Kivrei Tzaddikim: Independence Day Yarchei Kallah

We had all of the fireworks right here at the Yarchei Kallah: An intense, age-old controversy involving the some of the greatest figures in our history. A topic that involves the very foundations of Jewish belief and practice. And the stakes are high for anyone who is looking for the right place to turn for salvation for their troubles.

Rabbi Yakov Skolnick guided a packed Bais Medrash through the sources and halachic opinions around which the debate stirs: When we pray, what is the permissibility of invoking either the angels, or great people who have left this world, to intercede on our behalf before the King of Kings? Is it an idolatrous practice of ascribing the power of salvation to those entities, or are we simply asking them to assist us as we approach Hashem in our time of need? This question becomes especially pertinent to the widespread practice of praying at the gravesites of righteous people. How best do we go about effectively accessing the great merit of the tzaddik?

For all this and more, listen to the shiur by Rabbi Skolnick, along with the sources.

Gone Fishin': Memorial Day Yarchei Kallah

Competition, Interference, and More

Fishing season is in full swing here in Minnesota. A perfect time for a Yarchei Kallah about the halachic topics that relate to fishing, and specifically in the realm of monetary law. Rabbi Crystal explored:

  • The parameters of healthy competition

  • the restrictions on interfering with a pending deal

    both as they relate to fishing, and in overall business practice.

  • Additionally, when do the fish you are trying to lure become yours?

You’ll want to hear the shiur below, it’s relevant even if you’re no angler.

Follow along here for the sources.

Announcing: New Rosh Chabura and JWAY Directors

Exciting Developments at the Kollel

After months of careful searching, we are excited to announce two new incredible families will be joining the Kollel.

Rabbi & Mrs. Moshe & Esti Spiro

Rabbi Moshe Spiro

Rabbi Moshe Spiro

Rabbi Spiro, originally from Toronto, is currently a highly regarded Rosh Chabura in Beis Medrash Govoha in Lakewood. He will be replacing Rabbi Lowinger as the Kollel’s Rosh Chabura, Associate Dean. While we will miss Rabbi Lowinger and the outstanding job that he's done, we are confident that Rabbi Spiro will continue to ensure that the Kollel maintains and grows the high level of scholarship and dedication the Kollel has become known for. Rabbi Spiro, and his wife Esti (also of Toronto) are excited to move to Minneapolis together with their children.

Rabbi & Mrs. Moshe Dovid Zeffren

Rabbi Moshe Dovid Zeffren

Rabbi Moshe Dovid Zeffren

Rabbi Moshe Dovid and Mrs. Shoshana Zeffren, both originally from St. Louis, MO, will be joining the Kollel as the director and the women’s coordinator of the JWAY, respectively. The Zeffrens will use their passion for Judaism, ability to connect with people, and many talents to connect with Jewish students at the University of Minnesota and beyond.

These important new hires will be critical in helping the Kollel further its mission of elevating the entire Twin Cities Jewish community through the study of Torah.

Both the Spiros and the Zeffrens will be moving here in the summer.

P.S. Rabbi Spiro and Rabbi Zeffren will be joining us for the Kollel banquet this year. Please come to meet them and give them a warm welcome!

The Business Breakfast: Risks & Rewards

The Credit Card Shiur

The use of credit cards can ignite a wide range of halachic questions in diverse areas of the Torah. Rabbi Shmuel Cohen of the Chicago Choshen Mishpat Institute shared insights on real-life questions that were asked to the Institute.

Questions included:

  • Returning a lost credit card

  • If one used his friend’s credit card and the friend incurs a late fee, can one give him money for that fee?

  • Ordering Chometz during Pesach to be delivered after Pesach

  • If my auto-scheduled payment for my bill falls out on Shabbos, should I change the date of the payment?

  • If one pays a pledge to tzedaka with a credit card, is it considered fully paid, even though the organization will receive the pledge amount minus the processing fees?

  • If one is heading towards bankruptcy, can he max out his credit cards first?

  • And more…

Listen to the audio below for the fascinating discussion!

The Business Breakfast: You Have My Word

Verbal Commitments in Halacha

Integrity has long been one of the hallmarks of the Jewish People. In Torah law, the sanctity of keeping one’s word very often overrides potential monetary gain. Yesterday, we heard from Rabbi Ephraim Friedman of the Chicago Choshen Mishpat Institute about the obligation you can create by your commitment. Rabbi Friedman discussed 3 levels of commitment, with increasing degrees of responsibility:

  • Committing to do a particular deal or transaction with another- are you allowed to back out of the deal, and under what circumstances?

  • Hiring a someone to do a service- can you cancel the job before he has started working? Is there compensation owed for the loss of revenue?

  • Committing to buy a product or service, and the work has been done- what if you no longer need it? What if circumstances arise that are beyond your control?

Practical applications of these categories abound in our everyday interactions, from the business world to babysitters. Listen to the full recording below to learn more.

Challenge Completed: $50K Matching Campaign Success

It started when we received a challenge from our generous donors: Raise $25,000 and it will be matched, dollar for dollar, for a potential $50,000!

We accepted the challenge- to raise $25,000 between February 18th and 20th. This was more than the Kollel had ever raised through a crowdfunding campaign. (Gulp…) Off we went! The Kollel staff and scholars mobilized to draft support for this vital campaign. We tapped in to relatives, friends, long-lost cousins, passing acquaintances, innocent bystanders… and our amazing community of Torah supporters. It came down to the wire, but in the end, we did it! Scratch that- YOU did it, all of our generous supporters who came together to make this campaign the success it was. An ode to the amazing power of community!

Thank you to our matchers! Thank you to all 210 donors (and counting) who donated a total of $26,636. Thank you to all of the esteemed members of the Kollel who invested their hearts and time into this campaign.

Finally, thank you Hashem, for giving us Your Torah- to cherish forever!!

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Watch: Famed Refusnik R’ Yosef Mendelevitch Awes and Inspires the Minneapolis Community

Panoramic view of the crowd at a Congregation Bais Yisroel

Panoramic view of the crowd at a Congregation Bais Yisroel


It began with was what some may call chance- but after it was over, everyone recognized it was the Ultimate Premier pulling the strings. 

R’ Mendelevitch’s 2012 Memoir, “Unbroken Spirit”

R’ Mendelevitch’s 2012 Memoir, “Unbroken Spirit”

On his way from Bozeman, Montana to his home in Jerusalem, R’ Yosef Mendelevitch realized that he had an 8-hour stopover in Minneapolis. Never one to waste time, R’ Mendelevitch graciously offered to visit the community and shared some (unprepared) remarks. The arrangements were quickly made and over 150 people came on a couple hours’ notice to hear the personal struggles of a real Jewish hero. R’ Mendelevitch in his humble and witty way told of his underground Jewish activism in Soviet Russia and his repeated attempts to escape. When their scheme to hijack an aircraft was discovered by the KGB, R’ Mendelevitch faced the prospect of the death penalty but ultimately served “only” 11 years in Soviet prison. He displayed superhuman strength and will while fiercely holding onto his Judaism. Those in the audience were visibly moved by the sacrifices R’ Mendelevitch made to wear a Yarmulka, and keep kosher and Shabbos. A hunger strike and international pressure ultimately had R’ Mendelevitch released and “expelled” to Israel in 1981. It was indeed a tremendous merit to host such a true Jewish hero.

For the full speech, see below. 

Listen or download audio below.

הדרן עלך מסכת עירובין: Siyum on Meseches Eiruvin


Absolutely incredible!

They said people wouldn’t show up...and you did, overwhelmingly! An overflow crowd of 200+!

They said flights would be cancelled...and they were, but modern technology affords us a suitable substitute to hear words of inspiration from HaRav Uren Reich!

They said it would be dangerously cold...and it was...but nothing a few remote starters, valet parking, hand warmers and a community of hardy souls couldn’t handle!

They said we couldn’t cater an event on a third floor with the elevator frozen...and Prime Deli and crew did a splendid job!

The simple message in all of this is to persevere through life’s obstacles...but on a much, much, deeper level, most of these things weren’t even much of a question. When we have a Divine mission, a Torah to live for, it changes our perspective on everything entirely. We didn’t just persevere, we celebrated together with genuine simcha!

To the point where we can honestly say that while to some all of the above seems impressive, for our community, is it really surprising?!

Relive the Siyum with the pics and video here.

Thank you so much for coming!

An Ode to 2018: Year in Review

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Dear Friends,

2018 was a year of growth and fortitude. We had some incredible accomplishments and endured some difficult challenges, but through it all your consistent support continues to drive the engine of tremendous Torah growth in the Twin Cities and beyond!

As we come to the end of 2018, I want to thank you for your constant support of the Kollel, and to share some milestones that you helped create this year. (if you prefer videos you can scroll down and watch the video below.)

  • Growth & Expansion:

    • We welcomed three new couples, Rabbi Dovid & Mrs. Chaya Gitty (Idstein) Bodner, Rabbi Yaakov Nesanel & Mrs. Elisheva (Brog) Finkelman, and Rabbi Yehuda & Mrs. Leah (Seidman) Wolin.

  • In the Bais Medrash

    • The Kollel completed its in-depth study of Meseches Eiruvin (laws of carrying on Shabbos) from cover to cover! Come back soon for more about the Grand Siyum on January 30th.

    • We are producing Sefer Rivevos Mayim, composed of the insights of the Kollel Rabbis on Eiruvin.

    • The local Kinyan Mesechta chabura, led by Rabbi Shlomo Rothstein, completed their study of Meseches Sukkah.

    • The sound of Torah learning can be heard in the Kollel on an almost constant basis, from early in the morning until late into the night; and even on Friday night! The afternoons are especially lively, with the Kollel Rabbis, Rebbeim from Torah Academy and Yeshiva of Minneapolis, boys from Torah Academy after school, and the entire 12th grade of the Yeshiva, all coming to learn!

  • In the Community

    • The Kollel and the Kenesseth Israel Learning Community came together to host a fabulous Shabbaton at the Oak Ridge Conference Center in March, featuring renowned lecturer Rabbi Yaakov Salomon.

    • Once again, the Kollel collaborated with Mrs. Giti Fredman of Aish to create an incredible Challah Bake for the International Shabbos Project. Over 400 women attended, and a tremendous time was had by all. The Kollel provided logistics and back-end support.

  • Programs and Classes

    • The crowd consistently overflows from the Kollel Library for one of our most popular programs: The Business Breakfast. Topics included online price mistakes, the role of Beis Din, fair pricing, and the interface between halacha and technology.

    • Yarchei Kallah sessions on legal holidays continue to be highly popular. This year topics included Tefilas HaDerech, Techeiles, Tefillin on Chol Hamoed, where to light the Chanukah menorah, and Moshiach.

    • Following the Memorial Day Yarchei Kallah on Tefilas HaDerech by Rabbi Yaakov Kaufman, Mr. Ron Mandelbaum came to the Kollel with the idea of creating a Guide to Tefilas HaDerech for the Twin Cities. If you don’t have one yet, stop by the Kollel to pick one up, complete with a map of the optimal locations to say Tefilas HaDerech when traveling from Minneapolis/St. Paul, the full text of Tefilas HaDerech, and selected halachos. Thank you to Ron, Rabbi Kaufman, Rabbi Yechezkel Greenberg, and Rabbi Aharon Stauber of Lakewood for collaborating on this project.

    • See the Events/Programs/Classes tab for the full list of our ongoing classes, and find one that fits for you!

  • Women’s Programming

    • This summer, WPIT debuted Positive Parenting, a guided forum for parents of young children to gain Torah- and experience-based tips and inspiration. The 6-week session left participants wanting even more, and WPIT is gearing up for the next session.

    • WPIT LIVE events included Purity: An Evening of Inspiration for Yom Kippur, and an Add Some Color to Your Winter paint night.

    • WPIT hosted several shiurim for the women of the community:

      • The Women’s Guide to Purim; The Complete Pesach Shopping Guide; and Keeping Cool & Kosher, a guide to the kashrus of popular summer treats; all with Rabbi Eli Markowitz of CRC Kosher.

      • Megillas Rus: A Lesson in Chesed, with Dayan Yehoshua Posen of London.

These are just some of the highlights of 2018. We look forward to partnering with you for an even more incredible 2019! Thank you for your unwavering and warmhearted support!

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