Friday, February 22, 2008

Rabbi Noach Weinberg - hundreds of thousands brought back?

As I passed the bima (table) in the center of the Aish Hatorah beis midrash this Wednesday, I noticed an amazingly thick book. But when I saw the title, I could not believe my eyes. It read, "Names of some of the people who have been impacted by the Rosh Yeshiva Harav Noach Weinberg to become religious or more religious: as a zechus list for his refua shleima." THe Rosh Yeshiva is currently undergoing intense chemotherapy. Aish asked on February 18th that people give thier name to this list. Within three days, 64,424 were in a fat spiral-bound booklet, and I was looking at it.
In my opinion, that booklet alone can isnpire another 64,424 people.
May hashem grant Moreinu HaRav Yisrael Noach ben Hinda Shlita a refua shleima bkarov!

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Child Ails, A Nation Heals

Little Eytan Feiner wanted nothing more than to grow up to be starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. But when he was sidelined as a child and was no longer the starting point guard for his basketball team, he discovered that the field of athletics was not where his contribution to society would lie. So he realized that litigation would be his forte. He dreamt of pulling up to courthouses in a shiny black BMW and debating Dershowitz and the greats. But after some time in Israel learning, he had what he calls an epiphany. “We don’t not live for ourselves – that is not the reason that we are here,” he says, only far more eloquently. The great talents that Hashem endowed him were evident. It was then and there that he dedicated those talents to Hashem and the Jewish people. He worked hard and headed on the path to Rabbonus and spreading Torah.

Rabbi Eytan Feiner has the most phenomenal memory and breadth of knowledge that most people will ever encounter. He can quote at will (citing exact page numbers) from many thousands of obscure Torah sources. That nature of his awesome kindness and generosity is well known. I can honestly say that he is one of the kindest people that I have had the privilege of knowing. This usually gifted and sweet man went on to marry the girl of his dreams. “You see,” explains Rabbi Feiner, “we all plan out our lives. We expect to wed the girl of our dreams, have money, and children, and happiness. We do not ever think that things will not go our way.” Rabbi Feiner was married, and although to this day, none of the many doctors can offer even a suggestion as to why it was so, he and his wife did not conceive a child for many years. “Hashem,” he would say, “I want to serve you and teach, but I need simchas hachayim. Please let me have a family.” We all do this often, explains Rabbi Feiner, “Hashem give me money, so that I can give charity.” “Give me this so that I can accomplish that.” At times, life felt so difficult that the great Eytan Feiner, who had already developed quite a reputation in yeshiva (“You don’t batel around Feiner” people would say) considered abandoning his learning and going to Columbia Law School, rather than continuing his studies.

Suffering is by definition not easy. But it is always manageable says Rabbi Feiner. After twelve and a half years, his suffering was over! A beautiful baby boy was born to him on a Tuesday night. He speaks with such happiness of those few moments that he was given holding his new beautiful “tzaddikel” before he was whisked away. But it was not even one half hour later when he heard the most devastating news of his life. His son’s breathing was not alright. And soon, one system of his son’s would fail just on the heels of another. It was a nightmare! Something was wrong with the baby. Apparently, there is some amino acid deficiency in this little boy’s body. In all of recorded medical history there is not record of any human ever having had this condition! The doctors are humbled – they know nothing about it.

Someone entered and told Rabbi Feiner, “it is alright if you are mad at Hashem.” But Rabbi Feiner turned around, and said “We have never loved Hashem as much as right now. We are not angry at all. And we know that he loves us so much as well.”

This little boy has done something for klal yisrael that nothing in recent times has been able to. Prayer and study groups from Jerusalem to St. Louis to Los Angeles and around the world have been organized for Hatinok Ben Aviva Bas Chana. From one side of the spectrum to the other, Jews are uniting. From the most yeshivish of seminaries to the most modern; all were represented when on thousand girls came to Neve Yerushalayim to hear Mrs. Feiner speak. Emails are being sent, and Facebook groups are being started. We are all one people says Rabbi Feiner. This little child has had such a zchus in his short time in this world, to bring prayer and loshon hara awareness programs, and Talmud Torah into this long hard galus.

Rabbi Feiner stood in Aish Hatorah, where he is a Rebbe, little more than a week after his son was born, and spoke. He thanked Hashem for everything, and expressed his unfaltering love and appreciation for his Tatty in heaven. There was not a dry eye in the room. He spoke of how life is not about learning, charity, or prayer. Those are crucial ingredients, but ultimately, life is about being an Eved Hashem, a servant of G-d. “G-d, give me money to give charity with. Give me brains to study with.” When will be forget all of our plans and serve Him?! When will we stop asking for ourselves and begin to act as servants must?

The doctors have found a medication, and Rabbi Feiner is confident that his son will live until 120 with Hashem’s grace.
This great man, who stood among his students in Yeshivas Aish HaTorah, and inspired everyone present concluded with a startling statement. The baby’s delay of twelve and one half years is unexplainable. So is the disease. Rabbi Feiner’s grandfather had a dream that this baby will be Moshiach. So did a woman from Rabbi Feiner’s neighborhood. He may or may not be, said Rabbi Feiner, but he has certainly brought our people many steps closer to Moshiach’s arrival. The amount of prayer and study that he has inspired is beyond measure. But even more valuable, it seems, is the unity that he has engendered. This little adorable “munchkin of a tzaddikel” as Rabbi Feiner calls his son, has brought love and unification to the Jewish people. Please pray for Rabbi Feiner’s little son. Pray that he live a long productive life. Pray that the Jewish people know no more suffering and pain. Storm the heavens! This exile has been so long and so terribly difficult. We are all trying so hard, Hashem! Please look down at your beloved people, and usher them into a time that knows no more suffering and no more pain.