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3 posts from April 2006

Rav Moshe Halberstam, of blessed and saintly memory


The Jewish people mourn the loss of one of this generations greatest rabbis and most formidable personalities - a scholar of immense stature, religious court judge, lawgiver, educator, leader, and a charitable sage of phenominal piety and modesty - Rabbi Moshe Halberstam, zatza"l. Despite Rebbe Moshe's gentle manner, he was a fierce lion who feared no one but his Creator, and stood as a bulwark in his perpetual vigil of everything that is holy to Judaism. It's no wonder that his pure soul was recalled on Wednesday afternoon, the 13th day of the Omer (26 Apr., 2006), which indicates the holy sphere of Yessod Hagvura, the holiness of fierce heroism - nothing better could describe Rebbe Moshe zatza'l.

Rabbi Moshe Zatza'l was a scion of a long line of Judaism's greatest scholars.

I owe a personal debt to Rabbi Moshe Halberstam zatza'l for all the encouragement he had given me over the past dozen years. He agreed, despite his unbelievably busy schedule, to read the first manuscripts of a young Baal-Tshuva rabbi (yours truly!) when nobody else would give me the time of day. When my Hebrew book "Nafshi Sidom" first appeared, he bought eight copies, and ordered all of his sons and sons-in-law to learn the book. He gave me the blessing, "Chaicho l'oraissa" - may you use your strength for Torah, which he wrote in one of his approbations to my books.

We don't even realize who and what we've lost.

Rav Moshe Halberstam, please beg Hashem to put an end to 2000 years of diaspora and to the suffering of our people. Surely, there is no portal in Heaven that will deny you access. May your saintly, blessed, and beloved memory be a supplicant for your people Israel before the Heavenly Throne, amen.

Rav_moshe_halberstamladaatnet image courtesy of

Looking for a minyan in Iraq?

Captain Alex is one of my favorite people. He's a veteran Blackhawk pilot with the US Army Airborne Corps. Yet, one of his greatest accomplishments is that he founded the synagogue in Taji, Iraq. Hashem even arranged for a Cohen to be stationed at Taji, so if you're in the area and you need a minyan, drop on by!

Dsc01638 Sergeant Cohen (left) and Captain Alex (right), Taji, Iraq

Dsc01607 Captain Alex in the chopper cockpit

Dsc01610 Captain Alex with a view of a chopper's "luxurious" interior - this particular rotor-bird gets airborne troops to the hot spots fast.

The Modzitzer's roar

My good buddy Yitz from Heichal Hanegina sent me the following note & story:

Hi Reb Lazer!  Regarding your tobacco/Shabbos post, I'd like to share an incident which I heard from the brother of the one who heard it first-hand.

As you know, I have a connection to Chassidus Modzitz. One of the Modzitzer Chassidim lives in the Lower Galil, on Kfar Gideon, just outside of Afula. As you can imagine, someone dressed in Chassidic garb is a bit unusual to find on the Egged buses in this part of the country. So my friend's brother, R. Avraham, is travelling on the bus; a man spots him and asks him if he's a Gerer Chassid. Avraham says, No, I'm a Modzitzer. So the man says, "nuch besser" - even better - I have a story to tell you about your Rebbe.

Of course by now Avraham's curiosity was piqued, and he was "all ears."
Rebbe_shaul_of_modzitz  When Rebbe Shaul of Modzitz ZT"L [grandfather of the present Rebbe Shlita] was still in Europe, a young man was seen in his Beis Medrash, smoking on Shabbos! The Chassidim didn't know what to do with this, so they went & told the Rebbe. When the Rebbe, who was a big man - tall and broad - heard this, he began to run towards the man who was smoking. But the man just continued, undaunted, to puff away. When Rebbe Shaul approached him, he said to him, "B'farhesia - in public - you dare to do this?"

Reb Lazer, I've been told that Reb Shaul had a voice like thunder! You can be sure that these words penetrated the very being of this man! How do I know? Read on...

From that day on, the man never smoked on Shabbos. All week long he would smoke, but not on Shabbos. Other than that, he was completely non-observant. He came to live in Eretz Yisrael, and raised his family in one of the secular Kibbutzim in the Lower Galil.

His children couldn't figure it out - this man didn't keep Shabbos, he smoked all week long, yet on Shabbos, Abba never lit up! It got to them so much that they decided to investigate what Shabbos is all about. I probably don't have to tell you that they are fully observant Jews by now - just from that "B'farhesia?" statement of Rebbe Shaul of Modzitz! And yes, the one who told the story was one of these children!

As Reb Shlomo Carlebach used to say, "You never know!"

best regards, yitz