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Friday, April 08, 2016

Just Be Quiet

Rav Shmuel Hanagid lived just about 1000 years ago. He was a huge Torah scholar and was considered to be the most influential jew in Spain.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky quotes an incident in which Rav Shmuel Hanagid was walking with a Berber king of Spain named Habbus al-Muzzafer. As they were walking, a man called out and cursed Rav Shmuel. The king – being a good friend -ordered Rav Shmuel to have the man’s tongue cut out.

Rav Shmuel responded by sending gifts to the fellow who had cursed him. He began cultivating a relationship and soon they were friends with mutual respect for each other.

Some time later, the king and Rav Shmuel were walking again and met the same man. He spoke in greeting and the king was furious: “Didn’t I order you to cut out his tongue?”

“I did”, was Rav Shmuel’s reply, “I took out his bad tongue and put in a good one”.

The fact is that so much of what we do is governed by our tongues. It determines who we are. Human beings are distinguished from all other beings in that we can talk. G-d breathed his ‘Ruach’ into us and made us a ‘Ruach Mimalela”, a creature that could talk.

It is that spirit that enables us to talk also makes us holy or impure. We can be sanctified more than any other creation because we have the spirit of Hashem within us and we can become more impure than any other being when that ruach of Hashem leaves us. It happens when a person passes away, but it also happens by degrees whenever we choose to misuse the gifts that Hashem has given us as human beings.

Part of the sanctity that we reach through speech is to remain silent. People feel like they need to comment on everything, usually in a very concerned way, but often their subjects just aren’t interested in talking. I get approached by so many people who say: “Wasn’t it obvious that I didn’t want to have that conversation?” I tell them that it comes from a place of concern, but they are right. Sometimes it is obvious. We need to preserve our human dignity and their by taking someone’s lead. Most people don’t want to discuss their troubles with every single person who takes an interest in them.

In Parshas Tazria the leper who is being punished for inappropriate speech is forced to go into isolation. Sometimes we think too much about others and need some time to become more retrospective and put into situations where there is nobody to quiz and question and prod but our very own selves.

Posted on 04/08 at 06:45 PM • 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 senderhaber@gmail.com