The Atlanta community enjoyed an uplifting and inspirational Shabbos of Chizuk. Rabbi Dovid Zagari and Rabbi Asher Zadmehr, Rav Congregation Mishkan Torah, Los Angeles, CA, traveled from Los Angeles and spoke multiple times over Shabbos. “I came to give inspiration and I am leaving inspired,” commented Rabbi Zagari.
Several women worked an entire week preparing a sumptuous meal for Friday night. Two hundred community members gathered for the Friday night seuda at the day school. The festively decorated room provided just the right ambiance and the zemiros and divrei Torah were the icing on the cake.
Friday Night’s talk was about why the parsha is called Yitro and not Parshat HaAseret Hadebarot. Yitro was mekabel Torah. There are two elements in accepting Torah: 1.) That Hashem has given us the Torah. 2.) More importantly what are we going to do with that Torah. Our learning the Torah is accepting the Torah. This second aspect is more important than giving of the Torah. Therefore the parsha is called Yitro because Yitro understood the importance of learning. And similarly Vetchanan which contains the second Aseret Hadebarot also the name is not named Aseret Hadebarot but Vetchanan. The reason is because the word Vetchanan means ‘the request’ of a person who wants to receive something. That represents a person expressing his desire to accept the Torah.
Before musaf, Rabbi Zagari delivered an impassioned drasha at Congregation Ner Hamizrach. “Let us not fall into the category of Lazy Orthodox,” implored Rabbi Zagari, identifying the term he coined for people who believe in the fundamental principles of faith, but are sometimes lax in fulfilling them. He emphasized that we all need to seize on the many opportunities that the shul and Kollel offer to strengthen our Torah study, observance of mitzvos and understanding of our centuries old heritage. He beseeched everyone to push themselves a little harder in their avodas hakodesh.
In the afternoon Rabbi Zagari addressed a large group of women on the topic: Building the Five Star Jewish Home; Essential Tips for Today’s Women. He explained the essential role that a woman plays in the home and how she can greatly influence the home’s shalom bayis. Women have extra kedusha which provides them with the opportunity to infuse their homes with a Torah atmosphere. Although women should always look attractive to their husband, they should nevertheless, wear clothes that do not draw attraction to themselves when they are in the public eye. By doing so, they will fulfill their mission and strengthen the family’s foundation.
Over two hundred people attended the gala Melava Malka. Rabbi Asher Zadmehr captivated the audience with his personal story of incarceration in a jail in an Asian country for four years. Nearly 20 years ago, Rabbi Zadmehr was arrested along with other rabbis on charges of espionage. The government threatened to publicly execute all of them. Jews from Atlanta and around the world fasted and poured out their hearts in prayer that Hashem should rescind the evil decree. Baruch Hashem the rabbis were not hung, as the government originally threatened, but they endured four long and grueling years of challenges to their faith and mitzvah observance.
Even in jail, Rabbi Zadmehr observed all of the yamim tovim, fasted on Yom Kippur, fasted all of Pesach rather than eat bread and davened every day. Rabbi Zadmehr’s odyssey is the tale of unwavering emunah and bitachon in Hashem. He passionately remained strong and doggedly refused to compromise his principles even at risk of his own personal welfare.
Rabbi Shmuel Khoshkerman, rav of Congregation Ner Hamizrach, concluded the evening by asking everyone to use the inspirational Shabbos as a catalyst to help us grow in their yiddishkeit. “Before the enthusiasm wanes,” remarked Rabbi Khoshkerman, “pick an area of personal growth to focus on.”