6/26/20

Yahrzeit of my mother Edith Zahavy

We are observing the 20th Yahrzeit of my mother Edith Zahavy (aleha hashalom).

We miss her so very much. She would have loved to see the progress of her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and take pride in all of their accomplishments. She would have loved to read books to her great-grandchildren and to watch them play and grow.

She was born in NYC and attended the public schools in Washington Heights. She watched from her classroom window as they built the George Washington Bridge.

She graduated from Hunter High School, Hunter College and went on to a career in public service at the OPA and then into the field education. Together with my dad, she founded the Park East Day School when my father was rabbi at the Park East Synagogue, then called Congregation Zichron Ephraim. She subsequently taught in NYC public schools for many years.

She is interred on Har Hamenuchot in Jerusalem. Her beautiful memorial photo site is here.

6/16/20

9 years ago I published: "God’s Favorite Prayers" - it has been a delicious improvement on all previous theologies of Jewish prayers

"God’s Favorite Prayers" (ISBN 0615509495) is a new published book that unlocks the personalities behind the prayers. Author Tzvee Zahavy introduces readers to the archetypes within Jewish liturgy in this engaging new volume.

"God’s Favorite Prayers" invites the reader into the heart of Jewish spirituality, to learn about its idiom and imagery, its emotions and its great sweeping dramas. The author invites the reader to meet six ideal personalities of Jewish prayer and to get to know some of God's favorite prayers.

According to Zahavy, Jews recite and sing and meditate prayers that derive from six distinct archetypes. He labels those six personalities: the performer, the mystic, the scribe, the priest, the meditator and the celebrity.

6/15/20

Rabbi Soloveitchik on the Ontology of Women and Replies to it - all in the Link

Note: A credible scholar gave a class on zoom  yesterday showing in detail that the Rav was wrong in his halakhic premises about this topic. I concur with that conclusion.
A New Transcription: Surrendering to the Almighty
By Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt”l | March 14, 2019
Editor’s note: Torahweb.org has just completed this new transcription as part of a forthcoming book. The full shiur, made in 1975 to Rabbinic alumni, is available on YU Torah here: https://tinyurl.com/y5ylmmax. This text is excerpted only in the interest of space, omitting several introductory paragraphs. The full transcription, with full footnotes, is available here: https://tinyurl.com/y5akgjoj.
...Today, let me say it in Hebrew, «כלו כל הקיצין» [2], and I feel it is my duty to make the following statement, and I am very sad that I have to do it. But somehow, I have no choice in the matter; there is no alternative. What I am going to say, I want you to understand, is my credo about Torah and the way Torah should be taught and Torah should be studied.
The study of Torah has had such a great cathartic impact upon me, as you understand it, is rooted in the wondrous experience I always have when I open up the Gemara. Somehow, when I do open up the Gemara, either alone or when I am in company, and I do teach others, I have the impression - don’t call it hallucination, it is not a hallucination - I have the impression as if I heard, I would say, soft footsteps of somebody invisible, who comes in and sits down with me, sometimes looking over my shoulder. It is simply, the idea is not a mystical idea, it is the Gemara, the mishna in Avos, the Gemara in Berachos say, «אפילו אחד יושב ועוסק בתורה שכינה שרויה» [4] and we all believe that the nosein haTorah, the One who gave us the Torah, has never deserted the Torah, and He simply walks, He accompanies the Torah, wherever the Torah has a, let’s say, a rendezvous, an appointment, a date with somebody, He is there.

6/11/20

How to Deal With Facebook Stalkers, List Snubs and Technology Taboo Makers - My Jewish Standard Dear Rabbi Zahavy Column for June 2020



Dear Rabbi Zahavy,

I am on Facebook a lot and have many friends there. Recently, one of those people, whom I have known for many years, started replying negatively on every post that I made and on every comment that I put on Facebook. These were not just critical replies. They were snarky at first, and then became nasty and highly personal in nature.


I unfriended this person. But somehow, he still manages to find and comment on all my posts. What should I do to stop this?

Besieged in Bergenfield


Dear Besieged,

Facebook has mechanisms for actively blocking content from specific individuals. You can and should poke around the platform until you find them, and then invoke the harshest level of blocking against this offending person. Be persistent. Since Facebook thrives on content proliferation, your postings make money for them, and thus it deliberately makes the blocking process possible, but neither easy nor intuitive.

6/5/20

Are dirty tricks in negotiations kosher?

Day after day we see ill will and bad faith in the negotiations in our marketplace and workplace.

No, dirty tricks are not kosher.

But you ask, exactly what are dirty tricks and how can you deal with them?

Several years ago we took one course in Negotiations in the MBA program at Rutgers. Each year the brilliant professor who taught the course, Daniel Levin sends emails to his former students to remind them about how to respond in a negotiation to the prevalent issue of distributive tactics or what we normally call "dirty tricks."

According to Levin, the top ten dirty tricks in negotiations are:
1. Good Cop/Bad Cop
2. Emotional Intimidation
3. Lowball (or Highball) Offer
4. Opening with a Take It or Leave It Offer
5. Exploiting the Trappings of Power
6. Increasing an Offer's Appearance of Legitimacy
7. Pretending to Have Limited Authority
8. Playing a Game of Chicken
9. Lying about Priorities
10. Nibbling
Levin gives us his priceless suggestions for responses in his Talmudic analysis here. Study it and study it some more, because everything you need to know about dirty tricks is in that grid.

We've said many times that in all of the years of our education through college and rabbinical school and graduate school at Brown, Levin's negotiations course in the MBA program at Rutgers was the most valuable course that we ever took.

We use the skills that we learned there every day.

Thank you again Dan Levin.

5/3/20

Rabbi Dr. Zev Zahavy - Yahrzeit Number 8

Photos

Rabbi Dr. Zev Zahavy
New York City 
September 8, 1918 - May 1, 2012

When my Father was Rabbi at the Park East Synagogue

Praying and the synagogue were central to my life since my early childhood. My father, Zev Zahavy, was the rabbi of several distinguished New York City synagogues on the West side and then the East Side of Manhattan. I recall many times accompanying him to his work. His study in the synagogue was off to the side of the main sanctuary, lined with books, filled with a musty smell and having the creakiest wood floor I ever walked on.
The author (right) with his Dad (center) in 5715 in the synagogue sukkah

The synagogue in Manhattan at that time was a stately place with formal services, led by a professional Hazzan. My dad wore a robe and high hat - black during the year and white on the High Holy Days.

He was famous in the city for his sermons. He labored over them for hours. He would send "releases" to the local papers (like the NY Times' 230+ citations of his sermons -- here in online book form) to let them know about what he would be preaching on Saturday. Those were the fifties and the Times and other papers covered the Saturday and Sunday sermons. Frequently we would look around the sanctuary to see if the reporter from the Times was present. We'd know because he'd sit in the back and be writing feverishly on his reporter's pad. (Not iPad... real paper pad.)

My father was ambitious especially about increasing the attendance at the services. We had to count the number of people in shul and discuss that at the lunch table. Then he'd ask us how the sermon was and we all answered enthusiastically every week, "It was terrrrrrific!"

My father's most valuable autographs - the signatures on his ordination parchment

I am republishing this post in honor of the Yeshiva University Chag HaSemikhah Convocation that will take place on Sunday, March 19, 2017 and in honor of the 75th anniversary of my father receiving his ordination.

I received my rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva in 1973. My father received his semichah on March 19, 1942 = א׳ בְּנִיסָן תש״ב

Here is my original post:

In May 2012, during the shiva for my dad, Rabbi Dr. Zev Zahavy, I showed many people an important part of our inheritance from him - five valuable autographs.

Now these are not autographs of Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle or of U.S. presidents or anything like that. 

These are the five signatures on my dad's klaf - on his diploma of ordination from Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, which he received in 1942.

The priceless autographs are by five great Torah scholars, Rabbi Binyamin Aronowitz, Rabbi Bernard L. Levinthal of Philadelphia, Rabbi Samuel Belkin, Rabbi Moses Shatzkes (the Lomza Rav) and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik of Boston (the Rav).

Rabbi Yossi Adler looked at the klaf during the shiva in Teaneck and confirmed what I had been told, that it was rare to have five signatures on such a document. My own ordination has two (Rabbis Belkin and Soloveitchik).

I once asked my dad what it was like to go before these five great rabbis and be examined before receiving semichah - ordination. He told me, "They were tough. They asked difficult questions. They made me sweat."

I greatly treasure this meaningful part of the legacy of my dad.


4/23/20

Dear Rabbi Zahavy - my Jewish Standard Talmudic Advice Column for April 2020 Your reactions to the pandemic and worries over shul closures

Dear Rabbi Zahavy - my Jewish Standard Talmudic Advice Column for April 2020
Your reactions to the pandemic and worries over shul closures


Dear Rabbi Zahavy,

I find it hard to cope with all the bad news of the current pandemic. I feel it definitely has been impacting my mental stability and even affecting my physical health. What’s your advice?

Reacting in Ridgefield Park


Dear Reacting,

The talmudic rabbis recognized, way back in antiquity, that some people are more sensitive than others to external stimuli. Some rabbis, like the great sage Rabban Gamaliel, were given leeway in their religious practices because they were categorized as istinis — a term some believe is derived from the Greek meaning not strong: a-sthenos; for example, a person of pronounced sensitivity to ugly or troublesome environmental stimuli, death or sickness.

3/23/20

Who wrote the Haggadah?



They say that the Seder is the most widely observed Jewish ritual. Assuming that is true, the Haggadah then is a near universally used Jewish book. It also is one of the most frequently published Jewish books in history, surpassed perhaps only by the Hebrew Bible and the Siddur and Machzor Prayer books.

Now it behooves me to ask of this book, who wrote the Haggadah?