CHIEF RABBI, HACHAM SHAUL KASSIN 5681 – 5779 / 1921-2018

Past Articles:

The Evil Eye

I’m a long-time reader of Community Magazine and one of my favorite go-to columns for years is the one with Rabbi Mansour’s divrei Torah. Last month’s topic, “Protecting Ourselves from Ayin Hara," was especially enlightening. Although I have always believed in the concept of the ayin hara, I have many friends and family members who do not – and consider it as superstition. Rabbi Mansour, as he so often does, made a complicated subject easy to read and understand as he explained how the ayin hara works.  

In my humble opinion, if you look closely at any situation involving the “evil eye,” most of the time you will see that fear is the root cause. All of us struggle at one time another with fear of being, or having, “less than” others because we don’t want to be isolated, cast-off, or discarded. We strive for connection – with others (and with Hashem), and the threat of being alone or inferior is overwhelming. Think about it – every action, every thought can be boiled down to either “love” or “fear.” We need always be aware that the yetzer hara strives to convince us that what we have is not enough – both physically and spiritually.

David D.

Praying for Israel

Last month’s interview with Israeli General Moshe Ya’alon about the current security situation in Israel was quite interesting – but the General seemed to leave out Israel’s most potent protection policy against their enemies – Hashem! It is true that Israel is currently one of the most powerful countries in the world (ranked 8th in the world in a recent poll), but Hashem is our only real protection. 

It should be clear to every single Jew that the price for real and lasting peace is acknowledging Hashem and our covenant with Him, and keeping to His terms. In other words: living an orthodox Jewish life. Almost everything else has been tried already – and has failed miserably. Why bother trying to make the same failed solutions work? We have received promises about the results of living according to the ways of the Torah, and we can rely on those promises. And for the people that find this too big a step, they could still join the effort to bring real and lasting peace by making peace with one another and practicing ahavat Yisrael in their daily lives. Hashem is with us – together, as a united people, we can succeed!

Moshe T.

Community Members Visit Pittsburgh

It was nice to read that various groups and organizations from our community responded to the deadly Pittsburgh tragedy by going to Pittsburgh to comfort the mourners and show support to the responding police officers. I believe that now it is time for our own community leaders to discuss new strategies to protect our synagogues, yeshivot, and community centers. For example:  safe rooms, mobile protective shields that blend with the natural environment, controlled entrances and exits, and of course, security guards. Unfortunately, having armed security guards might be the sad but necessary solution in these volatile times. May Hashem bless the victims and their families through their unimaginable difficult time.

Jeff M.

Dominican Republic

I really enjoyed reading Dave Gordon’s article about the Dominican Republic. It is indeed, as Mr. Gordon wrote, a tourist haven with rich Jewish history. I have been to the Dominican Republic many times. In fact, many years ago, while vacationing there, my husband and I met the "Jewish Deputy" to the Dominican legislature. He related that when they were building the Yosef Caro Synagogue in Santo Domingo, the Dean of the Dominican School of Architecture appeared and asserted that he should be the one to design the building. His family claimed descent from the author of the Shulhan Aruch. I believe that the president of the country at the time was a Sephardic Jew.

Marlene H.