Personal letters to Joy

Reb Yosef's book, The Universal Jew, was a series of letters between him and his father.
I mamash feel that since Reb Yosef called me his 'sister' and considered me his 'spiritual child', that I am inspired, and honor my brother, Reb Yosef, by including some parts of his gevaldt personal letters to me.  - Joy Krauthammer

Ethics of Reb Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen that inspire me.

Excerpts from  personal letters to Joy


My dear sister, 

I feel responsible for my public words. When I talk about Orthodox Jews in front of a mostly non-Orthodox audience, or when I talk about non-Orthodox Jews before a mostly Orthodox audience, I try to be careful not to directly or indirectly cause negative and distorted stereotypes; instead, I try to create better understanding and appreciation of the community which my audience views as the "other"! … 

In addition, ever since I became involved in classical Judaism as a boy through my joining the Orthodox community, I have suffered from the "Orthodox-bashing" that I heard from non-Orthodox friends, relatives, and others, due to their prejudices, misconceptions, and/or distorted stereotypes. In fact, people who know me well also know that I react strongly when I hear such distorted and negative stereotypes about any group; in fact, I used to be personally attacked when I would defend African Americans from comments which promote - directly or indirectly - such distorted stereotypes.

My study of history, my parents' training, my Torah education, and the voice of my soul all remind me of the wise words of the great Torah teacher, King Solomon, who said, "Life and Death are in the hands of the tongue." Words have tremendous power, and words expressed in a public forum have even more power. Promoting directly or indirectly prejudice towards another Jewish community does not lead to life…

I now need to rest, doven, and eat a proper breakfast.  

Be well, my dear sister, and may you be blessed with a Good and Sweet Shabbos.
~ ~ ~

           by Reb Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen
March 4, 2008

Dear Joy,

Yes, your special spiritual strength and potential is gila!

I would like to offer some personal reflections as to why you experience spiritual life and joy so intensely within your body:

Women have a very great potential within them to intensely experience spiritual life and joy within their bodies. This may be the deeper reason why the Talmud mentions that a woman of sixty will dance like a six-year old to the sound of musical instruments (Moed Katan 9b).  In fact, the path of mitzvos is to enable us to sanctify the physical, and the Midrash teaches that women tend to be more swift and eager to fulfill mitzvos than men (Exodus Rabbah 28:2).

In terms of feminine spiritual energy, you are very blessed; moreover, through following the "halacha" - steps - of the Torah path which sanctify this physical world, you can go higher and higher - from joy to joy.

May we soon experience the age when Zion, and eventually the entire earth, will become a Garden of Eden, where we will dwell together with the Shechinah.

Shalom Rav,
~ ~ ~


From: Yosef <>

To: joy
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2008
Subject: Your Name

Dear Joy,

According to our mystical tradition, the Hebrew name given to us after we are born is an expression's of our soul. The Life-Giving One inspired our parents to give us this name, and this name is related to our soul's mission and role on earth. This name is sacred and it remains with us through life.

There are also rare occasions when a person takes on an additional name. For example, a new name can be added on when someone is dangerously ill or when someone begins a path of teshuvah - spiritual renewal and return.

How is this done? A woman named Sarah who begins a path of teshuvah may want to express her rebirth through adding on another name. Let us say she decides to also call herself Chaya - from the word chaim. After the official change, her new name will be Chaya Sarah.

The new name is listed before the old name, but the old name is not removed. We still keep the old name, as we do not deny our soul's identity; we take on an additional name to signify that we are growing through a new dedication to the life-giving Divine purpose of our creation. The new name signifies that we have gained new life and strength to enable our soul to fulfill its mission. 

Before I continue our discussion, I need to know what was the Hebrew or Jewish name given to you at birth? 

Kol Tuv,
~ ~ ~

 Messenger of Hashem

from: Yosef <>
To: joy@
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2007 08:03:16 +0200
Subject: Re: New Reply from across the world

What you wrote reveals your higher mission, especially during this period when Hashem is planning to gather in the lost Jewish souls in order that we become the people that we are meant to be - the rainbow people who are to serve as a spiritual model which will bring life, blessing, and joy to the world.  We become this model through studying and fulfilling the life-giving teachings and mitzvos of the Torah.
You are to serve as a messenger of Hashem during this age of ingathering.
~ ~ ~

I treasure these words and miss Reb Yosef, zt'l.  Example of  how Reb Yosef supported my work with his encouragement:

Dear Joy,

You are a soulful musician with the gift of poetry. Thank you for sharing these very beautiful and moving impressions.

Much Shalom and Shabbat Shalom,

Yosef Hakohen
~ ~ ~

May your work inspire others to serve the altruistic Divine purpose through the mitzvos of the Torah - the Divine Teaching.
Simcha and Shalom!
~ ~ ~
Sympathy and Olam Haba

From: Yosef Hakohen <>
Date: March 5, 2009
Subject: Re: Baruch Dayan HaEmet ~ my beloved aunt

Dear Joy,
It is "very" meaningful that you were able to speak to this very special neshamah, your beloved Aunt, before she went on the next stage of her journey.
The term "Olam Haba" - World to Come - can refer to the future wonderful world on this earth after the resurrection when we will be reunited with our loved ones on this earth. Our tradition teaches that Shabbos is a semblance of Olam Haba. When we both keep and celebrate Shabbos, we get a "taste" of the tranquility, joy, and shalom of the World to Come on this earth.
We are the People of Zion, and in a deep sense, we are all "mourners" - for Zion and for the souls from the People of Zion that have left this earth. This is why we say to each mourner, "May the Omnipresent One comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."
May you and all of us be blessed with a comforting, healing, and strengthening Shabbos.
~ ~ ~

From: Yosef <>
Date: December 19, 2006 12:56:03 AM PST
To: joy@
Subject: Re: OHR

Dear Joy,
Your moving letter referred to the following words from our Sacred Scriptures:
"The lamp of the Compassionate One is the human soul" (Proverbs 20:27).
Each of us is a menorah.
And the light of this menorah is eternal.
Happy Chanukah,

~ ~ ~

From: Yosef <>
Date: November 2, 2006 11:42:38 AM PST
To: joy
Subject: Reply

My Dear Sister, 
After you sent me a letter about my possible involvement with the Jewish Renewal group, I felt that I could share with you some of my impressions of this loose movement - impressions based on my own experiences with this chevre.
Some of the people I know from these circles are on my mailing list, and they visit me when they come to Jerusalem. (R. Marcia is also on my mailing list.)
When Ruth Broyde Sharone had one of her Festival of Freedom gatherings in Jerusalem, she invited me to speak to her group, which included a few Jewish Renewal people. I did speak to them, although this year, I do not have the strength for public speaking.
It seems that you had some good encounters with traditional Jews and some encounters that did not feel so good. Although you did not have a formal Torah education, and although some of your experiences were not pleasant, you have managed to climb many rungs on Jacob's Ladder, and I therefore have great respect for your spiritual accomplishments. And there is much reward awaiting you for all the chesed you do, for your devotion to your late husband, and for the joy that you bring into the world depsite the suffering you have endured. You are a remarkable daughter of Israel.
My purpose as a teacher is not to judge anyone; my purpose is to show the whole vision, so that eveyone, including myself, will want to climb even higher.
Due to your request, I will look again in the Hazon files, and try to send you more stories about my personal background. And if you send me your regular mailing address, I will send you a copy of my book, "The Universal Jew" - Letters to My Progressive Father, which has some stories about my journey.
R. Zalman was the one who suggested that I organize the traditional "sun blessing" service on the top of the Empire State Building. This event happens every very few decades. Zalman led the service. He also once gave a talk at the artists center I directed about Chassidic music. We had a good and friendly relationship, but I  was also honest with him, and I let him know in a nice and respectful way when I disagreed with him.
One of my rebbes, a noted Torah sage, was close to R. Shlomo in his youth. In fact, the first "od yeshamah" that Shlomo composed - the one on his first album, HaNeshama Lach - was compsoed in honor of my rebbe's wedding.  My rebbe loved Shlomo, but was pained by some of his weaknesses and mistakes which also hurt a number of women.. My rebbe said that despite these weaknesses and mistakes, Shlomo had a very great neshama, and one can assume that he did teshuva for his errors before he passed away, due to the depth of his great and giving neshama. One can therefore say about him, zecher tzadik livracha.
May you have a Good, Sweet, and Healing Shabbos!


(Reb Yosef would only mention names to me that I had already mentioned to him, as their being my rabbis or chevre. I find it important that he recognized my female rabbis in their role as rabbi, thus I leave in these names. - Joy)

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Joy Krauthammer