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How early should Jewish education begin? Print E-mail
Sunday, 03 September 2023

Sponsored by Andrew and Lori Kahn with immense joy and pride in honor of their son Aaron Blake Kahn’s Bar Mitzvah (Aharon Yitzchok): May you always be guided by the light of the Torah so that you live a long, happy, healthy a prosperous life.

In Parshat Vayelech we learn about the mitzvah of Hakhel, where the king reads from the Book of Dvarim to the entire nation on the first day of Chol HaMoed Sukkot following the Shmita (Sabbatical) Year.

Dvarim 31:12-13 describes who should attend the Hakhel ceremony:

Gather together the people- the men, the women and the small children and the convert who is in your cities- so that they will hear and so that they will learn, and they shall fear the Lord your God, and be careful to perform all the words of this Torah. And their children who did not understand will hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, all the days that you live on the land to which you are crossing the Jordan, to possess it.

How old are the children who are brought to the ceremony?

According to Ramban, they are little children who are nearly old enough to be educated, not nursing babies.

The Talmud, Chagiga 3a teaches that the small children would come in order to give a reward for those who bring them, meaning babies who don’t even understand what is going on.

We learn from the Hakhel ceremony that the Torah values Jewish education from a very young age. Today we see that young children gain a strong foundation in Judaism from attending Jewish preschools.

By being encouraged to bring their babies to religious events, parents are made to feel welcome and not left out of spiritual experiences.

Eighteen years ago, I began to teach Mommy and Me Torah study classes in Jerusalem through Torat Reva Yerushalayim, where new mothers were able to learn Torah while their babies had the opportunity to socialize, eat, sleep, play and benefit from a Torah environment. The original group of babies recently graduated high school and are off to yeshiva, midrasha (seminary), sherut leumi (national service) and the army. I hope that the first taste of Torah that these children experienced helped to lead them on a path of commitment to Judaism.

It is never too early to start a child’s Jewish education and the inspiration from those early years can last a lifetime.

The 613th Mitzvah Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 September 2021

Dedicated by Vicky Wu in memory of J.J. Greenberg on his 18th yahrzeit: Time can’t erase the smile and strength left by J.J., it only enriches his memories in our hearts

At the end of Parshat Vayelech (Dvarim 31:19), God commanded Moshe and Yehoshua to write the Torah and teach it to B’nai Yisrael:

And now write this song for you and teach it to B’nai Yisrael to place it in their mouths; in order that this song will be for me a witness against B’nai Yisrael.

The Rambam, in Sefer Ahava, Chapter 7, Laws of Writing Tfilin, Mezuza and a Torah Scroll explains:

It is a positive mitzvah binding upon each Israelite to write a Torah scroll for their own use as it says in Dvarim31:19: And now write this song for you...”As the Torah is not written in separate sections, this text means, “Write for yourselves the Torah in which this song is contained.” Even if one’s ancestors have left a person a scroll, it is a religious duty to write a scroll at his own expense. If he wrote it with his own hand, it is accounted to him as if he received it from Sinai. If one does not know how to write a scroll, he should get others to write it for him. He who corrects a scroll, even a single letter of it, is regarded as if he had written it completely.

Sefer HaChinuch, the Book of Mitzvah Education, lists Mitzvah #613, the final mitzvah in the Torah, as the religious duty for every Jew to write a Torah scroll. If one wrote it with their own hand, they are praiseworthy. But whoever can’t write their own should hire someone to write it for them.

Sefer HaChinuch adds that other volumes as well, that were composed in explanation of the Torah, should also be acquired.

Over the past year and a half, since the start of Covid, we have seen the importance of owning a Torah scroll. Last year, when Israel’s Ministry of Health only allowed prayer groups of ten or twenty people, those who owned Torah scrolls were able to form minyanim in their backyards and didn’t have to rely on borrowing one from their synagogue. As well, during the high holidays both last year and this year, small outdoor minyanim have been conducted with privately owned Torah scrolls.

How lucky we are that there are individuals who observed mitzvah #613 and commissioned the writing of their own personal Torah scrolls which are now being used to help the larger community during the pandemic. May we all have the merit of taking part in the writing of a Torah scroll and may we be able to return to organized prayer in synagogues when it is safe to do so. 


Don’t Leave the Kids at Home! Print E-mail
Friday, 03 October 2008


"His Love for Israel and the Jewish People becomes more significant and Inspiring as the years go on..."


Immediately following the Shmita (Sabbatical) year, on the first day of Chol HaMoed Sukkot, the entire nation is commanded to go to the Beit HaMikdash for Hakhel, a ceremony where the king reads from the book of Devarim. Since we just completed the Shmitta year, if we had the Beit HaMikdash and a king we would actually be celebrating Hakhel this Sukkot.


The commandment for Hakhel is found in Parshat Vayelech (Devarim 31:12) “Hakhel, Assemble the people- the men and the women and the infants, and your convert who is in your towns; in order for them to hear and in order for them to learn to fear HaShem your God and they will make sure to fulfill all the statements of this Torah”.


Rashi asks why the children also came to Hakhel and answers with a quote from the Talmud in Masechet Chagiga 3a: The children bring merit (schar) to those who brought them”.


Rabbi Natan Adler asks why they should bother bringing the children if the children will disturb the adults in their service of God. Therefore, the Gemara in Chagiga explains that by bringing our children we will receive a schar (merit) which outweighs the loss of the adults being disturbed and not hearing every word perfectly. The excitement of the children and the holy atmosphere of the moment make a deep impression in the hearts of the children and brings them closer to serving God. Even if it seems like “Bitul Torah”, wasting precious time that could be used for Torah study, in the end we see that sometimes you have to be a little bit less rigid in order to educate the children in the ways of Torah and Maasim Tovim (good deeds).


This message especially rings true during the High Holidays. When a child is brought to shul and has the opportunity to listen to the Torah reading and hear the Shofar blowing a tremendous impression is made which can bring them closer to serving God. The look in their eyes as they kiss the Torah or stare up at the Shofar should serve as an inspiration to us all!



As Yom Kippur approaches, Torat Reva Yerushalayim is proud to introduce a new opportunity to have a learned person recite Psalms on your behalf on a weekly basis at the Kotel (Western Wall).

Jacob, our Forefather calls Jerusalem “The gate of heaven”. According to Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z”l, “Just as things can go in through a gate, so can they emerge. Thus, all spiritual sustenance and blessing come only through Jerusalem , as it is written, ‘God will bless you from Zion ’ (Psalms 128:5). It is taught in the Zohar that God first sends a blessing to Jerusalem , and from there it flows to the entire world. Today, when the Temple no longer stands, the source of this blessing is the Western Wall.”

Tehillim (Psalms) at the Western Wall can be recited on your behalf for the following:

  • Health/ Recovery from an illness
  • Healthy childbirth
  • Shidduch (finding a mate)
  • Thanksgiving
  • Livelihood & success
  • Divine guidance
  • Troublesome times
  • Repentance
  • Peace

With your monthly donation of $18 or more (or yearly donation of $180 or more) to Torat Reva Yerushalayim, you will be performing the important mitzvah of contributing toward the Torah education of the forgotten population of senior citizens in Jerusalem, while having your prayers recited by a learned person at the footsteps of Judaism’s holiest site.

Your contribution can be made by mailing a check to Torat Reva Yerushalayim,

75 Berkeley Avenue , Yonkers , NY 10705 or via Paypal, by clicking on the link below and scrolling down to the “Make A Donation” button.


Please email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 718-593-4162 if you would like to take part in this exciting project!    
True Leaders Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 September 2006

Right before Moshe is about to pass away, he passes the reigns of leadership on to Yehoshua.

In Parshat Vayelech, Devarim 31:7 we read "Moshe called to Yehoshua and said to him as all of Yisrael watched, .Be courageous and bold, for you shall enter with this people (tavo et ha'am hazeh) into the land that God swore to their forefathers to give them, and you will apportion it to them.'"

A few psukim later in Devarim 31:23 the wording is slightly different: "He commanded Yehoshua bin Nun and said, .Be courageous and bold, for you will bring B'nai Yisrael (tavi et B'nai Yisrael) to the land that I swore to them, and I will be with you.'"

The Gemara in Sanhedrin 8a points out that in the first pasuk it looks like Yehoshua is just considered a member of the people, while in the second pasuk Yehoshua is described as a leader of the people.

Rabbi Yochanan answers: In the first pasuk Moshe is instructing Yehoshua to lead the people in partnership with the zekainim (sages). In the second pasuk God is telling Yehoshua to make sure that he is in charge and that the sages are subordinate to him. There can only be one leader of a generation and not two.

Rav Ze'ev Soloveitchik takes this idea one step further. According to the Rambam, Moshe was considered a king (appointed by God) as well as the head of the Sanhedrin (appointed by the people). When Moshe passed on his leadership, he only passed on the aspect of head of the Sanhedrin. When God spoke to Yehoshua, he appointed him as king as well.

Let's hope and pray that we will again merit leaders in the land of Israel like Moshe and Yehoshua.