For the week ending 28 December 2013 / 25 Tevet 5774

Making Spiritual Deals

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Elyah Leboff

Age: 38

Kiryat Sefer, Israel

Emerson College – Major: Mass Communications

Freelance Writer

Intermediate Program & Beit Midrash Alumnus

Elyah Leboff was raised in Malden, Massachusetts and knew little more about Judaism than how to read Hebrew. A Jewish bookstore owner made a deal with him and his mother: half-price on tefillin plus free tefillin lessons if Elyah goes to the Orthodox prayer services a month before and two months after his bar mitzvah. Elyah enjoyed the youth services so much that he continued attending beyond his bargain for another two years. Eventually, resistance from parents became too much to withstand and Elyah stopped going to the Orthodox services.

After passing the Orthodox synagogue on his way home from work every day during college, Elyah eventually made a deal with G-d: “Any time I don’t have work on Shabbat, I will come to synagogue.” To his delight, he was not given work on Shabbat for the following month! Soon after his deal with G-d, Elyah was offered a position at his dream job, set for Saturdays. It wasn’t easy, but he refused.

Right after college, Elyah came to Ohr Somayach where he learned for five years. He then moved with his wife and family to Kiryat Sefer and joined a local English-speaking kollel (institution for advanced Torah study). Elyah says that the skills in Talmud and Jewish thought he developed in Ohr Somayach gave him the ability to teach other men in the kollel and build their learning skills. These same skills also gave him the ability to pursue a new profession as a translator.

Elyah continues to pursue Talmudic studies as a main occupation. In recent years, as a member of his kollel he has been teaching classes in Jewish thought and filling in as teacher for the head of the kollel when he is away. As a translator, Elyah has translated Torah works for Metzuda, Feldheim, and Chavrusa publishers, which he finds very fulfilling. In addition, Elyah and his family are regulars at Rabbi Pindrus’ yearly Succot party, and his children look forward to it every year, "like going to visit Grandpa.”

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