The Jerusalem Kollel
July 31, 2006

There Is A War Going On. What Do I Do?
(Based on the lectures of Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits)

The Mishnah in Sanhedrin says "Bishveli Nivrah Haolam" ("the world was created for me"). The Mishnah is relaying an attitude that every Jew should feel that the world was created and set in place for him since the 6 days of creation. This concept is meant to give each Jew a sense of being constantly cared for by Hashem. For instance, imagine a guest walking into a home just before Shabbos and finds a bed made for him and an extra place set at the table. This instills the guest with a sense of being taken care of and wanted.

Every Jew is this Shabbos guest and prior to coming into this world, Hashem set everything up "just for you".

In addition to this feeling of being welcome, a person has to feel a sense of responsibility that is not limited only to positive occurrences. This mind-set has to be reflected towards the pains and hardships of Klal Yisroel and the world in general. Any given event must be viewed as if it was personally created for me. By applying this attitude we become aware that every problem that Israel faces is a message for every Jew to be aware, concerned, and become personally involved in what is transpiring.

The land of Israel is being barraged by Kassams and Katyusha rockets. The familiar holy cities of Tzfat, Meron, and Teveria have all been struck. The Jewish people are at war. Many people are looking at the current events as observers while divorcing their personal selves from the situation.

The most important part of "Bishveli Nivrah Haolam," is taking possession of every problem and relating with the pain individually. We have to identify with the grief of our fellow Jews that are living in bunkers under fire, lying injured in hospitals, have lost loved ones, or are being held captive by our enemies. This is not a time to sit and go about our day casually. Nor is it a time to pretend to be Defense Minister or Prime Minster and offer our solutions of how we would handle the security situation. Rather, the appropriate reaction is to reflect the pain in our attitudes, interactions, and prayers. Certainly if we have an actual ability to contribute or assist in any way then we are obligated to act. Our response to the anguish of Klal Israel is to unite and feel our brothers’ pain. May Hashem send us all a yeshuyah (salvation) speedily in our days.

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A Success in the Field

"Mazel tov!" rings out from the jubilant crowd as the groom crushes the glass, echoing the familiar sounds that have launched Jewish marriages for thousands of years. Yet, in this case, the turf is somewhat unfamiliar – it is neither the hallowed courtyards of Jerusalem, nor the lavish banquet halls of New York’s Burroughs. It’s the quaint remote island of Victoria, British Columbia.

One of the first graduates of The Jerusalem Kollel to be placed, Rabbi Shia Greineman has met astonishing, yet not unforeseen success. Rabbi Greineman has been the leader of Orthodox Jewry in Victoria, B.C. for the past 18 months. The Orthodox community, or “family” in his own words, has grown close to 200%.

Leading holiday services along with hosting meals for dozens is only the beginning. The Rabbi and the Rebbetzin find a way to relate to any given person on their own terms and allow them to connect to their heritage as they can.

The community now boasts of a synagogue with weekly Shabbat services, some kosher food availability, and even a Mikvah that is underway. The fact that a kollel family is now stationed there has been the real injection that has given Victoria its vigor – and they’re not just any couple either. As proud congregant, Peter Gary describes it, Rabbi Shia Greineman and his wife, Chavi, have succeeded in “holding our little community together with great knowledge, a good sense of humor, and warmth that is exceptionally disarming”. Which is why the idea of a traditional Jewish wedding in the milieu of a remote resort island is not as remote as one may think. When it comes to Jewish tradition, it appears, there are no limits. Indeed, no man is an island, and Victoria, British Columbia is now testament to that.

In the words of a congregant:

I have known Rabbi Greineman for about a year. Let me tell you a little bit about him. My name is Michael Strumpf. I was a Professor of English for a little less than half of a century. I have known many, many individuals, among them, a number of rabbis.

Some of these rabbis were smart; some of them were handsome; some of them had brilliant and magnetic personalities; some had remarkable voices; a few possessed oratorical splendiferosity, and a few were true scholars whose knowledge was far more than skin deep. Occasionally, a rabbi would also be able to use his knowledge of psychology to help members of the congregation with individual problems. Never have I met anyone, of any age, who possessed most or all of these qualities, until now.

My wife and I, by accident, found Rabbi Greineman’s shule purely by accident. When we entered his tiny synagogue, we were shocked by its size. But size does not determine the quality of one’s faith. In the front sat a young man. His face and voice both indicated the depth of his sincerity and knowledge as the Saturday Service continued. Here was more than a rabbi; here was a teacher, a leader, still a learner intent on not only providing knowledge but also questioning us for our viewpoints. He truly captivated everyone who was present that day.

Since then, my wife and I have tried to attend Shabbat Services as often as possible.

Why? Because we honestly feel that we are in the presence of a leader. He is a deeply spiritual man; he is a deeply devoted man, a man married to his faith in God and to Judaism, an inspiration to us and to his wife and two small boys. We only wish that there were more men like our Rabbi. He makes us so proud to be Jews.

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Mazal Tovs

It has been a busy few weeks at The Jerusalem Kollel. A hearty Mazal Tov to:

    Yaakov Shalom on the birth of a boy.
    Yitzchak Levi on the birth of a girl.
    David Hofstadter on the birth of a boy.
    Josh Livingstone on the birth of a girl.
    Jackie Siegel on the birth of a boy.
    Kalman Hochs on the birth of a girl.
    Baruch Harris on the birth of a boy.
    Chananya Kanner on the birth of a girl.
    David Rosenthal on the birth of a boy.

She’Tizku l’gadlam l’torah, chupa, u’lmaasim tovim.