July 11, 2024
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Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon Inspires in Teaneck

Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon

Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon serves many key roles in Israel. First and foremost, he is the nasi of World Mizrachi and an internationally acclaimed posek who fields complex halachic questions from communities around the world, thus helping shape contemporary Jewish life globally. Through his book series “Halacha MiMekora” Rav Rimon has developed an innovative methodology for the teaching of Halacha, taking the reader from their sources to their practical application in our modern reality.

His additional official positions include serving as the chief rabbi of the Gush Etzion region, rosh yeshiva of Lev Academic Center (Machon Lev) as well as community rabbi of Alon Shvut South. He is the founder and chairman of Sulamot, a pedagogical program that develops cutting-edge educational technologies, experiential Jewish programming and innovative curricula for Judaic studies, which is available in five languages and hundreds of schools around the world.

In response to the 2005 Gush Katif evacuation, Rav Rimon was instrumental in founding and directing JobKatif. It was renamed La’Okef in the aftermath of October 7; it was originally established to help the former residents of Gush Katif obtain jobs, and now develops an array of employment-based projects aimed at rehabilitating vulnerable populations in Israel, including Ethiopian-Israelis, needy soldiers, discharged lone soldiers and youth at risk.

Rav Rimon has been recognized by the State of Israel for his many achievements. He was the recipient of the prestigious Katz Prize in 2018 for the application of Halacha in modern society, the President’s Prize for Volunteerism in 2008, and the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism in 2014 for his innovative chesed initiatives.

In light of all of these impressive credentials, it is no wonder that the main shul at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck was filled to capacity on Wednesday evening, July 3. The community was drawn to hear the words of this contemporary Torah scholar and leader, especially as he was addressing the current matzav (situation) in Israel and proposing an optimistic outlook.

In introducing Rav Rimon, Rabbi Elliot Schreier, mora d’asrah of Bnai Yeshurun,

praised Rav Rimon for clarifying the role of Diaspora Jewry during the past tragic nine months. “Rav Rimon helped us channel our contributions in the right direction, interfaced with us through missions, empowered us to do our best in creating projects such as Kerem Shalom and strengthened our trust in the military might of our fighting forces.”

Rav Rimon began by praising the American Jewish community for the tremendous chizuk they have provided for their brothers and sisters in Israel through their missions, volunteerism and participation by thousands of reservists in the war effort. What other country’s citizens would rush to enter the war zone of a foreign country?

In Rav Rimon’s view we are living in the times of Moshiach and are clearly on our way to redemption. After 2,000 years of exile, the majority of Jews in the world now reside in Israel. Sefer Devarim, Chapter 4 verse 5 speaks of the bringing of the nation back to the land of their forefathers. The verse is the number 5708 verse in the Torah, corresponding to the year 1948, when Medinat Yisrael was declared the Jewish State.

In Rav Rimon’s opinion, we are fighting the most justified war ever fought and we are fighting it not just for ourselves but for all of the citizens of the world. According to Torah giants the Chazon Ish and Rav Elyashiv, this war qualifies as a milchemet mitzvah, a war of obligation, and its outcome will be successful. Our soldiers are held to the highest moral standards as exemplified in the way they limit their attack on specifically designated areas in order not to create unnecessary devastation and loss of life.

There is more Torah being learned in the trenches and outposts in Gaza. More soldiers are donning tefillin daily and wearing tzitzit under their uniforms than ever before. Chayalim are reciting tefillot before crossing into enemy lines. When in history was the son of the president of the country on active duty together with his fellow soldiers? Rav Rimon quipped that the Rambam would most likely have jumped at the chance of being the rosh yeshiva of a Yeshivat Hesder!

Today, we have more soldiers fighting for our nation than ever before. Rav Rimon put forth the concept that when the nation of Israel is weak in its emunah there is a need for fewer soldiers as Hashem will fight their battles. But when the nation is truly secure in its belief, Hashem steps back and lets them fight for themselves. Surely if today’s nation would be standing at the banks of the Red Sea waiting to cross, hundreds of thousands would have jumped in, fully believing in their salvation.

Finally, the Jewish people have witnessed many successive pogroms throughout their history, the Holocaust being one of the greatest and most destructive. But never did the nation come forward afterwards to protect themselves as we are currently witnessing. Surely this is the greatest act of Kiddush Hashem, for which we will be granted redemption.

Among Rav Rimon’s endeavors in the wake of October 7 is the partnering, in conjunction with Sulamot, with the Bergen County community in supporting the community of Kerem Shalom, situated directly opposite Rafah and one of the closest yishuvim (settlements) to the Gaza border.

Kerem Shalom, as a mixed community of observant and non-observant residents who live side by side, has become a model of unity and a symbol of the achdut that we so aspire to throughout the country. A Bergen County mission in support of the residents of Kerem Shalom, in partnership with Mizrachi and Sulamot, is being planned for August 5-8. (See details in the article by Rabbi Fridman on page 35.
The deadline for registration is July 18.)

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