On Tuesday, October 6, 2021, Igud HaRabbonim — Rabbinical Alliance of America — convened its monthly Rosh Chodesh (Cheshvan) conference at the Young Israel of Woodmere. The Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan conference was sponsored l’zecher nishmas HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Ben HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Noach Borenstein, Zt’l, father of Igud HaRabbonim members, Rabbi Mendy Borenstein and Rabbi Yitzchok Noach Borenstein, and father-in-law of the Igud HaRabbonim’s Administrative Director, Rabbi Moish Schmerler. Rabbi Shmuel Borenstein, Zt’l was a Rosh Mesivta at MTA YUSHB for close to half a century.
Rabbi Shalom Axelrod, Mara D’asra of the Young Israel of Woodmere; Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt, the Associate Rabbi of the Young Israel of Woodmere; and Rabbi Shay Schachter, the Rosh Bais Medrash of the Young Israel of Woodmere, warmly welcomed Igud HaRabbonim to the shul. Rabbi Axelrod, on behalf of the Young Israel of Woodmere and the National Council of Young Israel, gave the keynote remarks about the concept of collaborative ventures that are beneficial to Klal Yisrael.
Rabbi Axelrod opened his presentation by acknowledging the decades-long relationship between the National Council of Young Israel, a premiere Orthodox synagogue association, with the Igud HaRabbonim, a distinguished Orthodox rabbinical organization.
Rabbi Axelrod anchored his remarks in a Dvar Torah on Parshas Noach. The Torah relates how Noach entered the ark. Noach and his sons entered separately from their wives. Seemingly, there were two separate entries to the ark, one of the men and another of the women. When it came time to leave the ark, the Torah commands Noach and his wife, and their children with their wives, l to depart from the ark as one group. Rashi explains that now that the Flood is over, the survivors should return to normal life.
However, Noach and the survivors of the Flood did not leave the ark in one group as commanded. When they departed, the men left separately and the women left separately. The question begs itself, why? Why did Noach and the survivors of the Flood deviate from the command, or at least permission to leave the ark as one group?
Rashi answers that, after the Flood, it was difficult for Noach to leave the ark. Noach was concerned that perhaps history will repeat itself, people will possibly sin once more, and Hashem will once again punish the world with a deluge. Noach was not defiant but fearful of the future. That fear prevented him from leaving as commanded in one group.
The Be’er Yosef comments that the animals also left separately because they were accustomed to being fed and cared for in the ark. Like Noach, their mindset froze as they saw a new world. The reality set in that the temporary comfort and service they experienced on the ark, to which they had become accustomed, was over. They realized that they were returning to a world in which they would have to care and fend for themselves.
Rabbi Axelrod continued that the numerical value of the word Tzay (leave) is 91, the same as the root Amen, the linguistic basis of Emunah, faith. What gives a person on the individual level or an organization on a communal level the wherewithal to confront the challenges they face? Emunah, faith in Hashem. If a person has faith that Hashem is with them, they will not be frozen in a fearful mindset. With faith, they will be able to reach beyond and accomplish much. This is what Hashem instructed Noach when it came time to depart from the ark — “Tzay min hateiva, leave the ark,” with full faith in Hashem — and you shall succeed. A person must never feel frozen or limited in any way. We must have the capability to overcome our instinctive reactions of fear and instead nurture true Emunah, which is the only way to succeed. With this positive frame of mind, we can explore how the National Council of Young Israel can best offer services to its branches and their member families. With this positive approach, we will develop and explore the partnerships and programming that can be done together with other important organizations. With faith in the future, we will add benefit to Klal Yisrael and to our membership, which will strengthen Jewish life for everyone.
Rabbi Axelrod added, “Recently, I have become involved with many rabbis to reconnect with the National Council of Young Israel and with many important organizations like the Igud HaRabbonim. I do this in order to add benefit to Klal Yisrael, and in particular the National Council of Young Israel and our over 150 branches and thousands of member families, through collaboration and joint effort. For us to be successful in our Tzay Min HaTeiva we cannot and will not be frozen. We will engage and embrace with emunah, and with the help of Hashem succeed in the spread of Torah and mitzvos.”
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Igud HaRabbonim, thanked Rabbi Axelrod for his “inspiring, motivating and heartfelt speech.” Mirocznik added, “We at Igud HaRabbonim look forward to continuing this important discussion that started tonight and implementing collaborative and complementary activities that will be a true credit to the American Jewish community. The Igud HaRabbonim wishes the National Council of Young Israel, its President Rabbi David Warshaw, and its board of directors much success and we look forward to collaborating with the National Council in a meaningful way.”
PICTURES BELOW AUDIO RECORDINGS
Rabbi Shalom Axelrod
Rabbi Yehuda Blank
Rabbi Yaakov Shulman
Rabbi Moshe Schmerler
Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht
NAMES IN PICTURES
Picture (1) Names Left to Right, Rabbi Moish Schmerler, administrative director, Igud/RAA; Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, presidium member, Igud/RAA; Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman, Igud/RAA; Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt, Associate Rabbi, Young Israel of Woodmere; director, Medical Halacha Commission, Igud/RAA; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, Igud/RAA; and Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank, director, Programing, Chaplaincy, and External Affairs, Igud/RAA
Picture (2) Rabbi Moish Schmerler, administrative director, Igud/RAA; Rabbi Shalom Axelrod, Young Israel of Woodmere; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, Igud/RAA; and Rabbi Simcha Hopkovitz