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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Will The Real Yaacov Haber Please Stand Up!

Someone recently thanked me for an inspiring story that I posted on http://www.beyondbt.com . After graciously accepting the compliment I inspected the website to learn that indeed I did not report the story at all; it was the other Rabbi Yaakov Haber. Yes, there is another Yaakov Haber, who tends to spell Yaakov with a ‘k’ rather than a ‘c’. Thank G-d, Rabbi Haber is a wonderful Talmid Chacham so when people mistaken me for him it is always an upgrade. Anyway, I read the story and was duly inspired, so I thought I would pass it along. Thank you Rabbi Yaakov Haber.

The story concerns an American Oleh of some time ago who is a Rav Tz’va’i, an Israeli army Rabbi.

As the soldiers got the call for the ground incursion last Shabbos, the Rav, together with his colleagues debated the halachic permissibility of their riding with them to the embarkation point to provide moral support. They compared this case to a husband traveling with his wife in labor to the hospital which is permitted according to many for similar reasons. They went and took a Sefer Torah with them for Mincha (presumably also for morale boosting purposes). When they arrived, the Rav, after exiting the bus, requested of a soldier to pass him the Sefer Torah from the bus to minimize the prohibition of carrying. After waiting a while with the Torah not coming, the Rav re-entered the bus to find each soldier hugging and kissing the Sefer Torah not wishing to part with it. Finally when they left the bus, one Rav was wrapped in a Tallis, the other held the Sefer Torah, looking like Kohanei M’shuchei Milchama perhaps. The soldiers one by one approached the Rabbanim asking for b’rachot. (Mostly the secular , not the Yeshiva boys!) Due to time constraints and the great demand, the Rabbanim spread the Tallis over a group of soldiers’ heads as on Simchat Torah and blessed them all together. Some soldiers told the Rabbanim that their presence strengthened them more than all of the professional talks they received from their commanders earlier! As the soldiers entered into Gaza, the Rabbanim, with Torah in hand, called out after them, “Hashem Imachem!” (Hashem is with you) “Y’varech’cha Hashem!” (Bless Hashem) and passages from the Rambam’s directives in the Mishnah Torah to Jewish soldiers. The soldiers, in turn, turned back to kiss the Torah as they passed it.

Posted on 01/14 at 07:41 AM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov HaberRabbi Haber has been a leading force in Jewish Outreach for the past 25 years. A founding trustee of AJOP, the Association of Jewish Outreach Professionals, he was the founder and director of the Torah Center of Buffalo from 1980-1990 while serving as a community rabbi in Buffalo. From Buffalo he and his family traveled to Melbourne, Australia where as a project of Kollel Bais HaTalmud he founded the Australian Institute of Torah, a national outreach and adult education program. He directed that program from 1990-1995, at which time he was sought out as National Director of Jewish Education for the Orthodox Union in the United States where he created the Internationally acclaimed and highly successful "Pardes Project."

In addition to his duties at the OU, in 1996 he replaced Rabbi Berel Wein as the spiritual leader of Congregation Bais Torah in Monsey, NY. In keeping with the position of Congregation Bais Torah in the Monsey community, Rabbi Haber was involved in issues involving the greater Monsey community, and counseled hundreds of individuals in the surrounding area.

Rabbi Yaacov Haber is the founder and driving force behind TorahLab. Through TorahLab, Rabbi Haber is bringing together educational and media specialists to create dynamic learning experiences which will be accessible to adults of all backgrounds and levels. Rabbi Haber has published numerous articles and books and is a sought after international lecturer.

Rabbi Haber and his family are presently living in Ramat Beit Shemesh where he is the Rabbi of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted at yhaber@torahlab.org