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Avoiding the Suffering of “Chevlei Mashiach”

Words of inspiration, delivered before Rosh Hashanah 5762 (Several days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York)

People all over the world are talking about the perfect timing of the terrorists who managed to hijack a number of planes simultaneously, and to effect precise almost simultaneous hits to the two tallest – and most populous – buildings in New York. But we, as believing Jews, take note of a different sort of precise timing in these events.

We see that the attacks took place precisely one week before Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment. This gives us occasion to reflect upon several ideas.

Halachic Responsum regarding the "Yissochor-Zevulun" contract and the financial support of Shimon Achi Azaria

A friend of mine who is a respected supporter of Torah, asked me several questions concerning the concept that is commonly referred to as the “Yissochor-Zevulun contract.” What is the reason for drafting this document, and in what circumstances is it applicable? Furthermore, should a supporter of Torah draft such an agreement?

Response: The Shulchan Aruch [R’ Yosef Karo] in Yore Deah (Chap. 246, paragraph 1) writes the following:

How to Merit Divine Assistance

In I Shmuel 18:14 we are told that “David was maskil in all his ways, and Hashem was with him.” The commentators (Rashi, Radak, etc.) translate maskil as “successful,” and as such it echoes the idea expressed at the conclusion of the verse, “and Hashem was with him.” However, the word maskil comes from the root sechel which indicates “wisdom.” Why, then, should it be used in the sense of “successful” in this verse? Furthermore, if maskil is understood to mean “successful,” then the following words, “Hashem was with him” seem redundant.

Struggling to Understand the Holocaust

On a recent organized tour to Poland, one of the places I, along with the group, visited was the infamous Auschwitz extermination camp. This visit presented me with an opportunity to contemplate and delve into the spiritual significance of the Holocaust. The main question I encountered “over there” went something like this: “How can you rabbis claim that the Holocaust took place as a result of the non-fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvoth (as predicted in the sections of the Torah warning of the misfortunes that would befall the people of Israel), behold a large percentage of those who perished in the Holocaust were observant Jews who feared G-d and scrupulously followed His commandments, observing even the more lenient commandments in the same spirit as the stricter ones?”