded murder of 129 innocent human beings by Islamists.

Indeed, the indiscriminate and seemingly random killings led the New York Times to declare: “The style of the attack was in line with the Islamic State’s tactic of indiscriminate killings and goes against Al Qaeda’s guidelines.” (

I must admit, until I saw this line in The Times, I had no idea that Al Qaeda had ‘guidelines for killingwhile the Islamic State has no such ‘guidelines’.

The events of this week in Israel have further eroded our sense of trust and especially yesterday when we heard that an American Yeshiva boy was murdered in Gush Etzion, the sense of fear and anxiety was only heightened.

That being said, there is one silver lining to the seemingly non-stop horrific news; and that is that this morning after thirty years behind bars, Mr. Jonathan Pollard was released from prison and was united with his wife.

Jonathan Pollard will spend the first Shabbos in thirty years as a free man able to attend Shul and observe Shabbos in a real and meaningful way.

Imagine if tonight, for the first time in thirty years, you finally had the opportunity to observe Shabbos with the foods you wanted and in the manner you desired; what would that Shabbos look like?

What would you do if for the first time in thirty you were able to walk to the Shul of your choice and wear the clothes you wanted to wear as opposed to davening in a prison dressed in convict’s clothing; how would you feel?

Think about that and remember: always appreciate what you have and who you have.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Phone Call” (11/19/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 7th of Kislev 5776 and November 19, 2015


The Phone Call


My cell phone rang this morning.

“Big deal”; after all, your cell rang this morning as well.

The screen indicated a ‘917’ area code which meant the person was from New York.

So what? Don’t we all get calls from ‘917’?

True, but this phone call was different from all others.

I was unable to answer so I allowed the call to go to voice mail.

Later, I listened to the message.

To my shock it was a message from one of the most well-known Rabbis in New York.

 I was filled with awe and pride; “Rabbi Famous” is calling little old me.”

I quickly called back; however, he did not answer and I left a message.

I began to indulge in some self-pride as I wondered ‘how many people does “Rabbi Famous” call’?

Yet, after the initial swelling of my head, I suddenly thought, “Oy, if ““Rabbi Famous” is calling me it must be that some horrendous scandal has occurred and he wants me to be involved!”

I could see the sleepless nights heading my way… the endless phone calls… the attempts at mediations…. The posturing and the threats…. And worst of all, the time and the anxiety and the mental anguish which takes months to recover from….

“Woe is me!” I thought!” Why does “Rabbi Famous” have to call me?”

Suddenly, the phone rang.

It was “Rabbi Famous”!

 My heart was racing and my hands were clammy and cold.

I was sure that “Rabbi Famous” would hear the thumping sound of my heart.

Finally, I answered.

 “Shalom, Is this Yitzchok Eisenman?”

“Yes, it is.”

I braced myself for his next sentence.

I forced down the panic attack which was festering within me and I repressed my anxiety.

 I focused my mind back to a time when a call was a pleasant experience and was never the harbinger of angst.

Finally, “Rabbi Famous” continued.

“Are you the same Ron Yitzchok Eisenman who writes for Mishpacha magazine?”

“Uh, yes, it is”, I said haltingly.

Was he going to berate me for something I wrote?

Perhaps it was the article about the Mets and Gil Hodges.

 I’ll bet he was upset about that one; after all, which rabbi writes about baseball!!

“I just had to call you to tell you how much I enjoyed your article about the Mets and especially how you and your brother were so awed when you saw Gil Hodges and you screamed “Let’s Go Mets!”.

 You really captured the scene and brought me back to an idyllic part of my life.

I can still remember my father taking me to Idlewild Airport (now JFK) to see the Brooklyn Dodgers arrive from out of town; when I saw Gil Hodges I was in seventh heaven!

Whoever did not grow up in Brooklyn cannot possibly appreciate how much baseball meant to us!

I just had to call you to thank you for the moving and meaningful trip down memory lane and for the Simcha and the smile you brought me.”

I hesitated and said, “Thank you”.

 I then paused and waited to hear the ‘real’ reason for the call.

Instead, “Rabbi Famous” says, “Anyway, I just wanted to thank you. Keep up the good work and be well.”

“Wait” I almost shouted. “Are you telling me that the only reason you called me was ‘just’ to say ‘thank you’ for the article?”

“Yes, that’s all I called for. I imagine you are busy and I have to get back to my Shiurim so be well and Kol Tuv.

I was still shaking as I put the phone down; however, now it was no longer from anxiety; rather, it was from the realization of just how much, a simple, sincere and heartfelt ‘thank you’ can change your entire day.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Happy Rosh Chodesh Kislev to all!” (11/12/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 1st Day of Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5776 and November 13, 2015


Rosh Chodesh Humor


I was taking a walk to the park recently and I decided not to take my cell phone with me.

What follows (in comic form) is what transpired.

Happy Rosh Chodesh Kislev to all!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort’ - “Trust “ (11/12/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 30th of MarCheshvan 5776 and November 12, 2015




There is probably no greater human requirement for the successful functioning of society than trust.

Without a sense of trust, society will dissolve and disappear.

The entire purpose of terrorism is to instill fear and a lack of trust in one’s surroundings which will impede and in some cases totally paralyze society.

The media was filled with stories of how after the horrific and murderous attack in Geulah last month in which 60-year-old Rabbi Yeshayahu Krishevsky HY”D was killed, the normally bustling streets of Geulah were bereft of pedestrians as people no longer had a sense of ‘trust’ to go and walk the streets.

There are theories which maintain that the origin of the handshake was a sign indicating to the other person that he/she could trust you.

When you offered your open and weaponless right hand to the other person and allowed them to ascertain that you were not ‘armed’, this act allowed both parties to interact with a sense of trust.

I have found after over thirty years in the classroom that the one absolute necessity for a successful classroom experience is that both the students and the teacher have a sense of trust in each other and are not wary of any unexpected disturbances or outbursts.

Children at home must feel safe and secure; they need to have a solid feeling of trust in their parents and in their home environment in order for them to flourish and grow.

And of course we need to trust those people with whom we share our feelings and our emotions; our dreams and our conflicts.

We expect and indeed we desperately need to trust those individuals with whom we share our innermost thoughts, be they rabbis or teachers, therapists or friends; for it is precisely with these people that we allow our guard to go down and make ourselves vulnerable.

When the ‘trust’ we had with someone with whom we shared has been proven to be misplaced we rightly feel betrayed and deceived and in turn we are that much less likely to trust another person ever again.

Often, (indeed, one incident occurred this week) I am informed about ‘supposedly’ trusted people who violated that trust and even utilized that trust to harm and hurt the person who trusted in them very much.

To be hurt by anyone is painful; however, to be hurt by someone in whom we trusted and to whom we exposed ourselves is devastating.

I feel a deep sense of hurt and pain when I am told about ‘trusted’ individuals who turned out to be manipulative and highly dangerous people.

These incidents pain me greatly as these people not only deceived and scarred their victims by utilizing the very trust these people had in them to ultimately hurt them; these twisted evildoers erode the ‘trust’ we all previously had in our entire community; and that is unforgivable.

I feel for those who suffered and continue to suffer because they mistakenly placed their trust in someone who was totally untrustworthy and hurt them and I hope that the day will come when such incidents will no longer continue to plague us.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Our Brother Yishmael?” (11/8/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 26th of MarCheshvan 5776 and November 8, 2015


“Our Brother Yishmael?”


Part One

Yishmael Does Teshuva!

After our father Avrohom dies, the Torah informs us that he was buried in the Tomb of the Patriarchs (M’aaras HaMachpeila).

The Torah also includes a list- just two people long- of the participants in the burial of Avrohom.

And his sons’ Yitzchok and Yishmael buried him into the Cave of Machpeila…” (Bereishis 25:9)

Rashi, our teacher and transmitter of the traditions (Mesorah) of our sages’ comments:  “From here [we may deduce] that Yishmael did Teshuva {repented} and let Yitzchok go before him, and that is the meaning of “a good old age” which is stated regarding Avrohom (above 15:15). - [B.B. 16b]”

This is truly amazing that Yishmael did Teshuva!

After all, consider all the other things the Torah tells us about Yishmael:

·       Yishmael, was the ‘wayward’ son of Avrohom about who it is written: “And he will be a wild donkey {Pereh Adom} of a man; his hand will be upon all,” (Bereishis 16:12)

·       Rashi comments on the words: his hand will be upon all: “[He will be] a bandit.

·       He was a person who our sages stated was involved in the three cardinal transgressions.

·       The Sages stated, based on the Passuk: “And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, making merry.” (Ibid 21:9) that the words “M’tzacheik” (making merry) with regard to Yishmael refer to: “An expression of idolatry…. Another explanation: An expression of illicit sexual relations… Another explanation: An expression of murder…- [Rashi from Gen. Rabbah 53:11]

·       And he was a person who was thrown out of his father’s Avrohom’s house with his mother with only a loaf of bread and a water bottle for both of them!


Nevertheless, amazingly, it is this same Yishmael who does Teshuva!

The fact that he did do Teshuva is clearly stated by Rashi and our Sages; however, what is not clear is why did he do Teshuva?

Obviously, I know not for sure; however, I do have a rabbinic hunch which I would like to share with you.


Part Two

Pirkei D’ Rabbi Eliezer (Chapter 30)

In the “Pirkei D ‘Rabbi Eliezer” (a 54 chapter midrashic compilation, attributed to the Tanna R. Eliezer ben Horkenos) the following fascinating incident is recorded:

“Three years after Yishmael was exiled from his father’s home, and he had married, Avrohom went out to visit his long lost son.

 When he arrived at the door, Yishmael’s wife informed Avrohom (who never identified himself to her) that her husband was not home.

 Avrohom asked for some water and bread to refresh himself from the journey.

She claimed, “There is no bread and no water (for you)”.

Avrohom asked her to convey to her husband upon his return that an old man from the Land of Canaan came to visit and is not happy with the way his house is run.”

 She complied and informed her husband of the incident.

The Medrash relates that after Yishmael (who realized the visitor was none other than his father) heard the critique of his home from the ‘visitor’, he promptly divorced his wife and married a new woman by the name of Fatima.

Three years later Avrohom again reached out to his son Yishmael.

He approached the door and once again Yishmael was not at home; Avrohom asked for bread and water.

 Fatima gladly obliged and provided the wayfarer with bread and water.

Avrohom then davened to Hashem and Yishmael’s home was blessed with “all good things”. When Yishmael returned home, his wife informed him of the ‘visitor’ and the subsequent brocha to their home.

At this point Yishmael- (who knew that the ‘visitor’ was his father Avrohom) realized that his father still loved him!

He knew that his father still cared and had compassion and love for him.

As the Passuk says: “As a father has mercy on sons…” (Tehillim 103:13).


Part Three

My Hunch

My hunch tells me that this Medrash is the cause of the eventual reconciliation of Yishmael with his father Avrohom and his brother Yitzchok and his eventual doing Teshuva.

I believe that this is the source for Rashi and the Sages when they stated that Yitzchok repented.

Avrohom knew that there was a time when he had to practice ‘tough love’ with Yishmael when he sent him away; after all, Hashem Himself orders him (after Sorah commands her husband to banish Yishmael and his mother Hagar): “Whatever Sorah tells you to do, heed her voice…”  (Bereishis 21:12).

And indeed he himself sends them away.

Nevertheless, our Sages teach us that Avrohom never stopped loving his son and never stopped hoping for his return.

And even after being rebuffed by Yishmael’s first wife, Avrohom returns again and once again seeks out his lost son.

Avrohom never gave up on Yishmael; he delicately balanced his obligation to distance Yishmael from Yitzchok while simultaneously never abandoning his love and concern for his wayward son.

 He also never stopped seeking a way to show his son Yishmael how much he still loved him.

And when he finally had the chance to validate Yishmael and his household, he did so with gusto and enthusiasm.

 Yishmael responded to his father’s expression of love and recognized the fact that his father still loved him.

It was that knowledge that his father still cared for him and still loved him which ultimately prevailed and motivated Yishmael to repent and reconcile with his father and brother.

Indeed, he repented so intensely that when he passes on, the Torah informs us: “And these are the years of the life of Yishmael: one hundred years and thirty years and seven years; and he expired and died and was gathered to his people.” (Ibid. 25:17)

Rashi comments on the word: “and he expired”: “[The term] ‘expired’ (Hebrew ‘Givia’) is mentioned only regarding the righteous. — [B.B. 16b]”.

Meaning, Yishmael at his passing merited the coveted term ‘Givia’ being applied to him; a term reserved exclusively to the righteous!

All of this was achieved by the fact that Avrohom refused to give up on his son Yishmael.

 Whatever he was and wherever he was, Avrohom continued to reach out to Yishmael.

Avrohom was never totally and completely accepting of Yishmael’s lifestyle; indeed, when he saw that even basic civility was not present in his son’s house, he critiqued him for it.

However, when he saw on the next visit that basic human compassion and civility were present he prayed for his son and through those heartfelt prayers, Yishmael’s home was filled with abundant good things.

When Yishmael saw and felt his father’s love and when he recognized his father’s compassion and care, he was moved and motivated to return and reconcile with Avrohom and Yitzchok to the point that he is counted at the time of his death among the Tzaddikim (righteous).


Part Four

The Upshot for Us!

All of us have someone in our lives in which our relationship with them is strained and tense.

Sometimes they are even our own children.

Obviously each case is unique and special; however, always remember the ways of Avrohom Avinu! Remember how our father Avrohom, notwithstanding his son’s major spiritual deficiencies, never, gave up on Yishmael.

Avrohom always continued (even years later) to reach out to him and attempted to find even the smallest way to validate him and constantly attempted to find common ground with his son and most importantly to show his love and concern for him.

We may not always end up living ‘happily ever after’; however, progress can be made and small steps can lead to giant leaps if love is shown and felt.

As long as we keep the lines of communication open and as long as we continue to show our love and our concern for all of our loved ones; including and perhaps especially to those whose life choices are disappointing to us- there is always the chance for reconciliation.

Without that show of concern and without the outward of expression of love, hope is lost; and when hope is lost then everything is lost.

Reach out to that someone today; show them you still love them.

You never know, miracles do occur.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Good Old Times “ (11/8/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 26th of MarCheshvan 5776 and November 8, 2015


Good Old Times


On this past Shabbos, Parshas Chayei Sorah, former Israeli President Yitzchak Navon passed away at the age of 94.

Mr. Navon who was born in Yerushalayim in 1921 was the first Israeli born President of the State and he served in many distinguished positions during his long life of service in the political and public sector of the State of Israel.

For Orthodox Jews, Mr. Navon held a special position.

He was the last surviving person who was present on Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan 5713 (October 20, 1952) at the famous and historically important meeting between the then Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. David Ben Gurion (16 October 1886, – 1 December 1973), and the great Torah luminary ‘The Chazon Ish Zt”l’ (HaRav Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz, 7 November 1878 – 24 October 1953).

There has been much written about the ‘historic’ meeting between the secular leader of the Jewish people in the land of Israel and the Gadol HaDor (Great man of the generation).

I am not going to restate all that has been written on the subject; for those interested, one post which is particularly thorough is Torah Musings by Gil Student:

Mr. Navon’s personnel reminiscences of the meeting are certainly informative and indeed there are some surprises in his recollections.

For instance, he claims that notwithstanding the fact that both men were Eastern-European-born Jews and their mother tongue was Yiddish, Mr. Navon claims that the entire conversation took place in Hebrew and only Hebrew.

He further claims that although the focus of the conversation: Orthodox Jews and their involvement in the army, was never resolved; nevertheless, the conversation was friendly, civil and ended with a warm handshake and warm feelings between the two men.

For an English version of the discussion see:

What interests me the most, and perhaps to be more precise, what now pains me the most, is not the details of the meeting or even who ‘bested’ who.

Rather, what pains me is the fact that I often wonder to myself, “Can such a meeting ever take place today?”

There was a wide gap between Ben Gurion and the Chazon Ish.

 Ben Gurion, besides not being an observant Jew had at times even defined himself as being atheistic.

“By his own admission Ben-Gurion was irreligious, even atheistic as a youth. Even in his later years he demonstrated no great sympathy for the elements of traditional Judaism”

The Chazon Ish must have obviously been aware of his guest’s religious views; nevertheless, he received him cordially, warmly and respectfully in his house. He treated him as guest without expressing his personal feelings of disapproval over Mr. Ben Gurion’s own life style.

Of course the Chazon Ish did not fawn over the Prime Minister; nevertheless, he was certainly personally cordial and welcoming.

Similarly, Mr. Ben Gurion had to be aware of the fact that the Chazon Ish did not subscribe at all to his own ideology and was certainly not a supporter of Mr. Ben Gurion’s aspirations for the Jewish people. Nevertheless, Mr. Ben Gurion went out of his way to make the appointment to see the Chazon Ish, made the trip to his modest home, donned a fedora and by all accounts showed only respect and admiration for the Chazon Ish.

Were there differences resolved? No.

Did they still both feel passionately about their respective positions? For sure

Yet, notwithstanding their differences, they talked and they communicated with each other face to face.

Then why am I pained?

The reason is simple.

I am pained for there once was a time when a Ben Gurion understood that he must reach out to the Chazon Ish and he cannot responsibly be the representative of the Jewish people without having communication with the recognized Torah leader of the generation; even if that means that he, the Prime Minister goes to him.

And there was a time when a Chazon Ish had an open door and a welcoming smile for a fellow Jew; notwithstanding the fact that the Jew was even atheistic.

It was a time when an atheistic Jew still understood that The Chazon Ish was a person he should go to and it was a time when a Chazon Ish could show respect and warmth for another Jew, even if that Jew was an atheist.

And it is for those days I pine.

I wonder, ‘do the present day secular/atheistic heirs of Ben Gurion still recognize the need to meet the Chazon Ishs’ of their time?’

And even if they would recognize the need, ‘are our doors still open?’


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort’ - “The First Prayer” (11/6/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 24th of MarCheshvan 5776 and November 6th 2015


The First Prayer


Ever wonder who is the first person in the entire Torah to ask for something from Hashem?

The answer is in this week’s Parsha when the servant of Avrohom (the name Eliezer never appears even once in the entire Parsha) beseeches Hashem to help him find a proper wife for Yitzchok.

The nameless servant of Avrohom calls out to Hashem, “And he said, "O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please cause to happen to me today, and perform loving kindness with my master, Abraham.” (24:12)

His prayer is answered as Rivkah is chosen as the soul-mate of Yitzchok.

Why is the first Tefillah in which a person asks of Hashem a personal request uttered by a ‘no-name’ servant?

Shouldn’t the first true personal request of Hashem have come from one of the Patriarchs and not from a lowly servant whose lineage disqualified him from becoming part of Avrohom’s family?

Why is this anonymous, unidentified and nameless minion the one chosen to offer the first inaugural prayer to the King of Kings?

The answer is: ‘that is precisely the point!’

Meaning, too often in life we think that we must go to this Tzaddik or that Holy Person to have our prayers answered.

Too often we are led to believe that if we don’t take part in an international event headed by world class Tzaddikim we have no chance of having our Tefillos answered.

I do not mean in any way to negate the power of a Tzaddik or underestimate the power of prayer of the many; no, that is not my agenda at all.

What I am saying is that one should never underestimate the power of one’s own prayers!

We should never forget that the first prayer offered was the Tefillah of the nameless and anonymous servant of Avrohom who offered a private and sincere prayer from his heart to Hashem.

And we should never forget that it was this Tefillah which was accepted and changed the course of history!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “ A Sad Day for the Jews “ (11/4/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 22nd of MarCheshvan 5776 and November 4, 2015


 A Sad Day for the Jews


Today in 1928, Arnold Rothstein a notorious New York Jewish mobster was gunned down at the Park Central Hotel at 7th Ave. near 55th in Manhattan.

Arnold was the son of an honest Jewish businessman named Abraham Rothstein who davened at the Orthodox Shul, “The Jewish Center” and was known as “Abe the Just”.

Abraham Rothstein was a prominent member of the Shul and contributed generously to charitable causes.

His other son would become a rabbi; however, his youngest son Arnold became an infamous gangster involved in all of the Torah and secular prohibitions during the era of Prohibition in the United States.

He was not a moral individual and undoubtedly caused much pain and hardship to many people.

When he was gunned down on November 4, 1928, his father asked Rav Leo Jung, the noted Rav of the Jewish Center to officiate at his son’s Levaya.

Rabbi Jung acquiesced to the request and delivered a eulogy.

Years later, Rabbi Jung was taken to task for eulogizing a mobster at the funeral service.

 Rabbi Jung defended his actions by stating that he “spoke briefly about….the father’s abysmal pain; (and) about G-d being the only one who can judge adequately, especially a dead man…”

Rabbi Jung did his best to show proper compassion to the mobster’s parents while simultaneously avoiding condoning the misdeeds of the deceased.


There was a time though, years ago, when such carefully choreographed eulogies were not possible.

In the early years of the heated and passionate and often ugly wars between those who were attempting to usurp Judaism with a non-Torah outlook versus those who were holding strong to tradition, a story (which is probably apocryphal) is told.

It relates to our above mentioned topic; namely what a rabbi does when he is forced to eulogize a person who is ‘not-euligizable’ because of his misdeeds.


The Story

(Please keep in mind that at the time there was no sense of ‘live and let live’. Both sides believed they were locked in a battle for the future of the Jewish people)


The local rabbi was forced to officiate at the service of one of the early ‘Maskilim’.

The deceased was a man who had dedicated his life to leading others away from the path of Jewish observance.

The rabbi was hesitant to eulogize and was at a loss as to what to say.

Finally he looked up at the assembled and announced, “This is really the first funeral I have to officiate for a member of the “Maskilim”, the group who attempt to lead others away from the path to which I have dedicated my life to lead people on.

Everything they stand for I am against; and everything which I advocate for they protest and push for just the opposite.

They have informed on me to the authorities as being a ‘subversive’ and have made my life and others almost intolerable.

They claim everything I stand for is wrong and they do not believe in ‘live and let live’; rather, they proactively promote their agenda with a vengeance and with hatred.

What can I say therefore at this man’s funeral?

With what words can I speak to G-d?

I really have no words to properly eulogize the deceased.

Therefore, I pray to Hashem that there should be many more funerals of people of his ilk and then I will have more practice in being able to properly eulogize these individuals.”

And with that, the rabbi sat down.


 “If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Balfour Declaration” (11/2/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday 20th of MarCheshvan 5776 and November 2, 2015


Balfour Declaration


Today in 1917, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour wrote a letter to Baron Rothschild.

The contents of the letter stated:

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

The letter was facilitated by Dr. Chaim Weizmann who pressured Balfour to write the letter.

During the first meeting between Chaim Weizmann and Balfour in 1906, Balfour asked what Weizmann’s objections were to the idea of a Jewish homeland in Uganda rather than in Palestine.

 According to Weizmann’s memoir, the conversation went as follows:

"Mr. Balfour, supposing I was to offer you Paris instead of London, would you take it?" He sat up, looked at me, and answered: "But Dr. Weizmann, we have London." "That is true," I said, "but we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh." He ... said two things which I remember vividly. The first was: "Are there many Jews who think like you?" I answered: "I believe I speak the mind of millions of Jews whom you will never see and who cannot speak for themselves."


The letter was hailed by many Jews as a milestone in the battle for international recognition of their rights to Eretz Yisroel.

The American Jewish Zionist Newspaper, the Maccabaean termed the Balfour Declaration, ‘The Jewish Magna Carta,’ The American Jewish Chronicle, “A Turning Point in Jewish History,” The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, the “The End of the Galut.” A popular Yiddish daily, Dos Yiddishe Folk, stated, “for the first time in two thousand years we again enter into the arena of world history as a nation which deserves a national home.” The religious Zionist movement, Mizrahi, issued a statement that “It seems that Holy Providence which guided Israel in its long night of exile is about to reward the Jewish people for all their suffering and tribulations.”

Rav Kook Zt”l, who was in London at the time of the declaration, remarked

“I have not come here to thank the British nation, but even more, to congratulate it for the privilege of making this declaration. The Jewish nation is the ‘scholar’ among the nations, the ‘people of the book,’ a nation of prophets; and it is a great honor for any nation to aid it. I bless the British nation for having extended such honorable aid to the people of the Torah, so that they may return to their land and renew their homeland.” (ibid)

It is now almost 100 years since the declaration has been issued.

Indeed, as the declaration stated: “Palestine (has become) a national home for the Jewish people”.

However, we are still not considered “the ‘scholar’ among the nations” as Rav Kook hoped for and certainly The Canadian Jewish Chronicle’s headline that the declaration represented, “The End of the Galut” is at best highly questionable.

However, that being said, are things better for the Jewish people as a whole in the Land of Israel than they were in 1917?  

I think most of us would unhesitatingly reply that, ‘most certainly; they are much better now’.

And for that we say, “Thank you Hashem”.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Old Man in the Back “ (10/29/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 16th of MarCheshvan 5776 and October 29, 2015


The Old Man in the Back


I am privileged to have had generations of my family learning in the Ponevez Yeshiva.

My father’s first cousins learned there in the 1950s and my own son learned there about 10 years ago.

Therefore, the yeshiva has always been close to my heart.

In 1977 when I was still a teenager I decided I too would spend some time in the Ponevez Yeshiva.

I arrived in the morning and found myself a seat towards the back of the huge Beis Medrash.

After a few minutes of learning, an elderly gentleman with a white beard sat next to me.

I figured he was a retired man who was making the most of his ‘free time’ by learning Torah.

Suddenly a group of young men surround the octogenarian and begin to scream at him!

I was horrified! I had never seen a group Torah scholars yelling at an old man!

What was even more shocking, the old man proceeded to yell back at them passionately and forcefully. Finally the group left and the old man and I quietly went back to our Gemara.

The peace and quiet did not last long; another group of young men approached and they too surrounded my elderly bench-mate and began to scream and yell at him. Once again, my ‘old friend’ yelled back!

By this time, things were getting too much for me and I was about to stand up and take matters into my own hands.

I was going to give these young men a piece of my mind and a lesson in respect for one’s elders.

Before I could react, the elderly man closed his Gemara and put it back on the shelf.

When he left the Beis Medrash I decided to see if perhaps his name was in the Gemara and perhaps my cousins knew who he was and I would drop by and see if he had ‘recovered’ from the verbal assaults he was forced to endure this morning.

As I opened the Gemara, I noticed it said, “Property of the Rosh Yeshiva, Maran Elazar Menachem Man Shach”.

Today is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Shach Zt”l.

Rav Shach is remembered for many, many things:

Just to name a few: His monumental commentary on the Rambam; his insightful and masterful Shiurim; his communal leadership and uncompromising stand on the primacy of Torah learning; his Chesed and his compassion.

For me however, I will never forget the time 38 years ago, when he was a ‘just another elderly Yid’ attempting to learn a Blatt Gemara in the Ponevez Beis Medrash.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort’ - “Who Want’s Redemption? “ (10/26/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 13th of MarCheshvan 5776 and October 26, 2015


Who Want’s Redemption?


In Pirkei Avos (6:6) we learn: “All who say something and quote the author of the statement bring redemption to the world, as it is said: "And Esther said in the name of Mordecai".

So it’s time to bring some redemption to the world!

Last week’s Short Vort from the 9th of MarCheshvan 5776 and October 22, 2015, entitled: “Those Were the Days My Friend” mentioned an incident with the New York Mets and the fire at the Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway in 1968-69.

Many of you have been asking me, “How were you able to piece together the story so completely?”

Therefore, allow me to fulfill the Mishnah’s dictum of: “Saying over something in the name of its source, brings redemption to the world!”

Much of the information was gathered from R’ Yeruchim Silber (Rav Meilach’s son) who I personally spoke to about the incident.

 I also greatly benefited from an article in written by Aaron Katz from Tel Aviv.

I want to thank both R’ Yeruchim and Aaron Katz for filling in the details of the story



We need all of the Redemption we can get!!!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““You Have a Home?” “ (10/25/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 12th of MarCheshvan 5776 and October 25th 2015


“You Have a Home?”


Many different occupations have their ‘busy season’.

 I know that from March until April 15th I should not bother the accountants in the Shul as they are ‘over their heads’ in numbers and figures.

Those Mispallelim who are employees of B & H are typically extremely rushed during the secular ‘holiday season’.

And of course the Mechanchim and especially those involved in the Hanhala of our Yeshivasare even more burdened than usual during the first few weeks of the school year.

Men who sell Esrogim are inapproachable from before Tisha Bav until after first days of Succos; and those who sell Hoshanos cannot be bothered until after Hoshanah Rabbah.

The fellow who runs a cleaning service cannot be reached on the phone for anything outside of business from a month before Pesach until Erev Yom Tov and the mispallel who works in one of the local Jewish bands can hardly make it to the last minyan for Shacharis during the entire month of June!

What about the Rabbi?

When exactly is ‘busy season’ for the rabbinate?

From the beginning of Selichos and until the last Kaddish ending Simchas Torah can be defined as ‘busy season’ for the rabbi.

There are so many different demands on his time.

The writing of Droshos is particularly demanding.

The rabbi must attempt to make his Droshos timely; yet, firmly based in the Mesorah.

They should be creative tapestries of original thoughts coupled with time tested Torah ideas.

They must be witty and inspiring; entertaining and informative; serious while sensitive.

Yet, perhaps even more time consuming and certainly more challenging is attempting to be there for people and their struggles.

While many people have the ‘luxury’ to focus on their Tefillos and their Teshuva during the Yomim Noraim season, too many of us are struggling with problems of Parnosah, Shalom Bayis and child rearing

These issues do not take a break ‘for the holidays’, indeed, often the problems are compounded by them.

If I can give a single woman some Chizuk that next year she should be with her husband for Yom Tov and if I can give a couple a little nudge to make some changes for the better in their marriage, I try to do so.

Therefore, with preparing for Droshos and juggling appointments and phone calls, I end up spending more time than usual ‘at the office’ during my ‘busy season’.

When Simchas Torah finally ends I can indulge in a sigh of relief as with the help of Hashem we have merited another ‘busy season’.

This year, as Simchas Torah concluded, everyone began to leave Shul and head home. 

I too left Shul and headed home.

 I am tired and spent.

 I am looking forward to sitting down and taking my shoes off as soon as I get home.

The dancing was beautiful; however, right now the couch in my living room is very enticing.

A small boy spots me and I can see that his mother is nudging him to approach me.

His mother walks over to me with him and says, “Yanky wanted to ask you something. I told him ‘of course he should ask you’ and that the rabbi loves questions no matter where and when.”

Although I could have contested some aspects of her description of my total availability, I slowly nod my consent and wait for Yakov to ask me his question.

The little boy hesitantly comes close and in a halting voice asks me, “Rabbi, where are you going?”

“That’s a relief”, I say to myself; it’s certainly an easy enough question.

“Well Yakov, I am going home just like you are.”

Yakov looks up at me and with his eyes wide-opened asks, “What? You have a home? I thought you lived in the Shul!”


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““Those Were the Days My Friend”” (10/22/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 9th of MarCheshvan 5776 and October 22, 2015


“Those Were the Days My Friend”


As I glanced at the news this morning I could not help but notice the headline: “Miracle Mets Are Headed to The World Series!”

The New York Mets would be heading to the World Series for the first time since 2000.

Although it’s been years since I have followed baseball, as I looked at the headline my mind waxed nostalgic as I recalled the ‘original’ Miracle Mets of 1969.

Perhaps even more importantly, I remembered ‘me’ and who I was from that long ago time.

It was a grand time when the Mets won the World Series in 1969.

It was a time of excitement and of hope.

If the Mets could win the World Series could Mashiach be far behind?

The 1969 Mets were everything a Jewish child could want.

They had a Jewish player by the name of Art Shamsky who was the hero of every Jewish kid in Brooklyn!

Gil Hodges, the manager lived on Bedford Ave in Flatbush.

My brother and I would bike to his house and if we saw him on the porch or picking up the paper from his lawn we would shout, “Let’s Go Mets!”

He would smile and wave and life was great.

It was a time of racial turmoil in the city and it was a time when Jewish neighborhoods such as East Flatbush were in flux.

And when the Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway was badly burned in an arson attack and suffered $200,000 worth of damage, it was only natural that the Mets raised $500 for the rebuilding of the yeshiva.

Rav Meilech Silber who was Rosh Yeshiva of the Yeshiva arrived at the Shea Stadium on May 28th to receive the check and presented Gil Hodges and Art Shamsky a Seder Plate as a show of gratitude.

By May 28th 1969, the Mets had played 41 games and they were 18–23.

Beginning with the game which was played immediately after Rav Silber received the $500 check from Gil Hodges, the Mets reeled off a club-record 11 straight wins.

Starting with that 42nd game, the Mets’ win/loss record was 82–39, an impressive .678 winning percentage!

Eventually of course, they would go on to win the World Series against the mighty Orioles of Baltimore.

My Rebbe at yeshiva taught us that Tzedokah can help bring about miracles.

What could be more of an affirmation of his teaching than the fact that hours after the Mets give Tzedokah they win 11 straight games!

Those were special, simpler times.

It was a time when a Jewish baseball player named Shamsky would not play on Rosh Hashanah and a Catholic man named Hodges from Bedford Ave could give $500 to help build a Yeshiva.

And it was a time when a red-headed pudgy little boy went to sleep at night feeling safe and secure.

His parents and brother were in the adjacent rooms and the Mets were winning.

What else could a boy want from life?

As I write these lines I realize that I am now whiter than I am red…

My parents are no longer in this world and life is certainly more complicated.

I wonder, ‘Can I ever recapture the pristine innocence of youth?’

I doubt it.

Those were the days….


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““Labeling” (10/20/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 7th of MarCheshvan 5776 and October 20, 2015




Did you ever hear of Rami bar Chama?

If you have learned Talmud Bavli you most probably have come across his name as he mentioned 233 times in Talmud Bavli.

Did you ever wonder when he died and why?

Well perhaps it’s time you did.

The Talmud in Massechta Brochus (47b) informs us of the following incident.

The Sages were very careful not to include a person who was deemed to be an Am HaAretz when they made a ‘Zimun’ for bentching.

The phrase Am HaAretz is difficult to translate precisely as it certainly does not mean an ignoramus as many assume it does.

In fact, one opinion in the Gemara (which is apparently accepted as halachically binding) states that even a person who has learned Chumash and Mishnah; however, he has not ‘served’ (V’lo Shimesh) the sages, meaning he has not apprenticed by them and did not receive practical rabbinic training, should be treated as an Am HaAretz!

The Gemara goes on to inform us that Rami bar Chama, based on the above ruling, refused to include the Amora Rav Menashia bar Tachlifa in his Zimun. (Rav Menashia bar Tachlifa only speaks three times in the entire Talmud Bavli and never in the Talmud Yerushalmi)

When Rami bar Chama died, the great Amora Rava (who is mentioned a whopping 5,699 times in Talmud Bavli and 91 times in Talmud Yerushalmi!), commented, that Rami bar Chama died because he refused to include Rav Menashia bar Tachlifa in is Zimun!

How could Rava say that?

After all, didn’t we learn that one who never ‘served’ the sages is deemed an Am HaAretz and is therefore disqualified from being part of a Zimun?

What did Rami bar Chama do wrong which was worthy of his being punished with premature death?

The Gemara answers that the ‘sin’ of Rami bar Chama was that he labeled Rav Menashia bar Tachlifa an Am HaAretz prematurely!

Meaning, Rav Menashia bar Tachlifa had indeed ‘served’ the sages and he was not an Am HaAretz. Unfortunately, Rami bar Chama did not vet Rav Menashia bar Tachlifa properly and ‘labeled’ him an Am HaAretz when he really was a bona fide Talmid Chochom!

Rami bar Chama was guilty of ‘labeling’ Rav Menashia bar Tachlifa without doing his homework and due diligence.

 For this sin of ‘labeling’ someone incorrectly, Rami bar Chama was (according to Rava) punished by Hashem with death.

How often do we also ‘label’ people without properly vetting them?

How often do we hear just one side of a story and feel ‘we know’ the truth of who is who?

How often do we ‘label’ and classify people and place them into convenient compartments without really doing our homework properly?

My guess is that this happens much too often.

Remember if someone as great and as talented as Rami bar Chama could unintentionally falsely judge Rav Menashia bar Tachlifa, how much more careful must we always be not to judge or classify anyone before we know the the‘whole story!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Eternal Rest “ (10/18/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 5th of MarCheshvan 5776 and October 18, 2015


Eternal Rest


As a rabbi, you get to be invited to many Simchos and you are privileged to see celebrations.

There is though a totally different face to the rabbinate, one that is not necessarily joyful.

It was a Sunday morning and I was reviewing today’s Daf Yomi.

The phone rang and on the line was a woman from a non-Jewish nursing home.

 “Hi, my name is Dolores McClonkin from the West Village Long-Term facility and Mrs. Tillie Blumenstein (names and places changed) has been living with us for over 7 years.

She just turned 97 and this morning I saw she was having trouble breathing.

 “I think I am going to be leaving this world today!” Tillie said.

I assured Tillie that she would get better; however, she was convinced that it was her ‘time’.

That afternoon she called me in and gave me her last instructions.

Rabbi, you may not believe this, however, Tillie wants to be cremated. I am not Jewish; however, I know that Judaism doesn’t allow cremation. Rabbi, can you please come here fast and attempt to ‘knock some sense’ into Tillie!”

I quickly took the address from the woman and headed out into the morning air.

I asked for Dolores McClonkin and soon a Roman Catholic woman was thanking me profusely for coming out to convince Tillie Blumenstein not to be cremated.

 She urged me toward Tillie’s room as time was of the essence.

I arrived at Tillie’s room and was soon face to face with a 101 pound warrior.

As soon as she saw me she stated, “Oy vey ist mir! Ribono Shel Olam that’s who You send me now, a rabbi! Can’t I just go in peace?”

“Hello Tillie, I understand you are preparing for your final journey.”

“Yes, rabbi, that is true.”

“I understand you are considering cremation?”

“Rabbi, I know ‘we’ don’t do such things; however, both of my children live on the West Coast. Neither of them have Jewish children and neither of them will ever visit my grave or say a Kell Moleh for me. So you tell me rabbi, why should I be buried if not a soul will ever visit my kever? I’d rather be cremated and be done with now! Who needs to be alone for eternity?”

I looked at Tillie and thought about her 97 years in this world.

I realized by her questions that she really reaching out to me with a very real and sincere request.

I asked, “If I promise to officiate at your funeral and I promise to say a Kell Moleh for you, and if I agree to go to your kever once a year, will you agree to be buried properly?”

Tillie thought about it for a moment and then said, “Yes, I will. I remember my own grandmother and how as would cry for my Zaide- she made me promise to follow in his footsteps and be a good Yiddish Tochter. I haven’t kept my promise in most things; however, this is one thing I can do. Yes, I agree. I just have one condition; and that is you must bury me on the same day I die. If I am already having a Jewish burial, I want it to be done immediately.”

Of course I quickly agreed.

The next day, Monday at noon, I received a call that Tillie had left this world.

Later that same day, in a small Jewish cemetery Tillie Blumenstein was laid to rest in a proper Jewish fashion.

As per her wish, we rushed the burial to have it the same day.

There were only two people present to escort Tillie to her final rest: myself and Dolores McClonkin.

“And no person knows the place of his burial, unto this day.” (Devarim 34:6)


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort’ - ““A time to weep and a time to laugh…” (Koheles 3:4) (10/16/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 3rd of MarCheshvan 5776 and October 16, 2015


“A time to weep and a time to laugh…” (Koheles 3:4)

It’s time for: “A Little Erev Shabbos Humor…”


 Many often there are ‘mistakes’ in the Short Vort.

Sometimes they are spelling mistakes…for instance: ‘break’ may be spelled ‘brake’; and ‘buying’ could be confused with ‘being’….

Sometimes the mistake could be a ‘typo… perhaps a word was ‘accidentally’ deleted or a word was printed twice.

Many of you find the mistakes and politely point them out to me.

One reader in particular often gets very ‘bent out of shape’ and chides me, “Why don’t you read it over before you send it out?”

Truth be told, I DO in fact re-read them; indeed, more than once.

Also, there is an independent reader/editor who reads them before they ‘hit the server’; nevertheless, mistakes will be made.

As Dovid says in Tehillim, “Who understands errors?”

 Obviously, only Hashem is perfect and He understands our limitations.

Therefore, please never assume that you can do better or that I am being careless or lazy (which may also be true)…

Please give me the benefit of the doubt that mistakes occur even by the best of us and certainly by me!

Here is a humorous sampling of real life mistakes in printing made by the masters themselves!

Most typos are of little consequence - adding or removing pluralization, causing non-agreement in tenses, or the like.

Other errors are more significant.

 Perhaps the most renowned printing error in history came in the year 1631 when Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London, were tasked with printing a new issue of the King James Bible.

 Their mistake was the simple omission of the word "not" in a single sentence, and it was to be a grave mistake indeed.

 The missing word was smack-dab in the middle of the seventh commandment, causing their edition to read: “Thou shalt commit adultery”.

That edition of the bible was thereafter known as The Wicked Bible, or sometimes Adulterous Bible or Sinners’ Bible. 


Another doozy of a gaffe which had long-term consequences (at least for the publisher): in April 2010, it came to light that Penguin Australia, who put out a cookbook called The Pasta Bible had made the decision to pulp 7,000 copies after it went to print with an error in a recipe for tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto - it called for "salt and freshly ground black people".

They meant black pepper.

Oh dear.

So the next time you are about to get ‘bent out of shape’ because of a spelling or typo in the Short Vort…

 Remember, at least I did not advocate for immorality or encourage racism!


Have a wonderful Shabbos!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Paranoid Ponderings of Life Under Terror “ (10/14/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday first day of MarCheshvan 5776 and October 14, 2015


A Personal Note


Early this morning my wife woke me as I was screaming in my sleep.

I was having a horrific nightmare.

 I dreamt I was in a hotel in Yerushalayim and suddenly an Arab worker of the hotel began to stab me.

 I was frightened and terrified and began to scream, “Help, help!”

And then my wife woke me and thankfully I was safe and sound in my bed.

That was my scare for today.

What about those members of our families who live in Israel?

How are they coping with the ‘nightmare’?

Today I present a guest post.

My daughter in law, Nechama Eisenman is a very gifted and powerful writer and she lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh with my son Tuvia and their two daughters.

I asked her to contribute a guest post for the Short Vort depicting life in Israel now.

I thank her for her writing and for her devotion to my son Tuvia, and for giving me two of the cutest granddaughters anyone could daven for!

Thank you Nechama and may we share in more Simchos!


Paranoid Ponderings of Life Under Terror


By Nechama Eisenman


As I slice into the butternut squash I am preparing for dinner, and I feel the knife’s serrated edge meet the soft flesh within, my mind goes to a place where, I promise you- it is not all that accustomed to going.

Over the past few days, my life has taken on a surreal dimension, as I find my once cheerful world darkened by the ugly shadow of Islamic terrorism.

This morning, as my daughter left for preschool with her princess knapsack and perfectly placed bow, I knelt down and hugged her so tight I made it hard for breathing.

I felt the curve of her back beneath my arms and traced her pudgy cheek with my fingers. “What if some crazed terrorist decides to shoot up her gan?” Will this be the last time I lay eyes on my precious firstborn”?

My heart silently screams.

I hurriedly get dressed for work. I sling my bag over my shoulder and carefully palm the pepper spray encased in the inner pocket. I carry my baby girl to her daycare down the block, and am met by a locked gate.

After numerous trills of the bell, the teacher turns the key in the wrought iron fence and apologetically explains “Ani mefachedet mai’aravim”. (“I am scared of Arabs”)

 “No explanation needed, Morah Leah. “, I think inwardly.

I have a hard time letting go of the soft weight in my hands and by the time I am done kissing my precious baby and reluctantly hand her to her teacher my eyes are wet.

As I walk down the street to catch my ride to work, I am suddenly aware that I have been mindlessly scrolling through my phone. Remembering the admonition to remain fully alert at all times, I put away my phone and focus, instead, on what my initial reaction might be if I were shot at.

Would I crouch down?

Would I fall to the ground and play dead?


I try to focus, I really do.

But with the constant news updates that produce nothing but carnage and blood- footage not meant to be watched or experienced and certainly not committed- I am paralyzed with fear.

 Spreadsheets pale in comparison to the horror movie I find myself suddenly transplanted into.

 I feel bile rise up in my throat as I hear the cries of my colleague, whose daughter lives in Geula and is not answering the phone.

A madman rammed his car into pedestrians on Malchei Yisrael St. and then proceeded to stab surrounding passerby. 2 terrorists hijacked a bus with a gun and a knife and no regard for human life.

Hashem! Please, no more.

I realize that I have been staring at a blank email, with only the greeting written, for about ten minutes. I minimize it and glance over at my officemate. He is utilizing his lunch break to search for guns online- which weapon will best protect him in an attack?

He debates between the magazine which holds 14 bullets and the one which holds 10.

Terrible visions flash through my mind.

 I shudder and cry for my People, pleading with my psyche, willing my mind to come back to reality.

 But this is reality. Where do you go when there is nowhere to escape to?

I return to my desk to see a trend of internet posts, urging us not to submit to fear, to not let the terrorists win.

But guess what?

 I feel fear.

I’m scared out of my mind.

 I’m scared OF my mind.

 I feel tremendous guilt every time I snap at my husband because what if I won’t get the chance to say “I’m sorry?”

I’ll happily read my kid Dr. Seuss’s “What Pet Should I Get?” a hundred times because what if “tomorrow” never comes?

I see a lot of articles, some even written by me, exhorting the necessity to keep on celebrating life, despite, or perhaps because of, our devastating reality.

But this is not one of those articles.

This is me, letting it all hang out.

This is letting my thoughts and fears scream from the page.

 Because life isn’t always pretty.

It isn’t always wrapped up neatly and tied with a bow.

 And for the shattered families of the wounded and murdered, there is no happy ending.

Please, G-d, give us our happy ending.

I long for the day when a butternut squash is *just* a butternut squash.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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







The Short Vort’ - “Feeling their Pain” (10/12/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 29th of Tishrei 5776 and October 12, 2015


Feeling their Pain


I cannot imagine there is person reading this Short Vort who is not deeply saddened and pained by the news which emanates daily from Israel.

How can a human heart not be pained to the core when they hear of children being stabbed and parents being killed and soldiers and policemen being wounded?

Where and when is the end to their horror?

Winston Churchill insightfully commented after the British achieved their first major military success in World War Two atThe Second Battle of El Alamein (23 October – 11 November 1942), “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Unfortunately, for our brethren in Eretz Yisroel they cannot even say that they are seeing, “perhaps, the end of the beginning!”

The situation seems to worsen daily as we hear of more and more attacks on children, unarmed civilians and soldiers and police.

Our enemy has no fear and no reservations of killing and maiming whoever they can as long as the victim is a Jew.

We daven to Hashem and…, and…., and what?

What else do we do?

The reality is very little.

What more can we do?

I don’t know the answer to that question; however, one thing I can say and that is, we must at least attempt to feel their pain.

My son who lives in the Maaleh Zeitim neighborhood of Yerushalayim (see the Wikipedia article here:’ale_ha-Zeitim) reported to me some facts you will not see in the news.

Until tomorrow (Rosh Chodesh) evening, Israel, and especially Yerushalayim are in ‘Bein HaZemanim” mode.

For those of you, who are unaware of what that means, allow me to fill you in.

For the week or so after Succos until Rosh Chodesh the Yeshivas and the Kollelim are off and families can take advantage of the time to spend time together.

The Number Two Bus from the Kotel back to town is usually packed at this time of year as hundreds of people are taking advantage of the cooler weather and time off to be in the Old City closer to the Shechina.

As my son was walking home from the Old City to Maaleh Zeitim he was speaking to me on the phone, and as a ‘giant-stretch-accordion-bus’ exited the Old City from the bus-stop by the “Wall” my son announced, “There  are a total of eight people on the bus!”

As the next one pulled out a few minutes later he said, “And there were four people on that one!”

My son Meir informs me that usually on a cool Bein HaZemanim evening, the busses are crammed with frum Yidden all returning from davening to Hashem; and now there is not even a Minyan of passengers.

Meir tells me that the ‘food court’ areas at the top of the stairs which lead down to the Kotel plaza are vacant.

 Many of restaurants have their seats stacked on the tables as the proprietor doesn’t not even bother placing the chairs down on the ground as no one is coming to sit.

 Many of the eateries have closed up totally until the ‘matzav’ (situation) improves.

On a recent walk to the Churva Shul, Meir told me that he saw more policeman and soldiers than civilians!

I don’t know what more we can do than Daven.

I don’t know what the Israeli government can do to improve the situation.

What I do know is that our families in Eretz Yisroel are hurting and that means ‘we’ are hurting as well!

We have to attempt to feel their pain.

Perhaps we should put aside some of our favorite pastimes?

Perhaps learn a little more and watch a little less football?

Perhaps come to davening on time this week?

I don’t know what YOU should or could do; however, I do know that when your heart hurts your entire body hurts and right now the heart of the Jewish people is hurting.

Feel their pain….

Call them…

Reach out to them and tell them you care….

It’s painful to hear the news; it’s even more painful to live it.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort’ - “The Cold Chulent” (10/11/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 28th of Tishrei 5776 and October 11, 2015


The Cold Chulent


Yesterday, Yitzy Wellikoff celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in our Shul.

It was a beautiful Bar Mitzvah.

The Bar Mitzvah boy “lained” like a pro.

He and his little brother looked so grown up in their new suits.

His mother and father were beaming and enjoying every moment.

Both sets of his grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins were all present and cherishing every second of the family celebration.

In short, it was a picture perfect Bar Mitzvah.

Everyone who was supposed to arrive was there.

No one came down with a last minute sickness and the Bar Mitzvah boy himself was loud and clear as he proudly read from the Torah.

Everything that is important and that matters was perfect and memorable; exactly the way every parent hopes it will be.

We arrived at the Kiddush and there were delicious cakes and tasty salads.

There were drinks and cookies, all set up in good taste and elegantly.

One thing was different; one thing was not the way it usually is.

The Chulent was cold.


How can this be?

The Chulent is cold?

Oh my, a tragedy, a calamity…..

Jews are being stabbed in Jerusalem; however, the news of the day is the ‘Chulent is cold’.

Who is culprit?

We must find him!

Is it the Chulent maker?

Or is it the kitchen manager?

Perhaps it is the server of the food or perhaps it is even G-d Himself who is to blame.

One thing is for sure… this crime must not go unpunished!

And then I took a deep breath and put things in their proper perspective.

As I looked around I realized that no one was being stabbed in Passaic for attempting to daven at the Shul of their choosing.

As I watched the crowd eagerly consuming 20 plus pounds of cake and cookies I could not help but notice that not one person seemed to be suffering from malnutrition.

As I observed mouthfuls of cold Chulent being devoured by cheerful congregants no one seemed to be complaining of food deprivation and not one person fainted from hunger.


 A miracle before my eyes…

The Chulent is cold and the world continues to exist….

Families did not break up and children did not go ‘off the Derech’.

The Ahavas Israel and the entire Jewish world somehow survived on cold Chulent.

An open and revealed miracle on Van Houten Ave!

I have a hunch; of course it is just a hunch… and I could be wrong.

Yet, my little hunch tells me that by the time 99.9% of the Bar Mitzvah celebrants were already five steps from the Shul they had totally forgot about the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ and the ‘whose fault’ it is that the Chulent was cold.

They realized that in the large scheme of things, the world survives on cold Chulent and no one is any worse off for it.

A Jewish child has become a Bar Mitzvah.

A Jewish boy is now a Jewish man.

That is something the world is better off for having and that is something if we did not have, the Jewish world could not survive!

They realized that a Jewish boy becoming a Bar Mitzvah is what will be remembered for posterity and not the temperature of the Chulent!

Give me a Bar Mitzvah boy like Yitzy Wellikoff and I’ll eat cold Chulent every Shabbos off the year.

Mazel Tov to Yitzy and to his parents Michelle and Josh and thank you for allowing us to remember again just what is truly important in life.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Last Man “ (10/8/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 25th of Tishrei 5776 and October 8, 2015


The Last Man


It was the Motzei Yom Kippur.

 Hundreds of Mispallelim are outside the Shul reciting Kiddush Levanah.

Afterwards a large circle is formed and we begin to dance.

 Everyone is hungry, thirsty and tired; however, somehow there is strength left for one more dance; one more opportunity to sing our praises to Hashem.

The dance concludes and everyone wishes each other a “Gut Yuhr” and that with Hashem’s help we should be able to dance again next year.

I make my way back into the now empty cavernous Shul.

This is a special time for me.

Everyone else goes home to eat.

I too will go home; however, not just yet.

I head back into the now vacant sanctuary and I stand alone and listen.

The room is now silent; yet, just twenty minutes before there were hundreds of Jews united and unified as they proclaimed in one powerful and dedicated voice: “Hashem is the one and only G-d”.

I see Talleisim which will be folded and put away tomorrow.

 I spot more than one Kittel still moist and wet from the perspiration of a man who poured out his soul to Hashem the entire day.

I notice the Machzorim with bookmarks protruding which the children used.

Their Rebbeim and Moros had the children mark those special places in davening where the child should be able to follow along.

And I see the tissues… the wastebasket is overflowing from the tissues soaked with the tears of Hashem’s children.

The room is now totally silent.

I relish this time in the now empty sanctuary; it is a time when the walls are still reverberating from the day’s davening, yet simultaneously, the room is eerily quiet.

I am alone with my thoughts and with my contemplations.

 I indulge myself for one extra minute to dedicate one more Tefillah of thanks to Hashem for having allowed me to experience one more Yom Kippur.

Suddenly I hear a cry.

I am sure I am dreaming; perhaps a leftover sob from today’s Neilah is still resounding off the walls?

I then hear a whimper; it is real; I am not hallucinating, someone is here.

I am not alone.

I scan the tables and the seats and then I spot him; he is in the far end of the Shul, in the last row in the corner seat.

He is a newcomer; I have never seen him here before today.

He is crying.

“Are you alright? Do you have a place to break the fast?” I ask.

“Yes, thank you rabbi, I have plenty of food and I am fine”; he says through his tears.

“I don’t want to disturb you; however, Yom Kippur has ended; the Shofar has sounded, davening has concluded for today and now is the time to eat and to get some rest”, I tell him.

He looks at me and with a tear-stained face he cries out and says, “That is exactly why I am crying.”

“I don’t understand why is the fact that the Shofar has sounded and davening is completed a reason for you to cry?” I ask.

“Rabbi, I am thirty two years old; and today was the first ‘real’ Yom Kippur in my life. Today I fasted and prayed like a Jew the entire day. It was exhilarating and I felt Hashem as I never have before.”

“That is wonderful; today for the first time in your life you intensely and meaningfully communicated with Hashem. Why then are you crying?”

“I am crying because I had so much more to say… there was so much more I wanted to tell Him and then- suddenly- the Shofar sounded…and the day was over…I needed so much more time…”

And all along I thought I knew what Yom Kippur was all about.

“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “"It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”” (10/7/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 24th of Tishrei 5776 and October 7, 2015


"It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”


This past Yom Kippur, while we were all davening Kol Nidrei, one of the iconic figures of the American Pastime, Yogi Berra died quietly in his sleep at the age of ninety.

Yogi Berra was truly an American hero.

He came from immigrant Italian parents who arrived at Ellis Island in the early part of the twentieth century and eventually became a baseball legend.

He would become one of the greatest catchers in the history of the game.

He played on some of the legendary teams of the glory years of the New York Yankees; playing with all of the Yankee greats from the 40s and the 50s and 60s; Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.  

All told, his Yankees teams won the American League pennant 14 out of 17 years. He still holds Series records for games played, plate appearances, hits and doubles.

No other player has been a champion so often.

He was also a successful as a manager for both the New York Yankees and the New York Mets.

Perhaps even more inspirational is the fact that Yogi Berra was also a ‘mentsch.

He was a family man; at a time when so many celebrities get divorced and remarried as often as ‘regular people’ change clothing, Yogi Berra was married to the same woman for 65 years!

They were privileged to have three sons and they lived in Montclair, New Jersey for decades.

He was also a forgiving individual  as although he was insulted by George Steinbrenner by being fired after just 16 games in 1985 after being promised he would have the managerial job for the entire year, he accepted a ‘somewhat back-handed-semi-apology’ from Steinbrenner and returned to Yankee Stadium on July 18, 1999.

“Yogi Berra was also well known for his impromptu pithy comments, malapropisms, and often unintentional witticisms, known as "Yogi-isms".

Yogi-isms very often took the form of either an apparently obvious tautology or a paradoxical contradiction, but often with an underlying and powerful message that offered not just humor, but wisdom.” (Wikipedia)

Perhaps the most famous "Yogi-ism" was his “clairvoyant claim”: "It ain’t over till it’s over."

Yogi made this claim in July of 1973 when his New York Mets were floundering; however, by the end of the season they clinched the division title.

In short, there is much to learn from Yogi Berra:

·       His ability and his tenacity to become a self-made man; lifting himself from humble beginnings and becoming a successful baseball player

·       His commitment to his wife and family

·       His ability to ‘roll with the punches’ and to be able to smile when sportswriters constantly derided him for their inaccurate portrayal of him as a babbling fool.

·       His ability to forgive those who hurt him and to reconcile and move on in life

Perhaps though, his statement: "It ain’t over till it’s over" is the most important lesson for all of us.

Today, the day after Succos, we all went back to ‘real-life’

We went back to our offices and to our ‘regular’ schedules.

Succos has ‘ended’ and now it’s time to get on with life.

However, has Succos really ‘ended’?

Do we really want the spirituality and the feelings of family connection and of community to come to an end?

Is it really ‘all-over’?

I think with regard to how we view the departed Yom Tov, Yogi Berra was correct; “It ain’t over till it’s over!"

As long we hold on to the feelings of closeness to each other and to Hashem and as long as we keep the memories alive and put into practice all of the ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ we accepted upon ourselves, we can still say resolutely and truthfully, “It REALLY AIN’T OVER, CUZ IT’S STILL NOT OVER!”


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “R’ Eitam Henkin Zt”l- HY”D” (10/2/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 19th of Tishrei 5776 and October 2, 2015


R’ Eitam Henkin Zt”l- HY”D


The headlines informed us of the cold blooded and calculated murder of R’ Eitam and Na’ama Henkin Zt”l who were killed as their four children sat in the back seat of the vehicle.

There are no words of consolation I can offer to the orphans.

We must at least attempt to appreciate what we had and what we lost and where we go from here.

The Henkin family of which Rav Eitam was a proud member (see his erudite Torah blog at: -thanks to R’ Micah Berger for the source) is well known in the Torah world.

R’ Eitam’s great-grandfather, Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin (1881–1973), was one of prominent ‘poskim’ in America (along with Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l), from the time of his arrival in America in 1922 until his death in 1973.

R’ Eitam’s father is Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin (born 1945- ), who is author of the responsa Benei Vanim, and an orthodox posek who lives in Yerushalayim.

The family has been serving Klal Yisroel as Rabbonim and Torah teachers for many, many years and the loss of R’ Eitam who continued the family tradition is certainly a blow to all Torah Jews.

When I was younger, many times I recall the name of Rav Henkin being quoted for halachik opinions, especially with regard to the laws of Eruvin.

I once asked one of my Rebbeim, “How was it that Rav Henkin who came from Klimavichy, Belarus, (then in the Russian Empire), a Shetyl with not more than a few thousand Jews was able to become a world authority on Eruvin especially dealing with New York City, one the biggest cities in the world?”

My Rebbe told me that Rav Henkin was once on his was to study at the Slutzker Yeshiva headed by Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer Zt”l; however, he was delayed in his journey because of lack of funds and he was forced to remain in a tiny Shetyl for almost a year.

During that year he slept in the local Shul and took meals wherever and whenever he could find them. The Shul did not even have a complete Shas, just a few Massechtas which were worn and the pages were ripped and tattered.

Except for Massechta Eruvin; because of the difficulty of the Massechta, Eruvin was almost in pristine form and there was never even any competition for it.

Rav Henkin decided to make the best of his difficult and disappointing sojourn in the tiny Shetyl and in the 12 month period he was there, he studied Massechta Eruvin 16 times until he knew it by heart with all the commentaries.

Only half a century later when he would find himself in what was then the largest Jewish community in the world, would he realize how critical and important it was that he was ‘stranded’ for those 12 months in the little Shul.

 What initially was seen as an ‘unfortunate event’ was eventually an extremely fortunate and positive part of his life.

I cannot tell you that in our lives we will be able to realize the ‘positive’ aspect of the chilling and horrific murder of R’ Eitam Henkin HY”D and his wife HY”D, however, I can tell you that somewhere and someway there is a plan and there is a planner.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Hardest Mitzvah of All. “ (9/27/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Erev Succos the 14th of Tishrei 5776 and September 27, 2015


The Hardest Mitzvah of All


Tonight begins the happiest time in the Jewish calendar.

 We are commanded to be in a state of Simcha for the next nine days.

Beginning tonight – with sundown – and continuing until the completion of Simchas Torah on Tuesday evening October 6th – we are charged with the challenge of “V’Samchte B’Chagecha” (And you shall be happy during the holiday).

When I was younger and a full time Yeshiva bochur, one of my teachers taught us that when they queried the Vilna Gaon as to what is the hardest mitzvah in the Torah he replied without hesitation: “The Mitzvah to remain in a constant state of Simcha for nine consecutive days and not allow one sad or depressing thought to penetrate ones’ emotional being is the hardest of all Mitzvahs.”

When I first heard this thought from the Vilna Gaon 40 years ago I honestly wondered, “What’s so hard about being happy for nine straight days? What’s not to be happy about?”

At the time, I lived a carefree existence.

 My parents were healthy.

 I had friends, and all of my needs were provided for by others.

I was free to study Torah and no one’s burdens were upon me.

This year I have a slightly different mindset.

As Succos is approaching in a matter of hours and I think about the fact that I have performed the Mitzvah of Nichum Aveilim (‘paid a Shiva call) to three different homes in the last 48 hours…

 In one of the homes there were eleven orphans while in the other two homes neither of the deceased individuals was privileged to have any children…

And I think about the reality that this will be the first Succos of my life when neither of my parents is alive and I realize that (especially) my mother will not be there, who for the last 16 years always came to my home for Succos…

And I think about all the families who have poured out their Tzorras and their pain to me…

Now the answer of the Vilna Gaon to the question of what is the hardest Mitzvah… no longer seems as difficult to comprehend as it once did….

I guess that’s why Koheles said, “And he who increases knowledge, increases pain.” (Koheles; 1:18)

Those years of blissful naiveté were truly blessed.

Wishing everyone a joyous Yom Tov…


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

 “If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel


The Short Vort’ - “Ethereal” (9/25/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 12th of Tishrei 5776 and September 25, 2015



* Adjective: heavenly or celestial


It is always difficult to ‘pay a Shiva call’ or more precisely to be ‘Menachem Aveilim’.

We all feel somewhat awkward and too often at a loss for words when we walk into the home of the mourner.

What should I say and what should I avoid saying?

No one wants to be trite and banal; however, it’s also not the time to be philosophical and certainly not emotionally invasive or intrusive.

Questions such as, “How did the deceased die?” or “How old were they?”

These queries are often not appreciated if not outright resented.

The potential for awkwardness is magnified when one enters the home of a woman who left behind her parents, her three sisters, eleven children and her husband.

The thought of entering a home with so many different people ‘sitting Shiva’ is painful.

These thoughts were going through my mind as I entered the Schik home today to attempt to offer my feelings of consolation on the loss of Mrs. Debby Schik A”H.

How would the family be coping with the loss of their dear beloved mother, daughter, sister and wife?

Would they appreciate my visit coming less than 24 hours after the funeral?

The answer was not long in coming.

As soon as I entered, the sons approached me ‘thanking me’ for the few words I penned in yesterday’s in “The Short Vort” after the Levaya.

Was this really happening?

Were they really thanking me?

Was I in the correct home?

I am coming to encourage them and I am attempting to console the family; however, in reality I am the one being encouraged and I am the one uplifted!

And this same scenario repeated itself at the ‘Shiva-chair’ of each and every family member.

Here is a family which has lost its heart and its soul; their beloved mother, who was the sustainer and nurturer for the entire family.

She has been taken from them in the prime of her life; nevertheless, the only concern of the family is to thank me.

In truth, everything I had written was simply an echo of the beautiful expressions of love which I heard from the children themselves; yet, nevertheless, they were the ones thanking me.

There is much more to say about a woman who once wrote a letter to her own daughter apologizing  for disciplining her while simultaneously assuring the daughter of her unconditional love for her.

 And let us never forget how this woman -while she hovered between life and death and the children came to wish her a Good Yom Tov before Rosh Hashanah- used her last reserve of strength to whisper to her husband that he should not forget to buy all the children ices before they leave the hospital.

Yes, there is much more to say… how she refused to share her condition with others so as not to pain them and how she struggled to make sure the house continued to function properly in spite of her own struggles and pain…

However, perhaps the greatest praise I can say about Mrs. Debby Schik is the thought which entered my mind as the children approached me to thank me for my written words…

 At that moment I thought of the words of Rav Chaim Schmulevitz Zt”L the great Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva.  

Rav Chaim once said, that the greatest tribute and fulfillment of Kibud Av V’Em that a child can give their parent occurs when those who interact with the children walk away from the encounter shaking their heads in disbelief as they proclaim, “These children must have had special parents to have turned out so fine and exemplary.”

Mrs. Debby Schik has what to be proud of; as I left the Shiva home I could not stop thinking, “She certainly was one special mother to be able to raise and nurture such singular and remarkable children.”

May the family be consoled among the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Appreciate what you have today; tomorrow may be too late. “ (9/24/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 11th of Tishrei 5776 and September 24, 2015


The Day After


Today, the day after Yom Kippur, I attended the levaya (funeral) of a young mother of eleven children.

The woman, who by all accounts was an exceptional mother and human being succumbed to her illness on Yom Kippur and was laid to rest today.

As I sat among the throngs who came to pay their last respects to a mother who was taken in the prime of life, there was one theme which the speakers mentioned which really hit home.

Child after child mentioned the fact that although she was the mother of eleven, each and every child felt that they were an only child.

She was careful to prepare food for each child the way they liked it and was careful to understand the needs and desires of each and every one of her children.

Each speaker emphasized the fact that her entire life was for her family and for their wellbeing.

Needless to say, the tears were flowing freely.

As I arrived home I did what most people probably did when they came home: I hugged my children and held them tight.

Appreciate what you have today; tomorrow may be too late.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Getting Closer” (9/21/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 8th of Tishrei 5776 and September 21, 2015



Getting Closer



One day Rav was giving Shiur.

Rav Chia arrived late and Rav went back to the beginning of the material.

Bar Kapara arrived late and again Rav went back to the beginning.

Then Rav Shimon the son of Rebbe came in late and again Rav went back to the beginning.

When Rav Chanina arrived late, Rav no longer went back to the beginning and Rav Chanina was insulted.

The Gemara informs us that Rav went 13 times on 13 different Erev Yom Kippurs to attempt to reconcile with Rav Chanina.

The Sefas Emes questions if Rav was obligated to do so.

He offers two possibilities.

According to his first ‘pshat’, Rav was not consistent in his behavior as he went back for the first three ‘latecomers’ and not for Rav Chanina and therefore he was obligated to appease Rav Chanina.

According to his second understanding, Rav was justified in not going back for Rav Chanina; nevertheless, Rav still felt that although he was not ‘obligated’ to ask forgiveness, he still attempted to appease Rav Chanina.

The Sefas Emes learns from this Gemara that if someone is hurt by you, even if you are not ‘obligated’ to ask forgiveness as their ‘hurt’ is not really justified; nevertheless, before Yom Kippur you should still attempt to clean the slate and achieve reconciliation with the hurt person.

Obviously, we cannot always do this, however, we must try.

(TB Yoma 87b and Sefas Emes ad loc.)



“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““Forgive and Forget?” (9/20/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 7th of Tishrei 5776 and September 20, 2015


“Forgive and Forget?”


Forgiveness; we all need it, we all want it; however, what are we prepared to do for it?

Many of us arrive early to Shul before Kol Nidrei to recite the moving prayer called Tefillah Zaka.

Tefillah Zaka first appears in print in the Sefer Chayei Adam.

The Sefer Chayei Adam was written by Rav Avrohom Danzig (1748-1820).

He was a posek and codifier who is most famous for his Sefer Chayei Adam which is simplified code of law based on the laws of Orach Chaim.

It was first published in Vilna in 1810 and in the first edition the Tefillah ‘Tefillah Zaka’ does not appear.

If first appears in the second edition of the work published in 1819; in section 144 paragraph 20 Rav Danzig writes:

“And it has already been printed in the Sefer ‘Chemdas HaYamim’ the Tefillah which he compiled.

Truth be told, not everyone can understand this Tefillah, only he who is familiar with the secrets of Hashem and he who does not know these secrets, [the Tefillah] is a like a closed book. Therefore I copied from former and older Seforim a prayer in a more simple language for many poskim are of the opinion that one should recite confession prior to nightfall and it is worthy for every person to say this Tefillah and here is its text.

And praiseworthy is the person who says it also in the morning.”

After that introduction Tefillah Zaka appears.

It is therefore clear that Rav Danzig did not author the Tefillah; however, he also does not clearly indicate who exactly did write the Tefillah or which Seforim were consulted.

Interestingly enough, Rav Danzig also never refers to the Tefillah as Tefillah Zaka; however, all the subsequent sources when referencing the Tefillah call it Tefillah Zaka.

This is apparently based on the Passuk in Iyov: “But not because of any violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure.” (U’Tefillasi Zaka) (Iyov 16:17).

From 1819 until 1833 those who wanted to recite the Tefillah had to bring a copy of the Sefer Chayei Adam with them to Shul.

Beginning in 1833 until 1882, small pamphlets, containing Tefillah Zaka were published and sold separately as companion volumes to the Machzor.

Sometimes these pamphlets contained a Yiddish translation of the Tefillah.

Beginning in 1882 in Vilna, the Tefillah was incorporated into the Machzor itself; first as a ‘special add-on’ and eventually (as is the practice today) as an expected and ‘regular’ part of the Machzor.

Although the Tefillah has enjoyed wide spread popularity in the non-Chassidic world, it must be noted that a number of Chassidic courts do recite the Tefillah.

Among those who don’t are Chabad, Sanz and Vishnitz.

Nevertheless, the Tefillah is widely said in most Ashkenazi communities and certainly is embraced for its beauty and eloquence.

Perhaps the most moving part is when we forgive all those who have sinned against us.

We say:

“I fully and finally forgive everyone; may no one be punished because of me. And just as I forgive everyone, so may You grant me grace in the eyes of others that they too forgive me absolutely."

Indeed, this part of the Tefillah is so moving and critical that the Chofetz Chaim requested of the printers that they move this paragraph closer to the beginning of the Tefillah and not towards the end where it originally appeared.

Many printers have accepted the Chofetz Chaim’s suggestion.

That being said… it is important to remember the words of the Chazon Ish with regard to Tefillah Zaka.

The Chazon Ish stated unequivocally that if a person just ‘davens-up’ the words of Tefillah Zaka and doesn’t take the time to think about who harmed them and then sincerely decide to forgive them, the words are meaningless!

As the Chazon Ish says, “With regard to Mechila, the main thing is the heart. If one says they are forgiving (Mochel) while in their heart they are still ‘mad’ then they have not forgiven anyone!”

It is beautiful to say Tefillah Zaka; however, if you fail to have the proper intent to sincerely forgive those who have hurt you then you have not accomplished anything.

Ask yourself, “I am really able to forgive this person?”

If you are not yet ready to answer, “Yes, I am”; then you are not ready to recite Tefillah Zaka!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Unenviable Club” (9/17/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 4th of Tishrei 5776 and September 17, 2015


The Unenviable Club


As Rosh Hashanah fades to the background, our hearts and our thoughts turn toward Yom Kippur.

This Motzei Yom Kippur I will not have to rush to the phone to find out how my mother endured the fast.

Instead, this Yom Kippur, for the first time in my life, I will be saying Yizkor for my mother.

A day still does not pass when I don’t automatically reach for the phone to call her.

Countless events and numerous experiences occur daily which cause me to make a mental note to call her or to want to get ‘her take’ on something.

Alas, there is no one to call; there is no one to reach out to.

 Thankfully there are mountains and mountains of memories which I can mine for wonderful sources of solace and comfort.

As I cleaned out her apartment I came across mounds of letters which I wrote to her from my years in Yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel in the late 70s.

 I wondered why she saved them.

She saved them for they were from me and that made them precious to her.

The realization of just how much my mundane letters of life in Yeshiva meant to her granted me comfort and consolation; as Shlomo HaMelech said, “As in water, face answers to face, so is the heart of a man to a man”. (Mishlei 27:19)

If my letters gave her comfort, I am comforted as well.

This Motzei Yom Kippur there will be no more phone calls.

Rather, as Dovid HaMelech said: “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me." (Shmuel Beis 12:23)

She will no longer be on the other end of the phone line… “I shall eventually go to her… she is not returning to me…” and that is painful.

As I prepare for this Yom Kippur I wondered why we say one of the most critical parts of the davening, the Vidui, together in unison.

The most important and personal and intimate expression of our feelings to Hashem we sing in a congregational chant?

Would it not be better for each individual to express themselves privately and quietly?

I am sure there are excellent and better answers than the one I will offer; however, this one is personal and this one I feel in my heart.

A wonderful congregant of my Shul by the name of Tzvi Gardenswartz who lost his mother shortly after my mother left this world approached me recently and said to me, “We are buddies in a special and unique club.”

I had no idea what he was talking about.

“Every day three times a day at the end of davening those of us who lost a loved one are privileged to say Kaddish. No one else participates in that part of davening. Only we, the unique members who have a shared pain are able to partake of the Kaddish.

As much as it is painful to stand out and be stared at, it is also a bonding experience.

 We stand together as we are members of our exclusive group who share the Kaddish and by doing so we give each other strength and encouregment to continue.

 If one of us is sad and lacks the energy to say the Kaddish properly, we all pick up the slack for each other and we continue and persevere. That is the special club we are part of.”

I realized now why we sing the Vidui together.

On this one day we are all part of a special club; a club in which we are all equal in our sense of subordination and subservience before Hashem.

We chant and sing together the Vidui and if one person feels they cannot continue the entire Tzibbur comes in and helps that person.

This year I am a part of two clubs.

As I mourn the loss of my mother I feel consoled as I am part of the unique and exclusive Kaddish club.

Yet, I am also a part of the wonderful and special club call Klal Yisroel; whom together and in unison we have the privilege to join together as we carry each other to the finish line of forgiveness.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “WE NEED YOU!” (9/16/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 3rd of Tishrei 5776 September 16, 2015




Rosh Hashanah ended yesterday.

For two days we were immersed in Tefillah and hopefully in Teshuva.

Yet, as we learn in the Nesaneh Tokef, there is a third component in the three-front-battle of Teshuva, Tefillah, and Tzedokah.

That third step is called Tzedokah; for Tzedokah, it is not enough to daven or even to change.

In order to do Tzedokah you have to give your money.

For Tefillah, the Shul does its best to provide you with ‘minyan-on-demand’.

For Teshuva, we leave that to each individual to work on.

However, for the third step, Tzedokah, we need you and you alone.

The Shul spends thousands of dollars –happily-each and every month to make sure everyone who enters is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The Shul provides hundreds of cups of coffee every week and thousands throughout the year.

Most importantly, the Shul provides you and the entire community with the opportunity to daven to Hashem- whenever you want.

The Shul facilitates late Maariv Minyanim and early Shacharis minyanim- including Vasikin!

The Shul provides a comfortable environment for everyone to feel comfortable and to daven.

The Shul needs you.

At this time of the year, we ask everyone to reach deep and contribute to the Shul’s annual Yomim Noraim Minyan Appeal.

We hope you need us as much as we know we need you!

Please contribute on the Shul’s website ( or at the Shul.

Wishing all a Gmar Chasima Tova

“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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




The Short Vort’ - “A Coincidence?” (9/11/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 27th of Elul 5775 and September 11, 2015


“A Coincidence?”


Today is 9/11; I know you know what that means.

Front Page of today’s NY Times: “A large construction crane crashed into the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca on Friday as it was packed with worshipers during a heavy rainstorm, and the authorities there said at least 87 people had been killed. The crane smashed into the third floor of the Grand Mosque about 5:45 p.m. The mosque was packed with people in advance of the 6:30 p.m. prayer.”

One more fact: “The hijackers in the September 11 attacks were 20 men affiliated with al-Qaeda. 15 of the 19 were citizens of Saudi Arabia.”

On September 11th a crane (rhymes with ‘plane’) ‘crashes’ into the third floor of the ‘Grand Mosque’ in Mecca as it’s packed with people waiting to pray to Allah.

Was it a coincidence, a happenstance event, a fluke?

 “A person does not ‘stub’ his finger in this world unless it is decreed from ‘above’.”(Chulin 7b)

There are no coincidences in this world.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort’ - “The Chofetz Chaim” (9/8/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 24th of Elul 5775 and September 8, 2015


The Chofetz Chaim


Today is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yisroel Meir HaKohen (Kagan), better known to all of us as the Chofetz Chaim.

I think I would not be exaggerating if I claimed that almost 100% of the people reading this Vort have not only heard of the Chofetz Chaim; they have also studied (be it in the original Hebrew or in translation) some part of the many Seforim that he authored.

I also feel that I would not be guilty of hagiography if I stated that (almost?) everyone has seen a picture of an individual who is purported to be the Chofetz Chaim.

What other Torah giant has had his photograph appear on the back of milk containers?

Indeed, the sheer visibility and popularity of the Chofetz Chaim is amazing!

There are numerous yeshivas which bear his name.

There is a ‘Heritage Foundation’ in his honor and there is even a Kibbutz in Israel named after him.

There is barely a yeshiva elementary school where his picture is not prominently displayed and hardly a yeshiva teacher who does not quote him.

By all accounts the Chofetz Chaim was neither tall physically nor was his wealthy financially.

He was humble and modest; lived on an extremely low-cost budget and dressed in a manner associated with simple craftsman than great Roshei Yeshiva.

Nevertheless, he changed the Jewish world.

One man with one dream; he had not the financial backing and he did not even have legions of loyal followers to do his bidding.

Rather, he wrote and he taught and he was a role-model; and one human being at a time, he changed the Jewish world.

We may not all have the talents of the Chofetz Chaim; and we may not be able to change the world; however, at least we should try to change ourselves for the better.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Art of Listening” (9/3/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 19th of Elul 5775 and September 3, 2015


The Art of Listening*

* (Editor’s Note: As is many Short Vorts, the core message and the story line are based on true incidents; however, many of the details and the identifying features of the individuals mentioned have been altered in ways to totally disguise their identity. This is done to preserve people’s privacy.)

Yitzchok Berman called me early in the morning and was quite distressed.

His grandson was about to fly off to Liberia to assist recovering Ebola patients.

He was planning to volunteer for “Doctors Without Borders” and his parents had pleaded with him to speak to his grandfather who then called me and desperately begged me to reach out to his grandson.

It was not that anyone was against helping others; it’s just that at 18 years old, the grandson was making a life decision which was too critical a choice to make at such a young age.

I am not an expert in these matters and I hardly knew the young man as he infrequently came to Passaic to visit. Nevertheless, Yitz Berman was frantic as he pleaded with me to make contact with his grandson.

The next morning I called the young man and asked him to stop by; surprisingly, he agreed and soon 18 year Ephraim was sitting across from me listing all the reasons why he should be on tonight’s midnight flight to Roberts International Airport outside of Monrovia (Capitol of Liberia) to help Ebola patients.

He told me how he felt the need to reach out to others.

He stated how he was akin to Avrohom Avinu in attempting to influence people who never heard of Hashem.

For more than two and a half hours we debated, discussed and argued about the pros and cons of serving as a volunteer in Liberia.

Finally, when both of us were exhausted we agreed to take a break and Ephraim said he would think about our discussion and decide that afternoon.

I reached for my Tehillim and beseeched Hashem to steer Ephraim in the right direction.

As five o’clock I received a phone call from Ephraim’s grandfather, thankfully, the boy had decided not to fly to Liberia. He would instead go to Eretz Yisroel to a yeshiva which combined learning and working with underprivileged youth in Tel Aviv.

Yitzchok Berman was all smiles as he came to my office and brought over some Schnapps to make ‘L’Chaim’. As we drank he kept saying, “I don’t know what you told my grandson, but, whatever it was it worked and you saved his life. I don’t know how I can ever thank you. It must have been ingenious whatever it was you told him!”

Truth be told, I had no idea what I told him which made the difference. We had spoken about so many different things; I wondered what insightful point had convinced him not to fly to Liberia.

That afternoon at Mincha I saw Ephraim. I asked him, “I’m glad to hear you are off to our homeland; I was just wondering which point in all of the things we discussed caused you to reconsider your decision?”

Ephraim hesitated and then said, “Honestly, Rabbi, there was no specific reasoning which you offered which convinced me.”

I was perplexed. “I don’t get it; if nothing I said made a difference then why aren’t you flying to Liberia?”

He looked at me and said with a sincere and heartfelt voice, “It wasn’t anything specific that you said; rather, it was that you were willing to hear me out.

When I called the representative of Doctors Without Borders to speak to him about my hesitations, he just said curtly, “I am a busy man, I have no time to hear your personal problems, either you’re in or you’re out.”

I compared his reaction to yours. You, who barely know me, spoke to me for over two hours and totally heard me out. I then realized that if a rabbi who is receiving nothing in return is willing to listen to me for over two hours while the fellow who represents an organization to which I am willing to donate an entire year of my life won’t hear me out for ten minutes… it is clear to me what I had to do.”

I then realized that more often it’s not about what you say; rather, it’s really about allowing someone else to say and to be heard.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort’ - “How Long Did It Take You?” (9/2/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 18th of Elul 5775 and September 2, 2015


How Long Did It Take You?


I spent one day in my entire life in Reading PA.

A number of years ago, I was traveling back to New Jersey and I stopped off in Reading PA.

I was taking a break from the driving so I parked my car and walked around the town.

I had not walked more than one block when a gentleman came right up to me and said without any hesitation or shame, “Hey buddy, how long did it take you to grow that thing?”

Since I was not holding a plant in my hand I assumed he was talking to someone else; however, as his eyes were focused on me I realized that he was talking to me!

I looked at him and he repeated his question; however, this time he added hand motions and as he spoke he proceeded to stroke his invisible or imaginary beard.  

“So tell me, how long did it take you to get it so long?”

As I was now convinced he was referring to my beard, I decided to answer him honestly.

“First of all my friend, one thing is for sure.

It sure took you a lot more time NOT to grow your beard than it took me to grow mine!

 You see, it actually did not take any time at all.

 I just go about my normal activities such as eating, walking, running, talking and even sleeping; and guess what? I don’t do a thing and G-d does the rest.  

Compare that with all of the time, effort and money you have invested for so many years in order to NOT grow your beard!

You have to buy shaving cream, razors, aftershave… not to mention the time you have spent making sure your whiskers are cut.

I probably could read the entire Babylonian Talmud in the time you have spent making sure you don’t grow a beard!”

The man looked at me, sort of smiled and walked away.

I still think about that incident (obviously I do, if I didn’t think about I would not have written about it!).

Why do I think about it?

I am not sure; however, I have a hunch.

Perhaps the reason I think about it is that it reminds me of the fact that often in life the most natural and untouched and pristine things are still the easiest to come by.

I think I’ll get myself a glass of water.

Enjoy your day.


“If Not Now, Then When? - Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““Doing Our Work?” (8/31/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 16th of Elul 5775 and August 31, 2015


“Doing Our Work?


Today as I ‘opened’ the newspaper I did a double take. Although it was 5:30 AM, I did not think I was still dreaming; however, the headline seemed to be more relevant to a Chumash (Bible) Shiur (class) than an article in the New York Times!

 “ISIS Damages Temple of Baal in Palmyra” screamed the headline.

Can this be true?

Is this a fulfillment of the verse in Devarim (12:3): “And you shall tear down their altars, smash their monuments…cut down the graven images of their gods, and destroy their name from that place”?

The article goes on to describe: “Consecrated in A.D. 32 to the Semitic god Baal, the temple was a source of pride for Syrians and stood not far from where the other building, the Temple of Baalshamin, was destroyed.”

Here we have a physical remnant from the pagan god Baal, a god which was certainly Avodah Zora and which according to the Rambam (Mitzvah Asei 185) in his Sefer HaMitzvohs: “We are commanded to destroy all those places where idols are worshiped: Eretz Yisroel is a holy land. Therefore, special efforts must be made to clear it of idol worship entirely.”

And indeed, since almost all of Syria (including Palmyra) is included in the Biblical borders of Eretz Yisroel; then the destruction of these pagan temples is apparently a fulfillment of the Mitzvah to “destroy all those places where idols are worshiped in Eretz Yisroel”.

Indeed in the words of one eye witness: “A resident of Palmyra, Nasser al-Thaer, told The Associated Press, “It is total destruction,” adding, “It was an explosion the deaf would hear.”

Is the ‘total destruction’ of a biblical place of Avodah Zora a harbinger to the coming of Mashiach?

Are the ‘end of days’ coming closer and soon we will see the Kingdom of Hashem in all its glory?

Obviously I know not the answers to these questions; however, certainly it means something.

Once thing I can say with conviction: as Rosh Hashanah looms closer and closer we should make the best of our time and certainly prepare ourselves with Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedokah.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “I Have a Dream…”* (8/28/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 13th of Elul 5775 and August 28, 2015


“I Have a Dream…”*

(*"I Have a Dream" is a public speech delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. on August 28, 1963, in which he calls for an end to racism in the United States. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, the speech was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. (Wikipedia)


It was a warm August day in the nation’s capital when Martin Luther King ascended the podium and delivered the speech which “was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century in a 1999 poll of scholars of public address (Ibid.).

The speech, complete with its Biblical references and its echoing of American values electrified the audience of 250,000 and helped accelerated the pace of change in American race relations.

Few realize that perhaps the primary ‘mover and shaker’ of both the march and the text of the speech was a Jew!

Stanley David Levison (May 2, 1912 - September 12, 1979) was a Jewish businessman from New York, who attained a law degree from St. John’s University. Levison was very active in the Civil Rights movement and became an advisor and close friend of Martin Luther King Jr., for whom he helped write speeches and organize events.

Levison was King’s right hand man in both planning the March of Washington and in drafting versions of the now iconic speech.

One has to wonder if Levison’s ‘Jewish DNA’ which instills in every Jew with a sense of compassion, humility and desire to help others –was the motivating factor in inspiring Levison to partner with Dr. King.

The Medrash (Yalkut Shimoni Parsahs  VaYeria Remez 82) points out the Dovid HaMelech stated there are three identifying personality features of all Jews; they are compassionate, humble and do-gooders.

Levison, as a Jew, still retained his ‘Jewish characteristics’.

We as Jews must also remember to be ‘compassionate, humble and do-gooders’; indeed, Dovid HaMelech declares that only a person who displays these three traits is worthy of joining the Jewish people.


In the spirit of today being the 63rd anniversary of Dr. King’s extraordinary speech; perhaps we can say that today ‘we also have a dream’.

Dr. King stated: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Our dream, to paraphrase Dr. King, is:

I have a dream that my seven children and their children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their Yarmulke but by the content of their character.”

Dr. King’s declared:

When we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of G-d’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual Free at last! Free at last!   Thank G-d Almighty, we are free at last!”

Similarly paraphrasing Dr. King we can state:

When we allow the tolerance of others to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of Hashem’s children, Chassidim and Litvaks, Modern Orthodox and Hareidi, Religious Zionist and Neturei Karta, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of Tehillim: “This is the day that the Lord made; we shall exult and rejoice thereon.” (Tehillim 118:24)


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““The Man on the Moon”” (8/25/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 10th of Elul 5775 and August 25, 2015


The Man on the Moon


Today (August 25) in 1835, the newspaper “The New York Sun” published the first of six articles announcing the discovery of life on the moon.

The byline was Dr. Andrew Grant, who was described as a colleague of Sir John Herschel, a famous astronomer of the day.

Herschel had in fact traveled to Capetown, South Africa, in January 1834 to set up an observatory with a powerful new telescope.

 As Grant described it, Herschel had found evidence of life forms on the moon, including such fantastic animals as unicorns, two-legged beavers and furry, winged humanoids resembling bats. The articles also offered vivid description of the moon’s geography, complete with massive craters, enormous amethyst crystals, rushing rivers and lush vegetation. (

There was no such person as Dr. Andrew Grant and Herschel never observed life on the moon.

The entire story was a hoax.

According to most available historical evidence, most people believed the story.

 Indeed, the hoax even fooled a committee of Yale University scientists, who traveled to New York to investigate the issue.

Ultimately, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon and saw no unicorns and no winged humanoids resembling bats were there to greet him, the last person on the planet who still believed in ‘The Sun’ had to admit they were duped since 1835!

Why did people believe the newspaper?

Why weren’t more people more cynical and suspicious about the veracity of the report?

One reason is that they had no cause ‘not’ to believe the newspaper.

After all, in the 19th century many new discoveries were occurring and perhaps life had indeed been observed on the moon! After all, ‘why shouldn’t it be true’?

Perhaps though, another reason that people did not doubt the authenticity of the story is because they ‘wanted’ it to be true.

Meaning, people were excited about the possibilities of life on the moon, especially when it included enormous amethyst crystals, rushing rivers and lush vegetation!

 Who would want to be the ‘killjoy’ and not believe?

Who wants to be a Cassandra?

Too often our desire for what we ‘want to be true’ overwhelms our G-d given intellectual capacity to be able to judge properly and honestly asses a claim and decide correctly if the claim ‘can really’ be true.

We want to be entertained and amazed and the thought of a luscious life on the moon was so tempting that it just ‘had’ to be true.

When we ‘want’ something to be a certain way or when we feel we ‘need’ to have someone portrayed in a specific way, we will forfeit our divinely granted gift of discernment for the sake of having our dreams fulfilled in the manner we ‘want’ them to be fulfilled.

Hashem granted us “Da’as”; a discerning and discriminating mind.

Don’t let your shrewd and perceptive mind be dulled into inaction by the emotional appeal of having your fantastical dreams ostensibly realized.

Remember, the first Brocha we say in every weekday Shmoneh Esrei is thanking Hashem for the gift of discernment (Da’as); don’t waste Hashem’s gift.

It may be tempting to believe in the man on the moon; however, not if the price is sacrificing your mind on the altar of falsehood.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Treif or Kosher Phone?” (8/23/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 8th of Elul 5775 and August 23, 2015


Treif or Kosher Phone?


{Disclaimer: Please note the following Short Vort is written in jest and is in no way meant to mock any person or group. That being said, almost every day I see ‘Chashuva people’ speaking on their phones while driving. I myself can always use the Chizuk to make sure I am properly ‘aligned’.

Therefore, if the only person who takes a lesson from this piece is me, I will be more than satisfied.}


As the Suburban sped by I was almost bowled over; literally.

 I quickly jumped back eight feet faster than you can say “Asher Yatzar”!

As I regained my composure and dusted off my fallen hat, I wondered who was driving the vehicle.

The woman behind the wheel resembled more of an old fashioned ‘telephone –switchboard-operator’ than a ‘motor-vehicle operator’!

She was gesticulating wildly with her left hand while simultaneously struggling to keep her right hand glued to the phone which was being pressed into her ear.

“If her left hand is painting pictures in the air and her right hand is holding the phone… which of her hands is holding the steering wheel?” I wondered to no one in particular.

Perhaps she has invented a new and “technologically advanced”-albeit entirely dangerous-mode of ‘hands-driving’ driving!

I quickly jumped into my car and followed the fast-moving four-wheeler as it barreled down the street.

As she turned the corner, I realized to my horror that in the back of her three ton Suburban were five little bobbing heads.

I was getting closer and incredulously I was able to read her bumper sticker: I care about our ‘at risk children’!

Finally at the next corner she slowed down in order to allow one of the ‘double seat-belted’ toddlers to alight from the vast vehicle.

I quickly drove in front of her and stopped my car, blocking the path of the heaving behemoth.

With trepidation and fear I hesitantly approached the fearful and terrifying leviathan.

As I came within reach of the driver’s side of the gasping goliath, I could hear the powerful engine revving as the massive monster was chomping at the bit to accelerate and continue his romp at the speed of light through the roadways of north Jersey.

I reached the driver’s door and the beast’s handler lowered her window.

I began to speak in the most composed voice I could muster.

“Excuse me ‘Mrs. Suburban’, however, it seems to me that you were driving your car while speaking on the phone and there are precious little children in the car. Is it possible that your priorities are out of alignment?” I asked.

Without the slightest hint of hesitance, ‘Mrs. Suburban’ replied confidently:

 “Rabbi, I know what you are thinking: that I was wasting precious time while driving; however, you have nothing to worry about. I was listening to a Torah lecture on Bitachon while I was driving.

And if you are concerned that I was talking on a ‘smartphone’ I can allay you fears as I had it totally filtered, sterilized and fixed at the local TAG office.

In fact, you can see the special kosher sticker which has been affixed to the phone.

So, Rabbi, I appreciate your concern with my spiritual safety; however, as you can see, you have no reason in the world to be concerned.

That being said, it is clearly ‘Hashgacha Protis’ that Hashem caused you to see me.

 I was actually calling you rabbi on the phone when you caught up to me!

So, you can ignore my ten minute message, as Hashem put you here obviously for you to answer the question in-person.

Here is my question:

By accident (of course), my cleaning lady spilled a drop of “Goyishe milk from her coffee cup into my ‘exclusively-designated-Cholov Yisroel-Yoshon-only- Chassidishe Schechita- solely-pot’.

As I would never want to endanger the lives of my Kinderlach in any way- no matter how remote- I must ask you wise rabbi, “Should I just throw out the pot or should I kasher my entire kitchen just to be on ‘safe side’?”

Rabbi? Why aren’t you answering?

 Rabbi, are you alright, you look like you are going to faint?

Would you like to borrow my ‘kosher-phone’?”

Would you like some water?

You don’t have to worry it has a very reliable “Heimishe Hashgacha”.


Friends, we all have to worry about our Ruchnius; however, if we don’t first make sure that our “Gashmius’ bodies are intact, then we will have nothing left with what to utilize our Ruchnius!


Don’t talk on your cell phone and drive and don’t text and drive!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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



The Short Vort’ - “Do You Know Where Your Children Are?” (8/20/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 5th of Elul 5776 and August 20, 2015


Do You Know Where Your Children Are?


When I was a boy I can remember that prior to the 10 PM news the question was posed, “Do you know where your children?”

I can recall when I first the question I must have been about 10 years of age and I remember my feelings.

I thought, “Do you know where your children are”? What kind of question is that? How can you not know where your children are?”

I began to wonder, could there be a time that my parents would not where I would be at 10 PM?

Could a time arrive when my parents would not know where I would was and what I was doing at 10 PM; just the thought of my parents not knowing where I was, was a scary thought.

As I became older and more independent I (probably) resented the fact that my parents still wanted to know where I was at 10 PM.

Then I matured and my parents no longer were concerned where I was at 10 PM.

And then I grew older and I began to wonder where my own children were at 10 PM.

Soon, faster than I could imagine, my children resented me inquiring where they are at 10 PM.

And now, for the most part I also no longer worry about their whereabouts at 10 PM.

It wasn’t so bad back then when I would sit next to my parents before the news aired and the question, ‘It’s 10 PM, do you know where your children are?’ was heard. We would smile at each other and I would ask each of them, ‘do you know where I am?’

Life was calm, content and secure.

It was actually kind of nice.

I knew where they were and they knew where I was and therefore, I knew where I was too.

Now I wonder, ‘It’s 10 PM; do I know where I am?’


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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



The Short Vort’ - “Elul- Getting Closer” (8/19/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 4th of Elul 5775 and August 19, 2015


Elul- Getting Closer


On Tuesday I had a headache and I was away from my home.

I drove to the nearest pharmacy and purchased some aspirin.

As I approached the counter to pay I noticed that the young woman at the cash register had a large hard-covered book in front of her. She was so engrossed in her book that at first she did not notice me.

I hesitantly brought my prospective purchase to her and I almost did not want to disturb her.

Finally, she looked up and sheepishly closed her book and took my aspirin.

As I gave her the package and she rang up the purchase I remarked to her, “That is very admirable that you are making the most of your time by reading as you wait for customers. You are educating yourself and using your ‘free time’ wisely as opposed to just sitting by idly doing nothing.”

The young woman looked at me somewhat shyly and did not say a word.

As I left I thought to myself, “The Day of Judgment is just three weeks and half weeks away, how am I spending my ‘free time’?


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Getting Started on the Right Foot” (8/16/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday Rosh Chodesh Elul 5775 and August 16, 2015


Getting Started on the Right Foot


We all want to begin Elul properly.

We heard the Shofar this morning in Shul and we have just begun the road to repair.

We all can certainly improve in our relationships with our fellow Jews.

Yesterday we read the Passuk: “If there will be among you a needy person, from one of your brothers …, you shall not harden your heart, and you shall not close your hand from your needy brother. Rather, you shall open your hand to him, and you shall lend him sufficient for his needs, which he is lacking.” (Devarim 15:7, 8)

When you see the ‘needy’ person you might harden your heart and this hardening of the heart will lead you to ‘close you hand’ and not respond to his need and this is wrong.

Rather, the Torah tells us: you shall open your hand to him, and give him what he is lacking.

The Torah is not exclusively discussing here a person who is destitute; rather, it refers to a person who is lacking in any area including emotional and physical and psychological needs.

Why is the physical reaction to a hardened heart a closed hand?

And why is the remedy to a hard heart an open hand?

Rav Yeshua Lalum Zt”l (1901-1950) was an Algerian Rav who received Smicha at 18 and during his short life span served many Algerian Jewish communities with dignity and vigor. He authored only one Sefer: Likutei Aharon.

The Likutei Aharon explains why the Torah describes a person whose heart is hardened as having a closed hand and he who is compassionate is described as having an open hand with following explanation: “And so the Torah commands us, "Do not harden your heart and do not close your hand" to the needy. If your heart hardens, your hand will close and you will see that your fingers are of equal length and then you will say to him (the poor person)-Go out and work like me!

But do the opposite, open your hand and then you will see that your fingers are short and tall and this is how G-d created people, big and small, and this lives from that.”

Rav Lalum explains that a person who hand is clenched has the mistaken assumption that all of his fingers are of the same size and length. As indeed when we look at our fingers when our hand is closed they all look identical in length. It is only when we open our hand do we see and realize that all of the fingers are unique and special and different in length and size!

This is the secret to compassion.

When our hearts are hardened we assume that everyone is like us and if we have a job then they should have a job. If we are able to deal with the vicissitudes of life without becoming clinically depressed then everyone can as well. However, when we open our hands and we realize that all of our fingers are different and unique we have the ability to also realize that not all men were created equal and not all of us are able to deal in the same manner with the challenges of life.

This realization of the uniqueness of man enables a person to be compassionate as he realizes that all of us have our own unique and specialized ‘peckel’ and just because I am capable of working or dealing with this problem, who said my friend is able to deal with this?

Open your hands and realize how unique and special each person is… it is the key to compassion.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “A Joke” (8/14/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 29th of Menachem Av 5775 and August 14, 2015


A Joke


There are many ‘lawyer’ jokes out there and many ‘doctor’ jokes; however, there are not too many ‘Rabbi’ jokes. The few that I know often convey covert messages and are revealing about Jewish life and are indicative of the practice of Judaism of their time.

For instance, when I was a boy growing up in Brooklyn in the 1960s, most of the Jewish kids in my neighborhood did not attend Yeshiva. My brother and I were among the minority of boys whose parents were insistent of their children being enrolled in yeshiva.

Most of the boys of the neighborhood went to public school and for too many of them their Bar Mitzvah was the last day when they saw the insides of a Shul.

One day the rabbi of the Shul I attended publicly lamented the fact that too many of the neighborhood kids simply disappeared the day after their Bar Mitzvah, never to seen again in Shul.

He ascended the Bimah for to address the Shul and Parshas was this week’s Parsha: R’eah.

He began by quoting the first Passuk of the sedra: “See, I set before you today a blessing and a curse.” (11:26)

He then proceeded to say,

“Friends, in this week’s Parsha we are taught to ‘see’ that you have before you an opportunity to receive a brocha or Chas V’Shalom one can receive a ‘curse’.

Unfortunately, nowadays the trend seems to be to choose the later over the former.

 As the majority of the boys who come into our Shul to celebrate their Bar Mitzvahs ‘disappear’ right after the event, indicative of their choice of the ‘curse’ over the Brocha!”

He then said, “Friends, our current situation reminds me of a cruel joke I heard when I was studying for the rabbinate.

“One day a new rabbi takes over an old and venerable Shul.

To his dismay he soon discovers that the Shul is infested with mice.

After attempting –to no avail- to rid the Shul of the mice through costly exterminators and after setting many mice traps, he decides to call his predecessor to his ask how he dealt with the problem.

The younger rabbi called old Rabbi Schwartz who was now Rabbi Emeritus and asked him how he grappled with the mice infestation.

Rabbi Schwartz said, “Oh I never had to worry about the mice at all. Let me tell you how I dealt with them. Every September I would gather all of the mice around me in my study. I would then place small mice-size Yarmulkes on their little heads, I made them little Talleisim and then I prepared each one for his “Bar Mitzvha”.

Sure enough, the week after their Bar Mitzvah they were never seen in the Shul again. That’s how I rid the Shul of the mice!”

Thankfully, nowadays, we no longer have to worry about our children disappearing from Shul after their Bar Mitzvahs. Indeed, many times sons prefer to daven in their Yeshivas instead of davening in Shuls with their fathers.

Thankfully, we have arrived at a time where we can see’how Hashem has been generous with us and our children no longer ‘disappear’ from Shul after their Bar Mitzvahs!


P.S.- Please see enclosed picture of the Bar Mitzvah Mice


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Windows” (8/12/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 27th of Menachem Av 5775 and August 12, 2015




The Gemara in Massechta Brochus (in two places: 31a and 34 b) informs us that a person should always attempt to daven in a room which has windows.

The Gemara quotes a Passuk in Sefer Doniel (6:11) as a source of this preference.

“And Daniel, when he knew that a writ had been inscribed, came to his house, where there were open windows in his upper chamber, opposite Jerusalem, and three times a day he kneeled on his knees and prayed and offered thanks before his God just as he had done prior to this” (6:11)

From the Passuk we see that one should daven with a room that has windows and that those windows should face Yerushalayim.

Indeed, this dictum appears in the Shulchan Aruch (O. Ch. 90:4).

Rashi explains that the windows serve a twofold purpose.

On one hand they facilitate proper intent as when one looks out from the windows and at the heavens one’s heart is filled with humility which is a prerequisite for davening.

Secondly, as the windows should face Jerusalem, they remind us that all of our Tefillos are always channeled via the Holy City to Hashem.

The Rashash (HaRav Samuel ben Yoseph Strashun of Vilna 1794 – March 21, 1872) comments (31A) that he has observed at least two of the Shuls in Vilna which do not strictly adhere to these Talmudic dictates.

The Gemilas Chesed Shul does not have windows which face east or south (direction of Jerusalem) and the large Main Shul has its windows too high to facilitate seeing the heavens.

In order to reconcile the Talmudic requirement for windows with the reality in the Shuls, he suggests that perhaps the Halacha is in accordance with the Rambam who suggests that the obligation for windows is mandatory only when one davens alone in their home.

Meaning, according to the Rambam when one davens without a Minyan (B’Yechidus) and in their home, then is there a necessity to have windows and that those windows face Jerusalem; however, if one davens in a Shul, or with a Minyan (even not in a Shul) the stipulation for windows is suspended.

Although the Shulchan Aruch (O.Ch. 90) quotes the Halacha necessitating windows without the caveat that this is limited to when one is davening at home, and recommends windows for every Shul; nevertheless, the Rashash feels that the existence of the opinion of the Rambam is a reason to be “Melamed Zechus” (finding merit) for the lack of proper windows in two of the Shuls in Vilna.

Why did the Rashash feel the need to justify the lack of windows in the Shuls of Vilna?

What caused him to uncover a heretofore ‘hidden’ ruling of Maimonides to find a ‘merit’ for the Vilna Shuls?

The Rashash was following the ways of the greats of our nation.

When the greats of our nation saw holy Jews do something, they were not quick to condemn and to critique.

Quite the opposite, they felt the need to justify and to validate; to find a reason to vindicate Jewish behavior and not to denounce and criticize Jewish communities or individuals.

Too often we find the opposite by us.

We see individuals and communities who act differently than us and we are quick to criticize and too often to even condemn.

We may see a Shul or a fellow Jew whose practice seems (at first glance) to be not in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch and we are ‘convinced’ that they must transgressing the Halacha while in reality there is proper halachik justification for their practice.

There were Shuls in Vilna without windows; most people would see incorrect observance of Halacha; while The Rashash saw a challenge and an opportunity to validate and justify a holy Jewish community.

Remember, to denounce and delegitimize is easy; to find justification and to find merit for others is greatness.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Charlie Hustle” (8/10/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 25th of Menachem Av 5775 and August 10, 2015


Charlie Hustle


On this day in 1981, Pete Rose of the Philadelphia Phillies achieved the 3,631st hit of his baseball career, breaking Stan Musial’s record for most hits by a National Leaguer.

Rose would eventually hold the record as the all-time Major League leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), singles (3,215) and is considered by many to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

However, although he was one of the most talented baseball players to participate in our National Pastime, Pete Rose was never inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and he indeed may never have his plaque hang in its ‘hallowed walls’.

Pete Rose was accused of- and after years of denial, he himself confirmed- reports that he gambled and bet on baseball while he was both a player and a manager.

For these allegations he has agreed to voluntarily be placed on baseball’s ineligible list.

In 1991 he would spend five months at the medium security Prison Camp at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois and fined $50,000 for tax evasion and of filing false income tax returns.

In his autobiography “My Prison Without Bars”, published on January 8, 2004, Rose finally admitted publicly to betting on baseball games and other sports while playing for and managing the Reds.

Even after his 2004 admission of gambling, journalist Kostya Kennedy described Rose’s attitude to his defiance of the rules as "a kind of swagger".

The Gemara in Brochus on 34 (A) informs us that although ‘we’ (regular Jews) only bow a set times during Shmoneh Esrei, a Kohen Gadol is required to bow by the end of every Brocha and a King is required to bow at the beginning and at the end of each and every Brocha.

Rashi explains the reason behind the disparity is: “the greater the position a person is the greater amount of self-effacement and humbleness he must observe”.

Meaning the greater you are, the greater level of humility you must keep to.

Too bad Pete Rose never learned this lesson.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Special Gemach” (8/4/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 19th of Menachem Av 5775 and August 4, 2015


The Special Gemach


When my daughter Aviva was in Eretz Yisroel studying in Seminary last year, she told me how her Am Bayis (house mother) taught them to set up ‘GEMACHs’.

A Gemach (which is free loan society) is usually for lending money or for borrowing expensive items; however, the Am Bayis told them that you can make a Gemach for many, many things.

So one girl set up a Gemach for pony tail holders; and one set one up for hand moisturizer.

Other girls were even more creative; one had a Gemach for a song and another had a Gemach for a compliment.

If you felt the need to be serenaded you went to one girl to sing you a song and if you needed a ‘pick-me-up’ compliment another girl was there for you.

Today is August 4 on the Gregorian calendar, on this date 56 years ago I was born.

Many relatives and friends reached out to me and wished me a very, very appreciated: “Happy Birthday”.

Some called, some texted, some emailed and some ‘face-booked’; almost every manner of electronic communication known to man was utilized to wish me a Happy Birthday.

One method of communication was absent.

Today for the first time in over 50 years, I did not receive a birthday card in the mail.

For the last 50 years, since I was a child and continuing uninterrupted for 50 years, I would receive exactly on August 4th a birthday card from my mother A”H.

It made no difference if she was in Israel or Italy, on a cruise or even not well; she made sure that I would receive a physical birthday card handpicked by her with the appropriate lines underlined and signed ‘all my love, Mom’ exactly on my birthday.

She sometimes brought the card to a neighbor and had the neighbor swear on their life that they would not forget to mail it so it would reach me on August 4th; however, she made sure it was done.

Today there will be no birthday card.

Today there will be no card signed, “All My Love, Mom”.

I forgot to mention that there was one other Gemach that my daughter had in her seminary; it was a Gemach for a ‘hug’.

I could use that Gemach today.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Dan’s the Man” (8/3/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 18th of Menachem-Av 5775 and August 3, 2015


Dan’s the Man


We can learn from everyone and we should.

One person we can all learn from is our good buddy and friend Dan Trieff.

Why do I mention Dan today?

All of us sometimes find ourselves with ‘free time’ on our hands.

Sunday is a day when many men have some extra time.

Everyone has their ‘things’ to do on Sunday, and often those things are important and necessary.

Let me tell what Dan did on his day off yesterday.

As I entered the Shul in the morning, I looked around and there was Dan Trieff.

What was Dan doing?

Dan was putting away the Siddurim and the Chumashim in all three of the davening places.

Dan was not wasting time just schmoozing or expecting others to clean up after him.

 Dan was hard at work putting away other people’s Siddurim, Chumashim and yes, even throwing out their dirty tissues (ich)!

That’s Dan for you, always reminding me that no matter where you are and how much you time have at your disposal, there is always some Chessed you can do!

In the Ahavas it’s rare to see a Chumash or Siddur just sitting on the table and not on the shelf.

And the credit goes to our friend Dan.

Thanks’ Dan- You is the Man!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “In Memory of Shira Banki A”H” (8/2/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 17th of Menachem-Av 5775 and August 2, 2015


In Memory of Shira Banki A”H


I never had the privilege of meeting Miss Shira Banki and I never will; in fact no one will ever meet her again.

Shira Banki died today.

She was just 16 years old.

She was participating in a parade on Thursday in the holy city of Yerushalayim when an Orthodox looking man stabbed her; after fighting for her life for three days she died this afternoon (Israel time).

Her family announced they are donating her organs to help other people live.

Shira Banks was killed by a Jew.

She was killed by a Jew who was scrupulous in his outward Jewish appearance.

She was killed by a man who dressed in a way that when I was younger we were taught, “If you see someone who looks like him you can approach him for help. He will be nice to you.”

This man however, is not nice; he is evil.

He hates Jews.

He killed Shira Banki.

He made sure Shira Banki will never walk again in the streets of Yerushalayim and will never have the opportunity to learn about Shabbos or about Judaism.

Shira Banki is dead.

Shira Banki was killed by a Jewish man.

There is certainly no Torah justification to kill Shira Banki.

There are those who claim he was crazy.

Maybe he is; however, if you do think he’s crazy then….

I have some questions for you:

Was he crazy before he stabbed her or did he become crazy only after he stabbed her?

If you would have met him would you have known right away he was crazy?

Was he walking around in rags, screaming like a jackal in the middle of night, eating scraps from the ground while crawling on his hands and feet his entire life?

Why do you call him crazy?

What makes someone crazy?

Are you suggesting we begin to lock up all mentally challenged people?

Why don’t you answer me?

Why do you ignore me?

Yishai Schlisel (the murderer) is happy you call him crazy.

It gives him ‘Chizuk’ (encouregment); he knows you will never speak out against him or his ilk.

He knows you will just call him ‘crazy’ and allow him to be.

He knows you will not condemn the continuing rising volume of malice and hate speech which is being directed towards other Jews which emanates from us.

He hopes you continue to call him crazy.

Shira Banki was a ‘tinuk she’nishba’ - a child who most probably was never invited by you for Shabbos.

She was a precious Jewish Neshama who no Jew had the right to kill.

There is no possible halachik justification in the world to kill her in cold blood.

The Torah tells us that Hashem loves His people.

The Torah tells us that we should love our fellow Jews.

Shira Banki could have been a Jewish mother; she could have raised a Jewish family; she was only 16.

She will never be a Jewish mother.

Please help me.

Why is Shira Banki dead?


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “From Happiness to Sadness” (7/31/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 15th of Menachem Av 5775 and July 31, 2015


From Happiness to Sadness


The last Mishnah in Ta’anis states:

Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel says, "There were never happier days for the Jews like the fifteen of Av and Yom Kippur for on those days the daughters of Jerusalem would go out and dance in the vineyards…”


Today is “Tu B’av” – the fifteenth day of the month of Av; this is a day which after the difficult and painful days of Tisha Bav is supposed to be a day of unity and of joy.

Today should be a day when the Jewish people are unified and at peace; a day when they are able to dance and engage in the ultimate unity: the joining together of a man and wife.

This year however, Tu B’av has been ‘hijacked’.

Today is not a day to celebrate.

Today is not a day when we celebrate Jewish unity; today is a day of sadness.

It is a day of sadness for today the world looks at Orthodox Jews as being intolerant, hating, violent, extremist and crazed.

Today the world thinks of us as cultish zealots who will stop at nothing, including the murder of children and the back stabbing of women to achieve our goals.

Lest you think that only ‘Hareidi Jews’ or only ‘Settler Zionist Jews’ are thought in such pejorative terms, you are wrong; all of us who wear the Yarmulke have been defiled with the stain of hatred.

Over the last 24 hours two events, one by a ‘Hareidi Jew’ and one by ‘Settler Zionist Jews’ were flashed across news outlets across the world.

Jewish Attack on Palestinian Home Kills Toddler” screamed the headline in one U.S. news site.

Six stabbed ‘by ultra-Orthodox Jew”, was the main headline in the BBC.

We are naïve if we believe that these comments are just ‘anti-Semetic’.

We are fooling ourselves if we don’t realize that our reputation has been tarnished and blemished by the acts of these individuals.

And this is very sad; for above all, Hashem’s holy name has been sullied.

Why is it that when one Jew is on trial for this or for that we are sure that the real reason behind the accusation in that ‘all goyim hate Jews’; however, when one Jew does something wrong we ‘know’ that he is ‘just one exception’ and he does not represent all of us?

Why is it when we read about a non-Jew who does something outrageously violent I hear comments like, “that’s how ‘those people’ are; and yet, when a Jew throws a fire bomb into the house of a sleeping family he is no way shape or form indicative of ‘all of us’?

Is this not a double standard?

Am I wrong in asking all of us to be just a bit more introspective?

This is not the Tu B’av we hoped for.

Perhaps it is because our Tisha B’av was not the one Hashem hoped for?


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink” (7/27/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 11th of Menachem-Av 5775 and July 27, 2015


“Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.”*

* {From the poem: “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”,  the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and published in 1798 in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads.} (Wikipedia)


Beginning at 8:15 PM on Shabbos and concluding at 9:35 PM on Sunday, for a period of over 25 hours no food or drink went through our lips.

The weather was warm and reciting Kinnos for hours did little to alleviate our hunger and our thirst.

As I walked to Shul this morning at 6:30 AM there was only one thought in my mind.

I must be honest, I was not thinking about Mashiach and I was not thinking about the Beis HaMikdash.

I was not even thinking about Yerushalayim.

There was only thought which was on my mind: cool, fresh, unsweetened and unflavored WATER.

I kept thinking: “Today, when I reach my office I will have WATER!”

WATER; that was my wish and that was my dream.

I arrived at my office and poured myself a nice large cup of water and brought the cup close to my lips.

I heard my mouth declare: “Blessed are You Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, who has created everything with His word.”

I then brought the sanctified liquid to my lips and began to partake of my splendid, savory libation.

During the fast you could have offered me a sip of the finest and most expensive wine in the world and I would have traded it for a simple glass of water.

As I absorbed and ingested the water a tremendous feeling of gratitude enveloped me; I was thankful for just one thing: WATER.

The simple joy of being able to swallow water- as much and as often as I wanted-, was worth any other pleasure the world could conjure up for me.

I held on to the cup and lovingly admired its contents as a mother admires her newborn child.

Thank you Hashem; thank you.

“Water, water everywhere and plenty to drink”


“If Not Now Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““All You Need Is Love” (7/23/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday 7th of Menchem Av 5775 and July 23, 2015


“All You Need Is Love”*

{*"All You Need Is Love" is a song written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. Wikipedia}


It was a warm day in May when Gertrude Hollander (details changed) left this world.

Gertrude and her then future husband Manfred were born in the German city of Fulda in 1928 and immigrated to these shores after Kristallnacht.

They settled in Washington Heights where eventually they married in 1949.

The couple moved to Cleveland where they raised three daughters in the path of Torah Im Derech Eretz.

In 2005 they moved back to the New York area to be closer to their daughters.

Since one of the daughters is a member of my Shul, I have had the privilege of becoming ‘close’ to Manfred Hollander. I say the word ‘close’ somewhat hesitantly as I am not sure if anyone could be considered ‘close’ to Manfred.

Perhaps it was caused by trauma experienced before the war; perhaps it was his stoic ‘Yekkishe’ upbringing which prided itself on its taciturn and reserved outward presentation; or perhaps it was just ‘him’. Whatever the reason, Manfred Hollander was one of the most dour and restrained individuals you have ever met.

Despite his outwards manifestations of being laconic and almost brusque, I knew he was filled with pride when a grandchild would accompany him to Shul; provided of course the child was properly behaved.

Manfred and Gertrude were married for 66 years.

At the funeral he was the paradigm of dignity and placidity and he remained restrained throughout the Shiva.

When he called me at the conclusion of the Shloshim, I was sure he wanted to discuss the disbursement of his estate; why else would he insist that all three daughters who were in town at the time be present at the meeting?

As everyone filed in to my office, one could feel the awe which the daughters – notwithstanding the fact that all were already grandmothers- felt when they were in their father’s presence.

All looked to Manfred Hollander to speak first and no one dared speak before him.

Manfred straightened his tie, cleared his throat and began to speak.

“The purpose of my requesting all of you to gather here this morning in the presence of our esteemed Rav is for me to state something which I believe is halachically mandated.”

I was wondering which aspect of Hilchos Yerusha he was about to cite.

Manfred looked at each of his daughters and continued.

“During the period of time when your mother and I lived here, one of you came to visit our home daily. If one of you could not make it, you always arranged for a grandchild to visit daily and the visit lasted minimally one hour. I have observed over the past month that the daily visits have decreased to a ‘twice a week’ ritual; and the duration of the visit has been cut in half.  Please allow me to state unequivocally that although I understand that the major focus of the visit was your mother, you should realize that I too treasured them!”

Suddenly, Manfred Hollander, the man who never shed a tear and who maintained his composure under the most difficult circumstances began to cry.

As large tears trickled down his cheek he said in an emotionally chocked-up voice, “I humbly request of you that these visits be reinstated immediately; after all, I enjoyed them immensely and they were the highlight of my day. Remember, even though I am not a schmoozer myself don’t think I don’t enjoy hearing others schmooze and laugh and don’t think I don’t enjoy company!”

And then Manfred Hollander burst into uncontrollable sobbing as he pleaded with his children, “Do not cast me away at the time of old age”. (Tehillim: 71:9)

You can put on a face of aloofness and even appear be distant; however, when all is said and done, we all need love.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““The Source of Bageling”” (7/22/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 6th of Menchem-Av 5775 and July 22, 2015


“The Source of Bageling”


We have discussed in the past the ‘art of bageling’.

 Bageling occurs when a non-Jew or for that matter a non-observant Jew sees an observant Jew and attempts to ‘connect’ with him/her by mentioning something Jewish.

A classic example of this is when I was boarding a flight in Denver and the TSA man said to me as I gathered up my belt, shoes, pants, pens, hat and jacket, “Shalom, have a nice flight”.

By saying the word Shalom he was connecting with me on my terms and that act of verbal connecting by mentioning something Jewish is referred to as ‘bageling’.

For many years now I have been researching and attempting to find the source of the ‘Bagel’.

Meaning, why was the bagel the food chosen to describe connecting with someone Jewish?

Why not ‘blintzing’?

 For example if a non-observant person says to you, “My grandfather was a rabbi too” (a very common ‘bageling’) we could have called it ‘blintzing’; why was the bagel singled out as being authentically Jewish?

Why not “Chulenting”?

Or how about “Kishking”?

And while we are at it, how about “Knaidlaching” or better yet: “Kugeling”?

Why specifically did the bagel win out?

Why is it the ‘real Jewish bread’?

The Gemara says ‘seek and you will find’; so therefore I never gave up and today Baruch Hashem I found the authoritative source which declares emphatically that the bagel is “Jewish”!

In an article which appeared in the New York Times on May 31, 1946, the Times ‘paskened’ (Halachically declared): “Bagels … are small hard Jewish rolls with holes in the center.”

Here you have it folks! The New York Times -which states on its masthead it only prints “All the news that’s fit to print”-, affirmed and admitted that Bagels … are … Jewish rolls!


This information may sound trivial to you (and indeed it may be); however, it also may be very crucial.

As we head into Tisha B’Av many have the practice to break the fast on bagels.

Although this is not a halachik requirement, nevertheless, it is a wide-spread practice.

Could it be that this practice developed in our desire to show that after the day which marks the destructive effect of Jewish disunity we attempt to amend our ways by all of us eating the one food which is authentically Jewish?

Could this have evolved out of a desire to show our new enhanced feelings of unity by all of us, wherever we may be, eating the one universally acknowledged authentic Jewish bread?

Maybe, and maybe not; I leave that for you to decide.

Either way, I like mine with cream cheese and lox.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

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




The Short Vort- “Walk the Walk” (7/19/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 3rd of Menachem-Av 5775 and July 19, 2015


Walk the Walk


It’s not often that I feel that my words really made an impression on someone!

 When it does happen, it really feels good!

On Friday I wrote a Short Vort informing all of the birth of my new grandson who was born in Bikur Cholim Hospital in Jerusalem.

The only reason I mentioned the name of the hospital was for my family connection to it.

My great-great-great-grandfather was one of the founders of the hospital and my father was born there 90 years ago.

Little did I realize that the information was being digested and about to be used to do a wonderful Chessed.

Today as I spoke to my son in Jerusalem on the phone, he says to me, “Hey Ta, guess who came to visit Malka (my daughter in law) on Shabbos in the hospital?”

“Who”, I asked.

“Mrs. Plonis (name changed of course) from Passaic. She is visiting her family in Yerushalayim and she walked to the hospital (a walk of about 40 minutes) in order to visit Malka. When Malka asked her how did you know about me? She said, I read the Short Vort!”

Friends, this is a true Chessed. Here is a woman who is staying with her family and she takes time out of her own family time to walk 40 minutes in the Yerushalayim heat to pay a visit to a woman whom she never met who had a baby!

Friends, is this not a touching and wonderful Chessed?

A Jew reads a story about another Jew who has a baby and she decides to walk two miles to visit the person; mind boggling.

I guess that is what is meant when people say, “You can’t just talk the talk; you have to walk the walk!”

Here is a woman who really ‘walked the walk’.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““Kindness” (7/17/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday Rosh Chodesh Menachem-Av 5775 and July 17, 2015




The call arrived at about 1:30 PM yesterday.

 I was sitting in my office preparing a Shiur when my son called.

“Mazel Tov” he said, “You have a new grandson!”

Of course I knew that my daughter-in-law was expecting; however, it is always wonderful surprise.

“He looks just like you; he even has red hair like you!”

Suddenly it dawned on me. “When was he born?” I asked.

“Exactly at the beginning of Rosh Chodesh Av!” My son said.

My eyes began to tear up and an emotional ‘rush’ went through me such as I have not felt in a very long time.

Two thoughts began swirling in my mind.

Exactly 56 years ago almost to the minute, another little red haired boy was born.

That boy was born in Brooklyn Jewish Hospital in Crown Heights.

{Brooklyn Jewish Hospital, in Crown Heights, on Classon Avenue between St. Mark’s Avenue and Prospect Place was incorporated in 1901 and opened it’s building in 1927.

Albert Einstein had surgery performed here in the early 1950s.

In 1979, Brooklyn Jewish filed for bankruptcy and merged with St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in 1982 to form Interfaith Medical Center.

In 2000 Interfaith relocated its entire facility to the former St. John’s facility across the street.

The old building is now Brooklyn Jewish Hospital apartment complex."}

Brooklyn Jewish Hospital no longer exists and with the exception of the Lubavitch community, there are no Jews left in Crown Heights.

{From the ‘40s through the ‘60s, many middle class Jews lived in Crown Heights.

 In 1950, the neighborhood was 89 percent white, with some 50 to 60 percent of the white population, or about 75,000 people, being Jewish, and a small, growing black population.

By 1957, there were about 25,000 blacks in Crown Heights, making up about one-fourth of the population.

There were thirty-four large synagogues in the neighborhood, including the Bobov, Chovevei Torah, and 770 Eastern Parkway, home of the worldwide Lubavitch movement.

There were also three prominent Yeshiva elementary schools in the neighborhood, Crown Heights Yeshiva on Crown Street, the Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway, and the Reines Talmud Torah.

As of 2010, of the approximately 150,000 residents in Crown Heights, 74.7% were Black, 19.1% were White, 4.2% were Hispanic, and 2% were Asian and other ethnic groups.

Crown Heights now has a majority West Indian and African American population.}(Wikipedia)

That little red haired boy grew up in Brooklyn, attended Yeshiva there and is now living in Passaic and indeed, he is non-other than me!

The new little boy who was born on Rosh Chodesh Av (who is my new grandson) was born in Bikur Cholim Hospital in Yerushalayim.

That hospital, similar to Brooklyn Jewish Hospital opened its doors in 1925.

 One of the founders of that hospital was Yoel Moshe Solomon, the great, great, great grandfather of the new born baby.

There are many more Jews in Yerushalayim now than when Yoel Moshe Solomon founded the hospital.

Indeed, Bikur Cholim is still delivering Jewish babies; approximately 6,000 Jewish babies are born their annually!

As the news set in, the first thought which overwhelmed me was how I was emotionally bonded to my yet unseen new grandson who was born in the same hospital where his great-grandfather (my father-Yoel Moshe Eisenman) was born 90 years ago.

From Yerushalayim to Brooklyn, to Passaic and back to Yerushalayim, my family has returned to Yerushalayim; to its roots and its eternal home.

The second thought which went through my mind as my son informed of the birth of my new grandson was to call my mother and share with her the news.

Alas, it was not to be; as she in no longer here for me to call; however, at that moment another thought entered my mind; a thought which granted me ultimate solace, consolation and comfort.

The Gemara (Yerushalmi; Moed Kotton; Perek Gimmel) informs us that for the entire year of mourning, there is a strict judgment which is leveled against the mourner’s entire family.

However says the Gemara, if a male child is born into the family, the entire family has been ‘healed’. This statement of the Gemara is quoted almost verbatim as it is codified in the Shulchan Aruch (SA, YD, 394:4).

I now understood the ‘rush’ of emotion which I felt.

It was of course the realization that the best birthday present in the world has been handed to me by Hashem and his two partners, my son Meir and his wife Malka.

It also included the realization that the baby was born in Yerushalayim in the same hospital founded by my great, great, grandfather and where the baby’s great-grandfather was born.

Yet, even more so, it was fueled by the halachik reality that a new and critical great level of comfort was achieved for my entire family and me as the ‘Din’ (judgment) which accompanies the passing of a loved one has now been lifted from us.

For that and for so many other things, as I sang the Hallel this morning, my heart was bursting with thanks and love for HE who constantly consoles and watches over all of us.

The Simcha was further heightened as tonight in Yerushalayim, there will be two Shalom Zachors in my family.

My nephew (from my wife’s side) also had a baby boy this week in Yerushalayim and that means that my beloved mother-in-law, the lone surviving grandparent for all of my children will have the privilege of celebrating the birth of two great-grandsons, both born to grandsons who live in Yerushalayim!

As I compose these words while feeling composed and comforted, I lift my eyes to He who comforts all with a sense of gratitude and thankfulness.

Thank you Hashem for allowing me to reach this part of my life and thank you for allowing me to realize just how blessed I really am.

Wishing all a special Rosh Chodesh and wonderful Shabbos,

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort’ - “Hashem, is that you?”” (7/15/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 28th of Tammuz 5775 and July 15, 2015


“Hashem, is that you?”


(Warning, this Vort contains possible trigger points for some people.

Reader discretion is advised.

This Vort raises issues which some of you may find uncomfortable to discuss.

Please note: this Vort is only to be considered ‘food for thought’ and nothing else.

It is intended to make you think.

(We are still allowed to think and question; correct?)


Recently in one of the seemingly endless email-blasts-requests we all receive for all sorts of things; one arrived with a request to daven for an anonymous (at least for me and for most of the recipients of the email) couple.

As I read the email I saw something which really bothered me.

(I cannot recall which list it was on. If you know, please don’t tell me as my point is to raise a question… not to be told, “This is what he/she meant”).

Here is the phrase which appeared which irked me:

“A rabbi pointed out that when praying for a refuah from Hashem there are no titles.

 It is just **** ben/bas *****.

 In a critical situation, a hairs breath or drop can make the difference.”

Before I continue, please allow me to reiterate: I have no personal agenda against any person and I have no idea who the anonymous author of this statement is, nor do I want to know. I also realize that this quote may have been taken out of context or written quickly….

That being said, my points (I believe) are relevant even if this case is not a perfect example of what I am about to question.

With that disclaimer, let’s proceed to question what I believe is a fundamental issue with somethings “frum people do and say”.

The first issue I have is who is the ‘rabbi’ that the author of this statement is quoting?

Is it Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l or is Rav Moshe Foonsternberg?

Meaning, is this a ‘rabbi’ whose comments are generally accepted as authoritative by the general Orthodox population, or is it a just a rabbi like Rabbi Eisenman?

That is important information to know.

Secondly, while I am not an expert of these issues (or on any issue for that matter); however, that being said, I believe that “Mr. Anonymous Rabbi’s” words may have been misunderstood.

The issue of ‘titles’ which are to be omitted when pleading for mercy before G-d ostensibly only refers to those titles which may indicate a sense of hubris on the part of the title holder; such as HaRav, HaGaon…

In the case of this sick person, the ‘title’ which ‘the rabbi’ wanted to omit was the sick person’s affiliation with one particular part of the tribe of Levi. It connotes neither hubris nor pretension. Perhaps, the ‘listener’ misunderstood the real intent of the ‘rabbi’?

This in of itself is bothersome as too often ‘all-of-us’ ‘quote’ from ‘rabbis’ things we (think we) heard and understood when in reality we are actually corrupting a halachik concept which we never understood from the get-go.

Guess what? That’s still not my main point. That’s still not what’s really bothering me.

What really ‘bent me out of shape’ was the line: “In a critical situation, a hairs breath or drop can make the difference”.

Run that by me again please.

What did you say? “A hairs breath or drop can make the difference”???

My assumption is that the writer meant to say that if you did include the ‘title’ “HaKohen” in your heartfelt prayers for a sick person (whom you only know about from an email/blast) you will be guilty of being ‘off’ by a “hairs breath or drop” and that by innocently adding the ‘title’ “HaKohen” you “can make the difference”,  meaning you will have caused the sick person to DIE because you were “a hairs breath or drop” off in the name!!!


Does the author of this ‘important statement’ really expect us to believe that Hashem, who knows all, who cares about all… in His infinite wisdom and compassion will act like a lowly pencil pusher at the DMV who sends your application for a new license to the garbage bin because you checked off “Mrs.” on your application as opposed to “Ms.”???

Is Hashem so petty that -if a thousand Jews take the time to plead for mercy for someone they don’t even know and they ‘innocently’ add in the title “HaKohen”- He will take this application for mercy and throw it in the garbage with a red line through it saying: “REJECTED for being a hairs breath or drop of the mark???

Is that how we think of Hashem; as a petty, critical, nitpicking stickler??

Who is Hashem anyway?

Did you ever take the time to think of that?

Are we really supposed to believe that an innocent, mention to Hashem that a person who really is a Kohen, is indeed a Kohen will be the cause for Hashem to allow for the sick person’s demise?

Friends, do we think that davening to Hashem is really talking to G-d?

Or (as too often it appears) we think of Hashem as some sort of computer which when you press the right buttons in the right order you get the right result; however, if you press them (even unintentionally and with good meanings) in the wrong order (even being a hairs breath or drop off), the computer will not understand your ‘commands’ and your request will be rejected?

Is that really how we want our children to think of Hashem?

Is this perception even correct?

I tend to think not!

Perhaps it’s time to talk to Hashem as you talk to your friend.

Perhaps it’s time to think of Hashem…

So there you have it folks: do we ever really think of Hashem as someone who listens and cares or as some petty pencil pusher or worse as some sort of (Chas V’Shalom) mindless computer?

Thanks for listening.

And thank you for allowing me to get this off my chest.

I hope this causes at least someone to think about Hashem and what He is.

And please Hashem, have mercy on me if I was (unintentionally) out of line here; please, I know that YOU know my heart (at least I hope) was in the right place.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

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

The Short Vort—“Stuff” (7/14/15)

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The Short Vort

Good Afternoon!

 Today is Tuesday the 27th of Tammuz 5775 and July 14th 2015


 (The following Vort is once again about no one and about you and everyone.

It is the product of my imagination and the observance of real life people in real life circumstances.)


“Stuff”; that’s the best and most precise word I can come with for describing the tension which too often exists between family members and their unresolved relationship issues.

These issues can be between parents and children; they can be unresolved sibling rivalry disputes and they can unarticulated feelings of resentment based on perceived or real feelings of neglect.

One common theme which threads its way through all of this ‘stuff’ is the lack of communication between the disputants.

As a rabbi, I am often asked to mediate between family factions and attempt to achieve Shalom by encouraging family members to talk about their ‘stuff’.

Such was the case of Esther Steinman (name changed) and her father.

 Esther was one of five children. She was born in the number three slot, making her the proverbial ‘middle child’.

Her oldest brother, Naftoli, the B’chor of the family was the ‘perfect son’. He was bright and well behaved.

Her immediate older sibling was her sister Rena.

Rena’s footsteps were near impossible for Esther to follow in.

As Esther related to me, “How would you feel in school when every teacher from kindergarten until 12th grade would invariably at one point during the year ask, “Esther, why can’t you be like your sister Rena?”

Her two younger siblings, Chani and the baby of the family, Avramel, could do no wrong; at least that was how Esther saw things.

Esther began to look for outlets to find approval and validation and the first place she went was her father’s study.

Esther’s mother was busy with all of the children and anyway, Esther always felt her mother favored Rena and Chani.

Her father was therefore her hoped for source of consolation and encouragement; however, here too she was stymied in her search for recognition.

R’ Shlomo Steinberg was a caring and devoted husband and father. He worked hard as a CPA and made sure to learn at least two to three hours daily.

Perhaps he was brought up in a stoic household; however, whatever the reason, Shlomo Steinman was just not emotionally there for his daughter Esther.

When she would come to his study desperately seeking emotional strength and support, he was vacant and an emotional ‘no-show’.

Try as hard as she could, Esther found no solace or comfort in the company of her father.

Eventually she began to resent her father and ultimately this resentment led to anger which bordered on disdain and morphed into deep rooted feelings of bitterness.

When Esther married she specifically married an ‘out-of town’ boy in order to move away from the family (read: father) who she felt was never there for her.

One day R’ Shlomo came to my study and asked me to call Esther for him; he wanted to make amends.

I was once again asked to be the mediator as family members attempted to clean up their ‘stuff’.

I called Esther and informed her of her father’s wish.

She asked me what she should do if her father reaches out to her and perhaps even apologizes.

I told her forgiveness is certainly a Jewish trait and when her father speaks to her she should speak from her heart as ‘words which come from the heart, enter the heart’.

The anticipated meeting finally took place a few days before Shiva Asar B’Tammuz.

The morning afterward I saw R’ Shlomo at Shacharis; he asked to speak to me privately.

I listened attentively as he related to me the contents of last night’s meeting.

“I told Esther how now, looking back years later, that I owe her an apology. I was not there for her and I realize that I must ask Mechila.” (forgiveness)

“And what did Esther respond?”

He was quiet and then he said, “Esther looked at me and said, “Abba, of course I forgive you.” I began to smile when she suddenly said, “Abba?” “Yes”… Abba I must tell you something. I am Mochel (forgive) you; however, it’s just not that simple. Forgiveness allows me to erase all of the bitter and painful memories of running to you for support and finding you emotionally unavailable. It allows me to clean the slate from all of the times I hoped in vain you would come to my room to comfort me after a difficult day in school and forgiveness lets me remove from my memory the times I just needed you to be there for me and you were absent. All of that forgiveness can do; however, it does not fill the now vacated space in my heart with good and comforting memories. It does not replace the painful ones with uplifting thoughts; it just allows the slate to be clean and empty. I forgive you; however, there is nothing which fills the newly created void. And that void hurts very much.”

Shlomo Steinberg burst into uncontrollable sobbing.

“Rabbi, what can I do now? How can I make it better?” He asked through his tears.

I looked at him and said the words which came from my own heart. “Shlomo, you have to begin today to fill that void. It won’t be easy; however, the time to create the new memories is now. Just start today, one memory a day and with that one shared experience is added to the blank pad.

The pages are now clean; it’s up to you to begin to fill the book.”


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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



The Short Vort’ - ““Stuff”” (7/14/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 27th of Tammuz 5775 and July 14th 2015




(The following Vort is once again about no one and about you and everyone.

It is the product of my imagination and the observance of real life people in real life circumstances.)


“Stuff”; that’s the best and most precise word I can come with for describing the tension which too often exists between family members and their unresolved relationship issues.

These issues can be between parents and children; they can be unresolved sibling rivalry disputes and they can unarticulated feelings of resentment based on perceived or real feelings of neglect.

One common theme which threads its way through all of this ‘stuff’ is the lack of communication between the disputants.

As a rabbi, I am often asked to mediate between family factions and attempt to achieve Shalom by encouraging family members to talk about their ‘stuff’.

Such was the case of Esther Steinman (name changed) and her father.

 Esther was one of five children. She was born in the number three slot, making her the proverbial ‘middle child’.

Her oldest brother, Naftoli, the B’chor of the family was the ‘perfect son’. He was bright and well behaved.

Her immediate older sibling was her sister Rena.

Rena’s footsteps were near impossible for Esther to follow in.

As Esther related to me, “How would you feel in school when every teacher from kindergarten until 12th grade would invariably at one point during the year ask, “Esther, why can’t you be like your sister Rena?”

Her two younger siblings, Chani and the baby of the family, Avramel, could do no wrong; at least that was how Esther saw things.

Esther began to look for outlets to find approval and validation and the first place she went was her father’s study.

Esther’s mother was busy with all of the children and anyway, Esther always felt her mother favored Rena and Chani.

Her father was therefore her hoped for source of consolation and encouragement; however, here too she was stymied in her search for recognition.

R’ Shlomo Steinberg was a caring and devoted husband and father. He worked hard as a CPA and made sure to learn at least two to three hours daily.

Perhaps he was brought up in a stoic household; however, whatever the reason, Shlomo Steinman was just not emotionally there for his daughter Esther.

When she would come to his study desperately seeking emotional strength and support, he was vacant and an emotional ‘no-show’.

Try as hard as she could, Esther found no solace or comfort in the company of her father.

Eventually she began to resent her father and ultimately this resentment led to anger which bordered on disdain and morphed into deep rooted feelings of bitterness.

When Esther married she specifically married an ‘out-of town’ boy in order to move away from the family (read: father) who she felt was never there for her.

One day R’ Shlomo came to my study and asked me to call Esther for him; he wanted to make amends.

I was once again asked to be the mediator as family members attempted to clean up their ‘stuff’.

I called Esther and informed her of her father’s wish.

She asked me what she should do if her father reaches out to her and perhaps even apologizes.

I told her forgiveness is certainly a Jewish trait and when her father speaks to her she should speak from her heart as ‘words which come from the heart, enter the heart’.

The anticipated meeting finally took place a few days before Shiva Asar B’Tammuz.

The morning afterward I saw R’ Shlomo at Shacharis; he asked to speak to me privately.

I listened attentively as he related to me the contents of last night’s meeting.

“I told Esther how now, looking back years later, that I owe her an apology. I was not there for her and I realize that I must ask Mechila.” (forgiveness)

“And what did Esther respond?”


The Short Vort’ - “Leadership* (7/12/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 25th of Tammuz 5775 and July 12, 2015




We are all too familiar with Hashem Yisborach initiating a conversation with Moshe Rabbeinu; however, it is much less common for Moshe Rabbeinu to initiate a conversation with Hashem Yisborach!

Yet, that is exactly what occurs in yesterday’s parsha.

In Parshas Pinchas after Hashem says to Moshe:

"Go up to this mount Abarim and look at the land that I have given to the children of Israel.

And when you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, just as Aharon your brother was gathered.”  (Bamidbar, 27: 11, 12)

At this point Moshe realizes that ‘the writing is on the wall’ and he will not live forever.

 He also now knows that he will not be the one to bring his beloved flock to the Promised Land. Therefore, Moshe reaches out to Hashem to appoint an appropriate leader to the ‘fill his shoes’.

Moshe emotionally appeals to Hashem:

"Let the Lord, the God of spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go forth before them and come before them, who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd." (Ibid, 16, 17)

This is somewhat surprising.

Did Moshe actually think Hashem was about to leave His flock leaderless so that Moshe has to ‘remind’ Hashem to appoint a new leader?

What was Moshe Rabbeinu thinking?

We now turn to one of my ‘heroes’; one of the great Hassidic masters of all time: The Kotzker Rebbe (1787–1859).

The Kotzker, in his trademark brevity and with his classic ability for incisiveness and insightfulness informs us that the reason Moshe felt the need to be proactive in ‘reminding’ Hashem that He must appoint a new leader was: “Moshe thought that Hashem was about to appoint Pinchas as the new leader over the Jewish people.

Moshe did not want this to occur since Pinchas was a ‘Kapdan’ (literally, ‘strict’ or ‘rigid’).

Therefore, Moshe took the initiative to say "Let the Lord, the God of spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go forth before them and come before them…”.

(Sefer Ohel Moshe, Parshas Pinchas, Page 55)

This is most amazing.

 Moshe, based on his concerns over the possible appointment of Pinchas as the leader, takes the unusual and somewhat audacious step to proactively inform Hashem of his concerns!

What was behind the concerns of Moshe?

Why was there such a need for Moshe to attempt to preclude Pinchas from becoming the leader of the people?

The Kotzker explains that if one looks in the language which Moshe chooses to address Hashem one can understand his concerns.

Moshe says: “Let the Lord, the God of spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation”.

 The phrase “the God of spirits of all flesh” is quite an illuminating phrase; what does it refer to?

Moshe, in essence was saying:

 “Hashem, You who understand the ‘spirit of all flesh’….

 You who understand the challenges and vicissitudes of life which ‘all men’ struggle with… Please do not appoint a leader who is somewhat lacking in this most critical character trait of tolerance and acceptance.

You Hashem, who understands better than all the difficult tests and struggles that man deals with on a daily basis… please… please appoint a leader over your flock who understands and has compassion for people.

 A ‘Kapdan’, a person who is rigid and strict, notwithstanding the necessity of this trait in certain limited circumstances, is not fit to be the leader of our people.

Only a person who has the empathy and concern for all people; a person who understands and appreciates the difficulties of life and the trials and tribulations of the common man is qualified to be the leader of Your people.

 The Kapdan has his place, albeit not as the supreme leader!”

Moshe felt so passionately about this issue that in order to preclude and ultimately disqualify Pinchas for serious consideration for the position of leadership he took the unusual and unprecedented step of proactively preventing Pinchas from being appointed his successor.

A leader must be a person who understands each and every person and each and every one of their problems.

We cannot afford to have leaders who broad-brush the Jewish people into rigid and unyielding compartments.

A minister of religion from an ‘Ultra-Orthodox Jewish party’ must never and most incorrectly categorize the great majority of American Jews as ‘not Jewish’ simply because of their lack of affiliation with Orthodox Judaism.

Such ideological inelasticity is exactly the danger Moshe Rabbeinu perceived would occur when unbending and inflexible philosophical heirs of Pinchas assume the mantle of leadership.

A leader according to the Holy Kotzker’s insightful understanding of Moshe’s concerns must be first and foremost the opposite of a Kapdan; he must be the antithesis of rigidity and inflexibility.

He must be understanding and compassionate and whenever possible flexible and yielding.

He must do his best to be understanding and forbearing, gentle and affable, amiable and approachable and receptive and sympathetic to the needs of his flock.

A leader who is rigid and austere, hard-line and intransigent, unyielding and exacting is not fit to be the shepherd for the flock of Hashem.

We are all leaders.

We are all not Moshe Rabbeinu and most of us are not even leaders of a congregation or of a group; nevertheless, we are all leaders.

All of us have someone somewhere who takes their cues from us.

If we are parents, it is our children who look to us for leadership.

If we employed, our co-workers are influenced by how we respond to them.

In short, all of us, whatever our station in life, is influencing someone somewhere.

Never forget the lesson of the Holy Kotzker Zt”l.

Rigidity is the key to failure.

Compassion and caring, understanding and acceptance are the secrets for success.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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



The Short Vort’ - “A Penny For Your Thoughts” (7/9/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 22nd of Tammuz 5775 and July 9, 2015


A Penny For Your Thoughts

Being a pudgy red haired boy, I was the perfect target for bullies and other ‘insensitive’ children.

 I remember with not too fond memories how I went to school every day in first grade.

My mother would prepare my favorite sandwich and then she carefully placed a chocolate bar and a bag of pretzels next to my thermos which fit exactly into my red lunch box.

When I arrived at yeshiva, the following scenario repeated itself daily.

 How it began I can no longer recall; however, soon enough it became a firmly established ‘ritual’.

I would take the ‘school bus’ to yeshiva and generally our bus arrived a good twenty minutes before school began.

I have no recollection of any teacher being on ‘yard duty’ or of any official supervision which was in place from the time the bus arrived until line up began.

I would alight from the bus, head off to the school yard and even before I could place my ‘stuff’ down, Larry was there.

Larry Drickstein (name changed) was the strongest and meanest kid in the class.

Every morning he would approach me and I would reluctantly hand over to Larry both the chocolate bar and the bag of pretzels.

At first, he would demand to see the contents of my lunch box and take what he wanted.

Soon enough, he became familiar with my lunch menu and I would simply hand over the goods automatically without any need for Larry to officially ‘shake me down’; I simply did what I knew I had to do in order to avoid a punch in the stomach.

I never told a soul about our ‘arrangement’.

I certainly would never tell a teacher as Larry had made it very clear that any tattling would lead me to me being ‘beat up’.

Every day for the majority of the year, I supplied Larry Dickstein with a chocolate bar and pretzels and in return I had the peace of mind that of knowing that today I would not be beat up.

One day the yeshiva announced we would be going to the New York Aquarium in Coney Island on a trip.

The night before I asked my mother if I could have some spending money for the outing; she gave me one quarter. I carefully wrapped my quarter in my napkin and off I went to school.

When I arrived at school Larry was there and I promptly handed over the ‘goods’; however, Larry noticed the strangely folded napkin. “Hey Carrot Top (Larry always had a way with words) what’s in the napkin?”


Larry grabbed the napkin and I attempted to resist; however, before either of us could say a word the quarter fell out and dropped through the grates which were on the floor of the yard and descended to the depths of Brooklyn where it remains to this day.

I had no chocolate, I had no pretzels and now I had no quarter.

First grade finished, Larry and I went our different ways and the last I heard Larry became a doctor and I a rabbi.

Last month I was visiting someone in a hospital in Manhattan.

 As I am sitting near the bed of the congregant, I hear from the behind the curtain the other patient saying, “Dr. Drickstein, how can I thank you enough?”

After the Doctor had left I stopped by the bed of the ‘roommate’.

“I’m sorry to bother you; however, was that Dr. Larry Drickstein who was here?”

“Yes, why do you ask?”

“I have the perfect present for you to give him to express your thanks.”

Later that day, a box with one chocolate bar and one bag of pretzels arrived at the office of Dr. Larry Drickstein with the following note: “As per the suggestion of your old friend Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, please accept these as a token of gratitude.”

Two days later I received 100 bars of the finest Swiss chocolate with a check for $360.

The note attached read, “A dollar a day for the year -fifty years ago -when I made your life miserable.”

This was followed by an email, a phone call and finally a lunch date.

Over half a century from when we first met, Larry and I had lunch and laughed about old times.

At the end of the lunch he handed me a small box.

“What this?”

 “Open it and you’ll see… there is one thing still missing.”

As I opened the box I noticed it contained only one coin; a shiny mint condition quarter from the year 1965.

It may take five years and it may take fifty; however, somehow and in some way everything comes full circle.    


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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








The Short Vort’ - “"Entitlement*” (7/8/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 21st of Tammuz 5775 and July 8, 2015




There has been much discussion over the years regarding the issue of entitlement.

I openly admit that I speak without scientific results and without the benefit of any extensive or exhaustive research study. Nevertheless, I feel strongly that we live in a time of when the feelings of entitlement continue to grow and grow.

Many people feel they ‘have the right’ to express themselves and their lifestyles in whatever way they want.

Children often tell their parents that they ‘need’ a cell phone. They no longer ‘want’ a cell phone; rather, they feel entitled to a cell phone.

Adults feel they have the ‘right’ to all types of benefits and perks.

Spouses feel they have the ‘right’ to act in ways which in previous generations would have been considered unacceptable.

Grown men announce they have the ‘right’ to be recognized and appreciated and even applauded for insisting on their ‘right’ to alter the way Hashem made them.

Animals now have ‘rights’ and are entitled to similar protections which are afforded humans.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of our age of entitlement is the feeling that we have the ‘right’ to have our complaints and grievances adjudicated in a favorable and beneficial way to us- immediately.

We have a ‘right’ to get our way and we have a right to get it ‘now’!

People want to get their way and they want to get it when they want it.

Unfortunately, life of course is much more complicated and growing up in a world where the sense of entitlement constantly increases, does not bode for the future of the human race.

Recently, I came across a story which highlights this pervasive sense of entitlement which has become endemic to our society.

ALLIANCE, Ohio — A 44-year-old Ohio woman was arrested Monday after calling 911 to report Chinese food that was "not up to par for her liking," according to police.

A woman in Ohio ordered Chinese food, paid with a credit card, ate from the food and after deciding it was ‘not up to par’, she demanded a refund in case. When the proprietor explained that since she paid with a credit card, he would refund the money to the card, (however, he could not give her cash); she proceeded to call 911 to report her ‘emergency’!!

After police determined the woman had no real emergency, she was arrested and charged with misuse of 911, a misdemeanor.

What causes people to have the audacity to call 911 to complain about the quality of their Chinese food?

I imagine it has something to do with the fact that if you are a famous and well known former sports star who is unhappy about the quality of the portion he received from Hashem; you are rewarded with accolades for having the courage to insist of what you are ‘entitled’ to.

No one should be a Shmatta in this world; however, no one is entitled to the entire world either.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort— R’ Chaim Zt”L (7/6/15)


The Short Vort

Good Evening!


Today is Monday the 19th of Tammuz 5775 and July 6, 2015


R’ Chaim Zt”L


On Wednesday the 14th of Tammuz 5775 (July 1, 2015), a great and righteous Jew passed away.

His name was R’ Chaim Wertheimer Zt”l, and when he was niftar (passed away) last week he was 106 years old!

Coupled with his Arichus Yamim (longevity), he left this world with thousands of Yiddishe (Jewish) descendants who all owe their life to this holy Jew.

You are probably asking, “Who is R’ Chaim Wertheimer?

How come there were no blaring headlines in all of the Jewish publications announcing his petira (death)?

Who was maspid (eulogize) him?

Was his levaya (funeral) in Yerushalayim? 

Was kevurah (burial) on Har HaZeisim (Mount of Olives)?”

The answer to all of these questions is a resounding ‘no’!

There were no screeching headlines and no great hespedim (eulogies) for R’ Chaim.

Why not?

The reason is simple.

R’ Chaim Wertheimer Zt”l was a Tzaddik Nistar (hidden righteous person).

He wanted to remain anonymous and he wanted no fanfare.

Indeed, he was such a Nistar (hidden righteous person) and he was so well hidden that his parents converted to Christianity, he himself was baptized as a child, in his adult life he professed no affiliation with any religion, he married a non-Jewish woman, and he never publically associated himself with any Jewish organization or cause; no doubt all of this was done to insure that he would retain his anonymity and never be in the limelight.

In fact, during his entire adult life he adopted the name Nicholas George Winton; without a doubt to further conceal his true identity and thus allowing him to avoid the publicity and the fame which he was so deserving of.

Nevertheless, R’ Chaim was a Tzaddik; believe me he was a real Tzaddik.

Rav Chaim fulfilled the literal meaning of the Mishna in Sanhedrin (4:5) “Whoever saves one Jewish life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world”.

In fact R’ Chaim fulfilled this Mishna thousands of times and even now, after his death, he still continues to fulfill it!

R’ Chaim organized the rescue of 669 Jewish children out of Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Second World War in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport (German for children transport). He found homes for the children and arranged for their safe passage to Britain.

He put his life in danger, he contributed his own time and money, he also raised large sums of currency to save the Jewish children and he did not rest until he had succeeded in redeeming 669 Yiddishe Kinderlach (Jewish children) out of the jaws of the German killing machine.

R’ Chaim never told anyone about his Mitzvohs; he chose to remain anonymous and wanted no public recognition of his great Mitzvah.

His wife, in 1988, while cleaning the attic of their home, chanced upon a scrapbook in which was detailed the children he saved and the families who ‘adopted’ them.

R’ Chaim had never even told his own wife about his Mitzvohs!

All of the parents of the rescued children were sent to the gas chambers.

The 669 children survived; many live now in United States, the United Kingdom and Israel.

They owe their lives and their children and grandchildren’s lives to R’ Chaim.

In davening we say: “"L’olam Yihei Adam Yirei Shamayim B’Seser U’BaGalui", (a person must fear Heaven, both when he is alone and (of course) also when all eyes are focused on him).

The commentators point out the main emphasis of this statement is for a person to fear heaven when he is B’Seser- in private; indeed, it is more difficult to fear Heaven when you are in private than when you in the public arena.

As a rabbi, I can tell you that there are many people who when they are in public arena certainly act with ‘lots of fear of heaven’!

When you are receiving accolades for your actions and you are publicly recognized for your accomplishments, it’s easy to be one who ‘fears heaven’.

However, to fear heaven when you are totally out of the eye of the public and you have no expectation of receiving tributes or honors; that is the real test of a righteous person.

R’ Chaim Wertheimer Zt”l passed the test with flying colors!

To the world he made sure he was seen as Nicholas George Winton, a man who professed no religious affiliation; however, to Hashem Yisborach there is no doubt that he was known as R’ Chaim the Tzaddik! He was a man who established 669 new Jewish ‘worlds’; and in his merits the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these new Jewish ‘worlds’ continue to serve Hashem all over the globe.

May his memory be an inspiration to all us of just how much one person can accomplish if they only try.


If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort’ - “R’ Chaim Zt”L” (7/6/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 19th of Tammuz 5775 and July 6, 2015


R’Th Chaim Zt”L


On Wednesday the 14th of Tammuz 5775 (July 1, 2015), a great and righteous Jew passed away.

His name was R’ Chaim Wertheimer Zt”l, and when he was niftar (passed away) last week he was 106 years old!

Coupled with his Arichus Yamim (longevity), he left this world with thousands of Yiddishe (Jewish) descendants who all owe their life to this holy Jew.

You are probably asking, “Who is R’ Chaim Wertheimer?

How come there were no blaring headlines in all of the Jewish publications announcing his petira (death)?

Who was maspid (eulogize) him?

Was his levaya (funeral) in Yerushalayim?   

Was kevurah (burial) on Har HaZeisim (Mount of Olives)?”

The answer to all of these questions is a resounding ‘no’!

There were no screeching headlines and no great hespedim (eulogies) for R’ Chaim.

Why not?

The reason is simple.

R’ Chaim Wertheimer Zt”l was a Tzaddik Nistar (hidden righteous person).

He wanted to remain anonymous and he wanted no fanfare.

Indeed, he was such a Nistar (hidden righteous person) and he was so well hidden that his parents converted to Christianity, he himself was baptized as a child, in his adult life he professed no affiliation with any religion, he married a non-Jewish woman, and he never publically associated himself with any Jewish organization or cause; no doubt all of this was done to insure that he would retain his anonymity and never be in the limelight.

In fact, during his entire adult life he adopted the name Nicholas George Winton; without a doubt to further conceal his true identity and thus allowing him to avoid the publicity and the fame which he was so deserving of.

Nevertheless, R’ Chaim was a Tzaddik; believe me he was a real Tzaddik.

Rav Chaim fulfilled the literal meaning of the Mishna in Sanhedrin (4:5) “Whoever saves one Jewish life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world”.

In fact R’ Chaim fulfilled this Mishna thousands of times and even now, after his death, he still continues to fulfill it!

R’ Chaim organized R’ Chaim organized the rescue of the rescue of 669 Jewish children on the eve of the Second World War in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport (German for children transport). He found homes for the children and arranged for their safe passage to Britain.on the eve of the Second World War in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport (German for children transport). He found homes for the children and arranged for their safe passage to Britain.

The Short Vort’ - “"With Thanks and Gratitude*” (7/3/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 16th of Tammuz 5775 and July 3, 2015


With Thanks and Gratitude


Today is July 3, 2015- being that tomorrow- Shabbos- is July 4th- and being that the entire country is observing the legal holiday of Independence Day today; it is appropriate to remind ourselves of how privileged we are to live in ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’.


As one observer (Sam Blumenfeld) wrote:

In the American holiday calendar no day is more significant than the Fourth of July, in which we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

That Declaration proclaimed to the world our separation from Great Britain and our emergence as a new sovereign nation, as we state in the pledge to our flag, "under God, with liberty and justice for all."

The Declaration stated unequivocally: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”



And indeed, there probably has never been a more welcoming host country for our people than the United States of America.


Therefore, on this day when we remember the establishment of our host country, it is only fitting that we take a minute to express our gratitude to our welcoming hosts.


If you ask, do I have Daas Torah to express that thought? Am I backed up by Gedolei Yisroel?

The answer to this question is stated unequivocally by no one less than the leader of American Jewry for many decades: Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l.


With regard to the Chessed, kindness, which our government in the United States of America… has established programs to assist school students … and included in this assistance are the Torah institutions which also greatly benefit from these programs.

[Therefore it follows that] certainly all of the Roshei Yeshivah and the principals and the students express gratitude to the government and bless the government and its leaders with peace and with all blessings.

(Igeros Moshe, Choshen Mishpat 2:29)


Thank you America!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Cell Phone” (7/2/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 15th of Tammuz 5775 and July 2, 2015


Cell Phone


There are a lot of good things about cell phones; however, there are also lots of problems with them.

Mind you, I am not referring to ‘internet usage’ … that is a totally different question.

And I am also not referring to their ability to disturb the davening which is a big problem.

Rather, I am just talking about the fact of having cell phones!

There is much discussion about ‘Kosher Cell Phones’ and that is good; however, although we discuss the ‘Kashrus’ of cell phones, I have yet to see anyone really address the ‘Yashrus’ of cell phones.

What I mean by ‘yashrus’ is not in the usual sense of ‘honesty’; rather, what I refer to is their being a ‘correct’ or ‘ straight’  of ‘fair’ mode of communication.

What am I talking about?

When I was younger there was no answering machines and there was no ‘call waiting’.

If you called someone and they were on the other line you heard what was called a ‘busy signal’.

To those who have no idea what I am referring to, ‘a busy signal’ was a sound you heard when someone was speaking on the phone with someone else and they could not get your call. I know it is hard to believe, however, there actually was a time when you could not have ‘immediate gratification’ that when you called someone they must answer!

{As an aside, my family is always puzzled when someone calls the house phone (yes, we still have a house phone- otherwise known as ‘land line’) and the caller says, “I tried Rabbi Eisenman in his office and he I ‘got’ his machine, why didn’t he answer!”}

Once we all have cell phones there is an incorrect sense of entitlement on the part of the caller that the person they are calling must answer! This is not Yashar!

Another reason they are not Yashar:

When a person leaves you a message with their cell phone, often the message sounds like this, “Hello Rabbi Eisenman, this ….Bernst…and … can you…. Important…please… can count on you… urgent… sensitive….thanks.”

A few days later I am sure to get a phone call from Mr. Bernstein who says, “Oh Hi Rabbi- thanks so much for taking care of what I asked of you yesterday. It’s really appreciated as it was time sensitive…”

What do I do then?

Another point which is not yashar about them is that often the caller does not realize that he/she is difficult to hear because of where they are.

For example, people call me while they are walking in Manhattan; here is a transcript of the conversation: “Hi Rabbi Eisenman… HONK, HONK, my wife… TAXI, TAXI…hospital….MUSTARD AND SAUERKRAUT PLEASE….surgery… doctor… HEY BUDDY KEEP MOVING….sign the DNR?...HONK, SPLASH… chevra kadisha…WHERE DOES THE ‘A’ STOP?...burial? So Rabbi, what do you….BEEP, BEEP…silence.”

The Bottom line is: enjoy your cell phone; but, never assume it’s as yashar as you may have once thought it to be!


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Not A Joke” (7/1/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is the 14th of Tammuz 5775 and July 1, 2015


Not a Joke


A fellow came over to me yesterday and said, “Hey Rabbi, you wanna hear a joke?”

 I am always leery nowadays when someone says they have a joke to tell; who knows how appropriate the witticism will be?

Before I could even answer, my friend the joke-teller launched into his ‘routine’.

“Okay Rabbi here it goes.

 A non-Jew from the University of Kansas decides to write a doctoral thesis on the lives of Hasidic Jews.

He decides to spend time in Borough Park as he has heard that BP is the ‘Mecca’ of Hassidic life in America.

He has heard that the neighborhood was a mixed Jewish neighborhood twenty five years ago however, now it is almost exclusively Hassidic. He has also heard that the neighborhood continues to expand beyond its borders and he wants to attempt to focus on what the future will bring.

He arrives in Boro Park on Monday morning.

 He walks into a kosher breakfast place, orders a coffee and begins to take pictures and to write notes.

A patron who notices the stranger and his non-Hassidic dress and appearance and observes his camera approaches him and asks, “Are you visiting here?”

The man replies in the affirmative and informs the Hasid that he is writing a dissertation on the life of Hassidic Jews in Boro Park.

The Hasid asks him how long is planning to stay in Boro Park to do his research.

The student replies, “I arrived yesterday and am returning to Kansas tomorrow”.

The Hasid in a surprised tone asks, “What? You arrived yesterday, you are here today and you are returning tomorrow?

How much can you learn in three days?

What are you going to call your thesis?”

The student looks at the Hasid and without hesitation answers, “It will be called, “The Story of Borough Park: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”.

 (Ha-Ha…, now you can laugh)

I don’t know if you find the joke funny or not; however, I do not know that quite often the real joke is on us.

Meaning, don’t we play this joke on others quite often?

Is it not commonplace to visit a neighborhood for one Shabbos and then we think we have the entire ‘scoop’ about the place?

Do we meet people once or twice and then proudly proclaim that we have totally figured them out?

Do young people go on a date or two and then feel they know all there is to know about the other person with regard to the others person’s ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’?

In short, too often we spend too little time with other people to really know what makes them tick and nevertheless, we feel confident in making judgments about them which we really have NO right to make.

Too often we think we have ‘figured out’ the entire person or the community when in reality we have not even scratched the surface.

We are approaching the “Three Weeks”; it’s time to judge people favorably.

It’s time to stop allowing ourselves to be judgmental about others when in truth we know minimal information about their lives.

It’s time to realize that seeing someone or some place just “yesterday, today and tomorrow”, is totally an inadequate amount of time to judge them!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “"About Beards*” (6/30/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 13th of Tammuz 5775 and June 30, 2015


About Beards*

[*”You go to Brooklyn, everybody’s got a beard…They may be able to tell each other apart, but they all look alike to me.”

Don Lemon

(An American journalist and television news anchor. He is based in New York and currently hosts CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.)


After the rave reviews which came in after yesterday’s Short Vort about my excursion to Manhattan last Friday, I am going to attempt a finale by recording one more incident from Friday’s outing.

As mentioned, my wife and I entered an establishment to purchase cold drinks (I ordered a herbal caffeine free iced tea).

After I gave the counterperson my order she asked, “Excuse me, can I ask you something?”

“Of course,” I replied.

As I waited for her to inform me that she is avid reader of my Mishpacha column or at least a loyal and dedicated subscriber to the Short Vort and she is going to ask for my autograph; the young African-American woman surprised me by asking, “Isn’t it hot for you with ‘that beard’?”

I looked at her and I was at a loss for words.

I have been asked about my beard and its length before; however, no one ever asked if it was hot for me in the summer with it.

I looked at her and smiled and replied, “Not really, like anything else which is a part of you, I have never really given the matter any thought.  As I have it for so long I cannot even remember what it would be like not to have it.”

I smiled, she smiled, I took my iced tea and went outside to meet the Catholic Shabbat lady.

As I drove home I recalled another incident with my beard.

This occurred about 8 years ago when I was in Reading, Pennsylvania for a day.

A man approached me on the street and asked without hesitation, “Hey buddy, how long did it take you to grow ‘that thing’?”

Since I was eight younger and my mind was sharper, I replied without missing a beat,

“I don’t know; however, one thing I can tell you is that it took me a lot less time to grow my beard than it takes you not to grow yours!

Some men report taking 45 minutes DAILY on their facial hair grooming needs!

It has taken ‘me’ no time to grow this; indeed, all I do is sleep and while I am sleeping, G-d does His thing.

So my friend, the question of how long it takes me is not the correct question.

The real question is how much time have you invested to make sure you DON’T grow ‘this thing’?”

The man looked at me quizzically and walked on.

I guess it all depends on how you look at something.

What seems like ‘work’ for one person is luxury for another person.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort- On Second Thought (6/29/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 12th of Tammuz 5775 and June 29, 2015


On Second Thought


This past Friday my wife and I headed on off to Manhattan to be Menchem Aveil (“pay a Shiva call”) at the home of a family friend.

As timing would have it, although our intentions were noble, when we reached the home, the family had already left to their Shabbos location.

Since we were already in the city and we had some ‘extra-time’, we stopped to purchase a cold drink before heading back to Jersey (what’s the rush to head back to Jersey anyway?).

As we sat for a rare moment of serenity and privacy, a woman approaches me.

“Excuse you for disturbing; however, you look like you might observe Kosher. Is that true?”

I wondered for a second what I should answer this roving reporter; however, I realized that neither of us were in mood for satire so I quickly answered in the affirmative.

“Yes I do. How can I help you?”

“My friend is coming to spend Shabbat with me and I have not ‘done’ Shabbat in a while. I agreed to buy the food, so I was wondering if you could direct me to the nearest kosher grocery.”

I knew the neighborhood and I answered her that there is a kosher store not far and provided her with exact directions.

She thanked me profusely and as she was about to leave, she again stated excitedly, “It’s been so long since I have done Shabbat and I am so ‘pumped’ to say the blessing on the wine and the hallah. I really miss ‘doing the Shabbat’.”

That was it! How could I allow this ‘kiruv’ moment to pass?

The lady is basically begging to experience Shabbat!

Who needs Esther Jungreis or

Even a novice kiruv amateur like me can handle this one.

I am reaching in my pocket for my card…..

I am getting my pen readied to write her phone number…

I am about to invite her to Passaic for next Shabbos….

I can see it all now…. In three months she is davening at the Ahavas… in six months she is off to Rebbitzen Holly Pavlov and the next year she is back in Passaic with a Shaitel, six kids and 6000 pound suburban hurtling down Dwasline while munching Sushi on her way to an OA meeting while listening to Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller on her TAG approved IPhone!

Instant Olam Habah!

What a Short Vort!

Rabbi goes to Manhattan to pay a Shiva call ends up being ‘MeKarev’ the great, great granddaughter of Rabbi Yisroel Salanter and saves a generation of Jews…..

I can do it!

I can also do Kiruv!

This is such Hashgacha Protis!! (Divine Intervention)

As I am handing her my card and my mouth is about to utter the invite….

She says, “Yes, I am so excited to do Shabbat again with my friend after all since I am Catholic it’s not often I have this opportunity!”

“Oh, so you are Catholic? Uh…That’s nice… enjoy Shabbat.”

And as my wife and I drove back to Passaic I continued to marvel about the ways of He who plans all.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort- “My Greatest Nechama” (6/26/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 9th of Tammuz 5775 and June 26th 2015


My Greatest Nechama


The text appeared on my phone at 9:10 AM.

 It was from my daughter in law.

It was a group text inviting the family for a birthday party in honor of my only American born grandson’s first birthday party in Monsey.

My daughter in law and other family members were surprised to see that within thirty seconds of receiving the text I had already answered that I would be there.

Sunday was usually a very busy day for me; so therefore many wondered, how and what motivated me to quickly and unequivocally answer in the affirmative with little and seemingly no pondering of the issue?

A congregant whose mother recently passed away asked me, “Out of all of the people who reached out to you after your mother passed away to offer Nechama (consolation), who or what was the most comforting of all?”

I was caught off guard by the question as I had never thought about what or who was the ‘most comforting person of all’?

I answered on the spot that I appreciated when people expressed to me how my mother had made positive impressions on them; however, I could not recall one specific remark or visit which offered me the ‘ultimate’ Nechama.

The question intrigued me and I continued to ponder his question all through the night and on my way to Shul, I was enlightened by an epiphany.

I realized – and this realization was as clear to me as the sun which was rising at that minute- that the most meaningful and most effective Nechama I had received and continue to receive from any single person was the Nechama imparted to me by my mother herself!

My mother who was diagnosed in May 2013, fought bravely for her life; however, during the last few months when the probability of recovery became remote, she would often tell me, “Remember the good times we shared. Remember the special quality time we enjoyed. When you are sad, recall those occasions you will be able to go on.”

I only realize now, two months after her passing how accurate she was.

I now know the answer to the question: my mother herself is my biggest Nechama.

No one wants to lose a loved one and no time is ever a ‘good time’; however, the reality is that death is as much a part of life as birth is and the time to prepare for our final journey is now.

I don’t mean just spiritually preparing by doing more Mitzvohs and learning more Torah, although, of course those are vital preparations.

What I am referring to is preparing your family for them to be comforted after you leave this world by equipping them with the best and most effective tools to deal with the loss, namely, give them plenty of warm and cherished memories.

My mother was my support and my succor during her life; that I knew.

Amazingly though, I never expected that she would be my greatest source of comfort during my mourning period for her.

I miss her deeply and every day I still reach for the phone to call her.

That being said, when I do miss her I have a treasure trove of precious and wonderful memories to draw upon which although the memories are tinged with sadness as she is no longer here to add to them; nevertheless, they are my constant source of solace and comfort, of relief and most of all, of Nechama.

On Shabbos when my mother came to be with us she would attend my “After davening Shiur” and we would walk home together.

Nowadays, as I walk home after Shul on Shabbos, I just have to close my eyes for a second and once again I am with her as we are slowly walking home hand in hand.

Once again she is walking with me and once again she is my greatest comforter.

That is why I answered my daughters in law’s text so quickly.

I learned my mother’s lesson well, the time to fill the memory chest is today; don’t wait till tomorrow.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

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

The Short Vort- LMC (6/25/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 8th of Tammuz 5775 and June 25, 2015



*(This Vort is totally fictional and absolutely true. It is about imagined people and it is about real life human beings that we all know. It is about someone and about no one. I leave it to you to decide.)


Sandy and Moshe Morgenstern (names changed) were easily classified as LMC.

In fact, in the 12 years they have belonged to the Shul they probably secured the coveted MVLMC for ten years in a row!

For those of who are uninitiated in the rating system of congregants (in jest of course), here is the list of abbreviations and their meaning:

                               1.            LMC- Low Maintenance Congregant- generally defined as a congregant who requests an appointment no more than once in three to four months.

                               2.            HMC- High Maintenance Congregants- A congregant who is constantly in ‘crisis mode’ and needs weekly or bi-weekly hour long appointments.

                               3.            MVLMC- Most Valuable Low Maintenance Congregant- A congregant is eligible for this coveted award if they request an hour meeting no more than once in six months!

                               4.            NMHMJICH- This label is the most difficult for me to deal with. It stands for “Non Member High Maintenance Jew I Cannot Help”. These are the various Jews who call me from all over seeking relief and deliverance from seemingly insurmountable issues.


Of course the above mentioned ‘categories’ are  said “tongue-in-cheek” as it is a privilege to be able to assist anyone in pain and we (and certainly not a rabbi) should never compare one person’s challenges to another person.

The Morgensterns were certainly ‘’low maintenance”.

They rarely came to me with any of life’s normal challenges and they and their children were perfect candidates for being on the cover of “Parenting” magazine. Their children were doing exemplary well in school and they were always well dressed and presentable.

Moshe was an ‘I.T.’ expert and he made a comfortable living being able to support his wife and five children in modest comfort. Sandy ran a playgroup in her house and there was always a waiting list for the group.

All of these facts actually led me not to be surprised when they showed up at my office one Sunday afternoon.

 I have learned from experience that too often the most externally ‘put-together’ families are in reality behind the closed door, the most dysfunctional.

Sandy spoke first. She had discovered that Moshe had a difficult addicting affliction which to the surprise of Sandy over the last ten years had depleted all of the family’s savings.

It also came out at the meeting that Moshe’s firm was ‘downsizing’ and he was one of those who were going ‘down’.

I immediately set up an appointment with a trained and respected therapist for their marital issues while simultaneously assisting Moshe in getting the help he personally needed.

For the next six months I kept in touch with them and progress was seemingly being made.

It was a Friday afternoon when Sandy called and revealed that the depths of the difficulties were much deeper than initially assumed and that the last six months had been more an exercise in deception than true Teshuva or recovery.

Sandy and her parents came to my office the following Sunday morning. Her father was from the old-school; the one that believed that the ‘D’ word was not a part of the Jewish lexicon.

I think he was the most surprised when after hearing everyone speak for over two hours and only after their insistence that I state my opinion, I stated explicitly and unambiguously  that Sandy should leave Moshe and the divorce should take place sooner than later.

It took a little bit of convincing and cajoling, however, two weeks later, Moshe and Sandy were back in my office as Moshe handed over a Get to Sandy.

It was not easy and there are no great winners in this story; however, there are also no regrets.

A year has passed since that Sunday in May when Moshe and Sandy severed the ties which bound them for twelve years.

Sandy called me exactly on the one year anniversary of the Get.

“Rabbi, I can’t say I cherish that day; however, one thing is true. I still have problems and life is still a struggle. Raising five children almost singly handedly is challenging to say the least. And I cannot state that I have bliss or paradise; however, one thing I do have is stability. And right now that is worth more than a dysfunctional life. I wanted to thank you; it’s not easy to encourage someone to leave a marriage, but in my case you were right.”

Sandy may have never really been a LMC; however, at least now she is maintaining a life which is stable and constant. And that is very precious.

Not all problems end with: ‘they-lived-happily-ever-after’; indeed, few do.

This article is certainly not advocating that couples just throw in the towel when the first sign of discord is discovered. However, I am also not advocating that couples must stay together at all cost. Sometimes a stable, single parent home is preferable to a strife-filled ‘intact’ dysfunctional one.

The realization that there is life after crisis and that stability is often better than dysfunction is a prized lesson which unfortunately some people are never privileged to learn.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort- “Yoni” (6/24/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 6th of Tammuz 5775 and June 24, 2015




Today is the 39th Yahrtzeit of Yonatan "Yoni" Netanyahu Z’’l; (March 13, 1946 – July 4, 1976).

Yonatan was the commander of the elite Israeli army commando unit Sayeret Matkal.

He was the only Israeli soldier killed in action during Operation Entebbe in Uganda.

I can recall the day Yoni was killed as if it was yesterday.

It was July 4, 1976 the Bicentennial of the United States.

The entire country was agog with excitement as ships from 22 different countries were gathering in New York Harbor to celebrate the event.

All over the country there was a feeling of patriotism and connection to the United States of America.

Suddenly, in the midst of this day of nationalism and loyalty to America there was bolt of lightning emanating from the middle of Africa; namely Uganda!

Operation Yonatan was successfully achieved!

The operation took place at night. Israeli transport planes carried 100 commandos over 2,500 miles (4,000 km) to Uganda for the rescue operation. The operation, which took a week of planning, lasted 90 minutes. 102 hostages were rescued. Five Israeli commandos were wounded and one, the unit commander, Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, was killed. All the hijackers, three hostages and 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed, and thirty Soviet-built MiG-17s and MiG-21s of Uganda’s air force were destroyed. (Wikipedia)

When the news arrived on that Sunday afternoon on July 4th in the middle of the American Bicentennial that the hostages were saved and the Israelis only suffered the loss of one commando: Yonatan Netanyahu, we and all the Jews of this country were overwhelmed with joy and thanks.

Who could believe that Jews from Israel could fly over 2000 miles undetected and literally ‘snatch’ over 100 hostages from the mouth of the monster?

Was this not the fulfillment of the Passuk in Devarim (4:34):

Or has any god performed miracles to come and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, with trials, with signs, and with wonders, and with war and with a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great awesome deeds, as all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

This was nothing short of a miracle from Hashem as His outstretched “hand” ‘plucked’ the Jews from the jaws of the evil ones!

It was indeed a day to be proud to be American; however, for us the Jewish people, it was a day to be even prouder to be a Jew!

We learned that no matter how welcoming is America and how much we have to be proud of on being safe and secure here; there is only one true home for a Jew. And that home is Eretz Yisroel.

On the day when all of us were celebrating 200 years of independence, Hashem in His own way was reminding us that the only true freedom for a Jew is in the land of Israel.

Thank you Hashem for that great day and as we all said back then: “Kol HaKavod L’Zahal!”


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort- “A Great Summer-Day Trip” (6/23/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 6th of Tammuz 5665 and June 23, 2015


A Great Summer-Day Trip


I know how you feel; sometimes you need to get away and you just don’t know where to go.

Today I felt that need to get away for a little while.

I felt I had to just to take an hour or so and leave the confines of the Shul and Passaic and just go to a different location.

Where should I go?

 I didn’t have too much time at my disposal and really felt the need to ‘go somewhere’ special and different.

Finally, after deliberating about the issue I decided I would go everywhere and nowhere; to the furthest place in the world and to no place.

Have I gone insane?

Have I lost my mind?

What am I talking about?

The rabbi has gone mad!

The pressures of the Shul have finally got to him!

Not yet…. At least he is not to be considered ‘mad’ because of the contents of this Vort.

The answer is really very simple.

After thinking about my options and my state of mind, I went to the one place where: I went nowhere; and on the other hand: I went everywhere.

Where did I go?

What mysterious place did the rabbi find to go?

Did he use Kabbalistic incantations to ‘virtually’ transport himself to other worlds?

In a way, yes; however, you can do it as well and you need not know anything about Kabbalah.

Where did I go?

I went to sleep.

I took a nap for one hour and had the best trip I could have had.

I went nowhere as I just lay down in my bed; and I went everywhere as in my dreams I flew to the most exotic and exciting places in the world.

And you know what? It did not cost me a penny!

When I returned from my excursion I did not return with jet-lag or feeling like I need a vacation from the vacation.

Just the opposite; when I returned to the office I felt invigorated and refreshed; uplifted and excited to meet the rest of the day and thoroughly inspired to write this Vort!

This was one of the best trips I have taken.

I got a first class seat on my trip as I had a full bed to stretch out in and no one else was on the plane with me.

I did not need to go through security or stand with my hand over my head as if I was doing jumping jacks and when the trip ended there was no luggage to retrieve and no cab to be hailed.

This was truly a great trip!

And I saw the most unbelievable places you could imagine!

I saw people who I have not seen in years, and places which were not just ‘dream-like’, there were real dreams!

This was not the stuff which dreams are made of, this was the real McCoy!

Friends, you must try this ‘trip’!

Next time you feel the need to get away; don’t spend money on costly airline tickets… just jump into your cozy bed and pull down the shades and Hashem will grant you the most refreshing vacation of your life!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort’ - “Fan of the Fan” (6/22/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 5th of Tammuz 5775 and June 22, 2015


Fan of the Fan


Dear Mr. Fan,

I am your number one fan!

I really must thank you; however, the problem is that I don’t know your name or who you are and you left no tell-tale calling card for me to identify you!

For those of you, who are confused, please allow me to fill in some facts.

About a year ago I installed a clip-on fan onto the Chazzan’s Shtender in the Blatt Beis Medrash.

Being that the air conditioning vents did not quite reach that part of the room, the fan was a welcome relief for the Chazzan on a hot summer day.

This year, as the summer approached, I find myself more often than not as the Chazzan in the Blatt Beis Medrash. Being that I am in Aveilus for my mother, almost every day I daven ‘for the Amud’ in the Blatt Beis Medrash.

About a month ago, when I first turned on the fan I noticed that the blades were almost jet black as dirt had accumulated over the year.

I wanted so much to clean those blades; after all, who wants dirty blades blowing dirty air on them?

However, my thoughts remained just thoughts and every day I noticed the fan with the black, dirty blades.

That was until you came around about a week ago and you took apart the fan, cleaned the blades until they were snow white and pristine and replaced the fan back in its place!

I want to thank you so much for your act of kindness and Chessed; however, I know not who you are!

Therefore, please allow me to announce publicly to you: thank you, thank you and thank you for making my day that much cooler and for causing me to remember every time I approach the ‘Amud’, that there are beautiful people out there in the world who do kind and nice things for others without even letting them know about it!

Thank you so much!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Why I Am Embarrassed “ (6/21/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 4th of Tammuz 5775 and June 21, 2015


Why I Am Embarrassed

{What follows are the words which I spoke from my heart yesterday at Congregation Ahavas Israel in Passaic, NJ.

 My only wish it that these words which emanated from my heart enter your hearts.

I am recreating my words as best as I can in the same format as I offered them yesterday; therefore, I will use the present tense.}


I am embarrassed this morning.  

I am embarrassed for two reasons.

I am embarrassed that this week my computer imploded and I am faced with the loss of all of my ‘creative writing’ for the past five years.

Why I am embarrassed about this? I am embarrassed that I am so upset about this!

With thankfully my family and friends all in good health and with food on my table I am embarrassed by the fact that my ‘urgent and vital’ files may have disappeared.

How does a rabbi who preaches to his congregation to have their priorities in proper order; who always stresses that family and health are most important, and that we all must realize that our ‘things’ are of less importance- have the audacity to be depressed about the loss of a few files???

Having gotten that off my chest, let me now turn to the real reason I am embarrassed this morning.

Although it is embarrassing for me to confess in such a public fashion; nevertheless, in the hope of achieving some relief for myself and perhaps to inspire others (or at least myself), I will unburden myself to you.

The primary reason I am embarrassed this morning is because this week nine innocent and spiritual human beings were massacred in cold blood for no other ‘crime’ than the suspected murderer hated the color of their skin.

Nine innocent human beings who were created in the image of their creator were massacred in cold blood simply because their skin color did not match the skin color of most of the people in this country.

The Mishna in Avos 3:14, states- “He would also 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".

According to the majority of classical commentators, all men and women (irrespective of their race or lineage) have been created in the image of G-d.

Why then am I embarrassed?

I am embarrassed because for the most part I went about my day in a regular normative and banal fashion.

I did not feel the revulsion, anger and pain which I should have.

It did not throw me into the emotional anguish and grief it should have; and for that I am embarrassed.

Perhaps by openly admitting my lack of sensitivity and my apparent numbness to human tragedy I will be able to re-awaken in myself the somewhat dormant sense of pain and sorrow which this horrific massacre should have engendered within me.

Nine innocent human beings, created in His image, while attempting to know Him better, were slaughtered and butchered for no other reason than they were ‘different’ than others.

I am embarrassed that I am not in a state of complete traumatic pain and consuming heartache.

Nine human images of Hashem have been eliminated from this world; their only crime being the color of their skin.

There I said it!

But what can (I and) we do now?

There are three things we can do.

1.       Empathy. We all must think about this tragedy and strive to reach a feeling of empathy and compassion for those who were killed.

And even more importantly, we should express our sense of revulsion at the crime and our compassion to the victims to our coworkers and to all whom we come in contact with.

We must let the world know that we as human beings and as Torah Jews feel the pain of those who have brutalized; not simply because we have also been persecuted, NO!!!

That is not at all the primary reason of our revulsion and our pain.

We are in pain because Hashem’s creations have been brutally killed.

The fact that we also have been the target of hatred and persecution just adds to our feelings of empathy; however, the primary reason for our empathy is that it is the CORRECT and JEWISH thing to feel the pain of others!

WE ARE IN PAIN totally irrespective of the fact that we have been victimized as well.

2.       Stand Up and Say Something!  Help stop the cycle of hatred in this world. If you ever hear a fellow Jew (or any human being) using a word, phrase or expression which has a racist overtone, rebuke the person immediately!

Do not hesitate.

The usage of words which can even remotely be associated with racism –even the usage of foreign language words which just translate as ‘black’- must be totally excised from our vocabulary.

 Promote understanding and reconciliation and never ever be a party to anyone who speaks in a derogatory way about other racial groups.

Most importantly insist that your children are sensitive to people of color and never allow them to fall prey to the usage of racial slurs which are unbecoming of any civil human being.

3.       Lower Your Rancor! Within our own community, family and friends, lower the level of malice which too often permeates our conversations.

Too often nowadays we hear about instances of (it’s hard for me to write the following, but, I must) one Jew calling another Jew a Nazi! (I have a hard time even writing this; however, it must be said).

The level of spite and outright hatred which is sometimes heard and expressed in diatribes against EACH OTHER is too often way over the norms of civil and polite discourse.

Ultimately, this tendency to delegitimize other Jews and even to demonize them has led to violence and even bloodshed within our own ranks.

Disagree with someone? Of course!

Demonize someone- that’s for the Sanhedrin and never for us.

I am in pain and am traumatized by the senseless killings which took place in Charleston last week.

I thank you for allowing me to share with you my feelings.

It has been cathartic and healing for me.

May G-d comfort the families and the friends of those killed in Charleston and may G-d have compassion on all of us as we attempt to show compassion for those created in His image, irrespective of the color of their skin.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort- His Name Was Dov Ber (6/19/15)


he Short Vort


Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 2nd Of Tammuz 5775 and June 19, 2015



His Name Was Dov Ber


{Editor’s note: This Vort is about me and about you. You may recognize certain people in this Vort and you will think you know who they are. And you may be correct; however, equally correct is everyone else who is ‘sure’ they know the person I am referring to. The truth is that I am referring to everyone and to no one; to you and to me; to us as a whole. If you recognize yourself in this article, you are truly blessed.}


He was named Dov Ber at his Bris; however, everyone called him Beryl.

He was the ninth of eventually eleven children, the youngest boy of seven brothers and his oldest sister already had two children of her own when he came into the world.

His family was one of the jewels of their neighborhood. The father Rav Simcha was an accomplished Talmid Chochom and was well respected for his insightful Torah thoughts and was often asked to speak in the local Shul.

He was now a Rebbe in one of the local Mesivtas and he had high hopes for Beryl as he did for all his children.

Rav Simcha had good reason to be hopeful; all Beryl’s six brothers were either ‘holding in learning’ or were already regarded as budding Talmedei Chachomim.

Despite the established family track record, and notwithstanding the cliché that ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’, Beryl, already from an early age, never displayed the same enthusiasm to learning as was anticipated.

He preferred tinkering with tools than thinking the Talmud and when he reached Bar Mitzvah he preferred pushing a plunger than polishing up his "Pshetyl".

 Needless to say, his parents, particularly his father, was frustrated with "Beryl the budding plumber" as opposed to one plumbs the depth of a difficult Sugya.

Rav Simcha and his wife began to take their son to various ‘educational experts’; however, they were little or no help. Beryl was Beryl and as he entered his middle teens, he struggled more and more in Yeshiva.

Perhaps words were said which never should have been; perhaps voices were raised when they should have been lowered; and perhaps feelings were hurt when healing should have occurred. Whatever the reason and without pointing fingers, by the time I met Beryl he was now known as Brian and suffice to say he had drifted far from his " Pshetyl peroration" days of his youth.

I met Brian when he came once for Shabbos to Passaic.

He was actually quite helpful when he ran into me outside of my office and helped me carry in some Seforim without even being asked to.

I forgot about Brian until I received a phone call from Rav Simcha about two months later requesting an appointment.

 Later that week Rav Simcha and his wife were sitting across from me in my office.

I was immediately impressed by their sincerity and their concern for their son. I realized that they wanted their son to happy and to be living a Torah true life and they were willing to do almost anything to achieve the goal.

They had spent thousands of dollars on private tutors and on sending him for a year to a yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel for ‘kids at risk’ and were not giving up.

I asked them why they were coming to me as they did not live in Passaic and we had never met before.

The father replied that he enjoys my articles in Mishpacha and considers me a sensitive person. I replied that words can be deceiving and I possessed neither the insight to offer any creative original ideas and I certainly had no rabbinic wand to wave and make their problems disappear.

"We understand; however, will you at least hear us out?"

I listened as they told me how much love and attention they had wrapped Beryl in and how whatever he needs, "he knows that we will be there for him".

I listened and asked just one question. "I know that Beryl knows that you love him and will do for him whatever it takes for him to be like you; however, does he know that even if does not ‘end up’ like you that you will still always accept him and love him just as any of your other children?"

"Are you suggesting that we settle for a non-Torah lifestyle for our son?"

"I never said that, I just asked, does he know that whatever he will be will always be valued by you?"

A month passed and Brian’s mother called me.

She did not tell me that Beryl is back in yeshiva learning twenty hours a day or that he regrew his payos and is now in Eretz Yisroel ‘shteiging’ away.

She said,

"We took your advice and began to accept Beryl for who he is and stopped attempting to make him into a clone of his father.

Beryl’s birthday was last Sunday, June 14st and although we always buy our children Seforim for their birthdays; we went to the hardware store and bought Beryl a power drill which we knew he had his eye on for a while.

That was in the morning; in the afternoon Beryl called us up and asked if he could come over; he hadn’t asked to come over in months.

When he arrived in the house he said, "Thank you so much for the drill. I also have something to give you. I bought Abba a little present."

 He presented his father with a new Siddur which he purchased as he knew his father would enjoy it.

As Beryl gave his father the siddur, my husband said, "Beryl I am very proud of you; and I love you; thank you".

Beryl looked at his father and said back, "Abba, I am very proud of you and I love you too."

 And with that they fell into each other’s embrace and they cried.

I know we are still far from where we want to be; however, I also know that we are a lot closer today than we were yesterday."


"If Not Now, Then When?"-Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Reaching Out” (6/17/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 30th of Sivan 5775 and June 17, 2015


Reaching Out


My secretery showed me two checks.

Both were for the modest sum of $18 with no note attached to indicate why they were being sent.

The signature resembled more of scribble than letters and my assistant asked me if I could make out the hieroglyphics.

I could not decipher the coded signature, however, there was a phone number on the checks and I decided to call the mystery person.

I dialed the number. A woman’s voice answered.

“Hello, this is Rabbi Eisenman, how are you today?”

“Rabbi Eisenman (with more than a tinge of disbelief in her voice), what a surprise; why… is everything alright?”

“Of course everything is fine. I was just calling to find out how you are doing?”

“Oh, that’s so nice of you; I am fine and how is the Rabbi doing today?”

“Baruch Hashem, We received two checks from you.  The signature on the checks is a little unclear. Could I trouble you to spell your last name for me so we can place the checks under your account?”

“It’s spelled Cooperstein (changed for privacy). However, you will not find me listed in your system as I never contributed to the Shul before and I am not a member.”

“I don’t understand. If you are not a member, why send the checks and why two separate checks?”

Sarah Cooperstein lived across the street from the Shul.

She had occasionally attended a shiur; however, she was not one of the regulars. I had met her before; however, our conversations were brief and somewhat superficial.

Sarah said, “I sent the checks to thank you for what you did for me last Tuesday”.

I was totally mystified. I can usually not recall what I ate for breakfast; I had no recollection of having any interaction with Sarah Cooperstein last Tuesday!

I quietly asked, “What happened last Tuesday?”

“Last Tuesday you saw me as you were walking home from Shul in the morning”

Suddenly, I did recall it. I had noticed Sarah walking from her apartment to her car.

“I was having such a tough morning. I had slept through my alarm. My mother was a giving me a hard time for being too picky on finding a husband. I pressed the Keurig button to make a cup of coffee and forgot to put a cup under the spout and realized that it was my turn at the office to fill the urn!

I rushed out of the house thinking, “My life is going all wrong.”

As I am wallowing in self-pity I notice you walking home. You looked up at me and waved, and you nodded.

You have no idea how that wave changed my day.

 I said to myself, “The Rabbi, waved to me; I can’t believe it. Maybe today won’t be so bad after all.”

And you know what? The day was fine and it was all because of your wave.

 That’s why I sent the checks. One for the Shul and one for the Rabbi’s Fund; it was my way of saying ‘thank you’.”

I listened to Sarah Cooperstein’s story and did recall seeing her and waving; however, at the time I certainly had no intention of changing someone’s day!

After I thanked Sarah and hung up I told my assistant that the mystery of the checks has been solved. And then I said to him, “Please make me a copy of the checks”.

Every now and then when I myself feel low and a little down, I take out the page with the copied checks on them and I realize how sometimes all it takes is a little nod and a wave to change a person’s entire day; and I smile and realize today will not be so tough after all.

“If Not Now Then When”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “A Sad Day” (6/16/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 29th of Sivan 5775 and June 16, 2015


A Sad Day


Today on the 29th of Sivan, of the Hebrew year 5684 (June 30th 1924), Yaakov Yisrael De-Han (Jacob Israël de Haan, December 31, 1881 – June 30, 1924) was murdered in cold blood by a fellow Jew after davening Maariv in the Holy City of Yerushalayim.

The murder was ordered by the leadership of the Hagenah (apparently Yitzchok Ben-Zvi).

It was the first politically motivated murder of a Jew by a Jew in the 20th century.

Indeed, one can classify the murder as an act terror, as the murderers no doubt wanted to intimidate, indeed, terrorize those who held of the opposition view which Yaakov Yisrael De-Han represented.

This is bad; very bad.

Mind you I am not an advocate or even a supporter of many of the views embrace by Mr. De-Han.

 Most probably if I would have met him we would have engaged in passionate and spirited dispute.

However, I hope and believe it would have ended with our agreement to disagree and not in bloodshed.

Mr. De- Han was murdered by Jews who felt justified in killing an unarmed Jew in cold blood.

In the words of his confessed killer- who despite his association with a Zionist group, he would eventually leave the land of Israel and settle in Honk Kong - in an interview towards the end of his life (he dies in 1990 at the nice old age of 87) he openly and unabashedly stated: "I have done what the Hagenah decided had to be done. And nothing was done without the order of Yitzhak Ben-Zvi (who later became the second president of Israel 1952-1963)… I have no regrets because he (de Haan) wanted to destroy our whole idea of Zionism"

A Jew orders another Jew to kill an unarmed Jew in cold blood and the Jew who commits the murder calmly comments in the serenity of his Hong Kong dwelling: I have no regrets because he (de Haan) wanted to destroy our whole idea of Zionism". {Interview with Avraham Tehomi (1903–1990), a businessman living in Hong Kong}

A Jew living peacefully in Hong Kong is not destroying the ‘whole idea of Zionism’ while a Jew leaving a Shul in Yerushalayim after davening Maariv in which we declare, “Hashem is an “Oheiv Amo Yisroel” (Hashem is a lover of all of His Jewish people) is considered one who ‘wanted to destroy our whole idea of Zionism’?

Something doesn’t add up.

Friends, the point of this Vort is (as I mentioned) not to advocate for one ideology over another.

And as I stated I have no doubts that there are many aspects De-Han’s ideology which I would find unacceptable, as I would with Mr. Tehomi’s ideology.

However, when disagreement leads to bloodshed and when differences of opinion lead to violence then nothing positive can be accomplished and we have ceased being a people of civility and have fallen into the abyss of resorting to terror and intimidation to settle our disputes and this is terrible for all.

So today is a sad day in the history of our people.                             

Today is a day when violence trumped dialogue and bloodshed undermined civility.

There are no streets in Israel named for Jacob De-Han and there is no public display of remorse or introspection in the country.

 My hunch tells me that few if any Israelis have ever heard of Yakov De-Han and those that have heard of him do not know that today- the 29th of Sivan- is his Yahrtzeit.

His Yahrtzeit always falls around Parshas Shelach, a Parsha in which we learn that unchecked rancor and malice towards the land of Israel caused us much suffering and pain.

Imagine how much more suffering is caused when rancor and acrimony lead to one Jew attacking another Jew?

May Hashem heal the wounds which divide us.


“If Not Now, Then When? - Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Mail Call” (6/12/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 25th of Sivan 5775 and June 12, 2015


Mail Call


Mail; it’s one of those things you cannot live with and cannot live without.

On one hand it is a useful way of communication; on the other hand, it never seems to stop and it just keeps piling up.

 As a rabbi, you might not be surprised to learn that almost every Tzedoka organization in the world seems to have my Shul on their mailing list.

Every few weeks I take the large pile and attempt to decide who to give to and how much to give.

The reality is that known and ‘proven’ organizations are hopefully more reliable than individual requests which are almost impossible to authenticate.

As I opened one letter from Eretz Yisroel, I saw the letter was handwritten in Loshon HaKodesh.

I quickly glanced at the name of the signature and since I neither recognized his name nor noticed any rabbinic endorsements I quickly decided that this letter was an unverifiable request and let it fall into the waste paper bin.

The next letter I picked up caused my eyes to tear as it was a well-known and established institution and seeing the famous letterhead brought back memories of over 50 years ago.

My first response was to pick up the phone to call my mother (a feeling I experience numerous times during the day); and tell her how I received a letter from Yeshiva Ploni Almoni and how I recall her writing checks to the Yeshiva so many years ago, however, my mother is no long there to answer.

As I held the letter I fondly recalled the Motzei Shabbos ritual my parents had for decades.

 Every Motzei Shabbos without fail, my father would produce a pile of letters which had accumulated during the week and announce to my mother, “It’s time to write checks!”

Watching them in their weekly ritual was a delight to observe.

They each had their parts down pat and their choreography was perfect.

My father would open the letter and read each and every one of them.

Since back then in the 60s and 70s many of the letters were still written in Yiddish or Loshon HaKodesh, my father did the reading and then he and my mother would decide how much to give.

My father who was fluent in five languages was the ‘reader’ and my mother who possessed ‘perfect penmanship’ was the check writer.

I recall one day when I was no more than six, I asked them why did they have to read each and every letter? “Why not just give a small amount to all?”

 My mother calmly answered, “Someone took the time to write the letter, it’s only right that we take the time to read it.”

Instinctively I reached into the waste basket and extracted the recently deposited letter as my mother’s words, “Someone took the time to write the letter, it’s only right that we take the time to read it” echoed in my mind.

As I began to read the small Hebrew script I suddenly realized that this was not a letter requesting help; rather, this was a personal letter to me.

As I continued reading I realized that this was a letter about my mother from one of my many cousins in Eretz Yisroel.

He was writing to recall a memory with me of my mother; and this is what he wrote:

I just heard about the passing of your beloved mother. I wanted to share with you the following memory.

In 1964 when you were a little boy your family visited with us in Petach Tikva.

 I was eleven years old at the time. I can still remember how you mother came over to me and gave me and my sister each a chocolate bar.

Besides the fact that at that point in my life I have never had my very own chocolate bar, I fondly recall how you mother, who was not fluent in Hebrew, gave me the chocolate and then pointed to the hechsher as she said in her halting Hebrew, “Zeh Kasher!”

She knew we children would be bored as our parents were talking to your parents and she wanted us to feel good so she gave us the chocolate.

I want to tell you that now, over fifty years later, when I visit with my grandchildren I bring them each a chocolate bar and when they ask me, “Why are we getting a chocolate bar?” I tell them the story of your mother and me in Petach Tikva over a half century ago.

Your mother’s thoughtfulness and kindness is still bearing fruit and always will be.”

And to think I almost tossed away this precious treasure.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Pomp and Circumstance” (6/11/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 24th of Sivan 5775 and June 11, 2015


Pomp and Circumstance


Yesterday afternoon, I attended the graduation of my son Avraham Yeshaya from the Phillips Beth Israel school of Nursing.* {Mazel Tov to Shaya!J}

* (The earliest mission of Beth Israel Medical Center founded in December 1889, was to meet the desperate health care needs of the new wave of Jewish immigrants to America.

Several months later, Beth Israel opened as a fully operational outpatient dispensary with 12 volunteer doctors in a rented building on Henry Street.

In 1891, its capabilities were expanded to encompass a 20-bed inpatient unit--the city’s only hospital conducted in accordance with traditional Jewish religious and dietary laws.

In 1902, the year the Beth Israel School of Nursing enrolled its first class. In 1917, the hospital

became a charter member of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropic Societies (later known as the

Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York) which continues to this day.)


The ceremony began with the pianist playing the traditional ‘Niggun’ of “Pomp and Circumstance”.

 As the graduates of the class of 2015 marched into the auditorium I looked at the 200 or so graduates and their families, friends and guests who gathered for the event.

As I looked at the graduates and the audience, I noticed students and families of every persuasion, race, color and nationality you could imagine.

I noticed that many of the graduates spoke to their family members in Chinese, Spanish, Yiddish, Hebrew, and many languages I could not identify.

The school has ‘come a long away’ from its parochial Jewish beginnings when the school was founded particularly to meet the needs of the immigrant Jewish population who were quite often excluded from other sectarian medical facilities.

Now, the school serves the exact opposite function. It now provides a viable option for everyone to receive a quality education and to go out and help mankind as a whole, and not just one particular group in our society.

 And that is good.

As I looked at the graduate’s families, many who were not fluent in English, I could tell that as they watched their sons and daughters march into the room, they were proud and they were joyous.

There was another emotion as well which was evident of their faces, and that was one of hope and anticipation.

As these families, many of whom were foreign born, looked at their children, there was a feeling of emancipation, of freedom and of hope that their children, through the education they received at an institution established by Jewish immigrants to help other immigrants, they now possessed the tools to better themselves and the lives of their  future families.

I imagined the dreams that each one of them has.

They all have dreams of a career involving the care and compassion for other human beings; dreams of acquiring positions of employment which would help them advance and afford them financial security.

As they marched into the hall they were all full of smiles and of hope.

Hope for a bright future and for a productive life.

And as I glanced at the African-American family seated next to me and the pride which was evident on their faces as their daughter proudly marched by them, I was proud.

I was proud of my son for clinging to his dream of becoming a health care professional.

And I was proud to be a part of a people who care about the world and care about Hashem’s children whoever they are.

I was proud to be part of a legacy of a people who attempted to make this world a better place for all.

I was also proud to be an American, to live in a county as Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l described as a “A kingdom of compassion (Chessed)”; a land where in the same room on one night, Jew and non- Jew, Chassidic Jew and secular Jew, Moslem, Sikh, Buddhist and Christians all gathered together for one purpose, to celebrate the human character trait of compassion to others.

All of us were comfortable with each other and everyone mingled with ease and civility; women with head scarves with women in Shaitels. Men in casual garb with Jews in Chassidic garb; no one felt uncomfortable and no felt that they did not belong.

And most of all, I felt proud to be a human being created in the image of my creator.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Attitude” (6/10/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 23rd of Sivan 5775 and June 10, 2015



*(Note: The following Short Vort is about no one is particular and is about everyone.

It is not about anyone you know or anyone you may think you recognize; however, it is about you and about all of us.

The character is totally fictional and simultaneously accurately portrays a real person.

It is a composite portrait of many people and of one person in particular.

It is about everyone and no one; it is you and it is me and it is neither.

You can decide on your own.)


For most of us our lives are defined by times of happiness and tranquility mingled with what are hopefully minor interruptions of unrest.

However, how would we cope if the majority of our days were anxiety laden and filled with stifling stress and heart-wrenching emotional agony?

Welcome to the world of Hilda Morgenstern (name changed). Hilda, who recently ‘celebrated’ her 74th birthday, is such a person.

Hilda came from the embodiment of a dysfunctional home. Her father was an absentee parent and he battled debilitating addictions the majority of his adult life. Her parents finally divorced when she was 13 and she spent six years shuttling between Borough Park, and Bensonhurst.

She admitted to me that she married young in order to extricate herself from her nightmarish life; however, as she would always add, “That wasn’t too smart, as I jumped from the frying pan to the fire.”

Her husband was a tyrant in the house. He was intimidating and demanding and highly critical of how Hilda was raising ‘his’ children.

They had two girls.

The oldest daughter Naomi lives in Eretz Yisroel and has a wonderful husband and three beautiful children.

The youngest daughter Sarah is a ‘clone’ of Hilda. She too married an abusive man, only to get divorced and to be left with two children, both of them emotionally and physically challenged.

Every morning, Hilda Morgenstern takes a bus and a subway to Brooklyn from New Jersey to help out her daughter.

She has no respite as her days are filled with traveling and helping her daughter cook, shop, do laundry, pick up the kids after their therapy appointments and putting them to bed. She arrives back in New Jersey after 10 PM.

One Shabbos afternoon Hilda arrived at the Pirkei Avos Shiur a few minutes earlier than everyone else. I wished her a ‘good Shabbos’ and she replied with a big smile, “Good Shabbos to you”.

I could no longer contain myself and asked, “Hilda, what’s your secret? How do you always remain chipper and upbeat? You have faced so many of life’s challenges, yet, you continue to smile; how do you do it?”

Hilda Morgenstern straightened up to her full height of 5 feet 2 inches and proudly said, “Rabbi that is exactly the point.”  I was confused so I asked, “What is the point?”

“The point is that precisely because I have challenges I know my life is worthwhile. Would Hashem challenge someone who He thought was not up to the task with all of the trials I have? As long as Hashem keeps challenging me I know I have a purpose in this world. I may not have paid a penny for these ‘tests’; however, I would not trade them for a million dollars because they are the proof that my life has meaning.

Do I sometimes wish I was on the boardwalk in Miami with some of my friend s playing Mah Jong? Of course I do. Yet, at the end of the day when I get home at 11 PM and fall into bed exhausted, I know I have made a difference in someone’s life today. That to me is the greatest joy of all.”

As we began Pirkei Avos the Mishna which was our text that afternoon was: “Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot. As is stated (Psalms 128:2): "If you eat of toil of your hands, fortunate are you, and good is to you"; "fortunate are you" in this world, "and good is to you" in the World to Come.”

As I read the words I snuck a quick glance at Hilda Morgenstern; a slight smile appeared on her face; and I realized Hilda Morgenstern was one of the richest people I had ever met.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““Not so is My servant Moses; he is faithful throughout My house”” (6/8/

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 21st of Sivan 5775 and June 8, 2015


“Not so is My servant Moses; he is faithful throughout My house”

(BaMidbar 12:7)


When Miriam and Aharon speak against Moshe Rabbeinu the Torah simply says: “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses regarding the Cushite woman he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman.” (Ibid 1)

The Torah never informs us what exactly did they speak about the “Cushite Woman” and why was it considered “Loshon Hora”.

Rashi and other commentators offer their explanations as to the impropriety of their words; however, a unique and different suggestion is offered by the Sefer Moshav Zekainim (who I believe was one of the Baalei HaTosfos).

He posits that the ‘negative’ words which Aharon and Miriam spoke were not spoken ‘about him; rather, they were spoken directly ‘to’ Moshe!

What hurtful words did Miriam and Aharon say to their brother?

According to the Moshav Zekainim they actually suggested very strongly to Moshe that he divorce his wife Tzipora as being that she was a Midyanis and therefore lacking proper pedigree, now that Moshe had become akin to a Melech (a King) it no longer be fitted him to have a ‘non-blue-blooded’ wife. Therefore they jointly suggested to their surprised brother that he divorce Tzipora and take a more fitting wife in her stead.

To this suggestion Moshe responded forcefully, “She stood by me when I was an impoverished wonderer in the land of Midyan and now that I am an wealthy King I shall stand loyal to her and will not ever consider divorcing her.”

It was in response to this forceful and adamant declaration of Moshe that Hashem Himself proclaims:

“he is faithful throughout My house!”

Hashem Himself when he hears of the loyalty and fidelity of Moshe to his wife announces for posterity: “Moshe is the most loyal (Ne’eman) in my ‘household’!”

This positive and enviable trait of loyalty and fidelity to one’s wife and to one’s family which Moshe exemplifies is unfortunately no longer the valued trait it once was.

Indeed, loyalty in the business world, both with regard to employer to employee- as we often hear of loyal employees who are ‘’let go” after thirty years of service- and with regard to employees and their employers is a nostalgic memory of time’s past.

Many people have hardly organized their desks at their new firm as they begin to send out ‘feelers’ to see if the grass is greener across the street.

This is a sad situation for all of us; for although inertia is never a good think and of course sometimes even a marriage must end; however, in general our society’s tendency to no longer value loyalty as a primary and necessary character trait does not bode well for us.

Even within our own Shuls we find that fidelity is a loss art.

How often do people “Shul hop” and after davening at one Shul for years and after being assisted by the Shul and its rabbinic and lay staff, jump ship to the new Shul down the block?

Marriages as well are no longer viewed by the participants as lifelong commitments.

More than once a bride and or groom has confided in me as they are about to head down the bridal path, “If this doesn’t work out I can always get divorced.”

As our society continues to ‘advance’ and disregards fidelity and even often views loyalty as a negative trait, we see more and more people ‘giving notice’ and quitting their jobs.

And if we in the Jewish community are also often too quick to change our Shuls, spouses and schools; is it any wonder that people who are ‘unsatisfied’ and ‘challenged’ by the physical gifts that Hashem blessed them with are opting to ‘change’ into what they believe is a better fit?

Loyalty; it is a trait which Hashem extols Moshe Rabbeinu for epitomizing and it is a quality which all of us without exception can and should improve upon.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Charles Levine Z”L” (6/4/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 17th of Sivan 5775 and June 4, 2015


Charles Levine Z”L


Today in 1927 a Jewish hero was made.

Charles Albert Levine (March 17, 1897 – December 6, 1991) was the first passenger aboard a transatlantic flight.

The flight which took off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island on June 4, 1927 was 315 miles (507 km) and 9 hours and 6 minutes longer than Lindbergh’s transatlantic crossing.

Levine was the first passenger to a make a non-stop transatlantic flight and his flight was longer than Charles Lindbergh who flew solo across the Atlantic just two weeks before on May 20, 1927.

Indeed, although Levine’s accomplishment was overshadowed by “Lucky Lindy” and the Spirit of St. Louis, nevertheless, in the eyes of the Jews of New York City, Charles Levine was their hero.


In the weeks following Levine’s triumph, the Jewish-American community was in a state of rapture as across the sea one of its own was received by European dignitaries from Hindenburg to Mussolini. On Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the Jews spoke of little else.

"The anti-Semites in Germany and the anti-Semites around the world will have to take their hats off to Levine the Jew," pronounced the New York Yiddish daily newspaper Der Tog. "No longer will we be obliged to prove that Jews are as capable and strong on the field of physical bravery as on the field of intellectual achievements."

Within a month a half-dozen songs had been written in Levine’s honor. The transatlantic flyer was seen as heralding the advent of the modern Jewish hero: independent, courageous, and proud. Two of the songs made musical allusion to "Hatikvah" (The Hope), the then unofficial Jewish national anthem. The implication was unmistakable: here was a defining character for Jewish aspiration. (See:


Indeed, for a while Levine was the ‘Hero of the Day’; however, as often happens, his fortunes reversed, he became impoverished and was soon forgotten by the Jewish American public.

Why then did I say he has a hero?

In truth, I do not believe his transatlantic flight makes him a hero; however, something else he did later in his life does!

In 1934, he was charged with illegally smuggling a German-Jewish refugee from a Nazi concentration camp into the United States and spent 150 days in jail!

Charles A. Levine, the man who sought fame and fortune by attempting unsuccessfully to fly to Berlin in 1927, (his plane did not reach Berlin, but landed 100 miles short in a field at Eisleben, Germany), did successfully allow one Jew to reach the United States by smuggling him from a Concentration Camp in Germany to these shores! And he spent 150 days in jail for his Mitzvah!

That is why Charles A. Levine is a hero!

“Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” — Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Remembering Leiby” (5/31/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 13th of Sivan 5775 and May 31, 2015


Remembering Leiby


It was Friday afternoon.

I had just finished Mincha at Zichron Moshe.

It was hot and it was getting late.

As I exited the Shul I noticed the little girl of about six years old. She was riding a scooter down Rechov Chofetz Chaim, the small street on which sits one of the most famous Shuls in the world.

Zichron Moshe is more than a Shul; it is a world unto to its own.

There are truly holy and pious men there who daven from the siddur as if this is first time they are approaching davening.

You also find at Z.M. a host of people who are simply attracted to it because it facilitates their need to have a ‘Minyan on Demand’.

The Shul is in operation as close to 24/7 as possible. The only times there is not a Minyan going on is the ten minute break between the last Mincha and the first Maariv and perhaps another twenty minute gap between the last Maariv and the first Shacharis.

In the course of 24 hours there must be well over one thousand people who traverse its simple structure.

The décor has not changed much in the last fifty years.

 With the exception of air conditioning units which will operate for twenty minutes if you place a five Shekel coin in the slot, the furnishings of the once magnificent structure can be described as retro-yeshivash-chassidish circa 1964.

As one looks down on the worn and dog eared tiles on the floor, one sees the impact and impression made by hundreds of thousands of Jews over the last 75 years who have pleaded with Hashem to watch over them and their families.

The little girl is still speeding down the street.

 Suddenly, about twenty feet from the ‘entrance opening’ (there are no doors to this Shul) she hits a small pit. She falls from the scooter and screams, “Imma, Imma!”

I watch as most people who are arriving and exiting the Shul continue on their way, seemingly unaware of the hurt little Jew.

I begin to head in her direction.

 The man I am with comments, “She’ll be fine. Let’s go.”

But I cannot ‘go’.

 I approach the scene and ask a man nearby, “Do we know where her mother is?”

He tells me that someone who knows the family went to call the mother.

 My companion again urges me to leave. I say, “I must wait here, I cannot leave.”

A woman passes by and attempts to comfort the girl; however, she continues to cry and refuses to be consoled.

For a third time I am encouraged to move on. “There is another woman with her; it’s Erev Shabbos, let’s move on.”

I remain fixed in my place.

Finally after a few more minutes of waiting, a young mother comes running down the street as she wipes her hands on her apron. She embraces her daughter and as soon as mother and daughter are reunited I turn to my friend and say, “Come, let us go; it’s getting close to Shabbos.”

As we walk he turns to me and asks, “Why were you so insistent on remaining until her mother came? There was another woman there and we saw she was really not hurt. What could have happened in the three minutes it took for the mother to arrive?”

In my mind I recalled how once Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l- as he entered his building – noticed a non-Jewish child who was left unattended. Rav Moshe insisted on remaining until the mother came. Although time was the essence of Rav Moshe’s life, he explained to his attendant who questioned the necessity in waiting, “Kinder darfn Shmira.”

However, those thoughts remained in my mind and to my Yerushalmi acquaintance I simply asked, “Did you ever hear of Leiby Kletzky?”

Too often we find the time for what we need; yet, we cannot spare two minutes to make sure a little Jew is safe.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Vase” (5/29/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 11th of Sivan 5775 and May 29, 2015


The Vase

The Levaya was scheduled for Sunday at 10 AM.

 I was concerned if there would even be a minyan attending.

Such is the reality of the American rabbinate.

Mrs. Sadie Freidburg (name changed) had passed away at 92.

She had only one child, a son named Norman, a psychologist who lived in Utah.

 The last time I saw Norman in 2012, he told me he was ‘ethnically Jewish’, culturally American and spiritually he was a follower of Buddhism.

He had married twice; however, out of concern for the world population he never had a child.

When I called Norman to inform him of his mother’s petirah he said that he preferred that her remains be given an “ecological burial” which eventually transforms the body into is a fine powder, similar to cremation, which he claimed is better for the environment.

After I explained to him how his mother deserved a Jewish burial, he acceded to my request with the caveat that since he could not approve of an environmentally un-friendly ‘disposal’ of his mother’s remains, he would not contribute financially to her funeral, nor would he attend the service.

This left me with the unenviable task of raising funds for a proper Jewish burial.

I quietly mentioned to a few people that money was needed.

I was pleasantly surprised when a Mrs. Bernstein (name changed) contacted me via email and offered to gladly pay for the funeral arraignments.

Sadie had been living at an assisted living facility for the last twenty years.

As she was out of the neighborhood for twenty years, few recalled the feisty woman.

Therefore I was curious as to why particularly this woman would volunteer for this Mitzvah, so I called her directly.

“Did you know Sadie?” I asked.

“No, in fact I never met her, not even once.”

“Why then would you come forward to do this Mitzvah?”

She hesitated and then stated,

“My parents bought Sadie’s home in 1995.

I was ten years old.

I recall when my parents came home from the ‘closing’ how aggrieved they felt.

They told me that Sadie was crying as although she knew she had no choice but to sell, nevertheless, she was pained that the home she had built with her beloved husband would no longer be hers to live in.

They told me how as opposed to feeling the happiness of purchasing a new home; they now felt as if they were evicting an elderly woman from her abode.

Then came moving day, my parents were still stinging from the effects of yesterday’s closing and they were moving in with feelings of blame and culpability.

As opposed to being a day of joy and of new beginnings, it was a day filled with bittersweet, guilt-laden emotions.

Suddenly, as we all entered the kitchen we noticed a beautiful vase filled with twelve charming and cheerful long-stemmed roses.  At the side of the vase was a small hand-written note:

“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bernstein and Shira,

May you all be blessed with happiness and true joy in this home.

I feel comforted in knowing that my home will now be the home of such wonderful and fine people.

All the best,

Sadie Freidburg”

Rabbi, you cannot imagine the feelings of relief and happiness those flowers and that note brought to our family. Our day was transformed from sadness to joy and from guilt to elation.

I never forgot that small yet, transformative act of Chessed of Sadie Freidburg.

Therefore when I heard how she now needed assistance for her final journey, I recalled the personally difficult Chessed she did for us on our journey to our new home and I knew I had to help.”

Who could have known that yesterday’s flowers would blossom into today’s Chessed?


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “I am the first and I am the last” (5/28/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 10th of Sivan 5775 and May 28, 2015


“I am the first and I am the last”

(Yeshaya 48:12)


Hashem describes Himself in Sefer Yeshaya by stating “I am the first and I am the last” (“Ani Rishon Af Ani Acharon”).

Obviously Hashem is informing us that He is not bound by time or by position; indeed, the phrase in Yeshaya is similar and perhaps the source for the line in Adon Olam: “Without beginning, without end” “B’li reyshiys b’li ta?’liys”.

Hashem certainly is without a beginning and he of course He is without end.

That being said, there is also a wonderful and insightful Chassidic Vort on this phrase which is timely and timeless.

When Hashem declares that “I am the first and I am the last” perhaps He is describing not so much how He is in reality, but, rather how we perceive of him.

Meaning, when something goes wrong in our lives too often we are quick to ask “Why did Hashem do this to me?”- meaning Hashem is “Rishon” the ‘first’ one who gets blamed.

On the other hand, when things go well in our lives, we are more than happy to take credit for the success and Hashem gets relegated to the end of the list of thanks and He becomes “Acharon”- ‘last’.

Furthermore the Vort continues, when we are in financial difficulty too often the ‘first’ (Rishon) thing to cut from our budget is financial support for our Shul, our Yeshivas and our Tzedoka; and Hashem is then “Rishon”.

However, when we have are enjoying a windfall we indulge in our needs first and then only after we get a new kitchen and car to we think of Hashem and Tzedoka and He is relegated to Acharon.

Obviously, this Vort is not applicable to everyone and in every circumstance; however, it certainly merits our attention and must be taken into account when we set up our priorities and when we attempt to balance our expression of gratitude.

Remember, Hashem must always be ‘first’ and ‘last’ in all aspects of our lives.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Day After” (5/26/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 8th of Sivan 5775 and May 26, 2015


The Day After


Today is the day after Shavuos.

We are all heading back to our regular routine.

There are those of us who are back off to school, and those of us who are back to work.

All of us just experienced three days of Shabbos and Yom Tov (or two days for my Israeli readers).

The major question is of course, “How am I a different”

What motivational factors did I experience over the Yom Tov which will lead me to improve or change my behavior?

Ostensibly, the Jewish people were a changed people after they experienced the first Shavuos of their lives over 3500 years ago.

How have I changed?

In what did this year’s re-acceptance of the Torah impact on my life?

What changes have I decided to adopt now that I experienced Shavuos?

These are real and concrete questions each one of us must be asking ourselves this morning.

 If we don’t ask ourselves these questions, then what purpose did Shavuos fulfil in our lives?

This morning I looked at my clock and noticed it was 4:44 AM, I asked myself one question, “If I was able to daven Vasikin on Shavuos morning after staying up the entire night, certainly I can get up to daven Vasikin after five hours of sleep- I must have learned something from Shavuos?”

I davened Vasikin; however, that can only be the start.

Only time will tell if I am successfully able to internalize the inspiration from Shavuos.

Come and join me as together we shall attempt to improve!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “"You Gotta Believe!!!"” (5/22/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 4th of Sivan 5775 and May 22, 2015


"You Gotta Believe!!!"


I once heard in the name of the Chofetz Chaim that so many of today’s modern inventions were given to us by Hashem to strengthen our Emunah.

For instance, when the Sages inform us that ‘there is an eye which sees all’ you know longer have to take the statement on faith alone.

All of us are being ‘seen’ every day.

Where aren’t there security cameras?

From the time you leave your house in the morning and arrive in Shul, you have no doubt been ‘seen’ and filmed numerous times.

So too, as we approach the Yom Tov of Shavuos we may wonder how Hashem was able to speak to two to three million people at one time in one place?

 It sounds almost impossible.

How did Hashem give the Torah to His people at one time?

Indeed it is difficult to imagine how it was done; however, consider the following:

This past Monday night I davened Maariv at a 9:15 PM Minyan in Yerushalayim and after the Minyan I drove to the airport and at 1:30 AM I boarded a plane to Newark, NJ.

After sitting on the plane for less than 12 hours, I emerged from the aircraft and in less than an hour I was sitting in the Ahavas Israel davening at the 7:30 AM Minyan for Shacharis!

I can assure that if you would have told the Chofetz Chaim that it is possible to daven Maariv in Yerushalayim and the next morning daven Shacharis 6000 miles away in America, he would have had a difficult time imagining how that feat could be accomplished without divine intervention.

Yet, the fact is that I did just that and everyone and anyone can and does do it daily; and we never even think of it as anything special!

The truth is that with the exception of the last thirty years or so, no one could have imagined how you could go from Yerushalayim to America and arrive in time for the morning Shacharis!

Alas, so it is!

So too with ‘Kabbolas HaTorah’- we cannot (yet) imagine how Hashem gave us the Torah and gave it to each and every one of us; however, He did!

And just as He gave it to ALL of us at Har Sinai, He is prepared to give it to all of us again this Motzei Shabbos.

How will He do it? I cannot tell you; however, if He can get me from Yerushalayim to Passaic in less than 12 twelve hours, He can personally give ME and YOU the Torah again tomorrow night!

As Mets’ pitcher Tug McGraw’s would say throughout the legendary 1973 baseball season: "You Gotta Believe!!!"

And indeed the Met’s won the Pennant that year!

So it is with regard to Kabbolas HaTorah: “You Gotta Believe”!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Z.M.” (5/20/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 2nd of Iyar- Day 46 of the Omer, 5775 and May 20, 2015




There is a place tucked away in the alleyways of the Holy city; its structure is not grand and it has no massive lobby and certainly no parking lot.

 The building is not impressive and it is not on the list of the ten ‘must see’ places on most people’s itinerary when they come to Israel.

That’s too bad; because it really is a place to visit.

It is a place to daven.

It is a place to learn.

And most importantly it is a place to learn how to get along with different people.

The place I am referring to is the Shteibel commonly referred to as Zichron Moshe or in “American Yeshivash Sprach” simply as ZM.

A quick word about the Shul; it was established over 75 years ago and it was originally built to be the main Ashkenazi Shul for the neighborhood known as Zichron Moshe which was established in 1905. The first inhabitants of the neighborhood were secular teachers. It was one of several neighborhoods in Jerusalem named for Sir Moses Montefiore.

Nowadays Zichron Moshe is a totally Hareidi neighborhood and attaches itself to Geuala and Meah Shearim.

Over the years the Shul has become the archetypal of the modern day “Minyan Factory”.

It is literally a place where you have “Minyan on Demand”.

Whenever you go you will hear someone shouting “Mincha” or “Maariv” and in no time ten Jews will appear and the Minyan begins. And as soon as that Minyan ends, another person announces “Mincha” and the process repeats itself going from Mincha to Maariv to Shacharis in a perpetual cycle of just about uninterrupted Tefillah.

I would imagine that well over a thousand men pass through its ‘halls’ (I could not say ‘it’s doors’ for there are no door to the Shul!) on an average day.

Indeed, it is without a doubt one of the most frequented Shuls in the world; however, what is even more amazing than the amount of people who come is the ‘type’ of people who come.

The Shul is frequented by all types of Jews; from Hassidim with striped garments to Sefardim from Morocco and Tunis, to Litvaks from the Brisk Yeshiva to common Jews who want to ‘Chap a Mincha’.

Everyone knows that the address to find a Minyan whenever you want one is ZM.

Yet, perhaps even more fascinating is the tacit understanding that whoever is the Shaliach Tzibbur, he decides the Nusach of the day’s davening.

You can have a Sefardi davening Shacharis on Rosh Chodesh, a Chassid leining the Torah and a Litvishe Yid davening Mussaf, all on the same day and no one says a word or raises an eyebrow.

This unspoken and accepted agreement that no one shall question anyone’s Nusach can be confusing at first; however, in reality it is quite an inspirational learning lesson.

Why does this work and how did it evolve?

I imagine it evolved as diverse people arrived and when they davened they used their Nusach and others realized that if they don’t want anyone to object when they daven, they could not object to someone else’s davening.

And although I recognize that halachically a Shul should really have a set Nusach, given the circumstances at hand in ZM, this was the system which would work for everyone.

It’s possible and perhaps probable that this is not the optimal Halachik way for a Shul to operate as normally a Shul should have one Nusach and a “Minhag HaMakom”; nevertheless, given the varied men who frequent the Shul, this was the way to go.

As I davened there this last week I wondered if we could adopt such a system in our personal lives.

Meaning, people in ZM want to daven, they want to live in Shalom with each other and therefore at some point an unwritten and implicit arrangement evolved in which I would tolerate this man’s davening when he was Chazzan and he would tolerate mine.

Perhaps this is a formula for life in general.

Sometimes your wife wants to eat Milchig and you want Fleishing or vice versa.

Too often we get stuck on having things our way or no way and that of course results in conflict and Machlokes.

Too often husbands and wives, friends and co-workers are insistent on something being done their way and no other way; the only thing this leads to is conflict.

As I left ZM on Monday, I realized that sometimes in life I have to let the other person have the right of way; if I don’t, then I would have no claim to ever ask for the right of  way for me.

Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes my way, the main thing is that there is Shalom.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort- Why I Cried Twice (5/15/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Today is Friday the 26th of Iyar 5755 and May 15, 2015

Why I Cried Twice

The main purpose of my trip to the Holy Land at this time was to erect the monument- Hakamos Matzeiva- for my beloved mother Lorraine Eisenman A"H.

Obviously seeing my children and grandchildren is an added bonus and a wonderful privilege; however, if not for attending the Hokomos Matzeiva of my mother’s monument I would not have made the trip at this point.

As I am still in the year long mourning period for my mother and want to attempt to lead the davening whenever I can, I stay close to Yerushalayim- to home base- where I know a Minyan is accessible.

Often, when observant Jews visit Eretz Yisroel they make a point of going to Mekomos HaKedoshim- kevarim (graves) of Tzadikim in the north to daven,

I wondered if perhaps I should go too, after all, who wants to lose an opportunity to daven by Tzadikim?

I then recalled that I once read in a biography of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Zt"l (Oro Shel Olam page 380) that a student asked Rav Shlomo Zalman, “Isn’t there a time I could go to visit the graves of tzadikim? Doesn’t Rav Auerbach go and pray by the graves of tzadikim?”

Rav Auerbach answered, “In order to pray at the graves of tzadikim, one doesn’t have to travel up to the Galilee. Whenever I feel the need to pray at the graves of tzadikim, I go to Mount Herzl, [the national cemetery for fallen Israeli soliders in Jerusalem], to the graves of the soliders…who fell “Al Kiddush Hashem” for the sanctification of G-d."

Therefore, yesterday, I followed in the footsteps of the great Rav Shlomo Zalman and together with my four sons who are here, I made a pilgrimage to the graves of Tzadikim.

I went to Mount Herzl to daven and pay respects to those who gave their lives so I could travel freely in the land of Israel.

I went to the grave of Max Steinberg, a former Birthright attendee who was killed last summer, and I went to the grave of Dave Gordon, the brother of our beloved Aryeh and Nomi Ho and a young man who I had the pleasure of knowing.

I went to dozens of graves of soldiers who I never knew and would never know them and I cried.

I cried for the young souls who died sanctifying the name of Hashem and I cried for the spouses they never had and for the children they were never privileged to bring into this world. 

And I cried for others as well.

I cried for those who are lacking the sensitivity of Rav Shlomo Zalman Zt"l.

I cried for those who fail to emulate and take direction from this giant of Torah and Middos and forget to include Mount Herzl’s Military Cemetery in their itinerary of Mekomos HeKedoshim when they come to Eretz Yisroel.

I cried for those Jews who don’t even realize that they should be crying.

I cried for those who are not in the world and made the ultimate sacrifice for our people and I cried for those who are in this world and don’t even realize that they too must cry.

May Hashem wipe the tears of all of His people.

Wishing you a meaningful Shabbos from the Holiest City in the world.

"If Not Now, Then When?"- Hillel

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

The Short Vort- Complexities of the Land (5/14/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Today is Thursday the 40th day of the Omer and May 14, 2015

The Complexities of the Land

I travelled to Tel Aviv yesterday, there were some historical and familial connections I have in the city and i was visiting there for a number of hours.

The weather was perfect and the walk was pleasant so after parking, my son and I walked to our various locales.

One sight kept getting our attention, the amount of young couples who had little Jewish children in tow.

There were many men and women who had their children attached to their bicycles and when we passed a park we could not help but notice with joy that it was filled with little children,

On one hand our hearts were filled with joy and Nachas as we watched these precious Jewish children speaking the Biblical tongue and living totally among Jews.

Indeed, one could easily feel that the redemption has arrived. After all, when in our history did we have a time when there was a totally independent Jewish city, speaking the Biblical tongue and enjoying the freedom to practice their religion?

On the other hand, when one realizes that these same individuals, are being educated in schools in which our Torah is presented as just ‘one’ book {Chas V’Shalom) out of many; in schools where Shabbos observance is not emphasized and where Mitzvohs are simply ignored; one certainly does not feel that this is what we have been davening to occur for two thousand years,

Some of the parents we observed were ‘adorned’ with tattoos and most of the women were ignorant with regard to the beauty of modesty. Can this be Messianic?

So what impression should I take from all this?

Is this the ‘birth-pangs- of the Mashiach as Jews speaking the Biblical language are living in the Land of Israel as free Jews who have access (if they so desire) to anything and everything Jewish?

Or should I look at the situation as such: that these are basically assimilated and acculturated Jews whose connection to Judaism is superficial at best and perhaps negative at worst as perhaps even a majority of them have never even visited the Kotel perhaps not even once?

Are they a new brand of ‘lost Jews’ who have formed an alternative non-Torah culture which almost insures their disconnection from Torah and Mitzvohs?

Or should I view them as good Jews who are proud of their Jewish heritage who with the correct and proper outreach can be re-connected to the body of the Jewish people?

The question remains an open one.

The story is not over and only time will tell.

One thing is for sure, let us do our best to present to them our version of Judaism as one which emphasizes the beauty and the kindness of our people.

By doing so, we may or may not ‘win’; however, we certainly will not lose.

"If Not Now, Then When?"- Hillel

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

The Short Vort (2)- The Lonely Man of Faith (5/12/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Today is Wednesday the 39th of the Omer 5775 and May 13th 2015

The Lonely Man of Faith

I arrived at the Zichron Moshe Shteibel at 4:50 AM for Vasikin which started at 5:20 AM.

As I sat with the mostly elderly crowd of men I noticed one middle age man in his 50’s sitting off to the side.

As the men began to wrap themselves in their Talis I noticed that the lonely man began to put on his Tefillin.

It became apparent after he finished putting on his Tefillin that he had no Talis because he was never married and still was not married.

I watched this man with the whitish beard during davening. He sat off to the side alone. I wondered to myself, where will he eat breakfast this morning?

Where does he live?

Does he have friends?

I must admit that I know not the answers to any of these questions.

Perhaps he is happy to be alone- although I doubt it.

Perhaps he has many friends; could be, however, more likely not.

The davening ended and I approached the man, I said "Shalom, how are you?"

He looked at me with an incredulous look; he just looked and looked at me for a while and then lowered his head towards his Tehillim without saying a word.

He was a sad man; a lonely man; yet, a man of faith.

I thought of my problems and I thought of him; somehow mine did not seem so important anymore.

I wonder if he will be there tomorrow? Something tells me he is always there.

"If Not Now- Then When?"-Hillel

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


The Short Vort- Closure (5/12/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!

Today is Wednesday the 39th of the Omer 5755 and May 13th 2015


I arrived on the ‘red eye’ and I was literally red-eyed as the plane landed in Ben Gurion Airport.

I met my family and in a few hours later I stood in front of my mother’s grave just a little over a month since I stood here before.

Now there was a sense of permanence. There was no mound of Earth and no simple marker. The stone was in place, the inscription I worked on was beautifully engraved and it all look so permanent.

As I stood by my parent’s grave there were so many feelings working in tandem and at loggerheads within me.

There was a sense of loss as I now am bereft of both my parents.

And there was a feeling of Nechama as I looked at them next to each other overlooking

Jerusalem at peace with each other in eternity.

Once again as I looked at the different relatives who had come to pay their final respects to my mother, I was overcome with the urge to pick up the phone and share with her how nice and respectful the service was; alas, that was not to be.

The final reality check of the evening took place after the Hokomos HaMatzeiva as we went to daven Mincha.

Anytime I had been at my father’s kever these past two years, I had always davened to Hashem to heal my mother.

As I stood to daven mincha after we left the cemetery, I naturally did what I always did when I left my father’s grave, I began to say "Hashem, please send a Refuah Shleima to Leah bas Ita..." As her name came out of my mouth I stopped by myself.

A small tear descended from my eye and I tasted the tear, it tasted both salty and sweet; it was exactly a mirror image of the emotions in my heart. Salty for the mourning for my mother and sweet for the realization that she is at peace with my father.

My love and blessings to all of you from the Holy City of Yerushalayim… it is indeed a privilege to be here.

If Not Now, Then When -Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““Hungry, but, not for bread”” (5/11/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 21st of Iyar 5775 and May 10, 2015


“Hungry, but, not for bread”


“Behold, days are coming, says the Lord God, and I will send famine into the land, not a famine for bread nor a thirst for water, but to hear the word of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11)


It never ceases to amaze me how one good deed just leads to another; it always seems to work!

Today, I arrived early to the 1:30 PM Mincha as tonight is our Shul’s dinner.

I was surprised to see that someone else was already at the ‘Amud’ and was obviously counting on leading the davening.

I said hello to the person whom I did not recognize and I asked him if he is a ‘Chiyuv’ (a mourner who has an ‘obligation’ to lead the services)?

He replied that today he has Yahrtzeit and although he lives in Canada, he just came in for the day and has to ‘run’ to the airport to catch a plane back very soon and he asked if he could daven. I immediately agreed as I mentioned to him that one of the perks of being a ‘Chiyuv’ yourself is that you get to do Chessed with others by allowing them to daven even if you think you have ‘first dibs’ at the Amud.

He smiled and thanked me and I informed him that besides the 1:30 PM Mincha there would be 15 additional Minyanim throughout the day and I was not catching any plane. We smiled to each other, wished each other well and I returned to my office.

I went back to the Beis Medrash for the two PM Mincha and there I was easily able to daven at the Amud; however, I got more than just the Amud for coming to the 2 PM Mincha.

As Mincha was about to start a gentleman approached me and he asked if I needed him to stay to make the Minyan. As it was still two minutes to two, I told him that more people will arrive and that he does not have to feel obligated to stay for this Mincha.

I was somewhat mystified as to why he did not want to stay as it was already just about 2 PM.

He then looked up and with a big smile told me, “I davened Shacharis at the first minyan and then started to learn. Since I work the whole week Sunday is my only chance to learn.

 I was hungry; however, I was ever hungrier for Torah so I kept on learning till now.

I want to go eat now as it is 2 PM, is that okay?”

I looked at this simple Jew who is far from what we would consider a Talmid Chochom and I realized he is the living embodiment of the Passuk: “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord God, and I will send famine into the land, not a famine for bread nor a thirst for water, but to hear the word of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11)

How privileged we are to have Jews like this in the world.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““Lev B’Omer - The Heart of the Omer” (Day 32 of the Omer) “ (5/6/1

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 17th of Iyar 5775 and May 6, 2015


“Lev B’Omer - The Heart of the Omer” (Day 32 of the Omer)


It’s so hard to believe that it is already 29 years ago that my Rebbe, Rav Nisson Alpert Zt”l left this world.

We heard about the news on Sunday evening May 25th and the next day (Monday, May 26th 1986 - Memorial Day) the levaya (funeral) was held at Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim on East Broadway in the Lower East Side.

The funeral was unique to say the least.

 I cannot recall another funeral where among the maspidim (eulogizers) were Rav Elya Svei Zt”l, and (Yibadel L’Chaim Tovim V’Aruchim) Rav Nachum (Norman) Lamm Shlita, Rav Reuvain Feinstein Shlita and even his two sisters, (although they did not speak publicly) wrote a short eulogy which was read at the funeral.

That was Rav Alpert; he was the Rav of Agudas Yisroel in Long Island while simultaneously being a Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon (YU).

 In addition to these positions he was known as one of the closest and most reliable transmitters of the Torah of his Rebbe: Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l.

Perhaps precisely ‘because’ he was a Talmid of Rav Moshe he was able to see above the ‘politics’ and successfully move between the various ‘hashkafas’ and effectively impact on many different ‘camps’.

He was a lover of Jews and he was one of the few people who saw beyond the ‘head covering’ a person chooses to wear (or not wear) and to see to the heart of the person.

Rabbis Svei and Lamm were at the height of their ‘differences’ in 1986, however, both came MTJ to eulogize and mourn for a man they both respected and admired.

One of the many lessons I learned from my Rebbe, (besides all of the wonderful Divrei Torah) was his world view. Rav Alpert Zt”l lived in the present and made the most of the present. Too many of us live in the future. We are always planning and convincing ourselves that tomorrow I will begin my new learning schedule and then I will make a major change in my life. Rav Alpert lived for today and made the most of the present.

His world view of his can be summed up in the following quip he made about himself.

He did not drive and had no car (at least I never saw him drive and never heard he had a car) and quite often when second Seder was over in the Kollel at 6:30 PM we would notice Rav Alpert waiting in the street on West 185th Street hoping to get a ride to the Lower East Side.

 There were times when he would flag a cab and journey home via the taxi.

One day he arrived at the Yeshiva in a taxi, one of the students (not me) asked him, “Rebbe, I did not know the Yeshiva paid you such a fine salary that the Rebbe can afford taxis!” (The Rebbe was very ‘laid back’ and we often ‘k’bitzed’ with him.) Rav Alpert looked at us and without missing a beat he said, “Just because I am poor does that mean I have to live poor as well?”

That was his life philosophy; make the most of today with what you have today.

Perhaps Hashem endowed him with this outlook to compensate and to allow him to make the most of the ‘short’ 58 years he was granted in this world.

The Rebbe was a ‘masmid’; however, he was also quite ‘normal’.

 I can still see him every morning sitting in one of booths at the little kosher diner across the street from the Yeshiva drinking a coffee, eating a ‘Black and White” while perusing the New York Post (note: back then the paper was less of the tabloid it is now).

He lived in the present and appreciated all types of people whom he met in the present.

He was able to get to the heart of the sugya, and he was able to touch the hearts of his students; he certainly touched my heart.

It is very fitting that his Yahrtzeit falls out on the 32nd day of the Omer, otherwise known as ‘Lev B’Omer’ -The Heart of the Omer.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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





The Short Vort’ - “The Report Card” (5/4/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 15th of Iyar 5775 and May 4, 2015


The Report Card


When the caller identified himself as Alex and asked when the ‘next service’ was, I assumed he had Yahrtzeit and was looking for a place to say Kaddish.

When I told him that the last Mincha would be at 7:30 PM he seemed not to comprehend what I was talking about.

He then said somewhat haltingly, “Oh, excuse me. My name is Alex Montina and I am a student at Bergen Community College and I am taking a course in comparative religions. We have an assignment to visit a Jewish house of worship and to observe the service. I was wondering if I could come to your synagogue and see the next service.”

I told him to come to the office a few minutes before Mincha and we can talk and if everything looked fine he was welcome to come to Mincha.

He arrived and when he timidly sat down and showed me his assignment and I was convinced that he was not a covert operative for Al-Qaeda I gave him a Yarmulke and invited him to observe Mincha and Maariv.

He sat very quietly in the back and I could see him writing copious comments on his assignment sheet.

After davening ended we regrouped and he asked me a few questions about the davening; nothing too difficult: “What does the text of the prayers mean? Are the prayers based on the Bible?”

I answered his questions and then I asked him if I could look at the notes he took; he gladly obliged.

He wrote under the question: How did you find the decorum in the sanctuary? “Very serious and intense.”

When asked to describe the service, he wrote: “There was an introductory prayer and then the men stood for about five to seven minutes rocking and swaying back and forth while silently praying. Then the rabbi began a responsive part of the prayer when the rabbi read and others responded with a one word response. Then everyone sat for about two to three minutes and the prayers ended with everyone standing and again a responsive prayer.”

Under general comments he wrote, “In general the prayer service was serious and intense with no communication taking place between the people. The service was totally in Hebrew; only men attended and the dress was semi-formal with many men wearing hats and jackets.”

 I looked at the paper and thought about the words, “The men stood for about five to seven minutes rocking and swaying back and forth while silently praying”.

I wondered, “I managed to convince this young 20 year old college student that I appeared “serious and intense”; I was able to give over the impression that during Shmoneh Esrei I was “silently praying”.

What did Hashem write on His ‘assignment sheet’ for this davening?

Did Hashem also agree that my davening was ‘serious and intense’?

Would Hashem classify my words which were said during the silent Shmoneh Esrei as ‘praying’ or did I allow my mind to wonder off into another world as I continued to recite the words without proper intent?

What remarks did Hashem write about me during yesterday’s Mincha?

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln who said: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

We can say: “You can fool a college student some of the time, however, you can never fool Hashem!”


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Rebbe Zt”l” (4/30/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 11th of Iyar 5775 and April 30, 2015


{NOTE: In response to those of you who asked for a written version of my talk on Shabbos about Rav Aharon Lichtenstein Zt”l, I humbly present to the following :}

Rebbe Zt”l

As I walked into the office my palms were soaked with sweat and my throat was parched.

 I sat down in front of the man.

 He did not smile and his greeting was short and to the point; he spoke in a rapid staccato voice.

 I was now trembling as he asked me what I was learning.

I answered Pesachim; he asked me which daf and from there he proceeded to pepper me with questions and to question my answers.

He seemed to know the entire Massechta by heart as he quoted from rote entire passages of the Gemara.

He slowly and deliberately took my answers to their logical conclusion. I was in a haze of confusion as he continued to build the halachik conclusions which were based on my answers. Finally he came in for the ‘check-mate’; “Based on what you answered, it logically follows that you would allow the eating of Chometz on Pesach night!”

I was stunned; however, he was correct!

 My ‘silly’ attempts at exhibiting ‘lomdus’ had caused me to permit Chometz on Pesach- his reasoning was airtight.

 I was sure this would be the last time in my life I would ever meet this man; however, the truth is that this was the beginning. The beginning of a relationship that spanned almost 40 years and climaxed with my arising at 3 AM last week to cry and mourn as I participated from 6000 miles away in the levaya of the man I eventually called ‘Rebbe’.

Soon I would learn that this seemingly intimidating and outwardly distant man was one of the most sensitive, caring and compassionate and loving human beings I would be privileged to form a relationship with.

The experience described above was my “fahere” (my oral entrance examination) to the Yeshiva referred to as “The Gush”, although its real name was Yeshivat Har Etzion located in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Beit Lechem and north of Chevron and the year was 1979.

The man ‘interviewing’ me was Rav Aharon Lichtenstein Zt”l lovingly referred to as “Rav Aharon”.

When the letter arrived after Pesach I was more than surprised that despite my apparent dismal performance at the ‘fahere’, I was accepted into the “Gush”!

I arrived a day before Elul and so began my relationship with this seemingly unapproachable man who in time I would come to love.

Even more surprising for me, I was placed in the Rosh Yeshiva’s shiur.

Rav Aharon’s Shiurim were masterful presentations of Brisker Lomdus combined with the precision of a skillful organizer.

Rav Aharon was fluent in the entire Shas; literally. There was no sugya in Shas which he had not mastered and no statement of the Rambam which he had not analyzed.

His Shiurim were a complete and total analysis of the Sugya at hand. No relevant point was omitted and no Rishon’s opinion, no matter how obscure the Rishon, was absent from his discussion.

He would sit for hours in the Beis Medrash totally and completely engrossed in his Gemara. I can recall standing by his desk for six to seven minutes as I hoped he would finally just look up and see me standing there. There was just no interrupting him from his learning.

His Shiurim were original and insightful; masterpieces of Limud HaTorah; however, that is what not made him my Rebbe.

I am not being humble just truthful, when I state unabashedly, that I was not one of the stars of the Shiur.

Many other ‘boys’ grasped his lomdus and his Brisker Torah much, much better than me. My feeble mind understood what it could; however, I was not and will never claim to be a reliable transmitter of the ‘Torah’ of my Rebbe.

Therefore, I soon began to search out ways to become closer and to serve him.

I would arrive early to the Beis Medrash and carry his small wooden bookcase which was a fixture on his desk, to the Shiur room.

Once during Shiur he realized that he needed a Rashba. He looked over at me and asked me if I could please get him a Rashba; I was so excited; the Rebbe asked me to do something for him!

His humility was something that legends are made of.

 He lived in Yerushalayim at the time; every Bochur who needed a ride to Yerushalayim would just stand by his car and if there was room, you had a ride. He would never ask a Bochur why he was going into Yerushalayim, if you were going he assumed you had a reason.

It was those aspects of him -outside of the lomdus- which pulled me like a magnet towards the Rebbe.

He was so real and he was so humble. Indeed, I never in my life have encountered another human being who knew so much, had accomplished so much, who was brilliant and literally had thousands of students and was nevertheless, the most ‘pashute’ and simple Jew in the world.

He was the son in law of Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik Zt”l, he possessed a PhD in English Literature from Harvard, he was a Talmid Muvhak of Rav Hutner Zt”l and nevertheless, if he passed the pay phone and it was ringing he would pick it up and gladly go to the Beis Medrash to retrieve the Bochur.

 If the caller asked, “Who am I speaking to you?” Rav Lichtenstein would simply answer “Aharon Lichtenstein”.

By observation and by interaction I soon came to realize that this man whom I first considered austere and rigid was in truth one of the most sensitive, caring and G-d fearing individuals I ever met.

Perhaps it was his humility and perhaps it was even a touch of shyness, however, Rav Aharon was by nature unassuming and one could (albeit incorrectly) assume he was even aloof. 

Time after time I came to see how this gentle and quiet man was in reality a giant in Midos and precisely with regard to Bein Adam L’Chaveiro.

At that point (1979) phone calls to the States were a rare (one every three to four months) occurrence. When Rav Aharon went to the States to interview next year’s students he personally called each and every parent (over 40 parents) to send regards and inform them of their son’s progress.

I also quickly realized that notwithstanding his Brisker-learning-posture, when it came to davening and simcha, Rav Aharon was more akin to a Chassidishe Rebbe; and it was that warmth which enveloped me.

How can I ever forget the Friday night dancing after davening?

The entire Yeshiva would gather downstairs in the lobby of the Yeshiva and dance with the Rosh Yeshiva in honor of the Shabbos.

I can still see him on Yom Kippur as he stood for hours and hours with tears streaming down his face as he implored Hashem to forgive. He was angelic in his white Kittel as he davened with fervor and with a sense of trepidation.  When Yom Kippur ended and the Shofar was sounded the yeshiva erupted into a dance the likes of which I had never seen before.

The passion and gusto which enveloped the entire yeshiva was palpable; however, the sight which remains sealed in my memory forever is the sight of Rav Aharon-the same stern and Brisker Rosh Yeshiva- dancing with his three year old daughter Tonya on his shoulders at the conclusion of the fast. That sight epitomized the man for me.

 He was holding his beloved daughter on his shoulders as any ‘regular father’ would do; indeed, as is well known- when asked in his later years what his most precious achievements were, he would immediately reply, “My family!”

 His face shone as the sun at noon as he danced with the energy and enthusiasm of a twenty year old- typifying his unshakeable Emunah in Hashem that our Aveiros were forgiven.

And finally, he danced in the circle with all his beloved students; once again his humility and his love of his students were always recognizable.

As he danced he suddenly noticed that his wife, Rebbetzen Tova Lichtenstein was waving to her daughter from the women’s balcony; Rav Aharon’s face lit up as he positioned his little daughter on his shoulders to see her mother in the women’s section and together they waved with big smiles on their faces.

At that moment I saw a man who was a first and foremost a loving husband and a doting father; perhaps I could never be the Brisker Rosh Yeshiva he was, however, a loving husband and devoted father was something I too could aspire to.

The stories which were widely circulated in the Yeshiva about his humility and kindness were embraced and cherished.

Perhaps the most precious of these incidents occurred on Yom Kippur 1973 at the beginning of the War. The busses arrived at the Yeshiva to pick up the ‘boys’ and to bring them to the front, the boys asked their commanders for one minute to go to the Beis Medrash and ask Rav Aharon for a brocha before they went out to defend the Jewish people.

The Rebbe was nowhere to be found. Crestfallen, the boys disappointedly began to board the buses.

Suddenly an apparition appeared; it was the figure of a tall, lanky figure clad totally in a white Kittel running towards the buses carrying something white.

As the figure neared, the boys were awestruck as they realized what they were witnessing.

 They were witnessing greatness.

“Rav Aharon” was the apparition and he was running towards the busses with his hands laden with rolls of toilet paper. As he breathlessly approached the boys he blurted out, “I want to help in some way; so I figured that in everyone’s haste to leave on Yom Kippur perhaps no one had remembered to bring this vital necessity!”

It makes no difference to me that I did not personally witness the incident –although when I arrived in 1979 there were still eye witnesses learning in the yeshiva- I just knew the story was true for that was Rav Aharon.

There were no airs about him; he told us in the yeshiva how when he was called to Miluim (military reserve duty) and he was on a packed bus heading north on a long four hour ride, after two hours he offered his seat to a young woman who was standing nearby.

 He remarked to us without even the slightest hint in his mind that he was relating to us ‘greatness’, “Boys”, he said, “You have to see where you can do for another person; after two hours of sitting I offered my seat to the woman standing near me. When she asked me why I replied, “I was able to sit for two hours; it’s only fair you get to sit for half the ride as well!”

I never heard him speak negative about another human being and his care and compassion for all of Hashem’s creatures was legendary.

What other Rosh Yeshiva in the world got up in the middle of the Beis Medrash and announced that the Yeshiva will be collecting money to support the "Vietnamese Boat People" who were escaping Vietnam in 1979 on unsafe boats and were in desperate need of help and support?

His love of Hashem motivated him; “Were these not Hashem’s children?” he asked.

How can I forget the sight of Rav Aharon literally screaming the words of the “Shir Shel Yom” into the ear of his hearing impaired father after his father had lost his sight and did not know the tefilla by heart?

Most of all, he was my Rebbe and he was there for me.

He cared about me and I knew he cared about me.

When I called him he was there for me and when I needed advice he was there for me.

The last time I saw him was about two years ago at a wedding in Monsey; I went over and said hello and asked, “How is the Rebbe feeling?”

He answered Baruch Hashem and then quickly introduced me to one of his relatives by saying, “Here is Rabbi Eisenman, he learned in our Yeshiva”

Once again even at ‘his’ Simcha he made me feel important and he made me feel special.

In truth, he was special and as humble as he was, he was in reality a giant, a true Gadol; a sincere servant of Hashem.

One day, years after I learned in the Yeshiva I said to him, “Rebbe, I just want to thank you for all you gave to me and for the years I was able to learn by you.”

He said to me, “Thank you; sometimes people think Rebbeim don’t need positive feedback, in truth we appreciate it very much for we are also human.”

Rebbe was human, very human; however, he was also angelic; yet somehow, the two parts of him, his humility and his greatness were not two distinct parts, rather, they existed in harmony.

Indeed they were the synthesis of “a ladder set up on the ground and its top reached to heaven; with, angels of Hashem ascending and descending upon it.”

I will miss my Rebbe; I will miss his Torah, his hasmada, his davening and his guidance; but most of all I miss him, for ultimately that man whom I was so fearful of in 1979 was the same man I loved so much in 2015 and for who I now mourn.

May his memory continue to inspire.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Perspective” (4/28/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 9th of Iyar 5775 and April 28, 2015




As I glanced at the news this morning, I could not help but feel pain and sympathy for the survivors of the massive earthquake which racked Nepal on Shabbos.

As of this writing there have been over 4000 confirmed deaths and that number may rise in the coming days.

The devastation and the loss of life are painful to view; however, as I read the article on the tragedy, one sentence really touched me.

KATMANDU, Nepal — Residents of Katmandu living in tent camps after Nepal’s powerful earthquake said on Tuesday that their biggest worry was a lack of safe drinking water…”

I re-read the words, “Their biggest worry was a lack of safe drinking water”.  

As I was reading these words I grasped the irony of the situation; as simultaneously I was mechanically sipping a glass of bottled water at my desk!

Suddenly I put the cup down and thought, “Imagine if this was my last bottle of water for the entire day? Imagine if it was the last bottle of water for my entire family for the duration of the day?

The thought was terrifying.

I cannot deny that I am not at a level where I can claim that I feel the pain of those suffering in Nepal; however, at least I can attempt to appreciate what I do have.

Perspective; it makes all the difference in the world.

We live in a world where we have unlimited supply of fresh and clean drinking water.

Thankfully, we cannot even imagine a day without water; however, who says that’s how it has to be?

Thousands of people went to sleep Friday night in Nepal with the assumption that the sun would rise and they would have plenty of drinking water as they had the day on Friday and on the Thursday.

 Alas, this was not the case, and instead of worrying if they should have milchigs or fleishigs for dinner, they are now worrying if they will have water to drink tomorrow.

Think about that for a moment; perhaps it can help us place life in perspective and allow us to have appreciation for the ‘simple’ things in life; especially for water.

Think about your family and about the 4000 people who are no longer with their loved ones in Nepal.

Think about the tens of thousands of people who are sleeping outdoors for fear of aftershocks.

Think about that when you stretch out in your bed tonight and for a second, (just for a second) put your life in perspective.

Are most of the things I complained about today really as serious as I thought they were?

Did it really matter that my Keurig coffee-maker is beginning to ‘short change’ me when I ask for an eight ounce cup of coffee?

Does it really matter that the cleaners did not get out the stain from Pesach as I hoped they would?

I must think about Nepal and be appreciative for what I have and I must realize that hundreds of thousands of people in Nepal would be ‘overwhelmed with happiness’ to have what I have.

Thank you Hashem for my water.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Shloshim” (4/24/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 7th of Iyar 5775 and April 24, 2015


The Shloshim


Today is the Shloshim for my mother Leah bas Meir (Lorraine Eisenman).

There are many thoughts which come to my mind at this point in time.

The first thought which ‘hit me’ was the how fast times flies.

 It is difficult to feel ‘different’ even though I have now finished the second of the three mourning periods and am now entering the ‘Twelve Month’ period.

Life goes on. No one stays stagnant and all we can do is pick up the pieces as best we can and continue to build on the memories of our loved ones.

There is a fascinating insight in the Zohar HaKodesh in this week’s Parsha (Tazria).

 We are all too familiar with the fact that “Tzaraas” is caused by the Aveira of Loshon Hora.

 Indeed, many Rabbonim and teachers take advantage of these two parshios to encourage everyone to watch their words and to be careful not to speak Loshon Hora.

These lessons are appreciated and of course needed; however, the Zohar HaKodesh points out something not too often stressed by most Parsha teachers.

We are all familiar that we will be held accountable for those unnecessary words which we all too often utter.

Meaning, the transgression of Loshon Hora is when we allow our mouths free access to speak what they want, whenever they want. Tzaraas reminds the individual to muzzle himself and to keep from speaking malicious and hurtful words.

The struggle not to say what should not be said is certainly a noble one; however, what about those words which ‘should ‘ or ‘could’ have been spoken and were not; will we be held accountable for them?

This is exactly what the Zohar HaKodesh addresses.

The Zohar HaKodesh points out that just as an individual will be held accountable for those words which should never have been spoken, nevertheless, they were; so too will we be held accountable for those words which ‘should’ or ‘could’ have been spoken yet were not!

What are these words which ‘could’ have been spoken, yet were not which we will have to make an accounting for?

These are the kind and cost-free words of Chesed which -with a little sensitivity and effort- can be uttered at almost every human encounter.

When you meet someone and you notice they look healthy and well, tell them so!

If you see someone at the other end of the Shul, don’t be lazy, at the end of the davening get out of your seat and say hello to them.

There are countless of examples where we can use our mouths to speak kind and comforting words which will serve as a healing balm to the recipient of our words.

Too often we choose to be quiet when with a little effort and a little sensitivity we could throw in a ‘hello’ or a ‘thank you’ and we would be literally changing a person’s entire day.

The wonderful thing about this is that is doesn’t cost you a penny! It just requires a little effort and some sensitivity to the other person.

We all know that we can be held accountable for the words which were said yet, should never have been spoken; imagine though, that we can be equally held accountable for those words which we could have said yet didn’t!

My mother A”H was quite adept at speaking the correct words at the correct time.

Often when I was with her I was amazed how when she met someone she would remember something about their life and inquire if the issue was improved.

I often marveled at how she would always compliment a speaker who offered a Dvar Torah at the Shabbos table and how she would thank the waitress in a restaurant when she went out to eat.

The art of knowing not what to say is indeed important; however, equally important is the art of knowing what to say when you could say something!


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Good Bye Rebbe” (4/21/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 2nd of Iyar 5775 and April 20, 2015


Good Bye Rebbe


It was right after Pesach of 1979 when the letter arrived.

It was from Israel, from a small town called Alon Shvut.

I trembled as I carefully opened the envelope.

As my eyes read the eloquent Hebrew letter a tingle went down my spine.

Little did I know then, that the contents of that letter would be life altering.

The envelope contained my acceptance letter to the ‘Harvard’ of the Israeli Hesder Yeshivas: Yeshivat Har Etzion.

The yeshiva was jointly headed by Rabbi Yehuda Amital and Rav Aharon Lichtenstein; however, Rav Lichtenstein was the primary pull for the American applicants.

“Rav Aharon” as he was affectionately referred to was anything but ordinary.

He was the son in law of the “Rav”- Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik Zt”l and he was a great Talmid Chochom in his own right.

He was brilliant and insightful, he had ‘Shas’ on his finger tips and he earned a PhD from Harvard in English Literature.

He would quote Milton and Maimonides in the same sentence and he davened with the zeal of a Chassidic Rebbe.

He was all this and much more; however, for me most importantly, he was my Rebbe.

He cared about me and gave me time and attention.

When there were difficulties in my life he was there for me.

And when there was pain in my life, he shared my pain.

Many of his Shiurim were beyond my feeble mind; however, I loved my Rebbe because I knew that he loved me.

When he invited me to his Succah for a Hoshanah Rabba Seuda I was thrilled to be in his presence.

Although I was not at all one of the ‘stars’ of his Shiur, I realized there was one way I could get close to him.

Every day I arrived early to the Beis Medrash and I would carry his small Shas and two volume set of the Rambam which he kept in a small wooden bookshelf on his desk in the Beis Medrash to the Shiur room.

I had to get there before he did, because if he arrived first he would not allow always allow me to carry the Seforim for him.

I was so proud to carry his Seforim for him.

During the Yom Kippur War when the busses arrived at the Yeshiva to pick up the ‘boys’ and to bring them to the front, the boys asked their commanders for one minute to go to the Beis Medrash and ask Rav Aharon for a brocha before they went out to defend the Jewish people.

The Rebbe was nowhere to be found. Crestfallen, the boys disappointedly began to board the buses.

Suddenly an apparition appeared; it was the figure of a tall, lanky figure clad totally in a white Kittel running towards the buses carrying something white.

As the figure neared, the boys were awestruck as they realized what they were witnessing.

 They were witnessing greatness.

“Rav Aharon” was the apparition and he was running towards the busses with his hands laden with rolls of toilet paper. As he breathlessly approached the boys he blurted out, “I want to help in some way; so I figured that in everyone’s haste to leave on Yom Kippur perhaps no one had remembered to bring this vital necessity!”

His head was in the heavens; however, his feet were firmly planted in this world.

I hardly slept last night as I thought about my Rebbe.

At 3 AM I connected to the live hook-up to be a part of the levaya.

Someone asked me why I had to get up at 3 AM to see it live; couldn’t I just have listened to it later in the day?

I could have; however, my Rebbe gave me much more than two or three hours of his precious time during his lifetime, I certainly should give me him back three hours of my sleep time.

When I was still a teenager he was there for me and when I was married he still there for me; I now wanted to be ‘there’ for him.

I miss him.

This Shabbos at 6 PM I will offer an appreciation of Rav Aharon Zt”l.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “One More Recollection” (4/19/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 30th of Nissan 5775 and April 19, 2015


One More Recollection


It will probably take a while for me to stop constantly reaching for the phone to call my mother and tell her about what happened to me today.

It happens so often that last week I actually did call her- if for nothing else than to hear her voice on answering machine.

After her voice mail picked up I actually left her a message, I don’t know why; however, I did.

You can never (at least I can’t and no one else told me they could) really prepare for the passing of a parent; even when you know they are diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Therefore, I was very worried as how I would react when the time came.

I always imagined that I would ‘lose it’ when the time came.

 I could not imagine the moment occurring and could not picture myself being able to maintain any semblance of sanity.

As Hashem would have it, it was totally different than I imagined it would be.

On Sunday morning March 29th (The Ninth of Nissan 5775) I was awakened at 4:30 AM by my sister-in-law as mother’s breathing became quite labored.

I stayed by her bedside and as dawn neared (5:22) I could tell that the situation was dire.

At 5:54- the earliest time one can daven-  I decided I should daven as I realized that once my mother would leave this world I would be precluded from davening and donning Tefillin.

I davened the basic requirements as not to leave her bedside too long and by 6:20 AM I was back at her bedside.

As I entered her room and sat down next to her, I grasped her hand.

As I sat by her bed I noticed that my sister-in-law and my two nieces who were up the entire night with my mother finally fell into a sound sleep. I was happy they were sleeping as they were on vigil the entire night and I was happy they were getting much needed rest.

By 6:30 her breathing was becoming more and more difficult.

There is no rational way to explain my following behavior; however, I shall record it as it occurred.

At exactly 6:31 as I saw how difficult it was for my mother to keep breathing; at that point I was filled not the helplessness I always imagined I would be consumed with; rather, I actually felt strong and resolute as a never-before-felt-inner peace began to envelope me.

I looked at my beloved mother and said to her the words I could never imagine saying, “Ma, it’s alright. I’ll be alright you can let go.”

 At that point she took one last breath and then lowered her head slowly and peacefully onto her pillow. As l looked at her I knew her Neshama had departed her body.

 I could sense I was no longer looking at my mother; rather, I was looking at the casing of her soul; however, she was already gone.

Shockingly I still felt no pain and no overwhelming sadness; quite the opposite, I was now even more at peace and more composed. I lovingly kissed her forehead; l gently closed her eyes and covered her with her own blanket as she lay peacefully in her own room, in the house filled with her children and grandchildren.

The Gemara in Massechta Berochus (8a) informs us that there are 903 different types of ‘death’ in this world. The most pleasant –which the Gemara advocates we should daven for- is referred to as ‘Neshika’, literally ‘death by a kiss’. The Gemara explains that death by a kiss is when the Neshama leaves the body in a painless and effortless way and is compared to the ease as which a hair is effortlessly removed from a glass of milk.

The words of the Gemara flashed across my mind as I personally witnessed the kiss given to my mother as her Neshama painlessly and peacefully departed her body.

I was the lone person in the world awake and by her bedside when the time came; however, I neither was scared nor terrified; nor was my mother as together she peacefully returned her soul to her maker.

A day or two ago I related this entire incident which I felt and still feel so privileged to have been a part of to a friend of mine.

After I finished he looked at me and asked, “Weren’t you scared to be there at that moment? Weren’t you terrified to be the only one there at the time of …?”

I thought about his question for a moment and then simply said, “My mother was there for me when I entered the world and I am sure it was quite painful for her. The least I could do for her was to be there when she left this world.”


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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


The Short Vort’ - “The Birthday Party” (4/16/15)


The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 27th of Nissan 5775 and April 16, 2015


The Birthday Party


 One of the best ‘perks’ of being a rabbi is engaging with the children of the Shul. Children are pristine; however, they also have their challenges.

Yisroel Moshe Feldblum (name changed) has been in my Shul since his birth. I officiated at the Chasunah of his parents and was Sandek at his Bris.

When he was old enough to sing Adon Olam I was kvelling along with his mother; and when he “graduated” to Anim Zemiros my heart was bursting with pride.

From the time he was a toddler everyone called him ‘Yummie’ and the name fit as he was a ‘Yummy little boy’.

Yummie began school like any other little boy; however, it soon became apparent that Yummie had a ‘condition’.

I no longer recall if it was ADD, ADHD, CD, OCD, EBD, BPD or ABC; however, it was one of the current alphabetisms.

Yummie was doing well academically; however, socially he was struggling.

As Yummie advanced to fifth grade, his ‘issues’ became more pronounced and one day Yummie just refused to attend school anymore.

In desperation, his parents approached me and asked me if I would speak to Yummie. I told them I am not a child psychologist and I doubt I could help.

Yummie entered my office and immediately sat down and folded his arms across his chest as a sign of defiance.

I noticed Yummie’s eyes silently reading the various papers on my desk.

Yummie, who at 10 years old was already an ‘accomplished reader’, was focusing on my speaking points from the funeral of an elderly gentleman who recently passed away.

As he read, his eyes welled up in tears; I asked him what was wrong.

“Rabbi, I see that you mentioned how Mr. Goldberg (the deceased) always remembered his grandchildren’s birthday.

Last week I gave to all the boys in my class an invitation to my tenth birthday party and you know what they did? Everyone, except for three friends, tore up the invitation in front of my face! I am never going back there!”

I could sense and feel his pain.

Tears began to run down my cheeks as a long repressed and almost forgotten memory from a half a century ago overwhelmed me.

“Yummie, can I tell you a secret?

When I was nine years old, I was a chubby red haired kid with not too many friends. One day I made a party for my birthday. When the day and time arrived, we had balloons set up and a big birthday cake with my name on it. I invited all the boys in the class; however, only two came. I was sad and I was hurt and I cried.

I know that this hard to understand at your age, however, the party worked out. I realized that those two boys were my real friends and with them I would not be alone.”

“Rabbi, do you mean to tell me that you also did not have many friends when you were my age and other kids also made fun of you?”

“Yummie, you are way more popular than I ever was. You have three good friends; I had one or at most two.”

Our talk did not make the problem disappear; however, Yummie realized he was not alone in his pain and he went back to school.

Does this story end with: “And they lived happy ever after”?

 No; however, rarely do any stories end that way.

And every Shabbos Yummie and I share a secret smile when he comes to say “Good Shabbos”.

It is our way of communicating that together we are not alone and that no matter what happens in our lives each of us has one good friend they can always rely on.

Everyone needs at least one good friend.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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