The entire staff and parent body congratulate Rabbi Avraham and Mrs. Lynn Jakubowicz on being honored as Grandparents of the Year by the Scranton Hebrew Day School, which their grandchildren attend and where their son Ari is a Rebbe. The J’s, as they are fondly known, have dedicated much of their professional career to Providence Hebrew Day School and to our community. We wish them a hearty Mazel Tov on this well-deserved honor.
This weekend, Rabbi Yudkowsky, Rabbi and Mrs. Lapin, Rabbi and Mrs. Jakubowicz, and Tzippy and I will be attending various parts of the Torah U’Mesorah Leadership Conference in the Poconos. The conference is attended by over 1500 teachers and principals, and offers participants excellent educational workshops, as well as the ability to hear words of inspiration from many of our great Torah leaders. Convention participants return to their classrooms and schools inspired to share what they learned with the rest of the staff. Much of the cost of the convention is covered by government funds.
This week’s Torah portion is Parshas Kedoshim, which begins with the command for the Jewish people to be holy like Hashem. The most common interpretation of this mitzvah is for us to live a moderate lifestyle, limiting materialism, as a life of excess is both physically and spiritually dangerous.
Another interpretation comes from a great European sage, Rabbi Shimon Shkop zt”l, who states that this command addresses how man treats his fellow man (“Bain Adam Lachaveiro”). Rabbi Yisrael Salanter zt”l says, similarly, that many err in thinking that this verse is one that refers to the spiritual realm. He says that it refers to our behavior at work and to our business interactions, which must be performed in a scrupulously moral and ethical manner.
Rabbi Mottel Progomonsky zt”l states that any person who does not feel the pain of his friend is compared to an animal, but that one who rejoices in his friend’s happiness can reach the status of an angel.
Reb Yerucham Levovitz zt”l, the famed mashgiach of the Mir yeshiva, comments in his sefer Daas Torah that our life must be lived for the sake of the “Klal” and not selfishly, for ourselves. A self-centered person, he says, is like a dead person. He relates a parable of a person who was on a boat and was drilling a hole in its bottom. When his friends asked what he was doing, this man responded that he was drilling the hole under his own seat, so why would it matter to them? The answer, of course, is that a hole in the boat will cause the entire boat to sink. The entire Klal is threatened by the actions of a few and, similarly, the positive actions of an individual have positive ramifications for the entire Klal.
Charlie Harary, a motivational speaker, relates the story of a clearly poor, despondent woman who was waiting to check out at a grocery store with a large wagon filled with Pesach provisions. She tried to pay with various credit cards, which were declined, and then tried to put the bill on her grocery tab, which was also oversubscribed. The fellow waiting behind her was a businessman who saw all this, and gave the clerk his credit card to pay her bill while the embarrassed woman left the store. He then also agreed to pay her entire grocery tab as well – all for a woman he didn’t know. “Who is like Your people Israel?”
Living in a small town can have challenges, but it also has the benefit of each and every person caring for and helping each other. The work of our N’shai Chessed and many other personal acts of chessed performed here are exactly what the commentaries refer to as “Kedoshim Tihiyu – sanctify yourself”.
The same is true in our support of our local Torah institutions. The school, as the beneficiary of your kindness, thanks you all for your continued support of our Amudim Scholarship Journal. Please see the enclosed blurb about this year’s Amudim Campaign, and respond generously!
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman, Dean