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Spiritual Tools: Tiferet ha-Gershuni: To Me, God Shall Point

The 11th of Adar[I] is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Gershon (ben Yitzchak) Ashkenazi (1625-1693). Born in Holtz, Germany, he left home to learn in the yeshiva of Rav Yoel Sirkes, the Bach, in Krakow, Poland.


He was also a close talmid of Rav Yehoshua, the Maginei Shlomo.

Rav Gershon lost his first wife in 1649, and his second wife in 1654. His third

wife, Rebbetzin Raizel, was zocheh to arichas yamim, outliving her husband by 30


Rav Gershon served as dayan in Krakow, and in 1650 served the kehila of  Prussnitz, Moravia. With the petira of his father-in-law, the Tzemach Tzedek in 1661, he became Rav in Nicholsburg and a year later of the entire province of Moravia. He served as chief Rabbi of Austria until the expulsion of 1670. At that point, he became Rav of Metz, Germany, where he remained until his petira.

He is the author of Avodas HaGershuni, which deals with a wide range of

Halachah. Much of what we know about the Chmielnicki massacres are based on this work.

A prolific writer, he also composed Tiferes HaGershuni comprising his drashas on the Torah, and Chidushei HaGershuni on Halacha. (listed as 10 Adar in Hamodia 2011) [Adar 1]

Ulla Bira’ah said in the name of R. Eleazar: In the days to come the Holy One, blessed be He, will hold a chorus for the righteous and He will sit in their midst in the Garden of Eden and every one of them will point with his finger towards Him, as it is said, And it shall be said in that day: Lo, this is our God, for whom we waited, that He might save us; this is the Lord for whom we waited, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation. (Ta’anit 31a)

We will point to God only if we lived with our finger held out before us pointing us in all we do toward God.

God will point back at us and say, “This is who you are. This is what you have achieved.”

We must therefore not only live with a clear sense of direction, but with an awareness that all we do, think and say, will define us in that moment when God points His “Finger” to us. Are we prepared?

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