It’s been a busy two weeks at the LINK Kollel in Los Angeles. From December 24th through January 5th, the Kollel hosted two special learning programs for Legal Holidays, plus three additional guest speakers.
On “Nittel Nacht” (December 24th) LINK presented a fascinating shiur by Rav Eliezer Gross, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivah Gedolah of LA, and an acknowledged authority on Jewish history. His topic was the Vikuach of the Ramban with the Catholic Church in Spain in the year 1263 (also known as the Disputation). Rabbi Gross gave a masterful overview of the historical context within which the church challenged the Ramban on the veracity of the Torah’s beliefs vis-a-vis Christianity and their “proofs” to their belief in their messiah. He also contrasted the Moslem’s benign relationship with the Jews in Spain with the virulent hatred of the Christians after they defeated the Moslems. He explained unique theological hostility of Christianity to Judaism through the lenses of the Vekuach.
The next morning, LINK held its popular Legal Holiday “Yeshiva For A Day” program, featuring its new Assistant Rosh Kollel, Rabbi Elchanan Shoff. The topics, appropriately enough, were two aspects of Christian theology which are the subject of much discussion in the Rishonim and Acharonim: Is the concept of the “trinity” considered Avodah Zorah for a Non-Jew under the Noachide Laws (forbidding the belief in more than one G-d) and does the Christian belief of “G-d becoming human” likewise violate the Noachide laws in relation to Hashem’s non-corporeal nature. The many people who took advantage of their day off studied the sources in the original with the help of the Kollel Rabbis in preparation for Rabbi Shoff’s very enlightening shiur.
On Sunday evening, December 29th, a founding avreich at LINK, Rabbi Gidon Shoshan, returned for a guest shiur. Since 2004, Rabbi Shoshan has been the Mashgiach Ruchani at Yeshivas Darchei Noam/Shapels in Jerusalem. His topic was the concept of time in Torah thought. Many in the crowd were alumni of Shapels, eager to hear Divrei Torah from their Rebbe. Following a profound hashkafic analysis of how some events in the Torah transcend the physical dimensions of time, he then offered words of Mussar on the importance of not wasting time.
On the Legal Holiday of January 1st, LINK had the special privileged of hearing from Rav Dovid Revah, the Rav of Cong. Adas Torah and the Second Seder Rebbe at Yeshiva Gedolah’s Beis Medrash program. The topic was Mesira in halcha. Under what circumstance, if any, may a Jew inform the civil authorities about the malfeasance of another Jew, financial or otherwise. Once again, the Kollel Rabbis studied the sources from Shas and Poskim with the many attendees in preparation for the shiur. Rabbi Revah discussed specific cases of whether a Jew may work as an auditor for the IRS as well as more general cases of a Jew revealing such information to the secular authorities.
Finally, on Sunday January 5th , LINK had the distinct honor of hearing from its beloved former Rosh Kollel (2005-2010), Rabbi Mordechai Lebhar. Rabbi Lebhar, who is now the Rosh Kollel of Kollel Yismach Moshe in Toronto, was in LA to headline a Shabbaton at Cong. Magen David, led by Rabbi Ariel Ovadia, who has been a member of the LINK Kollel since 2007. His topic was “Gambling in Halacha”. Amongst the many subjects that he covered (besides the standard “Las Vegas” type of gambling) were the issues of buying lottery tickets and playing the stock market. He buttressed his presentation with numerous citations from Gemaras and Poskim.
The LINK Kollel, founded by Rabbi Asher Brander in 2002, is in its 12th year of service to the Greater LA community, and offers more than 50 weekly classes and dozens of one-on-one chavrusa tutorials for Jews of all backgrounds.
Photo credit: Yosef Ober