Tuesday, July 15, 2008




Parshas Balak

At the point that depravity meets its nadir we find Ba'al Peor, an idol quite unique in its worship-- defecation for deification. The braissa quoted in Chagiga 16a (Avos d’R’ Nosson, ch. 37) relates that humans have three things in common with the animal kingdom: eating and drinking, piryah v'rivyah, and hotza'as re'e. While we can be mikadesh our eating, drinking, and piryah v'rivyah1 throughout the year, explains R’ Shimon Shalom from Amshinov,2 we can never really fully sanctify the act of going to the bathroom.3 Even on Yom Kippur, a day that entails complete abstention from food and drink as well as marital relations, we can never completely personify the celestial angels because of our necessity to excrete bodily waste.

That is why, continues the Amshinover Rebbe, Chazal4 declare that most tzaddikim die by cholei mei’ayim, bowel and intestinal problems. After all, tzaddikim surely sanctify all parallel acts to the animals;5 the only aspect thus remaining- and, therefore, the only means the mal’ach ha'maves has at his disposal- is closely related to being motzi re'e.

With this in mind, we could perhaps understand the flow of the gemara recorded in Nedarim 22a. The gemara relates that, "one who gets angry will be ruled by all sorts of gehinnom"6-- but it does not stop there. The statement continues, "and not only that [the gehinnom], but his intestines/bowels will also rule over him." What is going on here? The gemara seems to be implying that bowel trouble is worse than all sorts of gehinnom!

Based on the aforementioned, however, perhaps we can suggest as follows: One who becomes enraged will surely be punished in the future by the purging process of gehinnom. After all, becoming enraged is likened to actual avodah zara worship.7 But in addition, even in this world he will be constantly plagued by bowel problems, a sign intended to demonstrate that he has manifested his resemblance to animals by shedding his “da’as8 and allowing his emotions to rule over, rather than be subjugated to, his intellect. If one is filled with fury and thereby ignores this particularly human quality, then HaKB”H will show him that even in Olam Hazeh he has, to a certain degree, shed his tzuras ha'adam and will be constantly reminded by this highlighted animal-like characteristic.9 He will have to pay the price not only in the next world, but even in the present one, he will have forfeited his lofty status as a tzelem Elokim.10

Hence, the purely animalistic side to all humans is best exemplified by the act of going to the bathroom, the one animal-like characteristic that can never be fully elevated above the mundane. Furthermore, the Ramban and Maharal both explain that our tzelem Elokim is manifest in that only humans can stand fully upright- thus emphasizing the seichel’s dominance over the entirety of the guf- in glaring contrast to the members of the animal kingdom. But yet, when man is motzi re’e, he first crouches or sits—because it is in the midst of excretion that he always demonstrates a resemblance to the inferior animals…

Only someone who has shed any semblance of inner sanctity, of an innate, lofty, human status, can center his godly worship on this public expression of his animal-like tendencies. This naturally leads us right up to Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz's well-known piece on Ba'al Peor (Sichos Mussar, Parshas Va’eschanan), in which he expounds on the idea of this idol's capacity to allow for total hephkei’rus, the utter shedding of all moral inhibitions.11 One forfeits his exalted human status through such deplorable and depraved displays of allowing his animal-like side to completely take over.12

When the generation of those who stood at Sinai lived up to their description as the “dor dei’a,” however, they simply had no need to excrete bodily waste. They ate the heavenly manna- “lechem she’mal’achei ha’shareis ochlin bo”- which was miraculously absorbed within their system. When they acted like angels, they resembled these celestial beings even to the point that they consumed the identical food; and thus, like the angels, there was no need at all for animal-like hotza’as re’e.

Naming the Idol

1. Focusing now on the idol that stripped them of their dignity, we encounter the following difficulty: If we were now to select a name, a short title, perhaps, that, in lashon hakodesh, would successfully capture the essence of this deity, would we not then opt for one that focuses on this despicable public display of defecation? Indeed we might do so but we happen to find otherwise. And the name ultimately given surely warrants further scrutiny.

The appellation branded to this idol is that of Ba'al Peor. Its meaning? Rashi- based on the Sifri- commenting on Balak 25:3, avers that it is so named because they "reveal"13 the pi hataba'as and are subsequently motzi re'e. The title thus accorded the statue is not for the hotza'as re'i, the actual defecation- something that might have resulted in Ba'al Tzoah, Ba'al [Hotza'as] Re'e, or the like- but rather for the preceding act of "revealing" the pi hataba'as. This point is even more clearly articulated in Bamidbar Rabba (#23—and see Sanhedrin 60b) which records: "...ha’po’er atzmo l'ba'al peor- zo he avodaso," without any mention of defecation whatsoever. What exactly does this tell us about the true essence of the "Peor" worship?

Some background information is called for: How did so many Jews succumb to this depraved act? Surely such animalistic behavior must follow a process of gradual deterioration, the upshot being merely an outflow of some perverse harbinger. For this we once again turn to Rashi, this time focusing on his comments two pesukim later. Rashi –once again based on the Sifri- informs us that it was only during the ma'asei z'nus with b’nos Moav that the Moabite women were able to lure the men into worship of Peor. It was only once the men succumbed to z'nus that worship of Peor was able to materialize.14

Ma'asei z'nus are encompassed within the rubric of "gilui arayos." The lashon of "ervah" itself, explains the Maharal, is one of "gilui,"15 thus resulting in an act of "gilui she’bigilui."16 And what is "gilui?" The more something is mechusa and mutzna, covered and concealed, the more of a ma'aseh gilui that takes place. An act of z'nus, therefore, is essentially a display, a revelation, of that which is mutzna be'yoser. The violator is revealing too much of himself, specifically the area he is enjoined to keep especially mechusa; when revealed, there can be no recital of krias shema, no acceptance of ohl malchus shamayim, and no connection with HaKB”H through any verbal tefilla. Only on the heels of a gilui arayos do we ever find the baser gilui of a Ba'al Peor. Once the individual has already revealed his makom mechusa beyoser in an act of arayos, the worship of a Ba'al Peor- merely a continuation of this gilui, albeit on a more pathetic level- can take place. Ba'al "Peor." Yes, indeed, its worship essentially is one of revealing, an act of revealing made possible by, and merely a gradual deterioration of, the initial act of gilui arayos.

Rabbeinu Ephraim, an eminent medieval commentator on the Torah, writes that the four mentions of "Peor" in the beginning of parshas Pinchas correspond to the four expressions of sin associated with Peor at the end of parshas Balak. One of these is the z'nus with b’nos Moav. In light of the above, we can readily understand that the ma'aseh znus was much more than just another sin; it was, in fact, a cheilek of "Peor," an integral and necessary forerunner to its worship, and thus can naturally correspond to one of the four mentions of "Peor." The essence of both is, after all, one and the same: the notion of deplorable gilui, of sadly revealing that which is meant to remain hidden.

Based on this elucidation, we can readily understand the gemara (Sanhedrin 64a) that, while a gentile woman worshipped all the world's avoda zara but abstained from the abhorrent worship of Ba'al Peor, B'nei Yisroel fell prey to this disgraceful act. How is such a distinction possible? If we understand Ba'al Peor as an extension of the gilui of arayos, however, then it is quite feasible. The nachris, motivated purely by the petty pursuit of idolatry, was capable of refraining from such a pathetic display of her animalistic side. B'nei Yisroel, on the other hand- already ensconced in the lure of gilui arayos- merely allowed their level of gilui to continue degenerating to yet another- albeit baser- level. Once the prohibition of gilui arayos has been transgressed, a further revelation of one’s makom mechusa in a display of hephkei’rus might very likely be just around the corner.17

Enlightening Associations

2. Which land is forever characterized as "she’tuphei zimah," the place where gilui arayos was overly rampant,18 and upon which the pasuk "zir’mas su’ssim zir’masam" (Yechezkel, 23:20) was said?19 Mitzraim, of course, the land with a leader- the symbol of the people ("melech" read backwards is "kulam")- whose title is always that of Pharaoh.20 And what is "Pharaoh?" The etymological root is pei/raish/ayin, the classical usage of the word "reveal."21 Quite interesting, then, that a country in which gilui arayos ran so rife is precisely one whose leader's title denotes the very act of "revealing."22 (Interesting, too, that the entire episode of z'nus with b’nos Moav was only made possible by the lure of flax, something that enticed the Jewish men because it reminded them of the flax in Mitzraim-- see the Maharsha's comment on Sanhedrin 106a, where the account of this episode appears.)

3. Chazal in parshas Balak seem to be turning our attention to the parsha of Sotah. Yalkut Shimoni cites the opinion that the place of z'nus was called "Shittim" because it could be read as "Sittim," an allusion to the sotah, the adulterous woman discussed back in parshas Naso. Similarly, the Ba'al HaTurim notes that "Shittim" shares the same root as in Naso: "...ki sisteh ishto..." What exactly is the sotah suspected of? A ma'aseh of "gilui arayos." And, as part of her punishment for this immoral act of gilui, we read of the kohen being "POREI’AH" (once again the same pei/raish/ayin shoresh) her head: "...u'phara es rosh ha'isha..." (Naso, 5:18), revealing the woman’s hair as a means of humiliation. Midah kineged midah. Gilui tachas gilui.23

Even her drink is made from the "aphar"(ayin/phei/raish, the same osiyos as "parah," just intermingled…) of the mishkan, dirt obviously symbolizing the gashmiyus side to man, the purely animalistic component to our being. She has acted like an animal, highlighting her beastly side; her demise will therefore come through aphar, the material ground from which man arose before his lofty soul was placed within its confines. Chazal also liken her to a bi’heima when pointing out that her sacrifice will be one of barley-typical animal food- for she has performed a ma'aseh bi’heima. Her disgraceful act of gilui has rendered her animal-like, a befitting description for those culpable of blatant displays of gilui ervah.

4. Now let us rewind to the story of Yosef. Yosef is known to all as "Yosef HaTzaddik," the individual who upheld the yesod habris, who brought the koach of resisting z'nus into the world.24 He was being enticed by... no, the Torah never tells us her name-- she is only known to us as “the wife of Potiphar.” That is ostensibly the only information we need to know. But even his name was not really Potiphar by that point any longer. His name had been changed earlier to "PotiPHERA," for, as Rashi (Miketz, 41:45- based on Sotah 13b) tells us, he had attempted to sodomize Yosef and became castrated as a befitting punishment. Sifsei Chachamim further notes that the inference is drawn from the lashon of "phera," the addition of pei/raish/ayin (meaning to reveal) onto his original name. Specifically because of his attempted ma'aseh z'nus- gilui arayos- he gets a “gilui" added to his name. It is by overcoming the seduction of the wife of such an individual that the koach of surmounting all attempts at gilui arayos could be brought down into the world.

Interesting, as well, is the prefix of "Poti," a term we only find in one other place. The shevatim ridiculed Pinchas as the ben "Puti" (spelled the same), referring to the enthusiastic level of Yisro's ("Putiel") idol worship,25 in which he would fatten up the animal in preparation for an optimal sacrifice (Sotah 43a). So too, we might suggest, POTIphera symbolized the enthusiastic level of "gilui" that so dominated Egyptian life.26 In fact, besides the generic "Pharaoh," it is the ONLY Egyptian person's name (excluding, naturally, that of Asnas- who, according to some opinions, was really Dinah’s daughter- who married Yosef27) ever mentioned in the Torah in connection with the entire story of Egypt! Perhaps that phenomenon is meant to have us note that Potiphera himself symbolized what all of Egypt was really about. We need to know of no other names; this name itself alludes to what the essence of all Egyptians was based upon-- the notion of overwhelming and enthusiastic gilui. “POTI”phera. We'll hear only about "the daughter of Pharaoh," "the wife of his master," the butler and baker, advisers, etc., but never any specific names.

In contrast to a "POTIphera," Yisro- according to Chazal originally one of Pharaoh’s closest advisers28- leaves the influence of “POTIphera’s” Egypt to become "PUTIel" (same prefix), one who channels his overwhelming enthusiasm into maximizing instead his avodas Hashem. An appropriate appellation indeed.

5. Yosef HaTzaddik is not the only one associated with bris milah. In fact, it is Pinchas/Eliyahu, the same individual according to many opinions,29 who occupies the spotlight at the bris milah ceremony.30 (Let us also keep in mind the opinion in Chazal- Bava Basra 109b- that Pinchas descended from Yosef who battled, and overcame, the yetzer hara of gilui arayos.31) Taking a quick look at the nusach appearing in siddurim, we notice that the mohel, early on, recites the first three pesukim in parshas Pinchas that recount the turning away of Hashem’s anger through the action of Pinchas. Yes, we're back to Moav. And, as Rashi had told us back then, the ensuing harsh plague was the "charon aph" of Hashem coming in response, primarily, to the worship of Ba'al Peor. (The Rambam, in fact, writes that "charon aph" is only used in conjunction with avodah zara32- see Moreh Nevuchim, 1:36).

Interesting then, that at the bris milah ceremony- a ritual consisting of both a ma'aseh chaticha and a "PRIYAH" - we begin with mention of how Pinchas was mi’sakein not only the ma'aseh z'nus (tikkun habris),33 but the ma'aseh of Ba'al "PEOR" as well. He was mi’sakein the acts of gilui, and thus we quote those very same pesukim at the outset of our ritual consisting of a chaticha coupled with a "priyah"- priyah mi’lashon gilui.34 We then proceed immediately to the description of Eliyahu as the Mal’ach HaBris, for it was only through the ma’aseh of Pinchas concerning Moav that Pinchas 'became' Eliyahu, as seen from Pirkei D’R' Eliezer (ch. 47) and Targum Yonasan ben Uziel (parshas Pinchas, 25:12).

6. We fast-forward now to the story of Rus. Rus jettisons all ties to her past and opts instead to cling to Na'ami. Her colleague, however, is not able to break with her roots, feelings of her Moabite upbringing swelling within and holding her back. Who is this figure that is unwilling to rid herself of the tum’ah and

z'nus of Moav? “Arpah.” The exact same osiyos as "Paroah," the very same letters used to signify the concept of gilui, the very fabric of Moabite culture as well.35 And what befalls her soon after? Chazal36 inform us that, on her return journey, she was involved in gilui arayos- indeed a deplorable ma'aseh z'nus- and the ensuing offspring? None other than "GALYas," the notorious Goliath, lashon gilui37

Fascinating to note, as well, is the Zohar Chadash on Rus (79a- the B’nei Yissaschar cites a “medrash”), that before Rus converted and attached herself to Na’ami, her original Moabite name was none other than Gilis (lashon gilui)-- the name of a princess, after all, must encapsulate her nation’s essence... While Rus manages to tear herself away from her Moabite past and sheds her original name of “Gilis,” Arpah returns to that very same nation of their upbringing, and is quickly ensnared in a horrific act of gilui of z’nus that yields a “Galyas”… And the ‘intermingled’ osiyos of ”Paraoh”/”priyah” that comprised her name now unravel and reveal their true colors…

Peor. Pharaoh. Pri'as ha’rosh of the sotah and the accompanying Aphar. Potiphera. Arpah. The common denominator is one of gilui, an act of revealing that can tragically reduce man to animal-like status. It takes a sacred priyah of a milah ritual and other positive, sanctified acts of revealing to be mi’sakein the baser forms of gilui. But the general rule is Micha's declaration (6:8- just three pesukim after Bilaam and Shittim are mentioned by the navi), that the primary course of action is always one of "Hatznei’a leches im Hashem Elokecha." Hatznei’a leches- walk in a modest and concealed fashion-- and never b'galui.

No surprise, then, that the haftorah of this week’s parsha discussing Ba’al Pe’or ends with those very words…




July 15/ Tammuz 12

Just a quick note tonight as utter exhaustion is beginning to set in—we'd like to thank all of you incredible yidden so very much for davening so fervently to help bring Tzaddikel to enter "briso shel Avraham Avinu" earlier today. Thank you HaKB"H for bringing us and Tzaddikel to such a monumental day, and for allowing everything to go smoothly.

Tzaddikel's new name? AVRAHAM YESHAYAHU- named after the heilig and 'meyuchad' Chazon Ish, zt"l, who literally changed the world with his remarkable combination of tzidkus, hasmada and true ameilus b'Torah, limud ha'Torah lishma, a powerful koach ha'tefilla, and selfless care and concern for every single Jew. Indeed there is naturally more to the story—but it will have to wait for another time…

And while I plan on calling him, "Avraham Yeshaya" (just as the Steipler Gaon referred to the Chazon Ish), my wife prefers "Shaya," or, better yet, "Shayala." (And it seems that she already has many relatives on her side). Go ahead and take your pick. But keep in mind that he'll always be Klal Yisroel's dear Tzaddikel…

As I must sign off now for the time being, kindly allow me to attach some Chiddushei Torah distributed at the bris earlier today. One piece is an entirely new ma'aracha of mine and elaborates upon Yosef ha'tzaddik and his ties to bris kodesh- and parshas Vayeishev- while the other is a revised piece I had written a while back on Pinchas and the tikkun of Ba'al Pe'or and the tikkun ha'bris (a major theme running through these current parshiyos.) Hope you enjoy.

May we only join in many simchas and share endless besoros tovos.

Kol Tuv always- and thanks again,


Meet Avraham Yeshayahu ben Aviva !!!

Tzaddikels name is now Avraham Yeshayahu

Sunday, July 13, 2008

BRIS Info!!!



Wed., July 9/ Tammuz 6

Lichvod all the chashuv mispallelim for Tinok ben Aviva:

The hour is late, I'm quite exhausted, and sleep is where I thought I was headed just a few moments ago. But then I asked myself how I could let the day pass without sharing the recent wonderful news with the most special mispallelim and holy neshamos to whom I feel so indebted—

With immeasurable hakaras ha'tov to HaKB"H, Tzaddikel's long-awaited bris will, IY"H, take place this coming Tuesday morning, July 15/ Tammuz 12 in Yerushalayim ir ha'kodesh. (Exact details will be forthcoming.) We'd love to see you all there.

Wow… To think I actually just wrote those words, words I've only dreamt about sharing for oh so long…Yes, B'ezras Hashem Yisbarach, Tzaddikel will enter briso shel Avraham Avinu next week and receive a formal kri'as sheim, getting a name that was so clearly divinely ordained. And yet…

And yet, he will always be Tzaddikel. Klal Yisroel's Tzaddikel. (He really has no choice in the matter—he's already got a beautiful Kiddush cup with "Tzaddikel ha'olami" engraved on its surface (a gift from a family friend), as well as several yarmulkas and clothing that all say Tzaddikel on them. Granted the latter two he will grow out of in due time...)

But, most unfortunately, once I have your attention I must also clarify the following: Tzaddikel still has a way to go. B"H he is home now and has his bris coming up shortly. This is more than incredible, miraculous perhaps. But his home is not just the 'normal abnormal' everyday of a newborn. Tzaddikel's room still has a number of machines filling its space; a professional nurse who spends the night in his room; his days are still filled with, sadly, a lot of pain and discomfort, the origins of which the doctors are simply unsure; and physical therapy, speech therapy, baby massage, etc., fill a major part of his (and our) day. Not to mention the endless phone calls and further research the situation demands.

There is a lot the doctors are unsure of. One of the reasons, in fact, why they have allowed Tzaddikel to come home is because they claim there is not much more they can do for him there. They openly admit that Tzaddikel is 100% in the hands of the One Above. They continue labeling him the "enigma," the "mystery child." When one of the top doctors we met in Haddasah Ein Kerem, a not yet religious Sephardi, read carefully through Tzaddikel's detailed file, my wife asked him what he learnt from the story with all its many intricacies and nuances. His response: "Mah ani? Mah anu, mah chayeinu?..." What am I, what are we, what's our life all about…

And he continued: "You know what your son's medical file taught me? That, when all is said and done, we really don't know much of anything at all…"

You know what? He is 100% right. But why does it take a Tzaddikel story to wake us up to this reality? Why don't we live with these thoughts day in and day out, I ask myself, when HaKB"H sends us messages all the time of how little we really know and how much we truly need Him.

So much of what's going on in the world today is way beyond our understanding. So much of what we observe on a daily basis in our own personal lives is far beyond explanation. With all that's been written and all that's been said, do we honestly think we have any sort of real grasp on "Tzaddik vi'ra lo, rasha vi'tov lo?" (Or on the gemara in Moed Katan (28a) contrasting the vastly different lives of two fully righteous Talmudic sages?)

Let's face it: Every day of our lives should be shouting at us those same words of that not yet religious doctor (drawn from the siddur), "Mah anu, mah chayeinu"… We can get lost all too often in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, trying ever so harder to accomplish, to achieve—what exactly?

If we're growing and striving ever higher in ruchniyus, putting the bulk of our energy and efforts in spiritual pursuits, in Torah, mitzvos, and ma'asim tovim, then at least we have got our priorities straight. But, in the end, we still come back to the same question: Are we living for ourselves or are we living for the Ribbono Shel Olam? Because we're happy with ourselves when we do the Ratzon Hashem, or because doing and living the Ratzon Hashem is exactly what He wants us to be doing. There is one way to make it in life no matter what HaKB"H sends our way, no matter how many nisyonos, or of what level of difficulty, He decides to cast in our direction…

"Hashleich al Hashem yi'havcha vi'hu yichal'ki'lecha" (Tehillim, 55:23). Cast all your needs, your wants- everything- upon G-d, and He will sustain you… Life is quite rough at times, quite inexplicable way more often than we would like it to be. Throw yourself completely into HaKB"H's loving and caring hands, into His warm and all-encompassing embrace. He'll take good care of you.

He always does.

Is there any other way?

If we give of ourselves entirely to HaKB"H, surrendering to Him our wills and drives, wants and needs, while dedicating our lives to emulating His ways, then everything will be just fine. Better than fine. We simply don't need to always understand. We just need to trust Hashem with all we've got, and to know that He's always there, waiting for us to be held in His open and awaiting arms. Just as I held my sweet, adorable Tzaddikel so tightly in my arms on the couch today, lulling him to sleep after some pain and a prolonged cry, so too does our Father in Heaven want to do the same. For each and every one of us. Trust Him fully-- and then jump on board.

All of you chashuv and incredibly special mispallelim have brought about miracles thus far with your koach ha'tefilla, your tremendous mitzvos and ma'asim tovim, and your learning of Torah and accumulation of merits-- all on behalf of Tzaddikel. How could we ever thank you enough? You are individuals who care and cry for others, who give up of your precious time and energy for other members of the Jewish People. You are all incredibly special indeed. And we again humbly ask that, knowing the potency that your heartfelt prayers possess, please continue full speed ahead with that same koach ha'tefilla of the Klal, of so many holy Jews the world over uniting as one, to daven not only for Tzaddikel's refuah bi'karov, but for all of cholei Yisroel, for all of those in need of yeshuos and nechamos.

And why stop there? We're doing this because we care for others, for HaKB"H's dear children, the little tzaddikels in NICUs and PICUs the world over, the soldiers whose families are waiting oh so long for their return, for so many of HaKB"H's beloved children in need of one thing or another…

But let's not stop there either. Let's continue onward to the pain of HaKB"H Himself (kaviyachol). What about His kavod, His glorious honor, and all the horrific chillul Hashem in the world... Daven for the geula- for the Almighty and His honor- at least as much as you daven for others. Daven that HaKB"H restore the full honor and glory to His name and to His throne. May He listen to all the bleeding hearts and fervent cries, and bring an end to all suffering and a full redemption to His beloved Jewish People.

My pillow is really calling now. At this late hour, I just heard a faint cry from my little tzaddik in his crib. The pillow can wait. At least for a quick chapter of Tehillim. For him and for all of cholei Yisroel. And for HaKB"H to please keeping taking such great care of all of us. Thank you HaKB"H so very much—for the upcoming bris, for all of the holy neshamos You sent down to this world who daven so hard and want only good for others, and, most of all, for all of your perennial love, care, and concern, for each and every one of us.

May we join in only simchas and share only besoros tovos constantly.

Best wishes for abundant bracha and hatzlacha in all inyanim, and much hakaras ha'tov for everything,

Eytan Feiner




Motzei Shabbos Kodesh, parshas Chukas, 2 Tammuz/ July 5

"Tzaddik ba l'ir." Believe it or not, the holy little Tzaddikel has finally come home...

Chasdei Hashem Yisbarach. With endless gratitude to HaKB"H for His endless rachamim, we would like to inform all of you chashuv mispallelim that Tinok ben Aviva has, after close to six months post birth, finally arrived at his home in the heart of Sha'arei Chessed on Erev Shabbos Kodesh, parshas Chukas.

Yes, his bedroom is well equipped with several machines and thus (temporarily) looks a bit like a hospital room, but IY"H, this new move (after three different hospitals and six different wards) will help bring him even closer to a refuah shi'leima bi'karov—bi'soch sha'ar cholei Yisroel. With all of Klal Yisroel's incredible and persistent tefillos, we're hoping that parshas Chukas- all about the mysterious red heifer- will further foster the speedy recovery of this mystery of a child…

(My favorite part of his bedroom? In the corner of a bookcase sit a few new seforim that a close friend of mine sent to Tzaddikel a while back. When I asked why he was sending our son seforim that he naturally wouldn't be able to use for some time, he responded: "When Tzaddikel becomes a gadol b'Yisroel, IY"H, I want to be able to tell people that I bought him his first seforim…" He then added: "And tell him that he now owes me one, so that when I come to him for a bracha many years from now, he'll let me in no matter what…" Okay. Whatever HaKB"H has in mind… We'll try to do the best we can and we'll let HaKB"H take care of the rest…)

What sits in my mind at this very moment?

Over twelve long years of waiting. Close to six additional long months of more doctors, hospitals, tests, procedures, and surgeries—and this time all for our son whom we had to helplessly watch in a lot of pain, a lot of the time. And he still has, unfortunately, plenty more to go to get fully better. But as my wife detached him from all machines and brought our adorable Tzaddikel in his cute Shabbos clothes to greet me outside for the first time in my life as I returned home from shul on Friday night- well, what is there possibly to say…

Thank you so very much Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Thank you for always being there, for loving and caring for us together with all of your children. Thank you for simply everything. We have no questions—just an overflowing hakaras ha'tov, and abundant love for You that could never be properly expressed.

Shabbos endows us with a neshama yi'seira, an additional (elevated) soul. Tzaddikel in my arms with his delicate head cradled against my chest endowed me with yet another. (And "istinis" that I am, I never thought I'd so much enjoy getting his spit-up all over my suit…)

I'll do my utmost to latch on to that special memory and all the memories of Tzaddikel's first Shabbos home. (We had a lot of fun discovering his affinity for sweet grape juice…) Each and every dear memory HaKB"H sends your way and blesses you with-- hold it close forever, cherish it, and always be makir tov to the best of your ability. Don't wait. Pour forth the thanks and insert that sincere hoda'ah right into your very next Shemonei Esrei—and then make it a part of all future tefillos as well.

There is so much more to write, so much bandying about in my mind that I'd really love to share… just a bit too hectic right now and the hour is quite late. But please, heilig yidden the world over, accept our most heartfelt thanks and hakaras ha'tov for all of your continued tefillos and good wishes. You're the ones who have triggered Hashem's mercy thus far, and we humbly ask that you please continue to do so until a full refuah arrives.

Regarding Tzaddikel's bris, IY"H—don't worry, I'll keep you posted… Depending on the mohel's p'sak within the next few days, we're hoping and davening that HaKB"H will allow us to bring Tzaddikel into briso shel Avraham Avinu sometime during the week before Shiva Asar B'Tammuz…whatever HaKB"H decides…And, yes, we're hoping you'll be there…

We're hoping indeed that all of Klal Yisroel will be here in Yerushalayim bi'karov. The despicable and horrendous terrorist attacks so sadly continue; this past week here, as you know, was very rough. But the geula is coming soon, IY"H. We all believe it and we truly sense it. Torah, tefilla, mitzvos, and ma'asim tovim—all built on a solid foundation of complete achdus, caring and davening for all of our fellow Jews. For all our soldiers to be returned soon to their families, and for all of HaKB"H's children to finally come home to Eretz Yisroel to celebrate the ultimate geula and the kavod of Hashem Yisbarach and His chosen nation like never before. Let's do our utmost to maximize our limitless potential in ruchniyus and never lose sight of life's true priorities.

Wishing you all only Kol Tuv always and hoping we'll only share besoros tovos in the days and years to come.

A Gut Voch, Shavua Tov to all,

With sincere thanks,

Eytan Feiner

LATEST UPDATE…(Post Shavuos)


LATEST UPDATE…(Post Shavuos)

Wed., June 25/ Sivan 22

We danced round and round in circles

As if the world had done no wrong

From evening until morning

Filling up the shul with song

Though we had no sifrei torah

To gather in our arms

In their place we held those children

The Jewish people would live on

I'm not one who has a lot of free time on his hands to sit down every so often to listen to music. But these words composed by the talented Abie Rotenberg- culled from one of the most beautiful and moving Jewish songs I have ever listened to, "The Man From Vilna"- were heard some time ago and came back to mind recently. (And compelled me, as well, to take out our Journeys IV CD to listen on a drive to the hospital to see Tzaddikel.) The song retells a story of a survivor's return- along with a few hundred others- to Vilna, in the wake of the horrific destruction of the Holocaust. As they enter the shul, a shout emerges from the crowd that it is Simchas Torah tonight, but no Sifrei Torah could be found—only a small boy and girl hiding in the Aron… And why do these words resonate so loudly in my ears now?

Let me take you back briefly to this past Shavuos. Needless to say, it was my first Shavuos ever staying by a hospital, and the first in quite a while where I would not be delivering any shiurim. And Shavuos, celebrating Matan Toraseinu, is indeed one of my favorite Yamim Tovim, a time where one tries pushing himself more than usual to tap into the incredible hashpa'a and siyata dishmaya in learning that HaKB"H sends our way at this time of year. Spending it in Haddasah Ein Karem, though together with my wonderful wife and son, was definitely not ideal for the learning goals I had initially set for myself. But it was, of course, Ratzon Hashem—and, when all is said and done, that is all that matters.

Our ratzon must be His ratzon: the two must merge, fuse as one-- that is the very best way to approach any day of the year. That is, in truth, the only way to approach each and every day of the year.

The Vasikin minyan Shavuos morning in the Chagall shul at Ein Kerem was filled with far fewer people than any other Shavuos Vasikin minyan I've attended in the past. But there was something quite special, exalted and sublime, about it: here was a group of people with who-even-knows what fears and worries plaguing their minds, doing their utmost to maximize their Yom Tov tefilla and his'orirus. In such an environment, a good-tasting cheesecake is the furthest thing from anyone's mind…

With about an hour left to the Yom Tov, I was on pace to complete a certain masechta in Shas that I was reviewing. And yet a strong feeling gnawed at me right after Mincha that, while I was still able to learn through the night and over Yom Tov, I hadn't really "shared" the Yom Tov inspiration with my beloved Tzaddikel. Yes, I spent time by his side in the ICU- even davened a bit with him right before the Vasikin minyan- but we hadn't tasted the sweetness of Shavuos together. Enveloped by such an inspirational Yom Tov and Matan Torah ambience, I was clearly missing the "va'yelchu shi'neihem YACHDAV"…And it really bothered me.

So I decided that it was more important to put down my gemara, to leave the end of the masechta for another time, and to head back to Tzaddikel. With an hour left to Yom Tov, there he was, lying in his incubator in the ICU, this adorable munchkin of a tzaddik with no stains at all on his ever pure and pristine soul, looking up at me with the sweetest and cutest eyes in the world… Yes, I had indeed chosen correctly-- we were going to say goodbye to this incredible Yom Tov together…

I picked up his warm, small body and embraced all of him, cradling him firmly into my chest. And then I rocked him gently back and forth. And I sang. No—we sang, father and son. "Yachdav" we looked out the window as the beautiful sun of the holy Shavuos was preparing to set, and we sang songs all about Torah. "Torah tzi'vah la'nu Moshe," "Lu'lei Sorascha," "Baruch Hu Elokeinu," "Toras Hashem Temimah"…-- whatever came to mind. A little bit of shuckling, a little bit of (a lot?) me going off key, and, yes, a bunch of tears…

The most difficult Yom Tov for me throughout the many painful years of infertility was undoubtedly Simchas Torah. You see, those who attend my shiurim know- and perhaps you even sense it from some of my writing- the greatest love of my life is Hashem's infinite Torah. There is such an overwhelmingly exhilarating experience of dancing with the Sifrei Torah as the Yamim Noraim and Succos wind to a close, conjuring an insatiable thirst to learn and know its sacred words and endless layers of meaning. I admire brilliance, treasure wisdom, and revere Torah scholars: Hashem has truly given us the greatest gift imaginable, and the more we learn, the more we grow to appreciate it and those whose very essence embodies its truths. But my simcha was always deficient, as I encircled the bimah with no child in my arms to learn with, to teach, to share the Torah's majestic beauty with…

G-d has now graciously given another most wonderful and precious gift. A gift to Klal Yisroel, one that we have come to know as Tzaddikel. So here I was, sitting and shedding tears in the pediatric ICU with my five month old son with whom I want nothing more than to learn with and teach Torah to, singing (with a tired voice, but with all that a neshama could muster) all the Torah songs that came to mind as Z'man Matan Toraseinu was coming to a close. And not knowing what the future will bring. Optimistic- yes. Constantly working on emunah and bitachon- I certainly hope so. But admittedly I sit here now as tears once again well up in my eyes- the eyes that many observers claim my son and I share- wanting NOTHING MORE IN THE WORLD than to learn Hashem's Torah with my dear son. To finish masechtos with him, perhaps journey through all of Shas together… (believe it or not, he's already been accepted to one of the best cheders in Yerushalayim—it's an interesting story for another time…), and to grow ever closer to HaKB"H as His loyal avadim- yachdav. Together. And to dance together with the awesome Torah on Simchas Torah, the time when we actively complete and thus celebrate the Torah given to us on Shavuos.

IY"H soon. Until then, I'll keep thinking back to this past Shavuos when I put down my beloved gemara whose completion was put on hold, to hold instead my little pure and untainted "Sefer Torah" that so recently came from his mother's womb having learnt all of the Torah before entering our world (Niddah 30b). I wasn't going to wait for Simchas Torah. I wanted to dance with a Sefer Torah right then and there.

And so I did. In the middle of an ICU of a hospital on the outskirts of Yerushalayim ir ha'kodesh. There I danced with all of my heart with a Sefer Torah named Tzaddikel.

We danced round and round in circles

As if the world had done no wrong

From evening until morning

Filling up the ICU with song

Though we had no sifrei torah

To gather in our arms

In their place I held a child, a tzaddikel

The Jewish people would live on

Thank you, HaKB"H, for the greatest Shavuos of my life. And thank you, all of the chashuv mispalellim for Tinok ben Aviva, for getting him where he is today and IY"H bringing him ever closer each day to a refuah shi'leima bi'soch sha'ar cholei Yisroel. We're really looking forward to Simchas Torah. Please join us in Yerushalayim.

Abie Rotenberg closes a different song on the same CD with the following words (about HaKB"H):

With but one word He can and will

Return us to our land

And how His love was always there

We then will understand

Why wait until then? Just open your dear eyes, heilig yidden, and you'll certainly see: HaKB"H never stops loving us, and incredibly and immeasurably so, for even a second. Far more than any dedicated parent could ever love a child. Let's do our best to appreciate that infinite love by doing our utmost to love, learn, and cherish His infinite Torah. And all the precious "sifrei Torah" he has endowed us with…

Thanks so much for taking the time. I was moved and inspired and wanted to share some of that inspiration. A brief medical update will be forthcoming IY"H. (But in a nutshell: Tzaddikel is now out of the ICU, B"H, but still in the hospital receiving, and also awaiting, certain treatments, and Rachamei Shamayim are still needed-- so please keep those fervent tefillos unabated.

May we only share in simchas and besoros tovos tamid.

Kol Tuv and much hakaras ha'tov, once again, for everything,

Eytan Feiner

Sunday, June 1, 2008



Thursday, May 29, 2008/ 24 IYAR (OMER 39)

Lichvod all the holy neshamos continuing to daven for the holy Tzaddikel:

Shalom vi'rav bracha, and hoping that all is well with you and yours. Our overwhelming and sincere hakaras ha'tov we extend to you, yet again, for all of your persistent thoughts, special brachos, and heartfelt tefillos on behalf of the adorable Tinok ben Aviva. Unfortunately, Klal Yisroel's Tzaddikel has been having a bit of a rough time recently. Over the last two weeks, he had been experiencing acute and intense pains for much of his waking hours, due most likely to a severe case of reflux, also exacerbating his already difficult breathing issues. De-saturations and apneas were becoming way too frequent. So we discussed things thoroughly with additional doctors from the outside, and were even taking the steps towards a possible medical transfer to the States. With the risk perhaps too great for such a transport at the present time, the issue then turned to possibly moving him to Haddasah Ein Kerem for more aggressive care and treatment.

And just then HaKB"H decided to resolve all the vacillation. No need for further debate. Tzaddikel came down with pneumonia two days ago and was taken by ambulance to the PICU, the pediatric intensive care unit at Haddasah Ein Kerem. With his breathing in quite a difficult state, terribly high fever, and an extremely fast heart-rate (don't ask…things were pretty scary), he was immediately sedated and attached to a respirator—something he hasn't needed since the first few weeks of his life. But with rachamei Shamayim right from the outset, Tzaddikel was soon stabilized and, though still attached to the respirator, is now also breathing partly on his own. The pneumonia is still there, but gradually dissipating according to the latest x-rays.

I've lost count how many different machines and IVs Tzaddikel is currently hooked up to, but the important thing is that he is in the right place- exactly where he is supposed to be right now, precisely where HaKB"H wants him, and us, to be- and is under good care, being carefully observed by an excellent staff. But most important: HaKB"H is watching him ever so closely and we just keep telling ourselves, "Ein od milvado"… There is, quite simply, none other than HaKB"H Himself who is seeing this whole thing through each and every step of the way, bringing about tremendous tikkunim, zechuyos, and unbelievable amounts of tefillos benefiting Tzaddikel, cholei Yisroel, and all others in need of yeshuos and nechamos. HaKB"H, of course, knows exactly what He's doing, and has His little cute and beloved Tzaddikel under his constant hashgacha. And, believe it or not, even with all the wires and IVs (two of them are even attached to his head…ouch), my wife keeps saying that Tzaddikel still looks irresistibly cute… And I most certainly agree. Rachamei Shamayim, with such an unfathomable and ever meticulous cheshbon, every step of the way…

Is it incredibly tough seeing him like this, heavily sedated so he doesn't rip out his respirator attachment, wires all over the place, and minimal movement? And after four and a half months of an overall, albeit slow but gradual, progress? You bet. We can't even hold him very much at all these days, and thus far his eyes have only rarely opened. But we sincerely trust that all will be truly good, and all will work out for the best. It always does.

The renowned Chazon Ish would often say that the greatest—yes, indeed, the greatest—simcha one could experience in this world is the complete 'hisbatlus' to the Borei Olam: the all encompassing 'bitul atzmi,' total subjugation of self and utter subservience to Hashem's will. Knowing full well that we are completely His and are 100% in His hands only. Am I anywhere close to that madreiga? Certainly not. Very far from it. But I do thank HaKB"H that He has graciously- though I naturally would've opted for a very different route- provided us with a situation wherein all the doctors are still in continuous agreement that Tzaddikel is a full-fledged medical mystery, confounding them almost every step of the way. (Hence, they wish to start all over with myriad tests, blood work, and a team of top doctors in various fields.) What a unique opportunity HaKB"H has given us to at least taste, ever so slightly, what it means to truly feel completely in His infinitely loving and caring Hands. There is absolutely no one or nothing to turn to but HaKB"H. We are, as always, entirely His. And it's truly an incredible feeling.

Chasdei Hashem Yisbarach. It's not easy standing uncomfortably with a Tehillim in hand having to see one's dear and beloved child in such a difficult state. But HaKB"H is right there with us. Holy kids, delicate and precious neshamos, in this PICU—the Shechina is almost tangible. And so we're back now, four and a half months later (and with a few stops along the way), to the very same hospital where my dear wife gave birth to this munchkin of a Tzaddikel. I'll never forget that way too brief minute when I held this cute little guy with big warm eyes and an intense gaze tightly in my arms for the very first time. After waiting over twelve years for such a moment. It was a long-awaited and oh so special matanah, a precious gift from Above—and one for which I will forever be grateful. IY"H, HaKB"H will give us many more of those moments, with a fully hale and healthy Tzaddikel trying to squirm his way out of my arms to continue playing outside when Ima is calling him for dinner. Or, better yet, when he is learning Torah with utmost diligence, and has forgotten all about the mundane things like dinner…can't wait.

How to ever thank all of you? I can't even begin. Won't even try. But please continue to do your utmost to daven your hearts out for this precious neshama in need of more rachamei Shamayim—bi'soch sha'ar cholei Yisroel—so that we can write only about simchas and besoros tovos. And soon bring him into 'briso shel Avraham Avinu.' He's indeed Klal Yisroel's baby, this Tzaddikel of yours—and yes, we'll certainly let you hold him too.

Allow me to close with a few words penned by a sibling of mine, words that touched my heart and I'm sure will touch yours as well:

A Plea from Tinok Ben Aviva ("Tzaddikel")

Dear Acheinu B'nei Yisroel:

Though I love being called "tzaddikel" I still yearn for a real Jewish name…

Though I am thankful for my oxygen tank, I want to breathe Hashem's air…

Though I am in a caring surrounding, I wish I could be home with my parents…

Though I have learned to smile and cry, I must learn to how to better swallow…

Though I had a beautiful shalom zachor, I anxiously await my bris…

With all of your tefilos, I have come a long way, but I still have a long way to go…

So, please, please, please, daven…

Daven together as Klal Yisroel – for all of cholei Yisroel…

While B"H I am doing a little better, other are not…

As a united tzibbur, davening for one another, Hashem listens and Hashem answers…

He is our Father, and we are his children…

And I know from my parents how much a parent wants and needs to see his child properly grow as part of Klal Yisroel…

Much thanks again, on behalf of my wife and myself, for all of your admirable and continuous efforts for Tzaddikel's speedy and full recovery. Looking forward to henceforth sharing only great news—regarding all the holy neshamos of Klal Yisroel—and to maximizing together these remaining few days before the auspicious Z'man Matan Toraseinu. Ki'ish echad bi'lev echad.

Wishing you, mei'omek ha'lev, only Kol Tuv always and much hatzlacha in all areas of life,

Eytan Feiner

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tinok ben Aviva's Temporary Home

Click here.

UPDATE: From Rabbi Eytan Feiner


Post Pesach Update…

Early Monday morning, 7 Iyar (Omer 22)/ May 12, 2008

Lichvod all the chashuv mispallelim on behalf of Tzaddikel:

Shalom U'vracha, and hoping that all is well with you and yours. Hoping, as well, that your Pesach was uplifting, meaningful, and most enjoyable. Once again, I can't help but make early mention of the tremendous hakaras ha'tov extended to you for all of your continued tefillos and zechuyos. Whether Tzaddikel is having a great week or not, your tefillos are doing incredible things-- for him, for cholei Yisroel, for all the Jewish people…though, at times, in ways we cannot readily see. How can one not continuously be forever grateful to HaKB"H for the zechus of being a yid…Cherish the zechus always. Especially as we gradually approach the z'man of Matan Toraseinu. I'd love to elaborate, but now is simply not the time…

To quickly catch you up to date: Tzaddikel's breathing hadn't stabilized sufficiently to move him to the Alyn Rehabilitative Hospital before Pesach as hoped, but we were, B"H, able to move him soon after the conclusion of Yom Tov. Not easy saying goodbye to so many of the dedicated and caring staff at Haddasah Har HaTzofim, but HaKB"H had clearly decided that Alyn was now the best place for him.

One quick "interesting" tidbit is called for here, something we only found out about during Chol Ha'moed: Tzaddikel had been having difficulty from the start keeping his milk down in his stomach. To help weigh the milk down, the doctors at Haddasah decided early on to add corn meal to all his milk intake. While having been taking the corn meal for almost two months, on Erev Pesach- right around 10:00am (z'man bi'ur chameitz) as the doctors began their morning rounds- for no specific reason, the non-religious doctors decided that the corn meal probably wasn't helping so much anyway so why not just stop giving it to him…corn meal, by the way, is "kitniyos," legumes, that which Ashkenazim refrain from eating over Pesach…And for no apparent reason, the doctors, on Erev Pesach, simply decided to remove it for good from his diet…(And all this is happening against a Pesach backdrop of Moshe Rabbeinu refusing to nurse from an Egyptian's milk…) Our Tatty in Heaven never ceases to amaze us.

It took some time for Tzaddikel to get acclimated to his new surroundings, new voices, new faces…got us (and the doctors) a bit worried the first few days as he seemed atypically wiped out. He gradually regained his alertness, and after over three months since his birth, was finally able to look out a window at Alyn and behold HaKB"H's beautiful world and the hills of Yerushalayim for the very first time. He seemed in awe…but we're still not yet allowed to take him outside for his first taste of fresh air… hopefully soon as he turns four months old in just a few days.

This adorable munchkin of a tzaddikel, bliay"h (it's getting more and more difficult to say good-night and have to head home…) continues to intrigue us. There is a television in the pediatric respiratory room at Alyn that is turned on quite frequently for the children to watch- for stimulation, to keep them busy, etc. Except for one very brief glance in its direction (and I could be wrong even with that), I have never seen Tzaddikel look at the T.V. screen even when he is fully alert. He seems to have no interest in it whatsoever (unless, of course, he's just waiting for his Tatty to leave the room…), though his attention is often triggered by other devices emitting a bright light. Added to this is the story of a non-religious therapist who remarked to my wife that Tzaddikel only seemed to look in her direction during therapy sessions when she was dressed in a more modest attire… Who is this Klal Yisroel baby??

It was time to get him a birth certificate. Though the bris has, unfortunately, not yet taken place and he therefore has not yet been given his future "real" name, we were told there was no problem at all writing in his real name to procure the necessary official documents. I was in line at the Misrad HaP'nim here in Yerushalayim hoping to be out in time to deliver a gemara shiur a little while later. B"H the line moved fairly quickly (miracles do sometimes occur there), and I soon sat myself across from a somewhat dispassionate clerk who seemed in no particular rush to speed my journey along. A minute later, someone approached with a claim that his earlier number had been skipped over, and he was therefore entitled to my place. I had no problem with that- I waited long enough, what's another few minutes…- and then took a seat across from another clerk soon after. This new clerk, interestingly enough, informed me that she herself waited for her first child for over ten years…needless to say, she delightfully took care of things with utmost alacrity—and a big friendly smile…I guess if there's one woman in the world (besides my wife, of course) who got to know Tzaddikel's future real name before anyone else, it's nice to know it's someone who underwent such a nisayon as well…

Interesting things happening, yes… but, unfortunately, Tzaddikel's breathing has not been that great as of late. Last night, in fact, was a pretty scary one (don't ask…), and compelled the doctors to have blood tests and x-rays performed. The results from all the recent tests? Things seem to be generally fine, B"H. So what then is going on? Well, they're not 100% sure, but Tzaddikel's lack of consistent swallow is certainly causing some difficulties with his breathing. He's been receiving speech and physical therapy (with occasional OT) and, Bi'ezras Hashem, that will help expedite the healing process.

But it really all comes down to the koach ha'tefilla (along with additional zechuyos). HaKB"H continues to demonstrate, day after day, that He alone is running this show—as He always does. And with abundant rachamim. One just has to keep his eyes always open. It's now almost four months in hospitals, and the head doctor just recently informed us that he doesn't realistically see how a bris could take place relatively soon—too risky regarding Tzaddikel's breathing issues to allow for a bris right now, and too risky, he feels, to allow him brought home, even with a full time nurse in tow. So our not-very-normal daily routines (a decent night sleep is by now somewhat of a foreign concept) will apparently have to continue for now. But what is "normal" anyway? B"H we have no doubts that HaKB"H, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, knows exactly what He's doing every step of the way, and, though admittedly not always easy to accept with true simcha, Tzaddikel is, unquestionably, precisely where he is supposed to be right now. HaKB"H is watching ever so closely over him-- along with all other cholei Yisroel.

In light of some recent breathing scares (and some other issues), we ask you special neshamos to please continue pouring your hearts out in meaningful tefillos to help bring this Tzaddikel of the Klal to a speedy recovery in all areas. To help bring him- AND ALL CHOLEI YISROEL- to their respective loving and caring homes, healthy and happy, in the very near future.

Granted, this update turned out to be not so brief after all- my apologies for the length. And I've also got to try getting a bit of sleep tonight. But much thanks again for all the incredible hishtadlus, the many tefillos and myriad zechuyos—you're all truly amazing people and special yidden. Never give up for a second constantly hoping and davening for complete yeshuos and nechamos for everyone. HaKB"H is ALWAYS listening, loving each and every one of us more than we could ever imagine, treasuring every precious word that escapes our lips, every precious tear that rolls slowly down our cheeks. Allow time to let the holy words of Dovid ha'melech's Tehillim pour forth as often as possible. Talk to HaKB"H constantly throughout the day, every day. He is kulo tov, and administers only kol tuv always. Believe it with everything you've got and trust Him wholeheartedly to run the show the way He sees fit.

May He answer all of your precious tefillos bi'karov, and may the ultimate geu'la come speedily in our days.

Best wishes for a great week ahead, and much bracha, hatzlacha, and siyata dishmaya in all areas.

With overwhelming hakaras ha'tov,

Eytan Feiner

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pesach Update: From Rabbi Eytan Feiner


Sun. morning, Nissan 8/April 13

Lichvod all the chashuv mispallelim on behalf of Tinok ben Aviva:

Shalom U'vracha, A Gut Voch, and hoping all is well with all of you—and, of course, with all your Pesach preparations. My apologies for the lengthy hiatus since the previous update but, as you can imagine, things have been extremely hectic these last few weeks. In short, indeed it's been a roller coaster journey with several ups and downs, quite a scary breathing incident two weeks ago, and then B"H a few steps forward…

Naturally, with our son still in the hospital, we had to recently cancel our Pesach plans of joining the Gateways program in Connecticut for Pesach again this year. For those of you who will be there, we will certainly miss you. (Where exactly we will be spending Pesach is still up in the air.) After three months in the NICU at Haddasah Har HaTzofim, we are currently in the process of trying to move Tzaddikel to Alyn, a rehabilitative center in Bayit Vagan, where he can receive far more attention in expediting his swallow and suck reflexes and improving his muscle tone. They devise a thorough program entailing various therapies that would, IY"H, benefit him and help move him in the right direction. In order to get him there, however, and due to recent breathing difficulties, this morning he had to undergo a minor surgery and is currently recovering from the general anesthesia. Allow me to just add that the last two incidents (one a cause for very real concern), were both cases in which, once again, the doctors had no idea what caused them, what precisely they entailed, and how he recovered from them relatively soon afterward B"H. They performed x-rays, ultrasounds, EEG's, blood tests, etc., and were unable to come up with any real explanation… As they like to say, this child just continues to be one big medical mystery… (Parenthetically, our son's mohel, who is also a chashuv Rav and posek, is waiting for more stability in Tzaddikel's breathing before deciding to perform the bris.)

But this is not why I have decided to write this morning. In truth, I did not sit down now- and with a lot on my schedule today- to talk at length about Tzaddikel. Just before heading to the hospital for this morning's surgery, we were notified of the incredibly tragic news of the untimely petiros of the Rabbi and Rebbetzin of the Y. I. of Scarsdale, the parents of one of my wife's former students. No need to go into details-- a tragedy way beyond description… I must tell you that my wife and I simply could not stop thinking about the horrific news- even throughout our son's surgery and the accompanying Tehillim- and that is what has compelled me to just share some feelings with you, feelings that are likely bandying about your hearts and minds as well. Let me just preface that the following is not for a speech, a schmooze, etc.—just a few simple words from the depths of a simple heart being addressed to its owner, along with any others interested in lending an ear…

It is upon hearing of such news that we must constantly do our utmost to be "no'sei bi'ol im chaveiro," of trying to sincerely and wholeheartedly feel another's pain-- no matter the circumstances. To REALLY feel and to REALLY react. It's definitely an avodah. But Klal Yisroel is an unbelievable Klal endowed with tremendous kochos to care for another like caring for oneself- mamash. We must do our very best in that regard, while also taking out the time, significant time, from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, to make real changes (however small), to constantly grow (growth can only come through change) in our Yiddishkeit, and to cherish every single waking moment of our precious, all too short lives. In just our three months in the NICU, three babies in our ward have already sadly passed away (one Jewish, two Arab), with another Jewish baby, that of a couple whom we have befriended, in a very precarious situation. It is not an easy thing to witness, not an easy place to be in so many hours of the day…

But HaKB"H has His cheshbonos, and we must believe, bi'kol ha'lev, that in Hashem's masterplan, in the much larger scheme of things, it is all li'tov. Kulo li'tov. Period. And in a nutshell: Ein od milvado. Ein od milvado. Never let a Shemonei Esrei go by without ingraining within oneself that timeless truth. Say it over constantly throughout the day and try your utmost to really live it, to breathe it. Cherish everything you've been given. Don't take anything for granted. Know that HaKB"H loves each and every one of us more than we could ever fathom. Love Him back with all you've got and love every sweet drop of His precious and infinite Torah. And be makir tov continuously for that limitless ahavah and unparalleled chessed. And continue davening and wishing ONLY good for ALL others. Help get rid of all the ridiculous amounts of ayin hara out there and help others to the best of your ability.

Yes, I know, no chiddushim here. Just the obvious—but this morning it really hurts and I felt that I just had to share. The horrific tragedies and subsequent tears in our Klal keep flowing unabated, and we've all got to really keep doing our best to bring an end to it all and help foster the geula bi'karov. This tekufa of miracles began as we witnessed the unimaginable tragedy at Mercaz Harav. Let's never forget those holy neshamos and precious b'nei Torah, and let's keep davening for only yeshuos and nechamos for each and every yid, and the ribui ki'vod shamayim that only the miraculous geula ha'asida will bring about…

Much thanks for your time, and of course for all of your incredible continued special tefillos for Tinok ben Aviva bas Chana bi'soch sha'ar cholei Yisroel. Wishing you all an uplifting, meaningful, and enjoyable Pesach. May we only share besoros tovos tamid.

Chag Kasher Vi'sameach and only Kol Tuv always,

Eytan Feiner

Friday, March 14, 2008

UPDATE: From Rabbi Eytan Feiner!!!

LATEST UPDATE… (#3)Erev Shabbos Kodesh, Parshas Vayikra/ZachorMarch 14, '08

Shalom U'vracha to all the chashuv mispallelim on behalf of Tzaddikel: Hoping this letter finds you all well. Once again, our hakaras ha'tov to all of you is limitless, as we hear continuously of all the heartfelt tefillos and remarkable zechuyos that are taking place in the zechus of Tinok ben Aviva's refuah shi'leima. A tremendous yasher koach for your wonderful efforts, and may HaKB"H send you only simcha, bracha, and hatzlacha in all inyanim.

Without further delay, allow me to just tell you that, B"H, your tefillos are doing incredible things. Mamash incredible things. Chasdei Hashem Yisbarach... We should never underestimate the power of sincere tefilla and the power of Klal Yisroel joining together… Tzaddikel's health is gradually improving and recent tests showed great results. I simply can't go into the medical details here, but I do hope to share some of the nissim and nifla'os that we have been witnessing at a later date—perhaps at his bris, IY"H, which we hope will take place sometime in the near future. (I guess you'll all just have to attend somehow…) The three main doctors involved in our case, are, well, just to borrow their own terminology, "completely bewildered." They are now 'officially' calling tzaddikel's case a "medical mystery"—let me just add that tzaddikel is no longer taking any medication for a metabolic condition…bliay"h—and they have nothing really to say except that they realize fully that G-d is 100% running the show… To quote the neurologist involved, "I don't know what they're doing, but tell all your friends to keep doing whatever they're doing, because it's working…and I'm completely astounded by what I'm now seeing…" A therapist who works with him has told us that she would not be surprised if he became religious because of Tinok ben Aviva… And yet there are still essential functions that must be exhibited before we can even think about bringing tzaddikel home. He needs to learn, for example, to suck (and gag) and swallow… His lack of swallow also causes issues with his breathing (and de-saturations), and we must therefore humbly ask of you to continue all your special tefillos just as strong as before. An excellent therapist is involved who will also try to work on improving his overall muscle tone, and with rachamei Shamayim hopefully continuing, we will bi'ezras Hashem see only good results. Klal Yisroel is truly unbelievable. We can indeed accomplish great things together, so let's keep doing our utmost to help bring a refuah shi'leima to Tinok ben Aviva and to ALL OF CHOLEI YISROEL bi'karov. Let's push ourselves to keep maximizing our enormous spiritual potential- especially as Purim and the z'man ha'geula approaches- and let's help bring endless yeshuos and nechamos to all of the Jewish People. May HaKB"H shower us all with continued rachamim and may we be zocheh to share only besoros tovos always. Best wishes for a meaningful, relaxing, and enjoyable Shabbos Kodesh up ahead.With immense gratitude to you all,

Eytan Feiner

Thursday, February 21, 2008

AUDIO of Rabbi Eytan Feiner at Sharfman's

A continued thank you to our readers...Someone just emailed us with a link to listen to the shuir by Rabbi Eytan Feiner that he recently gave at Sharfman's. Click here and receive chizuk from his words!!!

UPDATE: If you can't listen to the shuir with the above link please try this link.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mailbag Time: Chizuk from Redondo Beach, CA

Since it's a mitzvah to publicize a miracle, then I'm obligated to tell how Tinok ben Aviva was directly responsible for a revelation of Hashem this past Shabbos, at our shul, the J.C.C. Chabad in Redondo Beach, California. Whenever I have tried to tell it, it always seems to come out as a "I guess you had to be there..." type of story, and so I hope Hashem will help me to give it over so that a reader will get some of the "juice" that I get just remembering it.

A couple of weeks ago, I paid a visit to one of several blogs I visit regularly, Yeranan Yaakov. His new post was entitled, "Pray for Tinok ben Aviva". Besides referencing another blog, "Modern Uberdox" as the source of his post, he also linked to Elchanan Shoff's wonderful article. I have to confess, I only glanced over the article briefly, but I added Tinok's name to my list of regular "mishabeirachs" for Mondays, Thursdays, and other Torah reading days.

Fast forward to this past Shabbos Tetzaveh. A good friend of mine has a family from out of town staying at his home for Shabbos. Aside from one of the sons, Matthew, who's visited our community once before I'd never met any of them before. After the Torah reading, the Rabbi started making the call for "Mishebeirachs - first for men, please." When my turn came, I called out, "Tinok ben Aviva" and after he repeated it, I turned around for a second, and I saw that my friend was having a somewhat serious discussion with two of his guests, the father and the son, Matthew. What was a little disturbing was that they kept looking at me with something like surprise on their faces, and seemed to be talking about me. I couldn't help but wonder what was up as I saw the son, break away from the discussion and start making his way up to me. At that point the Rabbis finished his bracha for the men, and made the call for, "Mishabeirachs - for women now, please" so i turned around to submit the two names who are always on my women's list. When I turned around again, Matthew had caught up to me, and asked me, "What connection do you have to Tinok ben Aviva? How did you know that name?" I told him about how the call to pray for this child was posted on this blog i regularly visit, and that although I didn't really know the full story, Baruch Hashem, I'm a father, and for that reason alone, I can sympathize with the parents of a sick child, so I was happy to take on adding his name to my prayers. Before I could ask him "why do you ask?" he was already into, "because Tinok ben Aviva... his family... that's my cousin! When my father heard someone call out that name, it made him jump. Who out here in Redondo beach would possibly be asking about Tinok ben Aviva? Thank you so much for doing that, that is so kind..."

At this point, we started to look at each other with that Yirat Hashem look on our faces, as it settled in that Hashem was "drawing back the curtain just a little extra" and revealing Himself to us, just a little more. The obvious precision coordination of events over a span of months that brought all of us together at that one moment, just to reveal Him ... wow, and I mean WOW. I barely made it back to my spot, I was so dizzy trying to process the Hasgacha Pratis that just happened, but when I did, something wonderful clicked with me. My "fear" aspect of the experience was replaced by an overwhelming sense of joy, and, I had to do everything to restrain myself from laughing and dancing right there. I was so overflowing that I went to the back of the room and spent the rest of the service pacing back and forth as i davened to keep myself in check. This little tzadik whom I had never met, was the catalyst that brought these four Jews to revealing Hashem.

It's a bittersweet feeling to somehow have merited a part in this story. As i thought about the events from this past Shabbos, I told Hashem that if I did anything of any merit that resulted in your being just a tiny bit more revealed in this world, while I don't think that I have anything coming to me, I can imagine you "rewarding" me in some way. I imagined a conversation which really was more like a prayer, "Hashem, the only reward I want is that You reveal Yourself even more, and give that boy a refuah shlaima. You want to reward me? I will accept an invitation to dance at his Chasoner in a few years, if you insist on giving me something.

I apologize for the ramble of this letter, and I sincerely hope that I have been able to give some measure of comfort or chizuk. My greatest hope is that by my publicizing what Hashem did this past Shabbos, that the little shliach who was catalyst for the whole series of events will have achieved whatever it was that he needed to be sick for, and begin down the road to a long, full, healthy life full of simcha and bracha and nachas, for him, his parents, and everyone else his life touches.

Rabbi Feiner: Emunah and Bitachon Speech

Thanks to a reader for sending us this link of a speech given by Rabbi Eytan Feiner at Bnot Torah Institute that wowed the audience!

Tinok ben Aviva Update from R. Feiner!


YET ANOTHER BRIEF UPDATE…(early morning in Eretz Yisroel, 12 Adar I, Feb. 18) First and foremost, my wife and I feel an overwhelming sense of hakaras ha'tov to each and every one of you who continue to daven so intensely and continue to be marbeh zechuyos for the refuah shi'leima of Klal Yisroel's adorable little tzaddikel. A tremendous Yasher Koach is extended to you all- mei'omek ha'lev. Thank you so very much. To quickly update all the chashuv mispallelim, tzaddikel is now continuing to breathe on his own, and his breathing is B"H slowly, but gradually, improving. He can be held (and bathed- he really loves baths…) outside the incubator for a nice duration of time without decreases in his saturation level. He has also been steadily gaining weight and is now at approximately 6.5 pounds. We have recently had some very positive news: He has started to cough periodically, thus demonstrating a gag reflex not previously seen. Even more importantly, we have- as he just passed his 'first month' birthday- heard him cry, ever so slightly, for the first time. Can you imagine—almost five weeks old now, and we are davening to hear him cry…and B"H he has begun to emit short bursts of crying…his vocal chords are working… Chasdei Hashem. Certain essential reflexes and other important areas are still in need of rachamei Shamayim, so please maintain your incredible dedication and outpouring of precious tefillos. They are all so very much appreciated, and have truly accomplished a great deal thus far. May we only share in constant and overflowing besoros tovos for all of Klal Yisroel. Wishing you all only Kol Tuv always and thanking you once again for everything,