By Chanita Teitz
What is going on with the weather in Israel? Snow in Yerushalayim used to be a rare phenomenon, but now every few years you hear of snow. Last year’s storm was a major inconvenience for people stuck on the roads or in apartments without heat or electricity.
They are predicting a storm starting Wednesday with expected accumulation of 5-10 inches. For Israel, though, a snowfall of even a few inches shuts things down. Mayor Barkat of Jerusalem is planning on closing the roads leading into and out of the city as soon as there is any accumulation, to prevent stranded motorists like last year.
What about people who are flying to Israel? Will they be able to land? Will they be able to get to Yerushalayim?
Our kids have been preparing for the snow, shopping for food for the week in case it is hard to get out to the store. The children are excited. Snow is universally exciting for children, even if not for their parents.
In other news, I keep reading “year in review” reports. I can sum up the year in just a few words: violence, brutality, and illogic in a topsy-turvy world. Wherever we look in the world, there is something mad going on.
I started to think about this after I studied Chumash with my granddaughter for her midterm. One of the questions on her review sheet was how many men came with Eisav to meet Yaakov. She answered correctly–400 men. We know that Yaakov was afraid. How would he and his small family be able to fight 400 men if they were coming to attack them?
I explained to Rivky that this is the story of our lives. The Jewish nation is small but succeeds in winning wars with our enemies. The Torah tells us that Hashem fights our battles with us and for us. There is a video that circulated during the Gaza war this summer where an Israeli soldier couldn’t believe that his whole troop came back from battle with no soldiers killed. How was it possible? They were so outnumbered. It could only be the miracle of Hashem fighting our battles.
And so, I have revised my “year in review” report to two words: Al ha’nisim.
Annual Shabbaton of Shevach High School in the Long Beach Hotel. For the Shabbos of December 13, Parashas Vayeishev, Shevach High School students were treated to a special Shabbaton with the faculty and their families. Through the array of distinguished speakers and thought-provoking sessions, the bar was raised for each girl’s avodas Hashem.
Rebbetzin Rochelle Hirtz, principal of Shevach High School, welcomed the girls before Kabbalas Shabbos and introduced the theme of the Shabbos; “Am mekadshei shvi’i.” She cited a Gemara in Berachos which teaches that Hakadosh Baruch Hu told Moshe Rabbeinu that He had a special gift in His treasury–the gift of Shabbos. The Nesivos Shalom asks why the mitzvah of Shabbos is identified as a precious gift. He answers that just as a gift is given with no expectations from the giver, with “no strings attached,” similarly, Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave Shabbos to Bnei Yisrael with the same mindset. Shabbos is a gift and each person should sanctify the day to the best of his ability, maximizing what the gift has to offer and truly appreciating its value.
After Kabbalas Shabbos, the students were addressed by Rabbi Paysach Krohn, noted author, lecturer, and mohel, who described the spirit of Shabbos of ancient times. In his inimitable fashion, Rabbi Krohn cited Gemaras that told of Amoraim who dressed in their Shabbos finery and went out to greet the Shabbos, which one called “the Queen” and another called “the kallah.” He noted that Rav Shlomo Alkabetz, the author of Lecha Dodi, who was born in Salonica, Greece, and came to Tsfas, wrote that Shabbos is the “mekor ha’berachah,” the source of blessing. Rabbi Krohn suggested that it is perhaps for this reason that many parents bless their children on Friday night, as the Shabbos is the source of all blessings.
The students sat spellbound as Rabbi Krohn told several moving stories. Among them was one which took place in Mexico, where because of someone’s decision to become a Shomer Shabbos, he gave up the opportunity of a major real estate sale. A few months later an earthquake hit the country, and this gentleman became a millionaire, as the very building he did not sell was the only building that remained intact. The Mexican government, which was forced to relocate, rented a considerable amount of space from him in that very building.
The students definitely took away the message that Shabbos is truly our “mekor ha’berachah.”
Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, and husband of Rebbetzin Chani Grunblatt, assistant principal of Shevach High School, spoke Shabbos morning after Mussaf. He discussed the pasuk “Sheishes yamim ta’avod ve’asisa kol melachtecha,” Six days you shall labor and complete all your work. Chazal ask: can a person complete all his work in six days? Rather one should consider it as if all his work is done. This requires great bitachon. And one of the greatest challenges to bitachon is the fact that we are expected to do hishtadlus, to exert effort. On Shabbos when we cannot do work, this serves as a workshop for our bitachon.
Rabbi Grunblatt then connected this thought to the parashah, stating that even Yosef Ha’tzaddik erred by asking the sar ha’mashkim for help, failing to realize that the butler was not someone who would do anything for Yosef. Rabbi Grunblatt elucidated the challenge of proper bitachon versus hishtadlus with a riveting story of the famed Alshich, who impressed upon his townspeople that if they have true bitachon, Hashem will provide for them. A simple wagon driver then decided to put all his trust in Hashem, giving up his job, even selling his horse and wagon, and sat and learned Torah all day. Eventually a miracle occurred to him, and his horse returned bearing a wagon full of treasures. The students of the Alshich then asked him, why do such miracles not happen to us? Is this simple wagon driver greater than us? He answered no. But due to the fact that we are more sophisticated than the simple wagon driver and know there is the necessity of hishtadlus, it is difficult for us to ascertain if we are exempt from work. Therefore, it is much more complicated for us to achieve that pure level of bitachon.
Rabbi Menachem Nissel speaks for Chazaq and Eshel Avraham. Rabbi Menachem Nissel was born and educated in Britain. He is a popular teacher in many seminaries in Yerushalayim (Ohr Somayach, Ohr Yerushalayim, and Torat Shraga), he lectures worldwide to vast audiences on a variety of topics, and he is the rabbinic advisor to NCSY. He has led trips to Poland and Eastern Europe as well as joined Rabbi Paysach Krohn as an educator on several of his tours. Rabbi Nissel is the author of Rigshei Lev: Women and Tefillah, and he is the creator and rabbinic advisor to JemSem. He lives in Yerushalayim with his wife Debbi and their children and grandchildren.
On Monday, December 29, Rabbi Menachem Nissel spoke for the Chazaq organization and Eshel Avraham at Congregation Shaare Tova in Kew Gardens. The Nissianian family sponsored the event in memory of their dear son Yaeer Netzer ben Avraham.
BYQ Melaveh Malkah. This motzaei Shabbos, BYQ hosted its annual third-grade melaveh malkah. The event is always a tremendous success; every third-grader participates in the school choir, so mommies, bubbies, savtas, grandmas, aunts, etc. were thrilled to attend. Upon entry, they were greeted with cards the girls created during the week, expressing hakaras ha’tov to their mothers. The evening began with the girls creating puzzle cards with wishes of refuah sheleimah to children who are connected to the wonderful chesed organization, Zichron Chana Baila. As part of Heart 2 Heart, a school wide behavior expectation initiative, creating cards with heartfelt messages is an ongoing project created by Mrs. Finkey Levine of BYQ, who coordinates the event.
Once the cards were completed, everyone noshed on pizza, soda, and hot cocoa. Then the crowd swept into the cafeteria, where Mrs. Nechama Jurkowitz told a tale to the group, stressing the need to be makir tov. Morah Etti Siegal and musician Mrs. Karen Daitchman led the girls in a songfest. They were magnificent!
After a raffle and video of the girls, the evening ended with a sweet treat. BYQ’s little ones were, once again, so happy to spend special time with their mothers and grandmothers!
Tiferes Moshe Raffle. Yeshiva Tiferes Moshe is a yeshiva dedicated to the academic and spiritual nurturing of hundreds of young talmidim. At this time they are embarking on a raffle/mini Chinese Auction campaign. This year’s drawing will be held January 10. Please help them continue their vital work by buying tickets at ytmraffle.org. 1 ticket: $50, 4 tickets: $180. Amazing prizes at the mini Chinese auction include $500 to Artscroll; $360 to Seasons plus $150 to Mechy’s Deli; $500 restaurant package; Disney vacation package to Florida; L’Chaim package; and more! For any questions or to order tickets by phone, please call Rabbi Schauder at 718-846-7300, ext. 115.
Caregivers Support Group. There will be a caregivers support group meeting on Sunday, January 11 at 8:00 p.m. For more information, contact Irene Wagner at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 718-544-8387.
Chazaq Women’s Division Sushi Night. Tuesday, January 13, 8:00 p.m. Sushi demonstration and an amazing lecture by the renowned Jackie Bitton. Sushi will be served. Location: Yeshiva Ohel Simcha, 141-41 72nd Avenue in Flushing. Admission: $10. RSVP required. Limited seats will be available. Please e-mail email@example.com or call 718-285-9132.
Jewish Business Development. On Wednesday, January 14, 7:00-9:30 p.m. you are invited to a special networking event by the Jewish Business Development, a networking group, and the Queens Jewish Link, celebrating QJL’s third anniversary. Event will be held at the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates, 83-10 188th Street in Jamaica Estates. Speakers include Yaakov Serle, publisher of the QJL; Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg, rabbi of the YI of Jamaica Estates; Melinda Katz, Queens Borough president; and guest speaker Dennis Weinstein, director of advertising at Touro College and University System. Emcee for the evening will be Yaniv Meirov, director of the Chazaq organization. The $15 admission covers a delicious buffet catered by Soy Sauce. There will also be a raffle drawing sponsored by Schwartz Bros.-Jeffer Memorial Chapels. The special networking session will be from 7:00-8:00 p.m. For more information and reservations, e-mail QueensJewishLink@gmail.com.
Chanita Teitz is a real-estate broker at Astor Brokerage in Kew Gardens Hills, serving the entire Queens vicinity. For all your real-estate needs, call her at 718-263-4500 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Chanita Teitz