Roy Neuberger - May. 19, 2017

In last week’s column I mentioned the death of Moshe Orlansky.

Reb Moishe was my friend. I davened next to him at Yeshiva Sh’or Yoshuv for almost two decades. His livelihood was making doughnuts and muffins, but his life was Torah. “V’ani sfilosi … ” (Psalm 69:14), which, I believe, can be understood as “I am tefilla/prayer.” Reb Moishe was prayer. He could fill the entire Sh’or Yoshuv Yeshiva Study Hall with the sound of tefilla.

Once my close friend was visiting in Sh’or Yoshuv. It was Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the new month), and they asked my friend to lead the prayer service. He couldn’t think of melodies to sing for Hallel and asked to be excused. But Reb Moishe motioned to him and suggested several melodies on the spot. So, after all, my friend went up and led the prayers and it was beautiful. Since then he has used those same melodies for Hallel many times. Reb Moishe was a fountain bubbling with prayer.

But there was one trait of his that stood out even above the prayer, and that was Yerushalayim. Reb Moishe was filled to the brim with love and yearning for Jerusalem.

“Al naharos Bavel … by the Rivers of Bavel (Babylonia), there we sat and also wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows within it we hung our lyres. There our captors requested words of song from us, with our lyres playing joyous music. ‘Sing for us from Zion’s song!’ How can we sing the song of Hashem upon the alien’s soil? If I forget you, O Yerushalayim, let my right hand forget its skill. Let my tongue adhere to my palate if I fail recall you, if I fail to elevate Yerushalayim above my foremost joy…” (Psalm 137)

Reb Moishe never forgot Yerushalayim. Now he is there forever.

Every year on the Eighteenth Day of the Jewish month of Teves I make a special meal in recognition of the day in 1966 when I first discovered G-d. My wife and I were students at the University Michigan, and that moment marked the turning point in our life. (The entire story is recounted in my book, From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul.) Every year on the anniversary of that day, until he was no longer able, Reb Moishe would supply dozens of fresh doughnuts for the students and rebbes of Sh’or Yoshuv. The doughnuts were accompanied by a reprint from my book describing the miracles which had occurred on that day. Reb Moishe could translate spiritual reality into physical sweetness.

There are no accidents in life. From the movement of a leaf to the sweep of a constellation across the sky, it is all orchestrated in Heaven. “The heavens declare the glory of G-d, and the expanse of the sky tells of His handiwork….” (Psalm 19) This week we read in the Torah the Tochecha, the unbearable recitation of the tragedies which will – and nebach did! – befall our People “if you will not listen to Me and will not perform all of these commandments …” (Leviticus 26:14)

Reb Moishe lived the Tochecha. I have never met anyone who suffered the way he did, not for a day or a week, but for years. In each period of his recent years, the pain and suffering would be ratcheted up a notch, so there was no break for him, no chance to catch his breath. He didn’t complain, but he would ask G-d for a few days to breathe between sufferings. As I mentioned last week, over the years, the Hatzalah Ambulance Corps of Far Rockaway responded to literally dozens of emergency calls to his home. One time they gave up on him, all the Hatzalah volunteers … except one. This man worked for twenty-eight minutes, as I recall, to restore Reb Moishe’s heartbeat when everyone else thought it was hopeless. And he brought him back, miraculously, for additional years of life.

Whenever I would return from visiting him in the hospital, I would tell my wife, “I just came from Auschwitz.” I wasn’t exaggerating. That is how it was, unrelenting pain, suffering and anguish. I feel as if Reb Moishe took all our tzouris on himself.

Like everything else in life, there is a reason for the Tochecha and our sufferings. We are in Exile, and Exile is, by definition, suffering. “If I forget you, O Yerushalayim, let my right hand forget its skill. Let my tongue adhere to my palate if I fail recall you, if I fail to elevate Yerusha-layim above my foremost joy…” We have to remember Yerushalayim! Reb Moishe remembered Yerushalayim.

About two years ago, you may recall, I had surgery. Following the operation, I wondered for weeks and even months if I would ever return to my strength. Some two weeks after the operation, I had a dream that I was in the Bais Hamikdosh, the Holy Temple. When I awoke, my first thought was: now I understand. Everything is calculated! I had to get sick and I had to have surgery and I had to have pain and anguish. I don’t know exactly why, but I needed it in order to get to the Holy Temple.

“Arise, cry out at night in the beginning of the watches! Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord! Lift up your hand to Him…. Bring us back to you, Hashem, and we shall return. Renew our day as of old. For even if You had utterly rejected us, You have already raged sufficiently against us.” (Eichah/Lamentations)

May Reb Moishe’s memory be for a blessing and may his suffering be an atonement for the Children of Israel! I always promised him that we would dance together at the Bais Hamikdosh! Now we will have to wait for techias hamaisim (the Resurrection of the Dead), may it be soon in our days!


Recent Posts


Jerusalem mikveh Temple Mount bird Holocaust locusts Psalms Moshaich Rebecca flood Magog Parsha Protective edge secret Chanukah Raiders of the Lost Ark Hasmoneans Bais Hamikdosh Isaac salvation persecution Elul Zechariah blessing Ishmeal gossip Final redemption king fragrance Jewish Land of Israel deluge redemption Babylon Balak Laban Chanukkah Maccabeans Zion fault Torah portion Western World prayer holy trees Midrash Chafetz Chaim Golan Shabbos creation menorah Solomon Mordechai Purim Passover Seder Moab Beit Hamikdash repentance Rabbi Akiva Hebrew idol shofar Baku yeshiva Hagar death soul mikveh, Sabbath Genesis ancestors stars Sea of Galilee Prophecy Holiness commandment prayer book Maimonides Psalm Miriam Heavenly Mercy Nation of Israel Song of Songs messiah chessed Golden Calf Jacob Jews miracle world to come seder song mitzvos Jewish holidays rain forefathers Master of the Universe Yom Kippur pain Bilaam light exile Talmud Matisyahu materialism tabernacle prophet cries Day of Judgement spiritual G-d Ezekiel Zohar New Moon rabbi tremors dreams murder Edom three weeks Second Temple Noah repent Aharon rosh chodesh Jeremiah Temple slavery Moses Sodom Yaakov miracles water Judah Matriarchs biblical Joseph night Ammon Eglon chaos bris milah Terror Attack in Jerusalem eternal Lunar eclipse Moshe Benjamin Banias Ten Commandments earthquake Day of Atonement Tefillin prophet Samuel Shavuos barley Holy land Jewish festival terror spies cholent Children of Israel media Rebbe kiddush Miraglim heavenly gates God hubris Golus Sarah Abraham Lot Geula Tisha b'Av Faith Chol haMoed keys Gog Adam Macabees darkness alone Earth India meraglim brotherhood Sabbath Galil patriarchs shield of Abraham Abrahem Egypt Red Heifer Mount Zion Haman America Amram Sephardi 2020 Vision peace Rosh Hashanah Avraham Greeks idolatry sun Samuel the Prophet Hashem danger angel Esau sacrifices culture Eve Pinchas Red Sea Holy Ark compassion evil Sukkos enemies Angel of Death Israel siddur purity Rachel Sefiras haOmer eternity prophets Achashveirosh yarmulke Shushan Babylonia Rashi judgement self-worship Amalek Judgement Day Boaz Dead Sea High Holy Days automobiles plague bible paradise incense Garden of Eden matzos Moshiach heaven Ruth kesuba lights spirituality Samuel Rome sanctity liberation evil inclination Tzuk etan Sages Judaism Tu b'Av leprosy Shechina End of Days Yerushalayim holiday Chofetz Chaim Creator terrorism synagogue ethics sin Passover mitzva Jew kinneret Mount Hermon pray Leah heavenly throne tablets moon missiles Blame fires slaves esrog Malbim kosher shmittah Rabbis terrorist resurrection Rosh Hashana logic tears Holy Temple survival Teshuva Jewish People redeemer Zion, Angel violence Torah prayers fear patriarchs'matriarchs Europe war Canaan King Solomon Exodus Sukkah Ishmael Western Wall King of the Universe David Father in Heaven stones Ishamael terrorists Esther King David Isaiah Torah scholars Mount Sinai Tu b'Shvat Tallis Repentence priests United Nations Divine presence High Priest Solar eclipse Pharaoh minyan evolution angels Ashkenazi