Tziduq haDin

Tziduk Hadin
Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

Yated Ne’eman
March 13, 2008

Yerushalayim in shock
Numb with grief
Frozen hearts

In the heart of Yerushalayim
A yeshiva under attack
Unarmed students
Shot in the back
Rifle blazing
No escape
Vicious death trap
Savage hate
Gunfire roaring
Young men falling
No escape

On Rosh Chodesh
Adar Sheini.
Yeshiva bochurim

Close to eighty
The murderer sought
To kill them all
600 bullets
Blasted forth.

Innocent souls
Pure young men
Will never speak
Or laugh again
Victims so young
Leave us behind
To ponder the tragedy
Of how they died

Complacency shattered
Does nonsense still matter?
People misguided, divided

The first report announced
Terror in a yeshiva
All across the world
Headlines screamed
A yeshiva, a yeshiva
Under siege

Jews gasped,
Immediately asked,
Which yeshiva?
Where is the yeshiva?

Is it the yeshiva
Where my son learns?
My brother?
My cousin?
My friend?

We are all sons
All brothers
All cousins
All friends

Can it be that yeshivos, too,
are no longer safe?

Our teivas noach
In stormy waves
The teivah was breached
Bochurim slain
Wounded, bleeding
Searing pain

The Jewish heart punctured
Jewish souls bereaved
Across the world
United in grief

Yerushalmi Yidden
Broke down and cried.
For the yeshiva was taken
To the war’s front lines

All over Eretz Yisroel
As they assembled for Maariv
They said Yaaleh Veyavoh
for Chodesh Adar
And when they finished davening,
A silence so bitter
All they could muster
A tearful whisper
Hashem yishmor

How were there no guns that
day in Merkaz Harav?
Young boys died armed only with
their seforim
Mosru nafshom al kiddush Hashem

Gemaros soaked with victims’ blood
Seforim shot up, survivors numb
Friends gone forever, innocent youth
To their final rest in the world of Truth

Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers
Trying to comfort each other
Sitting shivah, hearts rent
Grief that keeps flowing without end

As vast as the ocean is Jewish pain
The cycle returns in every decade
Hate and persecution take their toll
On a nation with an eternal soul

Down the corridors of history
From the days of Harugei Beitar
The eight crusades
Gezeiros Tach V’Tat

Crisscrossing the globe
The pogroms in Russia
Poland… Chevron.


Kiryat Shemonah

The 12 bus
The 2 bus
Park Hotel
Pesach night

When will it end?

Rain the first night of Sukkos
Signals G-d’s displeasure
What about the innocent
Snatched on the first night of Adar

Do we feel the pain in our
deepest soul?
Do we feel the hurt or are our
hearts cold?

A yeshiva.
Any yeshiva,
Is no longer safe!

The mizbei’ach is mechapeir
for avonos
The bais medrash became a mizbei’ach

What happened to “ein
moridim m’hamizbei’ach
What happened to the
zechus haTorah?

Lechapeir al avonoseinu,
Chodesh nehepach misasson l’eivel

But the story will soon change
In the end of days
As love conquers hate
And comfort removes pain,
Truth will triumph over lies
Darkness will finally yield to light

Ohr chodosh al Tziyon ta’ir
The light of Moshiach will shine
Over Tzion
And Yerushalayim

When we learn to
Feel the pain
Of the exile

When at last we unite
As brothers and sisters
When love binds us close
Despite our differences
No one will defeat us
Armed with our oneness
No enemy can beat us

Amaleik’s power manifests in Adar.
Haman’s dice landed on Adar

Parshas Shekolim tells the secret
Of the machatzis hashekel
Its power to counteract our
eternal foes
Amaleik and Haman.

Machatzis — half.
Because without each other,
We aren’t whole

One half and another half
And another
And another
No longer separate
But part of each other.

Achdus brings us victory
It has no rival
The ‘magic bullet’
That ensures our survival.

Esther said to Mordechai,
Leich kenos es kol haYehudim.”
Bring the Jews together

Only if they are together,
Can I win the king over
Only if they are united
Can we triumph
Over Haman
And prevail over

Leich kenos es kol haYehudim.”
Only if we are together,
Can we defeat Yishmoel

When we are One
Without friction or fighting
No power can hurt us
No force is as mighty.

K’Ish Echad B’Laiv Echad
Under Hashem Echod.
May Hashem bring us safely
To that blessed day
Bayom hahu yehiyeh Hashem Echod
U’shmo Echod

Gender Differences

(I had more to say on the each of yesterday’s post’s two topics, so it is being replaced with this and the next post.)

In a post on parashas Chayei Sarah, I included R’ Aharon Soloveitchikzt”l‘s take on gender differences as reflected in halakhah. Men have an overly strong sense of qibbush, to conqure and subsue, women have a better balance with chazaqah, making and developing.

In this post, I would like to add Rav Hirsch’s (RSRH) take, which I believe dovetails quite well with Rav Aharon’s.

First, his translation of Tehillim 45:14 is “But the king’s daughter is all glorious within, more than the golden borders of her raiment.” As Michael Poppers pointed out, this better fits the hyphenation of “kol-kevudah” as well as the use of “kevudah” not “kevudas“. The commentary reads:

“But”, the singer adds with infinite tact and delicacy, “though the princess may appear glorious and splendid in public, she reveals her true glory in quiet, more private circles, and the splendid qualities she shows there are much greater than the exquisite beauty of the gold borders which shine at the hem of her garment.” Penimah “within,” is always used to designate an inner recess as opposed to the outer chambers.

What may better capture RSRH’s position is his comments on “peru urvu umil’u es ha’aretz vikvishuhah — be fruitful and multiply and fill the world and subdue it” in Judaism Eternal, ch 11 (The Jewish Woman).

Vikvshuha is read malei [full, ie with the vav], but written chaseir [deficient]. In other words, while it is read as though both should participate in conquering the world, it’s written “vikivshah“, that only one of them should.
… [T]he command to “subdue”, and with it to procure the means necessary for marriage and for founding a household, is addressed only to the male sex, to whose function it belongs to compel the earth through labour to serve the needs of man. Hence the command to marry and found a household has absolute force only for the male sex. Since, however, these commands are after all addressed to both sexes, it is obvious that for the performance of man’s task of building up the world the Law-giver reckoned on the harmonious and equal co-operation of both sexes. Further, by excusing the famale sex from the hard labour of subduing and mastering the earth, … [H]e left it free to be devoted to the higher and more humanistic task of employing the products of man’s labour for the ethical purposes of building up a house and family, that is to say, in the service of his true vocation and his welfare as a human being.

R SR Hirsch explains this verse as being about the Talmudic aphorism that “man brings in the grain, and woman makes it into bread”. Man conquers and acquires, woman develops the raw material into a finished product. Man builds a society, woman gives it a religious backbone. Ideally it would be man who produces technology, and women who make sure we don’t dehumanize ourselves in the process.

This is akin to an observation by “Dear Abby” (Pauline Phillips, born Pauline Esther Friedman). She wrote that men are goal oriented, while women are process oriented. This is an alleged gender difference from a totally unrelated source, albeit one probably based on anecdotal evidence, that would fit the roles assumed above.

Rav Hirsch speaks in terms of “inside” vs. “outside”, community in service of its members, vs the expansion of the community’s domain, reach, and standard of living. The similarity to Rav Aharon’s dichotomy of qibbush extending our reach vs. chazaqah developing what we have is quite strong, although not identical.

This is the reason Rav Hirsch gives for the difference between the seider, in which we say “women to were in the same miracle” and they share the obligations of the night, whereas they are exempt from most rituals caused by a particular time (mitzvos asei shehazman gerama), including sukkah and lulav. The sukkah is about going beyond the home, and is thus male in a sense that perpetuating the chain of tradition at the family table on Pesach is not.

Rav Hirsch writes that male is called zachar, memory, standard-bearer of history, while female is called nekeivah, that which receives — in this case, a vocation. Yirmiyahu writes, “Ki vara H’ chadashah ba’aretz, nekeivah tisoveiv gever — for Hashem created something new in the world, female surrounds man” (31:21). Ther prophet doesn’t contrast neqeivah with zakhar, female with male, but with gever. Gever is a term for man which focuses on the male tendency for qibush. As the mishnah says, “Who is a hero [gibor]? One who conqures [hakoveish] his inclination.”

It is in this sense of neqeivah along with that of gever as a figure of qibbush, that RSRH uses to explain Yirmiyahu. Man does nothing but provide a foundation, the means; woman’s job is to provide the ends. As, as Rav Kook writes, ends are inherently more holy than means. In fact, the entire concept of “secular” boils down to our inability to see Hashem’s ends while dealing with this universe’s means.

At the inception of creation it was intended that the tree have the same taste as the fruit. All the supportive actions that sustain any general worthwhile spiritual goal should by right be experienced in the soul with the same feeling of elation and delight as the goal itself is experienced when we envision it. But earthly existence, the instability of life, the weariness of the spirit when confined in a corporate frame brought it about that only the fruition of the final step, which embodies the primary ideal, is experienced in its pleasure and splendor. The trees that bear the fruit, with all their necessity for the growth of the fruit have, however, become coarse matter and have lost their taste. This is the failing of the “earth” because of which it was cursed when Adam was also cursed for his sin.

Orot haTeshuva 6:7
Translation by B. Z. Bokser, The Lights of Penitence in “Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook,” published by Paulist Press in the “Classics of Western Spirituality” series.

As Rav Hirsch writes, the masculine quest to go ever outward is frought with the possibility of losing sight of the goals for which he was created. Getting lost in the mode of thought, and losing sight of the bigger picture. “And there is a danger that he may completely lost himself in this struggle, that in striving to acquire his means he will lose sight of his real vocation… This is an error which can almost be regarded as the key to all the mistakes made in history. It is then the woman who leads him back to what is truly human in him.” “Neqeivah tesoveiv gever.”

The Chosen People

The Rav Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam, the Klausenberger Rebbe, held firm during his imprisonment in Dachau. He somehow managed to smuggle tefillin into the camp, and continued wearing them regularly. One day, he saw a Jew crying: What’s it all for? What future do we as a people have? What will come from all this suffering? The rebbe consoled him, at some point using the words “chosen people”. It was just then that a Nazi guard overheard him. He beat the rebbe with the butt of his rifle, and once the rebbe had fallen to the ground, pressed his boot into his cheek, pushing the rebbe’s face down into the mud. The guard sneared, and mockingly asked, “Now, do you still think you are the chosen people?”

The Rebbe replied, “as long as you are up there, and I am down here, I know we are the chosen people.”

Yesterday, two boys came home, in boxes. All of Israel and the Jewish people morn.

Meanwhile, there are celebrations in Lebanon. Not only for the return of a man who murdered babies with his bare hands, but for the remains of “martyrs” who were also given a hero’s welcome.

The Klausenberger Rebbe’s response to the Holocaust was to build Kiryat Sanz, girls’ and boys’ schools, a community in Union City, NJ, and to answer Hitler’s murder of Jews with Laniado Hospital to save lives.

Our response to this misnamed “Prisoner Exchange” can’t begin and end in rage. While we celebrate life and our enemies celebrate death, we need to build.

The Klausenberger Rebbe also said, “When you come to a place of darkness, you don’t chase out the darkness with a broom. You light a candle.”

And as long as we continue doing so, I know we are the chosen people.

Ben Chamishim le’Aitzah

בן חמישים לעצה

- יהודה בן תימא, אבות ה:כא

וּמִבֶּן֙ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים שָׁנָ֔ה יָשׁ֖וּב מִצְּבָ֣א הָעֲבֹדָ֑ה וְלֹ֥א יַעֲבֹ֖ד עֽוֹד׃

- במדבר ח:כה

שמייעץ את אחיו ומלמדם לשמור משמרתם

- רש”י שם

וְהִגִּישׁ֤וֹ אֲדֹנָיו֙ אֶל־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים וְהִגִּישׁוֹ֙ אֶל־הַדֶּ֔לֶת א֖וֹ אֶל־הַמְּזוּזָ֑ה וְרָצַ֨ע אֲדֹנָ֤יו אֶת־אָזְנוֹ֙ בַּמַּרְצֵ֔עַ וַעֲבָד֖וֹ לְעֹלָֽם׃

-שמות כא:ו

עד היובל או אינו אלא לעולם (קידושין טו) כמשמעו ת”ל (ויקרא כה) ואיש אל משפחתו תשובו מגיד שחמשים שנה קרויים עולם ולא שיהא עובדו כל חמשים שנה אלא עובדו עד היובל בין סמוך בין מופלג.

- רש”י שם

כִּֽי־אָמַ֗רְתִּי ע֭וֹלָם חֶ֣סֶד יִבָּנֶ֑ה שָׁמַ֓יִם׀ תָּכִ֖ן אֱמוּנָתְךָ֣ בָהֶֽם׃

-תהלים פט:ג

וְשֹׁמֵ֖עַ לְעֵצָ֣ה חָכָֽם׃

- משלי יב:טו

בֵּ֣ן חָ֭כָם מ֣וּסַר אָ֑ב

- משלי יג:א

שְׁמַ֣ע עֵ֭צָה וְקַבֵּ֣ל מוּסָ֑ר לְ֝מַ֗עַן תֶּחְכַּ֥ם

- משלי יט:כ

ודי לחכימא ברמיזה!

Happy anniversary to Aspaqlaria‘s two most loyal readers!


I was recently interviewed by Steve Savitsky, the president of the OU, for his radio show “Around the Dining Room Table“. Here is their description of the show:

Not excited about Jewish practice? Have trouble tolerating fellow Jews and their different practices? Steve Savitsky sits around the dining room table with Rabbis Benjamin Hecht and Micha Berger.

My goal in my interview was to explain what AishDas is, and to motivate people to contact us about programming. You can hear it here.

I saved my own interview on, just in case OURadio moves their archives at some point in the future. But you can hear the full show, including R’ Hecht’s interesting thoughts about what he’s trying to accomplish at Nishma at the OU’s original.

Last, here’s the review from the Audio Roundup on Hirhurim:

Beyond Tolerance, Above Rote – Steve Savitsky:

Rabbi Hecht’s formula for achdut – Learn other shitot and learn with those from other backgrounds (ok – that shouldn’t take much).

R’Berger quotes R’YBS on missing the erev Shabbat Jew (you know – the one who’s not jumping out of a shower 2 minutes before Shabbat) and discuss the aishdas program ( – changing the world one shul at a time).

Mr. Savitsky notes one shul where people are inspired and excited to come, he doesn’t note that this shul represents a self selecting audience (post hoc ergo propter hoc yada yada).

While on the topic of “what is AishDas?” we recently completed a new mission statement.

The AishDas Society


“Miymino AishDas lamo.” AishDas is read from the Torah as two words. Aish, the fire of faith, a soul aflame, striving for fulfillment, seeking its creator. Das, ritual, the precision of halachic law, understanding and grasping the details of the mission for which Hashem chose us. It is written as a single word, unique in Tanach, untranslatable. AishDas is the synthesis of the fire and the law, a whole that is greater than its parts.

If one is to reach this level, Torah must become the whole life. It is not enough to pursue the depths of the soul to reach the fire within. Das must not be limited to the synagogue or the tzedakah box, but must encompass define an entire lifestyle. Halachah defines all of our relationships – with Hashem, with our fellow man, and with ourselves. To build hislehavus we must reconnect our shemiras hamitzvos to the basic principles of Torah, Avodah, and Gemillus Chassadim.

To burn with AishDas means to learn from and grow with the mitzvos. To be observant not merely out of habit or upbringing, but to connect with every deed on an intellectual and emotional level.

Mission Statement:

The AishDas Society empowers Jews to
utilize their observance in a process for building
thoughtful and passionate relationships with
their Creator, other people and themselves.

To do so, we offer unique programs,
educational events and a supportive community,
and help other organizations develop programs and curricula.

Four principles underlie this vision:

First, “process”: Living a meaningful life requires developing the abilities and personality to live up to one’s ideals.  Mitzvos such as kedoshim tihyu – the pursuit of holiness, ve’asisa hayashar vehatov – to do the straight and the good, and vehalachta bidrachav – to go in His Ways, define what we must do by defining what kind of person we must be. Sadly, their lack of specific limits of actions and duties often leads us to relate to these mitzvos as mere platitudes, but in reality, they must be the very ideals that inform how we go about our avodah.

Second, “passionate”: Observance that does not grow into passion is perforce not a life led fully according to the Torah. One must have a passionate relationship with the Creator, one that isn’t an addition to the core shemiras hamitzvos and ameilus baTorah which comprise Judaism, but is rooted in it and flows from it.

Third, “thoughtful”: Jewish thought requires the same level of analysis that we bring to other areas of Torah study. Love requires knowing the beloved, and it motivates studying the beloved.  A life of striving to be an idealist requires an understanding of the ideals, which can only come through in-depth analysis.

Last, “relationships”: A Torah‑observant life touches what one is in all situations and in all spheres of life. It means paying as much attention to the ethics of Choshen Mishpat as to the rites of Orach Chaim or the guidelines of Yoreh Dei’ah and Even haEzer. In Dr. Nathan Birnbaum’s words, one must work toward da’as – an intimate knowledge of the Almighty; rachamim – an empathetic relationship toward others; and tif’eres – a mind totally shaped by and at harmony with the Torah’s way of thought and values.

Like one person, with one heart

For the past day and a half, all Jewish eyes were on Mumbai, formerly known to us in the west as Bombay, named for two Hindu godesses. Nine popular tourist sites were attacked, locations that attracted many American and British citizens. Nine tourist sites… and one Chabad House.

Jews around the world suddenly took an interest in IBN, CNN’s partner in India. Streaming audio or video available live, listening to the reporter telling the story from outside. Occasionally interrupting her reporting to duck down or tell her cameraman to shut off his lights as shots fire out.

Why the Jews?

Why again the Jews?

Once upon a time, all of humanity got along. We used that beautiful unity improperly, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in heaven, and we will make ourselves famous; lest we get scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” And Hashem responds, “Yes, they are one nation and they have one language, and this is what they begin to do…” (Bereishis 11:4,6)

There were few families who did not participate. One of them was that of Avraham. (Others include Malkhitzedeq / Sheim, Eiver, and Ashur the forefather of Assyria, who thereby merited the Torah script, Ashuris.) Avraham refused a unity committed to evil.

And 502 years later his children stood at Mount Sinai. “וַיִּֽחַן־שָׁ֥ם יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל נֶ֥גֶד הָהָֽר – … and Israel camped there, under the mountain.” (Shemos 19:2) The Mekhilta (quoted by Rashi) notes the use of the singular for the verb, as though Israel were an individual, and writes, “כאיש אחד בלב אחד – Like one person, with one heart.” And with that moment of unity, we merited to be the recipients of the Torah.

Unlike the unity of the Egyptians six weeks earlier, at the Red Sea. “וְהִנֵּ֥ה מִצְרַ֣יִם׀ נֹסֵ֣עַ אַחֲרֵיהֶ֗ם — … and here, Egypt is chasing after them.” Also with a singular verb. And one of Rashi’s explanations is “בלב אחד כאיש אחד — with one heart, like one person.” In opposite order, first the heart, than the unity like a single person.

The Egyptians had no inherent unity. They had a single heart, a single desire and goal, and they unified behind that goal. Had they lived long enough for that goal to evaporate they would have once again been divided. The giving of the Torah, however, required unity as a precondition, not a consequence. As we say in the Hagaddah about the evil son’s use of the word you when asking “What is this work for you?” “Since he took himself out of the community, he denied the essence [of Judaism].” Our doxology is not only “Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One”, it first begins “Hear Israel”.

The “ish echad“, the unity of the people, precedes the “leiv echad“, the common mission. Perhaps this is why Rabbi Aqiva’s students passed away in the period of Omer in particular, in the period of transition between conditional unity and love based on a common goal, and the inherent unity as a precondition to Sinai. A utilitarian unity is not the basis of respect, it’s unity so as to use the other. (In this case, as a tool for one’s own learning.) And so the students who died “because they did not show respect one for the other” were sentenced during that time in our calendar; they didn’t survive the transition from Pesach to Shavu’os.

לֹ֣א מֵֽרֻבְּכֶ֞ם מִכָּל־הָֽעַמִּ֗ים חָשַׁ֧ק יְ-הוָ֛ה בָּכֶ֖ם וַיִּבְחַ֣ר בָּכֶ֑ם כִּֽי־אַתֶּ֥ם הַמְעַ֖ט מִכָּל־הָעַמִּֽים׃ כִּי֩ מֵֽאַהֲבַ֨ת יְ-הוָ֜ה אֶתְכֶ֗ם וּמִשָּׁמְר֤וֹ אֶת־הַשְּׁבֻעָה֙…

It is not because you are more plentiful than other nations that Hashem holds you dear and chose you; for you are few from among the nations. Rather, from the love of G-d of you, and from His keeping the promise…

-Devarim 7:7-8

Cheisheq, holding someone dear, is described as something that can be conditional (in this case, on our size). Ahavah, true love, is inherent, without reason or cause. Ahavah without an adjective is ahavas chinam.

Terrorism is an echoing of the generation of the Tower of Babel’s call, “let us make ourselves a reputation”. When they rise up they are unified like the Eqyptians. Not inherently, but functionally, behind a common cause. In Babel as Pirqei deR’ Eliezer describes it, if a person fell off the tower, worked proceeded. If a brick fell, they mourned. R’ Hirsch describes this as the first Totalitarian government — humanity was subdued to the cause. In terrorism, this is expressed in a willingness to kill innocents, to die, even to raise one’s own children with dreams of becoming “shuhada“, martyrs for the cause.

Why again the Jews?

Because in Judaism, unity is inherent, love is to be unconditional, and the value of a cause defined by the value it brings to humanity.

Why again the Jews?

Because when there is a terror attack in some exotic city, and the fate of two people I never meet hangs in the balance, everything stops. Jews in every time zone track the news obsessively. We are Benei Yisrael, the Children of Israel, siblings. All our petty (and perhaps not so petty) squabbles forgotten. Little Moishe is out safely?! Thank G-d. His parents? “About these I cry; my eyes, my eyes, spill water.”

This Shabbos (which began already in Mumbai), Moishe turned two and became an orphan. May the Omnipresent comfort the family amongst all of us mourners of Tziyon and Yerushalayim.

Mi sheBeirach…

I was just sent the following list of names of wounded soldiers. These men were wounded late Monday evening, in street clashes with Hamas gunmeny”sh in northern Azza.

  • Dvir ben Laya - seriously injured
  • Noam ben Aliza - one leg amputated; doctors fighting to save the other
  • Li’el Hoshea ben Miriam - serious head injury
  • Neriya ben Rivka - serious head injury
  • Yitzchak ben Navah - moderate shoulder injury
  • Netanel ben Navah - moderate shrapnel wounds to a lower extremity
  • Maxim ben Olga - light lower extremity injury
  • Yisrael ben Ilana - light shrapnel injury to an ear
  • Yo’ad Ido ben Frieda Rivka - light shrapnel injuries
  • Idan ben Liora - light shrapnel injuries
  • Nadav ben Miriam - light shrapnel injuries

May the One Who blessed our ancestors Avraham Yitzchaq and Yaaqov,  bless and heal all of our wounded — our soldiers, residents of the south, anyone pained and suffering in body or mind. May HaQadosh barukh Hu overflow with compassion for them, restore them, heal them, strengthen them, and give them life.

May He send them, quickly, a complete healing — healing of the mind and healing of the body — along with all the ill, among the people of Israel and all humankind, soon, speedily, without delay.

Sheloshah Pish’ai Azah

(This pasuq is making the rounds on the web. I believe original credit for pointing it out goes to R’ Shmuel Rosenberg, a sofer in Tzefat.)

כֹּ֚ה אָמַ֣ר יְ-הוָ֔ה עַל־שְׁלֹשָׁה֙ פִּשְׁעֵ֣י עַזָּ֔ה וְעַל־אַרְבָּעָ֖ה לֹ֣א אֲשִׁיבֶ֑נּוּ עַל־הַגְלוֹתָ֛ם גָּל֥וּת שְׁלֵמָ֖ה לְהַסְגִּ֥יר לֶאֱדֽוֹם׃

וְשִׁלַּ֥חְתִּי אֵ֖שׁ בְּחוֹמַ֣ת עַזָּ֑ה וְאָכְלָ֖ה אַרְמְנֹתֶֽיהָ׃

וְהִכְרַתִּ֤י יוֹשֵׁב֙ מֵֽאַשְׁדּ֔וֹד וְתוֹמֵ֥ךְ שֵׁ֖בֶט מֵֽאַשְׁקְל֑וֹן וַהֲשִׁיב֨וֹתִי יָדִ֜י עַל־עֶקְר֗וֹן וְאָֽבְדוּ֙ שְׁאֵרִ֣ית פְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים אָמַ֖ר אֲ-דֹנָ֥י יְ-הוִֽה׃

So says Hashem: “For three transgressions of Azza, even for four, I will not reverse it: because they exiled an entire exile, to turn them over to Edom.

So will I send a fire into the wall of Gaza, and it will devour its palaces.

And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and the one who holds the scepter from Ashkelon; and I will turn My hand against Eqron, and the remnant of the Philistines shall be gone”, says Hashem, G-d.

- Amos 1:6-8

A reference to Hashem losing patience with Gaza after multiple offenses, sending fire into it, destroying its “palaces” and eliminating the Philistines has eerie and obvious parallels.

According to the Mezudas David, Amos is referring to the then-future exile by Titus. Many from Yerushalayim fled south, and the residents of Azza captured them and handed the refugees over  to the enemy. Thus “to turn them over to Edom”.

As for today’s galus sheleimah, the speed at which antisemitism has accelerated the world over is frightening. Deaths in France, beatings and shul burnings in London, a Molotov cocktail thrown at a Temple outside Chicago, a Chabad menorah and Jewish-owned shops sprayed with swastikas in Belgium, a banner at an Australian rally demanding “clean the earth from dirty Zionists!”, people in Fort Lauderdale shouting that we need ovens, echoed in the Netherlands where protesters chanted “Hamas, Hamas, Joden aan het gas — Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas!”…

המתרצה ברחמים ומתפיס בתחנונים, התרצה והתפיס לדור עני כי אין עוזר!

He Who desires mercy and is appeased with pleas,

please find desire and appeasement for this impoverished generation

for we have no other helper!

יְ-הוָ֣ה לָ֭נוּ לֹ֣א נֵירָ֑א מַה־יַּעֲשֶׂ֖ה לָ֭נוּ ֣אָדָֽם!

Hasיem is with us, we shall not be afraid! What can a person to do us?

- c.f. Tehillim 118:6

You only have 15 seconds…


January 6th, 2009 by Justin Oberman

As the conflict in the Middle East continues rockets fired by Hamas continue to fall into the Israeli city of Sederot where countless of innocent victims have 15 seconds to find shelter and or find their children and loved ones. Mobile Technology is now being used to rally people around the world during those 15 seconds.
The city is paralyzed as Terrorist Hamas groups target children’s schools and places of public gathering like supermarkets and stores. The economy is in ruins and besides worrying for their lives teh people of Sederot are beginning to worry about their economic stability and putting food on the table.

Jews all over the world are sending aid. But there is little that they can do (physically) to help anyone in Sederot during the 15 seconds after the sirens go off.

For this reason The National Council of Young Israel has set up a service called SMS SEDEROT or (Solidarity Message For Sederot). When the Tzeva Adom (Code Red) siren in sounded in Sederot (or any Israeli City) SMSSEDEROT will send you a text message that will read:

A Kassam Rocket has just been launched at Sderot. You have: 15 seconds to read Psalm 130. 15 seconds to give to charity 15 seconds to call the UN , the WHite House, your Senetors and Congressman 15 Seconds to pause and pray for the people of Sderot.

(When you sign up you get to choose which reminder you want)

Whether you are religious or not it is not hard to imagine the power of such a text message. Wherever I am I know that at that moment people in Sederot are fearing for their lives. And I can pray with them or feel solidarity with them. Either way, I am with them.

To hear an interview with SMSederots founder click here.
Click here to sign up.

I’m moving my earlier post of suggestions of how to respond here, so as to keep them all in one place. It was written on Jan 5th, 9 Teves.

Tomorrow is Asarah beTeiveis, commemorating the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem which led the end of the First Temple.

Since the initial fast was established (some time before the prophet Zechariah, see Zec 9:19), it also became a day for mourning the victims of the tragedies of our exiles who even had the knowledge of their yahrzeit taken from them. In many communities, that includes victims of the Holocaust, their yahrzeit is observed tomorrow. (Others use the day the Nazis took the town in question or Holocaust Memorial Day as the yahrzeit.)

A fast day is a time for repentance. Fasting is “only” a way to set the mood. Therefore, one isn’t required to put in the same effort to fast on Asarah beTeiveis as one would for Yom Kippur or Tish’ah beAv, all of us, in any medical condition, are capable of commemorating the essence day.

Jews seem most unified in times of trouble. And we’re in one now.

First it was Sderot. Without letting that end, Hashem added worry by shaking our financial foundations. Then Mumbai. And then had so many of our charities and their donors more specifically hit. Meanwhile, Sderot and Ashkelon were still being hit. Now, an out-and-out war. And the antisemitism we hear around the globe looking to blame the Jews for the financial crisis can also be seen in people who protest Israel’s straightforward desire to eliminate a threat to its own people.

So, Hashem is steadily increasing our feelings of being in trouble. Of being isolated. Of needing to turn to each other, and to Him. One can choose to read this as the Almighty steadily raising the volume on a message: This is a time of trouble, unite already!

And, as I said, tomorrow is a day for repentance. It’s also a day for remembering those who were killed for being Jews. As R’ JB Soloveitchik put it, “In the crematoria, the ashes of Hassidim and Anshei Ma’aseh (pious Jews) were mixed with the ashes of radicals and freethinkers and we must fight against the enemy who does not recognize the difference between one who worships and one who does not … ” (Di Tog Morgen Journal, November 19, 1954, tr. Louis Bernstein) Repentence in the field of unity seems particularly appropriate, even if it were not the call of current events.

Personally, I plan on putting all arguments on hold for the day. I do a lot of my dialogue by email, a medium notorious for bringing out contentiousness. I intend to spend the day developing awareness of how often I disagree with others, and more importantly, how I tend to handle that disagreement.

On another note, the portion of R’ Reisman’s shiur of last motza’ei Shabbos that deals with the war and how to respond to it is being circulated publicly. You can watch it here. He speaks of the appropriateness of adding a personal request to the birkhas Ge’ulah (“… Go’eil Yisrael) in the Amidah. The need for more learning, more tefillah (which only works if the prayers are meant). The need for hakaras hatov, recognizing the good, gratitude, if we expect Hashem to do good to us. Give something up, so as to share in the communal pain. Cry out, even if it doesn’t help pragmatically… can someone who is in pain remain silent? R’ Reisman, quoting R’ Chaim Smulevitz speaks of four examples:

  • Iyov heard of our problems in Egypt, and was silent.
  • Tzidqiyahu, who didn’t see he could be the hero of Israel.
  • Esther, who fasted so as to share in the communal pain.
  • Harugei Lud, who confessed to a crime they didn’t commit, so as to take the governor’s wrath off the rest of the town. They were killed, and the gemara says none can touch their place in heaven.

Again, listen to the recording, this is only a small selection of ideas intended to be a “teaser”.

Another way you can help: pair up with a specific soldier. See this letter by the Bostoner Rebbe (Har Nof) and R’ Simcha haKohein Kook:

מכתב גלוי לכל אחינו די בכל אתר ואתר

אחינו בית ישראל באיזורים רבים של ארץ הקודש מצוים בצרה ובשביה

ולעת כזאת חובתנו לחוש את אחדות כלל ישראל בלב ובנפש להרבות בתפילה ובכל הענינים, כי עת צרה היא ליעקב וכו’ ובעהי”ת ממנה יושע.

ובאנו לעורר, ולבקש, ולהוסיף ענין של זיכוי הרבים ביותר.

תוה”ק מעידה כי במלחמת מדין נצטוו להחלץ “אלף למטה” “אלף למטה”.ואיתא במד”ר ובילקוט שמעוני ד”וימסרו” היינו עוד אלף למטה, פירוש שהיו נמסרין זוגות זוגות, כדי שיהיו מתפללים איש על רעהו.

ואכן במלחמת מדין נאמר “ולא נפקד ממנו איש”. ובודאי העובדה שניצלו כולם היתה בגלל תפילת כלל ישראל

והבאנו דבר זה לפני מרן הגאון רבי חיים קניבסקי שליט”א, שמח בדבר, והוסיף ואמר כי גם כך נהג דוד המלך ע”ה שלכל אחד שיצא להילחם, הכינו יהודי נוסף, שתפקידו היה,להתפלל עבורהיוצא, וישא”כהסכמת דוד המלך ע”ה לתפילות אלו.

לזאת, אנו פונים בזה לכל חייל החפץ שיתפללו בעדו בעהי”ת להתקשר לטלפון 02 581 1911 ולמסור את שמו ושם אמו ואין צורך בשמות המשפחה.( אי מייל [email protected] או פקס 08-9450027) ונעביר בעהי”ת את שמו למתפלל שיכון בתוספות תורתו ותפילתו לזכותו ולשמרו.

וכן קוראים אנו לכל א’ המצוי ח”ו בגלל המלחמה במצוקה או בחרדה, במקלט ובכל אתר לפנות להנ”ל ובעהי”ת נעביר גם שמו למי שקיבל על עצמו להוסיף בתפילתו ובתלמוד תורה עבור המבקש.

ובעזהשי”ת נזכה מן השמים גם אנו לנאמר “ולא נפקד ממנו איש”.

ובזה אנו קוראים גם לכל מי שרוצה לקיים דברי חכמים ולהוסיף בתורה ותפילה, להצטרף ולהיכנס לפיתקא של תפילות , להתקשר למספ’ הנ”ל ולקבל שם של חייל או אחר לכוון את תוספות תורתו ותפלתו לזכות חבירו .

גם נשים צדקניות יכולות לקבל ע”ע להתפלל עבור חברה השרויה במצוקה עקב המלחמה.

Letter signature

An open letter to all Achenu Bene Yisroel

After learning about the heart rendering appeal of the Gedolay Torah to intensify our Tefilos and Torah learning during this very trying time for Klal Yisroel, we have undertaken to join and aid them in their prayers.

The Medrash Rabah and the Yalkut relate that during the war against Midyon, for every one that went out to battle there was a designated person whose task it was to pray and learn for him.

The Great Gaon and Sage Rebbe Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a when asked about this tradition pointed out that Dovid Hemelech, as well continued and instituted the practice, that for every individual who was in combat, there was another person selected for the specific task of praying and learning for him.

Therefore in order to continue and accomplish this Minhag, we ask soldiers and/or their relatives who would want a “partner” in Torah and Tefillah to email [email protected] or fax 011 9728 9450027 and give their Hebrew name and mothers Hebrew name without any other particulars such as family name or other identifying factors, so that we may disseminate them among those who heed the call to add Torah and Tefillah for the sake of those who find themselves in jeopardy ח”ו. Anyone who finds himself or herself ח”ו in danger or in shelters because of the war may also feel free to call or email to the above.

To bond with us and receive a name of your “partner” please email or fax the above.

May Klal Yisroel in the merit of joining together, speedily see a successful end to this trial and campaign as quoted in the Parsha “without loss of life”.

HaRav Simcha Hakohen Kook HaRav Levi Yitzchok Horowitz
Chief Rabbi of Rechovot Bostoner Rebbe

And from the Agudah of America’s Moe’etzes Gedolei haTorah:


לבני ישראל היקרים, הדואגים אל אחיהם בעת צרה.

לאור המצב כעת אשר אלפי יהודים יושבי ארץ הקודש נתונים בסכנה מפרעות אויב, ראינו לנכון להדגיש ביותר החובה המוטלת על כולנו להתעורר בתפלה ולבקש רחמים על אחינו היקרים ולהרבות בצדקה וזכיות על שארית ישראל שלא יאונה להם שוד ושבר, ויש לחזק הנהוג לומר פרקי תהלים פג קל קמב בכל יום, וגם לשפוך שיח בתחנונים של “והוא רחום” שאומרים בשני וחמישי, ובברכת “השכיבנו” בערבית שמבקשים ופרוש עלינו סכת שלומך וחותמים שומר עמו ישראל לעד.

והשי”ת ברוב רחמיו וחסדיו יגן על עמו ונחלתו ויחלצם ממיצר, ויוציאנו מאפלה לאורה ומשעבוד לגאולה אכי”ר.

ח’ טבת תשס”ט

מועצת גדולי התורה בארה”ב

* * *


To all dear Jews concerned about their fellow-Jews in this time of distress:

In light of the current situation, in which thousands of Jews in the Holy Land are in danger due to the attacks of the enemy, we regard it as proper to strongly emphasize the obligation on us all to awaken ourselves in prayer, to ask for Divine mercy for our dear brethren and to increase our charity and good deeds for the protection of the remnant of Yisroel from any and all harm. We should intensify the practice of reciting chapters 83, 130 and 142 of Tehillim each day, and fervently pour out our hearts in the prayer “V’hu Rachum” said on Monday and Thursday mornings and in the blessing of “Hashkiveinu” in Ma’ariv, where we ask Hashem to “spread upon us Your tent of peace” and conclude “the Guardian of His nation Yisroel forever.”

May Hashem in His abundant mercy and kindness shield His nation and heritage, release them from all straits, and take us from darkness to light and from subjugation to redemption. Amein, may it be His will.

8 Teves, 5769

Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America

A question of tefillah is what to say.

R’ Eliyahu, the Rishon leTziyon (former Sepharadi Chief Rabbi), wrote a short “Yehi Ratzon“. I made a handout of it, available here. Perhaps that is an appropriate paragraph for birkhas Ge’ulah. For those who are uncomfortable with such things, feeling too much like a modern addition to the traditional siddur (although one can find examples in footnotes in our published siddurim that aren’t much older), there is still an obligation to add something to one’s tefillah. If one finds standardization problematic, then one’s own words, even one’s thoughts without moving one’s lips.

Among Tehillim, there are a few peraqim that deal with topics very related to this war. “LaMenatzei’ach, Mizmor leDavid” (ch. 20) is the one usually recited during wartime, being part of Shacharis and therefore known by many by heart and available in every siddur. “Hashem will answer you in the day of trouble… They with chariots, and they with horses, but we, with our mention of the name of Hashem…”

Another commonly used pereq in these too frequent times of trouble is 121, “Shir laMaalos, Esa Einai“. (Also found in most siddurim, after Shabbos Minchah.) “I lift my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come? My help will come from Hashem, Maker of heaven and earth.” Note how in that verse, David merges the visions of G-d. The Grand Maker of everything is also the One Who I can turn to as a child to parent, looking expectantly for help. “May Hashem guard your leaving and coming, from now until forever.”

On Areivim, Moshe Yehudah Gluck noted the particular appropriateness of ch. 83. Professor Yitchak Levine placed R’ Hirsch’s translation and commentary on line at his site. I wish to leave with those thoughts:

1 A poem, a song of Asaph.

א שִׁ֖יר מִזְמ֣וֹר לְאָסָֽף׃

2 G‑d! do not keep You silence; do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, G‑d.

ב אֱ‑לֹהִ֥ים אַל־דֳּמִי־לָ֑ךְ אַל־תֶּֽחֱרַ֖שׁ וְאַל־תִּשְׁקֹ֣ט אֵֽ‑ל׃

3 For here -Your enemies are in an uproar; and those hate You have lifted their head.

ג כִּֽי־הִנֵּ֣ה אֽ֭וֹיְבֶיךָ יֶֽהֱמָי֑וּן וּ֝מְשַׂנְאֶ֗יךָ נָ֣שְׂאוּ רֹֽאשׁ׃

4 They hold crafty converse against Your people, and take counsel against Your treasured ones.

ד עַֽל־עַ֭מְּךָ יַֽעֲרִ֣ימוּ ס֑וֹד וְ֝יִתְיָֽעֲצ֗וּ עַל־צְפוּנֶֽיךָ׃

5 They have said: ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.’

ה אָֽמְר֗וּ לְ֭כוּ וְנַכְחִידֵ֣ם מִגּ֑וֹי וְלֹֽא־יִזָּכֵ֖ר שֵֽׁם־יִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל עֽוֹד׃

6 For they have consulted together with one consent; against You do they make a covenant;

ו כִּ֤י נֽוֹעֲצ֣וּ לֵ֣ב יַחְדָּ֑ו עָ֝לֶ֗יךָ בְּרִ֣ית יִכְרֹֽתוּ׃

7 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab, and the Hagrites;

ז אָֽהֳלֵ֣י אֱ֭דוֹם וְיִשְׁמְעֵאלִ֗ים מוֹאָ֥ב וְהַגְרִֽים׃

8 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; Palestine with the inhabitants of Tyre;

ח גְּבָ֣ל וְ֭עַמּוֹן וַֽעֲמָלֵ֑ק פְּ֝לֶ֗שֶׁת עִם־יֹ֥שְׁבֵי צֽוֹר׃

9 Assyria also is joined with them; they have been an arm to the children of Lot. Selah!

ט גַּם־אַ֭שּׁוּר נִלְוָ֣ה עִמָּ֑ם הָ֤יֽוּ זְר֖וֹעַ לִבְנֵי־ל֣וֹט סֶֽלָה׃

10 Do You unto them as unto Midian; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook Kishon;

י עֲשֵֽׂה־לָהֶ֥ם כְּמִדְיָ֑ן כְּֽסִיסְרָ֥א כְ֝יָבִ֗ין בְּנַ֣חַל קִישֽׁוֹן׃

11 Who were destroyed at En‑dor; they became as dung for the earth.

יא נִשְׁמְד֥וּ בְֽעֵין־דֹּ֑אר הָ֥יוּ דֹּ֗֝מֶן לָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃

12 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, and like Zebah and Zalmunna all their princes;

יב שִׁיתֵ֣מוֹ נְ֭דִיבֵימוֹ כְּעֹרֵ֣ב וְכִזְאֵ֑ב וּֽכְזֶ֥בַח וּ֝כְצַלְמֻנָּ֗ע כָּל־נְסִיכֵֽימוֹ׃

13 Who said: ‘Let us take to ourselves in possession the habitations of G‑d.’

יג אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָֽ֭מְרוּ נִ֣ירְשָׁה לָּ֑נוּ אֵ֗֝ת נְא֣וֹת אֱ‑לֹהִֽים׃

14 O my G‑d, make them like the whirling dust; as stubble before the wind.

יד אֱֽ‑לֹהַ֗י שִׁיתֵ֥מוֹ כַגַּלְגַּ֑ל כְּ֝קַ֗שׁ לִפְנֵי־רֽוּחַ׃

15 As the fire that burneth the forest, and as the flame that setteth the mountains ablaze;

טו כְּאֵ֥שׁ תִּבְעַר־יָ֑עַר וּ֝כְלֶֽהָבָ֗ה תְּלַהֵ֥ט הָרִֽים׃

16 So pursue them with Your tempest, and affright them with Your storm.

טז כֵּ֭ן תִּרְדְּפֵ֣ם בְּסַֽעֲרֶ֑ךָ וּבְסוּפָֽתְךָ֥ תְבַֽהֲלֵֽם׃

17 Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek Your name, Hashem.

יז מַלֵּ֣א פְנֵיהֶ֣ם קָל֑וֹן וִֽיבַקְשׁ֖וּ שִׁמְךָ֣ יְ‑הוָֽה׃

18 Let them be ashamed and affrighted for ever; let them be abashed and perish.

יח יֵבֹ֖שׁוּ וְיִבָּֽהֲל֥וּ עֲדֵי־עַ֗ד וְֽיַחְפְּר֥וּ וְיֹאבֵֽדוּ׃

19 So that they may know that it is You alone whose name is Hashem, {New line}

the Most High over the whole world.

יט וְֽיֵדְע֗וּ כִּֽי־אַתָּ֬ה שִׁמְךָ֣ יְ‑הוָ֣ה לְבַדֶּ֑ךָ

עֶ֝לְי֗וֹן עַל־כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

Eight Years…

This song tells the based-on-truth story of someone who was saved from the Sbarro’s bombing on August 9th 2001. Then, after his return to New York, he missed work a month later to stay with someone while their father underwent surgery — thereby missing work that Tuesday morning at Cantor Fitzgerald, in the World Trade Center, in One World Trade Center, somewhere between floors 101 and 105.

Composed by Yitzy Waldner, lyrics by Chanale, sung by Michoel Pruzansky.
Video created and produced by Yossi Green.

It has become a custom on scjm for me to repost, with comments, my first email after my experiences of that day. I thought I would share it here was well.


This post reminds me why I keep at with with Avodah/Areivim and scjm. People from around the globe were personally impacted by my fate, were scared over a rumor flying around that I was ill because of the attack.

Ironically, I may have been. Not then. The following year.

On Oct 15th, 2002, I was laid off from the job I had on 9/11.

The following Monday night, my daughter plunked herself down to watch TV. On my foot. An hour later the pain in my toe was still unbearable, so we went to the ER. The ER doctor, taped my toe (which it turns out broke easily because the bone in it was never fully formed), and then told me that that lump on the side of my neck should be seen by a doctor. Tomorrow. Well, with that kind of ominous warning, I went. A mere 6 days after losing my job I found out I had lymphoma. It was caught very early, stage 1.

They couldn’t diagnose right away which form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma it was. Both T and B cells were involved, and the B cells were both “large” and “small”. It took a while to decide on treatment. However, thank G-d and ba”H I marked 6 years of being in remission.

Notice that not only were the seeds for my recovery planted by my Maker before my birth (when He blessed me with that defective toe), He also arranged for me to be on a severance package rather than having to go to work during most of this period. The Almighty had the burden I was to carry exactly measured out.

This particular kind of lymphoma was since found in only two other people, both of whom word in “the pile” the weeks after 9/11. NYPD Sgt Michael Ryan, who was two years younger than me, died Nov 19th 2007. And Lt Brian Ellicott, two years older, died 10 days later. Hashem yiqom damam.

In December 2007, NYC started studying what might be this “third wave” of WTC related illnesses.

There but for having a malformed “pinky toe” that my daughter “just happened” to fall on and break…

Tir’u baTov!

Two apologies.

Because of recent events, my internet access is flakey. I may lose track of a number of conversations that I have been participating in.

Second, a number of you remembered that I work in downtown Manhattan. There was a rumor circulating in my neighborhood and around the AishDas email lists that I was G-d forbid in critical condition. So I got back to dozens of phone calls and hundreds of worried emails. I am simply unable to keep up with it. Particularly since I’m relying on an email connection that keeps on dropping out mid-email transmission.

I summed up my experiences in an email that I sent out to the email list that I run. Pardon my laziness in just reposting it here.

I really am touched by everyone’s concern, and feel quite badly at being unable to do better than this “form letter”.


[Someone wrote to that list:]

I just got off the phone with Mrs Micha (Siggy) Berger.

She told me that Micha, who works seven blocks from the WTC was evacuated immediately, but did suffer from some smoke inhalation and was treated briefly at Bellevue….

Actually, she said I went to Bellevue. But I went to give blood and help out. I wasn’t a patient there.

As for my smoke inhalation… I have a small cough. Because it started half a day after breathing smoke, concrete dust and asbestos for a couple hours, I went to a pulmenologist today. Otherwise it’d be the kind of cold none of us would think twice about. He put me on an over-the-counter expectorant to help me get rid of the shmutz. That’s it, folks. Don’t let your fears run away with you. (Although I found everyone’s concern quite touching.)

Since I ought to get the whole day off my chest (pun intended), here’s how it went:

The commute was as usual. I took the PATH into WTC, and walked Yoel Dukelsky to 2 WTC. (I was worried about HIM yesterday. B”H he left the 86th fl when 1 WTC was hit, and immediately headed down. He was on the 44th floor when 2 WTC was hit, B”H the flying glass missed him. When 2 WTC collapsed, he was already on Hudson St.)

I got to work, caught up on my email, and the building shook. Mind you we’re 1/4 mile to the south of the crash. And yet I felt the shock of the impact. I figured it was construction within the building, and kept on working. Siggy (my holier half) called about the 1st crash.

My co workers and I saw the 2nd crash, just when word came to evacuate the building. Our building is the southernmost one in Manhattan, barring the 1 floor Staten Island Ferry Terminal. It was therefore deemed an easy target. My brother, for example, was told to remain in his office until the air cleared.

My co workers and I milled around outside the building, trying to find people who brought radios. I said some tehillim. The flag at Battery Park was lowered to half-mast.

US Air Force planes flew overhead. We didn’t realize at first whose plane it was, so people started running. About this time, smoke and debris reached us.

I got separated from all but one co worker, a Chinese guy with a week command of English. I think he hung around me because he relied on my command of the language to understand what was going on.

We followed police instructions to go to the FDR. By this point, you had to walk watching the sky for falling metal. The air was thick, visibility was poor. I took off my yarmulka and breathed through it.

The FDR was a sea of humans walking north, and ambulances and police cars heading south. (Every Hatzolah group from Monsey to Boro Park passed by.) Busses that were taken out of service were filled with older people, people with asthma, emphysema and other breathing problems. We hung around to help people get on the buses until that quieted down.

Zhen and I made our way up the FDR. For the first part of the trip visibility was erratic. Sometimes the air was relatively clear off the water, other times (obviously when the buildings first fell) visibility was less than a block.

We took the FDR to to 23rd street, where we were finally allowed off. We found a public bath on 27th, where we went to the bathroom and washed off soot, and called our wives. (Even so, my hair and face were quite gray until the evening.) I decided to go to the Upper West Side, either to Lincoln Square Synagogue or if I could make it, to my brother’s apartment.

We headed up 1st to NYU Hospital – Bellevue. Zhen continued upbound, and I was on my own trying to figure out if I could do something productive since I had nowhere to go. I stopped by Bellevue, stopped by the blood bank and tried to volunteer. They wouldn’t take volunteers without screening them first.

However, this elderly woman with skin cancer needed to get to Queens, and she saw me heading north. So we teamed up: she, myself, her wheelchair and her parisol, and headed up to the 59th st bridge. Leaving NYU, there were hundreds of people on line in the lobby waiting to get to the bloodbank. The queue continued up the walk, down the sidewalk and around the corner.

Turns out the lady I was with wasn’t at NYU for chemo, she was at Bellevue for therapy for panic attacks. Now that was really easy — dealing with someone prone to panic while Manhattan was reduced to a sea of foot traffic. OTOH, it forced me to stay calm to have someone relying on me. At the 59th st bridge I was able to get her an ambulette.

I then meandered across town through Central Park to LSS. I made my way to their offices, where I just contacted my wife and my brother’s apartment and rested my burning feet.

Eventually the trains were running and I got to my brother. He had a friend who lent a friend of his a car to take to central Jersey. I got a lift with them home. That too hit a snag: The George Washington Bridge was open when we left, but was closed for a suspicious truck. We were stuck on the West Side highway for 2.5 hours.

But B”H I got home, that night. My kids were visibly relieved to see me. I threw some of my clothes in the laundry, others (including my yarmulka) were un-salvageable; asbestos removal was too difficult. I showered thoroughly.

To give you an idea how scared my children were — despite knowing in the abstract that I was safe — my son put up our Succah today without being asked. He got a friend to help. Just so that the job wouldn’t be left to me.

I have no idea when work will resume. Hopefully my charley horse will fade before then.