Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayeira 5770

שבת טעם החיים וירא תש"ע
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayeira 5770

King Dovid can be found in Sodom
I have found my servant, David. And where did I find him? In Sodom (Bereishis Rabbah 44:1)
In this week’s parasha we learn how HaShem was prepared to destroy the ancient city of Sodom and its surroundings on account of the decadence of the inhabitants. Avraham prayed on behalf of the people of Sodom, hoping that HaShem would acknowledge that there were some righteous people in the city, in whose merit the city would be saved. HaShem rejected Avraham’s prayers and destroyed the city of Sodom and its surrounding cities. Avraham’s nephew Lot and his two daughters who all resided in Sodom were spared of Sodom’s fate and left the area. Concerned about their potential lack of progeny, Lot’s daughters surreptitiously intoxicated him, causing him to father a child for each of them. The nations of Ammon and Moav were the result of their act.
King Dovid is found in Sodom
Sodom was notorious for its decadence and lack of hospitality though little is known about the one redeeming aspect of this city. Commenting on the verse in Tehillim (Psalms, 89:21) “I have found my servant, David”, the Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 44:1) comments “where did I find Dovid? In Sodom.” This enigmatic comment is hard to fathom. Could the righteous King Dovid possibly have been discovered in this nefarious city of sin?
Avraham’s prayers on behalf of Sodom were for his own spiritual perfection
To understand this better, it is worth noting how the Torah describes the fate of Sodom. HaShem was prepared to destroy Sodom, but He first offered Avraham a chance to pray on their behalf. Rabbi Yissachar Frand wonders about the efficacy of such a prayer. HaShem knew that there were insufficient righteous people in Sodom that would justify the city being saved. What, then, was the purpose in Avraham praying on Sodom’s behalf? Rabbi Frand explains that although the prayers on behalf of Sodom were ineffective as far as Sodom was concerned, nevertheless the prayers helped Avraham himself. Avraham was to become known as the Pillar of Kindness, and his prayers would assist him in perfecting his attribute of kindness.
After Moshiach comes prayer
King Dovid referred to himself with the words (Psalms 109:4) vaani tefillah, but I was prayer. The Gemara (Megillah 18a) teaches us that after Dovid, i.e. after Moshiach arrives, comes prayer. Thus, the ultimate goal of the Messianic Era is that we will live in a world of prayer. Prayer means that we are in essence connected to HaShem. While on the surface we pray for our needs, we are ultimately seeking to connect to HaShem, Who is our king and our father. Thus, when Mashiach arrives and our troubles disappear, we will retain the inner quality of prayer, i.e. connecting to HaShem. In a similar vein we can suggest that although Sodom was destroyed, the inner quality of prayer, connecting to HaShem and improvement of character were retained.
Dovid found in Sodom reflects prayer
This now sheds light on the Medrash that states that Dovid is found in Sodom. The physical city of Sodom was destroyed, but the prayers that Avraham offered on its behalf remained for eternity. The result of these prayers was that King Dovid came into existence from the union of Lot and his daughters. Thus, it can be said that Dovid, who is the epitome of prayer, was found in Sodom.
Our prayers for Moshiach are cumulative
This insight into the Medrash teaches us the value of our prayers. As a community that has prayed for over 1900 years for Moshiach and for the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash, it can be disheartening that our prayers have yet to be answered. After all, if the prayers of generations that were spiritually greater than ours were not answered, how can we expect that our prayers will be positively answered? The residual effect of Avraham’s prayer on behalf of Sodom However teaches us that no genuine prayer is for naught. As Rabbi Moshe Mitrani, commonly referred to as the Mabit, writes in his classic Bais Elokim, one should never despair from praying for the redemption. The prayers of the Jewish people, he explains, are cumulative. All of our prayers together will result in the arrival of Mashiach. When one prays for personal or communal needs he should be cognizant of the fact that every prayer serves a valuable purpose.
The Shabbos connection
Reb Tzadok HaKohen from Lublin writes that he heard that the word Sodom forms an acrostic for the words Seudas Dovid Malka, a feast for King Dovid. This alludes to the festive meal that many Jews eat following Shabbos. In line with the above mentioned Medrash that Dovid is found in Sodom, perhaps Reb Tzadok is teaching us that a Jew can find spirituality even when the holiness of Shabbos has departed. HaShem should allow us to seek out spirituality in our daily encounters, and we should merit witnessing the arrival of Moshiach, son of Dovid, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos Stories
Bleak Shabbos
That Shabbos, the first thing Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Lerner saw when he returned from the Kosel was the crowd. “I wonder why there are so many people around my apartment?” he thought. When he came closer, he gasped. There was his little son Menachem covered with blood.
Panicked, he asked a neighbor breathlessly, “What happened?”
“Uh, your son tried to ride down a flight of stairs on his tricycle.”
Rabbi Lerner took a moment or two to absorb this shock. Then he remembered: He just hit his head on a bed a few days ago and had a gash on his head. The stitches must have opened. While saying this, he was moving forward to pick up his little son. Bracing himself, he gave him as good a head examination as he could. Oh, boy, stitches open all right, plus it looks like he could use a few more stitches now. A few quick moments of thought, and he had decided. The injuries were potentially life-threatening; they must go to the hospital immediately.
Rabbi Lerner’s heart was racing after the dash over to the next building. He banged urgently on Mr. Glick’s door. His neighbor had just come home from shul and was standing in his living room with his tallis still on when Rabbi Lerner burst in. “Baruch, I need a favor. I have to get my son Menachem to Shaarei Zedek. Can I borrow your car?”
Baruch Glick bobbled for a moment, then rallied. “Sure, take the keys, they’re on a hook in the kitchen.”
Rabbi Lerner took them off the hook, said, “Tizkeh limitzvos,” and ran back to his apartment.
Recently there had been quite a few car thefts in Jerusalem. Baruch couldn’t afford a car alarm, so he had done the next best thing to “burglar-proof” his car. Each time before he turned off the ignition, he turned his car radio on full blast and tuned it to the loudest and most obnoxious rock station he knew of. That way, if anyone tried to steal his car, he would make an unholy racket the moment the engine was started.
Unfortunately, Baruch was so flustered by Rabbi Lerner’s sudden arrival that he forgot to tell him about his little invention.
The rabbi opened the car’s back door, and his wife put Menachem in the back seat. He quickly settled into the driver’s seat, put the keys in the ignition with his right hand, and turned the key.
His jaw dropped when he heard “music,” so to speak, coming out of the speakers. The car’s engine was actually drowned out by the raucous blare. For a second he put his hands over his ears, until he realized that he had to get his son to the hospital as soon as possible.
His hand went out instinctively to turn off the radio, but then he stopped himself. It was Shabbos today; nothing was permitted except what would keep his son out of danger of his life. Frantically he rolled up the windows as he guided the car out into the street. But even with the windows closed, Shabbos in Ezras Torah was now interrupted by a blaring serenade from the rock group Black Sabbath.
Baruch was just about to sit down at his Shabbos table when he heard the uproar outside. His wife said to him in shock, “Do you hear that? Who has the chutzpah to play that awful music on Shabbos?”
Baruch felt his heart sink to his stomach. He slapped his forehead as he collapsed in his dining room chair. “Oh, no! I forgot to tell him about the radio!”
Rebbitzen Lerner turned away from Menachem for a second, the shock evident on her face. Loudly she ordered, “Turn that noise off!”
“What?” He couldn’t hear a word.
This time she yelled at the top of her lungs. “I said, turn the radio off. I can’t take it!”
“What?” he shouted, then went back to repeating silently, Have to concentrate on driving, ignore that awful noise...
“Turn off the radio!” his wife screamed in desperation.
Oh, that was what she wanted.
“I can’t!”
“Why not?”
He gathered a big lungful of air in order to shout good and loud, “I can only do melachah to get Menachem to the hospital. There’s no heter to touch the radio.”
“Then turn it down,” his wife screamed. “It’s a chillul HaShem!”
“No!” he roared back. “Kiddush HaShem! There’s no heter to touch it!”
“What are you talking about?” screamed Mrs. Lerner.
Even louder, “I said, what are you talking about? It’s a chillul HaShem!”
“No, it’s a Kiddush HaShem. We’re willing to put up with it for the sake of Shabbos kodesh. Very few people get such a test. We absolutely cannot turn off the radio. Look, I gotta watch where I’m going now.”
Fortunately, there were hardly any other cars on the road. Denmark Square was the last traffic light before the hospital, and they had to stop for a red light. Rabbi Lerner was still wearing his satin Shabbos bekeshe. A group of teenagers on their way to the beach pulled up alongside and looked to see who was playing that cool music. The sight of a long-bearded rabbi with peyos driving a car on Shabbos and blasting rock music caused shock, not laughter. The kids seemed frozen in place, speechless.
Rabbi Lerner rolled down his window. He knew he had to talk, and fast. Sure enough, one kid recovered enough to shout, “Hey, dati (religious man), why are you breaking the Shabbos?”
He pointed to his bleeding son in the back seat. “It’s pikuach nefesh!”
“Maybe, but why do you have to play rock and roll?”
Rabbi Lerner wanted to explain, but before he had a chance, the light turned green and the other car sped away.
The emergency staff took Menachem quickly into the emergency room, where they put in some more stitches. He was all right by the end of Shabbos; the only lasting effect was a ringing in his parents’ ears that took until Monday morning to go away.
In later years Rabbi Lerner used this experience to teach his students at Yeshivas Aish HaTorah. “What would all of you think if you saw me driving a car on Shabbos with loud music playing? You’d say, ‘Maybe I can justify the car for an emergency, but why is he playing the radio?’
“But what looks like wrong is sometimes right, and what looks like right is sometimes wrong.
“In my case, what I was doing looked like a serious aveirah to people who glanced at it - driving a car on Shabbos with the radio blasting! But now that you know the facts you see it was the right thing to do. In emergencies you just have to ignore what people will think and do your duty.
“Often, too, things look like great ideas or important causes, but if they go against the Halacha they’re wrong, no matter how attractive they are.
“A Jew has to find out what the Halacha is and then just go and do it, without worrying about what anyone else might think. This is the fundamental principle of Torah-true living, which is why the Rema writes it at the very beginning of the Shulchan Aruch, ‘Don’t ever be embarrassed when people laugh at you for serving HaShem.’ That Shabbos I got some really good practice in doing that Rema.”
Walking Home

The following story is true. Only the names have been changed.
When Larry and Ann’s only son, Mark, was accepted to Harvard, their pride knew no bounds. Even Larry, generally the more reticent of the two, could not restrain himself from sharing the good news with friends. By the end of the week, just about everyone on the block had heard that Mark Newton was going to Harvard in the fall.
The Newtons were well-known in their community, having lived in the same white-and-blue colonial house for almost twenty years. They had worked hard to raise their son, sending him to the best private schools in the Chicago area. So when the news arrived of Mark’s acceptance to Harvard, they rejoiced, feeling that they were reaping the fruits of their labor, and their friends rejoiced along with them.
The long-awaited day of Mark’s departure for Harvard finally arrived. That crisp September morning, the whole family piled into their gray Lincoln for the one-hour drive to O’Hare International Airport. Larry and Ann were both choked with emotion, and the car ride was unusually quiet.
At the boarding gate, Ann reached up to give her son a tearful hug and kiss, from which Mark made a half-hearted attempt to escape. Ann kissed him anyway, quickly wiping away the tear that revealed her intense pain at the separation, and Larry shook his hand.
When Mark boarded that plane to Boston, he was carrying much more than his Walkman and knapsack; he was carrying 18 years of his parents’ aspirations and dreams.
During his last two years of high school, he had become somewhat rebellious. Although he maintained a straight-A average, his relationship with both parents, especially with his mother, had become strained. Now that he was off to college, Mark looked forward to the independence of dorm life, while his parents clutched at their silent hopes that time and a new maturity would improve his relationship with them.
At Harvard, Mark distinguished himself as a campus radical, supporting and at times even leading some of the more militant, left-wing student organizations. In spite of these extracurricular activities, he maintained an excellent academic record. His major was history, with a minor in Near Eastern studies. After four years, he graduated magna cum laude. Larry and Ann, however, could not fully celebrate Mark's achievements because he refused to attend his own graduation. Spurning the ceremony as a “yuppie parade,” Mark told his parents it would make him sick if he were forced to participate.
Disappointment filled Larry and Ann’s hearts. They had really looked forward to celebrating Mark’s graduation, but now they resignedly had no choice but to accept their son's decision. Still, they tried to show him how proud they felt. “How about a small graduation party at home?” Ann ventured.
“Gimme a break, will you?” was Mark’s dismissive response, as he hung up the phone.
There had been no improvement in Mark’s relationship with his parents during his four years in college. In fact, it seemed that it had only deteriorated. He came home for fewer and fewer vacations and holidays, often preferring to stay with friends instead...
When she found herself alone one morning with Mark, she gingerly invited him to join her in the kitchen for a cup of coffee. To her surprise, Mark accepted.
“The contractor promised that our pool will be completed by the end of the month,” Ann began, thinking that a harm less chat would be the best beginning. “Dad’s really looking forward to being able to swim in his own backyard. But I told him not to count on it so fast – I’ve never yet met a contractor who kept his word about a completion date.”
But Mark appeared not to hear her... “I was thinking of taking the year off and going to work on a kibbutz in Israel. Jane, Phil, and some other kids are going, so I thought I might join them. It sounds like fun...”
Although the Newtons had bought their share of Israel bonds over the years, and were vaguely interested in Israel, they had never taken a trip there. They had been to Europe often, and once traveled to Greece on a Mediterranean cruise, but had never really thought about visiting Israel. Nevertheless, the thought of Mark working on a kibbutz in Israel did not really bother Larry and Ann. What concerned them was his decision not to continue his education. By now, though, Mark’s parents had learned that when his mind was made up, nothing could change it. In the weeks that followed, Larry and Ann made last-ditch, but unsuccessful efforts to get him to reconsider his plan.
In August, the Newtons once again drove Mark to O'Hare International Airport. This time he was leaving for Israel. The tense parting at the airport was mercifully brief. Mark once again boarded the plane carrying his Walkman and knapsack. But his parents carried home hearts heavy with disappointment.
After three months on the kibbutz, Mark had sent only two postcards and one letter. The Newtons had learned that he studied Hebrew for two hours every afternoon, that he was assigned to work exclusively with sheep, and that he had no plans to come home for Thanksgiving.
Late one evening Ann burst into tears. “Larry, we're losing our son!... Let’s visit Mark in Israel.”
Larry looked at his wife. “Visit Mark in Israel?!” he echoed. He was swamped with work at the office and could not imagine how he would get away. But one look at Ann told him he'd simply have to find the time.
Ann wrote to Mark and explained that his father needed a vacation. Since they had never been to Israel and wanted to visit Mark, they had decided to spend a week in Jerusalem. She concluded the letter by asking when, during that week, would be a convenient time for them to visit the kibbutz.
By the end of the month, Ann was losing hope of receiving a reply. Finally, a week before they were scheduled to leave for Israel, a letter from Mark arrived.
“Hi,” he wrote. “I’m really pretty busy here all day so I don't know what to tell you. I have the number of your hotel. I’ll try to call after you arrive. Mark...”
The Newtons arrived in Jerusalem on a Wednesday morning. By Friday afternoon, they had still not heard from Mark. They couldn't contain themselves any longer, and called the kibbutz. After a few failed attempts, they finally got through to Mark on the phone.
The conversation was brief and abrupt. “I won’t have time to see you on the kibbutz, but I may be in Jerusalem on Monday evening. If I am, I’ll drop by your hotel. Please don’t come up here.”
“But Mark, honey, wouldn’t you like us to come and see...”
“Mom, gimme a break, will you?” With that, the conversation ended.
Ann was crushed. She felt devastated and frightened. Even Larry could not hide his pain. For the next hour or so, he just stared out the window while Ann cried on her bed. This is it, she thought. We’ve lost him! He’s breaking away from us for good. We're never going to get him back. Oh, where did we go wrong? Why is he rejecting us this way?
Finally, Larry suggested they go out for the evening. “I don’t feel like going anywhere,” she wept. “Neither do I” Larry said softly, “but we can’t sit around here crying all night. We didn’t come 7,000 miles to sit around in a hotel room feeling miserable. We’re here already; let’s try to make the best of it... Let’s go downstairs and ask for a suggestion at the desk.”
When Larry and Ann pulled themselves together and came to the desk, they were surprised to learn how little was open on Friday night in Jerusalem. “Well, what do all the other tourists do here on Friday night?” Larry asked the attendant.
“Many of them like to go to the Kotel, the Western Wall,” he replied.
“But we saw it yesterday,” Ann countered.
The attendant smiled. “On Friday night it’s something special. A lot of people go to pray, the yeshiva boys sing and dance, the chassidim wear their fur hats and caftans, and well, it is really something special.”
Larry and Ann were not too impressed with the attendant’s description. But Ann did recall friends speaking about “the Wall on Friday night,” when they returned from trips to Israel. They agreed to give it a chance.
They took a taxi from their hotel and arrived at the Wall just before Shabbos. As the crowd gathered, Larry and Ann were intrigued by the special atmosphere and sense of excitement. They watched as groups were formed and services conducted, and they listened to the chanting and the singing. After a while, they hardly felt the damp, cold wind of the Jerusalem winter night. Larry and Ann barely spoke during the hour and a half that they spent at the Wall. But they both felt touched somehow by the experience. “I’m sorry it’s over,” Ann said, as they turned to leave with the crowd.
“Shabbat Shalom! Yeah, you! Would you like to try a Shabbat meal with an Orthodox family?” came a voice from behind them. Suddenly Larry and Ann found themselves face-to-face with a black-hatted, black-suited man with a broad, friendly smile.
“What do you mean?” was all Ann could come up with for a reply.
“Would you like to experience a traditional Shabbat meal with an Orthodox family here in Jerusalem, tonight?”
“How much does it cost?” Larry asked.
“Only about an hour or so of your time! No, seriously, it’s free. You see, I have a list of hosts here who invite people to their homes for the Friday night meal each week. I just find the guests. Have you ever had a Shabbat meal with an Orthodox family before?”
“Well, I mean, I do light candles at home... sometimes, that is, and my husband knows how to read the Kiddush, but we really don't have...”
[After a short walk, Larry and Ann arrived at the home of Rabbi and Mrs. Singer - and their seven children.] The Newtons were not the only guests at the Singers’ home that rainy Friday night. Cindy, a student at the Hebrew University, was there together with her boyfriend, Al. Rabbi Singer made the introductions and showed everyone where to sit. The Singer family sang Shalom Aleichem while Cindy, Al, Larry, and Ann watched.
By the time the fish was being served, Larry and Ann were too engrossed to feel uncomfortable. And when the conversation really got rolling, they were put totally at ease by Cindy's spontaneous, quick-witted humor. In no time at all, she had everyone, including Rabbi Singer, doubled over with laughter... And then the singing began.
By the end of the meal, Larry and Ann were relaxed and happy. They were both surprised at how good they felt and were reluctant to leave. But not wanting to overstay their welcome, they got up right after the Grace after Meals.
“We don’t know how to thank you, Rabbi Singer.” Ann’s voice was filled with emotion. “You’ll never know how much we needed this pleasant evening.” Larry agreed.
“Our pleasure. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to speak with you more at the table,” Rabbi Singer commented. “I would have liked to get to know you a little bit.”
“Oh, Rabbi Singer, Larry and I both got much more than we ever expected. You gave us plenty of attention. I’m only sorry that whatever attention you gave us took you away from your own family.”
“Which hotel are you staying at?” Rabbi Singer asked, changing the subject.
“We’re at Lev Yerushalayim. Could you tell us how to get back there from here?”
“Of course. And let me walk a ways with you. I like a little stroll after Friday night dinner.”
As they started walking, Rabbi Singer asked the Newtons all the questions he regretted not asking during the meal: how long they were staying in Israel, where they had been, etc. On the way, Ann opened up about their problems with Mark. Rabbi Singer listened sympathetically. Before anyone realized it, they had walked all the way to the Newton's hotel.
“I can’t believe you walked us back all the way,” Ann exclaimed. “You’re unbelievable!”
Rabbi Singer blushed and shyly examined his shoes.
“Now, I suppose, you can understand what I meant before when I told you how much Larry and I needed the lift you and your lovely family gave us tonight.”
Rabbi Singer looked down at his shoes again. “Look, I really do have to go now. By the way, I never asked you ― where are you from?”
Larry named their suburb and then added that it was about an hour’s drive from Chicago. Rabbi Singer's face lit up. He was scheduled to speak in Chicago the following month. The Newtons asked for all the particulars and promised to make every effort to attend the speech.
The following Monday, Mark did come into Jerusalem to meet his parents at their hotel. The visit was short, cool, tense and extremely disappointing for Ann and Larry. No one lost his temper, but it was hardly the reunion the Newtons had been looking forward to. The next day, Larry and Ann left Jerusalem for a short stay in Tel Aviv, and then returned home.
Once back home, Larry managed to locate some of Rabbi Singer's books. He and Ann read them all from cover to cover. Ann looked into Rabbi Singer’s Chicago speaking engagement and made plans to attend with Larry.
Six weeks after returning from Israel, the Newtons drove into Chicago for the lecture. Rabbi Singer addressed an overflowing crowd of approximately 300 people. After his speech, people from the audience lined up to ask questions. Larry and Ann cautiously made their way to the end of the line. When they finally caught Rabbi Singer’s eye, he greeted them warmly and enthusiastically.
“Ah, the Newtons! How are you? I’m so glad you could be here tonight. Thank you so much for coming. By the way, did your son ever come to the hotel?”
The Newtons were able to sit down with Rabbi Singer for a long conversation in the lobby. They felt as if they had met an old friend.
“You know, Rabbi Singer, the Shabbos we spent with you has changed our lives. I've been lighting candles every Friday night and Larry's been making Kiddush. We even enrolled in a Torah-study class at the local synagogue.”
“I’m really glad to hear that.”
“We saw the warmth of your home, the atmosphere of closeness, and I told Larry that I want that in our home, too.”
Rabbi Singer sheepishly examined his shoes again.
The Newtons then gave Rabbi Singer an update on Mark. He was still at the kibbutz, still not planning to continue his education, and still very estranged from his parents.
“Do you think, possibly, you could speak with him?” Larry asked.
“I’ll be glad to help if I can, but frankly, I don’t really know if he would want to hear anything from me.” There was a long silence, and Ann and Larry looked so dejected that the rabbi could not keep silent.
“Look, I’ll tell you what. Next time you write to Mark, tell him to feel free to call if he needs a place to stay in Jerusalem. I’ll try to arrange something for him. And, who knows?”
That night Ann wrote to Mark and gave him Rabbi Singer’s address and phone number. “I know it’s a long shot,” she confided to Larry. “But it’s worth a try. And what have we got to lose?
Some of Mark’s friends were organizing an American-style rock music concert on the Mt. Scopus campus of the Hebrew University. On a last-minute impulse, Mark hitched a ride to Jerusalem with a member of the kibbutz in order to attend the concert. Now he needed a place to stay. Thumbing through his address book, Mark came across Rabbi Singer’s name. After a few unsuccessful calls to others, and very much as a last resort, Mark thought, “Oh, well, why not,” and called Rabbi Singer. The rabbi recognized Mark's name immediately and eagerly invited him.
When Mark arrived at the Singers’ apartment, the rabbi gave him a bed, a towel and a set of keys. No questions asked. No strings attached. Mark was surprised and even suspicious of Rabbi Singer’s nonjudgmental attitude. But Rabbi Singer brushed away the young man's defensiveness and skepticism with a gentle smile. “I know your parents very well, Mark. Any son of theirs is a friend of mine.”
Mark was very much taken by this man’s relaxed and accepting attitude. He was also struck by Rabbi Singer’s full and open trust. In fact, during the one day and two nights Mark spent there, he became very curious about this mild-mannered man, who responded to compliments by staring at his shoes. When Mark said goodbye, Rabbi Singer extended an open invitation to return for a Shabbos. When Mark replied that he'd think about it, the rabbi assumed this was his polite way of turning down the offer.
Three weeks later, much to Rabbi Singer’s surprise, Mark did call and ask to come for Shabbos. That Friday night, Mark kept Rabbi Singer up quite late, firing one philosophical question after another. The full and challenging answers, Rabbi Singer’s personality, the pervasive Shabbos atmosphere, made Mark's shell of cynicism crack.
During that year, Mark returned to the Singer home for Shabbos three more times. Each time he arrived with a heavy load of questions. And after each visit, Mark left with pleasant memories, a lot of answers, and another open invitation.
In the middle of the third Shabbos, Mark hesitatingly asked his most difficult question. It was easy for Mark to ask about the Holocaust, or proofs of God's existence. But, because he knew there would be an answer, one question terrified him: “Where can I learn more about Judaism?”
Rabbi Singer directed Mark to Aish HaTorah’s highly successful three-day Discovery Seminar. Mark credits the seminar for pushing him “over the hill." But in truth, by the time Mark signed up for Discovery, he was already receptive to the credibility of Judaism.
After the seminar, Mark’s appetite was fully whetted. He decided to remain at the yeshiva for a week... then another... and finally for a year-and-a-half of intense Torah study.
At the same time that Mark began to explore Judaism and its meaning for his life, he began to think about his relationship with his parents. By the time he returned home, they were closer than they had been for years, and Ann and Larry became baalei teshuvah as well. Before leaving Israel, Mark was also personally responsible for bringing another Harvard graduate ― who was engaged to marry a non-Jew ― over to Rabbi Singer's home and eventually back to [Judaism]. But that's another story...
Truth always wins
The religious Jews of Slutzk once complained to their rabbi, the gaon Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik that the atheists had the upper hand in the town.

“That’s not surprising,” said Rabbi Yosef Dov. “Truth always wins out.”

Astonished, they asked, “Rabbi, what do you mean? Is there, G-d forbid, any truth in atheism?”

“What I said was correct,” answered the Rabbi. “The atheists really believe in their truth. Therefore, they’re victorious. The believers don't believe in their truth with the same intensity. Therefore, they lose out!” (Haggadah shel Pesach Ayelet HaShachar, p. 222)

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayeira 5770
Is sponsored liRefuah Shleima Refoel Chaim Simcha ben Devorah Aliza bisoch shaar cholei Yisroel
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Bais Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, half an hour before Mincha.
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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