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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  

The Short Vort’ - ““Getting Back to Normal?”” (4/13/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 24th of Nissan 5775 and April 13, 2015


“Getting Back to Normal?”


It is never easy to lose a loved one.

It is not easy when you are young and it is still not easy when you are middle age.

You walk in the street and you wonder if you look different.

You look at everyone else and they look the same.

I wonder, “Does anyone see anything different about me? Last week I had a mother in this world, today I don’t.”

I know the answer, most probably not.

I arrive at the office and everything looks the same.

The Seforim are exactly where they were from before my mother left this world and the papers which were piled high have not disappeared.

The world continued to go on while I sat Shiva and life continued unabated.

I am going to share with you some observations from my Shiva.

Please remember and note, these are private feelings which may or may not help you.

They are in no way intended to be taken as ‘Daas Torah’ or as any sort of halachik guidelines.

They are my private and personal feelings which if they cause you to think or even re-think some ideas you had about Shiva then I feel satisfied.

If you take them to be ‘piskei Halacha’ or ‘Daas Torah’ you will be corrupting my intent.

I know there is a halachik discussion as to when the Halacha that the mourner must speak first applies (there are those that define it as the first conversation of the day…).

That being said, (and I am not speaking ‘Halachically’ now); however, we all agree that the Halacha recognizes the ‘right’ of the mourner to remain silent.

As I sat Shiva there were times when I was in the speaking mood and I spoke.

And there were times when I felt the need to be quiet.

I know that when you come to the house of the mourner it is uncomfortable and somewhat awkward; many of us don’t know what to say or do.

 I understand the discomfort; nevertheless, there were times when I wanted to exercise my right to remain silent and I was peppered with questions as if I was at a press conference; this was not a comfort for me.

The ‘comforter’s’ discomfort at being in a silent setting should not trump the mourner’s desire to feel comfort by being silent!

The fact that you came was all the comfort I needed and wanted then; I did not need to be interviewed.

Of course I appreciated the memories that people shared about my mother; however, when I attempted to exercise my ‘right’ to remain silent and was precluded from doing so because of incessant questions, I was not comforted.

Sometimes just sitting and being present and being ‘there’ for the mourner is ‘more than enough’.

I did appreciate those who allowed me to speak when I wanted to and allowed me to share what I felt was important.

I also (and I may be in the minority here; remember, this is just ‘food for thought’) was not comforted by those people who claimed that ‘I know how you feel’.

In truth, those people who said that phrase to me did not comfort me at all.

It so bothered me that I have decided that I would never tell anyone going through any personal experience that “I know how you feel”.

I felt it was pompous and pretentious.

How do you know how I feel?

And why should I feel comforted even if you do know how I feel?

Mourning is not like a sore throat where you can tell the person, “If you take your anti-biotic you will be fine; after all I had the same condition last week.”

Mourning is something totally individual, personal and private; I almost felt violated and compromised when people said “I know how you feel”.

 Sorry for the harsh words; however, I do feel strongly about this one. (I know everyone who said it meant well… but remember… this is just food for thought.)

That being, said; I totally appreciate all of you who came and sent messages; it really meant a lot to me.

One final note, the Halacha of not leaving the mourner alone does not apply when there are other people in the house.

Too often someone was about to leave and I was about to have a one minute much needed break; however, they felt the need to stay until someone else came to ‘relieve them’.

Although their intent was good the result was that I was precluded from a much desired opportunity to just stand up for a minute of relief.

As mentioned, these are private and personal thoughts; if they provide some catalyst for discussion and thought, I will be satisfied.

Thank you to all of you who helped me during my Shiva and may we only celebrate Simchos together.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““If Not Now, Then When?”” (4/3/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 14th of Nissan 5775 and April 3, 2015


“If Not Now, Then When?”


As Shabbos and Yom Tov are about to begin and I am about to experience my first Shabbos and my first Pesach of my entire life without the presence of my dear mother of blessed memory, there is only one “Short Vort” which I can convey to you.

Friends, appreciate who you have when you have them.

Last Friday as Shabbos began I wished my mother a “Good Shabbos”; this week……

Don’t wait to tell your loved ones how much you love them, do it today.

Tomorrow or next week may be too late.

Wishing all a Chag Kasher V’Sameach and Good Shabbos


“If Not Now, Then When?” – Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Phone Call That Will Never Be “ (3/29/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is the 9th of Nissan 5775 and March 29, 2015


The Phone  Call That Will Never Be


I just returned from the levaya (funeral) of my mother.

There was a large and impressive turnout.

On my way back from the funeral I stopped at my office to send out the Shiva information.

As I entered my office I picked up the phone and figured I would do what I always do; I would call my mother and share my day with her.

I thought, “Let me call my mother and tell her about the funeral and how well attended it was and how nice everyone spoke about her.”

As I picked up the phone, reality set in and my tears began to flow as I realized this phone call will never be again.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “One Page” (3/27/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


One Page


Samuel Newman (names changed) was born in the city of Lodz in Poland.

He rarely took up much of my time; for Sam was a “three days a year Jew”.

He rarely showed up in Shul besides the High Holidays and therefore except for wishing me a “Happy New Year” our paths did not cross too often.

I would give him a call once in a while and occasionally dropped in at his house; however, our encounters were brief, polite and anything but intense or intimate.

That changed when Sam was diagnosed with cancer.

I reached out to him and attempted to be a regular visitor at his modest home.

After a while we became quite friendly and after seeing the blue tattooed numbers on his forearm I decided to make sure that before Sam left this world I would know the story behind the numbers.

Mr. Newman revealed to me that he was from a “Chaddishe Shtub” (Hassidic Home) and that as a child he had peyos and learned in the Keser Torah Yeshiva in Lodz which was one of the dozens of Yeshivas founded and personally supported by the Radomsker Rebbe Rabbi Shlomo Chanoch Hakohen Rabinowicz (1882–1942).

He continued to live a Chassidishe life style until 1939 when darkness descended over Poland. In a short amount of time, all the Keser Torah Yeshivas ceased to exist; the Rebbe and his family were murdered on August 1st 1942 in the Warsaw Ghetto and Samuel Newman found himself in the Gehinom known as Auschwitz.

As his condition deteriorated, I began to visit him almost daily.

One day he asked me if I would be interested in seeing the various memorabilia he had from the war years. I jumped at the opportunity and he opened a drawer on his desk filled with dust filled objects.

They all looked like German medals and indeed they were. Samuel Newman explained to me that after the liberation, the Nazi guards at Auschwitz shed their uniforms and he and other former prisoners collected some of their now worthless medals. He even asked me if I wanted any of them. The thought of owning an object with the Nazi insignia repulsed me and I politely declined.

Just as Samuel Newman was about to close the drawer he pulled out one envelope.

He slowly and delicately removed a worn and faded piece of paper. As he unfolded it I quickly recognized it as a page from the Haggadah Shel Pesach.

It was just one bletyl, one page.

“What is that and why do you have it?” I asked.

Samuel Newman took a deep breath and said…

“When we were deported to the Ghetto I was able to quickly grab just one sefer. I chose the Haggadah Shel Pesach of my great-grandfather. Later when the Ghetto was liquidated and I was in Auschwitz, I took the Haggadah with me. I hid it on my person. Eventually, most of its pages were torn away; however, one page of the Haggadah remained with me, the page of with ten Makos (plagues).

I held on to the bletyl of the Haggadah at all times. I slept with it; I went out to the work detail with it I always kept it with me.

On Erev Pesach; we decided to have a Seder. We had no wine so we used a little water and mixed in some reddish dirt for the four cups. For the Matzah we found discarded flour and attempted to bake it on the top of a cement mixer. And for the Marror we looked at our tattooed numbers; nothing could be more effective. It was then that I revealed to my fellow Yidden the one bletyl- one page- one daf -from the Haggadah. All of those in sitting on the floor in our cold barracks could not believe their eyes; the page was passed from hand to hand and each person caressed and kissed the tattered paper as if it was their long lost only child. Tears ran down their cheeks as they could not believe as they were actually holding this worn and torn bletyl which represented a world which once was and would never again be.

Suddenly in the middle of ‘our seder’ the door threw open and in charged the cruelest SS guard at the camp; we simply referred to him as ‘the Vilde Chaya’ (the wild animal). 

He began swinging his truncheon indiscriminately as we scattered back to our bunks. Somehow he saw my page from the Haggadah. He took his club and whipped it with all his might across my mouth; blood splattered all over the barracks.

“You Jew swine, how dare you smuggle Jewish contraband and propaganda into our pure and pristine camp? I should kill you right now; however, as you know we Germans are civilized not like you Jews. If you can clean up your filthy contraband and get it out of my sight this instant I will spare your worthless Jewish life.”

My head was spinning as blood was spurting from my mouth; however, somehow with G-d given strength I picked up my now blood soaked bletyl and hid it in the pile of hay we referred to as our beds.

I kept it with me for the rest of my stay at Auschwitz and when on January 27, 1945 soldiers of the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front opened the gates of Auschwitz Concentration Camp the bletyl was still with me.

I carried it me in the DP camps and now here it is.”

One word was saturated with blood; it was the word “Daam” (blood), the first of the plagues.

Samuel Newman held the paper in the same loving manner he held it in 1944.

Sixty years had passed.

Samuel Newman had long ceased practicing Judaism.

His only son lived in Arizona and was married to a non-Jew.

There would never be anymore Chassidishe Yidden descending from Samuel Newman.

Indeed, there would never be any Jews descending from Samuel Newman.

As he caressed the page he said to me, “Rabbi, I am not scared of death. I met the angel of death often in Auschwitz; he does not scare me. In fact, I am looking forward to meeting my creator; I have a number of questions which I have been waiting over sixty years to ask Him. This page from the Haggadah is going to be exhibit ‘A’. Rabbi, please promise me that when I leave this world you will place this bletyl in my kever. I need it to show it as evidence upstairs. I am looking forward to finally getting some answers to the questions which have been percolating for over six decades.”

I nodded.

Ten days later, I was standing in front of Samuel Newman’s unfilled grave as next to me was his only son Martin who could not have recited the Kaddish even if he was inclined to do so.

As we began to fill the grave, I quietly and unobtrusively, slipped the only existing page of the Haggadah Shel Pesach from the Auschwitz Seder of 1944 into the grave.

As we were departing the ceremony, I casually asked Martin when his flight back to Arizona was; he replied that he bought a special VIP ticket which allowed him to board any flight back to the Tucson for the next 24 hours.

He proudly told me that he just had to show up at the airport, show them his VIP ticket and he could get on any flight of the day.

Then Martin turned to me and asked, “Rabbi, I noticed you placed some withered and stained paper into my father’s grave. Is that some sort of Jewish rite of passage to heaven?”

I turned to Martin and simply said, “It is a rite of passage. However, very, very few people merit this particular ‘right’. Let’s just say, it is your father’s VIP ticket. When he gets upstairs he just has to show them the tattered blood stained page of the Haggadah he kept with him. All doors will open and all lines will disappear; your father will be granted a first class seat without any questions.”

Martin looked at me and smiled as he said, “that’s good, I am a glad he will have a choice seat.”

“Martin, you don’t have to worry for a second, your father will have a first class seat, and there is no question about it.”


“If Not Now Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “"We’re all connected” (3/24/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 4th of Nissan 5775 and March 24, 2015


"We’re all connected”


Did you ever wonder how many Mitzvohs can be done via the phone?

I know there have been many articles and ‘rants’ (some by myself) about the ‘dangers’ and ‘downside’ of phones; however, there is (as we all know) another side of the story.

And especially before Pesach, the phone can be a vital tool.

What exactly am I referring to?

The phone is a vehicle for connecting, indeed, “One of New York Telephone’s most widely used advertising slogans/jingles was "We’re all connected...." (Wikipedia)

Indeed, “We are all connected”!

No matter how far the mileage may be from each other, by just picking up the little device called the telephone, you can speak to another person as if they were standing directly in front of you.

We often do not appreciate how vital the phone is.

As you are continuing with your Pesach preparations, I know you are all receiving emails and Divrei Torah about how to kasher your oven or how to clean your counter tops or a new understanding in Mah Neshtana; these Torah preparations are crucial and should not be taken lightly.

Sometimes though, we can get caught up with all of the ‘details’ of the halachos, which indeed do require careful consideration; however, when doing so we should be vigilant never to forget others who are in need.

I am not referring to those who need financial help; although this too is an important part of Pesach.

I am referring to those who need emotional help.

How many people do you know who would appreciate a call from you today?

How many people can you think of who would be overjoyed if you reached out to them today and wished them a Happy Pesach?

I can’t imagine anyone reading this Vort today who cannot think of at least one person who wouldn’t be thrilled to receive a call!

In the midst of all of your ‘preps’ for the Haggadah and in the midst of the Pesach cleaning, take a break and look through your ‘contacts’ (I was about to say, ‘look through your phone book’- however, I would be dating myself) and find at least one person to call today.

Try doing this every day until Pesach.

Who knows? It may be the most important preparation you will do this year for Pesach!

Make someone smile today; believe me you will never regret it!  


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Complete and Utter Sadness” (3/22/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 2nd of Nissan 5775 and March 22, 2015


Complete and Utter Sadness


There are no words which can be said.

There are no words which can console.

There are no words which can ease the pain.

The heart is pained, the eyes are full of tears and the entire body is numb.

As we slept soundly in our beds on Friday night, a Beis HaMikdash was burning in Flatbush.

A holy Mishkan where the Shechina resided was engulfed in flames.

This time, His wrath did not consume just wood and stones; this time it consumed the Holy of Holies.

There is no Nechama, there is no consolation.

Seven precious, cherished and holy Jewish children were taken from us this past Friday evening.

Seven Neshamos went up to His throne as they were engulfed in the flames of Shabbos.

As I attempted to sleep last night, the sacrifices invaded my mind and would not allow me to sleep.

During my semi-sleepless night, the thought of the seven children kept pounding away at my mind precluding me from rest or sleep.

Of course, there are lessons to be had and they should be learned.

·       Check your home TODAY to make every room has a working smoke detector.

·       Indeed, before you do any Pesach preparations today, the first thing you must do is check the smoke detectors.

·       We have an obligation to be vigilant in the care of our family.

·       Do it for today as a Zechus (merit) for the holy sacrifices and for a refuah Sheleima for the mother and surviving sister.

·       Do it today; however, that won’t take away the pain; it won’t lessen the agony and it will not bring back the children.

Seven precious souls; seven precious children are no longer among us.

Hashem has poured out His wrath this Shabbos on our most cherished and precious treasure.

We must take stock of who we are and what we can all do to improve.

We must attempt to unify and grow together.

Right now though, there is only one possible emotion and that is complete and utter sadness.

It is a sadness which -like the flames which consumed the home- consumes our entire being.

We cry for our children which are gone.

We cry for a mother who must somehow go on.

And we cry for ourselves that this has befallen us.

There is nothing more to say except ….

Please hug your children today.

Hold them close to you and tell them how much they mean to you and how much you love them.

And if you have no children, give yourself a hug and remind yourself that you too are a beloved child of Hashem.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “What Was Moshe Thinking?” (3/18/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 27th of Adar 5775 and March 18th 2015


What Was Moshe Thinking?

(Based on the Drosha I delivered in Shul this past Shabbos on Parshas VaYakhel-Pekudei)


It’s not often that we find that Hashem and Moshe go at head to head in ‘battle’-particularly when Moshe seems to be representing the ‘right-wing’ and Hashem taking the ‘left-position.’

However, that’s exactly what happens this week and they lock horns over nothing less than over a bunch of mirrors which I could have gotten for wholesale at Amazing Savings!

The Torah informs us of a strange dispute between Moshe and Hashem.

When the call goes out for copper to be donated we find an interesting Passuk.

  “And he made the basin of bronze, and its pedestal of bronze, from the mirrors of the women assembling, who assembled at the door of the Tent of Meeting.”

Rashi Comments:

Israelite women owned mirrors, which they would look into when they adorned themselves. Even these [mirrors] they did not hold back from bringing as a contribution toward the Mishkan, but Moses rejected them because they were made for temptation [i.e., to inspire lustful thoughts]. The Holy One, blessed is He, said to him, “Accept [them], for these are more precious to Me than anything because through them the women set up many legions [i.e., through the children they gave birth to] in Egypt.”

 When their husbands were weary from back-breaking labor, they [the women] would go and bring them food and drink and give them to eat. Then they [the women] would take the mirrors and each one would see herself with her husband in the mirror, and she would seduce him with words, saying, “I am more beautiful than you.”

 And in this way they aroused their husbands desire and would copulate with them, conceiving and giving birth there, as it is said: “Under the apple tree I aroused you” (Song 8:5).


What exactly is this dispute between Moshe and Hashem?

What is Moshe’s side and what does Hashem answer him?

Moshe was a pragmatic, no-nonsense individual; a stoic by nature, somewhat impassive and perhaps aloof at times. After all, was not the claim of his sister and brother against him that he was unjustified to have adopted a life of celibacy from his wife Tzipora?!

Moshe therefore, is L’havdil the George Patton of the Jewish people; he does not tolerate fools and is single minded and focused in his dealings.

 Moshe is reasoned, unsentimental, prudent and practical.

When he sees how the women brought their mirrors to be used in the Mishkan he is shocked at the impropriety of such a donation. “An object used for the frivolous and almost petty act of romantic attraction should be now become an object of sanctity and holiness?”

Can a mirror meant for enticement and physical attraction be now become an object of total purity and pristine loftiness?

Moshe was aghast and horrified that these objects of feminine mystique and attraction should find a home in the Mishkan.

Hashem thought otherwise, “These objects are the most beloved objects for me. As through them a sense of togetherness was brought about between husband and wife and beautiful Jewish children were born into this world.”

Hashem was teaching Moshe and of course all of us an important lesson.

Of course Moshe is correct that we must all attempt to limit our cosmetic and skin-deep needs.

A recent article reported on a new trend for the super elite of New York where women have their own particular perfume scent made special for them.

Thomas Fontaine, a perfumer at Jean Patou … said a personal perfume scent could cost someone $30,000 to $50,000 to create a personal scent.

And of course Hashem was not advocating for everyone to have their own personal scent.

What then was the point of Hashem?

Of course we never want to be vain, slight and trivial individuals.

However, Hashem was telling Moshe: “Moshe, you are incorrect in not recognizing that we also cannot and should not strive to be cerebral, robotic, pragmatic dispassionate and detached automatons that are rational and analytical while being devoid of an appreciation of the emotional side of the human experience.”

Moses rejected them because they were made for temptation [i.e., to inspire lustful thoughts]. The Holy One, blessed is He, said to him, “Accept [them], for these are more precious to Me than anything because through them the women set up many legions [i.e., through the children they gave birth to] in Egypt.”

Hashem was teaching Moshe a great lesson which still resonates so loud and clearly today as it did back then.

We are not cerebral, robotic, emotionless human beings; we are emotion laden, sometimes irrational and always appreciative of human love and validation; which is so desperately needed within the realm of human relationships!

Hashem was telling Moshe, the little things in life between husband and wife and between friends are often the most beloved objects which actually facilitate the proper functioning of the entire human social unit.

The small acts of affection and love between husband and wife are never to trivialized or discarded; quite the opposite, often they are the foundation stones of a true solid and secure relationship.

I saw this personally in my own life.

Story One

I was once privileged years ago to arrive at the home of Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlitta when no one else was present.

His grandson Aryeh ushered me into his dining area and left me there alone.

There I witnessed a sight I shall never forget.

Rav Chaim sat on chair at the table and across from him sat the Rebbetzen.

She was reading to him all of the requests and petitions which had come her way that day.

“This person needs a Shidduch and this one needs a Refuah Sheleima and this one needs Parnossa…”

I much more appreciated the sense of love and connection which was apparent between husband and wife than the actual mundane going over the list.

They were not physically touching; nevertheless, it was a tender moment of togetherness and love which was being shared between a husband and wife deeply in love.

Rav Chaim was attentive and focused on the Rabbanit, and she is turn was totally absorbed with her husband. Each ones emotional needs were recognized and met.

 It was quite apparent that each one was satisfying the other’s daily needs for: time, attention and love.

It was not frivolous or mundane, it was holy of holies.

Story Two

Rav Chaim Kanievsky is not known as a man who wastes time on the unnecessary.

His father the Steiper Gaon was even more austere and aloof.

He was not one to crack a joke with or kibbutz around.

When his wife Miriam was alive their only son Rav Chaim would stop by the house for a quick breakfast on his way to Kollel and spend some time with his mother; often the Steipler would be present as well.

After the Rabbanit passed away Rav Chaim stopped coming.

One day when Rav Chaim was with his father the Steipler asked him why he ceased his daily visits.

Rav Chaim replied that since his mother had passed away there was no longer a reason to visit.

At that point the Steipler, a man known for his dispassionate and stoic personality, looked up at his only son and said, “Yes, but I enjoyed those visits as well”.

The Steipler was telling his son that we ‘pasken’ like Hashem.

The small signs of seemingly meaningless frivolous interactions between loved ones are often ‘the most beloved actions of all’.

Of course the Steipler loved learning with his son; of course he wanted him to study Torah; however, he also needed the small human contact and connection which is so basic for being a functional human being.

With all the talk and chatter around us, about learning more and more… and with all of the  hagiographic stories about how this Gadol barely wasted time talking to people which are circulating, let us never forget the lesson of the mirrors and lesson which Hashem taught Moshe.

Yes, it is necessary to be rational and often pragmatic and down to business, however, never forget the lesson of the righteous women of Mitzrayim who taught us that the small things in life like paying attention to each other and just ‘hanging out’ together is not only tolerated in Judaism, it is essential to laying the foundation for the continuity of the Jewish people and for building the Jewish home.

Spend a few minutes with someone who needs it.

Close the book and spend quality time with someone you love… by doing so you are dong no less than imitating Hashem himself.

We all need friends and we all need to feel wanted and loved… never, forget that those small items which foster that love and that connection, which are indicative of our feelings towards each other and which are the most beloved items in the eyes of Hashem.

“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Binyamin Zev ben Shlomo Z”l On his 9th Yahrtzeit” (3/16/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 25th of Adar 5775 and March 16, 2015



Binyamin Zev ben Shlomo Z”l On his 9th Yahrtzeit


Today is the ninth Yahrtzeit of my beloved father-in-law; Wille Herzka.

I have written previously written about him and have attached my previous piece at the end of today’s Vort.

My father in law had a special trait (Middah Tova) which I so admired in him among many of his other wonderful Middos.

He believed whole-heartedly in the words of Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim (128:2) “If you eat the toil of your hands, you are praiseworthy, and it is good for you.”

He understood these words literally and without the need to resort to any farfetched allegorical corruption of the true and simple meaning of the text.

He felt that what you work for is good and meaningful and what you get for free is worthless.

In a time when entitlements are the name of the game; when young Jewish men are too often ‘too proud’ to ‘lower’ themselves to work with their G-d given hands, my father in law headed the advice of Dovid HaMelech and worked with his hands to support his family.

When the Mishna in Brochus (2:4) speaks about a worker not being allowed to take time off to daven and say Shema in a complete form since he is working for someone else and it smacks of dishonesty, it was referring to my father in law.

He was a throwback to a time when you worked and you worked hard.

It was never beneath him to schlep a heavy air conditioner up the stairs and he was not embarrassed to have the palms of his hands calloused and grimy as he proudly fulfilled the words of the Psalmist “If you eat the toil of your hands, you are praiseworthy, and it is good for you.”

He was up early in the morning wrapping his Tefillin on his muscular left arm and when there was a heavy Torah to be lifted for Hagbah all eyes turned to my father in law.

He was meticulous with his work ethic and honest to the extreme.

To this day when I meet people from Washington Heights or Kew Garden Hills (the two primary neighborhoods which he worked in) and they will recall with fondness how friendly Willie was they will always add, “He was a pleasure to business with”.

His word was a word.

He sold air conditioners and he stood behind his work.

And he never ever felt entitled to anything he did not earn.

One last comment before I leave you with my previous biographical sketch.

As I mentioned, he worked hard and his work was strenuous and grimy.

His store was located on Amsterdam Ave. in the Washington Heights directly across the street from the Main Beis Medrash of Yeshiva University.

When he had Yahrtzeit or needed to daven Mincha at YU minyan across the street, he kept a worn, yet clean and presentable jacket in his store.

And when the time for Mincha arrived, he would wash his hands as best as he could, don his worn and sometimes dusty jacket and head out for Mincha.

I once joked with him as I asked, “Dad, your hands are still oily and your pants are still work pants and your shirt is still your work shirt and no one will say anything if you don’t wear the jacket; so why the insistence on the jacket?”

He looked at me and said, “It’s the proper thing to do. When I work I dress in the most effective clothes for my work and when I go to Shul I must at least attempt to dress in effective clothes for davening. It’s not a matter of making a fashion statement; rather, it’s a matter of being presentable at what you are doing.”

In our age of entitlement and perceived ‘rights’, my father in law was a throwback to no one less than Dovid HaMelech.

I continue to strive to reach his level of honesty and integrity and I miss him greatly.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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






Today is the Yahrtzeit of my father in law, Binyamin Zev ben Shlomo Herzka; who was known to all as Willie Herzka.

Born in Vienna in 1930, he was separated from his parents before he was 10 and sent to England to live with non-Jewish families and in an orphanage for Jewish children whose parents remained under the Nazi boot.

Great Britain allowed some Jewish children to enter the country however, not their parents and therefore he was without the love, support and security of parents as he grew to adulthood.

His Bar Mitzvah was celebrated in an orphanage as he remained alone without knowing if his parents were even alive.

After his parents spent time in Bergen Belsen he was miraculously reunited with them after the war.

Together with his parents, he immigrated to these shores and settled in the Washington Heights neighborhood in Manhattan.

Soon after he was inducted into the American army and served his newly adopted country with pride during the Korean War.

However, despite all his hardships and tribulations, he was never bitter and always upbeat and happy.

After his military service and his marriage to my mother in law, he set up a business which initially repaired televisions and radios and eventually morphed into air conditioning service and repair.

From the moment I met him he treated me with love and friendship; however, he also accorded me (unearned) respect as he naturally admired and revered Torah scholars.

In the almost quarter of a century I spent as his son in-law we never once had any sort of disagreement or argument.

He was easy going and friendly to all and he was well known in Washington Heights (where I lived for my first six years of marriage and that is where his business was located) as an honest and reliable person.

He was a throwback to the times when a Jewish man was a blue collar hard working honest and trustworthy small business owner. Never once, did I ever hear anyone utter even the slightest hint of dishonesty with regard to his business ethics.

He worked hard and was always there when a family was sitting Shiva in the summer and needed an extra unit to cool the Shiva home.

He would arrive home quite late on Friday afternoon as if he could help one more family in making sure their home would be cool and comfortable for Shabbos he would be there.

His “kibud aim” (honor of his mother) was the stuff of legends.  His father was killed tragically after surviving Bergen Belsen in an accident in New York and his mother remained an almanah (widow) for over thirty years.

During those years, my father in-law ‘employed’ his mother as his ‘secretery’ in his store-front headquarters on Amsterdam Ave. in Washington Heights.

Although her message taking skills were not too accurate: “Oh, it was Mr. Greenberg who called? I thought he said Mr. Goldstein. Goldstein, Greenberg what’s the difference?” Nevertheless, he would never consider ‘replacing her’ as it accorded her a feeling of being needed and vital even if it meant losing a few calls.

I could go on and on about his honesty and his friendliness, however, perhaps what stands out in my mind is his final act of Chesed.

When I was visiting him during his final illness, he suddenly asked if everyone could please leave the room as he wanted to speak to me alone.

I was wondering what deathbed confession he wanted to share with me; however, I was totally awestruck by what he said.

“I know my time here is limited.”

He was totally calm and in control as he continued, “When I go I do not want my levaya running more than 45 minutes. Mommy (his wife, my mother in-law) cannot bear more than that.  I know her; I want to spare her the pain of a long drawn-out funeral. Promise me you will keep it to within 45 minutes.”

Here he was suffering from an incurable disease which would very soon take his life; hooked up to machines and tubes and the only thing on his mind was to save his wife the pain of enduring a long and painful funeral service.

The young boy from Vienna who grew up without the love and support of his parents; who sat Shiva for his own father shortly after he married and who worked hard his entire life to support his family had only one concern as he lay dying: to spare his wife any unnecessary pain and discomfort.

That is what occupied his mind as his body was slipping away.

He was beloved by many; indeed, even the local mailman came to pay a shiva call; however, I was privileged to call him Dad.


“If Not Now-Then When?”- Hillel

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



The Short Vort’ - “Surprise Hospital Visit” (3/12/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 22nd of Adar 5775 and March 13th 2015


Surprise Hospital Visit


Making the rounds at the hospital is often a challenging rabbinical duty for me.

What do you do when you arrive and the patient is sleeping?

 My first instinct is always to think, “Great, the person is sleeping and I certainly would never think of waking a sick person; I will quickly scribble a note indicating I was here and make a quick exit before they wake up.”

I embarrassingly admit that my thoughts are not indicative of the highest level of piety. My sense of ‘relief’ is not something I am proud of; however, the rabbi is all too human.

On one particular cold winter day I arrived at the hospital with three patients to visit. The first was elderly Mr. Greenspan (all names have been changed) who was never much of a talker and would be touched and thrilled that I came by and sat with him for a few moments. I enjoyed him and he was the last person to be taxing on my limited time.

Then was Gloria Moskowitz, at 86 she was as sharp as whip and I thoroughly enjoyed being in her presence. She would revel me with stories of New York from the 1940s when an egg cream (authors note: if you are not from New York; suffice for me to tell you that the delicious New York drink known as the egg cream, contains neither eggs nor cream and if you thought it did… you are just not a New Yorker) was five cents. She would regale me with stories of Friday night Onegs at the Young Israel of Flatbush on Coney Island Avenue and Ave I and how back then everyone was thrilled if a nice Jewish boy met a nice Jewish girl at the  Friday night Oneg as it guaranteed Jewish continuity.

I then went to my final visit, Irving Levinstein. Irving was a cantankerous nonagenarian who could be both belligerent and highly critical of anything and everything. “Rabbi, why before you came there was no such thing as “Kosher Milk?” was one of his more famous questions. He was also a quite accomplished kibitzer; Irving was never married and when asked to what he attributed his longevity he would reply without hesitation, “The secret to long life is never having a Schvigger!”

I arrived at this bedside I was prepared for some unsolicited criticism or for some of his wry humor; however, I was not expecting what he said.

“Rabbi, I see in many things you were correct. Stressing Torah learning and seeing the Shul once again filled with young people and their children is the only way we can survive.”

He was now so mellow and so calm. “You know I wish I had a family. I know I kibitz about not having a mother in law; however, it would have been nice to have grandchildren.”

He then became very serious and handed me a check. “Rabbi, I know I will not live forever; and if there is one thing I have learned over the last years is that the secret to our communal longevity is Jewish education. I have no children and no grandchildren; however, I would like to be part of the Jewish revival; here, please take this and help one child go to yeshiva.”

 He handed me a sealed envelope; as I arrived in my car I opened it up. Inside was a check for $15,000. Next to the check was a small note, on it was written, “For one child’s Jewish education, from Irving Levinstein, a proud but lonely Jew.”

As I placed the check in my pocket I realized once again that Irving Levinstein had done more for me and for the Jewish people than I had ever done for him.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Rav Shlomo Zalman ZT”L” (3/11/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 20th of Adar 5776 March 11, 2015


Rav Shlomo Zalman ZT”L


Today is the twentieth Yahrtzeit of great sage Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (July 20, 1910 - February 20, 1995).

Rav Shlomo Zalman had the unique ability to see people for what they are: precious children of Hashem.

He always attempted to see the entire picture and always attempted to be sensitive to the feelings of others.

He was asked if one serve food to non-observant Jews when they come to visit.

On one hand, to give someone to eat with the knowledge that they will not recite the proper Brocha on the food is forbidden as you are facilitating their transgression.

On the other hand, if you do not offer them food as is the norm when someone comes to visit, you run the risk of hurting their feelings; and if you insist they make a Brocha you also run the risk of insulting them.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach answered unequivocally that you should offer them food even if you know they will not make a Brocha and you know they will be insulted if you insist that they recite one before they can partake of your food.

His rationale is ingenious.

What is the entire purpose of a Brocha?

 Obviously it brings about recognition of Hashem in the life of the one who recites the Brocha.

In this case, by not offering your guest food, or by insisting that he must make a Brocha before partaking of the food, you run the risk of alienating him further from Hashem.

If though, you offer the food in a friendly manner without compulsion and coercion, you cause your guest to see observant people in a positive light and your chances of bringing him closer to Hashem and His Torah are that much greater.

In short, ‘you can accomplish much more by offering the carrot with a smile than waving a stick over the head of your fellow Jew’.

If only we would follow his advice nowadays; I think we all would be better off.


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Barbie’s Birthday” (3/9/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 18th of Adar 5775 and March 9, 2015



Barbie’s Birthday


Today, March 9, 1959 “Barbie” was born.

Since then, “It is estimated that over a billion Barbie dolls have been sold worldwide in over 150 countries, with Mattel claiming that three Barbie dolls are sold every second.” (Wikipedia)

The iconic doll which has become symbolic of the unique American materialistic culture has been the object of both communal desire and controversy.

The doll’s critics have claimed, “the doll gave girls misguided goals” (NY Times 4/29/02).

And in Saudi Arabia they have, “outlawed the sale of Barbie dolls, saying that she did not conform to the ideals of Islam. The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice stated "Jewish Barbie dollsare a symbol of decadence to the perverted West.” (Wikipedia)

Interestingly enough the doll indeed is a “Jewish Doll”.

The doll was created by Ruth Handler a Jewish woman from Denver who was married to over 60 years to Izzy (Elliot) Handler.

She designed the doll in 1959 and in debuted on March 9, 1959 at the American Toy Fair in New York City and as the saying goes, ‘the rest is history’.

Eventually Barbie, who was named after the Handler’s teenage daughter Barbara, would have a male companion ‘Ken’ who was named after the Handler’s son Ken.

The success of Barbie forced the company to hire a secretary for the doll to answer twenty thousand fan letters a week. By 1968, the Barbie Fan Club grew to 1.5 million members in the United States.

Barbie is seemingly an American success story as the daughter of Jewish immigrants became a multimillionaire in the land of opportunity.

Why is Barbie so popular?

Why is this doll the ‘must have’ toy for so many little girls?


The answer was provided by Mrs. Handler herself, “My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be.”

Meaning, with a little imagination the doll became the vicarious life of its owner.

Suddenly the little girl could –through Barbie- transport and transform herself to glamourous and exciting life situations which seemed preferable to the life she had.

I am not going to comment on the desirability of this doll living vicariously a glamor-filled life of luxury and fun for any little girl.


And I agree with Mrs. Handler that we all should have dreams; and I admire her business acumen and her philanthropy to Jewish causes; however, the question I pose is what do we want our children to dream about?

No one denies that there is something beautiful in giving a child a chance to dream and to imagine you can grow and change your current status; the question is ‘what should that dream be?’

The Gemara in Brochus (55a) informs us that a person should daven to Hashem that he/she have ‘good dreams’; however, what are good dreams?

Do we dream of luxury homes and fancy clothes and designer outfits as Barbie possesses?

Or do we dream to help other people and impact this world with Chesed and with compassion?

Besides being the birthday of Barbie; today is also the Yahrtzeit of Rav Moshe Weber Zt”l who passed away in 2000.

Who was Rav Moshe Weber?

Did you ever go to the Kotel in your life?

Did you notice the stand on the left side of the men’s section where hundreds of Jews (especially soldiers) daily stop to put on Tefillin?

That stand was personally set up and manned by Rav Moshe Weber after the 1967 war.

Although Rav Moshe was a Chabad Chassid, originally this was not an official Chabad outpost; rather, it was the personal brain-child of one caring and concerned Jew.  

Rav Moshe Weber was a Yerushalmi Chabadnik who was born in Yerushalayim in 1914.

He lived in Meah Shearim and although he and his wife had no biological children their home became a center for anyone, observant or not, who needed a meal.

He was known as the ‘go-to’ person when someone wondered into Meah Shearim in search of a meal.

He loved all Jews and devoted his life to helping others.

Rav Moshe Weber’s father passed away in 1916 when Rav Moshe was only two years old.

It must have been difficult for an orphan during World War One to dream.

The famine in the city was rampant; spiritually, the city was in decline and here was a fatherless little boy alone and hungry.

Yet, Rav Moshe had dreams.

He had dreams of feeding hungry people when he would have the wherewithal to do so.

He had dreams of helping Jews connect back to their roots and eventually he would stand for hours at the Kotel encouraging men to don Tefillin.

I have warm and wonderful memories of Rav Moshe at his post at the Kotel, a smile always present on his angelic face.

He dreamed and he accomplished.

He never achieved the fame and wealth of Mrs. Handler.

He never had a secretery like Barbie did to answer twenty thousand letters per week.

His obituary never made the New York Times.

Yet, his dreams also became a reality and his dreams were fulfilled.

At the end of the day, how many lives have been improved through Barbie and how many through the Chesed of Rav Moshe Weber?

Whose legacy is more precious- Barbie’s or Rav Moshe Weber’s?

I think you know my answer.



“If Not Now, Then When? - Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Day After” (3/6/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Shushan Purim 5775 and March 6, 2015


The Day After


There is a “famous” (I placed ‘famous’ in quotes, because I am not really sure of the earliest source of this ‘saying’. Please inform me if you do know); which states that Purim is actually on a higher spiritual level than Yom Kippur. The rationale behind this statement is that Yom Kippur is merely “A Day (YOM) which K’ Purim; meaning a day which is ‘close’ or similar to Purim, yet, Purim itself is the ‘gold standard’

This statement is certainly enigmatic, after all, how is a day of partying and merrymaking in any way shape or form akin to the day spent in ascetic abstention from food and drink while being engrossed in serious and fervent prayer?

There are many different ‘takes’ on this puzzling phrase which compares Yom Kippur to Purim and therefore I am not hesitant to add my two cents to the already hefty mass of explanations which have been offered throughout the centuries.

Perhaps Yom Kippur is a likened to Purim not so much on the day on which it is celebrated for as we stated there is seemingly minimal connection between the actual religious practices of these two days.

Therefore I suggest that the comparison between Yom Kippur is not noticed on the day itself, rather Yom Kippur is similar to Purim vis a vis the ‘day after’.

Yesterday, on Purim we attempted to achieve a sense of communal love and compassion.

We drove around delivering food packages to our friends and neighbors and distributed Tzedoka to all who asked. We were happy and unified. No one cared how you dressed and what type of hat you placed on your head and we were all at peace and with joy with each other.

What happened to today?

Are we still feeling that sense of communal love and concern?

Are we still accepting of all, irrespective of how they dress?

Are we still ready to accept our neighbor’s cake and challah today as we were yesterday?

In short, do you feel more connected today to your fellow Jew than you did on Wednesday?

Perhaps this is what connects Yom Kippur to Purim.

On the day after Yom Kippur do we really feel connected in a more meaningful way to Hashem than we did on Erev Yom Kippur? Is the heightened spiritual awareness still present within us the day after Yom Kippur?

Or is the day after Yom Kippur too often like the day after Purim when we revert back to our ‘normal’ selfish and partisan divisions?

Perhaps the real challenge is Purim.

Perhaps Hashem is challenging us.

Perhaps Hashem is saying, “Yom Kippur will be for me like Purim is for you.”

“If you allow Purim to really signify a marked improvement in the way you relate to your brethren and if you allow the unity and friendship of Purim to permeate your life on the day after Purim; then I will allow Yom Kippur to continue to permeate ‘my life’ and continue to feel close to you as my children.”

Too often we hear talks and words of encouragement to keep the spirituality of Yom Kippur alive and well and extend it into the year.

Perhaps the real encouragement needed is to allow the compassion and friendship of Purim to continue to affect our lives in the days after Purim as well.

Enjoy your Shushan Purim and realize you live in a time when the largest singly Jewish population of any city in the world celebrates Purim today!


“If Not Now, Then When?” – Hillel

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



The Short Vort’ - “Haman in the Torah?” (3/2/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 12th of Adar 5775 and March 3, 2015


Haman in the Torah?


The Gemara (T.B. Hullin 139b) asks an interesting question: “Where is Haman (the wicked enemy of the Jews) to be found in the Torah?”

The Gemara answers cryptically that Haman is found in the Torah in the passuk in Bereishis (3:1). Hashem questions man after man realizes he is unclothed: “And He said, "Who told you that you are naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?"

 In the original Hebrew the Passuk reads: “HaMin HaEitz…” (“Have from the tree…”).

The Hebrew word HaMin is spelled with the three Hebrew letters “Heh”, “Mem” and “Nun”.

Those are the exact three letters which form the name “Haman”; and although the vocalization of the words is different, nevertheless, the Gemara is satisfied that since the three letters are identical in both texts, we have successfully found a source for “Haman” in the Torah.

Rav Aharon Kotler Zt”l (Mishnas Rebbe Aharon Cheilek Aleph) asks the obvious question, what possible connection could there be between the proper noun Haman and the compound question-word “HaMin”?

Rav Aharon Zt”l explains that really what the Torah is asking is not where the name Haman is mentioned; rather, what the Torah is really interested in is “Where is the danger of the most basic flaw of Haman’s personality hinted at in the Torah?”

Part ONE- The Question

Who is Haman?

Haman is a man who has risen from the depths of society to become an important and powerful advisor to the most commanding ruler of his time.

He has wealth and he has prestige and power.

He has children (according to our Sages he sired over 200 sons) and he has admirers; indeed, everyone was obligated to bow to him when he walked by.

Everyone did just that, except for one little Yiddle.

Mordechai the Jew refuses to bow before the evil Haman.

How does Haman react to Mordechai’s insubordination?

Surprisingly, he takes what ostensibly for a man in his positon should be viewed as a minor and insignificant slight, in a most personal way.

Let’s listen in on Haman’s reaction: (all quotes from Chapter five of the Megillah)

And Haman went out on that day, happy and with a cheerful heart, but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, and he neither rose nor stirred because of him, Haman was filled with wrath against Mordecai.

But Haman restrained himself, and he came home, and he sent and brought his friends and Zeresh his wife.


And Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches and the multitude of his sons, and all [the ways] that the king had promoted him and that he had exalted him over the princes and the king’s servants.

And Haman said, "Esther did not even bring [anyone] to the party that she made, except me, and tomorrow, too, I am invited to her with the king.”

So far Haman sounds rational and in control as he recounts to his wife his personal powerful position.

Finally, Haman allows his true feelings to surface as he exclaims:

“But all this is worth nothing to me, every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting in the king’s gate."

What? Is Haman for real? He is got to be kidding?

Does he really mean to say that all this is worth nothing to me, every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting in the king’s gate???

“All this is worth nothing to me”- that is incredible!

He has power, wealth, prestige, honor, family, positon and esteem; however, all this is worth nothing to me?

How can Haman declare with a straight face, “all this is worth nothing to me?”

Part TWO- The Answer

What the Torah is really asking when its wants to know where is Haman mentioned in the Torah is according to Rav Aharon, “Where do we see in the Torah that there is a human trait which we all struggle with which can cause us to disregard all of the blessings in our life and can force us to be paralyzed to the point of where we engage in self-destructive actions?

To that question the Torah answers we see from Adam HaRishon (first man) that this struggle can be found.

Adam was born with all of his needs taken care of.

He had all of his physical desires fulfilled; there was only one small item precluded from him: he must not eat from the tree of knowledge.

Adam HaRishon, although he had everything, opted to disregard and ignore his privileged status and ultimately engaged in the most self-destructive act of recorded human history as he felt compelled to discount his envious position for the sake of attempting to attain the unattainable and in doing so lost everything he had previously cherished.

The Torah is telling us that we are all possessed of a little bit of Haman in that all of us-as we are hard-wired this way since the time of Adam HaRishon- have to struggle with the realization that part of the complex human psyche is the challenge of being dismissive and unappreciative of what we have and engage in self-destructive actions which ultimately bring about our own downfall.

When the Torah asked “Where is Haman in the Torah” it was really asking: is there a source in the Torah for the challenge that all of us have to be concerned with which causes us ignore our blessings and obsessively focus only on what we don’t have as opposed to being appreciative of what we have?

And the answer the Torah gives is, “Yes, indeed, there is such a human struggle and indeed it threads its all the way back to the Adam HaRishon!”

We all struggle with the battle of Haman; everyone has this challenge and indeed, I dare say the challenge is not at all exclusively to our detriment.


Part THREE- The Balance

Does not the Torah tell us, “Whoever loves silver will not be sated with silver” (Koheles 5:9) and the Talmud (Bavli Makos 10a) tells us that this refers not just to material items such as silver and gold; rather, it refers to spiritual items such as Mitzvohs?

The Gemara informs us that this passuk refers to Moshe and his insatiable need to perform Mitzvohs?

Is not Moshe guilty of the same ‘crime’ of Haman of never being satisfied with what one has?

The answer is of course is an adamant and definitive ‘no’!

We are indeed eternally grateful to Hashem for allowing us never to sit complacent and rest on our laurels.

 The greatest men of our people were constantly and consistently striving for greatness and for more and more accomplishments.

 In this way there is a similarity between insatiable desire for honor in Haman and the insatiable desire for Mitzvohs in Moshe and David HaMelech.

Yet, any similarity ends there.

While both were insatiable in their wants; however, there is a huge distinction between them.

Haman’s insatiable greed was so all consuming that it blinded him from appreciating the true blessings of his life.

Moshe on the other hand was never blinded by his Mitzvah needs, in fact, no matter how restless he was in his craving for growth and spiritual elevation, he never for a second allowed himself to disregard and forget the bounty that Hashem had blessed him with and he was eternally grateful to Hashem for His blessings.

Of course we must all struggle with the want and the desire to achieve and to grow; however, we must be on guard never to allow our desire to grow to blind us to the blessings we already possess.

This is the difference between Haman and Moshe.

While Haman strove for perfection in power at the expense of everything else in his life; Moshe striving was built on the appreciation of what he has.

Haman needed to achieve even to the point of ignoring and destroying all he had been blessed with as he says: all this is worth nothing to me!

Yet Moshe was constantly in praise and in appreciation for whatever he had and with that appreciation he attempted to grow more.

It is interesting to note that the Medrash (Medrash Rabbah Bereishis) parallels the downfall of the Nachash (the proverbial ‘snake’), Korach and Haman and groups them together.

Ostensibly they are a strange grouping with little or no connection.

What though is the common denominator among these three?

The answer is simple; all three failed the challenge of balancing the desire for growth with the danger of being dismissive of the present.

The Nachash advocated for allowance to eat from the tree of knowledge; ignoring and disregarding the fruits of all other available trees. So too, Korach and Haman irrespective of their G-d given wealth and positons, failed, as their obsession for more was so unbridled and unchecked that it allowed them to be dismissive of the true blessings they possessed and ultimately led to their own demise.

This is the challenge of life.

We are blessed with a restless nature which should not be complacent and content; we must always strive for greater and greater heights.

Yet this need and drive to grow and improve must always be harnessed and yoked to the recognition of the blessings we have. We can never allow the drive for growth to be so encompassing that we are led to self-destructive behavior.

The need for growth must be anchored with the recognition and the appreciation of the blessings we have and we must never allow the desire to grow to blind us and allow to forget just how blessed we truly are.

Strive for greatness; yet, simultaneously appreciate the blessings you already have.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Loneliest, Yet, Most Meaningful Purim” (3/2/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday Erev Shabbos Zachor 5775 and February 27, 2015


The Loneliest, Yet, Most Meaningful Purim


It was a time when the brown paper bag which your mother packed you lunch in on Monday was expected to be returned from school folded and cleaned to be reused the remainder of the week.

The Parker fountain pen you received at your Bar Mitzvah was projected to last you through all of high school.

The one and only house phone was situated on a small desk-like chair in the hallway of your apartment in East Flatbush.

When the phone rang, all went quiet.

No one could talk in their bedroom or kitchen on the phone; that was one of those things which was just not done.

And if by chance your cousin Bob called from ‘The Island’ which was considered ‘ long distance’, the entire household held their breath as the father of the household counted his words as he spoke, for each precious minute which ticked away on a ‘long distance phone’ cost expensive pennies which were guarded dearly.

Every Shabbos Marvin Dubinsky and his best friend Ikey would make their way to the Young Israel of East Flatbush on East 89th.

 For Mincha and Shlosh Shiddush they went to the “Ave ‘A’ Shul” because there they served herring in cream sauce.

On Sunday morning, they davened at Rabbi Hecht’s Shul because they just loved the egg kichel given out after morning Minyan.

It was a happy time and yet, it was a tough time.

Most of the fathers were blue-collar workers and many if not most of the mothers tendered the home or worked in the New York City Public School system.

Everyone was special and everyone was cherished.

There was Hymie the plumber, who no matter how many tools he brought to your house, he always forgot the special wrench needed for the job. “I’ll be back after lunch with the right tool”, he would say. For the next three hours we had to ‘dance’ around all of the tools Hymie left scattered on the kitchen floor.

And there was Moishe the photographer. Moishe would schlep forty pounds of equipment to different homes to take pictures of new born children with the hope that the families would purchase his photographs.

It was a time when parents went to work with fever and never took a day off.

 Those families, who were staunchly Shomer Shabbos, could hardly afford to take off additional days such as Chol HaMoed or even Purim, for no work meant no pay. Money was tight and not working could mean not having chicken for Shabbos or even being fired.

It was March 18th 1965, a Thursday and it was Purim.

Ikey’s father was a butcher and there was no way he could take off work on a Thursday. He arose early, listened to the Megillah and sufficed with a salami sandwich at work for the Purim Seuda.

His mother was a secretery at a local business. They were behind in their tuition payments and she could not afford to leave work early. She would also eat ‘the Seuda’ at work; and that left Ikey at home alone for Purim.

After Mincha at Rabbi Zimmerman’s Shul, Ikey walked home slowly and alone. When he arrived at his empty house, he took out a cold piece of chicken from the fridge and ate it with a roll he had purchased for 7 cents at the bakery on Ave A.

As Ikey sat in his kitchen alone and lonely, a tear rolled down his cheek and onto the drumstick. He tasted the tear’s saltiness as he bit into the chicken.

Every year I think back to my tear-covered-drumstick as I now sit at my own Purim Seuda surrounded by family and friends.

I remember my loneliness from 50 years ago as I ate my cold drumstick; however, I now realize that my lonely Purim Seuda was a small price to pay in comparison to my parent’s commitment to my attending Yeshiva.

As I sing Shir Hamaalos prior to bentching after the Purim Seuda an unseen tear forms in my eye as I recite the words: “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy” as I recall my hard working parents who literally ‘sowed’ with tears-(both mine and theirs) - so that today my family and I could reap the benefits of their hard work in joy.

Those were hard times; not at all like our times of entitlement and overabundance.

Loneliness is hard; however, when you are privileged to see the joyous ending, the pain becomes easier and in some ways even pleasant to bear.

It’s wonderful to live at a time where almost everyone is home on Purim and the neighborhood is crowded with cars and mini-vans delivering Mishloach Manos throughout the neighborhood.

I am no longer alone; however, I often long for those times back in Brooklyn when somehow, even with my lonely Purim Seuda, life was simpler and in many ways more meaningful.

Often, “less is more”.


Wishing All a Wonderful Purim,

“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Purim is Pluralistic “ (3/1/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 10th of Adar 5775 and March 1, 2015


Purim is Pluralistic

PIP Revisited


A number of years back I began a campaign entitled PIP.

For those unfamiliar with PIP a quick history is in order.

I began to notice, (and of course this is from a Rabbi’s view), that many people were confiding in me that Purim was less than their most favorite holiday.

Women complained that they felt entangled in a web of competition with other women as to who could come up with the cutest, brightest and most creative ‘theme Mishloach Manos’.

Men vented to me their frustrations as the costs of feeding their family’s insatiable ‘need’ to add just ‘one more name’ to an already inestimable list of people whom ‘we must send Mishloach Manos to’ were depleting their already meager savings.

Families went scrambling to put something together-when someone who was not on their list appeared at the door with unexpected Mishloach Manos- in a frantic effort to avoid the sin of all sins; namely: ‘not having a Mishloach Manos to reciprocate with!’

After hearing the anguished cries of mothers and fathers and after witnessing expanding waist lines-

 I finally proclaimed: PIP!!!

Purim is Pashut!

Just give one or two (or a few more) Mishloach Manos to the people you think might really benefit from them, and when people come unexpectedly to the door, no need to scramble and no need to pull it together- just say we are PIPers and then there is no need to reciprocate.

This plan seemed logical, practical and healthy; after all does anyone really need 790 Hamantashen?

Alas, this year we have decided to revisit PIP.

No, I am not planning to be crafting adorable theme baskets covered with tinsel and bows and topped with a lyrical poem about Mordechai and me.

And I am not playing partisan politics and aligning myself with the ‘right to give back Mishloach Manos Movement’- or as they are commonly referred to: M & Ms.

What I am doing though is ‘listening’.

Many of you have written to me that despite the heartfelt pleas of those women who feel burdened by creative/thematic Mishloach Manos, many other women actually look forward and cherish the activity.

Others have informed me that while perhaps the rabbi is given a ‘rabbinic dispensation’ and is not expected to reciprocate for every Mishloach Manos his family receives, other feel just plain awkward when they take and do not give back.

I have listened and I have heard.

This year I am promoting PIP again; however, this year it stands for something else.

This year PIP means: Purim is Pluralistic.

How dare I deprive those artistically inclined women and men from finding spiritual expression to their creativity on one of the holiest days of the calendar?

And how can I be so pompous and pretentious as to proclaim that ‘one may receive; yet, one may not give’?

Therefore, this year I advocate and support a revisited and revised version of PIP.

Please note, this version is new and improved and you must discard and disregard all older versions of PIP if you want Purim is Pluralistic to work in your home.

As the passuk says:  “Israel has no king; everyone shall do as they see fit”; (Shoftim 17:6); so too, there is no king in Passaic and all shall do as they see fit!

This year I proclaim:

·       The ‘creationists’ should embrace their creativity and make Mishloach Manos to their hearts content.

·       The ‘reciprocators’ should and will be allowed to reciprocate and create their ad-hoc Mishloach Manos when the unexpected knock at the door.

·       The list shall be endless and no man, woman or even rabbi shall have the right to limit the amount of people who shall receive Mishloach Manos.

·       Concurrently, those that would like to maintain a ‘don’t give- don’t take’ attitude should be allowed to so with a sense of dignity and pride.

·       No one should be shamed into giving more than they want and no one should feel awkward if they choose to be non-reciprocating.

·       Purim shall be truly Pluralistic as dueling understandings of the day shall co-exist in peace and harmony.


Therefore, this year we say Purim is Pluralistic and in the merit of our being tolerant and accepting of others and their needs and their wants, Hashem should hear our Tefillos and should bring us the true meaning of PIP- Peace in Passaic and Peace on the entire Planet!


Wishing all a joyous Purim,

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

The Short Vort’ - “Whatever You Want To Call It!” (2/27/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday Erev Shabbos Zachor 5775 and February 27, 2015


Whatever You Want To Call It!


The other day I asked about what is a ‘nes’ (miracle) and what is not.

I do not know the answer.

Yet, there is one thing I do know; appreciate all aspects of your health when you have them.

Being in bed for the last 48 hours and having an aching feeling over your entire body is no fun.

Not being able to concentrate on anything for more than 45 seconds is no delight.

And waking up and not being sure if its 4 AM or 4 PM as you have no idea how long you slept is no walk in the park.

So whatever you want to call it; appreciate your health when you have it!

I hope for now on I will!

Good Shabbos to all

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

“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel  

The Short Vort’ - “Miracle on Ice” (2/22/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 3rd of Adar 5775 and February 22, 2015


Miracle on Ice


In one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic history, the underdog U.S. hockey team, made up of college players, defeated the four-time defending gold-medal winning Soviet team at the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York on Feb 22, 1980, exactly 35 years ago today.

Team USA went on to win the gold medal by winning its last match over Finland. In 1999, Sports Illustrated named the "Miracle on Ice" the Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century. As part of its 100th anniversary celebrations in 2008, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) chose the "Miracle on Ice" as the century’s number-one international ice hockey story. (Wikipedia)


Since the game took place on Friday night, it is doubtful that any of us can recall the actual ‘live’ excitement of the event. The stunning climax of the game was immortalized by the sportscaster Al Michaels, who was calling the game on ABC as he delivered his famous call:

              “11 seconds, you’ve got 10 seconds, the countdown going on right now!                   Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles?! YES!!!


Do you believe in miracles?

Are miracles really manifested when an underdog hockey team defeats a superior opponent?

What exactly was the upshot of this ‘miracle’?

Did the miracle usher in world peace?

Was the Soviet Union defeated in the “Cold War” by virtue of the Miracle on Ice?

What defines a miracle anyway?

Does a sport’s team surprising victory over its archrival really constitute a miracle?

Does this event deserve to be classified as G-dly intervention and altering the ‘normal’ course of ‘nature’?

Obviously, the victory, notwithstanding the joy and excitement which the win inspired in many people, would not be classified by us as an example of the miraculous manifestation of Hashem’s providence in the world.

It is difficult to believe that Hashem was exercising His rarely used miracle mode to cause a hockey team to win a game; however, that is life, when people want to find G-d and to claim He is on ‘their team’ then they will easily and casually call their victories miracles; when in truth they are just part of the normal ups and downs of life.

Think about the Miracle on Ice the next time you are quick to claim that the parking spot you found in front of the Chasunah Hall must be nothing short of a ‘miracle’.

Think about me who am in the car directly behind you; why were you privileged to be the recipient of the ‘miracle’ more than me?

Are we to quick to applaud ourselves and pat ourselves on the back and call our ‘unexpected wins’ miracles?

Just wondering


“If Not Now, Then When?” – Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Following Up” (2/18/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Wednesday the 29th of Shevat 5775 and February 18, 2015



Following Up





Many of you were touched with the Short Vort regarding Ora Cohen, the terror victim, which appeared in the February 12th 2015 edition of SV and was entitled “The Greatness of Never Forgetting”.

You asked me how you can help and if I knew of a way to contact Mrs. Cohen and facilitate reaching out to other victims of terror as well.

I am pleased to inform you that after speaking with Mrs. Cohen she has told me that she would be thrilled to receive a phone call and even a visit from anyone who is interested.

Her phone number (if calling from the US) is 011-972-54-845-1179.

If you are calling from Israel it is: 054 845 1179.

She is alone and without family and would appreciate people reaching out to her.

I am also enclosing a letter I received from an organization which assists victims of terror which I am sure many of you will also find helpful.

Once again, I thank all of you for your kindness and support and may we never forget those who are less fortunate than ourselves.


Beginning Forwarding Letter:


"Kol HaKavod" to you for a beautifully written and moving narrative. 

I am writing to you from Ohr Meir & Bracha - The Terror Victims Support Center in Yerushalayim.  Our organization is very familiar with the story of Ora Cohen.

Without revealing too much information, Ora has been a recipient of financial and emotional assistance from Ohr Meir & Bracha since the beginning of her journey as a Victim of Terror.

Each week we package and deliver 400 baskets of food to families such as Ora Cohen’s.  We subsist solely on private donations.  As such, I was hoping you might agree to pass along your letter to your congregants and other interested parties.  With Purim and Pesach on the horizon we are reaching out and asking that "Matanot Laevoynim" and "Maot Chitim" be donated to Ohr Meir & Bracha.  Donors can donate on line or through our office in NY to receive a tax deductible receipt.

I am happy to supply you with whatever information you might need.

Secondly, please pass along an invitation to Aviva to join us on a Thursday morning to pack our baskets.  Please let Aviva know that we would be happy to host her entire class.

I have attached 2 P.R. pieces which I hope will tell the rest of the story.  Please visit us virtually at .  When in Israel, please visit us at Yakim Street 3/1 in the Arzei HaBira neighborhood of Yerushalayim. 

Thank you so much for "listening".                                                                           



Administrative Assistant

3/1 Yakim Street

P. O. Box 41055

Jerusalem 91410   Israel


We’re On Social Media!


“If Not Now, Then When”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Do You Think I Would Forget About You?” (2/17/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 28th of Shevat 5775 and February 17, 2015



Do You Think I Would Forget About You?



There are no coincidences in this world.

I live across the street from a public school.

There are two paths I can take to Shul.

One way which passes the ‘back’ of the school, is the usual way I go; as it is closer to my office and I like to keep my cell phone in my office during davening.

The second less frequented way is the one which passes the front of the public school.

Today, for ‘some reason’ I chose the second less traveled path.

At about 3:30 PM I noticed a parent coming out of the school with their child in tow.

It was about thirty minutes after dismissal so I imagined the parent was delayed in picking up the child.


My hunch was confirmed as I heard the child say to her mother, “Mommy, where were you? I was so scared you had forgotten about me?”


The mother, with her voice raised, answered emphatically, “Do you really think I would ever abandon you and just forget about you and leave you in this place forever? Have I ever forgotten about you before?”

Suddenly it was all clear to me.

I knew why I passed the school precisely now and why I had ‘chosen’ this path.

I am the little girl in the scene and her mother is Hashem.


Often, when I am scared and lonely and feel abandoned I call out to Hashem and say, “Where are you? I am so scared that you have forgotten about me?”


And He, just as the little girl’s mother did, answers, “Do you really think I would ever abandon you and just forget about you and leave you in this place forever? Have I ever forgotten about you before?”

I just wish that I could hear HIS voice as clearly as the little girl heard her mother’s voice.

Is He whispering or am I not listening?

I wish I knew.



“If Not Now, Then When?” –Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Why I Hate Cell Phones (sometimes) “ (2/16/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 28th of Shevat 5775 and February 17, 2015


Why I Hate Cell Phones (sometimes)


I can still recall the day back in the late 1990s.

 A friend of mine had purchased for me a new cell phone.

I had made it! I had arrived!

No longer would I feel envious when people’s pockets vibrated in front of my face and I just had to stand there and drool with jealousy.

No longer did I have to sit in my car just listening to Shiurim on my ‘modern cassette player’; I could now talk up a storm like all the ‘rich’ people do by using my cell phone!

It did not take me long to realize, “Oy, was I ever fooled!”

Besides the fact that they obviously do serve a purpose and they are convenient in certain circumstances; however, the jury is still out if the good outweighs the bad.

So since Rosh Chodesh Adar is just around the corner, I present my favorite reasons for hating the cell phone.

1.       You are never safe from having it ring; as the famous Nigun goes: “It rings when you are sleeping. It rings when you are awake. It doesn’t matter if you are bad or good the ringing goes on and on… So you better watch out and you better not cry. You better not pout and I’m telling you why. Your cell phone might be ringing right now!”

2.       When someone calls you on it you can hear everything they are doing even if they hope you cannot hear. We all know what the sound of a toilet flushing sounds like; however, do I have to hear it on the cell phone?  Do people have to go shopping for shoes (“Can I see a size 9 in brown?”) as they talk to me on their phone? 

3.       I hate when people call me when they are outdoors in a windy area and they keep talking to me as if I hear every word. All I can hear is the wind blowing as they ask me an important question and I answer. However, I always wonder if my answer is as Shabsi Zisel ben Avraham says in his famous Nigun, “The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.”

4.       Ever have someone leave you a message from their cell phone? I have and I am still trying to figure out the first one I received in 1997. Usually it sounds like this, “Rabbi Eisenman, this is Boorlelooken Koodelsl I have a question. If booolleees and toolleesss and gooogooles bloook mad mookelss… please call me back at nine, bluesy haaaa two nine. It’s very urgent. Click!

5.       I can just see the caller’s face as I don’t call back as I have no idea who even called. He is muttering to himself, “I called Rabbi Eisenman two hours ago, why hasn’t he called back!”

6.       No matter how hard I listen and no matter how loud you talk, I just don’t hear as well on the cell phone as I do on an old fashioned landline. Call me ancient and call me prehistoric; but, just don’t call me late for dinner; however, I never hear you well on the cell phone.

These are just some of our random reasons for despising the cell phone… I have much more to say, however, my cell phone is ringing!


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Greatness of Never Forgetting” (2/12/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 23rd of Shevat 5775 and February 12th 2015


The Greatness of Never Forgetting


Ora Cohen was born in Iran and lives in Yerushalayim.

I assume that the mere mention of her name does not jar anyone’s memory; truth be told, that is exactly the issue- it should ‘shake’ you up.

I would never have crossed paths with Mrs. Cohen if not for my daughter Aviva.

Aviva is studying at Lahav Bais Yakov Extension Program in Yerushalayim; a Seminary run by my good friends, Rabbi and Mrs. David Goldstein located in Har Nof.

As with many seminaries, special speakers often come to speak to the girls.

Last week Ora Cohen came; I present to you a condensed version of her story.

August 19, 2003 was an oppressively hot day in Jerusalem.

Ora’s family decided to make a trip to the Kosel to give the children a place to go and to get some fresh air.

After davening at the Wall, the family boarded the number two bus.

As the bus turned onto Shmuel HaNavi Street, Ora noticed an obese Chareidi-looking man attempting to board the bus from the back door. He jammed his chubby fingers into the door as it was closing and forced it open.

Ora’s two oldest children had given up their seat on the crowded bus to let a pregnant woman sit down.

Ora watched as the large man took one step up unto the bus and then her world went black; almost, but not quite, forever.

Over twenty were killed and over 130 wounded. Many of the victims were children.

At the hospital she was asked, “How many children do you have?”

“An hour ago I had five children! Am I still a mother?”

Miraculously, all of Ora’s children survived.

Her youngest, one month old Elchanan was found buried alive under the terrorist; he was miraculously protected by the sheer bulk of the bomber!

The pregnant woman did not survive.

The girls were mesmerized by Ora’s story.

 They were touched to the core by her belief that only through the caring and love of her fellow Jews was she able to survive.

Yet, there was another message which was clear to the girls.

Ora pleaded with the girls not to forget about her and other terror victims especially once they vanish from the headlines.

“Please do not forget about us now, even a dozen years later. Don’t forget about my family and other terror victims especially when we are no longer ‘in the spotlight’!”

The girls took her message to heart.

Shira Cohen’s 13th birthday was approaching.

They arranged to have Shira out of the house and then the girls showed up with balloons and with lots and lots of love; they danced and sang and showed the family that they had not forgotten about them.

I called Ora Cohen to wish her daughter a Happy Birthday and to ask her permission to write this story.

She thanked me and said, “I can’t tell you how much that visit meant to us. I speak all over; however, this was the first time in years that anyone followed up to visit with us. Tell everyone never to forget about the terror victims. People remember us at the time of tragedy; however, don’t forget about us a year later and don’t forget about us ten years later!”

Ora Cohen begged me. “Tell your readership never to forget about us, the victims of terror. I have no family in this county, my sole support and comfort comes from the love of the Jewish people; please never forget about us. Even many years later always remember us. We still need you!”

I related to Aviva what Ora said.

 Aviva answered, “Ta, I know we made her happy; but we really feel that we are even happier -to have made her happy -than she is. We realized that to reach out to those whose suffering is ‘headline news’ is something everyone wants to do; however, to be able to connect with someone twelve years later and to tell them we have not forgotten about you, that is a true act of Chesed.”

Once again I realized that much more than I think I am teaching Aviva, in truth I am continually learning from her.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Brian Williams” (2/9/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Monday the 20th of Shevat 5775 and February 9, 2015


Brian Williams


I never heard of Mr. Williams until I started noticing his name on the front page of the newspapers these last few days.

For those who are in the dark as to what I am referring to, Mr. Williams has been for a number of years the Emmy-winning, anchorman on the “NBC Nightly News”.

The problems for Mr. Williams began “a week ago when he broadcast a segment in which he was shown at a Rangers game in a tribute to a retiring command sergeant major, who, Mr. Williams suggested, had evacuated him from a dangerous situation in Iraq.”

Mr. Williams claimed:

              “The story actually started with a terrible moment a dozen years back during the invasion of Iraq when the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an R.P.G.,” Mr. Williams said, introducing the segment, referring to a rocket-propelled grenade. “Our traveling NBC News team was rescued surrounded and kept alive by an armor mechanized platoon from the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry.” (Ibid)

The problem however, was that Mr. Williams was in fact never in any helicopter which came under fire.

He arrived in a safe and sound helicopter about an hour after the first helicopter took fire.

Later, when Mr. Williams was confronted with the facts:

“Mr. Williams acknowledged his mistake on his newscast last Wednesday, and offered up a muddled apology, saying he had conflated events in his memory.” (Ibid)

However, it appears that his ‘muddled apology’ was very insufficient.

The public outcry has not subsided and finally, Mr. Williams stated: “As managing editor of ‘NBC Nightly News,’ I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days.” (Ibid)

The furor and controversy continues for the time being unabated.

What options are there for the besieged Mr. Williams?

Should he just step down from his post and call it quits?

Should he continue to lay low in the hope that the storm passes and he will be able to resume his position without further ramifications?

What would you do?

Interestingly, (as the article points out):

“Joe Summerlin, who was actually on the Chinook (helicopter) that came under fire, well ahead of Mr. Williams’s helicopter, said he was not out for blood, but he finds Mr. Williams’s response so far to be insufficient.

“Everyone tells lies,” he wrote. “Every single one of us. The issue isn’t whether or not you lie. It is how you deal with it once you are caught. I thank you for stepping down for a few nights, Mr. Williams. Now can you admit that you didn’t ‘misremember’ and perform a real apology? I might even buy you a beer.”

{The author of the article writes :}

Mr. Summerlin is right.

 I wrote a book some years back about the nature of memory and the stories we tell ourselves and others. Stories tend to grow over time and, if they are told often enough, they harden into a kind of new truth for the teller.” (Ibid)

Meaning, according to the author of the article, Mr. Summerlin –who was on the real helicopter which came under fire- is correct in stating that he is not so upset that Mr. Williams lied. After all as he wrote, “Everyone tells lies,”- “Every single one of us. The issue isn’t whether or not you lie. It is how you deal with it once you are caught.” (Ibid)

Is this true?

Is it true that “Everyone tells lies; every single one of us.”?

Do you tell lies?

Do I?

Is it true that the ‘real’ “issue isn’t whether or not you lie. It is how you deal with it once you are caught.”?

Would your wife (or husband) be happy with the statement, “Everyone tells lies; every single one of us.”?

Obviously, all of us tell stories  of our exploits and perhaps over the years the stories we tell our children about our childhood pranks become somewhat ‘exaggerated’ and ‘inflated’; does that make us liars?

Is it true that the “issue isn’t whether or not you lie. It is how you deal with it once you are caught.”?

Speaking about truth…

Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld states (quoted in the Sefer “HaIsh Al HaChoma” (Part 2; page 154), based on the verse in Tehillim (87:5), “And to Zion it will be said, "Man after man was born in her," and He will establish it on high”; and on the Talmud’s understanding (T.B. Kesuvos 75a) that the verse refers to those who were physically born in Jerusalem and to those who ‘anticipate’ arriving and seeing Jerusalem. Based on this, he maintains that one may take a ‘false’ oath stating that so and so was indeed born in Jerusalem even though they weren’t. For as long as a person ‘anticipates’ seeing the city they are considered to have been ‘born’ there, and therefore you can even take an oath stating that someone who was not physically born in Jerusalem was indeed ‘born’ in Yerushalayim.

How do we relate to such a statement?

What exactly is a lie anyway?

Just more food for thought; have a truthful day.


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - ““A story and two questions” (2/5/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Thursday the 16th of Shevat 5775 and February 5, 2015




Just Helping Out

“A story and two questions”

I was struggling to get my car out of a parking spot.

The car was locked in a wall of snow.

I took out my mighty shovel and began to dig my car out of the white grave it was buried in.

As I shoveled, I realized that this was too much of a job for me and it would take me quite a while.

Suddenly, a car stopped next to me and a Latino man got out of the car and before I could say Roberto Clemente, he had removed a shovel from his trunk and began to shovel with me.

As we were working together, one thought kept revolving around my brain, “How much should I pay him?”

Was $20 enough? After all, he was working hard; a lot harder than me!

Finally we finished the job and he waited until I pulled the car out of the spot and watched until I had rescued my car from its snowy prison; only then was he prepared to leave.

I exited the car and had prepared twenty dollars in my gloveless hand which I was about to give to my anonymous helper.

As I handed him the money, he recoiled as if I was handing him a snake!

“Here, please this is for you; I wanted to thank you for helping me!”

He looked at me and with an incredulous expression he said, “What, take money for helping another human being? I could never do that; especially that you look like a rabbi; how could I take money from a rabbi? Please, it was my pleasure!”

And with that he jumped in his car and drove off.


I have two questions for my readership:

1.       What would you do if you would see a man who looked like a priest trying to shovel out his car?

2.       If you did stop and help and he offered you money would you take it?

Just wondering


“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “The Day the Music Died” (2/3/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Tuesday the 14th of Shevat 5775 and February 3, 2015


The Day the Music Died


On this day in 1959, rising American rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson were killed when their chartered plane crashed in Iowa a few minutes after takeoff.


I must admit, if I had not noticed on one of the news sites which list ‘This Day in History’ I never would have known that today is: “The Day the Music Died”.

I never heard of any the three aforementioned musicians as I was not even born prior to their death.

What then is significance of their death?

Singer Don McLean memorialized Holly, Valens and Richardson in the 1972 No. 1 hit "American Pie," which refers to February 3, 1959 as "the day the music died."

When Mr. McLean released his song “American Pie” I was already an American teenager and recall the song well.

The single was a number-one US hit for four weeks in 1972.

About the song:

 Over eight minutes long, the lyrics for "American Pie" have earned much attention over the years, with fans and critics offering many attempts at interpretation.

 McLean has generally declined to comment on these interpretations, only admitting that the repeated references to "The Day the Music Died" describe the death of rock & roll icon Buddy Holly.

The song spans six verses, ranging over a course of ten years; the various verses contain lyrics widely believed to refer to popular artists, songs and incidents of the 1960s, with varying degrees of obfuscation. (Wikipedia)


Notwithstanding the mystification which surrounds the song, the phrase "the day the music died” indeed, refers to February 3, 1959.

Many music enthusiasts continue to this day to analyze the song with the intensity usually reserved for a difficult passage in the Gemara with many commentators suggesting interpretations akin to a Rashi or a Tosfos!

Interestingly enough, when Mr. McLean himself was asked as to the true ‘meaning’ of the song he replied with what is no doubt the most truthful of answers:

When asked what "American Pie" meant, McLean jokingly replied, "It means I don’t ever have to work again if I don’t want to." (Ibid)

Mr. McLean remained a poplar folk singer, however, there is no doubt that his signature song and claim to fame is his song “American Pie”; as he himself admitted.

Perhaps this is what Chazal meant when they said in Pirkei Avos (4:3) “Do not scorn any man, and do not discount anything; for there is no man who has not his hour, and no thing that has not its place.”

Never give up; you never know, what you produce today might help you for the rest of your life!

February 3, 1959 may have been the ‘day the music died’ for the three deceased musicians, Holly, Valens and Richardson; however, for Mr. McLean it became the ‘day the music was born and lived forever’.

You never know.


If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Super Sunday” (2/1/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Sunday the 12th of Shevat 5775 and February 1, 2015


Super Sunday


Today is Super Sunday; the day of the Super Bowl.

Last year’s Super Bowl set a record with an average of 111.5 million viewers, and the recent trend suggests that the number will be even higher today.

Since there are so many viewers, you can imagine it costs advertisers a pretty penny to put their products out there.

Indeed, this year, a 30-second spot is an eye-popping $4 million while a 60-second spot goes for a jaw-dropping $8 million.

So imagine if you had 8 million dollars to spare, what message would you want to convey to over 100 million people?

If you had the opportunity to communicate one 60 second message to over 110 million people, what message would you choose?

In truth, the Talmud (Shabbos 31a) informs us of just such a case.

The Gemara relates how a potential convert said to Hillel, (I am of course para-phrasing) “I am interested in your way of life; however, I have very little time. “On one foot” can you tell me the essence of your entire Torah?”

Without hesitation Hillel said to the man, “"What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; all the rest is explanation!"

That would be my message to the entire world.

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; all the rest is explanation!"

The good news is you don’t have to wait for Super Sunday and you don’t have to spend a dime.

The message of Hillel is worth more than any product some advertisement agency is attempting to convince you of the necessity in your acquiring it.

The message of Hillel is timely as well as timeless and is of greater benefit to you than Coca Cola or any sneaker that some corporation is spending 8 million dollars to entice you to buy.

If you don’t believe me, try Hillel’s advice tomorrow and realize how better your day is.

Wishing you all the best and for those of you who are watching the game: please don’t overeat.

And just remember: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; all the rest is explanation!"


If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel

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

The Short Vort’ - “Rose Shapiro” (1/30/15)

The Short Vort

Good Morning!


Today is Friday the 10th of Shevat 5775 and January 30, 2015


Rose Shapiro


Rose Shapiro (name changed) has lived a life of accomplishment and apparent fulfillment.

Born to immigrant parents in the early 1920’s, she was the first of her siblings to graduate from high school and when she announced her intention to attend nursing school, the entire family was shocked.

Back then, women did not receive higher education and Rose Shapiro was a trailblazer in her own right.

She eventually secured a position at Passaic Beth Israel Hospital on Parker Avenue in the downtown area of the city.

By 1958 she had risen to a nursing supervisor and in 1970 before her 50th birthday she was the head of nursing in the labor and delivery section of the hospital.

She continued to work as a nurse until her retirement in 2000 at the age of 77.

Since then she has been volunteering on a weekly basis at St. Mary’s hospital in Passaic after Beth Israel closed.

Recently though, even the once a week volunteer work became too difficult and Rose came to my office seeking advice on what to do to keep herself occupied.

I had known Rose for almost twenty years; she was always upbeat and positive. This time she appeared forlorn and sad.

“Mrs. Shapiro, you look a little down; what’s bothering you?”

“Rabbi, I was a nurse for over fifty years.

 I hardly ever missed a day of work and thank G-d I am financially secure as I have pension and full medical benefits.

My own health is good, considering my age, and in general life is good.

 The one thing which pains me and leaves me no rest is the fact that I now that I reached the end of my days; I have no family to be with.

As you know, I never married.

I know many people assume that I did not marry because I chose a career over marriage; however, nothing can be further from the truth.

Even in my time, 70 years ago, there was a “Shidduch crisis” and I never found by ‘bashert’.

 Believe me rabbi, I also wanted to get married and now that I am alone and no longer working, I have no companionship.

 Rabbi, what can I do to help alleviate my pain?”

I looked up at Rose Shapiro and I realized that behind the professional and somewhat businesslike exterior there was a human heart in pain.

I thought for a moment and then asked her, “I know you would have loved to be married; however, do you regret your life’s choice?” Without hesitation Rose replied,

 “Of course I would have loved to have found ‘Mr. Right’.

That being said, I found fulfillment in my work as a nurse and have realized that my essence is not defined by having or not having a husband.

 I know I have contributed to this world in a meaningful way and although like everyone else I have my ‘peckel’ I do not consider my life unfulfilled or a failure.

Given the ‘cards’ which Hashem ‘dealt me’ I made the best of my life and know that I have touched many people in their time of need.

 I just wish that I could somehow continue even now.”

I listened and I thought.

Suddenly the epiphany became clear.

“Mrs. Shapiro, I know exactly what you can do.

 There are many single woman in our neighborhood who let’s just say are in the ‘over thirty’ crowd.

 Often they come to pour out their hearts over their single status.

I try to help and to be encouraging; however, there is only so much I can do.

I would like to send these women to you Mrs. Shapiro.

I know you cannot help them find a Shidduch; however, you can tell from firsthand experience that life is not meaningless without a spouse. You can tell from your own life that no one’s true essence is defined solely by their marital status or by the amount of children they have.

You can be the one to give them succor and support. Mrs. Shapiro, will you do it?”

The next week an older single was in my office. “Rabbi, I must thank you, I just spent an hour with Mrs. Shapiro and she gave me more Chizuk than anyone I ever met; thank you for making the “Shidduch” between us.

Other women followed as well.

Perhaps the best phone call was from Mrs. Shapiro herself.

About two weeks later she called to tell me, “I have never felt so fulfilled in years; these young women who come to see me they give me purpose to my life and I feel young again. And by the way, I think my great-nephew might be perfect for Sima Yackoson….”

Two months later Sima and Rose’s nephew were standing under the Chupah at the Rose Castle.

After the glass was broken and after Sima kissed her mother, the first person she grabbed and hugged was Rose Shapiro.

Hashem has many ways to make Shidduchim...and Rose Shapiro realized once again  how vitally essential and important her life really is.  


“If Not Now, Then When?”-Hillel

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