Monday, Jun 10, 2024

My Take on the News

 

Hostility in the Court

This week’s top story, without a doubt, was the Supreme Court hearing this Sunday that dealt with the draft of yeshiva bochurim. The proceedings were broadcast live around the country, and I am sure that many people tuned in to watch the debate. Of course, everyone tried to find an encouraging sign in the judges’ comments during the session, but the hostility to the yeshiva bochurim was unmistakable. The debate was heard by a panel of nine judges, most of whom are longstanding members of the Supreme Court and some of whom are considered more conservative, while others are on the opposite end of the political spectrum. The panel was headed by Acting Chief Justice Uz Fogelman and Justices Yitzchok Amit (who is slated to become the next chief justice, provided that he can get past the opposition of Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who wants to see the court headed by a more conservative candidate), Noam Sohlberg (who wears a yarmulke but whose comments did not bode well for the outcome of the hearing), Dafna Barak-Erez, David Mintz, Yael Wilner, Alex Stein (another kippah-wearing judge, whose comments were likewise unencouraging), Ofer Grosskopf, and Gila Canfy-Steinitz. You may remember that the court first convened to discuss this issue in February, at which time the judges asserted that there is no legal basis for continuing to offer a blanket exemption from the draft to yeshiva students in the absence of a law to that effect. (Of course, the absence of a law is the court’s fault, since the Supreme Court previously struck down the law that permitted the draft deferrals.) At that time, the court issued a conditional injunction ordering the state to cease funding yeshivos. This Sunday’s court session was prompted by new petitions that were filed with the court, calling on the judges to make those injunctions permanent and to order the state to begin drafting bnei yeshivos immediately.

The petitioners argued that after the previous draft law expired nearly a year ago — since it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2017 — and the government decision extending the law expired in March, there is no legal basis for the army to refrain from drafting talmidim in yeshivos. They also argued that the state and the government lack the authority to continue issuing deferrals and that they have violated the principles of the rule of law, equality, and social justice. They called on the Supreme Court to order the army to begin drafting chareidim immediately. The government, for its part, tried to persuade the Supreme Court to give it a chance to pass a new draft law during the current Knesset session, which will run until the end of July. About two weeks ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office announced that a bill formulated under the previous government would be advanced in the current Knesset.

The government was represented before the Supreme Court by a private attorney, due to the ongoing conflict between the government and the attorney general on this subject. The position conveyed by advocates Doron Taubman and Yaron Lipshes was that the best way to resolve this complicated public issue and prevent a rift within the people would be through the advancement of an arrangement for military and national service based on a broad consensus.

The Hearing Ends Without a Verdict

The government offered the judges a proposal of its own: a program that would include draft quotas that would increase every year by small increments, with participants in national service counting toward the quotas. According to this proposal, the draft quota for chareidim would stand at 1973 enlistees in 2024 and would rise gradually through the year 2036, when it would hit the cap of 6715 bnei yeshivos. These figures take into account the fact that there are about 13,000 candidates for the draft in yeshivos every year. In addition, the government proposed lowering the draft exemption age from 26 to 21 and then raising it back to 23 in a couple of years. This is the proposal that Benny Gantz opposes, as I have mentioned in previous articles. Gantz has dismissed it as a political ploy and a proposal that is no longer relevant to the reality in Israel after October 7. Moreover, he claims that even when it was first introduced, the bill wasn’t adequate and was meant as a stopgap measure until a more permanent arrangement could be passed. Attorney General Baharav-Miara likewise opposed the proposal, and that is even more outrageous: The attorney general is supposed to be advising the government, but she is hindering it instead.

Baharav-Miara maintains the position that since the government’s decision to refrain from drafting yeshiva bochurim expired in March of this year, it no longer has the authority to follow this blanket policy. Consequently, she insists that the official state bodies have a legal obligation to set the draft process for talmidei yeshivos in motion. She also rejects the law that the government is trying to promote, which she dismisses as unconstitutional since it doesn’t take the current needs of the army, in light of the war on multiple fronts, into account.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was equally unhelpful to the government. He did not express his position in the court, but according to the legal advisor of the Defense Ministry, the proposed law does not meet its goals of expanding the draft and integrating chareidim into the workforce. Baharav-Miara notified the Supreme Court last week that the defense establishment has been preparing a plan to gradually draft chareidim, which would make it possible for 3000 chareidi youths to be inducted into the army in the draft year of 2024. It was also noted that 250 chareidi combat soldiers and another 462 chareidi combat support soldiers enlisted in the IDF in May and that the enlistment rates are now higher than in the past three years.

I listened to the court hearing. The fact that the attorney general was at loggerheads with the government was blatantly obvious with regard to a very important issue: how many bochurim would be drafted in the first phase of any plan. The government spoke about an initial draft of fewer than 2000 chareidi youths, but the attorney general named a much higher figure of 3000. Of course, this number will have a significant impact on later developments as well.

Two other individuals testified before the court whose statements were of great interest to us: Advocate Shmuel Horowitz, who represented the Igud HaYeshivos in Eretz Yisroel, and Advocate Dovid Shub, who represented the same organization. The two attorneys tried arguing that it is unacceptable to conscript yeshiva bochurim in violation of their faith, basing their argument on the right to freedom of religion. They also argued that the economic sanctions are unethical, and they pointed out the double standard inherent in the fact that bnei yeshivos are being targeted for the draft while Arabs are not even summoned for conscription at all.

The judges dismissed all these arguments. In response to their claim of freedom of religion, Justice Grosskopf said, “If a rabbi tells them tomorrow that they should not pay taxes, will we have to exempt them from that obligation as well?” Justice Stein said, “Even a bad law is still a law, and our job is to enforce it.” And Justice Fogelman said, “We have gone quite a distance.” Worst of all was Noam Sohlberg who questioned why the attorney general felt that the government should settle for drafting only 3000 bochurim rather than taking in many more, and who emphasized repeatedly that Israel is in a state of war. This, even though Sohlberg wears a yarmulke and is considered a more conservative judge…. And when an attorney spoke about the fact that some of the soldiers bearing the burden have gone on reserve duty “again and again,” one of the judges piped up, “Again and again and again,” meaning that they have already performed three rounds of reserve duty. It was very clear where the judges’ sympathies lay.

I could easily go on for multiple pages here about the court proceedings, but it seems superfluous to me; the picture is quite clear. It is hard to predict the future, but it is easy enough to guess that the court will rule against the chareidim; the only question is to what extent they will take that stance. In any event, the court adjourned after seven hours, and the acting chief justice announced that the judges planned to deliberate on the case.

Policing the Police

We were all horrified by the images that emerged from Meron on Lag Ba’omer. The people who came to Meron without authorization may have been wrong and negligent, but even if that was the case, the crimes of the police officers were far more heinous. There is no way to defend a police officer who strikes or inflicts bodily harm on a civilian, even if the civilian is a criminal, and certainly if the victim is an elderly person. Their actions were even more reprehensible since they targeted people who were fully authorized to be present in the area. The problem is that we all tend to be aghast when these things occur, and then our horror slowly fades as the incidents recede from our memory, and the police have an opportunity to cover up their misdeeds. If the police officers who beat Chaim Mizrachi somehow managed to evade punishment — keeping in mind that Chaim was even brought to the Knesset by the members of the Shas party — then what will happen to other offenders in uniform?

The Machash, otherwise known as the DIPI (Department of Internal Police Investigations), hurried to open a probe of three incidents of violence that occurred in Meron. One of those cases involved a police officer who fired a pistol in the air, another was the case in which an elderly man was shoved and sustained a head injury, and the third was the beating of an older woman. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir had already made an agreement with the commander of the Border Guard that the three officers would be suspended until the investigation was concluded, and the DIPI released a statement explaining its actions to the public: “Earlier today, two Border Guard officers who were seen engaging in violence against civilians in Meron yesterday were questioned under warning by the investigative division of the DIPI. The suspects were released and ordered to keep their distance from police facilities for several days and to refrain from initiating contact with others regarding the issue under investigation. Our investigations are continuing.”

Of course, there was good reason for the authorities to be worried. The pictures and videos that emerged from Meron were shocking. Even Netanyahu publicly called on the police to investigate the incident to prevent unnecessary harm to civilians.

It was only to be expected that police chief Yaakov Shabtai, who is not on good terms with Minister Ben-Gvir, would oppose the investigation. Sure enough, Shabtai complained to the attorney general that Ben-Gvir had circumvented him by contacting the commander of the Border Guard without notifying him first — a ludicrous complaint in light of the strained relationship between the two men. “The officers were not suspended; they were only removed from operational duty until the end of the investigation,” Shabtai said, citing the regulation that only the head of the manpower division of the police is authorized to suspend officers, while the commander of the Border Guard can do no more than removing them from operational duty.

Putting aside the conflict between Ben-Gvir and Shabtai, let’s focus on the main question here: Will these police officers actually be punished for their brutality, and will the punishment be enough to serve as a deterrent against future acts of violence? Will we be able to rest assured that we will no longer witness such horrific scenes? These are the important questions, and I will not be surprised if the answers turn out to be disappointing. It is very possible that the offending officers will soon be back in uniform, returning to their duties and their violent ways. After all, that is exactly what happened to the police officers who violently beat young men on the autistic spectrum, and to those who abused and harassed chareidim during the period of the coronavirus. It will take vigilance and hard work to put an end to the phenomenon of violence.

The Peyos Incident

On that note, MK Simon Moshiashvili (Shas) submitted a parliamentary query titled “Suspension of Border Guard Officer Who Pulled the Peyos of a Chareidi Protestor.” The query speaks for itself: “On February 15, 2024, several media outlets reported (enclosed is an example) that the commander of the Border Guard suspended a Border Guard officer who was filmed pulling the peyos of a chareidi protestor during a public disturbance in Yerushalayim (in a protest against the authorities’ refusal to release the body of a minor for burial). The suspension will remain in effect for the duration of the internal investigation. According to the article, the commander of the Border Guard set up an investigative committee to probe the incident. The article concludes, ‘The commander decided to remove the officer from operational duty until the incident has been fully probed.’ This leads us to several questions: First, is there a difference between an officer who is suspended from all activity and one who has been removed from operational duty? If so, what is the difference between the two terms? Was there an internal investigation, and was a committee indeed established? Now that three months have passed since that time, have the investigations concluded? If so, what were the findings regarding that incident, and what conclusions were drawn as a result? Is the officer still suspended or removed from duty, and have any disciplinary measures been taken against him? Finally, has this incident been referred to the DIPI for criminal investigation?”

Moshiashvili and his office staff deserve much credit for their efforts. This parliamentary query and others like it are highly effective tools for preventing the police from covering up misconduct. I will be very interested to find out the answer that he receives regarding that incident, as well as how the ministry will respond to any queries that are filed about the violence in Meron.

The Knesset Committees’ Negligence

As you are likely aware, the Knesset has returned to work for the summer session. Until now, its work has been completely disrupted by the war. After Simchas Torah, when the Knesset reconvened after its Tishrei recess, we were all in shock. The Tuesday sittings were canceled altogether, and the Knesset dealt with very few topics on Mondays and Wednesdays; anything that was brought up for discussion was somehow connected to the war. Most of the discussions revolved around new laws, all of which were sponsored by the government; there were no private bills brought to the floor for a vote. In fact, the Knesset prevented its members from doing almost anything: drafting bills, submitting parliamentary queries, filing motions for the agenda, and so forth. The real purpose of this was to cut down the discussions in the Knesset and avoid rancor during wartime. When the summer session began a couple of weeks ago, however, the rules were changed and the Knesset returned to its regular schedule — but that does not mean that it is functioning as it should.

I am particularly vexed by two of the Knesset committees: the Interior Committee and the Internal Security Committee (which used to be a single body). On Wednesday, 25 Sivan 5783, about one year ago, MK Erez Malul submitted a motion for the agenda titled “Exorbitant Prices for Basic Goods in Prisons.” When he presented his motion to the Knesset, Malul delivered a sharply worded and poignant speech in which he discussed the astonishingly high cost of the use of a public telephone in prison, which is a blatant exploitation of a captive (literally) population. Malul mentioned that MK Moshe Abutbul, the former mayor of Beit Shemesh who is today the Minister of Agriculture, had raised the issue four years earlier, and at the time he exacted a promise from then-Minister Gilad Erdan that the shameful situation would be brought to an end. (Erdan, incidentally, is now Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. and Washington, where he is due to complete his term very soon.) Malul’s motion was accepted by the Knesset, and the issue was officially transferred to the National Security Committee for further discussion and examination.

A couple of weeks later, MK Avrohom Betzalel submitted a different motion for the agenda, dealing with the fact that Modiin Illit is the only city in Israel with only one entrance, which often leaves its residents stuck for long periods in heavy traffic congestion. In his masterful speech, Betzalel painted a vivid picture of the distress experienced by the city’s residents and the intolerable traffic jams. He pointed out that the situation is not merely a matter of convenience but actually poses a security threat. He received a long and detailed answer from Deputy Minister Uri Maklev, and MK Yisroel Eichler, who was chairing the session, announced for the benefit of the Knesset protocols, “The Knesset has decided unanimously to transfer this discussion to the Interior and Environmental Protection Committees for discussion. Please ensure that it does not drop from the agenda, because tens of thousands of families are suffering from this situation on a daily basis.”

This brings me to the reason for my astonishment: Both of these issues, which were transferred to the committees for discussion, have yet to be brought up in a committee session. Neither of these distinguished committees seems to have seen fit to deal with these topics, even though nearly a year has passed since they were raised in the Knesset.

Solidarity with Special Children

Yedidya’s father managed to evoke a powerful flurry of emotions in the Knesset auditorium.

Let me explain. Yedidya’s father was one of five parents of children on the autistic spectrum who appeared at an event in the Knesset. These parents took turns addressing their audience, delivering monologues that made a powerful impression on their listeners. Their appearance in the Knesset was in honor of World Autism Awareness Day, an event spearheaded by MKs Yoni Mashriki and Yossi Taib, with the collaboration of two organizations dedicated to assisting children with autism: Shtilim (founded by Yisroel Reisner and his wife) and Mesugalim (founded by Avi Mimran and his wife). It is often said at such events that not a single eye in the room remained dry; in this case, I would say that there wasn’t a single heart that wasn’t broken. I have been in the Knesset for many years, and I cannot remember ever attending such a poignant event.

The people standing on the stage, who elicited an outpouring of sympathy and tears from their audience, were introduced as Weinberg from Haifa, Gabai from Kochav Yaakov, Samielov from Bat Yam, Katz from Yerushalayim, and Almakavi from Lod (who called herself “the grandmother of Zaki, the angel of our family”). The wide range of ethnicities served to remind us that autism does not differentiate between different sectors or communities.

“My Baily is a happy child,” Esther Katz said, “even though she hardly speaks. I hope that she will acquire more tools for communication and will be able to express what she feels and that we will always be able to understand what is on her mind. I hope that we will one day be able to hear her say the word ‘todah,’ and perhaps eventually the two words ‘ani me’usheret — I am happy.’”

The parents were not there to bemoan their lot in life, nor were the dedicated volunteers who attended the event with them interested in airing complaints. All they wanted was understanding and inclusion. We all found ourselves choking on tears when one of the mothers spoke in a Mesugalim video about the neighbors who called the police on their child with special needs. The message was clear to us: It wasn’t the child with autism who was foolish or detached from reality; it was the neighbors! “We call Mesugalim the way some people call an ambulance when something is wrong,” one father said. “They are there for us when the family falls apart.”

“What are we asking for?” the parents exclaimed. “All we want is for you to do whatever you can so that we will have the strength to continue caring for our children!”

Yedidya’s father delivered a powerful monologue, in which he pretended to be quoting his son: “My name is Yedidya Weinberg, I am 14 and a half years old, and my world is a little bit confused. People say many things around me, and I don’t quite understand them. I also have trouble getting dressed on my own; everything becomes a mess for me. I love music to an extreme, but it is hard for me to read, and I can’t manage with numbers at all. However, I have a charming smile, and I love complicated words. I am afraid to be in a room without noise, and I have a very special voice and an incredible beat. I have a younger brother named Meir who is truly autistic, but he is adorable and I am crazy about him. And what is daylight savings time, anyway? Ima, who are all these people? I can’t breathe!”

Reisner, whose work I was learning about for the first time, shared a fantastic vort. He thanked the government for assisting children with special needs, he mentioned the loving and dedicated circle of people who surround them, and he expressed his hope that the Knesset will become an engine of growth driving the development of the support system that is so badly needed for these children and their families, and that the special institutions will continue to grow. He mentioned the Gemara’s account about Rabi Preida (Eiruvin 54b), who had a talmid who needed to be taught every lesson 400 times, and once required his rebbi to review a single lesson 800 times. When that happened, the Gemara relates, a bas kol announced that Rabi Preida and his entire generation would have a place in Olam Haba. “Why was this reward given to his entire generation?” Rav Yisroel asked and then proceeded to answer his own question. “Rabi Preida couldn’t have invested so much time and energy in this talmid unless he knew that this was what the generation expected of him. And that is what our children with special needs expect of us as well.”

A Moving Event at the Home of Rav Chanoch Karelenstein

Everyone who was at the home of Rav Chanoch Henoch Karelenstein in Givat Shaul last week was treated to a clear demonstration that Rav Chanoch’s legacy still lives on. Before Hashem caused the sun to set on the life of a man who was expected to light up the entire world, He prepared his illustrious sons to take his place. Rav Aryeh Karelenstein serves as a rosh kollel in Yerushalayim, Rav Yaakov Moshe is in Bnei Brak, Rav Ephraim is in Kiryat Sefer, and Rav Yeruchom delivers shiurim in all three locations and heads a chaburah in Ramot. All four men oversee the network of kollelim known as Ohel Chanoch, which was founded in memory of Rav Chanoch Karelenstein, a spiritual giant who excelled in every area of endeavor. He was a famed marbitz Torah and an author of popular seforim on the moadim (including the well-known Eitzos Lizkos B’Yom Hadin). Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz once declared about one of his seforim, “This work can rightly be called a holy sefer, because its author is a holy man!”

The event was held to celebrate the publication of Kovetz Ohel Chanoch, a collection of chiddushim on the sugyos being studied in the kollelim. The speakers waxed effusive about the Karelenstein family and about the yungeleit in the kollelim, a group of over 100 men of excellent caliber who are suffused with dedication to spiritual growth and Torah learning. Many accolades were showered on Rav Aryeh for his dedication to the yungeleit. The kollelim, it seems, are more than just a set of institutions founded in memory of Rav Chanoch; they are the living embodiment of his spiritual legacy. Rav Chanoch Karelenstein excelled at uplifting thousands of talmidim, and his sons are following in his footsteps. The event triggered a wave of mixed emotions for all of us; we rejoiced in seeing everything that his children had accomplished, but we were also saddened by the void left behind by his passing. Rav Chanoch’s widow, Rebbetzin Tzira (nee Levin), was present as well, basking in her children’s accomplishments.

Rav Ezriel Auerbach, who was a close friend of Rav Chanoch, spoke about the niftar’s greatness and tremendous natural gifts and praised the yungeleit for committing their chiddushim to writing. “The Avnei Nezer, who was a marbitz Torah and taught talmidim in his yeshiva, lost his ability to speak and was distressed by the fact that he could no longer teach,” he related. “He ultimately found a way to continue teaching Torah by writing his chiddushim. This was the story behind his classic sefer Eglei Tal, which is such a brilliant work that the Chazon Ish once said that he did not understand why they referred to him as the Avnei Nezer rather than by the title of the Eglei Tal, a sefer that showcases his brilliance and stature as a talmid chochom.”

Rav Yosef Goldstein, Rav Chanoch’s son-in-law, spoke about his late father-in-law’s accomplishments in introducing new methods of learning and harbotzas Torah, which went on to gain tremendous popularity. Regarding his brilliance as a talmid chochom, he related, “He used to choose a topic for a shiur when he was on his way to the bais medrash. As soon as he arrived, he would take his place in front of the aron kodesh and launch into an elaborate and brilliant lecture, with virtually no preparation.”

Rav Dovid Mintzer, the nosi of the kollelim and a mechutan of Rav Chanoch, sketched a vivid profile of the illustrious rov. “He reached the pinnacle of perfection in his middos and was connected to the Torah in every sense,” he said. Rav Chanoch’s son, Rav Aryeh, spoke about the major events of his father’s life and his sterling character. Once again, we all felt a pang of sadness at the fact that Rav Chanoch’s life was cut tragically short.

A Historic Shul in Romema

Anyone who is seeking refuge from the tumultuous events of our times can find a comfortable haven in the Eliyahu Hanovi shul in the neighborhood of Romema in Yerushalayim, which is only about a minute’s drive from the entrance to the city. The shul has much to offer — even more than the comfort of the air conditioning, the almost constant availability of refreshments in memory of various niftarim, the comfortable chairs, and the immaculate facilities. Above all, there is the shul itself! The Eliyohu Hanovi shul is a modern-day teivas Noach, an oasis of tranquility in the wilderness of our world. For quite a while, I have considered advising Rav Moshe Cohen of the Bucharim-Geulah community to include the Eliyohu Hanovi shul in his project chronicling the histories of famous Sefardic shuls in Yerushalayim.

Stories have been told about Torah giants who were able to visit a place and discern that someone had built it with great mesirus nefesh. There are also stories in which the exact opposite took place, such as the following: Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, my illustrious rebbi, was once staying in London. Throughout his visit, his companions noticed that whenever he walked to shul from his accommodations, he tended to cross the street at a specific spot. When he was asked about this, he replied innocently, “I sense tumah there, and I want to get away from it.” A short investigation revealed that the rosh yeshiva had been prescient: That spot was once the location of a Christian house of prayer.

A person who enters the Eliyohu Hanovi shul, on the other hand, easily senses that he is enveloped by kedushah and the splendor of a historic hub of kedushah. The shul features continuous shiurim on daf yomi, halacha, and mussar, generally in the afternoon and evening hours when people have returned home from work. There is one large minyan and another two smaller minyanim, one Ashkenazic and the other Sefardic, every Shabbos. I am very fond of the shul and I try to visit it often, to take in a dvar Torah before Maariv and to meet some of its charming mispallelim. On weekdays, many Ashkenazic local residents come to daven there, and the rov delivers his daily shiur with great skill and responds pleasantly and cogently to every question.

A number of the mispallelim have filled me in on the history of the shul and its founder, Rav Shimon Cohen, who immigrated to Israel from Persia. His grandson, Rav Yonosan Cohen, is a well-known mechanech and highly accomplished individual who lives close to the shul. When I approached him, Rav Yonosan was happy to share some information about his illustrious grandfather. “My grandfather is the one who conceived of founding the shul in the first place,” he said, “and he worked hard for years, running from place to place from morning until evening until the shul had been completed.” The shul’s lower floor contains a simcha hall and a mikveh as well. And all of this is owed to the prodigious efforts of one man, Rav Shimon Cohen.

“What was all the running for?” I asked.

“He had to acquire permits from the city, he had to solicit government funding, he had to recruit donors, and he had to hold up against the opposition of people who did not want to see the shul completed.” When the shul was founded, the area where it is located was a mostly secular neighborhood. Rav Yonosan Cohen’s father, Rav Moshe (the son of Rav Shimon), who lives in Sanhedria, told me that he still remembers the building that previously occupied the shul’s location, which was the home of a Kurdish family. “The area was completely secular; there was nothing there,” he said.

Another of Rav Shimon’s sons is the head gabbai of the shul and the driving force behind its activities. Rav Shimon’s son-in-law, Rav Chanoch Cohen, is the rov of the shul and delivers shiurim there.

“I remember that there was a story about the bedrock beneath the shul impeding the construction,” I said.

“Yes,” Rav Yonosan confirmed. “My grandfather told me this story himself. A short time before his passing, I once asked him what zechus he possessed that enabled him to establish such a beautiful place of Torah and tefillah. He confessed that it had been a very difficult process, and then he told me about the bedrock. The rock was almost impenetrable, and when the first bulldozer was brought to begin the excavation, the blade of the shovel snapped. They sent for a different construction team, and the manager told him two days later that he had failed as well. It seemed as if there would be no way to break ground, but then my grandfather fasted for 40 days. After that time, the third construction team arrived and managed to easily penetrate the bedrock.”

“Have you heard of Rav Nissim Ovadiah?” I asked.

“I presume that that is a rhetorical question,” he replied. “Rav Nissim Ovadiah practically lived in the shul. He and the shul were one. He was very dedicated to this place and its mispallelim, and he always made the rounds of the shul to ensure that everyone would answer amen, recite brachos on besomim, and so forth. He passed away this past Elul, and the shivah was held in the shul. A huge chandelier was recently installed in the shul in his memory. His name was Nissim Chai, the son of Fruma and Yechezkel Ovadiah, and his yahrtzeit is 21 Elul. The chandelier was donated by the mispallelim as a sign of hakoras hatov.”

Rav Yonosan shared another story about his grandfather: “At the end of his life, my grandfather donated a sefer Torah to the shul. It had a very simple cloth covering, and after he passed away, I felt that we should invest in a more ornate case for it. One of his sons then said to me, ‘Your grandfather deliberately chose this simple covering so that the sefer would not be too heavy, and everyone would be able to perform hagbaha.’ The ornate cases for sifrei Torah tend to be much heavier. He wasn’t trying to save money; he wanted to make it easier for people to perform mitzvos. The parchment is also very thin, for the same reason. This parchment was much more costly, but my grandfather insisted on it.”

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