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Yitro 5769

Yitro (Exodus 18-20 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! With heartfelt sorrow I inform you of the passing of Rabbi Noah Weinberg, founder and leader of Aish HaTorah. To many of my readers, particularly those who receive the fax edition of Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Weinberg and even Aish HaTorah, may be relatively unknown.

Rabbi Weinberg has been called the father of the modern Ba'al Teshuva Movement - the movement of return to Torah values and way of life. He founded 5 organizations including Ohr Somayach and Aish HaTorah. Aish has over 100,000 students in its classes in 30 branches on 5 continents. Over 2 million people visit each month and 240,000 are subscribed to our emails. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions have been directly or indirectly impacted by Reb Noah.

These words by my colleague at do much to share his essence: "Rabbi Weinberg was a Jewish leader and visionary par excellence. Every fiber of his being was animated by the reality of the Almighty and the truth of Torah. He lived with the awareness of God - His infinite love and awesomeness - and the power of Torah to instruct us on how to live a most meaningful life.

"Rabbi Weinberg passionately believed in the greatness of every human being, because God Himself testified to the inherent greatness in every human being. He exuded love and concern for every Jew, and was a beloved father to thousands.

"Rabbi Weinberg dedicated his life to bringing a renaissance within Jewish people, to reach out to every Jew and reconnect him to the depth and meaning of our heritage. The Jewish people are meant to be a light unto nations; Rabbi Weinberg undertook the task to galvanize the Jewish people and inspire us to live up to our mission and be a Kiddush HaShem - to sanctify God's Name in this world."

I was privileged to meet Reb Noah May 5, 1973. He was a man with a twinkle in his eye, love in his heart, humility - and a total commitment to the Almighty and the Jewish people. Reb Noah had unconditional love for every human being. He saw the Divine Spark and the greatness in each of us.

His genius was encouraging others to fulfill their potential and find their way to help the Jewish people. He was a one-man cheering squad of love and encouragement. In the 36 years I knew him, he only has positive uplifting words. He'd greet me with a huge smile, "My Kalman" or "Tachsheet" (My jewel) or "Neshamala" (my precious soul). Everyone felt they were his most beloved student, (though I knew the truth - it was really me).

Reb Noah had patience and sensitivity to others. One time I was meeting with him in his office. We were interrupted three times by three different excited student who wanted to share the good news - "Rebbie, did you hear that Shmuel is engaged?" And each time Reb Noah said, "Wow! That's wonderful. Thank you so much for telling me!" How many of us would be upset at the intrusion or say, "I already heard"?

Reb Noah had a great sense of humor and a long white beard. One time when he was walking across Grand Central Station, a little kid turned to his mother and said, "Look Mommy! Santa Claus." Reb Noah turned and smiled at the child and said, "Ho Ho Ho."

He never criticized or got angry. One of my colleagues once asked Reb Noah, "Don't you get impatient that I need to hear the same messages over and over?" Reb Noah laughed. "No! It's fun; it's like a video game; you keep trying and trying. You're great and I just need to figure out the trick to help you see that."

He gave insights and suggestions when asked. And he got results! His students have created either within Aish or on their own a worldwide movement of Jewish renewal. There are over 300 Jewish outreach organizations created by people inspired by him and encouraged by his showing that outreach can succeed.

Thank you is what you say to someone who holds the door open for you. What do you say to the person who has helped you find the purpose and meaning in your life? With every breath, with every effort, with every accomplishment - I know that it is because of you, Reb Noah - and my gratitude is eternal.

For more on "Remembering Rabbi Noah Weinberg" go to!

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Torah Portion of the Week

This is the Torah portion containing the giving of the Ten Commandments. Did you know that there are differences in the Ten Commandments as stated here (Exodus 20:1 -14) and related later in Deuteronomy 5:6 - 18? (Suggestion: have your children find the differences as a game at the Shabbat table during dinner).

Moses' father-in-law, Jethro (Yitro or Yisro in the Hebrew) joins the Jewish people in the desert, advises Moses on the best way to serve and judge the people - by appointing a hierarchy of intermediaries - and then returns home to Midian. The Ten Commandments are given, the first two were heard directly from God by every Jew and then the people begged Moses to be their intermediary for the remaining eight because the experience was too intense.

The portion concludes with the Almighty telling Moses to instruct the Jewish people not to make any images of God. They were then commanded to make an earthen altar; and eventually to make a stone altar, but without the use of a sword or metal tool.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And Moshe said to his father-in-law, the people come to me to seek the Almighty" (Exodus 18:15).

Moshe had arranged for the people to come to him when they had questions. The prophet Shmuel, on the other hand, went to the people to deal with their needs. What can we learn from Shmuel about coming close to the Almighty?

Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz comments that one's closeness to the Almighty is dependent upon one's love for other people. Shmuel's going to the people showed that he had great love and concern for them.

Where did Shmuel get this great love other people? The Midrash says that the garment that his mother made for him when he was a child was with him his entire life. This garment, say Rabbi Shmuelevitz, was made with the profound love his mother had for him. This love became such a part of Shmuel that it manifested itself in his entire way of dealing with other people.

The love a mother shows her infants and young children by getting up in the middle of the night to take care of them implants in them a deep feeling of being loved. When such a child grows older he will have love for others. Any small thing a parent does with love for his children will pay off great dividends. The greater the child becomes the more many people will benefit from that love.

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Jerusalem 4:49
Guatemala 5:48 - Hong Kong 5:52 - Honolulu 6:01
J'Burg 6:34 - London 4:53 - Los Angeles 5:17
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New York 5:10 - Singapore 7:03 - Toronto 5:26


You have to know what
you are living for...
or you're a walking tree.
-- Rabbi Noah Weinberg

In Loving Memory of

Rabbi Noah Weinberg
Yisroel Noach ben
Yitzchak Mattisiyahu

beloved teacher, rebbie, friend

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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Copyright Rabbi Kalman Packouz 2008

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