Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024

My Take On The News

 

Torah Above All

The winter session of the 25th Knesset is drawing to an end. This week, the Knesset received a visit from someone who helped us put many things in perspective: Rabbi Ovadiah Yechezkel, whose brother, Rabbi Avishai Dovid Yechezkel, was murdered by a terrorist in Bnei Brak exactly one year ago. For a short time, Reb Ovadiah pulled everyone out of their focus on the ongoing conflicts, the demonstrations, and the falsehoods of the political world, reminding us once again of the things that are truly important: Torah, chessed, kiruv, and the like. It was a delight to listen to him speak. He spoke about his murdered brother, who was a marbitz Torah and was highly active in kiruv and who had always hoped to receive an allocation of land or a building from the government to serve as a base for his activities. Reb Ovadiah related that that aspiration was recently realized.

There are times when we tend to forget the most important things amid our focus on other issues. The world does not revolve around Putin, or even Simcha Rothman. The world existed before the Judicial Selection Committee came into existence, and it will continue to exist even if the State of Israel dissolves. The world rests on the three pillars of Torah, avodah, and gemillus chassidim; if the Torah were to be completely neglected for even a moment, chas v’sholom, the world would cease to exist. It is said that this is the reason for the existence of different time zones: When everyone in one part of the world is asleep, people elsewhere in the world are in the middle of their learning sedorim.

On that note, Rav Moshe Tzadkah recently delivered a speech at Yeshivas Toras Avrohom (a yeshiva under the aegis of Rav Doniel Zadeh) in Givat Shaul in Yerushalayim. Rav Tzadkah said to his audience, “Tell me, what do you think is more valuable and important—being a yungerman in kollel or being a leader? Ask the public, and they will tell you that a yungerman contributes nothing to the world by sitting in a corner and learning. But the Torah does not agree. Learning Torah is the greatest thing that a person can possibly do, as is evidenced by the example of Mordechai Hatzaddik.” To prove this point, Rav Tzadkah quoted the Gemara’s statement (Megillah 16b) that learning Torah is a greater accomplishment even than saving lives, for Mordechai’s standing was higher at the beginning of the megillah’s account than at the end of the story, even though he had played a role in saving the entire Jewish people from destruction.

“That is the Torah’s understanding of this matter,” Rav Tzadkah concluded. “Without Mordechai, Klal Yisroel would have been completely obliterated; he upheld the entire Jewish people. Nevertheless, Torah learning is greater. If you have to choose between being a yungerman, sitting and learning in your own private corner without taking an interest in anything else, or doing other things, no matter how important they may be, learning Torah will always be more important.”

Another Terror Attack in Huwara

It is mind-boggling to think that I am beginning this column with what is practically the same story for the third week in the row, a terror attack in Huwara. As I have mentioned in the past, the road where the attacks took place is a major artery traversed by the residents of all the Jewish settlements in the area. The people who were shot in these attacks didn’t enter an Arab village; they were traveling on a major intercity road that they have no choice but to use.

In the attack, two IDF soldiers were wounded in a shooting on Shabbos. Both men were transported to Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah, where they were listed in moderate condition. Unlike the events of the previous two attacks, this shooter opened fire from a passing vehicle and escaped from the scene after a few seconds. Israeli forces launched a manhunt in an effort to locate the perpetrator and closed the southern entrances to Shechem in an effort to trap him.

The local residents—and others as well—have had enough. There is a clear, constant threat to Jewish lives in this area, and something must be done about it. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced after the attack that he would conduct a situation assessment together with IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Shin Bet director Ronen Bar, and other senior figures in the defense establishment. But that did nothing to assuage the anger of the local residents. Several hours after the terror attack, over 100 Jewish settlers staged a protest at the Yitzhar junction and attempted to break through the roadblock set up by the army and the police; they were repelled by Yassam and Border Guard officers. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir announced after the attack, “I call for tefillos for the well-being of the injured victims, and I ask for the cabinet to meet as soon as the prime minister returns to the country and to make decisions. Soldiers of the IDF and residents of Yehuda and the Shomron are traveling on roads plagued by terror, especially in Huwara, and the time has come to restore order there, to set up permanent checkpoints, and to close the stores that create a security risk. The handwriting is on the wall.”

Netanyahu was in London over the weekend. Betzalel Smotrich, who serves as finance minister and as a minister in the Defense Ministry, said after the attack, “We must not accept this situation as routine. We must not allow the Huwara road, a major road used by thousands of Jewish motorists every day, to return to being a flashpoint for terror. When we are under fire, we must act and take significant steps, and we will stand firm on that.”

Again, this was the third shooting attack in Huwara in one month. Last Sunday, David Stern (a former American resident and member of the US Marines who lives in Itamar and holds American citizenship) was wounded in another shooting attack. He was sent home from the hospital and was greeted by his neighbors in Itamar with singing and dancing. One month ago, the brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv of Har Bracha were murdered on the same road, when they were shot at point-blank range by a terrorist who rushed up to their car while they were stuck in traffic. That was the attack that led Betzalel Smotrich to make his comment that Huwara should be wiped off the map—a comment that led to a diplomatic crisis with America and Europe. But one thing is certain: At this point, the situation has become utterly intolerable.

Rav Gershon Warns About the Perils of Bein Hazemanim

With Pesach approaching, we are obligated to rejoice, regardless of how much sadness is in the air. As Chazal tell us, Nissan is a month when we are surrounded by salvations. Let us daven that the bein hazemanim of Pesach will not bring us any tragedies. Rav Gershon Edelstein always reminds us that bein hazemanim is a time that is especially prone to danger, since it is natural for Torah learning to diminish during this time.

But that is not to say that Torah learning is completely forgotten during bein hazemanim. As I have told you in the past, there is a proliferation of shiurim in Eretz Yisroel during the Pesach vacation, especially on Chol Hamoed.

Some of the shiurim during this time of year are delivered by leading roshei yeshivos. Many of those shiurim are in high demand. These shiurim are announced in advertisements posted in the neighborhoods where they take place, as well as in the chareidi press. Personally, I try to follow two or three speakers in particular; my personal oneg yom tov is derived from listening to their drashos. For instance, I always make an effort to hear a speech from Rav Noam Alon, son-in-law of Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel and rosh yeshiva of the Brachfeld branch of Mir.

A Flashlight for Bedikas Chometz

On the subject of Pesach, here are some interesting details of how the halachos of Pesach are observed at the home of Rav Moshe Sternbuch, one of the leading poskim of our generation.

Rav Sternbuch searches his home personally to the best of his ability and then pays one of his grandchildren to complete the bedikah in the areas that he is unable to inspect. The reason for this practice is explained in his sefer, Teshuvos V’Hanhagos, where he posits that the rule of mitzvah bo yoser mib’shlucho (it is better to perform a mitzvah personally than to designate a proxy) does not apply when one pays the shaliach to perform the mitzvah.

Rav Sternbuch davens Shacharis early in the morning on erev Pesach and then eats breakfast quickly and proceeds to burn the chometz. In honor of erev Yom Tov, he wears Yom Tov finery and comes to the bais din for the sale of chometz dressed in his Yom Tov attire. For many years, he has been in the habit of going to the Kosel on erev Pesach to recite the seder of the korban Pesach. The only exception was a year when he had to go somewhere else to perform the mitzvah of pidyon shevuyim and commented that it was the first time in forty years that he had failed to go to the Kosel on erev Pesach.

A Joyous Evening

At the Seder, Rav Moshe Sternbuch is in a state of great joy. He recites the Haggadah with great enthusiasm and adds his own comments and elucidations to every section of the Haggadah. His family members have revealed that even during the most challenging years of his life, when his wife was in very poor health and on the verge of death, Rav Moshe’s joy on the night of the Seder remained unmarred; his family members are always astounded by his ability to set aside his personal woes and to participate in the rejoicing of the holiday.

At the beginning of Yom Tov, after Mincha, Rav Sternbuch delivers a speech in his bais medrash, delineating the details of the halachos and hiddurim relevant to the Seder. This is followed by Maariv, which is davened with great enthusiasm, keeping in mind that the Siddur HaRashash stresses the enormous import of Maariv on the Seder night. Hallel is recited with singing and in great joy, as the Shulchan Aruch emphasizes that Hallel on the Seder night must be recited “b’neimah” (with song). All of this is explained at length in Teshuvos V’Hanhagos. Rav Sternbuch makes a special point of reciting the passage of “B’tzeis Yisroel” in particular with great emotion.

Rav Sternbuch personally performs heseibah for karpas and then recites the brocha of borei nefashos in an undertone; he repeats borei pri ha’adamah on a different item before the seudah begins. This is his personal practice; however, he instructs the other participants at his Seder to eat less than a kezayis of karpas and to refrain from performing heseibah.

Rav Sternbuch instructs every one of his grandsons at the table to recite the Mah Nishtanah individually. After each child or grandchild has recited it, Rav Sternbuch repeats the passage along with the entire assemblage, singing the questions to the traditional tune and encouraging the other participants to sing along with him.

In previous years, Rav Sternbuch would drink wine for the arba kosos. About twenty years ago, however, he was hospitalized on the Seder night after drinking wine, and he has used grape juice instead since then. Whenever possible, he endeavors to finish the fourth cup before chatzos.

The Defense Minister Speaks Out Against Judicial Reform

Our next topic is the ongoing maelstrom of controversy over the judicial reform. The highest-ranking official in the government beneath the prime minister is generally the Minister of Defense. In this case, the Minister of Defense is Major General Yoav Gallant, who is considered a Netanyahu loyalist. Yet in spite of his loyalties, Gallant announced several days ago that he is in favor of halting the legislation of the judicial reform.

In a serious blow to Netanyahu. Gallant announced, “There needs to be a change in the judicial system. The fabric of the relationships between the branches of the government must be fixed. Significant changes on a national scale must be made through dialogue and discussion.” He called for the two camps to discuss their differences and warned against a wave of refusals to serve in the IDF reserves. “I have said this in closed conversations in recent weeks,” he said. “At this time, we must stop the process and we must sit and talk. I am now repeating this with my own voice: For the sake of the security of this country, the legislative process must stop now. The people of Israel must be able to celebrate the holiday of Pesach and Yom Haatzmaut and to mourn together on Yom Hazikaron. The protests must stop now, and the refusal to serve must end, for the sake of our security.” This was a bombshell!

You might be wondering why this is significant. Is it really so terrible if the coalition loses Gallant’s vote in the Knesset? What difference does one vote make? The truth is that the problem runs much deeper than that. For one thing, the Minister of Defense isn’t just another member of the Knesset; it is much more significant when he opposes the prime minister. Moreover, three other Knesset members have already hinted that they are opposed to continuing the legislative process. The first was Yuli Edelstein, who was followed by David Bittan and then Avi Dichter, Minister of Agriculture. At this point, Dichter might be persuaded to change his mind in exchange for a coveted prize: the defense portfolio. That is because Netanyahu immediately dismissed Galant from the position.

The firing was used as an excuse by protesters to up their protests, basically shutting down the country on Monday, until Netanyahu addressed the nation and announced that he was halting the reform process until after Yom Haatzmaut. During that time he would try to reach an accommodation with the opposition on the judicial reform package.

It was only natural that Gallant’s announcement would shake the coalition to its foundations and would cause a major stir in the political establishment. The coalition immediately attacked Gallant for his comments. At the same time, MKs Bittan and Edelstein welcomed his remarks, as did the leaders of the opposition. The question on all of their minds, of course, was what reaction they could expect from Justice Minister Levin, who has been advancing the legislation and was adamantly opposed to the idea of putting the brakes on it.

“Unlike the defense minister,” Levin said, “the justice minister will respect the prime minister and will wait to respond until he returns to the country.” Communications Minister Shlomo Karai of the Likud responded to Gallant’s speech by declaring, “I would like to ask for the forgiveness of the Likud voters for our Minister of Defense, who has caved in to the pressure from the left. The State of Israel is at a historic crossroads between democracy and dictatorship, and its defense minister is choosing dictatorship and is giving his backing to refusal to serve in the army and to a military coup. We cannot negate the decision of the people in order to receive the fawning affection of the media and the elites. That is not democratic, and we must not allow it!”

Karai’s sentiments were echoed by Ophir Katz, the coalition whip, who declared, “Anyone who does not vote in favor of the reform this week will be ending his political career in the Likud.”

Of course, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir was equally adamant. MK Yuli Edelstein, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and Gallant’s colleague in the Likud party, wrote in response to the defense minister’s statement, “I thank my colleague, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, for joining us on the path that I have been leading for the past few weeks. The majority of the people want and understand the importance of changing the judicial system, but it must be done with patience, with dialogue, and with broad discussion to reach a broad consensus. The State of Israel is strong and we will continue to be strong—together.”

The Noble Behavior of Bnei Brak’s Residents

I have two comments to make about the protests against the judicial reform. First, as you may be aware, there was a massive demonstration in Bnei Brak last Thursday. The protestors made every effort to create provocations and manufacture clashes with the chareidim in Bnei Brak to provide fodder for the news headlines, but their efforts failed. On the contrary, dozens of chareidim turned out to distribute water bottles, pastries, and cholent to the protestors. The media had no choice but to praise the chareidi community for their behavior rather than finding ways to excoriate them.

My second comment is the following. The chancellor of Germany called on Netanyahu to accept President Herzog’s suggested framework, which seems to be a definite indication that someone has been educating the chancellor about the situation in Israel and guiding him as to exactly what to say to the Israeli premier. That “someone” is evidently an Israeli, which suggests that there is a fifth column within Israel. But then again, we do not even need such evidence to come to that conclusion. Ehud Olmert, who was once considered a staunch devotee of the right, who was elected as mayor of Yerushalayim and was considered a friend of the chareidi community, is now calling on the world “leaders” (a word that I do not like but that I use for lack of an alternative)  to boycott Binyomin Netanyahu. Israel has never aired its internal conflicts for the world’s consumption before, and the country’s politicians have always maintained the semblance of unity while the prime ministers were abroad, without allowing their differences to be broadcast to the world. Israelis have certainly never involved foreign powers in their internal disputes before. Sadly, that is a red line that has now been crossed. It is hard to take this lightly in the wake of incidents such as the Israeli ambassador to Washington (the brother of President Herzog) being called to the State Department for a rebuke after the Israeli Knesset repealed the Disengagement Law.

They Simply Don’t Understand

The Chometz Law has finally been approved, and concerns have already been raised that it might not have been strong enough. The law does nothing but permit hospital directors to request that visitors refrain from bringing chometz onto their premises on Pesach, without giving them the right to ban chometz outright, yet in spite of its bland provisions, the law has evoked tremendous antagonism toward chareidim. At the same time, there are those who argue that there is no reason to be intimidated by this reaction.

I was dismayed this week to hear the comments of the opponents of the Chometz Law. The stated purpose of the law was only to seal a breach created by the Supreme Court and the Reform petitioners who opened this particular can of worms in the first place. One wonders why the law’s detractors cannot appreciate its importance. As we all know, it is prohibited not only to consume chometz on Pesach but even to possess it. There is a famous story about Rav Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev: The defender of Klal Yisroel once embarked on a search for beer (which is chometz) on erev Pesach and was unable to find any. He found plenty of contraband prohibited by the law, in spite of the police detectives and informants who posed a serious threat to anyone with illegal goods in his possession, but there wasn’t even a particle of chometz anywhere to be found. “Look at this!” he cried with delight. “The Jewish people are kedoshim! They have plenty of illegal merchandise, in spite of the presence of police and the specter of criminal sentences, but they do not have even a crumb of chometz in their possession, even though they have nothing to fear from the enforcers of mortal law.”

With this story in mind, I found myself wondering how the opponents of the Chometz Law lack an appreciation for the gravity that a Jew attaches to encountering chometz on Pesach. I am not referring to the erev rav and ersatz “Jews” who made aliyah to Israel on the basis of a misguided grandfather clause and worship in churches in Yaffo and Akko. I am referring to bona fide Jews who nevertheless demonstrate total disregard for their religion. Can they really be so callous and insensitive? This week, it hit me: It isn’t a matter of callousness at all. Instead, they really don’t understand!

Merav Michaeli, a member of the Knesset who is the granddaughter of a Hungarian Jew (namely, the well-known Kastner) recently submitted a bill titled “Ban on Annulling Conversion.” This bill stipulates that no bais din will be permitted to discuss revoking a giyur. The explanatory notes add that even if it turns out that a giyur was performed under false pretenses, it can never be retroactively annulled. The current situation, according to Michaeli, causes thousands of “geirim” to live in fear, constantly worrying that their legal status of Jewishness might be revoked. Of course, Michaeli would never dare submit such a law concerning any other official process. Would anyone dream of passing a law stating that a medical license cannot be revoked even if it is proven that the doctor acquired it by submitting false documentation? That would be absurd, but it is the exact equivalent of what Michaeli is attempting to accomplish now.

I cannot help but conclude that Michaeli simply doesn’t understand the meaning of geirus—or chometz, or the Kosel, or Shabbos, or anything of the sort. This is a deficiency in comprehension that she shares with others of her ilk. This also explains a bill submitted in the past by the Meretz party, which sought to define a Jewish person as “anyone who ties his fate to the Jewish people.” In other words, the members of Meretz hoped to pass a law stating that anyone who serves in the IDF is automatically considered a Jew.

What is the solution for this sheer ignorance? I do not have the answer, but one thing seems clear to me: If we understand that the root of their attitudes is a lack of knowledge, then perhaps it will help us find a solution.

A Captive Audience

A captive audience is a population of consumers who cannot exercise choice with regard to their purchases; they are forced to purchase specific products from specific suppliers. Benaya Gal of the Knesset public relations office recently pointed out to me that all the citizens of Israel are in the same boat with regard to the purchase of electricity. No one in Israel has a choice as to their supplier of electric power; we are all captive customers of the Israel Electric Company. But the ultimate example of a captive audience can be found in the places where people are held in actual captivity—the Israeli prison system. The inmates of Israel’s prisons are forced to be customers of the Prison Service, which takes advantage of them significantly in two areas—telephone rates and purchases in the prison canteens. Telephone calls are still made in Israel’s prisons with telecards, which are sold at the rate of 50 shekels for a card offering six hours of phone time, which comes out to about 13 agorot per minute. An ordinary citizen, in contrast, pays about 25 shekels a month to the phone company for a plan that offers between 2500 and 5000 minutes. This is undoubtedly a malicious exploitation of a captive and oppressed audience.

Gilad Erdan, who is serving today as Israel’s ambassador to the UN, previously held the post of public security minister, which placed the Prison Service under his purview. At the time, MK Moshe Abutbul submitted a parliamentary query on the subject of prison phone rates, and Erdan responded that the rates were a function of a draconian and utterly absurd deal between the government and the phone companies. Nevertheless, Erdan claimed that the rates at the time were fairly low and that no one could have excepted prisoners to receive phone time for free. The contract between the government and the phone companies, he added, was a ten-year contract, and the state would be forced to pay a huge sum if it was canceled before it expired. He promised to look into possible solutions to the matter; however, it has been over two years since that exchange, and nothing has been done about the subject. Meanwhile, we have discovered that the potential loss to the government if it backed out of the contract would have amounted to only 100,000 shekels, yet the Israeli government refused to shell out that sum to spare thousands of inmates from suffering financial losses.

The other issue of concern, as I mentioned, is the cost of goods in prison canteens. The canteens are the only places where inmates are able to purchase anything, and some of those purchases are vital. Payment is made directly to the Prison Service by the prisoner’s family, and the prices are absurd. This week, bottles of olive and canola oil were being sold in prison canteens for twice the price that the average citizen pays in an ordinary store. Disposable cups, plates, and bowls were priced equally exorbitantly. I will not weary you with the exact figures, but suffice it to say that the Prison Service deserves to be condemned for taking advantage of its prisoners and squeezing every last cent out of their wallets. Who gave them the right to add further suffering to their sentences? And why should they be forced to shell out money that they do not have for items that they cannot go without?

The Ongoing Pain of Terror Victims

Every page of Tikvah, the magazine published by the Organization of Victims of Hostilities, is like a knife in one’s heart. There are so many bereaved families and so many orphaned children, and there is so much sorrow in Israel. How long can this situation persist? How long will our enemies be allowed to afflict us?

In the latest issue, I read about Natan Meir, whose wife, Dafna, was murdered in their home in Otniel two years ago by a Palestinian youth. I also read about Yossi Meili, who helped rescue the wounded victims of a terror attack at the Elite junction twenty years ago. Then there was an article about Boaz Shabu, who lost his wife and three children in a murderous attack in Itamar in 2002, and a piece in which Tom Fried, whose parents were murdered in the Park Hotel attack on the Seder night of 2002, told his own story. Every victim of terror has his own story and his own wounds that need to heal. Every victim is struggling to go on with life, to rehabilitate himself and to continue functioning in spite of the trauma he has suffered. And there are tens of thousands of such people in the country.

The periodical also offers copious quantities of information about activities and events for the benefit of terror victims, their rights and government benefits, and opportunities for financial aid.

The Organization of Victims of Hostilities is led by its chairman, Ivy Mozes, and its director-general, Roy Cohen, who are aided in its work by many staff members and volunteers. They deserve credit for their exceptional work, but I couldn’t help but feel a pang as I read about their activities. For instance, the magazine described a trip to Canada arranged for children at the age of bar or bas mitzvah, but I had the distinct impression that it was nothing but a recreational trip, with no content related to Yiddishkeit. That, I felt, was a shame. The children should at least be given the opportunity to learn about the meaning of this milestone in their lives! Even if none of the participants come from religious homes, I am certain that they would have been happy to visit an Orthodox shul somewhere in Canada and to hear a speech about what it means to become bar mitzvah. But I have to assume that this was not included in their itinerary.

True, the organization offers activities for religious families as well, such as a recent program for 200 participants held at the Chofetz Chaim water park, which was organized specifically for religious and chareidi families. However, I would also have hoped that even bar mitzvah children from nonreligious families would be given the chance to learn about the meaning of a bar mitzvah.

The Best Advice for the Questioner

This week, I heard two stories about Rav Shimon Baadani, both of which attest to his ironclad commitment to the truth in any situation.

A widowed man with nine children was once offered a shidduch with a woman who had lost her husband. When he consulted with Rav Baadani, the rov said, “You should certainly marry her; it is a good idea and very important.” The man gave a positive response to the shadchan, but then he was told that the widow had decided that she was not interested in the shidduch—because Rav Baadani had advised her against it! Someone asked the rov why he had given conflicting advice to the two parties, and Rav Baadani replied, “It’s simple. For the man, the shidduch was a good idea. It would be good for him on a personal level, since it would be easier for him to raise his children, and it would be good for the children to have a mother. However, it wouldn’t be easy for her to be a mother to nine children, and that is why I advised her against it.” In other words, Rav Baadani gave each questioner the advice that was appropriate for them.

The second story relates to the same theme. Rav Baadani was the driving force behind the establishment of a Sephardic Talmud Torah in Bnei Brak. When the school was searching for faculty members, they turned to Rav Baadani for suggestions, and he named a certain yungerman who had been highly successful as a melamed in other institutions. This yungerman had even been nicknamed “the magician” for his ability to transform his young charges; however, he had decided to return to kollel rather than continue teaching. “If this yungerman teaches in your school, he will give it a major boost,” Rav Baadani told the principal, Rav Yazdi.

The principal approached the yungerman and offered him a position at the Talmud Torah, explaining that he had come to him as a messenger from Rav Shimon Baadani. The yungerman was taken aback. A request from Rav Baadani was enough to make him reconsider his decision to spend his days in the bais medrash; however, he decided to consult with the rov personally before accepting the offer. The yungerman and the principal proceeded to visit Rav Baadani together, and each of them laid out his position. After hearing them out, Rav Baadani said, “You should remain in kollel.”

When he was left alone with the rov, Rav Yazdi expressed his puzzlement. How could Rav Baadani have advised the yungerman to remain in kollel after he had made it clear that it was important for him to teach in the new school? The rov replied, “The best advice that I could give you was to hire him. However, the best thing for him to do was to remain in kollel. I gave each of you the answer that was correct for you.”

“Then what should I do now?” Rav Yazdi asked.

“Use every means at your disposal to convince him to agree,” Rav Baadani replied.

A Gift of a Suit

Every year, a certain man whom we will call Reb Dovid donates a suit for a special sale held to benefit Beer Moshe, an institution in Neve Yaakov that organizes the distribution of food packages several times a year for poor yungeleit. This year, when the organization contacted him to inquire about his usual donation, Reb Dovid was unusually slow to respond, and they began to suspect that he had decided to end his usual practice of contributing to the sale.

Since my son is in charge of overseeing the program, I decided to make my own effort to keep it running smoothly, and I dashed off the following message to Reb Dovid: “I would like to make a deal with you. You should donate a suit to the tzedokah organization in Neve Yaakov as usual, and it will be an advertisement for you as always, but I will pay you for half the suit without anyone being the wiser. What do you say to that?”

Reb Dovid’s response did not take long to arrive. “Good morning, Tzvika,” he wrote. “I realize now that I forgot to respond to your son. I will donate the suit again this year, bli neder, and I prefer to keep the mitzvah for myself. However, I would like to make you the reverse offer: Please tell your son that someone else bought a suit from me and is willing to donate it for the sale. Then, without anyone being the wiser, I will give you the voucher that can be used to acquire the suit. That way, I will not gain any publicity from it, and I will have the full mitzvah.” What a noble soul!

Let me take this opportunity to wish you a chag Pesach kasher v’someiach!

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