About Yaakov Menachem Wertheimer z"l

Yaakov Menachem Wertheimer z"l was born in Yerushalayim in 1951. His parents, one brother and three sisters left Yerushalayim when he was a small child. Life in Yersahlayim was very difficult; food was scarce and work was hard to find. Seeking a better life, the family moved to Netanya where his father found work in a diamond cutting factory. Yaakov's upbringing was B'nei Akiva oriented and Yaakov served in the IDF for 3 years.

Yaakov left Israel, to learn and then work in the diamond business. Eighteen years later, he returned with his wife and 2 sons and a new, very strong appreciation for Yiddishkeit. At last the family was once again in Yerushalyim, Yaakov's birthplace. He remained in the diamond business but now his diamonds were only secondary to his precious Torah gems. "I found the real diamonds" Yaakov would say.

While Yaakov was in the U.S. on business he spent any extra time learning Torah. He came across the book Nefesh HaChayim, a sefer written by Rabbi Chaim M'Volozhin

It was a passage in that book that sparked his curiosity about Perek Shira. He made some inquiries but came up empty handed. He let it pass, but when another book, Ohr HaChaim, written by Rabbi Chaim ben Moshe ben Attar (1696-1743) cited Perek Shira, he knew this was not just a coincidence. He came to believe that his attention was being drawn to Perek Shira for a very important purpose.

Yaakov returned to Israel for the High Holidays, which always lead into his birthday, the 18th of Mar-Cheshvan. The beautiful leather bound siddur that Yakov's wife gave him as a birthday gift contained Perek Shira. Yaakov became totally captivated by Perek Shira and its mysteries. He was determined to understand it and to make it a beloved t'filla for everyone. He began saying it with more kavana (deeper feelings) by printing images of the briot (creations). He then went to the Hebrew University library to research original manuscripts of Perek Shira. With the help of Rav Shlomo Frankel and the guidance of Perek Shira expert, Rav Mordechai Gross, shlita, author of the 2 volume book HaKol Yishabchucha, Yaakov's project began. In addition to the Halachic perspective, Yaakov sought out the very knowledgeable Eyal Bartov, world-renowned National Geographic photographer and zoologist, to incorporate magnificent photos to the Perek Shira. Yaakov's goal was to share his delight of HaKadosh Baruchu and His creations in the animal kingdom with everyone. He packaged it in a simple format with vibrant, brilliant pictures that could be appreciated by all; old and young; men, women and children. It was a completed labor of love within the year and 10,000 copies were printed up and distributed without charge.

Yaakov left Israel again on another a business trip and to the total amazement of Yaakov's wife, in his absence, there were calls requesting copies of Perek Shira. "I couldn't understand how people knew about it, we didn't advertise it, only a handful of people knew." The phone calls were incessant, the number of requests increased daily. Upon his return home, Yaakov was in awe of the response to Perek Shira and he felt very honored to be the shaliach (messenger) for this rediscovered t'filla.

Yaakov went on to expand the horizons of Perek Shira by putting its beautiful words to music. With the talent of Mordechai Alush and other musicians, a musical version of Shirat Habria ( Perek Shira) was born (one chassidish and one mizrachi). Again the phone didn't stop ringing. Along with the requests and brachot that were received, there were also inumerable personal yeshuot, miracles and good fortunes that people felt that Perek Shira has inspired.

Yaakov promised himself that he would take the out of print book, the book Knaf Renanim first printed in 1842 by Rav Hanoch Zandel Luria in an easier to read and understand format, which he did.

Yaakov took on the biggest challenges knowing that his partner, HaKadosh Baruchu, would always be there for him, such was his love for Hashem Yisbarach.

Perek Shira has helped so many people and the appreciation was evident by the hundreds of people who placed ads and thanked Hashem publicly.

A note from Yaakov's wife:

I believe the greatest way to open channels to shamayim (heaven) is to show Hashem our appreciation for this magnificent body He has provided us with and this magnificent world He has blessed us with. It's not to say that things don't go wrong because we all know they do, however our greatest growth, spiritual and emotional is greatly advanced by attuning our eyes to see the goodness and chessed in the world around us.

Perek Shira with the magnificent pictures is the reminder that helps us bring down the shefa (nourishment) that we all need. It is clear to me that Yaakov fulfilled his tafkid (work) and is enjoying the fruits of his labor.