I share these very personal letters, for you, too, to receive more of Reb Yosef's shared wisdom. I breathe deeply as I release them.
BlesSings, Joy

March 2007

My dear brother, Reb Yosef,

Thank you for being all that you are. (I know you know the story of Zuchia.)

You listen, you answer, you are in the Divine Image; compassionate, understanding, wise, responsible, protective, loving, grounded and surely generous with your soul, time and typing fingers.
I know and respect you as Hashem's malach on earth.
If you were Disneyland, you would be the menu's "E" ride.
(Just realized that "E" is probably an onomatopoeia.)
If at a NY Chinese kosher restaurant in the sixties, you would be the menu's column "A". (add a patach 'h', and also an onomatopoeia, I just realized--Nourished, fulfilled universal healing sound, as in SHAlom, after having eaten from the diet.)

Thank you for writing, and for your knowing comments in your second paragraph, personal to me, and to the entire letter which I have now read more than a couple times for greater depth of understanding.  I hope you don't get all wet from my tears flowing through the keyboard.

I appreciate your metaphor of "diet" and that helps me to understand myself.

I am so grateful that you "appeared" to me as part of my diet. I am filled with sasson when I open my mail and receive from the menu of The One Who Teaches Torah to Israel.

Now for me, before Shabbat arrives, Torah study, and off to my mitzvot for the day, which I see already waiting in my mail (too early for local phone calls so my writing will suffice at this hour.) Yes, I too have cried out, and Hashem helps me to be more loving and giving, as I serve in my capacity, our brothers and sisters...

Wishing for you, Reb Yosef, mamash, the sweetest Shabbat Shalom,
and a Shavua Tov is my letter to you, to be read after Shabbat.

One love, shalom and abundant blessings of health and joy to you,
"Serve G*d With Joy"

~ ~ ~

From: Yosef <>
To: joy@
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007
Subject: New Reply

Dear Joy,

I greatly value and appreciate our friendship, and I have a very deep respect for the mitzvos you do in life with a love and dedication that is truly awesome.

You went though a very difficult and painful challenge with your husband's family during your marriage; yet, in your current relationship with Marcel's mother, you are striving to rise above all the difficulties and pain you went though in order to bring new healing and life. With this approach you are hastening the arrival of Moshiach; with this approach, you are bringing the world closer to redemption.

In order to fully and properly fulfill the life-giving purpose of our creation, we study Torah - the Divine Teaching. And in order for us to accomplish our personal and collective mission on this earth, we need to study all areas of Torah wisdom. Nevertheless, different neshamos may need to initially focus more on different areas of the Divine wisdom. 

For example, I have a friend with a beautiful, loving, and sensitive neshamah who tended to be very introverted and introspective; moreover, he had difficulty feeling and expressing emotions. He was therefore drawn to Chassidus, as he felt that this approach - one which emphasized emotional expression, joy, and communal celebration - helped to draw him out of his shell. He felt that this approach helped him to be more balanced in his service on this earth.

I have another friend who has a very poetic, sensitive, and very emotional nature. He discovered that when he focused too much on Chassidic and kabbalistic teachings, he became too spacey. He therefore felt the need to ground himself  by focusing more on mussar and halacha. His head was already in the heavens, but he needed to plant his feet firmly on the earth! He was therefore drawn to the approach of the Lithuanian yeshiva world which emphasizes ethics and character development, as well as calm rational thinking based on the Divine wisdom of Torah.

A natural healer will often adjust the natural and healing diet according to the condition and needs of each patient. The same is true with the study of Torah which brings healing and life to the human being; The Torah study "diet"  often needs to be adjusted to meet the condition and needs of each person. And the diet can also change at various stages of a person's life. At one stage, a person may need to become more grounded by focusing more on the study of halacha  and mussar, and at another stage, a person may need to expand his or her consciousness by focusing more on kabbalistic teachings.

For my diet, I find that at this stage of my life, kabbalistic teachings are best in occasional small dosages. Nevertheless, I realize that it is part of the Divine plan that more and more of the life-giving hidden wisdom of Torah be revealed, especially as we approach the era when, "the earth will be filled with knowledge of Hashem as water covering the sea bed."  (Isaiah 11:9). I therefore understand and respect the need of many souls in our generation to have greater access to this branch of Torah wisdom.

A natural healer will recommend food and liquids that are pure and organic in order to maximize the healing experience. My role as a Torah teacher and healer is to guide people to pure and organic sources of this wisdom in order to maximize the healing experience.

Healers of the body and soul may also need to caution people about certain  "diets" on the market which have some harmful inorganic substances mixed in with some organic ingredients. A healer therefore has a responsibility to safeguard the pure, life-giving wisdom of healing.

Regarding the role of the Kohen - a teacher of Torah - it is written:

"For the lips of the Kohen should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek teaching from his mouth; for he is a messenger of Hashem, God of all the hosts of creation." (Malachi 2:7).

This is a very awesome responsibility, and there have been occasions where I prayed with tears to the One Who Teaches Torah to Israel that I fulfill this responsibility properly, for I am aware of my own imperfections.  Yet when we strive to serve the Community of Israel - the children of the radical and righteous patriarchs and matriarchs - Hashem helps us! And in the process of serving our brothers and sisters, we ourselves grow and mature, as we become more loving and giving.

May Hashem help each of us to be a loving Kohen.

Have a Shabbat Shalom!

~ ~ ~

From: Yosef <>
Date: November 2, 2006 3:12:03 AM PST
To: joy@
Subject: P.S.

I sense that my feelings about the Jewish Renewal movement were shared by R. Shlomo. At the last gathering where he and R. Zalman were together (in the Bay area) Shlomo was asked whether there were any differences beteen him and R. Zalman, who is a founder of the Jewish Renewal movement. He gave an honest answer which was recorded on the tape made of that event. His response indicates that he did not take the same approach of Zalman and the Jewish Renewal movement, and that he saw himself as a representiave of the pure tradition.
In terms of his beliefs, Shlomo was committed to "all" of the 613 steps of the Torah dance, and he did not want to invent a new dance to conform with contemporary western culture.
I was friendly with both R. Zalman and R. Shlomo; moreover, I went to a number of Zalman's retreats and I worked with him on a couple of projects..I therefore feel that Reb Shlomo's answer was correct. They definitely did not have the same approach. At the event in the Bay area which I mentioned above, R. Shlomo explained the difference in the following manner. He said that when he was invited to various interfaith gatherings, he went as as a committed Jew and that he only wanted to share with people the pure waters of Torah. Although he indicated that he respected people from other traditions, he felt that his mandate was be a messenger of our tradition. He therefore spoke, sang, and danced as a Jew. 
I therefore identified more with R. Shlomo, z"tl,  than with R. Zalman.
Nevertheless, Shlomo was patient with others, as he recognized that sometimes we all "slip" while dancing, due to our weaknesses; moreover, he recognized that Jews with little or no Torah background need to learn the steps of the dance at their own pace, even if it takes years. His goal, however, was the entire dance of the complete, holistic Torah which elevates all areas of our existence.
Shlomo wanted us to change ourselves, but he did not want to change the Torah! Shlomo wanted us to understand the Torah on a deeper level, but he did not want to eliminate any aspect of Torah or to graft on to Torah ideas or practices which are not in harmony with her spirit.
Within the dance of Torah, there is room for individual expression, and each soul's dance has its own style and flavor; however, when we fulfill the Torah properly, we are all in the same circle, doing the same dance, each with his or her own unique movement.
Just as people can dance the same dance, and each one adds his or her own flavor, so too, each musician can play the same symphony, yet, each one plays it according to the expression of his or her soul. This is why people can go again and again to hear the same symphony at various  concerts, as on each occasion, a different musician is playing; thus, there is an element of newness and uniqueness at each performance. 
Those who value the complete dance of the Torah are called tradiional, classical, or Orthodox Jews. In terms of his beliefs, Reb Shlomo was an Orthodox Jew, but he wanted to be a creative and innovative Orthodox Jew who could reach the searching souls of our generation. He therefore had great pride in those of his followers who became Torah-observant.
~ ~ ~ 

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Shalom and in sympathy,
Joy Krauthammer