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posted Feb 8, 2014, 6:53 PM by KAJ Webmaster   [ updated Feb 12, 2014, 6:30 PM ]

The following is an article previously published in the KAJ Newsletter. Videos appear below.

On Sunday, December 29/27 Teves 5774, the Kehilla commemorated the 125th Yahrzeit of its founder, Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch, with a Knessioh in our Beis Knessess, along with the completion of the communal learning of Rav Hirsch’s peirushim on Chumash and T ehillim.

Chazon Lasdun led the tzibbur in Maariv, after which Tehillim was recited. The choir then sang Adon Olam. Mr. Samson Bechhofer greeted the assembled and introduced the program, noting that he was quite cognizant of the fact that he was standing just inches from the podium at which Rav Breuer had spoken. This sentiment was echoed by the other guest speakers. Mr. Bechhofer extended his thanks to, among others, the Rabbonim of the greater Metropolitan area who had responded in the affirmative to the special invitations the Kehilla had extended; to Rabbi Rubanowitz for juggling the Yeshiva’s schedule, to allow the bochurim to attend; and to the sponsors of the reception which followed the gathering in Shul.

Members and guests were greeted and given the programs for the evening by some young volunteers, whom we take this opportunity to thank: Masters Yehuda Katzenstein, Gavriel Levi (both pictured below—most photographs in this issue are courtesy Messrs Alan Ettlinger, Ben Ettlinger, Danny Levi, and Mrs. Shuli Gutmann)—and Yaakov Rubanowitz, and Misses Kayla Michal and Batsheva Levi.

Mr. Bechhofer announced that those who had joined in the learning over the past ten months would be receiving, later that evening, a copy of the newly-reprinted Hirsch Tehillim. Mr. Bechhofer noted that over the past few months, as people outside of the Kehilla heard of the learning program, the Kehilla received requests from non-members to join in as well, with the result being that some Parshios were learned two, three or even four times.

Rav Mantel began his address by quoting from the Reshus L’Sheliach Tzibbur said on the Yomim Noroim. The Rav emphasized that it is an awesome task to describe a giant of Rav Hirsch’s stature. To postulate opinions on Rav Hirsch’s shitos, while standing afar, and never having attempted to enter the inner courtyards of understanding such a Godol, is akin to Meiloh: improper usage of items which are Kodesh LaShem! Referencing the Tomer Devora, Rav Mantel explained that a Godol has two facets to his life, one of teaching and guiding his people, and one, of equal importance, of his own, inner relationship with his Creator. With his trait of Tznius, much of Rav Hirsch’s own Gadlus can only be gleaned from that which he writes in his Peirushim. Among other things, Rav Mantel pointed out that the names Rav Hirsch chose for the “characters” portrayed in The Nineteen Letters are by no means accidental: Benjamin, the questioner, bears the name of the youngest of the Shevotim: A new, youthful generation must be given answers to the questions it has. Naftoli, the name Rav Hirsch took as he proceeded to answer all of those questions, can be

understood through the peirush of Rav Hirsch on the possuk referring to Naftoli as an ayala shelucha: The description does not only speak of speed, but of someone on a mission (shelucha) - Rav Hirsch did nothing for his own Kavvod, but only for that of Shem Shomayim.

The next speaker, Rabbi Nosson Scherman, took note of the rare zechus Rav Hirsch has, in that, at last count (in 1988 at Rav Hirsch’s 100th Yahrzeit gathering) there were at least 1,800 known descendants who are shomrei Torah umitzvos. Rabbi Scherman pointed out that the questions and problems raised by “Benjamin” in The Nineteen Letters, which Rav Hirsch so courageously dealt with, are very much around today as well, if under various different guises and forms. The Ninetee n Letters revolu tionized Germany , and, since then, it has continued to reach only a wider and

wider audience. Rabbi Scherman related that Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky instructed that the initials “Rashkebehag” be added in a reference to Rav Hirsch on a matzeiva someone was writing, because, as Rav Yaakov explained, while Rav Hirsch’s influence may have been confined mainly to Germany during his lifetime, it has since spread to , and helped shape, T orah-true Judaism worl dwide. Rab bi Sc herman also addressed two points he felt particularly appropriate, that of the importance of Kehilla, and of Tanach being a part of a Yehudi’s knowledge and learning.

Rabbi Moshe Katzenstein, who delivered the evening’s concluding remarks, emphasized Rav Hirsch’s great Emuno. It was with this Emuno, and the accompanying crystal-clear worldview Rav Hirsch possessed, that he was able to address the true issues. Rabbi Katzenstein quoted Rav Shlomo Wolbe as saying that the world we live in can either be the greatest window to, or the greatest blockage from, seeing the Yad HaShem at work in all natural and social phenomena. It was as an open window to the Niflo’os HaBorei and Hashgocho Prottis that Rav Hirsch related to the sciences, and, indeed, to all worldly events and matters. As Chazal note, im ein da’as, havdolo minayin. Rav Hirsch, with his great Da’as Torah, could be, and was, mavdil bein Kodesh l’chol, bein Yisroel lo’amim.

The program in shul concluded with the singing of Shir Hama’alos by Chazon Lasdun and the choir. Those in attendance then enjoyed a tasteful and delicious reception in Moller Hall, catered by Lechayim Caterers. Thanks go to Messrs. Shaya Feigenbaum and Chaim Gordimer, for overseeing the distribution of the Hirsch Tehillim. (If you have not claimed yours yet, please come by or call the Kehilla office.)

In our school, Rav Hirsch’s Yahrzeit was also noted. Some classes dedicated their learning on 27 Teves L’ilui Nishmas Rav Hirsch; the elementary and Bais Yaakov Middle School departments held assemblies, at which they heard from Rabbi L. Leslie Weis about Rav Hirsch’s life and accomplishments

We thank the following members and friends for their generous sponsorship of the Knessioh.

Gold Sponsors

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

Silver Sponsors

  • Mr. and Mrs. Samson R. Bechhofer
  • Mr. and Mrs. Craig Cohen
  • Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lomner


  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Mr. and Mrs. Chaim Aschkenasy
  • Drs. Paul and Bracha Breuer
  • Meir, Tuvia and Yosef Breuer
  • Rabbi and Mrs. Yisroel Ferber
  • Mr. David Gilbert
  • Mr. and Mrs. Yisroel Gradman
  • Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gruenebaum
  • Mr. and Mrs. Milton Hamburger
  • Mr. and Mrs. Ezra Hes
  • Mr . and Mrs. Yisrael Kashkin
  • Rabbi and Mrs. Edwin Katzenstein
  • Dr. and Mrs. Martin Katzenstein
  • Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Katzenstein
  • Mr. and Mrs. Pinchas Katzenstein
  • Dr. and Mrs. Michael F. Kirschner
  • Mr. and Mrs. Julius Klugman
  • Mrs. Judith Levi
  • Rabbi and Mrs. Baruch Lichtenstein
  • Mr. Ephraim Neuman
  • Mrs. Hanna Neumann
  • Mr. and Mrs. Manfred Rechtschaffen
  • Rabbi and Mrs. Fabian Schonfeld
  • Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Schuster
  • Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Silverman
  • Mr. and Mrs. Moishe Spreiregen
  • Rabbi and Mrs. Raphael M. Weis
  • Mr. and Mrs. Gunther Weiskopf
  • Mr. and Mrs. Raphael N. Wertheim
  • Mr. and Mrs. Michael Wimpfheimer  

Rav Mantel

Rabbi Nosson Scherman

Rabbi Moshe Katzenstein