The LINK Kollel hosted two special programs during the week of Parshas Beshallach. Rabbi Boruch Hirschfeld, renowned posek, presented a major shiur on Hilchos Brachos on Monday night, January 18th. At the end of the week, Rabbi Yisroel Kaminetsky, Menahel of the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach-HALB (Long Island) led a shabbaton on the subject of chinuch.
Rabbi Hirschfeld, a native of Australia and a talmid of Telshe, is a rav, posek and rosh kollel in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. When he spoke to a full beis medrash in honor of Tu B’Shvat, he first provided a brief hashkafic overview of the holiday’s significance and of the concept of making brachos in general.
Following that, Rabbi Hirschfeld offered a masterful halachic presentation on the major issues that arise in making brachos. For example, what are the criteria for choosing which food within a dish gets priority in choosing the blessing? This is especially relevant in terms of the seven species for which the Land of Israel is praised. Where does one’s personal preference come into play? What if a particular fruit is whole, as opposed to another being cut up?
Rabbi Hirschfeld also discussed when a “fruit” (ha’aitz) or “vegetable” (ha’adoma) lose their status because they’ve been pulverized, squeezed, or otherwise transformed. What types of mezonos can become hamotzi if a person establishes their meal over them? When will the brocha of ha’adoma take precedence over ha’aitz?
Endeavoring to answer all these questions and more, Rav Hirschfeld elucidated the major underlying principles with a clarity that left the packed bais medrash with thorough understanding. He stayed on to answer many practical shailos from his audience after the shiur.
Over the course of Shabbos, more than 150 people came to LINK to listen to Rabbi Kaminetsky speak on various facets of chinuch habanim. A principal for over 20 years of the DRS Boys High School Division of HALB, Rabbi Kaminetsky is a long time chavrusa and friend to LINK’s Founder and Dean, Rabbi Asher Brander. (He is also the scion of a family steeped in chinuch. His grandfather, Dr. Joseph Kaminetsky, Z”L, was the Founding Director of Torah Umesorah for over 30 years; his father, Rabbi David Kaminetsky, was the long-time Menahel of the Manhattan Day School.)
At the Friday night oneg, Rabbi Kaminetsky spoke about the importance of inculcating the mitzvah of Limud HaTorah into our children. He posited that this commandment was the most effective way of inspiring our children to greater spiritual growth. However, he reminded the audience that the best teaching is by example; no lectures about Torah study could possibly equal the example a father sets by his own fixed times for Torah study. Likewise, if parents are excited about fulfilling mitzvos and manifest the joy of Torah living, that’s the best method of inspiring our children to follow suit. According to Rabbi Kaminetsky, the experience of learning Torah with one’s own parent leaves an indelible imprint on a child’s spiritual psyche and is unparalleled in its effectiveness. Last, but certainly not least, he stressed the importance of praying for our children’s success in learning and all their spiritual undertakings.
During the drasha, Rabbi Kaminetsky stressed the importance of teaching the depths of hashkafa and the meaning of the mitzvos to our children. At the luncheon that followed, he spoke about the importance of simcha in raising our children. A home permeated with peace between spouses and simchas hachaim is a fertile atmosphere in which to raise children who love their Yiddishkeit. If the parents do not feel a sense of joy in their personal lives or in their Torah, they will not inspire their children. He especially stressed the importance of singing zemiros at the Shabbos and yom tov table as well as a general demeanor of simcha that parents need to exude all week long. He spoke upon many of those themes during shalosh seudos, as well.
Mrs. Elisheva Kaminetsky, a veteran educator in her own right, gave a shiur for women on Shabbos afternoon. In honor of Tu B’Shevat, she tied together raising resilient children and the resiliency of trees after a long winter of sleep.
The broad swath of young parents who attended Rabbi Kaminetsky’s many talks over Shabbos found themselves deeply moved and inspired. The many children sitting with them at the luncheon provided an ever-present reminder of the sacredness of their task.
Eli Stern is the Director of Outreach for LINK