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Avoiding Arguments

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Some of the questions discussed in this book are the following.

What is the ultimate way to elevate the soul of one’s parents?
How does the death process rectify a person’s soul?
What profound life lessons can we learn from gravestones?
In what ways can the concept of reincarnation help us better understand life?
What is the idea behind davening at gravesites?
What will happen at the Resurrection of the Dead?

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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes, and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

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Avoiding Arguments

The son-in-law of the Noda B’yehuda (1713-1793), known as R’ Yosef Hatzadik,[1] was asked by R’ Yisrael Yonah Landau[2] the following: There was a stunning chazzan for the Yamim Noraim who was a morally low person. Although the people appreciated his voice, the Rav knew he was morally low. He therefore felt that he needed to make an uproar because how could they have such a chazzan for the Yamim Noraim. R’ Yosef Hatzadik answered him in a letter מוטב שיעמוד צלם בהיכל…it is better to set up an idol in the sanctuary than for there to be a machlokes amongst the Jewish people.



How do we say hello? With the word שלום. This same word is also how we say goodbye. This is because even if we disagree it is all within the context of peace, that we love each other.[3]


The Satmar Rebbe[4] (1887-1979) vehemently disagreed with others yet he gave them tzedakah because in essence he loved them.[5] The argument was within the context of peace.[6]


We see this with other great people such as R’ Ovadia Yosef who refers to R’ Elyashuv as ידידינו, our friend,[7] even though the styles of these two greats differed significantly.


Despite the seriousness and intensity of the clash between R’ Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld and R’ Kook regarding the Zionists, the dispute never invaded the personal realm, and each displayed his high regard for the other. Even at the height of the dispute, whenever R’ Yosef Chaim and R’ Kook would meet at a bris or wedding, they would engage each other in friendly conversation.


When R’ Gifter was considering closing his Yeshiva, the Lubavitcher Rebbe[8] sent a messenger to R’ Gifter, who opposed Chabad.[9] The message was that if he wants to close the Yeshiva because of financial reasons, he should rather leave it open and the Lubavitcher Rebbe will take full responsibility for the finances.[10]

There were two Chassidishe Rebbes that were involved in a machlokes.[11] When one of the Rebbes passed away, his son made peace with the other Rebbe. When his Chassidim asked how he could make peace with the other Rebbe if his father didn’t, he answered, “I don’t have the Torah or Tefillah of my father. Should I also hold on to the machlokes of his?!”


When R’ Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz spoke about divisions that had plagued the Jewish people in the past,[12] he would mention the following parable. There was a wealthy man who lived an opulent lifestyle with two sons-in-law, one who ate no meat and the other ate no dairy. For many years, the rich man fed them both in his house according to their tastes. One sat at one table with his family eating meat and the other sat at a second table with his family eating dairy. Eventually the father-in-law[13] lost his fortune and served the whole family bread and potatoes. He told his sons-in-law, “Now that I can’t afford meat or dairy delicacies,’ why sit at separate tables?” Similarly today, said R’ Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, we lack the greatness, the scholarship, the zeal and the intensity of those from earlier times — we have neither meat nor dairy — so there is no point eating at separate tables.[14]

[1] The Noda B’yehuda (1713-1793) wrote about this son-in-law, “Whenever I think of you, my entire body quakes and shakes from כבוד for you.”

[2] R’ Yisrael Yonah Landau, who passed away in 1824, belonged to a well-known rabbinical family. In his youth he was Av Beis Din of Lubomil and from 1786 served in Kempen.

[3] At times one may enter Shul and see someone in his seat which may cause feelings of hostility. One shouldn’t be disturbed by this and as the saying goes, “It is better to sit in front and think why am I not in the back than to sit in the back and think why am I not in the front.” In this way we can grasp המכיר את מקומו, knowing one’s place, as one shouldn’t be so particular with where he sits (Avos 6:6).

[4] It may come as a surprise to some but the Satmar Rebbe, who was especially known to be against the State of Israel, fasted for the six days of the Six-day War (he ate at night) and davened constantly during that period that the Jewish soldiers not get injured or killed.

[5] The saying goes, “We agree to disagree.”

[6] The Gemara (Yevamos 14b) says that despite disagreements, Beis Shamai didn’t refrain from marrying the women of Beis Hillel nor Beis Hillel of Beis Shamai.

[7] Yabia Omer volume 10, Even Ha’ezer 14. R’ Shalom Messas (1909-2003) was the Chief Rabbi in Morocco. Even non-Jews there respected him, most notably King Hassan the Second. The King consulted with him on all matters of the government. Twice a year, R’ Messas would be summoned to the King’s palace to bestow upon the King his blessings. When R’ Messas would bless the monarch in events at the Royal Palace, the King would bow down. In 1978, then Israel-Chief Rabbi R’ Ovadia Yosef asked R’ Messas to come to Yerushalayim and become its Chief Sefardic Rabbinical authority. When he left for Eretz Yisrael R’ Messas was escorted to the airport by King Hassan himself who requested that R’ Messas bless him one last time before his departure. That became his last official act in Morocco.

[8] In the Telz Yeshiva in Telz, Lithuania, they, including R’ Gifter, learned Tanya.

[9] R’ Gifter did consider, though, that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was from the Gedolai Hador.

[10] Heard from R’ Gifter’s son, R’ Zalman.

[11] R’ Yitzchak Friedman (1850–1917), also known as the Pachad Yitzchak, was the eldest son of R’ Avraham Yaakov Friedman (1820–1883), the first Sadigura Rebbe. Upon the death of his father in 1883, R’ Yitzchak and his younger brother R’ Yisrael (1852–1907) assumed joint leadership of their father’s Chassidim. Such a thing was rare, that following their father’s passing they led the dynasty together. Included in this was leading the tisch together. Although they were content with this arrangement, many of the Sadigura Chassidim preferred to have one Rebbe, and in 1887, the brothers agreed to draw lots to determine who would stay in Sadigura and who would move out. The lots fell to R’ Yisrael to remain as the second Sadigura Rebbe, while R’ Yitzchak moved to the neighboring town of Boyan and established his court there, becoming the first Boyaner Rebbe. Under this arrangement, R’ Yitzchak assumed the mantle of nasi of kollel Vohlyn in Eretz Yisrael, and with it the merit of lighting the fire in Meiron on Lag Baomer as well as the Tiferes Yisrael shul in the Old City of Yerushalayim.

[12] It has been said concerning the Jewish people, “Many times we don’t always like each other, but we always love each other.”

[13] Tangentially, the Zohar (Naso) tells us that a son-in-law, with his learning Torah and good deeds, causes a spiritual elevation to his father-in-law in the עולם העליון, higher world.

[14] The Jacobs family moved into a new building and soon discovered that the Cohen family who lived on the floor above them and the Goldstein family who lived below them were not on talking terms for twenty years. One week the Cohen family was making a kidush for their granddaughter. Mrs. Jacobs decided that she was going to buy two platters to give them. One would be from her and the other would be on behalf of the Goldstein’s. She called Mrs. Goldstein and told her that she would give the Cohen family a platter with a nice note on their behalf. And so Mrs. Jacobs purchased a stunning platter and gave it to Mrs. Cohen along with the note. Upon receiving it, Mrs. Cohen was dumbfounded. Mrs. Cohen then scooted over to the Goldstein’s to show her gratitude and invite them to the kidush. And they indeed came. Look at the power of one gesture!


Writer of the weekly Fascinating Insights Torah sheet in Englishעברית ,אידיש and français
Author of Seven Books including the recently released “Remarkable Insights about Death and the Afterlife”

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