Link Kollel in LA hosts speakers from around the world

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The Los Angeles Intercommunity Kollel (LINK) recently hosted four major speakers: Rabbi Shalom Tendler from LA, Rabbi Chaim Halpern from France, and Rabbis Shmuel Brazil and Yonasan Rosenblum from Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbi Tendler, Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta Birchas Yitzchok, was the speaker in LINK’s monthly pre-Maariv guest slot. He gave a masterful presentation of the power of tefilla, especially vis a vis defending ourselves against Yishmael. He explained how the notion of “keshes” (bow) and “chaitz” (arrow) represent tefilla and tachanunim {supplications) throughout several examples from Tanach and how Yshmael is identified with keshes (in contradistinction to Esav, who is symbolized by the cherev {sword}). Only when the thrust of our arrows are imbued with complete trust in HaShem can we defeat the missiles of Yshmael.

Rav Chaim Halpern has lived an extraordinary life of over 100 years (bli ayin hora – ad meah v’esrim} dedicated to HaShem and his Torah. He shared some of the glory of the pre-war Gedolim that he was privileged to interact with, during his talk at LINK on Thursday nite and in a Shabbos morning drasha. Having learned from both Litvishe and Chassdishe Gedolim and then surviving a harrowing 5 years in the tortuous death camps of the Nazis ym’”s, he moved to France where he re-established the famed Novardok Yeshivas in a network of 40 schools and 6,000 talmiddim. He passionately implored his audience to make themselves into a Mishkan in order to separate themselves from the deleterious influences of the ambient secular milieu and to be able to transmit the purity of the Torah to our children. His warmth and spiritual charisma were exuded with every heartfelt word and gesture.

The very next day (Feb. 9), LINK hosted a special musical kumsitz with Rav Shmuel Brazil, Rosh Yeshiva of Zeev HaTorah in Jerusalem and long-time Maggid shiur at Yeshivas Sh’or Yashuv in Far Rockaway. The evening was arranged by Rabbi Elchanan Shoff, LINK’s Associate Rosh Kollel, who worked under Rabbi Brazil until last year at his Yeshiva. Rabbi Brazil’s warmth, both in his Divrei Torah and his heartfelt music, deeply moved the many attendees.

Finally, on the Shabbos of Parshas Ki Sisa (Feb. 14-15), LINK hosted well-known columnist and author Rabbi Yonasan Rosenblum for an enlightening Shabbaton. On Fri. nite, he spoke about the challenges of raising happy children. H stressed the importance of encouraging each child to develop their unique kochos and striving to do their best rather than just getting the best grades. He also addressed the unique challenges of BT parents trying to raise FFB children. On Shabbos morning, he continued the theme, this time focusing on the unique challenges of teenagers and their tendencies to rebel. He stressed the importance of always showing our love for our children regardless of their external behavior and flirtations with unconventional norms.

Before Mincha, he tackled the present situation in Eretz Yisrael including the conflict between the religious and secular communities. He concluded on an optimistic note, saying that it was still healthier to raise Torah families in Israel than in chutz la’aretz. Finally at Shalosh Seudos, he reflected on his experiences in writing biographies of Gedolim and leading laymen. He posited the notion that HaShem provided exactly the right leader for the tzibur in every generation, noting that no two Gedolim are the same. He also spoke about uniqueness of lay leaders who rose to the occasion to take on projects and leadership for Klal Yisrael as a result of the unique circumstances of their lives.

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Photo credit: Yosef Ober