Proba II – Rabbi Yosef Postelnek

MARCH 13-14, 2021

11:00 AM
Rabbi Yosef Postelnek will present a halachic, source‐ based exploration
“Leaving Egypt Behind: The Prohibition to Return”

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8:15 PM ‐ 9:15 PM

At this session, YISE members will have an opportunity to get to know our candidate, Rabbi Yosef Postelnek and his wife, Aliza. Rabbi Postelnek and Aliza will answer questions previously submitted by members. This session will be moderated by a member of the Assistant Rabbi Search Committee.

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BACKGROUND: Originally from Fairfax, Virginia, Rabbi Yosef Postelnek attended high school at Berman Hebrew Academy. Following high school, he studied in Israel at Yeshivat Torat Shraga and Yeshivas Tehillas Shlomo, later earning his BS in Finance at Yeshiva University. Rabbi Postelnek received Semicha from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (REITS) of Yeshiva University in 2020 and continues to learn in a post-Semicha Halacha Chabura under his rebbe, Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank. Additionally, over the past three years, Rabbi Postelnek has receiving practical training from Rabbi Yaakov Neuberger in the area of taharas ha’mishpacha.

Rabbi Postelnek feels fortunate to have had experiences that allow him to follow his passion for learning and teaching Torah. In 2018, he served as the rabbinic intern in The Roslyn Synagogue where he delivered bi-weekly shiurim and drashos and worked with shul leadership to implement creative and engaging programming. Since his formal internship, Rabbi Postelnek continues to give shiurim on a daily basis for college students in Yeshiva University, where he serves as a shoel u’maishiv, as well as to members of his local community of Teaneck, New Jersey.

Aliza (Moskowitz) Postelnek grew up in Woodmere, New York, where she attended SKA High School for Girls. Following her passion for teaching Torah and gift for connecting with teens, Aliza earned an M.A. in secondary Jewish education from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School and teaches Tanach and Halacha to eighth grade girls at the RYNJ Yeshiva in Teaneck. She holds a BA in psychology from Queens College. Aliza is also privileged to serve as a shomeret at the Teaneck mikvah, a role she finds uniquely rewarding.

Together, they can’t imagine a more fulfilling life than learning. growing and connecting with a community and would look forward to the opportunity to open their home and share their excitement and passion with others.

"No Wasted Efforts"

It was the most successful fundraiser of all time. Hashem and Moshe Rabeinu succeeded to do what no shul would ever achieve in the history of the Jewish nation. They managed to accomplish a feat never to be matched again… They raised more funds than requested in their initial Kol Nidrei appeal! (I’d certainly hire them).

When Hashem instructed Bnei Yisrael to donate for the construction of the Mishkan, they responded with immense enthusiasm and great generosity. Every member of Klal Yisrael wished to be involved in the building of Hashem’s home. Men, women and children gave what they had, all in hopes of fulfilling Hashem’s promise: if you build it, I will come.

Relating the final results of all these donations, the Pasuk (Shemos 36:7) describes, וְהַמְּלָאכָה הָיְתָה דַיָּם לְכָל־הַמְּלָאכָה לַעֲשׂוֹת אֹתָהּ וְהוֹתֵר – And the work was sufficient for them to do all the necessary work, and to have leftover." Yet, the language of this Pasuk is perplexing as it seems to contradict itself. Was there the perfect amount as indicated by the word “דים – sufficient’’ or was there a surplus as seen in the word “והותר – leftover’’?

The Ramban clarifies that there was both extra and it was enough. That is to say, the total amount of donations was enough to build the Mishkan, and the leftover materials were enough for all future repairs, maintenance, and upkeep of the Mishkan. Like a good contractor who purchases extra bricks or paint in case he’ll have to match the colors at a later point, Hashem knew the extra donations would eventually be put to great use and purpose. The Pasuk therefore indicates that the total donations were enough, seemingly because there was extra.

Alternatively, the Chidushei Ha’Rim, the first Ger rebbe, answers that in reality, the Jews enthusiastically donated so much that even after building the Mishkan, there were leftover materials and funds that would remain unused.

Sensitive to human nature, Hashem didn’t want anyone to think that their donations had been unnecessary, that their effort and passion had been pointless. People who gave with such generous spirit could have been disheartened imagining the possibility that their donations were for naught. Therefore, Hashem orchestrated a miracle and arranged that everything should be put to use, causing the excessive amount of donations to appear to be the perfect amount. Somehow, every item ultimately found a purpose and place in the building of Hashem’s home.

Practically, whether by miracle or for future repairs, we understand that not a single donation was neglected. All the materials were utilized in some way or another.

With this in mind, the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, in his sefer Yireh V’Daas, suggests that Hashem’s response to these extra donations wasn’t limited to that specific episode; it was a message to all future generations as well.

It’s a common phenomenon that when we invest all our efforts into doing a specific mitzvah, working on a particular character trait, or possibly davening and crying for a certain outcome, that we measure the success of our actions by the immediacy and achievement of results. If, after a period of time, we don’t see positive effects, it’s all too easy to feel that our energies were wasted. What purpose was there? Did I really gain anything? Maybe I was just wasting my time.

Rabbi Segal records that the Torah uses this episode to demonstrate how Hashem cares about our sincere intentions and attempts to connect to Him and to grow in our spirituality and relationships. Even if a project appears to have yielded no practical results, no pure action performed for God's sake ever goes to waste.

Indeed, al derech the Chidushei Ha’Rim, just as the extra materials were incorporated into the creation and building of the Mishkan by some miracle, the same is true when it comes to our hard work, prayers and tears. While their immediate impact may go unseen, they are never a waste. They are used in ways we may never understand, subsumed and redirected wherever needed or necessary through Hashem’s miraculous orchestration of the world.

Or, like the approach of the Ramban, our prayers and efforts can be likened to the extra donations that were set aside for later use in the Mishkan. While those who donated the additional materials would perhaps never witness the use of their donations, they were assured that their extra paint or gold would be used in the future to maintain the integrity and beauty of the Mishkan. So too every action or prayer is stored away, set aside for a moment when they’ll be recalled and acted upon, whether or not we’ll bear witness to that day.

Perhaps the very wording of the Pasuk subtly hints to this message when it writes, והמלאכה היתה דים׳׳ – and the work was sufficient.’’ Not the donations, but the work. Meaning, every individual’s effort he or she put into gathering and giving materials to the Mishkan. For our work and effort is never a waste – it impacted the Mishkan and builds us as individuals. And ultimately, even when we stand unknowing and unaware, it’s used in Hashem’s building of our world and very reality.

From a logical standpoint, we can begin to appreciate why it makes sense that our efforts alone should carry import. If Hashem was interested in mere results, He would ensure and produce the outcome Himself since nothing is beyond the Creator of the world. Regarding the assembly of the Mishkan, Rashi (Shemos 39:33) explains that Hashem directed Moshe to erect the walls with his own two hands. Moshe contended this was impossible, for the beams were too heavy for any single person to lift on his own. Nevertheless, Hashem asked him to try. And as Moshe exerted himself, the Mishkan arose by itself. That is to say, while Moshe put in his effort, Hashem created the result. Highlighting the truth that Hashem desires our attempts and efforts, while the outcome remains in His hands alone.

When marking the completion of a mesechta, we recite אנו עמלים ומקבלים שכר׳׳- we toil and receive reward.” Notably, the phrase doesn’t say אנו עמלים ויגעים׳׳… that we work and achieve”, rather that we work, and for that effort we are rewarded. When we invest time and energy for Hashem’s honor or extend ourselves to do the right thing, the ultimate reward doesn’t depend on the success of the outcome, but on the extent of our efforts. As the Mishna in Avos (5:26) teaches, “according to the effort is the reward.”

Whether by miracle or future occurrence, Hashem confirms that no effort on our behalf, even if it appears to us to be unsuccessful and even inconsequential, is ever wasted or unfruitful.

Iy’’H, we should merit to see the day when Hashem tells us שמעתי את תפילתך שמעתי. That day when Hashem turns to each person and says: I heard your prayers; I’ve seen all your toil and exertion…. And it’s enough, מלאכתך היתה דים והותיר, it’s more than enough.

Wishing everyone a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Yosef Postelnek