Tuesday, November 27, 2007

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Harav Amnon Itzchak Shlita

In one of many shiurim that HaRav Amnon Itzchak Shlita gives, he was asked how he did Teshuva? He answered that they used to live in Kerem Hateymanim in Tel Aviv and one day, when he was 24 years old, in 1978, he was home sitting in the living room. Having nothing to do, he looked at the bookcase and checked out the books sitting on the shelf. He saw a sefer called Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (literal translation: Shortcut to a prepared table; actual translation: Concise Code of Jewish Law) and on the sefer's cover was a gold frame that was very attractive.
He received this sefer for his Bar Mitzvah and thought to himself, 'who are the stingy guests that brought me a book on setting up a table?'. He opened it up, thinking to see pictures of food and dishware set up on a table but instead he saw pages and pages of print. He randomly opened the sefer and began reading, "A person must put on the right shoe first, left shoe last, tie shoelaces of left shoe first and tie shoelaces of right shoe last."

He figured it's a book about shoes...

He randomly flipped the pages and read, "It is beneficial to begin one’s sleep while lying on the left side, and afterwards to change to the right side."

He figured it's a book about sleeping...

He randomly flipped more pages and read, "At the conclusion of the blessing one should respond with ‘Amen,’ which means ‘It is true and stands for אל מלך נאמן. Our tradition teaches that responding “Amen” is equivalent to saying the b’racha itself.

He recognized the word Amen, because his father would take him to shul on Shabbat and he heard the congregation answer Amen, but he never understood the meaning of the word. But by now he was very confused, not understanding what kind of a book this is. Is it a book of instructions how to set up the table? Or, how to put on shoes?, Or how to sleep?

After leafing through the pages of the book, he then realized just how Jewish illiterate he was, and this was quite a humbling experience for the secular-savvy young attorney. When seeing just how beautifully intricate and wise the Halacha really was, he became outraged at the fact that he had deliberately been robbed of his birthright by the secularly oriented public education system in Israel. That episode was a turning point in his life, which led to his intense commitment to increase his own Jewish knowledge while simultaneously encouraging others to do likewise.

He decided that he'll read the sefer from the first page to get a better understanding. As he began reading the book, he purchased more Sefarim to help him understand the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.

He read (studied) day and night, and learned new Halachot. When he went to shul Shabbat, he noticed that the congregation erred in halacha and would correct them. They would get angry with him, coming to shul with his long ponytail and teaching them the Halachot... He didn't realize that men are prohibited to have long hair because he hasn't yet reached that section in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch....

He says this is the main reason that in his shiurim he looks for men with long hair and wants to chop it off, it's part of his tikun.

He began peddling through the streets of Tel Aviv, engaging people in heated conversations about what it means to be a Jew. No one escaped his sincere efforts to encourage them to explore, to learn and to observe mitzvot. From the street corners, to the living rooms, to lecture halls and on to the mass media, the audiences continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

8 years later, in 1986, he opened Shofar organization. Single handedly, with his razor sharp mind and mouth, he helped over 1 million Jews to do Teshuva. His following include Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Litvak, Lubavitch, Breslov and other Hassidim, orthodox and secular Jews who want to learn about their own religion. Fans of HaRav come in all shapes and sizes, both men and women! His events are ALWAYS standing room only! Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak fills football stadia and auditoriums across Israel and internationally, preaching a message of repentance and return to Judaism.

Rabbi Amnon also said, “Terrorist attacks won’t cease, they’ll just get worse. A few years ago, the Arabs threw rocks at us. Hashem wanted us to make tshuva, but we didn’t. Instead of rocks, we got homemade incendiary bombs. Hashem wanted us to make tshuva, but we didn’t. Instead of the incendiary bombs, we got shot at with rifles. Hashem wanted us to make tshuva, but we didn’t. After the rifles, the terrorists acquired machine guns. Hashem wanted us to make tshuva, but we didn’t. After the machine guns, the terrorist developed Qassam rockets and began firing them at us. Hashem wanted us to make tshuva, but we didn’t. Since we still didn’t heed Hashem’s voice, the Qassam rockets became Katyushas, and now the Katyushas are becoming Raad and Fajr missiles. What, are we now waiting for the 125-kilometer range missiles to hit Natanya and Tel Aviv?!? And then Gog and Magog? That’s what will happen if there’s no tshuva!”
To see video shiurim of his most famous lectures, dubbed with English subtitles, click HERE

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