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11/05/2021 11:42:39 AM


I spoke about the following last Shabbat in Chevra Shaas.  Since my readers of this blog were not there, and as it was a very meaningful experience for me, I repeat it here, with some modifications.

A week ago Thursday, I had a most meaningful and inspiring experience. At 12:00 noon, Mtl time (= 7:00 pm Israel time,) a nephew of mine, "Frankie" Trachtman, had a hashba`ah, a swearing in ceremony, at the Kotel.

Thanks to modern technology, I was able to watch the ceremony live. [By the way, in case you didn't know, you can see the kotel at any time by clicking on]  At this ceremony, my nephew, together with his comrades, received his kumtah yeruqah, the green beret, indicating he was being inducted into the distinguished Nachal division of Tzahal, the Israeli Defence Army.

May HaShem watch over my nephew, his comrades, and all of kelal Yisrael.

The venue itself was inspiring, as we saw the kotel being lit up against the dark nighttime sky. The main speaker told story of Binyamin Zeev Wurzburger, who had passed away a couple of weeks ago. Mr. Wurzburger had been an inmate in the Mathuasen concentration camp, where he had told the cruel commandant that he hoped eventually to see Jerusalem. The German's response to him was "The only Jerusalem you will ever see is through the skylight of the gas chamber!" Yet, eventually Mr. Wurzburger survived, and merited to live in Erets Yisrael.  After retirement, he worked in Jerusalem as a street cleaner. In that capacity, he would come to the kotel every day to clean, for he would quote the verse in Psalms chapter 128 u-re'eh be-tuv yerushalayim kol yemei hayyekha, that is, every day you have to see Jerusalem at its best. Every day, he would clean the stones of the kotel.  When people asked him, "why are you wearing those work clothes, it’s beneath your dignity," he would answer that he was working the uniform for working bahatsar ha-malkhut, "in the royal courtyard."  [And we can point out that the following verse says shalom `al yisrael.]

The tune of Yerushalayim shel zahav was played. Now, I have heard this song many times, and it is always emotional. But to hear it played looking at the kotel, at a swearing in ceremony... that was very special.

My nephew’s late grandfather, who is my wife’s father, had come to Israel as a halutz about 100 years ago.  His family in Europe was very much opposed to his aliya, as they were staunchly anti-Zionist.  My father-in-law became very ill in Israel, had to return to Europe, and eventually made his way to America, where he settled in NYC and raised his family.  I think it is reasonable to say that my nephew’s enlistment in IDF/Nachal is the fulfillment of my father in law's dream.


And speaking of fulfillment of dreams: this week's parasha, Toledot, discusses the continuation of the generations: from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob.

This past Thursday, 4 November (=29 Cheshvan) was the Sigd, the great holiday of the Beta Israel, the Ethiopian Jewish community. For hundreds and hundreds of years, they dreamt of returning to Jerusalem, a dream which has been realized in our time. We at Chevra Shaas have been enriched by the members of that community who have been praying with us for many years.

Shabbat shalom

Mon, June 27 2022 28 Sivan 5782