April 22, 2024
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April 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

To the Editor:

Yesterday, at about 7 a.m., my daughter Miri called. “Mordechai just came home from shul. He said that Arabs came in and are shooting, and that a man with an axe is hitting everyone. Some of the people threw chairs at them, but it didn’t help.” The 12-year-old had hit the floor along with everyone else when the bullets began to fly. He was fully aware of what was going on, and what it meant. He somehow found the courage to let go of his father’s hand, crawl towards the exit and break into a run. Some of you know Miri and her family. She has had some of you over for Shabbos and holidays, and others sleeping in one of her kid’s bedrooms when the crowd at my house gets too big to accommodate sanely. Mordechai is blonde, freckled, and a soft-spoken somewhat introverted and studious boy, much like his father, Shmuli. He is not Huck Finn, and the courage he found at those moments was a gift straight from God.

By the time he finished telling Miri what happened, sirens from Hatzalah ambulances, police cars, and Magen David could be heard telling her that there were casualties. “Where’s Shmuli?” was the thought that entered her mind again and again as the seconds which felt like hours began to tick. She called me and said, “Say Tehillim. There is shooting in Bnei Torah.” I began to say the ancient prayers, stopped myself and called Rabbi Weidan and told him what was happening. I then began the Tehillim again, knocked on my neighbor’s door and told her to do the same. Chani called and told me to look at the news to see what was really happening. Nothing was reported as yet. Of course not, it was only 7:10.

I realized that whether or not the attack was over, that no one as yet knew whether the murderers escaped. I called again, asking that everything be done to see that no one leaves the campus, and then called Miri. Thank God she had the sense to stay indoors and not run to the besieged synagogue. When Mordechai came home, the shooting was still happening. By 7:20 we both realized that if she didn’t hear from Shmuli, something was very wrong. The police and other services had no information as yet to give to the public, but a family friend who had seen the terror with his own eyes said that Shmuli had been taken to Haddassah Ein Karem. When Mordechai let go of his hand, he instinctively ran after the child placing himself in the sight of the terrorists. One of them attacked him with his axe, hitting him on the left side of his head, his back and his arm. Somehow he made it to the door. Josh White, a student of Machon Shlomo was riding down Agassi on his bike. He noticed what he described later as “a lot of confusion” in front of Bnei Torah, asked someone what was going on, and, surprisingly (for Har Nof), the man answered him in Hebrew! In the midst of what to him was gibberish, he picked up the word Aravim (Arabs) and immediately grasped what was happening. He approached the shul and saw a still conscious Shmuli. The Machon student took off his shirt and stopped the bleeding, a move which may have saved Shmuli’s life. The shooting was still happening inside. It was about 7:15! The emergency crew drew back, but because Shmuli was already outside, they evacuated him thus making him the first of the wounded to be taken to Hadassah, another factor in his survival. Before collapsing, he asked where Mordechai was, and when he was told that the boy ran away from the carnage, he said, “Baruch Hashem.” Inside, the terrorists were continuing their “work”. When they entered they turned to their left, and immediately cut down Rabbi Twerski and Rav Kalman Levine who were standing in the corner. Reb Kalman was the husband of Chaya, formally Markowitz, who was a student and later a madrichah at Neve. Her husband was not a regular attendee of Bnei Torah. He would generally daven in the earliest possible minyan so he could get in a couple of hours of learning before beginning his day. Yesterday he had a question about something he had learned and had gone after davening to Bnei Torah to put the question to its erudite rav, Rabbi Rubin. The question will now only be resolved in the Heavenly Academy.

Rev Avraham Goldberg, the third man to be killed is Breina Goldberg’s husband. Many of you know Breina as the warm, caring, efficient secretary-cum-mother-figure at the front desk in the afternoon. I don’t as yet know how her husband, or Reb Kupinski, the fourth victim, met their deaths. The only thing that I know is that it was brutal and swift. The first policemen to enter were traffic cops who knew what they were facing, and also knew that they were not wearing protective gear. They entered anyway and together with the forces that came afterwards ended the bloodbath. By 7:30 the murderers were apprehended.

Miri, my daughter Guli, and her husband were in Hadassah. Miri’s other kids were watched by relatives and friends for the day. Mordechai was urged to speak about what he saw again and again in order to diminish the damage of the trauma he had undergone. The rest of the family flowed in, saying Tehillim and waiting for updates. The hospital social worker, Aviva, who is blessed with the rare gift of being empathic without being overbearing, and the women of Ezer Mitzion (a volunteer organization), kept us well supplied with food, calming conversation and practical advice. We were allowed to see Shmuli who was under anesthesia. We don’t know if he heard us or not, but we were talking to him stressing that Mordechai was fine.

In the hours before the surgery was done, we found ourselves with Risa Rotman. Her husband, Chaim Yechiel ben Malka, was also attacked, and the extent of his wounds are very serious. Some of you may know Risa (who, if I am not mistaken, is also an OBG) and those of you whose husbands learned in Ohr Sameach or who recall Reb Meir Shuster who he helped unstintingly for years, may know him as Howie. The policeman who entered first passed away. May Hashem avenge his loss.

Every day in Eretz Yisrael is a gift and a miracle. I have no pretensions of knowing Hashem’s will, but I do know that everything He does is purposeful, and that His compassion is often hidden from the human eye. Anyone who values human life and the eternal nature of the soul is appalled by the idea of people entering a synagogue and killing people they never met. Except for CNN. They reported the entire event as an attack on a mosque. Except for the BBC. They reported that the Israeli police killed two Palestinians (they meant the murderers). The victims of Israeli brutality presumably were going on a stroll through scenic Har Nof when attacked by the racist troops….

Please post the truth to whomever you can reach. Please, please, continue saying Tehillim for Shmuel Yerucham ben Baila and the other victims. Daven that Hashem give strength to the five new widows and 24 new orphans. Most of all, thank Hashem that we are not Them, and treasure Hashem’s Torah and His Land.

Love always,
Tziporah Heller

To the Editor:

Re divorce: The rabbis usually point to the one pasuk (Devarim 24/1): Key yikach ish ishah u’vealah, v’hayah im lo simtza chen b’eynav key matza bah ervas davar v’kasav lah sefer krisus v’nasan b’yadah v’shilchah mebayso.

If or when a man takes a woman and becomes her husband [baal], and it comes to pass if she will not find favor in his eyes because he found in her an “ervas davar” [with its many definitions] and he wrote for her a “book to break their bond” and he gave it into her hand and sent her from his house.

My question is: Why couldn’t the Torah just say: If you want to break the bond of marriage, then do x, y, and z and tell us what should be in the sefer krisus? Why give all this “history”? Why so wordy?

I would like to suggest that maybe Hashem wanted to give us some loopholes for having to give a sefer krisus, i.e., if the scenario doesn’t match the pasuk exactly, maybe you don’t have to give a sefer krisus. Or maybe we should consider: When was this pasuk of giving a sefer krisus generalized to all scenarios?

For example: A rabbi in Israel pointed out to me that since it says ishah and not besulah or naarah, this pasuk is not talking about the history of the case where a man takes a non-married young woman, but rather, he is taking a married woman, not a newlywed, i.e., it is discussing the rape of a married woman or adultery.

Or there is no “ahavah” mentioned in this pasuk. What if he does love her and that is not the problem?

Or what if Vayikach is a negative word? After all, our Avos were all Vayikach their wives without the word ahavah [love] before they consummated the marriage except for Yaakov and Rachel, and then the wives were all barren.

Or ervas davar can have several definitions. If we choose a definition that does not match the scenario or one of the above does not match the pasuk exactly, maybe we don’t have to make ourselves crazy getting the husband to give a sefer krisus! There seem to be enough loopholes in this wordy pasuk.

Additionally, I would like to suggest that if the woman needs a divorce, she should be able to use the halachot of [Devarim 25:1] “Key yeheyeh reev bayn anashim vnegshu el hamishpat u’shefatum, v’hetzdeku es haTzadik v’heresheu es harasha.”

If or when there is a disagreement between people and they bring it to be judged and they are judged, and they justified the righteous person and they convicted the wicked person which, coincidentally, is exactly one perek after the previously mentioned pasuk.

The divorce should not have to come just from the man. Women & children should not be imprisoned in their own home until the baal deems he is ready to get divorced. I would like to suggest that this pasuk could possibly serve to be helpful for such a situation.

If you agree with these suggestions, do you know of a rav or a Jewish organization leader who would have the authority or the clout to inculcate these ideas into our Jewish law system?

I am not, chas v’shalom, suggesting to add mitzvah #614 but possibly as a takanah, a different way of reading the pesukim or whatever.

I am under the impression that in most Jewish communities it is considered not tzenuah, not modest, for a man to be at a mikvah during womens’ hours even if he brings his own wife.

I have come to believe that Israel is suffering from “victims of terror” because “Im ayn tzedek umishpat, ayn shalom ba’Aretz.” If there is no justice, law and order, there will not be peace in The Land of Israel.”

It seems that many of our Jewish courts are still “sweeping these issues under the rug” which makes matters worse for the victims. They are not upholding and enforcing Jewish law & the sensitivity of our Torah, our religion, that teaches us how to conduct ourselves.

Who are victims of terror? Those suffering from child, domestic, or professional abuse, rape, etc.

As long as our Jewish courts are in denial and are sweeping these issues because “Es past nicht in the Jewish community–because these things don’t happen in the Jewish community,” and they continue not to deal with reality, be law enforcing or properly assist families in need of help, I fear that we will continue to suffer from “victims of terror” in Israel, which certainly is not brachah, and G-d forbid, al tiftach peh lasatan, that it should add to our current situation of rising antisemitism.

How many community rabbis are taught how to deal with these issues? How many dayanim know the halachot and have the sensitivity for these issues? The Klal can make a difference by letting our individual synagogue rabbis, our community rabbis, and the leaders of our religious and Zionistic leadership institutions and organizations know that we are not satisfied with the status quo.

The word corruption is in the news too often and we are supposed to be the or lagoyim, the “light unto the nations.”

We need to lead the way! I hope you agree.

Name withheld by request.


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