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9 posts from February 2009

Untrodden Sands

I'd like to invite you to a three-minute dream excursion on the untrodden sands of the Negev desert in southern Israel for a session of solitary personal prayer (hitbodedut) with Hashem. You don't have to be a righteous saint to speak to Hashem any time you like, anywhere. Your prayers - with the background accompaniment of the mineral, plant, and animal creations - are a symphony that ascends to the highest portals of Heaven and never come back unanswered.

This week's Torah portion is Teruma. Have a wonderful Shabbat!

Ani Avdecha: I am Your Servant

The greatest declaration a Jew can make is "Ani Avdecha," when he can look up at the Heavens and declare, "Hashem, my entire life is devoted to You. I am Your Servant!" King David, Hashem's anointed and the great grandfather of Moshiach, was able to make this lofty claim (see Psalms 116:16). After hearing Ari Goldwag sing this Psalm, we'll all be aspiring to walk in the path of King David. Have a wonderful Shabbat Mishpatim/Shekalim.

The Story of Moshe Yaish Nahari, HY"D


Moshe Yaish Nahari, of saintly and martyred memory, from Raidah, Yemen (above photo, right, seen with another murdered relative during a trip to Egypt) jampacked much into his short life before Arab murderers brutally spilled his cherished blood. Less than 32 years old, he brought eight beautiful children into the world and he lived to teach them the best things Jewish life has to offer. He went the extra mile for our people and fought hard to maintain the ancient Jewish traditions of the Yemenite diaspora, including rituals and melodies that survived since the Second Temple.

Long after the Magic Carpet brought most of Yemen's Jews to the Land of Israel and long after the last of the Rabbinical scholars left in the sixties and seventies, the remaining Jews of Yemen were forgotten by the institutions of the Jewish community and the State of Israel. Many people never knew there were any such Jews left in such a savage place.

Moshe Yaish Nahari chose to stay and help insure that Jewish spiritual life would remain alive in Raidah, north of Sanaa where 400 Jews remained. He was given funds by some Jews in New York to begin remodeling and old 5 story building that belonged to his family. Moshe rebuilt these ruins into a House Of Prayer and Yeshiva with a dorm and facilities to accomodate guests from from New York and Israel. He studied in Israel to attain proficiency as a rabbi, shochet, sofer and mohel, so he could provide the needs of the community back home in Yemen. He didn't run off to make a better life for himself.

Moshe was a a man not unlike a captain that was prepared to go down with the ship! He sought the good of his people at his own expense and this past December, just before the Festival of Lights, Moshe's own light was put out when a Muslim extremist shot him five times with an AK47 Assault rifle as he prepared to take his mother shopping for food to make the Sabbath.

Moshe died in his mother's arms. He was the jewel of the Yemenite Jewish community.

In court, the murderer laughed and swore to kill more Jews. The family was threatened as the trial took place almost 10 days after Moshe's remains languished in a Sanaa morg without any consideration of a Kosher Jewish burial by the Arab authorities. Yemenite tribal justice dictates that when a man is murdered in Yemen, the killer, if found guilty, is either hung or forced to pay damages.

Moshe Yaish Nahari's father felt that no money paid to him by the kiler of his beloved only son would satisfy him and to the shock and dismay of all of us he asked the Judge to bring Allah's judgment down upon the killer and asked that he be executed as his rightful punishment. The Jewish community, already in shock was now in greater danger than ever as 500 Salaafi Muslim extremists chanted Allah hu al Aqbar wa itbakh il Yahud, "Allah is great and death to the Jews".

The killers attorney said his client is clinically unstable and unable to mentally follow a trial and asked that he be released. Moshe's father heard the Judge's agreeable tone as he asked the lawyer if he would just be able to produce some doctor's note stating the murderer is mentally unfit to stand trial. The lawyer assured the Judge that he could, and the 500 extremists howled with joy. The Judge offered the killer the change to speak on his own behalf and he said: ''In a matter of days my brethren I will be released and I will kill the rest of that Jew's' family and kill more and more of them until we are rid of them all as they are rats who are born to have the life snuffed out of them...Allah is Geat!!! Allah is Great!!!" AND 500 MUSLIMS CONTINUED TO CHANT ALLAH IS GREAT.

Yemen's leader Ali Abdullah Saleh was approached by a representative of the Sofer family, Moshe's relatives in Israel, who requested that Moshe's remains be removed from Yemen and taken to a foreign burial place.The PM smerked, ''As if I don't know where you wish to bury him...I will give you a day to give me two diplomats from England who will assure me in writing that they will accept this corpse for burial''. The British diplomats were on a weekend holiday and would not discuss the matter until the following Monday. The Yemeni PM agreed to have Moshe removed from the refrigerators to be burried according to Jewish law. The special ruling went against Yemeni custom to bury the victim and his convicted killer on the same day.

Grenades were then thrown at the Nahari home and the family lives in total fear and despair. The Israeli goverment refused to help Moshe to be buriied in Israel although the Sofer family acquired a plot in Rehovoth. They claimed that they could not help and any move they would make could only make things worse. They refused to ask other neutral countries to intervene.

As the threat of the Salaafi Muslims hovers over the Nahari family, every continued moment in Yemen is terrifying. They are in great danger.

My cherished and esteemed friend, the Abir Aluf Mori Yehoshua Sofer shlit'a, is doing everything he can to bring Moshe Yaish Nahari's 8 orphans, their widowed mother (a shocked women of 29 with a bit too much to contend with) and two very old parents to Israel. He is also struggling to bring Moshe's coffin for proper burial in Israel. The Abir Aluf needs to raise about 3000 Dollars per person (times eleven) to bring them all to Israel with airfare, exit visas and bribes as well as visas of entry into England. From there, he intends to arrange their Alliyah papers and fly them to Israel .

This is a rare mitzvah of Pidyon Nefesh, the redemption of eleven endangered Jewish souls.

If you'd like to participate in this magnificent mitzva, please email the Abir Aluf Mori Yehoshua Sofer shlit'a.

Nahari family 

Moshe Yaish Nahari, HYD, shortly before his death with his wife and seven of his eight children, may Hashem rescue them from all peril.

A Tribute to Rabbi Noah Weinberg, zatza"l

11307 I'm amazed to see the sunrise once more each day; it's simply hard to imagine that the world keeps going without our beloved Rabbi Noah Weinberg, of saintly and blessed memory. Who can count the tens of thousands of souls that Rabbi Noah brought home to Hashem? Singlehandedly, he built a prodigious outreach army that includes yeshivas, kollels, synagogues, seminars, adult education, and entire communities all over the world.

I'd like to describe a very poignant, personal, and unforgettable moment I had with the Rosh Yeshiva, of blessed memory. We were thirteen graduates in Aish Hatorah's Rabbinical graduating class of 1992. Before we received our ordination during an impressive ceremony at the Ramada Hotel Ballroom in Jerusalem, Rabbi Noah talked to each of us privately. When it was my turn to enter his hallowed office, he told me, "Lazer Raphoel, from this moment on, I want you to imagine that every non-observant Jew you meet is on the train to Auschwitz. You have a minute or so to pull him off. If you fail, there may be no one to save him from the spiritual gas chambers. It's all up to you. Don't ever let up..."

That's the way the Rosh Yeshiva was. He taught us that we were responsible for the whole world and particularly for the Jewish people. He also taught us never to pass the buck, and to believe in our ability to change the world.

This week's Breslev Israel editorial is a tribute to the Rosh Yeshiva, entitled Rabbi Noah and the Big Six.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev says that this world fools us completely. It makes a person think that he is constantly earning. But in the end he has nothing. Most people who work for years in business and trade in the end have nothing to show for it. Even if a person does accumulate money, it is taken away from him. A man and his money cannot remain together. Either the money is taken from the man, or the man is taken from the money. But one never finds that a person remains together with his money... Accurate, or what? Is Rebbe Nachman Laughing at the World?

Apropo money, Rabbi Shalom Arush talks about making a No-stress Income.

David's Story is a must read. Batya Rosen writes about Hashem's Special Forces. Our ever-so-popular Noahide correspondent Alice Jonsson tells how to Love the Mess you're in. The Melitzer Rebbetzen describes the delightful little things that happen Only in Israel.

This week's Kabbalah lesson is The Light of the Four Names.

Breslev Kids are treated to Part 20 of The Boastful Buck.

This week's Torah portion is Mishpatim. Big Bright Beam Blessings for a wonderful week!

In Loving Memory of Rabbi Noah Weinberg, Rosh Yeshiva of Aish Hatorah

The entire Jewish world is still numb with pain. Our brains can't register the magnitude of our loss. Rabbi Noah Weinberg, of sacred memory, Rosh Yeshiva of Aish Hatorah and one of the world's greatest Jewish outreach leaders of all time, left this earth this past Thursday. Yet, his legacy is eternal, having left hundreds of offspring and tens of thousands of students, one of whom is yours truly.