Wednesday, June 29, 2011

26th Sivan - Rabbi Yonatan ben Uzziel

According to my calendar:
Some say that today is the yahrzeit of the Tanna, Rabbi Yonatan ben Uzziel, and that he is buried in Amukah. But I do not know the source of this.

Clearly this is a GOOD THING for the various charity organisations, because they can take your money in exchange for praying for you at Amukah on this very auspicious day.
For example Kupat Ha-Ir

Vaad HaRabonim have a similar campaign - though I can't find it on the internet (which is good, since they hold that the internet is forbidden).

And I have heard from many people and sems of the importance of going to Amukah to find a shidduch.

So it is quite interesting to find the real story: On p. 688 of 'Making of a Godol' Rav Noson Kaminetsky explains the source of this belief, and the reason for the 'minhag' to travel to Amukah to find a shidduch:

Another case of superstition came to this author's attention through a review of the book 'Ohr HaGalil' in the HaTzofeh newspaper. The reviewer, R' Meir Wunder, made a study and discovered that belief in the powers of prayer at the site of the grave of the Tanna Yonathan ben 'Uziel in 'Amuqah was nonexistent until a tour company in Jerusalem concocted the "tradition" circa 5713 (1953). R' Meir filled this author in on the background of his investigation: a spinster acquaintance took a private taxi with an unknown driver for the long and lonely drive through the hills and
forests of the Galilee to visit the grave, a site where prayers for finding a mate were said to be especially effective d. The single woman who spurred the reviewer's research put herself in jeopardy to get to 'Amuqah and obviously had a superstitious faith in what she was doing to the extent that she felt protected by a magic net of security during the dangerous (and probably halakhically forbidden) ride with the stranger. The trip to the Galilee brought her no tragedy, but neither joy.

In a footnote there he also shows how the media has avoided correcting this 'mistaken minhag':

R' Wunder had also sent a letter with the gist of his discovery to the editor of the newspaper. But on the advice of a renowned Torah scholar, that newspaper edited it to avoid casting any aspersion on the "tradition". Not that the Torah scholar approved of doing unsafe things to get to 'Amuqah, but he did not want to invalidate altogether the notion of traveling there, saying, "Let it be: if they believe in it, let us not discourage them." It seems to this author that the scholar had compassion for the unfortunates who find solace in their superstitions - see
fn. w - on p. 680. He is believed to be R' Shlomo-Zalman Auerbach.

It is also interesting to see each year that there are more and more yahrzeits commemorated with special bus services, and Rabbis offering to say special prayers on the day. Whoever thought of this tourism idea should really deserve a prize!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Baby Yitzchak Sedley

Here is the video of the brit of baby Yitzchak. Don't worry - there is no blood on the video - though the camera does turn sideways a couple of times.