Sunday, December 11, 2005
His Finest Hour
I wish I could find a better picture, meaning not one that appeared on the cover of the Artscroll version of his life, but that's what Google offered, so there. (What little I know about Yonason Rosenblum, that is from reading his articles, I can't believe he was the best candidate to write THE BOOK about Rav Dessler). The revision that they have done to so many Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshivah are probably some of the greatest literary crimes committed since the fall of the Soviet Union.
In the case of HaRav Dessler, I can say this much : While learning in a non-Lubavitch Yehivah, the Maggid Shiur, may he be well, learned Michtav Me'Eliyahu with us every day, reading from the Sefer while we listened. That was no conincidence. He was not what you'd call a "Misnaged" but rather a Talmid of Beis Medrish Elyon in it's early years, who appreciated all Erliche Yidden, and Tanya and Chabad were part of that. Rumor has it when the venerable Mashgiach "Reb Chatzkel", (Chatzkel Warshaver) came to Ponovezh after Rav Dessler's untimely passing, he commented: "It'll take years to "undo" the Churban that he did to the Yeshivah". That's right, to the radical Mussarites, anyone who even "noshed" from Chassidus was bad, even a grandson of the Salanter.
Some of you may know by now, that in 5713, a year before his passing, Rav Dessler began to work on organizing a Yeshivah that was not heard of until then. Namely, a Yeshivah that would combine the Liyvishe style of learning with the Chassidic style of everything else. A Rosh Yeshivah was found, HaRav Gedalia Hertz of Yeshivas Chidushei HaRim in Tel Aviv, but it went no further. Before it could be started HaRav Dessler passed away, and with him died his dream. Today there are Yeshivas that claim to have that combination, but without a true Litvishe Mashgiach like RD their claims are worthless.
There is much more to write, but now is not the time. Maybe for the Yohrtzeit in Teves.
What brought HaRav Dessler to mind was the fact that today was the Yohrtzeit of Reb Yitzchok (Itche Der Masmid) Gurevitz , who was burned al Kiddush Hashem together with Reb Chatshe Feigin and Reb Eli Chaim Althaus in Riga in 5702 (hy"d). These were the Chassidim closest to the Rebbe. They had the necessary papers arranged by the Rebbe in New York, but the Nazis had already entered Riga and no one could leave.
His son-in-law HaRav Geldzahler in his sefer "Kodshei Yehoshua" recounts how Reb Itche was the Dessler's guest in England in the '30s when Reb Itche was there to collect money for Yidden in the Soviet Union. He spent every available minute with Reb Itche and called those days הימים הכי מאושרים בחיי (his most pleasing days) He never stopped speaking about those days. This from a Yid who saw all the Litvishe "greats", and was a descendant of Rav Yisroel Lipkin of Salant. Tells you something about Chassidus, Rav Dessler, and Reb Itche.
Even more so it tells you about how some of us have become so square and boxed in.