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Memorial Evening 2011

5771/2011 Memorial Evening
marking the 16th Yahrzeit of Etta Ehrman Kossowsky z.l.

On the 16th Yahrzeit of Etta z.l. bat moreinu haRav Zvi Ehrman, some fifty people came to spend an evening learning in Etta's name and to recall their fond memories of her.

 

Introduction by Esther Ehrman

 

Professor Ellen Spolsky: 'Moshe's Pursuit of Justice; a cognitive-cultural experience'

 

Eli Ehrman: 'All your works shall give thanks unto You, O Lord and your chassidim shall bless you'

 

Earlier, in the afternoon, one of the Etta Kossowsky Study groups in Bet Shemesh had listened to a special shiur given by Penina Schapira on dina de malchuuta dina, a fascinating account of how Jewish law had respected and, on occasion, incorporated 'the law of the land' and raising the question of the implications in present day Israel - a subject Etta would certainly have had something to say about.

In the evening, the Guest Speaker was Professor Ellen Spolsky of Bar Ilan University. Etta's mother, Esther Ehrman welcomed the great loyalty to Etta of all who had come, noting the importance of friends and friendship in Etta's life. Esther gave a brief account of the learning in Etta's name and the financial state of the Etta Kossowsky Fund before welcoming Professor Spolsky.

The very concept of lawfulness was at the core of the important lecture given by professor Ellen Spolsky, 'Moshe's Pursuit of Justice; a cognitive-cultural experience'. Again, we wished Etta had been there. Professor Spolsky spoke about the need for physical balance essential to human beings and the parallel balance that law provides to redress the imbalance of injustice. Moshe gave expression to this redressing of imbalance in killing the Egyptian slave-driver. He was doing this, not yet in obedience to law; there was no law; he was acting, with his body, as an 'outlaw'. To learn about the moral balance needed for the life of society, the Israelites had to leave Egypt and be shown the ways of lawfulness and justice. The innate sense of what is just, expressed physically by Moshe was now replaced by the word.

The subject of Eli's devar torah was the verse 'All your works shall give thanks unto You, O Lord and your chassidim shall bless you' from the Ashrei prayer (Ps.114). Eli reflected on our understanding of what is 'good'; are things good because G-d said so or are things intrinsically good and therefore G-d taught this to us. Eli described the chassid as one who seeks the well being of others. Since the Almighty unquestionably seeks the well-being of the world, chassidim bless Him, that is, declare their acknowledgement of this. Etta could clearly be numbered among those seeking the well-being of others.

As usual, the evening ended with time for everyone to meet and talk.