The Jerusalem Kollel
January 31, 2006
Newsletter

Feature - The Six Constant Mitzvos:
(Based on the lectures of Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovitz)

The Torah enjoins us to observe six mitzvos at all times:

1. To love G-d;
2. To fear G-d;
3. To come to know G-d;
4. Not to give credence to forces other than G-d;
5. To recognize His Absolute Unity;
6. To distance ourselves from evil.

"At all times" means just that: "at all times". However, it is obvious that we are not expected to have these mitzvos in the forefront of our consciousness each waking moment, as life would be impossible. We must devote our thought to many other mitzvos and activities. How, then, are we to observe them ďat all timesĒ?

We must make the effort to make these thoughts so much a part of our consciousness that every action we take reflects them. This is not so difficult as it may sound. It requires no thought to avoid walking in front of a speeding car Ė it is in our nature to take such precautions. If we apply ourselves, we have the ability to become people whose every decision is informed by the fear of G-d and the appreciation of His exclusive dominion over creation.

When one grows in the awareness of any of these six attitudes, his life changes proportionally. The way we act towards others, the we spend our days, and how we react to every challenge that comes our way is influenced by a progressively higher and holier level of inner strength.

To develop such attitudes, one must invest time and effort in understanding and appreciating them. If we live a Torah life, we are presented with many opportunities to do this. For example, twice a day we recite Shema. While saying the words, we may focus in on G-dís love, His unity, and the other four concepts. If we incorporate such personal meditation on a daily basis, this is a powerful first step towards our ultimate goal of having these thoughts ingrained in our consciousness.

- - - - - -

Field Update:

Meet Aryeh Wolbe, one of our Kollel Members.

In Aryeh's own words:

"Our father always taught us as children to be concerned for Klal Yisrael[the nation of Israel]- for the Klal and each individual in it. Starting from the small details of chesed, and even by small words of encouragement to people in need. My father, being a businessman and a truly giving person always ran (and runs) an open house. In addition, my greatest inspiration was from a speech that my grandfather gave on a visit to America when I was 13 years old (note - Aryeh's grandfather HaRav Shlomo Wolbe of blessed memory, considered by many to be the greatest, and most important proponent of Mussar [Torah based self-improvement] of recent times). In the speech, delivered at Ohr Sameach Monsey, my grandfather was highly emotional about the devastating situation of what he termed "the Spiritual Holocaust" that is threatening American Jewry. I was so affected, that I decided at that young age to focus my energies, in addition to my learning, towards helping, and being mekarev my fellow Jews. For example, at the age of 17, I started working with youth at risk- drug and alcohol abuse, emotional problems, etc. In addition, the situation of worldwide Jewry also has been a major focus for me throughout the last few years- from the ages of 17 through 22, I traveled to the Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus 9 times, at first working in programs there, including running Seminars and translating and transliterating Siddurim, Machzorim, etc. into Russian, for their use. Eventually, I started my own organization with the purpose of providing, for no charge, thousands of religious articles- tefillin, Mezuzot, etc. I've also worked extensively in America- I taught in Memphis, Tennessee on Torah U'masorah's SEED program on 7 different occasions, was a mentor at the Moodus Kiruv Program, and worked on many other programs.

In light of the above, joining Rabbi Berkovits' Kollel was the obvious choice in which to spend my last few years of learning in Israel. I not only received a strong methodology in Torah study, but also a new, positive, and productive world view. In addition, it's an incredible feeling to be in an institution with a group of future leaders who take their responsibilities to Klal Yisrael seriously.

My plans are to come to a community with little or no solid core of Judiasm, and to make a major impact in returning it to its Jewish roots."

Before joining The Jerusalem Kollel, Aryeh learned in some of the finest institutions of higher Jewish learning, including the Beis Medrash Gevoha of Lakewood.

Aryeh's wife Zahava, was brought up in a home dedicated to Chesed and Kiruv. Her father, R. Eli Gewirtz, is the head of Torah U'Mesorah's Partner's in Torah, one of the leading Kiruv Programs in the United States. Zahava has worked extensively in Kiruv, teaching, and counseling.

Aryeh is now the Executive Director of TORCH (The Houston Kiruv Kollel and Resource Center).

- - - - - -

News - Birthright:

Truth is, I thought they dressed a little funny. Looking back, however, given the fact that I was wearing a wool undershirt with strings hanging out the side of my pants, a black suit, and an Italian fedora in the middle of the summer in the Judean desert, maybe I was the one who looked funny. At first, all you see is differences. Itís very hard to see the similarities.

Several weeks ago, many members of the Jerusalem Kollel had the honor and privilege of spending a Shabbos with Jewish youths who were participating in the birthright trip to Israel. I was one of the Kollel members who had the opportunity to join them for a Shabbos in Tel Aviv. Jews had come together from all over the United States, celebrating the fact that they are Jewish, and that it was their "birthright" to come to the land of their forefathers. They had seen Masada, the Golan, the Old City, and lots and lots and lots of graves. The members of the Kollel were able to provide the students with something that they had all been complaining was missing on their trip: Judaism. Kollel members gave classes, led discussion groups, sang, danced and schmoozed with all of the students. Slowly, all the barriers that had been put up slipped away. We were all Jews experiencing Shabbos and Torah together. Relationships that had started out with an awkward handshake on Friday night had grown to heartfelt hugs by Saturday night. The feedback was incredible. Students had asked why they had not met more "people like us" on the trip. It was a good question.

Truth is, maybe they did look funny. Or maybe I did, but by the end nobody seemed to care.

Josh Livingstone, Rabbinical Candidate