Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wisdom from the Gentiles: Interview with Lou Gehrig

Derech Eretz can be found in all kinds of places. I recall hearing once that R' Yisrael Salanter found inspiration for his famous list of middos from a gentile German innkeeper and his wife.

Baseball legend Lou Gehrig was a special kind of personality. Known for his humility and work ethic, he was an intelligent man too and attended Columbia University for two years. Gehrig, a child of German immigrants, grew up in Manhattan and lived in Washington Heights for part of his childhood.

I never heard him speak other than in his famous farewell address. Well, here's an interview that I just found. The people of his day come across so much better than those in our day, in my view. One observes a simplicity, level headedness, gratitude, morality, and desire to be a good citizen. Keep in mind that Gehrig was only 35 years old during this interview. For sports fans and observers of a generation that has much to teach our own, enjoy:

Interview with Lou Gehrig

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Linked Post from TREASURES OF ASHKENAZ: Rav Breuer’s Derech Halimud

Linked Post from TREASURES OF ASHKENAZ: Rav Breuer’s Derech Halimud

"Rav Breuer’s Derech Halimud: The Way of Old Ashkenaz – דרך הלימוד של הרב יוסף ברייער ז”ל
The article on Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer, הרב לוי יוסף ברייער זצ”ל, that we have been writing about in recent postings, by Rabbi Yaakov Lorch שליט”א, also discusses his derech haLimud. Here are some excerpts from pages 41-42 to give you an idea of how Rav Breuer learned gemara and other parts of תורה שבעל פה.

“Rav Breuer followed the derech halimud of his father, Rav Shlomo Breuer, who had been a close talmid of the Ksav Sofer….Rav Shlomo Breuer belonged to the school of the Chasam Sofer in his derech halimud…striving primarily to understand thoroughly the text at hand….learned with his talmidim only ‘on the daf’. Never did the Gaon come with prepared solutions to the gemara. He never discussed only those parts of the daf where he had something to be mechadesh….he strove for clarity in the pshat of the Gemara…He would never turn to the other Rishonim until Rashi and Tosafos were clear: in particular, he would get annoyed if one went right away to the Rambam…he eschewed any attempt at pilpul, and stressed the careful understanding of an inyan rather than hasty coverage of subject matter.”"

read more

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The German Orthodox Aesthetic

The German Orthodox strive to beautify their surroundings. Yet, they are thrifty people (see Frankfurt on the Hudson, ebook, Loc. 884) who shun "flashy display." The synthesis of this is an eye towards tasteful and simple elegance. The KAJ building in Washington Heights is a great example of this.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner is a blog by a German Orthodox woman in Washington Heights. It's a personal blog, ie it gives a window into her private life and interests. The blog serves up some photos of her beautiful table settings. (She loves having guests.) With her permission, I share the photos here.

Rosh Hashana

Shavuos 2008

Seder Table

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wisdom from the Gentiles: A Poem About Arrogance


I'll build a house of arrogance
A most peculiar inn
With only room for vanquished folk
With proud and titled chin...!

by Donald Jeffrey Hayes
America Negro Poetry, p. 93

A Philosophy of Mitzvos in Two Incredible Sentences

"In the Jewish land, where the Divine law has full scope, nothing was supposed to germinate or blossom or ripen without bringing the Jew obligations as well as enjoyment. A duty is attached to every enjoyment, and it alone gives the enjoyment its true taste by turning what otherwise would be selfish and animal into a human acknowledgment of Divine love." R' Hirsch, Judaism Eternal Volume 1, Chapter V, Shebat, p. 33.

Calling all kiruv people, put those words on your one page summary sheet of Torah fundamentals that will attract Jews from all over.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Papa, Hungary - Birthplace of R' Joseph Breur

Papa, Hungary

(Google Maps)

Slide Show

"Pápa is a historical town in Veszprém county, Hungary, located close to the northern edge of the Bakony Hills, and noted for its baroque architecture. With its 33,000 inhabitants, it is the cultural, economic and tourism centre of the region.

Pápa is one of the centres of the Reformed faith in Transdanubia, as the existence of numerous ecclesiastical heritage sites and museums suggest. Due to the multitude of heritage buildings the centre of the town is now protected.

Pápa has a large historical centre, with renovated old burgher's houses, cafes, and museums, including the Blue-Dyeing Museum (Kékfestő Múzeum), set up in a former factory which produced clothes and other textiles dyed with indigo blue under a unique method."

continue reading

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Yet Another Melave Malke, this time in Monsey

KAJ Monsey is hosting a Melave Malka Motzei Shabbos Parshas Terumah - Saturday night February 21, 2015 to be held in the Shul downstairs.

I thought perhaps the TIDE Society might have another mini get-together within the Melave Malka. I don't know about you, but I feel like a sole practitioner of TIDE much of the time and would benefit from an actual face to face with some other believers in this derech. So if you'd like to attend, let me know and I'll contact KAJ Monsey for you.  I can be reached at
Note, KAJ events are done in good German form, with actual place settings and people that don't double dip their chips. They are dignified yet down to earth affairs. I really enjoy them.

Who Are the German Jews?

When people ask, are you a yekke (and I get asked this often enough) they generally mean, I believe, do your parents or grandparents come from Germany? And I suppose the strict definition of a yekke is a Jew from Germany or a Jew with traceable lineage to Germany as parents from places like England, South Africa, the USA, Holland, or Switzerland (countries to which German Jews immigrated over the last 100 years) with known ancestors from Germany, Prussia, or Austria also seem to qualify. The term yekke is of uncertain origin. It might be a reference to short coats or Jacke in German as German Jews of the last few centuries tended to wear shorter jackets than their brothers out East.

So you might wonder then what is an Ashkenazi Jew as you certainly know of Ashkenazi Jews from places like the Ukraine and Poland. The name derives from the biblical figure Ashkenaz, the first son of Gomer, the eldest son of Japeth, a son of Noah. For reasons which are much debated, this name became attached to the mass of Jews who made their way through Italy and into Central Europe in the centuries after the destruction of the second Temple. Another set of Jews, which we now call Sephardim, made their way to Babylon and then North Africa and eventually Spain. In the words of the Jewish Virtual Library, "The name Ashkenaz was applied in the Middle Ages to Jews living along the Rhine River in northern France and western Germany."  Many of these people migrated East and by the 16th century, the center of Ashkenazi Jewry was located in Poland, Lithuania, Bohemia and Moravia and soon after in Russia, the Ukraine, and the Baltic states. They all are Ashkenazim, decendents of the Jews who lived along the Rhine River. Their shared lineage is evidenced in the language Yiddish which is an offshoot of German. As R' Shlomo Hamburger, an expert on German Jewish customs, points out, the Yiddish word for translate - titsche - comes from the word Deutsch or German. So imagine a conversation where two people are chatting away in Italian and you can't follow it. You want them to switch to English so you shout "English!" Centuries ago one of your ancestors, if you are Ashkenazi, might have shouted, "Deutsch!" or "German!"

So you might ask, are they yekkes too? Well it gets complicated due to the rise of the Chassidic movement in the 18th century as a large portion of Ashkenazic Jewry took on a new set of customs, called Sefard, some of which developed under the new conditions of Eastern Europe and some of which were taken from Sephardic liturgy and kabbalah. Technically, these people are Ashkenazim, but we wouldn't call them German Jews or yekkes, even though originally their ancestors were from Germany. There also are Eastern European Jews such as those from Lithuania, who didn't take on nusach Sefard, yet don't call them German either. They are Litvacks and their practice is much closer to that of German Jews with many significant differences.

So it seems that ancestry alone is not the determining factor as custom and even outlook plays a large role in group identification. This is why I, all by my lonesome, have determined that there exists a new variety of German Jew and that is the American yekke. My reasoning is that the USA is largely a Germanic country and many of the people raised in the USA, depending where one is raised, have Germanic sensibilities that fit in best with the German Jewish style. Since originally their families were from Germany, ie they are Ashkenazim, the original German practices are part of their heritage and while their ancestors in Eastern Europe were not raised in a Germanic culture, they were. See my article "The Yekke from Uman" for a more lengthy explanation on all this. This applies in particular to baalei teshuva, particularly those over the age of 40 who were raised in the suburbs, and even more so those raised or educated in the Midwest. Again, see my article for more on that.

Interestingly, the USA currently is home to more Ashkenazi Jews than any other country in the world. Here's a chart from Wikipedia:

Total population
10[1]–11.2[2] million
Regions with significant populations
 United States5–6 million[3]
Israel State of Israel2.8 million[4][5]
 United Kingdom~ 260,000
 Canada~ 240,000
 South Africa80,000
 New Zealand5,000
 Czech Republic3,000

So that's what I'll say for now about the German Jews. Torah Im Derech Eretz came out of Germany. It's the work of Rabbi Hirsch but he designed it for Germany utilizing the traditions from his German Jewish rebbes. A person need not take on German Jewish custom or identity to gain from Torah Im Derech Eretz as the philosophy is useful to the modern, western dominated world in general.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Contribution to the Sustenance of Minhag Ashkenaz


The Institute for German Jewish Heritage has published a number of important volumes on German Minhagim. They would like to publish more but need some funding. If you would like to contribute, click here

Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz

Vol. 1 (5755), 481 pages

"Foremost in the effort of Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz during the last thirty years to research, archive, preserve and disseminate the over-one-thousand-year-old, magnificent heritage of Ashkenaz has been the publication of this monumental series, which researches the evolution of German-Jewish customs and traditions, their development, origins and views surrounding them, in a detailed and clear format.

"These books have become an invaluable asset for anyone with an interest in Jewish customs in general and German-Jewish customs in particular. The series is intended to expand to tens of volumes, and currently includes a wide range of topics such as minhagim of tefillah and shul, Shabbos and Yom Tov, marriage customs, yoledes and bris milah, as well as a variety of other minhagim."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pitfalls of Hellenism

"The Hellenic culture only stimulates the intellect, only creates the thirst for knowledge and truth, but is not capable in itself of assuring knowledge and producing truth. The mind indulges in surmises and conjectures, forms fanciful and hypothetical assumptions in order to solve the enigmas with which man is confronted both by the world outside and within himself and the solution of which his yearning soul passionately seeks. And as long as Hellenism assumes that the human mind alone-which, as reason, is created to "perceive" only the truth-simultaneously creates, reveals and dispenses truth, so long does the misty wisdom of the Hellenic spirit arrive at results which swing from one extreme to the other in everrecurring cycles, as has been evident in the history of human thought seeking wisdom for nearly 2,500 years in the Hellenic spirit." R. Hirsch, Judaism Eternal Vol. II.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

not part of troubled, time-bound notions

"Torah im Derech Eretz" is the one true principle conducive to truth and peace, to healing and recovery from all ills and all religious confusion. The principle of "Torah im Derech Eretz" can fulfill this function because it is not part of troubled, time-bound notions; it represents the ancient, traditional wisdom of our Sages that has stood the test everywhere and at all times." S. R. Hirsch, Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 221

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rabbi Dr. Lord Immanuel Jakobovits z"l

Rabbi Dr. Lord Immanuel Jakobovits z"l

(Harav Yisrael ben Harav Yoel)

This week marks the shloshim of Rabbi Dr. Lord Immanuel Jakobovits, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth from 1967 to 1991. Rabbi Jakobovits was born on February 8, 1921 in K”nigsberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad in Russia). His father, Rabbi Julius (Yoel) Jakobovits, fled from Nazi persecution to England where, until his death in 1947, he was a member of the bet din of the United Synagogue in London.

Young Immanuel arrived in England in 1936, two years before his father. He studied at the Jewish Secondary School, Jews' College and Yeshiva Etz Chaim in London (where he received semichah), and also earned a Ph.D. degree at London University. His rabbinic career began in London at the age of 20, soon becoming Rabbi of the Great Synagogue in East London. In 1949 he accepted a call to Dublin as Chief Rabbi of the small Jewish community in Ireland (a position previously held by Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak Isaac Herzog z"l, later Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel).

(from Hamaayan / The Torah Spring
Edited by Shlomo Katz
Contributing Editor: Daniel Dadusc)


Eliyahu Navi after havdalah

According to the Minhag Ashkenaz forum, singing Eliyahu Navi after havdalah is a German Jewish custom.

Eliyahu hanavi,
Eliyahu hatishbi,
Eliyahu hagiladi.

Bimheirah b'yameinu,
yavo eileinu,
im Mashiach ben David.

Sunday, January 11, 2015 Web Exchange on R' Breuer's Derech HaLimud

"Message: 2
From: Micha Berger <>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 12:50:02 -0400
Subject: [Avodah] Rav Breuer's Derech Halimud: The Way of Old Ashkenaz

On Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 03:26:00AM -0400, Prof. Levine wrote to Areivim
[and I'm filling out the quote, here]:
> From

"The article on Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer, [HaR' Levi Yosef Beuer zt"l],
that we have been writing about in recent postings, by Rabbi Yaakov Loch
[shlit"a], also discusses his derech haLimud. Here are some excerpts
from pages 41-42 to give you an idea of how Rav Breuer learned gemara
and other parts of [TSBP]."

> "Rav [Yosef] Breuer followed the derech halimud of his father, Rav
> Shlomo Breuer, who had been a close talmid of the Ksav Sofer.... Rav
> Shlomo Breuer belonged to the school of the Chasam Sofer in his derech
> halimud... striving primarily to understand thoroughly the text at
> hand.... learned with his talmidim only 'on the daf'. Never did the Gaon
> come with prepared solutions to the gemara. He never discussed only
> those parts of the daf where he had something to be mechadesh.... he
> strove for clarity in the pshat of the Gemara... He would never turn to
> the other Rishonim until Rashi and Tosafos were clear: in particular,
> he would get annoyed if one went right away to the Rambam... he eschewed
> any attempt at pilpul, and stressed the careful understanding of an
> inyan rather than hasty coverage of subject matter.

"In recent times some have replaced the above with different
approaches. But the old way still has much going for it, even without
invoking tradition, even if it seems simple and modest and lacking
the fireworks and pizzazz of some newer approaches. If more people
today would follow such a derech, we would be the better for it, as a
people. [KNLAD].""


Friday, January 9, 2015

Tiferes Tzvi for Shemos: Chidush from R' Schwab

The posuk says: The foremen of the Children of Israel came and cried out to Pharaoh, saying…Straw is not given to your servants, yet they tell us, ‘Make bricks!’ Behold your servants are being beaten, and it is a sin for your people.  (5,15-16)

What is the meaning of "it is a sin for your people." ?
"Rav Shimon Schwab זצ"ל explains that the foremen were warning פרעה. He was giving orders that were impossible to fulfill, thereby causing them to transgress his command. Nonetheless, פרעה’s taskmasters beat them for it. This being so, ה' will act מדה כנגד מדה and punish פרעה for something that will be impossible for him to do. This ended up occurring when ה' took away פרעה’s free will and he had to transgress the command to let the בני ישראל go. Nonetheless, ה' still punished him for transgressing."
posted with permission

Siddur Tefilloh Sefas Yisroel

Siddur Tefilloh Sefas Yisroel

"Siddur Tefilloh Sefas Yisroel began as a project to be assemble a comprehensive siddur which would be true Nusach Ashkenaz. Currently, this term has come to mean, siddurim better labeled Nusach Polin or Nusach Lita. Historically speaking, printers used this label fairly loosely in order differentiate them from Chassidic Nusach Sfard.

The world renowned expert in Ashkenazic Minhogim and Nusach HaTefilloh is Moreinu HoRav Binyamin Schlomo Hamburger Shlito, the head of Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz. With his invaluable assistance and guidance as well as countless others, I have been able to compile this comprehensive work.

This siddur has been designed to above all, be accurate and contain easy instructions. It will prove informative to both layman and scholar, and even those which have been utilizing a "Nusach Ashkenaz" siddur all their lives."  

Rabbi Rallis Hermann Wiesenthal

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Photos of R' Hamburger at Yeshivat Sha'alvim

Photos of R' Hamburger at Yeshivat Sha'alvim

Rav Hamburger on Timing of Birchos Hatoroh

Why do we say Birchos Hatoroh before Korbunos and not after Asher yutzar as it is printed in most siddurim?

Answer: The minhag has been set by the kadmonim to say all the morning blessings together in shul so that none will be skipped, the proper place for Birchos Hatoroh was before Korbunos which is in itself Torah learning and requires a brocho beforehand. Since we learn immediately afterwards there is no need to add special pesukim or Mishnayos which are printed in the siddurim.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rachmaninoff plays Piano Concerto 2

Rachmaninoff plays Piano Concerto 2

Perhaps too emotional for classic TIDE - usually I opt for composers of the Baroque era such as Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi or Classical era Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn. Their music is characterized by discipline and order. But then again, even Beethoven could get pretty excited. Compared to our reckless era, even Rachmaninoff sounds lofty and organized and can elevate us.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Linked Post: A Yeshiva Based on Torah Im Derech Eretz

Linked post to a guest post:

A Yeshiva Based on Torah Im Derech Eretz

"There is a need for a new yeshiva high school for boys. One with the learning that is ostensibly exclusive to the “Charedi” world and with the breadth that is ostensibly exclusive to the “Modern” world. One in which talmidim will be empowered to actively pursue a truly well rounded approach to learning. In short, a Torah Im Derech Eretz (TIDE) yeshiva high school."


Thursday, January 1, 2015

R Binyomin Shlomo Hamburger speaking tonight in Lakewood

R Binyomin Shlomo Hamburger, author of the Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz seforim and head of the Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz, will be speaking tonight in Lakewood at 8:15 PM in Beis Aaron on the Yeshiva Campus.
בשמחה רבה אנו מודיעים
שהרה"ג ר' בנימין שלמה המבורגר נ"י
מבני ברק
בעמח"ס שרשי מנהג אשכנז
ראש מכון מורשת אשכנז
ידרוש במוצאי עשרה בטבת
בשעה שמונה ורבע בערב (8:15 PM)
בחדרי החבורות
בבית אהרן
בענין הלכות ומנהגי נפילת אפים