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Rav Gifter: Vaeira

The 24th of Tevet is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Mordechai Gifter (1915-2001). Born in Richmond, Virginia, he moved to Baltimore with his family, when his father noted the difficulty in teaching his son in a city not noted for its strong Torah resources. As a youth, he studied in the Rav Yitzchak Elchonon Yeshiva of New York City under his rav, Rav Moshe Halevi Soloveitchik. HaRav Gifter studied together with Rav Nosson Wachtfogel, zt”l, former mashgiach of Lakewood and Rav Avigdor Miller of Flatbush in the Rav Yitzchak Elchonon Yeshiva.

On the advice o his uncle, Rav Yehuda Leib Zer, one of the directors of the Rav Yitzchak Elchonon Yeshiva, Rav Gifter went to study in the Telz yeshiva of Lithuania in the winter of 1932. He became very close to the rosh yeshiva, Rav Avraham Yitzchak Bloch. In the summer of 1939, Rav Gifter became engaged to the daughter of Rav Zalman Bloch. The wedding date was set for a year later. The couple married in the United States. With the expansion of the Ner Yisrael yeshiva in Baltimore by Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman, Rav Gifter was asked to deliver chaburos to the students.

In 1943, Rav Gifter became rav of the chareidi community in Connecticut, and one year later, his uncles, Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch and Rav Chaim Mordechai Katz founded the Telz yeshiva in Cleveland. They asked him to join them as ram and mashgiach.

He moved to Eretz Yisrael in 1976, founding the Telz yeshiva in Kiryat Telz-Stone near Yerushalayim. However, three years later, the rosh yeshiva of Telz in Cleveland, Rav Baruch Sorotzkin, was nifter, and Rav Gifter returned to Cleveland to succeed him. And there he remained until his own petira.

“And God spoke to Moshe and said to him, I am the Lord.” God explained to Moshe, when He first appeared to him at the Burning Bush, how the Divine Presence would be revealed through the wonders and miracles that would happen in Egypt. God explained that they would reveal His Name Elokim, Lord, the name that describes Divine Guidance within the world. The physical nature of this world and the rules of nature, serve as a barrier between God and humanity. This is why we refer to the world as “Olam,” which is derived from “Ne’elam,” that which is hidden.

When God acts through Elokim, we see His actions without seeing Him. Only the believer can merit to see God in the actions of Elokim.

The name H-V-Y-H, God, reflects God’s Presence within the world, that He is the One Who gives existence to all things. This name was revealed through the miracles of redemption. It is this Name that transformed water into blood.

The Name H-V-Y-H also reflects God’s attribute of compassion. However, because God’s nature is hidden in the world, we do not perceive the compassion that underlies His Din – Judgment.
God is explaining To Moshe in this verse that the Redemption will reveal to the Children of Israel and the world that even when God acts with Elokim – Judgment – there is compassion in each act of judgment. (Pirkei Torah – Vaeira)

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