Rabbi Eliezer Breitowitz, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Darchei Torah of Toronto, recently sent the following bulletin to the parents of his school:
This past week, the Yeshiva embarked on its most ambitious journey ever – a 48-hour trip to Vancouver/Whistler.
One episode has attracted some attention and interest. Our departing flight was scheduled for Tuesday morning at 8:00 am. That necessitated having Rosh Chodesh Shacharis in the airport. (Hallel, Kerias HaTorah, and Musaf continued in Vancouver.) Now it is one thing when an individual Davens in the airport, but a group of over 85 Rabbeim and Talmidim is something else entirely. So that morning, the D departure gates became “shtiblach” and three different lively Minyanim were held.
What did people think? At least one person was inspired to the extent that she tracked me down and wrote a wonderfully inspiring email to which I responded upon returning to Toronto. I am sharing the two-way correspondence with you; I am certain you will find it most interesting.
“Hello Rabbi Breitowitz,
My pastor and I were at YYZ for an early morning flight to Vancouver this morning. We were flying out to meet with some pastors in Langley for a conference this week. We loved watching a significant number of young Jewish youth preparing to say their morning prayers. As born-again Christians, we deeply love the scriptures and we were so impressed by the commitment to faith these young men displayed. Having a glimpse into their preparation to pray was such a privilege. To watch them tie the scriptures on their arms and bind them on their foreheads brought a fresh meaning to Deuteronomy 6.
It’s one thing to see Jewish men head to the synagogue to pray, it’s quite another to see them prepare their hearts and their minds in the airport :
I messaged my friend Erika (and Rabbi Mordechai) Bookbinder and asked her if there was a Jewish Youth Convention happening in Vancouver. She told me about a youth trip to Whistler – so maybe that was what we saw this morning!
If these were in fact your students, I just wanted to share my observations and encourage you in your leadership of these young men. May you be blessed as you pass on the traditions and teachings of the faith and may these young hearts be open to the authentic love of G-d.
Sanctus Church, Executive Assistant”
“Dear Ms. Dienesch,
Thank you for taking the time to write and thank you for your warm words of encouragement and blessing.
The boys you saw are students of our school – Yeshiva Darchei Torah of Toronto – The students had earned this trip by making a year-long commitment toward the religious ideals of purity and holiness by ensuring that their cellphones be disconnected from social media and other negative influences. Our entire student body of 84 boys enrolled in the international “kPhone” (Kosher Phone) program…
Getting back to the trip: Although it was a “vacation” from school, it was not a vacation from our religious duties – including our three daily prayers whose times are precisely fixed by Jewish law. Those legal requirements sometimes necessitate praying in unusual places, such as the departure lounges of airports. When this happens, we often wonder how we must appear to passers-by. Do they perceive us as being strange? Should we be embarrassed? Your thoughtful letter gives us valuable support; at least two people – your pastor and you – understood, and for that we are extremely grateful.
You write, “To watch them tie the scriptures on their arms and bind them on their foreheads brought a fresh meaning to Deuteronomy 6.” Interestingly, in the Jewish tradition, the “default” assumption is that a verse should be taken literally rather than figuratively. Accordingly, we actually tie the Scriptural passages – encased in “black boxes” called Tefillin – to our arms and heads. The danger, of course, is that an often-repeated ritual can become automatic. We must always remind ourselves that wearing the Tefillin is not sufficient; their underlying message must truly penetrate into our very being. This way, both our thinking and our actions will be fully devoted to G-d’s service.
On a personal note, I have had the privilege to lead our school for over twenty years. Of course, as would be expected, some days have their surprises; as the saying goes, “Boys will be boys.” But, all things considered, I consider myself exceptionally blessed to have had the opportunity to work with such fine young men. When their uniqueness is acknowledged by others, that is the proverbial “icing on the cake”. I will cherish your email for a very long time.
May G-d bless all your efforts and may we all live – in good health and prosperity – to behold the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy (11:9), “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
Rabbi Eliezer Breitowitz
Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva Darchei Torah”
Rabbi Shraga Freedman is the author of Sefer Mekadshei Shemecha, Living Kiddush Hashem, and A Life Worth Living.
Email [email protected] for a free sefer. Visit LivingKiddushHashem.org for more resources
Don’t be fooled – they can admire us all they want – in the end they believe that we are doomed since at the time of the “second coming”, all Jews will die as heretics except for 144,000 who will recognize J as Moshiach and so they will be saved. They admire us like we admire birds building nests – cute but ultimately we feel superior.
5TResident: Why must you publicly add your thoughts? Everyone can read what you write. Not the sharpest tool in the shed.