During the week of Parshas Vayaishev, the LINK Kollel in Los Angeles had the special gift of hosting Rabbi Dovid Kupinsky, brother of Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky Hy”d, one of the four Kedoshim that were recently murdered in a Har Nof shul. Rabbi Kupinsky is a Rav in Nokdim in East Gush Etzion and he undertook to travel to America to speak about his late brother and to offer some perspective on the terrible tragedy that befell Klal Yisroel. On just a few hours’ notice, approximately 75 people packed into the LINK Bais Medrash to hear his moving words.
Rabbi Kupinsky started by delineating all the hashgacha that determined who would be at the 6:30am minyan on that fateful morning. He gave several examples of regulars who for whatever reason were not at the minyan and yet several others who normally daven elsewhere who were. His point was that there was a clear hashgacha that determined that those that were killed or wounded were from the “choicest offering” of Klal Yisroel and that Hashem clearly chose them to be a kaparah for the rest of the tzibur.
In particular, he recounted how his brother Reb Aryeh was a “Gaon in Chessed”. After the tragic loss of his 13 year old daughter O”H, Reb Aryeh founded a gemach to deliver freezers to families who were making simchas. He would schlep the heavy freezers up and down the very hilly terrain of Har Nof, insisting that he personally deliver and pick up each freezer. He would daven naitz every Shabbos morning so he could go from shul to shul to help set up the various Kiddushim that different families were hosting. He also gave out various candies and treats to children with special wrappings so that they should have his late daughter’s name in mind when they make the bracha.
Rabbi Kupinsky concluded that the aim of the terrorists was to destroy our connection to HaKodosh Baruch Hu. He cited the eyewitness reports that the terrorists waited specifically for their victims to be in the middle of their silent Shemoneh Esrei- the most sublime moment of Divine connection- before perpetrating their dastardly deeds. In effect, they were saying that a Jew clad in Tallis and Tefillin in the middle of his most intense connection with Hashem is completely helpless (G-d forbid).
Our response must be to strengthen our connection to kedusha, our deveikus to Hashem and our overall emunah in Hashem’s hashgacha over Klal Yisroel. Ultimately, when we do that, the gentile nations will recognize Klal Yisroel’s’ rightful place in the world and will turn to observe the seven Noachide laws and Klal Yisroel will reside in safety and security in Eretz Yisrael with the advent of Moshiach.
A few days later, the LINK Kollel hosted a luncheon with the renowned speaker and spiritual mentor, Rabbi Moshe Weinberger of Cong. Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, Long Island. Rabbi Weinberger’s appearance was arranged in conjunction with the annual West coast Convention of the Orthodox Union. Over 100 people came to hear his stirring address on “Meeting the Challenges of Chinuch in the 21st Century”.
Rabbi Weinberger is known for his rare ability to translate profound Chassidic ideas into contemporary idiom for Jews of many different backgrounds. He identified the major challenge that we face today being how to protect our children from an all-pervasive corrosive, decedent, and profane secular culture that has found a way through the internet, smart phones, etc. to penetrate even the most impermeable walls of kedusha in our homes and schools.
Invoking the paradigm of the Al HaNisim tefilla (“the many into the hands of the few, the strong into the hands of the weak, the profane into the hands of the pure”,) and quoting classical Chassidic sources, he delineated a clear approach to combating this seemingly insurmountable problem. First, he stressed the importance of instilling a sense of kedusha in our children and making them aware of the dangers of the spiritual toxins in the air all around us. This also entails a concerted effort on the part of the parents to – as much as possible – shield our children from the onslaught of secular culture in all of its technological manifestations.
He next addressed the imperative to spend quality and quantity time with our children. Whereas in previous generations, the challenge was often finding the financial means to provide a Torah education, the obstacle today is more often than not the parents’ inability to carve out sacred space in their hectic schedules to not only learn with their children but to speak to them about emunah and connecting to Hashem. Just “being there” for our children when they can feel free to open up to us and express their vulnerabilities, is so critical.
Lastly, he stressed the importance of tefilla, especially the inimitable and invaluable tears of a Jewish mother. We need to feel a tremendous sense of investment in our children’s spiritual success. He recounted several stories of Chassidic masters who stressed the indispensable component of a mother’s copious prayers for her children’s success in Torah an Avodas Hashem.
Rabbi Weinberger then proceeded to answer a variety of questions from his audience who hung onto every word until it was time for him to leave for his next presentation.