I am writing from Malaysia and am an Indian by race. I have two sons aged 22 and 20 who are still studying external degrees, in law and English with England. For many years my sons and I only followed the Old Testament (my husband is a hindu and does not block our prayers) praying to G-d to shows us the true path, but no one to guide us. The internet came to Malaysia about 4-5 years back. One of the first websites I went into was the Chabad, and hence came into contact with Rabbi Yosef Kazen. I used to ask many questions on the Torah, and he always answered very promptly and was a living example of 'a light to the gentiles'. I used to write to him for my sons examinations, to pray and he never failed to reply and ask of them. I never knew he was a Rabbi or the Director, because he used to write in such a humble way, I thought that he was a junior staff. A few months back I was browsing through the website and came across his photo with his son, Michael, and all information about him. I wrote and apologized for not addressing him as 'Rabbi' and for addressing him as 'Mr'. I also asked him several questions on Abraham and Jacob. He answered the questions and overlooked the apology, making it look like it was a very small matter. I do not know who is going to answer my questions. Considering the injustices we gentiles have and are still meting out to your people, the kindness you show only proves why you were all blessed for a very special purpose from the rest of the world. I can't imagine he is there no more for us. I did mention how much of the B'nei Noach need him and would never move away from his teachings he provided us. I suppose HaShem loves him more than we do.
One of the greatest blessings that Hashem can bestow on a person is to have a tzadik as a friend. YY was both. Through tears at feeling this great loss, I thank Hashem that we were friends while he lived.
I first met YY over Keshernet. I was still a member of a Reform congregation and just beginning to feel G-d tugging at me to grow spiritually. YY became a mentor to me, representing by personal example the greatness of living a Torah-true life. He was always there when needed, a friend to talk to, and often that included answering e-mail well past midnight, when I would write asking for advice on some spiritual "crisis." As I confronted the process of rectifying a non-kosher conversion, YY encouraged and supported me through the time that I went to the mikvah. And when my son was Bar Mitzvah soon after, YY traveled to a reception in Queens to share the simcha. It was the first time we met in person.
Words cannot possibly convey the beauty and kindness in YY's neshamah, that manifested itself in his genuine care for others. If we honor his memory by emulating his example of what it means to serve Hashem in every area of life, we will do well indeed.
His memory will live on in our hearts, and his spirit will long continue in the impact of his work at chabad.org. May these things inspire us to a greater service of G-d, and the coming of Moshiach, very soon, in our days.
And may Hashem bring comfort to his family and loved ones and may they be blessed only with simcha in the future.
YY was a Mensch!
In so many ways he helped me!
A more patient and considerate teacher never was. He never had enough time in the day, so many demanded his attention and he always found time to teach me... a Goy!
How could such a thing be? He was a tzadik! How could he be taken so soon?
I remember the story of Israel Baal Shem Tov:
The Besht's good works had forced the Creator's hand. Heaven was in an uproar because Moshiach was about to appear! The Besht had been too successful, redemption was about to happen... prematurely. The Besht was actually about to upset the order of creation!
So the Besht and his faithful scribe, Reb Hersh Soifer were immediately transported to a desert island and imprisoned by a band of pirates.
The Besht had been deprived of his powers...his secret knowledge; even his scribe could not remember a simple prayer. Eventually they rescued themselves by repeating over and over the aleph bet... entranced with these holy letters, the Besht broke the curse.
But the Messiah had not come.
Yosef was like the Besht!
No one did more to spread the joy of Yiddishkeit and the wisdom of Chassidus than YYK. But with modern technology instead of a scribe as a backup, more drastic measures had to be taken with this tzadik of tzaddikim. Moshiach's arrival could not be prompted prematurely.
Who knows when the frum will begin their gilgul mechilot? Rest assured that YYK will be laughing and drinking wine at Moshiach's table when they finally arrive!
... Apart from his family and dearest loved ones, the word of the passing of YY could not possibly sadden anyone more deeply than my wife and I. YY served as our Rabbi during the wonderful yet question-filled tumultuous period as we made our decision to our first shaky steps lachzor l'tshuvah.
YY was never so consumed or overtaken with his digital mission as to be personally unreachable, joyously responsive and filled with ahavat chinam.
He visited personally with my wife and I., at a challenging time for us, YY reinforced the purity and fundamental nature of the message of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He did so with the rarest of qualities ... absolute clarity, boundless patience and love.
Having been deeply involved with large and small scale computer systems, I know that his contributions were nothing short of monumental.
It was from YY that I came to understand that the Wellsprings of Hashem's word are overflowing and fill the entire earth. His work demonstrated that he was among successful and dedicated disciples of the Rebbe and of the Baal Shem Tov.
We are taught that Hashem put the element of gold on earth for use in the Beit Hamikdash and the Holiness of Hashem - so too was the microcomputer discovered. Rabbi Kazen effectively, sanctified and actualized this wonderful device for acts of righteousness. YY and his work casts a shadow over giants.
By the hand of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Kazen, anyone - anywhere learned volumes about the soon-to-come Redemption - and as important, Hashem's love for mankind and specifically of our people. He may have had a virtual congregation, but there will never be any question about the tangible and spiritual value of his love and work.
It is so grossly inadequate to say that he will be profoundly missed and that we loved him deeply. The only consolations I can imagine are his physical pain has been relieved, and he now has unlimited access to the most super of all supercomputers .
(If I don't stop here, my tears will short out my keyboard.)
...He transcended being a Rabbi, even if that does sound contradictory, by being able to understand and deal with the most mundane questions in Cyberspace. These questions must have been trivial or even ridiculously silly, but he answered every one of them. He stuck with all of us throughout the years-those who were Orthodox, those who were Reform, those who were goyim. He was a comfortable person-not because he was easy going-but because you were always sure you could be absolutely honest with him-and he would not judge you for it. He could be very strict, but somehow he always managed to be so in such a manner that you never felt hopeless. He kept the hope up and was able to support you across the miles and know exactly when you were in the depths of despair - even when you did not know it yourself. He always knew the right words to say. When you needed a tough word, he gave it. He had a tremendous sense of humor, and I do not think he ever forgot anything. At the last, when he was not feeling well, he still managed to give words of encouragement.
His influence was all-pervasive - not just spiritually but materially. I think of my bookshelves and my house when I first met him via Cyberspace years ago-when I was studying eleven or so languages an had books from everywhere in the world. He helped put the whole thing in perspective. Studying was to be for the good of Hashem, to make this world a better place - a holy, joyous place. Now, our shelves are empty of all languages except those I use in my work or for teaching. There are a Torah, a Tanya, a Siddur and Chasidic books now- Mezuzot, pictures of the Rebbe, Hebrew verses, etc. on the walls. I live on a farm and because of his influence, I am the only farmer to do all my work-shearing, sowing, cleaning barns, whatever, in a long dress with my head covered.
And then, this person, who I could trust and who I knew would be there forever, got sick. Panic ensued, and then I said, as I always try to do when in trouble, what would Rabbi Yosef want me to do. So I calmed down. I doubled my studies, I tried harder in every aspect of life, I broke bad habits. I only heard his voice once. He said from the hospital: "The TORAH says don't worry and be happy." So, every time I feel that a great emptiness because he is not there in person, I try to think of what he said and what he wanted, and I hear him more clearly. In some odd way, which I can not explain, he is even closer.
I have not been able to visit the Chabad site for quite some time because of my own father's illness and death in Jerusalem over a month ago. Today, I felt that I absolutely have to look up the Chabad page and was deeply saddened by the news of Rabbi Yitzhok Kazen's passing z"l. Since 1995-6, Rabbi Kazen provided invaluable service to our small Jewish community located on a remote US Army post
in Garmisch, Germany
. For months or years - almost on a daily basis - we turned to him for information, clarification and advice on a variety of halachic and community issues. I always received response in a few hours. He guided all of us with patience, tolerance and great love for the Torah and the Jewish people. During my father's illness, I found out about Rabbi Kazen's illness on the Cholim list. When my father died, and I had questions about mourning observances, I never got a response that would be as concise
, let alone timely, that I used to get from Rabbi Kazen z"l. Today, the original Jewish community in Garmisch no longer exists but those who remained have all become observant
and rediscovered the Torah lifestyle - in one way or the other. Two young men have studied in yeshivot in Israel, and one young lady married into a traditional family from Borough Park. We are all indebted to Rabbi Kazen. May Hashem comfort Rabbi's family among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. His legacy will live on in all of us.
Professor N. H.
I do not have words to express my feelings.
Living in Rome, Italy, the only way I can get information and study various items of Judaism is through the work Rav Yosef z"l laid down in these last years of hard work and this for me was as if Rav Yosef z"l was teaching me directly, face to face even though I never met him.
I remember that in one of the L'Chaim issues I got in my E-mail it said that someone never really dies as long as his work is continued with the same spirit and enthusiasm. I hope that his colleagues will manage to continue the words of the Rebbe ztz"l through the work of Rav Yosef z"l' just as he did.
Mishpachas Kazen Sheyichyu.
When I told my people here in Delaware the sad news, they knew already. They never met him, didn't know what he looked like but felt they had suffered a personal loss. It is truly amazing how one person can touch tens of thousands people of such diverse backgrounds and location and elicit such respect and kinship. YYK has reached children, students and adults here in Delaware, people who I could not. (In going through some material for a recent Dinner, I came across some photos of a couple of years ago. On Chol Hamoed Sukkos, He drove to Delaware with his sons to be mesameach Yidden. The pictures of the dancing in the Sukkah are memorable.) The Zchus and the Shem Tov he earned himself and the Kovod he brought to the Rebbe and Chabad will be an eternal Zchus for his wife, children, and parents. Hamokom Yenachem Eschem.
The fantastic system that YYK set up, will no doubt, be the means to publicize the arrival of Moshiach, Vehu Besoichom, Bekorov Mamosh.
... I saved each of the messages he sent me as it made me feel good to know that such a knowledgeable person was not only putting in tremendous time and effort into his teaching projects, but was also willing to personally respond
to all those who contacted him with questions.
...He arranged a meeting time and came to Manhattan to pick the machine up himself with two of his children along for the ride. We did not spend much time talking but I realized that I had been surprised to see just a regular person in a regular station wagon. Afterwards I appreciated the e-mail and the efforts behind it even more.
...P. B. and I are deeply sorrowed to hear of the passing of Rabbi YY Kazen. We are grateful to his persistence in urging us to put our journal articles from B'Or Ha'Torah on his web site.
..."YYK is with his General now
. Mission accomplished. Job well done. The Cyberfront has been secured
...he was so happy to know that I lit Shabbos candles
- he made me feel as if what I was doing was the most important thing in the world. I was so proud to perform mitzvos for the sake of my young daughter, I even sent him a photo of my child, because I felt as if he were my big brother.
...Of course, Chabad has been there since the beginning of the web. When I think of Lubavitch
and the Internet
, I think of Yosef Yitzchak Kazen.
...Though living in a far away land, (Malta
) and never had the privilege to meet him personally, on the few occasions I sent him messages, he always responded promptly with an encouraging response. I could feel in his notes the closeness and warm humanity
he had for fellow Jews.
...The Rebbe gave Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak z"l son of Rabbi Shlomo Shneur Zalman Kazen Sheyichyeh
awesome and innovative responsibility. He carried it out beautifully
, with love and skill. The Chabad internet site and e-mails touched and elevated many Jews.
...It really does play a vital job in this modern world just as the Rebbe predicted.
...Through the Internet, he was able to make his influence felt throughout the world. I am from New York, and was able to benefit from his wisdom in England and Israel.
...His special spiritual presence could be felt through the Internet, across the world.
...Through his work with Chabad in Cyberspace and his personal communications with me, I have started my return to Judaism. A spiritual journey that would not have taken place had it not been for his work and his love and caring for me.
...He was the first to digitize
the Torah Chassidus
...I am a gentile that has come out of generations of christianity at the age of 50, as a result of study of Torah. And Rabbi Kazen is the first Rabbi that I ever e-mailed with a question of things that I was struggling to understand. He was so kind
in answering questions which, now, seem so simple. And his answers have helped me to truly find the path that The Almighty has planned for a righteous gentile.
...Rabbi Kazen, both directly and indirectly, with all his work on the internet, has truly been that "light to the nations", and this "nation" has grabbed on to your tzit-tzit with all my might.
...He was a boundless ball of energy. He was Judaism in action
. His purity came from that. That is what he was from the inside out. He loved teaching Torah. Not just in words, in action to both Jews and Gentiles. He answered questions without judgment. He knew his purpose on earth.
...Yosef Kazen was touching lives around the world as remote as Antarctica
. He was lighting up souls. Educating. Loving every minute of it. Souls were lit up throughout the world via contact with him in his cyber world. His congregation knew no bounds. He was available 24 hours a day
...I am a blind
person that uses the Chabad.Org Internet Service. Most texts are not readily available in Braille. The information and knowledge that I have immassed from study over the Internet has been beyond imagination. I so deeply appreciate that Chabad.Org is out there and that I can count on the Listserver to send me very inspirational materials weekly. Thank you over and over again from the bottom of my heart.
...If I had seen your husband, father and son in the street I would not have recognized him. But every time I opened my e-mail; I knew him and felt him as my dear friend, and teacher
Every personal e-mail I sent him was answered every time.
There is an expression, 'to reach out and touch someone'.
Well, this is exactly what he did to me. I felt that every daily mailing, every day, was being sent to me personally, and that we were learning together, even though I understood it was reaching thousands.
...He had such nachas from his ability to touch Jewish neshomas
that otherwise may have been lost by utilizing the Internet. He will always be remembered by us as our personal friend and as the first pioneer
who paved the way for the future of Jewish outreach on the Internet.
S. C. S.
...There is sadness and joy when a person of wisdom passes. The sadness is ours. The joy is the gifts of knowledge that he or she has left behind.
Department of Health Management and Policy
University of New Hampshire
...I have been on the internet since the late 80s, and Rabbi Kazen has really been a "light unto the web
In the merit of Rabbi Kazen's memory, I plan on being more conscientious about davening mincha.
...Your mail list inspired me to say tehillim for him, and donate tzedakah to Chabad on line in his zchut, I couldn't have imagined that we have lost another giant in Torah.
...Rav Kazen truly exemplified the Rebbe's view of ufaratzta!! He made the internet an instrument for kedusha. Please make Rav Kazen's divrei Torah available for all to see on the chabad web page and in mailings.
Department of Molecular Pharmacology
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
...As a subscriber to several daily and weekly e-mailings on the Hayom Yom and Parshos from Chabad-Lubavitch in Cyberspace, I have really appreciated the regular daily spiritual and intellectual contact with Lubavitch, as well as the resources of the website. I am quite saddened to learn of the Rabbi's passing and feel that his brilliant use of technology
in the spirit of Judaism leaves a fitting memorial to a gifted teacher, communicator and emissary.
...Our Chabad house and many members of the Chabad House enjoyed very much the service that he provided for us for many years on the cyberspace. He has a great heichal in Gan Eden for all of the souls that he touched with his service and as Rabbi Kazan said "that he has the worlds biggest Chabad House but does not have a minyan!!
...I only 'knew him through the internet, but he was a guiding light for me and an inspiration. Because of my contact with him, I built my first sukkah at the age of 55!
... met Rabbi Kazen (YYK was how I knew him) on internet relay chat a few years ago. I live in a small town in Indiana
where I have very little access to "yiddishkeit". Whenever I had questions he was always willing to help. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to know him even the little bit that I did.
...Even though he must have been ill at the time he answered my e-mail this summer giving me permission & encouraging me to use pictures from his web site for the good of Jewish children and requesting to hear the results. I see him in my minds eye a tall handsome young man with red hair and beard and a big smile. I know his goodness fills all the worlds and goes on endlessly.
...The last thing I heard from YY is what everybody heard, 'M'darf zain b'simcha
.' What a guy! He was able to comfort us, even when he was hurting.
...The same G-d that caused this to happen could also cause YY's last wish to come true - that very soon the time will come where we will all be b'simcha, always. May we merit the much-needed coming of Moshiach and the immediate physical return of our Rebbe, together with our favorite uncle, YY.
...I know of several non observant Jews whose level of observance was substantially increased by their interaction with YYK.
And I know of many others who came to understand and respect Torah observance, even if they themselves remained non observant.
UMBC Dept. of Psychology
...My heart is heavy as I contemplate the passing of Reb YYK z"l He touched me every week with his Chabad mailings on the Internet. Although his work was largely behind the scenes, he was my teacher. And he will continue to be my teacher each time I visit the website and review the mass of Torah that is archived
...I was just an e-mail address on the internet BUT Rabbi Kazen always answered my questions, helped me over some rough spots and seemed to always have time - no matter how outrageous or trivial my question might have been - to answer me. I can recall many times coming home from work and immediately checking my e-mail to see if Rabbi K had answered my latest query. His response was always there.
His responses, suggestions, and learned answers have eased my path back to Yiddishkeit and for that I will be forever grateful to him. My life will never be the same.
He never questioned why we were living over a hundred miles from the nearest Jewish community but accepted that Hashem had put us here for a purpose and he went all-out to help equip us to fulfill that purpose to the utmost of our potential.
He asked me if I would be willing to enter into e-mail correspondence with one or two people whose needs seemed to fit my experience of life and he made contacts with people who were especially fitted to help me with my needs. We became a Kehillah (a community) of Cyber-Yidden.
Even while in the hospital, his zest for life was still there and his sense of humor.
...I never had the pleasure of personally meeting Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak z"l. He decided that it was important to disseminate Torah, so he set up a mail list on a shoe string budget
...I am convinced that every other Jewish organization took his lead by setting up internet sites and mailing lists.
...This man, a Tzadik z"l, is the person who solely took the internet and lifted it to the heights that it is now. He took a dark empty vessel and shone the bright light of Torah and the teachings of the Rebbe into it.
...But he was not satisfied with that - he went further - he answered hundreds of e-mail personally, guiding each person and helping them with their plights.
Johannesburg, South Africa
...Rabbi Kazen was the founder, director of activities, and the driving force, behind Chabad Lubavitch in Cyberspace. He did trail blazing work
, going back a decade if not more, and he inspired everyone involved in on-line Jewish outreach. ...His successful Chabad site demonstrated to all of us what could be accomplished, if only we would put more of ourselves into our work.
Rabbi Y. M
... In his family life, I admired what an outstanding father
he was. Always davening with his kids at his side throughout. How many fathers do that? Our national Television broadcast a BBC program on Chabad, and the best part was YY taking his son to Yeshivah, for the very first time, and licking the honey off the Aleph Beis.
...In his shlichus, he reached the unreachable.
...The Rebbe said, Mitzvah Tanks were necessary to go out and conquer those who would not come to shul, well, Cyberspace was the ultimate electronic Mitzvah Tank.
...I am a Reform Jew from Boston
who only recently discovered Chabad over the Web. It has brought me closer to my Judaism
every day. I have been impressed by the insights and applicability to my everyday life. Chabad.org has also brought me closer to my uncle, who is in Chabad. He lives in South Africa
, but we discuss Jewish issues, among other matters, via e-mail. You can know that the rabbi, through his work over the Internet, helped make a connection between a Jewish boy, his uncle, and the religion that connects them both. I am sorry for your loss.
...Your husband/father & I learned together in Telshe Yeshiva in Wickliffe, Ohio from 1968 to 1972. In fact Yosef and I were roommates for two zmanim. When I informed some of my classmates about the petirah they were in shock. They all had one basic comment about him. "the smiling chubby Lubavitcher who was doing everyone a favor
I hope to IY"H to be mechazek my learning of Chitas in his memory.
...It was what Rabbi Kazen created on the Internet that helped bring me back to Torah and Mitzvos. By studying the materials he helped provide, it became possible for me, at the end of a wire in Los Angeles
, to share in Torah, Tanya, and Rambam every day. It helped strengthen my sense of understanding and affiliation with Judaism and Chasidus to the point where starting from being a semi observant Conservative Jew, I now attend services at Chabad in Westwood with Rabbi Cunin every Shabbos, | put on Tefillin every day, and am coming closer and closer to more and more Mitzvos.
...Rabbi Kazen worked tirelessly and with too little support to realize his vision. It is incumbent on us to make sure Chabad in Cyberspace grows
at a more accelerated pace.
...I admired his devotion to his maker, his admirable honesty, and his attempts to serve as a peacemaker
Although I am essentially a secular humanist, I remain open to all
points of view concerning religion, and I admired his strong beliefs. I was pleased to have "met" YYK through the miracle of the Internet.
I will truly miss him.
...The on-line chabad activities he developed have brought depth
to my experience of Judaism.
...I started on the road after 25 years. Without understanding a word of hebrew I thought there was no hope. Then a friend told me of www.chabad.org and that's where I started on the weekly parsha and more. YYK was always there to give me answers to questions and direct me in the right direction.
...Just over a year ago I started a weekly mailing list sending out Torah over the internet to all those that I came into contact with, here in SA. It was only possible to do as a result of the listings I received from Chabad In Cyberspace. To date there are over 150 members that receive mailings on the Weekly Parsha.
Johannesburg, South Africa
...Rabbi Kazen was truly a pioneer
in use of the Internet for the spread of Torah. Elsewhere in urging the increased application of the net for spreading yiddishkeit, I often cited his example as to what could be accomplished.
...I first "met" Yosef Kazen, with great reluctance almost four years ago. I had, as media, witnessed an electric chair execution in Georgia. My entire being was so rattled by this experience that I was in deep, deep need of spiritual connection with a Rabbi, a person who I associated with "loving, caring, compassionate, available." Much to my dismay, after banging on doors, I was unable to find a Rabbi who had the kind of time that I needed.
I was fully prepared to forget the whole thing from a Jewish perspective. However, something inside me didn't allow that to happen. That inner voice, that Jewish soul, took over. I e-mailed some questions to this nebulous "group" and got a response that led to more questions and more questions and a daily sharing with a man so wise that I, and whoever else was so fortunate to know him, was merely blessed. That "group" turned out to be Rabbi Yosef Kazen.
He was a boundless ball of energy. He was Judaism in action. His purity came from that. That is what he was from the inside out. He loved teaching Torah. Not just in words, in action to both Jews and Gentiles. He answered questions without judgment. He knew his purpose on earth.
YY, wherever you are, thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul for all you did simply by being you and sharing your strength, wisdom and love of mankind and Torah.
...Like the many who came before me, I was skeptical of my Judaism and challenged Yosef repeatedly. To all my challenges, Yosef was unfailingly supportive and encouraging, and his patience eventually won me over. I think that it was when he sent me one of the Rebbe's essays on prayer that I was "hooked." After that, Yosef gently began nudging me to attend services, keep kosher, observe the rituals of the mikveh, give a tithe to my shul, and go to Torah study. For him, I wrote "A Jew by Osmosis
" and "A certain Anorexia of the Soul
," the latter essay was just reprinted in Chaim's Fabrengen and includes a postscript about Yosef.
...When I needed a job to support my family, he was the person who gave my name to a corporate recruiter. My life changed that day
, and I owe it to YYK.
...I have been the recipient of forwarded copies of Chabad in Cyberspace for over a year. Each week I go through scads of professional e-mails as part of my job. When I get to the weekly commentary, I am re-anchored
as a Jew and as a human being. I didn't know YYK, but I am a beneficiary of his foresight
...His vision of disseminating Yiddishkeit worldwide has been successfully accomplished.
...Your e-mail messages are sent to folks at these places, and who knows where those messages are forwarded to? The possibilities are unlimited. The Rebbe's Torah is truly found in every place on the face of our planet.