Welcome to the weekly newsletter of Igud HaRabbonim, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, in which we share news for and about members, including communal news, announcements, publications, Divrei Torah, press releases and media mentions.
In this newsletter:
• Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim Announces Proclamation Honoring Hatzolah During Virus Outbreak
• Invitation: Rosh Chodesh Iyar Conference
• Chaplaincy Commission Update
• Halachic Rulings from Rav Yitzchak Yosef
• Divrei Torah: Tazria-Metzora
• Porch Minyanim
• 5TJT: Eulogies Over Those Lost
• Baltimore Jewish Life: Rav Don Yoel Levy
• Arutz Sheva: Noach Dear
• Rabbinical Alliance of America Joins Klal Yisroel in Mourning the Passing of Our Chaver Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, ZT’L Head of the OK Kashrus Agency
• Rabbinical Alliance of America Joins the Entire Jewish Community in Mourning the Passing of New York State Supreme Court Justice Noach Dear
• Rabbinical Alliance of America Joins Klal Yisrael in Mourning the Passing of the Former Rishon LeZion, Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, ZT’L
• Rabbinical Alliance of America Joins Klal Yisroel in Mourning the Passing of HaGaon HaRav Leibel Groner, ZT’L Faithful Secretary to the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Please let us know about your family simchos and l"a aveilus, book publications and career changes or milestones, so we can share as chaveirim our life events. Send updates to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America – Igud HaRabbonim, a professional Rabbinical Organization founded in 1942 – with a membership of over 1,000 Orthodox Rabbis has issued an official proclamation honoring the exemplary work that the Hatzolah volunteer ambulance corps is doing each and every day during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we know, the healthcare infrastructure in New York City is totally overwhelmed and at the brink of collapsing under the enormous pressure of providing care for the voluminous amount of patients who are hospitalized with the dreaded coronavirus. While all NYC first responders and emergency medical technicians deserve our wholehearted praise for their valiant efforts at saving lives we want to take this moment to recognize and laud the extraordinary efforts of the Hatzolah volunteer ambulance corps in ensuring that each person gets the care they need at this difficult time,” said Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice president of the RAA.
Founded in 1965 in New York City, Hatzolah has seen exponential growth over the decades and now serves all major hubs in the northeast, Los Angeles, Toronto, Zurich, and Jerusalem. Operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, this not-for-profit corporation is run by a virtual army of over 1000 incredibly dedicated professional emergency care providers including EMTs, paramedics and physicians.
Responding to over 100,000 calls annually in record time, Hatzolah provides emergency medical assistance, ambulance transport, family referral services and much more. Moreover, it has come to represent the absolute and total commitment to the sanctity of life.
in the harrowing times in which we live – now known as the “age of corona” the sheer volume of Hatzolah calls has precipitously skyrocketed and Hatzolah has not missed one call nor turned down assistance to anyone who is in need.
Rabbi Duvid Katz, the Menahel of the RAA said, ” As the Talmud tells us, “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. In our case, the Hatzolah volunteers didn’t only save individuals, they saved the entire family from losing a parent, & from undergoing tragedy.”
“Just as in previous moments of national crisis such as the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Hatzolah has reacted to the COVID-19 outbreak with the same degree of alacrity, compassion, professionalism and determination to save every life possible, “said Rabbi Mirocznik.
It is important to remember that many Orthodox Jews who raced to Lower Manhattan after hearing reports that a plane had struck the World Trade Center on that September morning were members of Hatzolah. This is just another example of Hatzolah members leaving the comforts of their surroundings and encountering possible danger to help others in their time of need.
Ask any Hatzolah member what inspires them to enter the zone of danger and help they will simply respond, “It is a call to duty. Hatzolah members answer the call and Hashem takes care of the rest.”
Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman of the RAA proudly states, “that Hatzolah members are devoted life savers. Hatzolah members without hesitation will leave their own child’s bar mitzva, simcha, family seder for one simple purpose and that is to save another person’s life. They often respond to an emergency involving a perfect stranger who they never met before they answered the Hatzolah call.”
Rabbi Mirocznik added that, “Even though we have heard that the state authorities were telling EMTs not to attempt to resuscitate patients who have suffered a heart attack and have no pulse, I can promise you that the Hatzolah staff will continue to do everything within their power to save a life because they are guided by Torah principles.”
The RAA has a very special connection to Hatzolah said Rabbi Mirocznik. “Rabbi Nachum Zvi Josephy, ZT’L the previous Executive Vice-President of the RAA was very supportive of Hatzalah and his son Rabbi Nussen Josephy a member of the RAA is an active Hatzalah member, ” he added.
May Hashem give the intrepid members of Hatzolah continued strength to save lives; to heal and to comfort those in need. And in their tremendous zchusim may Hashem redeem us all as we witness the coming of moshiach tzidkayenu bimheyrah v’yameinu.
Despite this ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the Rabbinical Alliance of America will continue its long-standing practice of holding a monthly conference on or near Rosh Chodesh. Therefore, to maintain a sense of normalcy and continuity, lehagdil Torah ulehaadira, we ask you all to please mark your calendars for the Rabbinical Alliance of America’s Rosh Chodesh Nisan Conference which is scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 23, 2020, 29 Nisan 5780, 7:00PM. Due to the current global health crisis, this conference will be streamed online and recorded at Zoom.us Meeting ID 976 9495 4976 Password: igud2020 https://zoom.us/j/97694954976?status=success
At the Rosh Chodesh Iyar conference, we will be addressed by our chaver Rabbi Eytan Feiner, Rav of Congregation Kneseth Israel (The White Shul”) in Far Rockaway, New York, Rabbi Simcha Hopkovitz, Rav of Young Israel of Hewlett, as well as by our Presidium Chairman, Rabbi Yaakov Klass who will deliver the Administrative report.
Please make every effort to join this important Rosh Chodesh Iyar Igud/RAA Conference during these trying times.
Please remember to complete the Gemara you have chosen to learn for our Chai Ellul Annual Siyum HaShas.
On behalf of the Igud/RAA Presidium and of the Beth Din, I extend greetings of Torah.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik
Executive Vice-President, Rabbinical Alliance of America
Rabbi Leonard ( Yehuda ) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/ Igud HaRabbonim
April 23, 2020
I have postponed my dedication to the Orthodox Jewish Chaplains and in general to all chaplains for their unbelievable care they have been giving patients, family members and medical staff in all sorts of venues. I hope to have that article in next week’s RAA newsletter though, HaRav Mordechai Willig shlita in a recent teleconference sponsored by the Rabbinical Council of America, shared his concerns and halachic opinions about chaplains putting themselves in dangerous situations. Yet, even though chaplains have made every effort to “be safe” there have been times, when these dedicated chaplains have extended themselves in ways above and beyond “the call to duty”. I am also going to dedicate another article to the devoted Jewish Navigators and how they have extended themselves in all kinds of circumstance helping so many during these challenging times.
Yes, it is wonderful to read about the many patients who have survived the Coronavirus, but it is also heartbreaking to read how many of our precious family members, community residents and others- young and older, those who were well known and those who we might never have known who have died from this disease. R” l Misaskim has recently stated there were 1,000 availim over Pesach. Yet, we read and hear about many who do not take this disease seriously. Included in this newsletter is a recorded presentation by Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt who presented this past Motzei Shabbos all about the extreme importance of taking the Coronavirus also known as COVID-19 seriously. He shared the implications of COVID-19 if not taken seriously. He also shared about the various tests and treatments that are being tested and in many cases being used with some success. Perhaps, unlike the Mumps, Measles, Polio or other diseases where one can visibly see the effects of the various diseases and illnesses people are not taking it seriously. It is possible for someone to have this virus, not have any symptoms at least not initially, and spread the disease to others- causing not one, but many to become ill, on life support machines and chas vshalom worse. On the other hand, there are many who are seriously ill not from the Coronavirus, but from other illnesses, for these patients, their caregivers and family members, life goes on, but with many challenges as well.
We cannot and must not forget all those precious human beings- all who deserve our tefilos. Our cheeks are red from the tears that flow from our eyes, beseeching the Ribono Shel Olom. Who do we cry out to if not the Ribono Shel Olom to please send a refuah to our loved ones, to our relatives, to our neighbors to all who mean so much to us? There are so many tefilos, so many meaningful chapters and pasukim of Tehilim we recite from our hearts. Dovid HaMelech has always’ been and continues to be a source of inspiration and comfort. Together with our Holy Torah, they are the life preservers the Aibershata has given to us. Throughout the generations with the countless of trials and tribulations we have gone through we have never given up.
Boruch H there are so many wonderful organizations as well as private individuals, who are doing so many tremendous gemilus chasadim we must be thankful for. It is also wonderful to learn about people of all walks of life being so helpful and caring. Included in this newsletter is information about the amazing OHEL Partners Resilience THERA – ZOOM. Please see the attached informational flyer.
On a personal note, please include in your tefilos for Cholim of Klal Yisrael, Keila Lutza bas Tziporah. She is a close and dear relative of mine who I owe so much to for her tremendous encouragement and kindness to me, my entire mishpacha and to so many who know her for her sincerity, kindness, gemilus chasadim and tremendous Emunah and Btachen in the Aibershta.
There are also information flyers from TTI Testing and Training Institute, CAHE Center for Allied Health Education and YEIP. Please note that both TTI and CAHE offer special discounts to RAA members, spouses and children.
Israel has reduced its restrictions on movement. Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Rav Yitzchak Yosef, issued the following halachic rulings (dated 28 Nisan 5780) that may apply more broadly. Of course, at all times: venishmartem me’od le’nafshoseichem.
In the current phase of the Coronavirus pandemic, all shuls around the world are closed and nearly every Jew globally is praying without a minyan. Even during its strictest period, the Israeli government allowed a few minyanim to continue under health department guidelines. In the US, I know of a family with ten adult men (a grandfather, father and eight sons above 13) who continue praying as a minyan. A widely discussed option is for neighbors to pray together on their front or back porchs, without anyone leaving their own property. Every community will have its own concerns about local health guidelines and the ability to consistently follow them, as well as anti-semitism that may be flamed by even perfectly legal and healthy minyanim. Setting all that aside, I would like to discuss whether in theory, if not in practice, neighbors can join together as a minyan, everyone remaining on their own property. The matter is less simple than many people think and is discussed by many recent responsa specifically related to Coronavirus.
The issue begins with a Mishnah (Pesachim 85b) discussing the definition of a house, inside which a Pesach sacrifice must be eaten on the first night of the holiday and from which the meat may not be removed. The Mishnah says that the house is defined as from the doorway and inside. In the Gemara, Rav adds that the same applies to prayer but R. Yehoshua Ben Levi disagrees. Tosafos (ad loc., s.v. ve-khen) explain that the disagreement is about answering the prayer of a minyan if you are outside. According to Rav, you must be inside even to answer Kaddish and the like. According to R. Yehoshua Ben Levi, whom we follow, you may answer even if you are outside but there must still be a minyan inside. Therefore, if you are in the doorway or inside (i.e. if the door closes and you are inside) then you can be counted for a minyan. This would seem to limit a minyan to people inside one room, even though anyone outside can join the prayers if there is a minyan in the room.
Rav Shlomo Ben Aderet (Rashba; Responsa, vol. 1, no. 96) suggests comparing counting for a minyan for prayer to counting for a zimun for bentching. In the latter, the Mishnah (Berakhos 50a) says that if two groups are eating in different places in a house, as long as they can see each other they can count together for a zimun. Rashba says that this doesn’t mean specifically in one house but as long as some of the people in each group can see some people from the other group, they all count together. Therefore, Rashba suggests, the same may apply for a minyan. Even if people are in different buildings, as long as they can see each other then they count for a minyan.
However, Rav Shlomo Ben Shimon Duran (Rashbash; Responsa, no. 37) rejects this suggestion. He says that zimun is referring to two groups that each have enough people but want to join together as one group. That cannot be compared to half a minyan in one room and half in another room. Among Rishonim and Acharonim, the overwhelming majority rule strictly like Rashbash and not like Rashba’s suggestion. (Although Pri Chadash, Orach Chaim 55:12 and Pri Megadim, Mishbetzos 55:12 follow Rashba.) Because of this consensus against Rashba, under normal circumstances you need ten men within the room in order to constitute a minyan. The question of porch minyanim boils down to whether we can rely on Rashba in a case of great need.
II. Modern Rulings
Rav Chaim Yosef David Azulai (Chida; Machazik Berakhah 55:11) discusses a case of quarantine in Italy, in which guards would not allow people in two adjacent houses to mix. Chida felt that if the four men of one family could stand outside the open door of the second house which had six men so that they can all see each other, even though the four are forbidden to enter the house, they could join as a minyan based on Rashba’s condition of being able to see each other. However, his colleague Rav Yosef Chazan (Chikrei Lev, Orach Chaim 1:28) argues at length against following this difficult minority opinion, even in a case of quarantine.
Citing this Chikrei Lev and many other similar strict rulings, Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Rav Yosef Yitzchak, in a recent responsum forbids participation in a porch minyan (but allows answering amen if such a minyan is taking place). Similarly, Rav Hershel Schachter in a recent responsum distinguishes between prayer (which is a davar she-bi-kdushah) to a zimun (which is not), and therefore forbids porch minyanim. Rav Schachter points to a contradiction within Bi’ur Halachah whether to follow Rashba or Rashbash and concludes that we cannot rely on Rashba even in a time of great need.
Rav Asher Weiss, in a recent responsum, allows relying on Rashba’s leniency in this time of great need and permits porch minyanim if people can see each other (setting aside the issues mentioned at the beginning of this essay). However, he points out that even regarding zimun, you cannot join together with someone across a street. Therefore, all the porches must be on the same side of the street. Rav Moshe Sternbuch, in a recent responsum, rules leniently also but adds another leniency — if the people are standing on porches 10 tefachim above street level, then they can join even across the street. In a responsum unrelated to Coronavirus, Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein was asked whether Jewish guards and prisoners, who are forbidden to mix, can join for a minyan through prison bars (Chashukei Chemed, Pesachim 85b). Rav Zilberstein says that you can rely on the Chida but is not entirely comfortable relying on it for people in a holding cell, who will only be there for a short time. It seems that he would rule leniently for those in long-term quarantine.
Rav Shlomo Miller, in a recent responsum, takes a middle position. He tentatively approves of porch minyanim but, out of caution, does not allow any prayer that requires a minyan — such as Kaddish, Kedushah and the repetition of the Amidah.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American Orthodox Rabbis — joins Klal Yisroel in mourning the passing of our highly respected and esteemed Chaver, HaRav Don Yoel Levy, ZT’L head of the OK Kashrus Agency and Rov of the Beis Eliezer Yitzchak Shul in Crown Heights.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America stated, “Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, ZT’L joined the OK at the request of his father HaRav Berel Levy, ZT’L and, on his father’s passing in 1987, assumed leadership of the respected organization. Rabbi Don Yoel Levy continued his father’s legacy in making the OK Kashrus Agency a premier international kosher certification agency. By doing so, Rabbi Levy helped Klal Yisroel by further strengthening kashrus standards on a global level and enhancing the availability and selection of kosher food and products for consumers around the world. Rabbi Levy fortified Torah observance and made being a religious Jew so much more attractive and easier, thereby helping unaffiliated Jews become more observant. In order to achieve his impressive accomplishments, Rabbi Levy traveled the world and unlocked many kosher products for the Jewish community.
“We at the Igud HaRabbonim will fondly remember Rabbi Levy’s and the Levy family’s commitment to Kashrus. That memory and example will serve as an inspiration to the kosher community ad biyas goal tzedek.”
The Rabbinical Alliance of America— Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American Orthodox Rabbis — joins the entire Jewish community in mourning the passing of New York State Supreme Court Justice Noach Dear.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America stated, “Justice Noach Dear, of blessed memory, was a good man and a friend to all. A native of Borough Park, he represented the best of the generation born after the destruction that was the Holocaust. Justice Dear was the consummate public servant, serving the community first as an activist, then as a New York City councilman, a New York City commissioner and finally as a judge. Justice Dear brought with him a sense of professionalism, respect and honor. His number one priority was to serve G-d by helping all people with whom he came into contact. Justice Dear cared for all people regardless of who they were and treated everyone with respect and dignity. Justice Dear will be sorely missed and fondly remembered in the Jewish community in New York City and around the world.
May Justice Dear serve as a heavenly advocate, a Maylitz Yosher, for his family, the Jewish community and the entire world. May his memory be a blessing.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American Orthodox Rabbis — joins Klal Yisroel in mourning the passing of HaGaon HaRav Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, ZT’L, a former Rishon LeZion, Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel. The close professional relationship and friendship between the Igud HaRabbonim and the Israeli Chief Rabbinate dates back over 78 years to the founding of the Igud HaRabbonim/Rabbinical Alliance of America by the great Gedolei HaDor who served as the Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbonim in America at that time.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America stated, “Rabbi Bakshi-Doron was known throughout his rabbinic service as a leading Posek and Torah authority as well as a rabbi of the people. Rabbi Bakshi-Doron understood people and always took their needs into consideration when called upon to decide matters pertinent to Jewish law.
“Rabbi Bakshi-Doron will be missed most for his personal touch, his connection with the layperson.As busy as he was, Rabbi Bakshi-Doron was always available to offer counsel and to answer the questions of individuals who sought his sage guidance. It was this personal hands-on approach that made Rabbi Bakshi-Doron unique not only as a Gadol B’Yisrael, in rabbinic circles, but as a Rav B’Yisrael truly for every individual who sought his assistance in spirituality. With the loss of this great figure, the public faces an overwhelming void as we grapple with the Coronavirus/Covid-19 epidemic. May Rabbi Bakshi-Doron’s memory be a blessing for all of Israel, and may Rabbi Bakshi-Doron be a meilitz yosher for his family and the entire House of Israel. His friendship with the Igud HaRabbonim will always be cherished, valued and remembered fondly.”
The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American Orthodox Rabbis — joins Klal Yisroel in mourning the passage of Rabbi Leibel Groner, ZT’L one of the most prominent figures in Lubavitch of the last generation who faithfully served as the Mazkir/Secretary and one was of the closest people to the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America stated, “The Torah world lost today a prominent tower of Ahavas Yisroel. This is a deep loss for Klal Yisroel, especially as we are in the midst of the current fear and loss of the Coronavirus, Covid-19 pandemic.
“Rabbi Groner, ZT’L after the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Gimel Tammuz, kept the stories, inspiration, lessons, faith and mission of the Lubavitcher Rebbe as a source of hope and inspiration for the Jewish community at large. As an eyewitness to the history that was created by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Groner, ZT’L had first-hand knowledge of what we learn and read in the history books. These important historical events take Klal Yisroel from the destruction of the Holocaust to its current rejuvenation, a cause the Lubavitcher Rebbe championed. May Rabbi Groner’s, ZT’L memory serve as a blessing for all of Klal Yisroel and me he be an advocate for his family and all of Israel.”