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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Defining Moment

In 1920 (or thereabouts) a car made its way down Rechov Yaffo. It was not the first car to arrive in Jerusalem or even the first car to drive down Rechov Yaffo, but it was unusual. All of the students, teachers and staff poured out of the Eitz Chaim Yeshiva to have a look at this great new invention. When they returned to their studies, they were impressed (and maybe a little ashamed) to find that the only one who had remained in Yeshiva and not allowed the passing car to interrupt his studies was a young boy named Shlomo Zalman Orbach.

Reb Shlomo Zalman went on to become one of the leading Torah authorities of his generation, but he did not remain in the Bais Medrash. As he grew older he spent many hours looking at elevators, cars and other modern machinery. He researched and wrote groundbreaking books on electricity, medicine and mechanics. Somebody asked the Rav: “What could you possibly have gained by learning for those ten minutes instead of stepping outside with all of your teachers and friends?”

“Those ten minutes didn’t make me more knowledgeable than my friends”, Reb Shlomo Zalman acknowledged, “and learning about cars is certainly not a waste of time. What I gained in those moments was my bond with the Torah. In those ten minutes of learning I developed an intimate relationship with the Torah that lasted me for a lifetime. I knew what I desired and I knew where I belonged. Nothing can tear me from my Torah.”

We all need moments that define us.

Posted on 05/26 at 06:18 AM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at