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Fascinating Facts in Our Jewish History

September 13-14 Parsha Ki Seitzei

Rav Yehuda (ben Betzalel) Loew was known as the Maharal, which is an acronym for “Our Teacher the Rabbi Loew”. (1525-1609). Born in Posen, Poland, on the night of the Pesach Seder, to a distinguished family of rabbis that traced its ancestry to King David, he was the youngest of
four brothers.

The Maharal married at the age of 32 to Pearl. He had six girls and one boy who was named after the Maharal's father, Betzalel. In 1553 he was elected rabbi of Nikolsburg and the Province of Moravia, where he remained for the next 20 years. In 1573 he moved to Prague, where he opened a yeshiva. In 1592 the Maharal accepted the position of rabbi in Posen, returning to Prague in 1598 to serve as its chief rabbi. The Maharal castigated the educational methods of his day, where boys were taught at a very young age, and insisted that children must be taught in accordance with their intellectual maturity.

He was a prolific writer, and his works include: Tiferes Yisrael on the greatness of Torah and mitzvos; Nesivos Olam, on ethics; Be'er Hagolah, a commentary on rabbinic sayings; Netzach Yisrael, on exile and redemption; Or Chadash, on the book of Esther; Ner Mitzvah, on Chanukah; Gevuros Hashem, on the Exodus; and many others. Rav Kook stated that the "Maharal was the father of the approach of the Gaon of Vilna on the one hand, and of the father of Chassidus, on the other hand."

He has been described as a Kabbalist who wrote in philosophic garb. The philosophy of the Maharal is the underpinning of most contemporary expressions of a Torah worldview. His writings on the Aggados or “story “portions of the Talmud have opened our eyes to see the depth of insight of Chazal, the Sages of the Talmud. During the period of the Maharal's rabbinate, Prague was a center of art and science in Europe.

The Maharal was fully conversant with the scientific knowledge of his time as well as friendly with some of the contemporary eminent scientists. His disciple, Dovid Ganz, worked in the observatory of Tycho Brahe, the distinguished astronomer and he maintained a relationship with Johannes Kepler.

The Maharal was also deeply involved in the welfare of his community and was beloved by Jews and non-Jews alike. He maintained a strong relationship with the Hapsburg kings. In 1609, Rudolf II (a devout Catholic), issued an "Imperial Charter of the Emperor" in which he legalized
extensive religious freedoms unparalleled in the Europe of that period. The Yahrtzeit of the Maharal is 18 Elul.

September 6-7 Parsha Shoftim

In the run-up to the declaration of the State, the Jews in Palestine opposing the British were divided. Many supported the Jewish Agency led by David Ben Gurion, and its military wing, the Haganah. Others were called Revisionists and their military arm was the Irgun. Menachem Begin was one of their leaders.

The Jewish Agency endeavored to create the State of Israel by political means. The Haganah was primarily a defense organization. The  Revisionists advocated military means to oust the British. A third group, called Lehi, splintered off from the Irgun. Lehi tended towards even more radical acts. The Stern gang, as the British called Lehi, was headed by a triumvirate, one of whom was Yitzchak Shamir who later became Prime minister of Israel.

After Israel's independence, the Haganah became the Israel Defense Forces; however, Irgun and Lehi continued to function independently. In 1948 the UN sent Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte to Israel to broker a peace settlement between the Arabs and the Jews. Bernadotte advocated “the right of the Arab refugees to return to their homes in Jewish-controlled territory...” and placing Jerusalem under Arab control.

Fearing that the Israeli leadership would agree to Bernadotte's peace proposals, which they considered disastrous, Lehi decided to take action. On the 13th of Elul 1948, as Bernadotte’s motorcade was driving through Jerusalem, they were stopped by an Israeli Army Jeep. Soldiers got out, walked over to Bernadotte's car, shot him and his assistant to death and sped off. The assassins did not know that the Israeli leaders had already decided to reject Bernadotte's plans and were prepared to take military action. International outrage and condemnation of Israel
ensued. The Ben Gurion government pledged to punish the assassins, but they were never found. In the end, Bernadotte's proposals were rejected by the UN.

The Government used the episode to invigorate their efforts to stomp out renegade groups and consolidate all military functions in Israel into the IDF. Within months, the Irgun and Lehi ceased to exist. As far as the Count himself he has a mixed reputation. He is noted for his negotiation of the release of about 15,000 prisoners from German concentration camps during World War II. After the war, he led efforts to bring Holocaust survivors to Sweden for rehabilitation. Count Folke Bernadotte is remembered by many Jews as a hero. To others, he was a
wicked enemy of the Jewish people who tried to snuff out the State in its infancy. History is complicated.

August 30-31 Parsha Re'eh

Rav Avraham Yitzchak (ben Shlomo Zalman) Hakohen Kook was Chief Rabbi of Israel for 19 years of his life (1865-1935). The first Chief Rabbi of what was then Palestine, Rav Kook was perhaps the most misunderstood figure of his time.

Born in Latvia of staunch Chassidic and Misnagid stock, he retained throughout his life a unique blend of the mystical and the rational. He was a thorough master of the entire Halachic, Midrashic, philosophic, ethical, and Kabbalistic literature. Up until the time of Rabbi Kook, most of the Jewish world viewed settlement in Israel in very practical terms; it was simply the best option available in a hostile world.

Rabbi Kook saw the return to Eretz Yisrael as not merely a political phenomenon to save Jews from persecution, but an event of extraordinary historical and theological significance. To his students we attribute the line in our prayer for the State of Israel “the beginning of the flowering of our redemption”. Although everyone can agree to the physical and social advantages of Jews living in Israel, many were not prepared to view the settlement in Israel as an act of Divine redemption.

Since Rav Kook viewed Jewish settlement in Israel as Divine redemption; anyone who worked toward that goal, regardless of their religious observance or even belief, was considered Holy. This approach was, and is, extremely controversial.

Rabbi Hutner, a student of Rav Kook who became the Rosh Yeshiva of the Chaim Berlin Yeshiva in Brooklyn, once said that Rav Kook peered down on our world from great heights and hence his perspective was unique. Above all, Rav Kook pulsated with a sense of the Divine. Though keenly aware of the huge numbers of non-observant Jews, he had a vision of the repentance of the nation. His concept of repentance envisioned, in addition to the repentance of the individual, a repentance of the nation as a whole; a repentance which would be joyous and healing. He refused to reject Jews, as long as they identified themselves as Jews. He called for and envisioned a spiritual renaissance where "the ancient would be renewed and the new would be sanctified.". Rav Kook passed away on the 3rd of Elul 1935.

Appropriately, the month of Elul has the Hebrew acronym of Ani L’dodi V’ dodi Li -I am to my beloved as my beloved is to me. This indicates the theme of Elul, of rediscovering our love affair with Hashem.

On the third of Elul a child was born to Hy and Louise Friedman. He would later go on to serve as Rav of the world renowned Congregation Ariel in Dunwoody, GA.

August 16-17 Parsha Va'Eschanan, Shabbos Nachamu

The last Mishnah in Masechet Taanit says, “There were no holidays so joyous for the Jewish People as the Fifteenth of Av and Yom HaKippurim, for on those days, daughters of Yerushalayim would go out dressed in borrowed clothing (so as not to embarrass those who didn’t have) and white clothing (so that they would all look the same”).

Many matches were made as a result, hence the joyous nature of the day. The focus on marriage as the celebration of this day is based on two decrees which were annulled on the Fifteenth of Av. The Torah tells us of the daughters of Tzelafchad who had no brothers. The daughters felt they were entitled to their father’s share of the land of Israel. G-d told Moshe that the daughters were correct - however, to ensure that the land did not move outside the tribe, the women were required to marry within their tribe.

This limitation on the marital prospects of Jewish woman who inherited land was lifted once the Jewish People were settled in Israel; and it was lifted on the Fifteenth of Av. The other limitation that was lifted on the Fifteenth of Av came in the Period of the Judges, approximately 1395 B.C.E. The last chapters of the Book of Judges tell the story. A woman was abused, and eventually died, at the hands of a mob in a city of the Tribe of Benjamin. The other Tribes were outraged and demanded justice be served. When the Tribe of Benjamin did not punish the perpetrators, the other Tribes declared war on Benjamin. In addition, they all took an oath that no one would marry their daughter to a Benjaminite.

When the was over, Benjamin was annihilated, leaving only some 700 Benjaminite men hiding in caves. The other tribes felt guilty at their overreaction. On the 15th of Av, the prohibition of marrying into the Tribe of Benjamin was lifted to allow the tribe to repopulate.

Nowadays we do not marry during the three weeks. Shabbos Nachamu, which comes just days after Tisha B’av, signals the resumption of wedding season. On it we look forward to a bright future for the Jewish people and Mazal Tov.

August 9-10 Parsha Devarim

One of the most common stories heard on Tisha b’Av is about the Emperor Napoleon walking by a Paris synagogue on this day, hearing the lamentations and loud weeping of the Jews. In the story, he asks what the Jews are crying about, and after being told about the destruction of the Temple nearly two millennia ago, remarks something along the lines of: “A nation that cries and fasts for 2,000 years for their land and Temple will surely be rewarded with their Temple.” The internet is full of debate and investigation as to whether or not the story is actually true. I don’t know if it is or is not, but as Rabbi Berl Wein has often quipped “if it didn’t happen, it should have”

Napoleon was the quintessential Emperor. One might even name a complex after him. Napoleon set out to conquer the world and almost achieved his goal. In the process, he spread the French values of the Enlightenment which have altered the course of humankind. Napoleon was a military man who lived by the sword. Would a man obsessed with glory not stand in awe of an unarmed, powerless, despised and degraded people, who refuse to forget their glorious past? Would a man of power not wonder,  “from whence does the power of these Jews come”?

Surely Napoleon spent much energy to deny the reality that his days on this earth were few and that his empire would ultimately end up in the dustbin of history, with all of its predecessors. A man such as Napoleon, if he was honest, should have been moved by the eternal Israel and its dream of Redemption.

Napoleon surely understood that crying for the past can only last so long. If, after nearly two millenia they are still crying, it must be because they have a dream for the future. The Jewish people were everything the great Napoleon yearned for but would never have.

The first night of Pesach always falls on the same day of the week as Tisha B’av. This is no coincidence. When we celebrate Pesach, we celebrate our redemption and the launch of our mission. When we mourn Tisha Bav, we mourn the fact that the mission has not yet been realized. The story of Napoleon teaches us that those who sit on the floor and contemplate that past are great and powerful conquerors. And that those who mourn what the Temple gave the world are connected to an immortal reality. Two hundred years have passed and the message of the story rings ever truer.

August 2-3 Parsha Matos-Masei

n the year 1855, Alexander II became Czar of Russia. Alexander II was a reform-minded man and set about making important changes to the backward Russian Empire. He is most notably remembered for freeing the serfs - peasant farmers who were until then the property of the owners of the estates upon which they lived.

Alexander II tried to homogenize his country by banning all distinctive dress and national customs. The Jews bore the brunt of this severe decree. They were not allowed to appear in public in distinctive Jewish garb, beard and peyos, and women were not allowed to wear the traditional head covering. Alexander II also sought to reform the educational system by allowing Jews into the general school system or setting up secular schools for the Jews. This was intended to break the cheder system where Jewish children learned exclusively Torah subjects.

Alexander II was extremely controversial within the Jewish community. The maskilim, or intellectuals, embraced his reforms. They felt that Russia was entering a new era and that this was their opportunity to join the mainstream as had been modeled in Western Europe.

The traditionalists did everything they could to fight the changes. As the years progressed, more and more Jewish youth attended secular schools, became prominent in business and moved into the professions and the arts. In many cases, Jews were baptized or had their children baptized to gain acceptance into Russian society.

The Czarist aristocracy took a decidedly dim view of Alexander II’s reform as it meant loosening their hold on the country. Alexander II walked a tight rope between modernizing Russian and maintaining his empire with an iron fist.

The winds of change however were blowing across the world and a variety of anti- czarist movements were at work in Russia. On Mach 31st 1881, a member of a terrorist group called “Peoples Will’ assassinated Czar Alexander II near his Winter Palace. The assassination was all the aristocracy needed to prove to themselves that Russia needed to veer sharply back to its traditional course. The anarchist was not Jewish, but he had a Jewish girlfriend which clearly implicated the Jews in the crime.

In May of 1881, a series of regressive laws were issued, many of which were directed at the Jews. Soon, government-sanctioned pogroms were unleashed across Russia as a method of turning the attention of the populace against the age-old enemy, the Jews. Those Jews who had hoped that this time it would be different were devastated. Many turned to revolutionary movements: Communism, Socialism, Anarchism, and the Bund trade union movement.

Many however decided that enough was enough, and the concept of emigration came to the fore. On the 3rd day of Av 1881, the first ship from Europe carrying Jews emigrating from Russia arrived in New York. Over the next 20 years, more than 2 million Jews would leave Russia for the United States. In 1924 the United States passed very restrictive immigration rules which effectively barred Jews from entering the country. Most of us reading this can trace our presence in America and various parts of the United Kingdom to this wave of emigration.

July 26-27 Parsha Pinchas

Rabbi Nachman Bulman was born on the Lower East Side of New York in 1925.

Rav Bulman’s father Meir had already buried two wives and two children in Europe and his mother was in her mid-forties when they wrote to the Gerrer Rebbe, know, as the Imrei Emes, for a Bracha that they should yet be blessed with children. Rav Bulman was the fruit of that Bracha.

Everything was cosmic in his eyes, and he responded accordingly. Anything might trigger a welter of emotions, without diminishing his analytical clarity. While still in his early thirties, he was already the most sought-after orator in the American Orthodox world. His speeches were not mere entertainments, but intense learning experiences. Even those who could not follow the profundity of his thought felt themselves being transported to higher realms as he spoke.

Starting softly, there came a point in every speech where Rav Bulman would become so carried away with his subject that his voice would crack, and with it the hearts of his listeners. Nowhere was his passion more evident than in his davening.  Bochurim would slip out of their yeshivos before Neilah to go to hear Rav Bulman plead with the Ribbono shel Olam for each and every member of Klal Yisrael. Kohanim who gazed upon Rav Bulman's face as they prepared to duchan for the last time on Yom Kippur sensed that he was in another world, directly in front of the Kisei HaKavod (Throne of Glory).

Rabbi Bulman served as Rabbi in Danville, VA and Newport News, then in Far Rockaway, New York. He was active in national organizations and founded a number of schools. Upon moving to Eretz Yisrael in 1975, Rav Bulman became the Mashgiach Spiritual mentor at Ohr Somayach. His office was the address for all those seeking to be convinced of the truth of Torah. He found a way to connect to each student according to his needs. One former student, who went on to become a Hillel Rabbi on several large campuses, recalls that the turning point for him was when he told Rav Bulman that he intended to spend Pesach vacation sightseeing in Egypt. Rav Bulman began crying. Those tears not only marked the end of the travel plans to Egypt, but the beginning of the young man’s taking his studies seriously.

Rav Bulman's lectures on a variety of topics were spellbinding, particularly his classes on the Prophets, yet Rav Bulman had a desire to teach a daily Talmud class. The Yeshiva acquiesced and I was chosen to be part of Rav Bulman's Gemara shiur. The first day of class was a sweltering hot Jerusalem day. The classroom was on the third floor and there was no elevator. Rav Bulman had heart problems all of his life. Rav Bulman entered perspiring profusely. He sat at the head of the table and looked up at the wall opposite him. Each classroom was adorned with a picture of a great Jew. Hanging on the wall of this room was a picture of the Imrei Emes. In a pleading voice, Rav Bulman explained that the honor of the Torah requires the teacher to be dressed in a dignified manner when he teaches. However, he was not feeling well and asked our permission to remove his jacket and tie. He then apologized to his teachers for this breach of decorum.

He left an indelible mark on everyone who came in contact with him. I am fortunate to count myself in their number.  His yahrtzeit is the 26th of Tammuz.

Excerpts were borrowed from fellow student Jonathan Rosenblum’s obituary of Rav Bulman.

July 19-20 Parsha Balak

Sunday, July 21st
Fast begins 5:13AM. Fast ends 9:21PM

The Fast of the 17th of Tammuz commemorates the breaching of the wall of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70 AD. When the 17th falls on Shabbos, as it does this year, the Fast is moved to the next day.

The 17th of Tammuz ushers in the Three Weeks of mourning for the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples in Jerusalem. We do not schedule weddings during this time, or listen to music, to remind ourselves of the sadness that descended upon Israel during this period.

Among other historical tragedies, the 17th day of Tammuz marks the day the:

(1) Roman decree outlawing sacrifices in the Temple was put in place, and the daily Tamid offering was forced to end.

(2) The following year (70 AD), the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Roman army, leading to the fall of the Second Holy Temple.
(3) The Roman military leader Apostomus burned a Torah scroll on this day, before the Bar Kochba Rebellion.
(4) An idol was placed in the Holy Temple, profaning the sacred space.
(5) During Biblical times, the 17th day of Tammuz is believed to be the day Moshe broke the Luchot, or Tablets, as he descended from Mount Sinai and saw the Israelites worshiping the Golden Calf. The terrible sin of the Golden Calf marked the day for suffering and tragedy on the Jewish calendar.
(6) In 1095, the walls of Jerusalem were breached again during the First Crusade.

The 17th of Tammuz is the first of four fast days mentioned in the prophets. The purpose of a fast day is to awaken our sense of loss over the destroyed Temple – and the subsequent Jewish journey into exile. Agonizing over these events is meant to help us conquer those spiritual deficiencies which brought about these tragic events. Through the process of "Teshuva" – self introspection and a commitment to improve – we have the power to transform tragedy into joy.

The Talmud teaches us that whoever mourns for Jerusalem will see its rebuilding.

In fact, the Talmud says that after the future redemption of Israel and the rebuilding of the Temple, these fast days will be re-dedicated as days of rejoicing and festivity. For as the prophet Zechariah says: the 17th of Tammuz will become a day of "joy to the House of Judah, and gladness and cheerful feasts."

May the promise be realized speedily and in our days.

July 12-13 Parsha Chukas

Rabbi Yaacov Yitzchok Halevi Ruderman passed away on the 14th of Tammuz  5747 - 1987. Rabbi Ruderman was the founder and Rosh Yeshiva of the Ner Israel Rabbinical Academy for 54 years. Ner Israel has had a great impact on the development of the Atlanta Torah observant community, beginning with alumnus Rabbi Emmanual Feldman taking the helm at Congregation Beth Jacob, later Ner Yisrael alumni founding of the Atlanta Scholars Kollel, and the many alumni who live in Atlanta and make its Jewish community so vibrant.

What was it about this Yiddish speaking Torah giant that impacted so many to impact so many? Rabbi Ruderman was recognized as a genius as a young child. His parents sent him to learn Torah in the famed Slobodka Yeshiva before his Bar Mitzvah. The spiritual head of the Yeshiva was Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, known as the Alter (Elder) of Slobodka. Due to his tender age, the Alter took the young Ruderman into his own home.

A few years later tragedy struck when Rav Ruderman’s parents perished in a plague. At the time the youth had dedicated himself to an intensive program to complete the entire Talmud. The Alter withheld the news of the passing of the parents so as not to disrupt the ambitious learning program.  Others questioned this decision. “But no one is saying kaddish for the parents”. The Alter responded that the Torah that is being learned with such intensity is the greatest kaddish. When the goal was reached, the boy was informed of the tragedy. Decades later he was grateful for the sagacity of the Alter that enabled him to acquire knowledge of the entire Talmud.

In 1930, at age 29, having mastered and memorized all areas of Torah, he moved to America to help his father-in-law start a yeshiva. Attempts were made in New Haven, Connecticut and later Cleveland, Ohio, but both failed. In 1933 the Rudermans moved to Baltimore and began teaching a handful of students in their home. The Yeshiva grew into the hundreds and now occupies a 75-acre campus in suburban Baltimore.

How did Rabbi Ruderman turn American students on to the Talmud with its foreign language and decidedly un-Western thought process? I’m sure it was many different ways for many different people. For myself knowing him in the last seven years of his life, it was crystal clear. Rav Ruderman was a living embodiment of the Torah. He thought it, he talked it and he lived it.  His life was defined by his connection to his predecessors, and by extension, anyone who was connected to him shared that connection.

The Torah says that when Moshe Rabbeinu would go to his tent the people would stand until he entered his tent. The custom in Ner Israel was that when Rav Ruderman entered everyone stood until he reached his seat. Those moments are my finest recollections of my days in Ner Israel. The door opened and hundreds of men stood as the Rosh Yeshiva slowly made his way to his seat at the front of the room. Standing for the heir of Moshe Rabbeinu until he reached his place.

July 5-6 Parsha Korach

For nearly 1,500 years, the Jewish people called Babylon home. During that time the Jews created a veritable Kingdom in Babylon complete with Resh Galusa - Kings in Exile  - descendants of King David. The Babylonian Jewish community produced the cornerstone of Judaism, the Babylonian Talmud and scores of works by a host of great Chachamim. It all began on the 5th of Tammuz 433 B.C.

In the first year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar set out to conquer the world. His armies soon reached and subdued Israel. He appointed King Yehoyakim as his vassal. Three years later Yehoyakim rebelled against Babylon. The Babylonians put down the rebellion, killed Yehoyakim, and installed his 18-year-old son Yehoyachin as a vassal.  After only a few months on the throne, Yehoyachin also rebelled. The Babylonians came back and rounded up the entire Royal family and most of the Jerusalem aristocracy. They also looted two of Israel’s greatest treasures. They stripped the Temple of many of its gold ornaments and rounded up 1,000 young budding Torah scholars, known as the Cheresh and Masger. Cheresh – “Silencers” -  because their arguments silenced the opposition,  and Masger – “Closers” because everyone closed their mouths before them. All of these they exiled to Babylon.

The 1,000 Torah Scholars were of particular importance to Nebuchadnezzar because he needed to create a bureaucracy to run his ever-expanding empire. These young men were exceptionally bright and well educated, so he felt they were just what he needed. Nebuchadnezzar was correct and the Cheresh and Masger soon rose to prominence in Babylon. This prominence gave them considerable clout in powerful places. These 1,000 scholars were also very important to the destiny of the Jewish people.

Nine years after the Cheresh and Masger arrived in Babylon, Zedkiyahu the last king of Israel rebelled against Babylon. This time Nebuchadnezzar had no more patience. He destroyed the Temple and exiled most of the Jews to Babylon in chains. Our long history tells us that forced migrations from the old country generally entail a severe drop in the quality of Jewish life and knowledge. The immigrants are primarily focused on surviving in a new and often hostile environment and religious life takes a backseat. What these new immigrants found in Babylon was just the opposite. In Babylon, the Cheresh and Masger were well placed and ready to spring into action. The Cheresh and Masger immediately organized the exiles into a community with all the communal institutions. Finances were provided, community structure was instituted and Torah learning resumed almost immediately.

We have an adage that Hashem sends the cure before the disease. The Cheresh and Masger is the case in point. What made Nebuchadnezzar think that the answer to his problem lay in these 1,000 young Torah scholars? The answer is our Father in Heaven, who is always preparing the cure for His children before the disease.

June 28-29 Parsha Shlach

Yonoson ben Uziel was a student of Hillel and he died in the waning days of the Second Temple. During his lifetime Yonaon ben Uziel wrote an interpretive Aramaic translation of the Torah. The Targum (translation) of Yonoson ben Uziel is printed today in all of the Mikraos Gedolos (commentator's) editions of the Torah and is an important tool for Torah study.

The Talmud tells us that Yonoson ben Uziels’ love for Torah was all-consuming. As he studied, birds flying over his head were burned by the fiery intensity of his learning. His dedication to Torah even exceeded its rightful bounds. Yonoson ben Uziel could not divide his attention between his Torah and a wife so he decided not to marry. He passed away at a young age, unmarried, but just before his passing, he realized he had made a mistake by never marrying since he would have ascended to even higher levels with a wife, because a wife brings completion.

From then on, a tradition developed that those seeking their soulmates would meet their intended within a year if they came to daven at his gravesite in Amuka, a deep valley near Tsfat. On the day of his passing, thousands come to his gravesite for this very purpose. Many have seen miracles.

Diane was an unobservant, thirtyish single when she started attending classes with the newly formed Atlanta Scholars Kollel. In time she became observant and desired greatly to settle down and start a family. Harvey, 40ish, had a similar story in Chicago. A Kollel Rabbi in Atlanta was speaking to a Kollel rabbi in Chicago and a shidduch was proposed. Diane and Harvey dated and Mazal Tov! they became engaged. The engagement party was held in the home of Diane’s good friends, Rabbi Binyomin and Dena Friedman. Harvey, an amateur photographer, took many pictures of the happy event, reloading his camera as the rolls of film (yes, film) ran out. At one point he handed his camera to someone to take a picture of himself and his fiancee. After the event, Harvey went back to Chicago where he developed his film.

A few weeks later the Friedmans received a most amazing photograph.

Some months before he was introduced to Diane, Harvey, frustrated and burnt out on dating, decided to take a trip to Israel. While in Israel he was told of the tradition of visiting the grave of Rabbi Yonoson ben Uziel and its reported effects, so he journeyed to Amuka. While in Amuka, someone took his camera and took a picture of him praying there. When that roll of film was complete, he tossed it into his camera bag.

Harvey then returned to America. Soon thereafter, he was introduced to Diane and now they were celebrating the engagement. With all of the excitement of the engagement party, Harvey accidentally reloaded the already exposed film from his trip to Israel into his camera. Now we were holding the results in our hands. There in the same frame is Harvey davening for a wife at Amuka and Harvey and his fiancee celebrating their engagement a few months later.

This week Monday, 28 Sivan, is the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yonoson ben Uziel. It behooves us to consider our friends and family who are earnestly seeking their soulmate and to pray for their success in the coming year. And if you have any ideas, pick up the phone.

Thu, September 19 2019 19 Elul 5779