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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Last Word

This will be my third consecutive post about death. Unfortunately, death can come when you least expect it and to the most unlikely people.

Almost ten years ago I was invited to write an article for a journal (Simchas Binyamin) in Lakewood. Reb Dovid Frost sat a few rows ahead of me and he had written an article a few weeks earlier. I took issue with his conclusions and, rather than approach him directly, I ‘surprised’ him with an article refuting (to my mind) the article that he had written.

This is not as bad as it sounds. The Talmud tells us that close relationships come through arguments in Torah. A teacher and student may be enemies in the heat of debate but they will end the day as best friends - ‘Es Vahav Besufa’. By arguing with Rabbi Frost I was letting him know that I had read his article and that I had given it deep thought. I had also disagreed and was looking for a reaction.

Someone introduced us to each other the next day. I remember that he declined to discuss the issue, and I remember being puzzled at his reaction.

A decade later I can hardly picture Reb Dovid in my mind, but when I saw the announcement of his tragic death and of the funeral this morning, I couldn’t get him out of my mind.

Reb Dovid taught me that a true Torah Scholar does not need to react. He taught me that being quiet and smiling is sometimes sufficient . And he taught me that if a man can learn Torah for ten solid hours a day, he does not need to constantly assert himself and make himself heard.

We are taught that when a deceased scholar is quoted in this world, his lips move in the hereafter. Last night, I took out my old notes and reviewed the original article by Rabbi Frost. Once again, I took the time to read Reb Dovid’s words, learn from them, and think about them deeply. I recalled Reb Dovid’s non-response to my criticism and I resolved to learn from his actions.

Despite his silence, Reb Dovid had the last word.

We have lost a Masmid, a Talmid Chacham and a role model.

Yehi Zichro Baruch. May we know of no further suffering.

Posted on 12/22 at 06:12 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