Wednesday, May 22, 2024

My Take On The News

 

 

Tough Words at the Press Conference on Motzoei Shabbos

As you know, Israel is fighting a war in the south. The army is already deep within Gaza, with the goal of purging the area of Hamas terrorists. As for what will happen after Hamas is gone, that is still unknown; it is a foregone conclusion that no one ever thinks more than two steps ahead in this country. At this time, one and a half million Gazan residents have already left their homes, half the area is in ruins, and the other half will soon be destroyed as well. The problem is that in addition to the city that exists aboveground, there is a subterranean version of Gaza that is populated by Hamas. Of course, the IDF plans to reach the underground terrorists as well.

Meanwhile, Israel is preparing to deal with two other potential fronts: the area of Yehuda and Shomron and the north. In Yehuda and Shomron, the army is concerned mainly about the Palestinians living in villages near the seam line. In the north, they are worried about Hezbollah in Lebanon. Netanyahu has repeatedly warned Hezbollah against becoming involved in the current conflict. “Regarding the north,” he said recently, “I want to repeat this message to our enemies: Do not make a mistake. Any such mistake will cost you dearly; you will pay a price that you cannot even imagine.” This was an echo of a nearly identical statement that he made two weeks ago. Netanyahu, Defense Minister Gallant, and Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi have been repeating this mantra over and over, in the hope that they can somehow prevent an attack from the north with their ominous warnings.

Netanyahu, Gallant, and Benny Gantz held a joint press conference this past motzoei Shabbos, in an effort to demonstrate that they are united. All three, of course, are members of the cabinet, and I will quote all of them. First, here is an excerpt from Netanyahu’s comments: “This war will not end until we triumph over the Hamas terror organization in Gaza. The war is moving forward, and there is only one goal: to win. There will be no substitute for victory. For all practical purposes, Hamas has lost its control of the northern Gaza Strip. There is no safe place for them to hide. Every one of them, from Sinwar to the most junior terrorist, is a dead man as of now. We will fight until we are victorious. Gaza will be demilitarized. It will no longer threaten Israel. The IDF will continue maintaining security control in the Gaza Strip for as long as necessary. Gaza will not be ruled by a government that pays murderers and teaches hate, and whose president did not condemn the massacre.”

Netanyahu also spoke about the hostages in Gaza. “Regarding our hostages,” he said, “I have heard all sorts of announcements in the world media from unauthorized sources. I want to emphasize that recovering our hostages is a central goal of this war. There will be no ceasefire without the return of the hostages. I want to make it clear that the discussions are being managed by Mossad chief Barnea, as well as Nitzan Alon [a general in the reserves].” Netanyahu went on to direct another warning to Hezbollah: “If Hezbollah enters the war,” he said, “it will seal Lebanon’s fate.”

Israel Threatens and Hezbollah Fires

Let us move on to the comments of Netanyahu’s two partners in the government. First was Benny Gantz, who recently joined the government and the cabinet and has previously served as chief of staff of the IDF and as defense minister. In the latest polls Gantz’s party is shown receiving twice as many votes as the Likud, which puts him in a politically strong position. “Hamas is responsible for bringing this destruction on the residents of Gaza,” Gantz declared. “They are the ones who must be pressured and attacked so that the hostages will come home and, when the day comes, the war will end. We will not accept preaching from Assad, who slaughters children and women, or from the hangman in Teheran. The man who shook the hand of Iran’s leader remembers exactly what Iran has done and knows what it is doing. The countries in this region have the responsibility and the ability to help the Palestinians and themselves, and they must live up to that responsibility. I suggest that they provide humanitarian aid and understand that the situation requires a change of regime in Gaza.”

The next speaker was Yoav Gallant. “This might take two months, or it might take a year,” he said. “We want the IDF to finish this job. The deeper the army goes into Gaza, the greater are the chances of reaching the hostages.” With regard to the northern front, Gallant said, “The provocations in the north have turned into outright attacks, and our soldiers are exacting a heavy price from Hezbollah. The air force is directing most of its power toward the north. The citizens of Lebanon should know that if Nasrallah makes a mistake, the fate of Lebanon will be like that of Gaza.”

I have good reason for focusing on their comments about Hezbollah and the northern front. On Sunday afternoon, a missile was fired into Israel from Lebanon and struck the vehicles of workers from the Israel Electric Company who were working near the settlement of Dovev in the Upper Galilee, not far from the Lebanese border. These workers had been dispatched to repair electric lines that were damaged by previous missile fire. In addition, rockets were fired toward the city of Akko and the Krayot (near Haifa). Seven civilians were killed in that attack.

To add to the mounting sense of alarm, the IDF spokesman released the following statement on Sunday night: “About 15 rocket launches have been identified from Lebanon into Israeli territory. The air force successfully intercepted four of those rockets, while the others fell in open areas. IDF forces are currently directing artillery fire at the points of origin of the rockets in Lebanese territory. In addition, seven IDF soldiers were lightly injured by mortar shell launches in the area of Manara in northern Israel earlier today. The wounded soldiers were evacuated to the hospital for medical treatment, and their families were notified.” All of this took place on Sunday, just a few hours after Netanyahu, Gantz, and Gallant sternly warned Hezbollah to refrain from attempting to attack Israel. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, which it said was carried out as a show of support for “our brothers in the Gaza Strip.”

The rocket fire seemed to be Hezbollah’s way of conveying the message that they have no problem opening another front in Israel’s war, in spite of the warnings from Israel’s top politicians. Of course, the IDF struck back, but the possibility of the war shifting to two fronts simultaneously is becoming a more tangible concern. On Sunday, immediately after the missile fire, the IDF spokesman announced that the army was attacking the source of the missiles and that it had already struck a missile-launching cell that was planning to fire rockets from a civilian area in Lebanon.

Day of Tefillah Declared for Erev Rosh Chodesh

The three moatzos of the gedolei Torah of Eretz Yisroel—of Degel HaTorah, Agudas Yisroel, and the Shas party, respectively, as well as the moetzes of the American Agudah —declared Monday, erev Rosh Chodesh Kislev, a day of tefillah. “In light of the dangerous situation in Eretz Yisroel, in these days when the sword bereaves outside and there is dread indoors,” the joint letter reads, “we call on our brothers, the House of Israel, in every place where they live, both in Eretz Yisroel and overseas, to gather on the auspicious day of erev Rosh Chodesh Kislev—men, women, and children—and to cry out, to plead with Hashem, to call out to Him, and to awaken themselves for teshuvah.” On Monday, there were tefillah gatherings around the world.

Meanwhile, Israel was shaken by another tragedy last week with the death of Elisheva Lubin, a policewoman who was murdered in the Old City of Yerushalayim near the Shalem police station. The murderer, a sixteen-year-old terrorist from Issawiya, stabbed the victim, mortally wounding her. She was quickly evacuated to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Another police officer was moderately wounded in the attack, and a third officer who was present with them shot the terrorist to neutralize him. Lubin is an American immigrant who came to Israel on her own in 2021, with the objective of joining the Border Guard in a combat role. She was killed in the same spot where another policewoman, Hadar Cohen, was murdered just four months ago.

Another issue of great concern is the proliferation of anti-Semitism in Europe. There are tens of thousands of Muslims, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, in Europe, and that alone should indicate that Europe has become a dangerous place today. The leaders of the European states are frightened by the rapid spread of Islam in their countries. Unfortunately, they will probably soon be learning for themselves what the descendants of Yishmoel are capable of doing. In some of the European states, such as Belgium and England, the Jews are already in need of protection from the authorities. The situation in America is getting worse and the United Nations is showing such blatant hostility to Israel that it is downright infuriating!

Psychological Warfare Against the Citizens of Israel

The country mourns the death of every soldier who is killed; to date, 47 soldiers have died, many of whom were officers and many of whom were religious. Last weekend, seven soldiers were killed in a booby-trapped tunnel shaft. It has been reported that the soldiers could have simply thrown a grenade into the shaft, but they feared that the terrorists had brought innocent children into the tunnel. The soldiers therefore chose to enter the shaft instead, unaware that it had been rigged to explode.

The plight of the hostages saddens every Jew. If other nations are fighting to retrieve the hostages with whom they share nationalities, then the Jewish nation is certainly desperate to recover its own members. You may remember that tens of thousands of Israelis protested regularly for Gilad Shalit to be freed from Hamas captivity. Today, Hamas is holding a much larger number of captives, including elderly people, children, and even babies. The impact on Israeli society cannot be overstated, and passions over this issue are clearly running high.

A couple of weeks ago, Hamas released two elderly women as part of its psychological warfare against Israel. It also released two videos of the captives. The first video featured two women who praised Hamas for its treatment of them, while the second contained statements from two other hostages, 76-year-old Chana Katzir and 12-year-old Yagil Yaakov, both of whom were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7. The footage was so painful that the Israeli media decided not to air it.

Visiting the Eliyahu Family

As of this writing, 47 soldiers of the IDF have been killed in Gaza. Every soldier who is killed al kiddush Hashem and gives up his life in defense of the Jewish people is special and valued. We know that every such soldier earns a place in the upper worlds in the company of great tzaddikim and in close proximity to the Kisei Hakavod. But every time a name of a fallen soldier is released, we all feel the grief and pain of his surviving family members. Our thoughts focus on the bereaved family; many of these soldiers leave behind young widows and small children, and we know that their losses will continue to haunt them throughout their lives. The only consolation they may receive is that their loved ones have ascended to a place in Shomayim reserved for the holiest and purest of Jews.

The news of such losses is always painful, regardless of the victims’ identities. But when the victim is a personal acquaintance, it takes on an added dimension of tragedy. This Shabbos, the serenity of the day was shattered for me when my neighbor told me, “I heard in shul that the Eliyahu family was informed that their son was killed. They will be sitting shiva on Rechov Rav Chaim Vital.”

The bereaved father, Rav Yoram Eliyahu, is a prominent figure in Givat Shaul and Kiryat Moshe and a highly accomplished individual. His son, Yedidya, was extremely humble during his lifetime, but his outstanding character has now been revealed. The participants at his funeral learned that the niftar was a noble young man, a tzaddik who always shared the suffering of his fellow Jews and always sought to grow closer to Hashem, and who was always suffused with good cheer. They also learned about the greatness of his family—Yedidya’s parents, his wife’s parents, and the young couple. Yedidya and Meitar Eliyahu have two daughters, and the young widow is due to give birth soon to their third child. It is heartrending.

I visited the family during the shiva. A tent had been erected near the family’s home (with funding from the Yerushalayim municipality, to the credit of Mayor Moshe Leon) for the men, while the women visited the female mourners inside their home. An assortment of mourning notices had been posted on the wall outside their home, from sources including Talmud Torah Eretz HaMoriah, Morasha, the neighborhood tzedokah fund, Machon Meir, the IDF, the city of Yerushalayim, and “the children of Gan Zemer and their teacher.” The Eliyahu family is a family of educators and givers. There was also one more sign that I could not ignore, which bore the word “Revenge!” in large print.

The tent was large but crowded. The visitors were trying to comfort the bereaved father, but it seemed to me that he was the one consoling them instead. There was a wide range of visitors—young and old alike, men in knitted yarmulkes alongside others with black hats. A combination of shared grief and admiration spurred many of them to come here. At the entrance to the tent, there was a journal in which the visitors were invited to share their thoughts and feelings. One visitor wrote, “Yedidya will always remain with us.” Another visitor, clearly a child, had written, “Yedidya used to walk me home every Friday night. He davened together with me all the time.” The child added that Yedidya had always organized shiurim, which he funded at great cost. Other visitors also shared some remarkable stories about the niftar with me.

While I was there, I encountered Rabbi Yitzchok Zev, a noted talmid chochom and askan who manages a branch of an organization known as Nevat Yisroel. Reb Yitzchok knew Yedidya very well; in fact, they were related to each other through a branch of the family that also includes Rebbetzin Margalit Yosef, the wife of Rav Ovadiah Yosef. This information was repeated to me by Rav Yitzchak Yosef, who came to visit the family as well. Rabbi Zev spoke effusively about the niftar: “Even as a child, he was an outstanding figure in the community. He was known for his pleasant personality, his love for Torah, and his constant smile. He was capable of smiling even under adverse circumstances. When his car’s radiator broke, he sat next to the car and smiled. I said to him, ‘Yedidya, why aren’t you getting upset? Why aren’t you kicking the car in frustration?’ But he continued smiling and said to me, ‘Everything is from Shomayim.’”

He added that Yedidya had the opportunity to leave the front lines, which would have saved his life, but he insisted on staying and fighting. His commanders had ordered him to leave, but then he heard one of his superior officers telling someone that the soldier who was responsible for manning the gun in his tank was paralyzed by fear. Without even asking anyone, Yedidya took his place in the tank. The soldiers then encountered a group of terrorists who were waiting to ambush them when they emerged from the tank, and Yedidya was the first to emerge. He had no fear; he believed with complete emunah that he was performing a mission. His secular commanding officer related that Yedidya had taught him tefillas haderech. He had an enormous heart, which overflowed with love and the desire to give to others. Tragically, he died from a wound to the heart.

May Hashem avenge the spilled blood of His servants!

Concern for Hostages Tainted by Hatred for Netanyahu

The families of the hostages in Gaza have been receiving the backing of many organizations and public figures. They have already begun pressuring the government to secure their loved ones’ freedom, which is certainly both their right and their duty as family members. Demonstrations are already being staged throughout Israel to show solidarity with the families. There is only one problem: It isn’t always clear whether a demonstration is being held on behalf of the hostages or out of left-wing animosity toward Netanyahu.

I observed this for myself this past Thursday. I was on my way to the Knesset when I noticed a tent that had been erected outside the prime minister’s office. It was clearly part of a demonstration calling for freedom for the hostages, and I parked my car and entered the tent to demonstrate that I identified with the cause. At first, I approved of what I saw. There was a sign that read, “Tom’s blood is crying out from the safe room door in Kissufim.” Another bore the slogan, “They are sanctifying the land instead of life.” A third sign read, “1441 dead, 240 kidnapped—and each a full world.” It was all so true and so sad. My thoughts focused on davening and giving tzedokah in memory of the deceased and begging Hashem for the liberation of the captives. At that moment, I felt a strong kinship with the people sitting in this tent; I shared their anguish and their sorrow.

But then I saw another sign, with a very different message: “Netanyahu is to blame!” I was taken aback; this was utterly out of place. What could possibly be the connection between faulting Netanyahu for the massacre and seeking freedom for the hostages? I also noticed a group of photographers instructing several adults about where to stand and how to position their signs. I presumed that the pictures would appear in the press soon enough. The people obediently moved around, following the instructions they received; the Ministry of Finance, ironically decorated with a large sign with the slogan “B’Yachad Nenatzeiach—We Will Win Together,” was the backdrop for the photograph. One of the men held a placard with an outrageous message: “Bibi Netanyahu the failure, the blood of the 1400 victims is on your hands and your name forever. Go to prison!” The same man wore a shirt bearing another infuriating slogan: “The soldiers of Yom Kippur 1973 are fighting for the character of the state.” It was abundantly clear that he was a leftist. In his other hand, he held an Israeli flag. In the background was another massive sign bearing a large illustration calling for Netanyahu’s ouster. I could only conclude that these liberals’ hatred for Netanyahu was greater than their concern for the hostages, since they were taking a risk of losing the support and sympathy of half the people. Despite all the talk of unity and the distaste for polarization in the wake of the events of October 7, it seems that some people will never get the message.

One of the women in the tent noticed that I was having trouble standing and offered me a plastic chair. I sat down and asked her, “Why are you bringing your opposition for Netanyahu into this issue? Why mix politics into the pure, just cause of seeking freedom for the hostages?”

The woman looked at me in complete bewilderment. “I don’t understand your question,” she said candidly. “It’s his fault!”

“Really?” I replied. “Are you sure about that? Maybe the blame lies with Aviv Kochavi, the former chief of staff, or with Dovid Barnea, the head of the Mossad? Or perhaps it’s Ronen Bar of the Shabak, or Aharon Chalivah of the Military Intelligence Directorate, or the current chief of staff, Herzi Halevi. Who said that it was Netanyahu’s fault?”

The woman did not have an answer to my question, other than to tell me that Bibi Netanyahu had the greatest seniority of all those officials. An older man standing nearby, who was taking great care to remain outside the tent, called out to her, “You are making a grave mistake. I support Bibi, and of course I support the hostages. It’s because of you that I can’t identify with your protest.”

The woman turned to him with an expression of distaste. “Then get out of here!” she shouted.

“I agree with that man,” I told her. “You are taking the cause of the hostages, which everyone agrees about, and making half the people unable to support you because they don’t share your antipathy toward Bibi.”

“Half the people?” she repeated. “But the majority of Israel today favors the left!”

I was astonished by this claim, which was patently absurd. “On the contrary,” I replied, “it is the leftists who have crossed over since the massacre. The people on the right haven’t changed their views, but many liberals are saying that they have become disillusioned and no longer believe in coexistence with the Arabs.”

At that point, the man outside piped up again. “You don’t wage a political battle during a war!”

The woman, however, refused to accept his words. “How can you say that?” she demanded. “If you catch a preschool teacher abusing the children, wouldn’t you make sure to have her replaced immediately? How is this any different?” This was a more convincing argument than her previous attempt, but I felt that the analogy was very weak.

I was beginning to grow concerned that the irate woman in the tent and the man shouting from outside would come to blows with each other. After all, they were addressing each other with overt hostility. A combative atmosphere began to develop, as people gathered around them to watch the spectacle. “My friends, please don’t fight,” I said to them, trying to dispel the tension.

What happened next left me absolutely astounded: The woman poured a cup of cold water and handed it to the man. “Take this and calm down,” she said to him. A few minutes later, they began walking away together. The man turned around and winked at me as they left. “This is my wife; what can I do?” he said.

Meanwhile, an elderly woman offered me a cup of water as well. I declined politely, but I thanked her graciously for the offer. She looked puzzled. “What did I do to deserve such thanks?” she asked. “It was just a cup of water.”

“It’s not the water,” I replied. “It’s the fact that you were thinking of me. That, after all, is why we are here. Because we think about the hostages, we are not able to remain indifferent. That’s what defines a human being: when he shares another person’s burden.”

Another person I met at the protest tent was Yehuda, a young bochur from Beitar Illit. Yehuda previously learned in Talmud Torah Nitei Meir and went on from there to an ordinary high school. Today, he is spending his time in the tent, showing solidarity with the hostages. “I volunteer here,” he told me. “I do everything I can.” He asked me to wear a yellow wristband, and then he offered one to another religious man who stood beside me. The other man had an excellent response at the ready: “I have a yarmulke, peyos, and tzitzis; I don’t need anything else to show my kinship with them.”

When I left the tent, it was with a feeling of disquietude. My only interest was in showing solidarity with the hostages; I had no desire to demand Netanyahu’s dismissal. Yet for some reason, these protestors felt the need to link the two ideas, which can only be harmful to the hostages’ cause.

American Officials Visit the Kosel

The incoming American ambassador to Israel recently visited the Kosel Hamaaravi, in his first visit after presenting his appointment to President Yitzchok Herzog. As soon as he assumed his position, Jack Lew—whom some might call Jacob Lew, and whom the machmirim would call Yaakov Lev—headed for the Kosel, where he was greeted by Rav Shmuel Rabinovich, the rov of the Kosel and other mekomos kedoshim. Rav Rabinovich first received the visitor in his office. Ambassador Lew, the successor to Ambassador Tom Nides, lit a candle in memory of the Israelis murdered in the war and then davened Maariv and recited Tehillim and a tefillah for Israel’s success. During his visit, the ambassador expressed his support and solidarity when he met a group of soldiers and families who were evacuated from the combat zone and were present at the Kosel upon his arrival.

The new ambassador wasn’t the only high-profile visitor to arrive at the Kosel in recent days.

Gaza Terrorists Turn on Israeli Peace Activists

Something has happened to the Israeli left since the brutal massacre in Kibbutz Beeri, a community that has always been closely identified with the peace activists on the left side of the political map. Ayelet Baum, who lives in the kibbutz and lost her husband and son in the massacre, now hopes to see the Hamas terrorists completely wiped out. “Our house was always a place for seeking peace,” she said. “Today, I have no pity for them.”

It is hard to overlook the fact that the terrorists began their murderous rampage specifically in Kibbutz Beeri, the place that was most closely identified with the left and its dovish stance. It was reported that the terrorists received clear directions and details on the community from a specific Arab from Gaza who was a regular visitor in the homes of the kibbutz members. This Arab seems to have known that the members of the kibbutz worked on Shabbos; he was not aware that Simchas Torah was not like any other Shabbos. And many peace activists were among the victims of the rampage. Shani Louk, who died a torturous death, declared herself a conscientious objector and refused to join the army. Another peace activist is Maoz Yinon, who opened a hostel in Nazareth with a joint program for Arabs and Jews, which he established with the help of a Palestinian family. He also founded Abraham Tours and regularly organized ideological tours, with destinations that include the Palestinian Authority. He has also brought tour groups to Netiv Ha’Asarah, the moshav where his parents lived—until they were murdered by Arab terrorists on October 7.

And the list goes on. Vivian Silver of Kibbutz Beeri is in Gaza. Nili Margalit, the cousin of the former chairman of B’Tselem, was likewise abducted. Ophelia Roitman, the aunt of Miki Kratsman, chairman of Breaking the Silence, is missing. Ditza Heiman, the mother of Neta Heiman Mina of the organization Women Wage Peace, has been abducted. Evyatar Kipnis, the father of Yotam Kipnis, a member of the administration of Zazim (an organization dedicated to “advancing collaborative democracy, active citizenship, human rights, equality, and social and environmental justice”), was murdered. Tom Godo was murdered in Kissufim; his father, Yaakov, is active in an organization that calls itself Looking the Occupation in the Eye. Yocheved Lifshitz, the 85-year-old hostage who was released and became known throughout the world, volunteered for an organization that helped sick residents of Gaza receive medical treatment in Israel. Her husband, who is still being held by Hamas, also volunteered for the same organization, as did Chaim Peri of Nir Oz, who is still in captivity as well. Adi Dagan of Beeri, who was murdered by the terrorists, was a volunteer driver who used to help transport Gazans. Eli Orgad of Kfar Aza and Tami Sochman of Beeri used to volunteer to drive Gazan patients from the Erez Crossing to Israeli hospitals for medical care; both were murdered in the attack. And Nadav Weiman joined Breaking the Silence with the encouragement of Shachar Tzemach, his commander in the army. Tzemach, who was a member of Kibbutz Beeri’s security patrol, put his own life on the line to save his friends. He fought the terrorists from Gaza for seven full hours, until he was killed.

Every single one of these stories is heartbreaking! I can think only of the words of Avinu Malkeinu: “Our Father, our King, act for Your sake if not for ours!”

The State Bungles the Evacuations

As usual, Israel has been performing below par when it comes to providing for its citizens. The evacuation of communities in the south has turned into one giant failure. Many of the families of evacuees were sent to hotels that weren’t prepared to host them. Even worse, the southern residents who left their communities on their own accord found themselves living under terrible conditions until the government realized that they, too, deserved the status of evacuees and some assistance from the state—and in some cases the government still hasn’t followed through on that realization.

The plight of the religious families, in particular, is very distressing. A rough calculation would put the number of such families among the evacuees at over 2000, most of them from Ashkelon (about 750 families) and Netivot (about 700). Strangely enough, Ashkelon seems to be targeted by missiles more than any other city, even Sderot and the other communities near the border. There were also 350 religious families evacuated from Ofakim, 180 from Sderot, 175 from Beer Sheva, and 35 from Tifrach. The yeshiva of Tifrach, meanwhile, has returned to its location after the talmidim spent a short period of time learning in various other botei medrash around the country. But hundreds of families are still being housed in rudimentary conditions in simcha halls in Bnei Brak. Many of those families live in Netivot, where no official evacuation order was issued at first; these residents simply chose to leave of their own volition. That may have been enough of a reason for the government to leave them to fend for themselves in the beginning, but even that flimsy excuse has since evaporated.

Some chareidi families were placed in hotels in Netanya, Tel Aviv, and even Eilat; they are now living under conditions that are far from suitable for religious families. The standards of Shabbos observance and kashrus in these hotels are far below their own, and the atmosphere is utterly foreign to them. I recently spoke with a baal teshuvah who was sent to the Nova Hotel in Eilat along with his family, and he cried on the phone. There are no minyanim, he told me, and there was music playing on Shabbos. He and his children barely ever leave their room. They asked to be transferred to a hotel where other religious families have been placed, but the response was nothing but callous indifference. What a shame!

A Change of Location

I will conclude this week’s column with a true story that is both amusing and meaningful.

A bochur whom I know, who learned in an excellent yeshiva and grew up in a simple, modest home, and who has always led a life devoid of luxuries or frills, became engaged to a young lady from a wealthy family. The chosson’s family, with their modest lifestyle, felt that they could not allow the wedding to be held in any venue more elaborate than Armonot Chen in Bnei Brak, a simple hall that caters to families of limited financial means. The kallah’s affluent family, however, insisted on holding the wedding in Hadar Dimol, a nicer wedding hall on the border of Bnei Brak and Ramat Gan, which serves wealthier families. The bochur turned to his rosh yeshiva for advice, and the rosh yeshiva said to him, “You can tell them that you don’t want anything fancier than Keter HaRimon, but don’t turn it into a quarrel.” Keter HaRimon, on Rechov Hashomer in Bnei Brak, is considered the most upscale wedding hall in the city, but it is still in Bnei Brak. Nevertheless, the kallah’s father refused to give in. He had his heart set on Hadar Dimol, and no one could convince him to accept any other venue.

As it turned out, however, it wasn’t the kallah’s father who had the final say. Two days before the wedding, the venue was indeed changed from Hadar Dimol to Keter HaRimon. Due to the security situation, the Hadar Dimol hall was forced to limit its occupancy to 300 people at a time, whereas Keter HaRimon, with its open space and multiple safe rooms, was permitted to hold up to 700 people—and the baalei simcha had invited one thousand guests to the wedding.

As the posuk tells us, “retzon yereiov ya’aseh.”

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