Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Jewish world lost one of its greatest personalities last week. Rabbi Yehoshua Zvi Shmidman was a rare combination of largeness of spirit and greatness of intellect. Among his students/followers were hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of people of all ages and backgrounds. They were drawn to him because he exuded love and warmth for each person, great psychological and emotional insight that allowed him to help each person who sought his counsel and profound understanding of all facets of human knowledge. First and foremost, he was a great talmid chakham. To hear one of his drashos was an exhilarating experience. He could be mefalpel with Reb Akiva Eiger, cite an existentialist philosopher and tell a side-splitting joke in a single derashah, weaving all these together into a single work of artistry.

He learned with, and had close personal relationships with, all the gedoilim of the previous generation. He taught a class on Jewish philosophy at YU in the early Seventies to a motley collection of bright rebels and from those classes emerged a cadre of some of today's leading scholars, many of whom still cite that class as the singular influence that determined the trajectories of their lives. He was Rabbi of large kehillos in New York and Montreal, where he was loved and admired, but most people, especially his congregants, thought of him more as a teacher, guide and friend than as a Rabbi in the formal sense.

He combined the wisdom of a great sage with the simplicity, guilelessness, sweetness and curiosity of a child. He was niftar with Shma on his lips on the 7th day of Av. Tehei nishmaso tzerurah be-tzror ha-chaim.


Blogger mnuez said...

Amen, ken yihi ratzon, but maybe as the State of Israel slowly crumbles into oblivion you'll tell us a little bit about what sort of leadership you're taking to aid the world's only Jewish state such that it continues to live on for the sake of our grandchildren?

As I've mentioned here in the past, I'm somewhat impressed by you and I hope that you'll end assuming some sort of leadership position (whether public or private) that will be of some value toward the continuance of the state.

With 1/3 of all ISRAELI first graders being Arabs, what sort of hope can we have? Or are to live through the next twenty years slowly slicing our land to pieces before we breathe our last and allow Jewish history to resume its course of murder and mayhem on a grand scale - something that the State has shielded us from for the past 50 years.

Forgive my changing the subject, but I, for one, am looking for some good group of Jews to join so as to forestall or divert the coming end. Any hope?

10:47 AM  
Blogger bar_kochba132 said...

Well said, Mnuez! From what I see around me, the biggest problem I see is that in our camp, the National Religious people. After seeing glimpses of the atrocities of the past week (I can't bear more than a few seconds of looking at headlines, I avoid newspapers, radio and the Electronic Living-Room Devil Box) where one of the so-called "leaders" of our camp ( a man with impeccable military credentials) went out and hugged the commander of the forces of destruction and expulsion. This "friend" of our leader was carrying out illegal, immoral orders, and the fact that his uniform said ZAHAL doesn't change that. You don't love someone who is committing a crime. At least today, I took one tiny step of cancelling a hora'at keva (automatic monthly payment) to an institution that, sadly I now realize has been poisoning the minds of a young generation of religious people to worship a regime led by people with an immoral, Communist (without the Socialism) mentality. At least its a start, but until we start acting like free men and women and chuck out the slave mentality that many religious leaders have been inculcating in us, telling reshaim that they are tzaddikim (the issur of "hanupah"), Israel will be living in a dark age.

12:23 PM  

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