RABBI AVRAHAM WEIN
MARCH 6-7, 2021
Rabbi Avraham Wein will present a halachic, source‐ based exploration
“The 'Phoney' Blood Libel of the 1960s: A Historical,
Halakhic, and Hashkafic Analysis”
The video of the Shiur is no longer available publicly. If you are a YISE member and would like to see the video, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
8:15 PM ‐ 9:15 PM
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
At this session, YISE members will have an opportunity to get to know our candidate, Rabbi Avraham Wein and his wife, Shira. Rabbi Wein and Shira will answer questions previously submitted by members. This session will be moderated by a member of the Assistant Rabbi Search Committee.
Note: Unfortunately, the video below is missing the beginning of the Q & A session.
The video of the Q & A session is no longer available publicly. If you are a YISE member and would like to see the video, please contact email@example.com.
The video of the Shabbos Drasha is no longer available publicly. If you are a YISE member and would like to see the video, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
BACKGROUND: Rabbi Avraham Wein currently serves as Rabbinic Assistant at Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence, NY, having previously served as Rabbinic Intern. Rabbi Wein studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion and earned his B.A. in Psychology and Jewish Studies from Yeshiva University as part of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program. He is also a graduate of the RIETS/Ferkauf Joint Program in Mental Health Counseling. He is currently pursuing Semikhah as a member of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary’s Bella and Harry Wexner Semikhah Honors Program and an M.A. in Medieval Jewish History at the Bernard Revel Graduate School. He will finish his Semikhah in May 2021 and his M.A. this summer.
Rabbi Wein is a longtime student of Rabbi Michael Rosensweig and currently serves as his shiur assistant. He has held various editorial positions (including at Tradition journal of the Rabbinical Council of America) and is assisting his teachers, Rabbi Rosensweig and Rabbi Shalom Carmy, in preparing their teachings for publication. Rabbi Wein was the director of the Camp Kaylie Kollel (2015-2017) and also was a member of its education staff. Rabbi Wein is very passionate about building relationships with congregants, developing meaningful Torah programming, and teaching the values of Judaism in a clear and organized style. He is a strong supporter of the State of Israel, and is a Rabbinic Fellow at AIPAC’s Leffell Israel Fellowship.
Rabbi Wein and his wife Shira are proud parents of their daughter Esti. Shira, a Stern College graduate, is currently completing her training as a Physician Assistant at York College. She has held various educational positions, including serving as an advisor for NCSY both during their yearly and summer programs. She also has experience working with elementary school students, having been a division head at Camp Moshava Ba’ir. Shira is also a certified kallah teacher and finds it meaningful to mesh her medical knowledge with this and other areas of halakha. The Weins are excited to meet the members and families of the Young Israel Shomrai Emunah community.
"The Surprisingly Empowering Message of the Cheit Ha‐Egel"
What went wrong? This question has long plagued our greatest commentators. Bnei Yisrael, in the immediate aftermath of the awe-inspiring miracles of Har Sinai and yetziat mitzrayim (Exodus from Egypt), somehow spiraled into committing one of the gravest mistakes in Jewish History. How could the nation of na’aseh venishma so suddenly perform the cheit ha-egel, the sin of serving an idolatrous golden calf? What triggered this terrible downturn?
Rabbi Avraham Ben Ha-Rambam -the son of Maimonides- proposes an answer that deeply resonates with me. As the pesukim describe (Shemot 32:1-4), Bnei Yisrael sees Moshe taking a long time to return from Har Sinai. As a result they decide to build another God. Why were they so worried about this delay? Rabbi Avraham Ben Ha-Rambam argues that the people assumed Moshe wasn’t coming back. This realization was devastating because they believed that only Moshe Rabbeinu, who was so perfect and complete, could access God and the Torah. Only perfect people like Moshe could connect to Hashem. If Moshe was lost, and they no longer had that intermediary to guide them, Bnei Yisrael’s ability to access the Torah and Hashem was gone. As Rabbi Avraham Ben Ha-Rambam writes: “ve-ain bahem ko’ach be-atzmam ve-lo sheleimut ha-Torah, They didn’t possess the strength nor the perfection of the Torah themselves.”
Bnei Yisrael thought that since they weren’t as perfect and as great as Moshe, they didn’t have the ability to connect with Hashem. Without Moshe and his abilities to access God, Judaism was a lost cause. So they gave up and made a horrifying, yet calculated, decision to return to their previous religion of idol worship. It’s this feeling of inadequacy that causes all to go wrong for Bnei Yisrael.
I’d like to suggest (inspired by an idea from the Derashot Ha-Ran 5:5) that Bnei Yisrael not only committed a crucial error, but misunderstood a critical lesson of Moshe’s leadership. When Hashem challenges Moshe to be the leader, Moshe is very hesitant. He argues he is not fit because “chevad peh u-chevad lashon anochi, I am slow of lips and slow of tongue.” Later, Moshe describes himself as being someone “ve-ani arel sefatayim, with uncircumcised lips.” Based on this, many commentaries understand that Moshe had a type of speech impediment. Thus, Moshe feels inadequate and is aware that he is imperfect. He won’t be able to check every box of a dynamic leader.
Yet who does God choose to be the leader of the Jewish people, who takes them out of Egypt to Har Sinai and beyond- specifically someone who is imperfect! God gets frustrated with Moshe and essentially declares to Moshe “enough.” It is not despite your imperfection I am appointing you, it is precisely because of it! I seek to send a message to the People of Israel for eternity, that despite whatever defects, insecurities, and challenges you face, you can come close to God, you can make a lasting impact, become transcendent, and even become as great as Moshe Rabbeinu. Someone who is imperfect is capable and expected by God to achieve great things. We need not be perfect to be meaningful and reach God. We all have the ability to connect with Hashem, even if we are not as “shalem” as Moshe.
According to R. Avraham Ben Ha-Rambam, this message is exactly what Bnei Yisrael failed to comprehend. Their feelings of inadequacy impeded their service of God and led them astray. That was their mistake.
In our lives, we all have insecurities, at times feel inadequate, have our own imperfections, and we consciously and subconsciously have them hold us back. But our challenge and opportunity is to persevere with them because we truly are all able to access Hashem in our own way.