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Jewish Journal

Remembering Aish HaTorah’s Rav Weinberg

by Brad A. Greenberg

February 8, 2009 | 6:41 pm

I neglected to mention that Rabbi Noah Weinberg, founder of the Jewish inreach organization Aish HaTorah, died in his Jerusalem home Thursday morning after months of deteriorating health. He was 78.

“Rabbi Weinberg dedicated his life to bringing a renaissance within Jewish people, to reach out to every Jew and reconnect him to the depth and meaning of our heritage,” the organization he founded in 1974 said in a statement. “The Jewish people are meant to be a light unto nations; Rabbi Weinberg undertook the task to galvanize the Jewish people and inspire us to live up to our mission and be Kiddush Hashem—to sanctify God’s Name in this world.”

At Cross-Currents, Yaakov Menken remembers his first rebbe. An excerpt is after the jump:

Armed with my backpack and the Let’s Go Guide to Israel, I descended from the intercity bus at Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station, planning to spend a few days exploring the city for the first time. I intended, based upon the Let’s Go recommendation, to stay in a youth hostel on King George Street — but at that point I was approached by a young student like myself, in T-shirt, jeans, the mandatory Israeli sandalim, yarmulke and tzitzis. Okay. Almost like myself. I had a yarmulke too, somewhere back in Be’er Sheva. And after inquiring to determine that I was both Jewish and looking for a place to stay, he suggested that I visit the Heritage House, a free Jewish youth hostel in the Old City. Given that it was centrally located and the price couldn’t be beat, it wasn’t a hard decision.

Rabbi Meir Schuster’s youth hostel had one limitation — it closed at 9 a.m., while many popular tourist destinations did not open until 9:30 or 10. For this reason, the hostel manager suggested going to a class at nearby Aish HaTorah, which oh so conveniently happened to start at nine. ...

Rabbi Weinberg was giving one lecture of what became one of his most well-known and acclaimed series of classes, on “48 Ways to Wisdom,” based upon the list offered in Pirkei Avos, the Chapters of the Fathers. If I am not mistaken, the morning’s topic was the attribute of Happiness. But what I remember more clearly is that the discussion turned to the topic of the Moshiach, the Messiah, the Anointed Leader of the Jewish People who will rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and usher in an era of Peace. Rabbi Weinberg looked at us and asked, “have you ever wondered if you could be… the Moshiach?”

And with similar clarity, I remember my answer: “no.”

As Rabbi Weinberg continued by describing a student who came over afterwards, expressing relief because he had thought himself crazy, I remember sitting there considering the fact that this particular delusion had never once crossed my mind. And the Rabbi was excited about the possibility, positively beaming with his wide smile.

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