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Memorial Evening 2015

5775/2015 Memorial Evening
marking the 20th Yahrzeit of Etta Ehrman Kossowsky z.l.

Memorial Evening of Learning held in Bet Shemesh on February 14th 2015 to mark the 20th Yahrzeit of Etta Ehrman Kossowsky z.l.

Welcome by Esther Ehrman


As in past years, it was heart-warming to see a hall full of people, family and friends who come to keep alive the memory of Etta z.l.  Etta’s mother, Esther Ehrman, welcomed everyone, noting the recent sad passing of Rabbi Sidney Silberg z.l. whose Gemara shiur would be sorely missed.

Torah learning, Esther pointed out, holds many surprises. As the reports from the Etta Study groups show, whether the text is NaCh or Rav Soloveitchik, Gemara or the weekly Parasha, there invariably emerges a relevance to present situations, shedding a Torah light on current events.

Welcoming our Guest Speaker,Ruth Amaru, a close friend of Etta’s from their school days, was special, Esther said, since it was Ruth who was responsible for the whole concept of the Etta Study groups as a memorial. Etta lives in every shiur.

 

'Devar Torah' by Michi Kosssowsky

Michi Kossowsky opened the learning with a critical appraisal of some organisations that serve the modern Jewish world. While much of ancient Jewish society was hierarchical in structure,, as in the implementation of Torah Law, from Moses downward or from the Kohen Gadol down, that model seems to be open to abuse to-day, with an imbalance of power at the top that can lead to corruption. We certainly need organisations such as those that ensure Kashrut, for example; but they need to berestructured to maintain the spirit and letter of mitzvot.

 

'Shmita, Local Economies - and why we should all join a Credit Union' by our Guest Speaker, Ruth Amaru

The topic Ruth chose to speak about was ’Shmita, Local Economies - and why we should all join a Credit Union’ . Shmita, Ruth said, is about economics; it is a model that we should be taking to the outside world. Economics addresses our wants - as distinct from our needs; we may well want something that we do not actually need. While the Torah does not speak about economics in so many words - the concept did not exist as such - it has a great deal to say about how we relate to our wants and requirements, Shmita being an example. But the Torah expects us to develop and improve on the world we are in in accordance with the values it gives us, for instance with the institution of the ‘prosbul’ in ‘shemitat kesafim’. We need to take into account the needs of others. Local Credit Unions are an example of economic practice that apply that principle.A small amount put into the local fund allows it to be used to give employment, spend, lend, trade with others. As a cooperative model, it prevents wealth being accumulated at the expense of others and as a local organisation, it can be based on reliable trust. Compatible with Torah values, Credit Unions would surely benefit Israeli Society.

 

'Devar Torah' by Eli Ehrman

Eli thanked the speaker.His topic was the philosophical question: What is the ‘I’ in ‘Who am I?’ in the context of a modern computer world and our use of the word ‘neshama’ (soul?).

If the I is defined in terms of memory, association (‘search’ in computer language), even knowledge and creativity, the computer would, in theory, seem to be able to handle all of that.That still leaves the question: Is there an ‘I’, a Platonic Essence, a ‘neshama’ inside of us in some way? Perhaps the I is not simply the memory,etc that we see as our identity.- Perhaps,learning Gemara now and 2,000 years ago are connected in a continuity similar to the continuity of the ‘I’ of Etta that we commemorate on these Evenings….-Eli had stated at the outset that he would ask questions without giving us answers.

 

Gila Weinberg

As an extra to this Evening, Gila Weinberg introduced her delightful book, dedicated to her father and to Etta, entitled ‘Not So Grimm - Jewish Fairy Tales’, in which she brings tales from Jewish sources such as Midrash and Talmud and explains the similarity in subject matter to well known Fairy Tales.