There is a School in Monsey…

Apr 5th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week
“Therefore, thus said God: If you repent I will bring you back, let you stand before Me; if you bring forth an honorable person from a glutton, then you will be like My own mouth (Jeremiah 15:19).”

It is not enough to take a stand against evil; we must transform the evil into good, “bring forth an honorable person from a glutton.” My very dear friend, LS, was furious with people who defend rabbis who have been convicted of dastardly deeds, “Well, he did a lot of good with the money he stole!’ He wasn’t happy with people who took a stand; he wanted people to transform the evil into good by changing their behavior. So, while many were busy condemning Bernie Madoff, LS began a crusade for Yeshivot to focus more on ethics and honesty to the point of instituting “Honor Codes,” prevalent in many private schools. He wanted to, “bring forth an honorable person from a glutton.”

Jeremiah reminds us that we are familiar with such transformation, “If you repent I will bring you back,” for what is Teshuva if not bringing forth an honorable person from the wicked? He tells us that when we succeed in affecting such transformation we are as, “My own mouth,” which brought the world into being. We become partners in Creation.

No wonder we begin Maggid with transformations and mouths: “This year we are as slaves, next year we will be free; this year we are here, next year in Jerusalem,” we will be transformed. “Ha Lachma Anya,” “This is the Bread of Affliction,” is also read, This is the Bread of Answers; the Bread of the Mouth, the Bread of Creators.

“They shall take other stones and bring them in the place of the stones; and they shall take other mortar and plaster the house (Vayikra 14:42).” It is not sufficient to remove the Tzara’at affliction from the home, to condemn the evil; we have to rebuild the impure house, the “glutton,” into a new home, pure, “an honorable person.”

There is a school in Monsey: Ateres Bais Yaakov, founded and headed by a real Rabbi and teacher, Rabbi A Fink, that lives this idea of Transformation:

I recently received the following email:

Dear Friends,

The horrific tragedy that took place a few weeks ago in Itamar has affected the Jewish Community around the globe. We were all shocked at the brutality of the terrorist attack, and pained at the thought of the unimaginable grief the Fogel family is suffering.

We spoke about how such a barbaric act is unfathomable, we mourned for the loss of the innocent lives of our brothers and sisters in Israel. We sighed, considering the shattered lives of the surviving orphans.

The Junior Class at Ateres Bais Yaakov asked: What can we do in the face of such atrocity? We can’t make sense of it all, but can we shine a ray of light at this dark hour?

And this is what followed. My eleventh grade students compiled their favorite Pesach recipes, and after working on this project tirelessly, they produced a Pesach Cookbook. The cookbook is dedicated to the Fogel family; in memory of those who lost their lives, and in support of the three surviving children.

All proceeds will benefit a fund set up for the three Fogel orphans.

The cookbooks are being sold at Ateres Bais Yaakov, $12 each. If you are interested in purchasing a cookbook, or making a donation to the fund, you can contact me via email:, or by phone: (845)641 1840.

May Hashem protect us, and save us from such anguish and sorrow.

Chag Kasher v’Sameach!


Sarah Salvay,

11th Grade Mechaneches, Ateres Bais Yaakov

We can do more than condemn the horrible evil that massacred the Fogel family; we can create something good, beautiful and honorable. We can rebuild the house, begin Pesach, and become, “As My Mouth.”