Monday, 28 July 2014

In Memory of Rav Yaakov Simcha Cohen z"l

The late Rav Yaakov Simcha Cohen z"l was an occasional contributor to NishmaBlog, and a most frequent contributor to the Jewish Press. He recently was Niftar, and left a void amongst those who knew him, even those who knew him casually.

Rav Dov Fischer, who is also a Nishmblog contributor wrote a moving eulogy of our Chaveir, and we are presenting it here to honor R Cohen's Memory.

* * * * *

In Memory of Rav Yaakov Simcha Cohen z"l

"With so much going on — in the Mideast, etc. — I didn't have a chance to post until now that I recently lost a very dear and deep, inspirational friend and personal mentor, ever-so-recently.  And then I thought: As among those of us who have enriched the RCA, few among us have enriched it with as much pure Torah and just-pure Halakhic discussion as did Rav Jacob Simcha Cohen zikhrono livrakha.

When I was a young fellow in my mid-thirties, just beginning my rabbonus in Los Angeles back in the late 1980s, it was Rav Cohen who urged me to write and encouraged me to pursue my writing and to publish as often as possible on inyanei d'yoma.  Back then, only five years out of Smikha at RIETS, I was the new kid on the block in Los Angeles when I arrived in 1987, and — from outta nowhere — I became a weekly fixture in the Jewish Journal, the L.A. equivalent in tone and substance to the New York Jewish Week, and a regular contributor to the op-ed page of the Los Angeles Times.  Indeed, the L.A. Times ultimately did a feature a story on me and my writings. -
The response to my writings then was not unlike what it is now (v'ha-mayven yavin).  In short order, I wondered whether I should just step aside because one or two rabbinical colleagues were resenting the publicity being directed my way, and I just didn't have time for the pain.  During that critical formative period in my career, two rabbonim came into my life and encouraged me to write and publish, and to continue writing and publishing, and not to hold back — Rav Cohen and, yibadel l'chaim, Rav Abner Weiss.

Rav Cohen z"l became a mentor for me and to me, even as we also became friends over the years while always honoring the mentor-protégée relationship.  I also would consult with him often on piskei halakhah. After he moved to Florida, I lost touch with him, but then we reconnected off-line, prompted by writings posted on this Forum.  During the past four years, or so, we conducted an ongoing private conversation offline, and he always encouraged me, even as he always taught me more and more.

Rav Yaakov Simcha Cohen z"l also was one of the sweetest guys I ever met.  I still remember the first time he and I ever met, as he pressed me to start attending Rabbinical Council of California meetings — "C'mon, Dov.  Get out of the Valley for an afternoon, and meet the boys!"  — and he was one of the greatest Torah scholars I knew outside the classic world of roshei yeshiva.  He was a tremendous tzaddik of a person — and those of us who knew him, well or even indirectly, will nod in agreement.  So I write now with the hope that others who have benefited from knowing Rav Yaakov Simcha might find a few moments to remember him on this Forum, a Forum that he so uniquely enriched for so many of us for so many years.

— Dov Fischer

Kol Tuv,

Sunday, 27 July 2014

As the Flames of Anti-Semitism are fanned

I have found what appears to be an incredible uptick in Jewish Self-Hatred as Israel is under threat.
«Noam Chomsky is one of the most violent-thinking anti-Semites around today. He speaks at college campuses throughout the world and spreads anti-Semitic messages to students. The hardest thing about combating Chomsky's messages is that he is Jewish, and he denies his messages are rooted in anti-Semitism, even when he stands up for Holocaust deniers, supports terrorism, and praises genocides.

See below for examples of Chomsky's hate speech and different organizations countering his messages, followed by questions students should ask him when he speaks on campus:...»
Noam Chomsky: A Jewish Anti-Semite

Kol Tuv,


"National and racial chauvinism is a vestige of the misanthropic customs characteristic of the period of cannibalism. Anti-semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism.

Anti-semitism is of advantage to the exploiters as a lightning conductor that deflects the blows aimed by the working people at capitalism. Anti-semitism is dangerous for the working people as being a false path that leads them off the right road and lands them in the jungle. Hence Communists, as consistent internationalists, cannot but be irreconcilable, sworn enemies of anti-semitism.

In the U.S.S.R. anti-semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system. Under U.S.S.R. law active anti-semites are liable to the death penalty.[9]»
On 12 January 1931, Stalin gave the above answer to an inquiry on the subject of the Soviet attitude toward antisemitism from the Jewish News Agency in the United States....

~ Wikipedia

Kol Tuv,

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Mussar: The Problem with Rigid Doctrine

"Fervent insistence on an ideology makes evidence, experience, and arguments irrelevant:

If you possess the absolute truth, those who disagree are by definition wrong, and evidence of success or failure is irrelevant.

There is nothing to learn from the experience of other countries. [Cultures]

Respectful arguments are a waste of time. Compromise is weakness. And if your policies fail, you don't abandon them; instead, you double down, asserting that they would have worked if only they had been carried to their logical extreme."
― Bill Clinton

Kol Tuv,

Thursday, 24 July 2014

J Street Challenge

Kol Tuv,

Rav Dov Fischer - How Did We Get into this mess in the first place?

«Among those in Israel's nationalist community, there never was doubt that then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to disengage unilaterally from Gaza was a disaster-in-the-making, a disengagement from reality.  Adopted by the Knesset on June 6, 2004 and implemented a year later, in August and September 2005, the plan to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza never fooled the nationalist community.

For Zion's sake, millions in Israel did not hold their peace.  Nationalists identified by wearing orange, the color of the Gaza Regional Council.  On July 25, 2004, tens of thousands of Israelis formed a human chain that stretched 90 kilometers from the Erez crossing in Gaza to the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem, protesting the disastrous plan.  On October 14, more than 100,000 demonstrated in cities throughout Israel against the proposed disengagement.»
Remember How this Mess Began - Op-Eds - Arutz Sheva

Kol Tuv,