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A rabbi, a disability, an inspiration

ריקודים לכבוד הרב אורי שחור בישיבת שדרות

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

He suffers from cerebral palsy and yet, as of this week, he is also a rabbi. Uri Yitzchak Shachor, 25, successfully passed the exams of Israel's Chief Rabbinate. Yesterday he told me about the path to this milestone, a rare achievement that proves how spiritual strength and determination can overcome physical limitations.

"I want the disabled in Israel to have a rabbi," he explained, "someone who truly understands their struggles. The Torah belongs to the entire Nation of Israel, including the disabled. So I told myself: 'In a place where there are no worthy people, strive to be worthy.' I studied and learned a lot over the years and I succeeded."

"In my childhood, it was difficult, but today I understand that the disabled have tremendous strengths that not everyone sees. When God takes something from the body, he gives something else in its place. True, I am physically disabled, but I learn quickly and my memory is very good. Everything I studied in the Tanach (Bible) and the Gemara I learned by heart. Up till now, I have completed the entire Talmud twelve times."

Sometimes he sees the lives of other people as limited. "The pace of the world is very fast," he says. "Practically everyone is thinking about several things at once. There is almost no importance placed on hard work, on the process. Everything is solely about the end goal. I think that because of my situation I live differently. I appreciate every little thing, every small bit of progress."

Uri studied at the Shavei Shomron Yeshiva and presently studies at the Sderot Yeshiva, where they danced this week in his honor. In successfully completing the rabbinical exams, he wanted to thank these two yeshivas. As he struggled to enunciate each word, I was reminded of another rabbi who appears in this week's Torah portion. He is known as Moshe Rabbeinu and he describes himself as "slow of speech and slow of tongue."

May you enjoy success in all your endeavors, Rav Uri.


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