Sunday, May 21, 2006
Memories of Kazan
COL reports on the Shliach in Kazan, Russia naming his son after the last Rov, הרב שמריהו-בנציון-אלתר סטאלאוו , who passed away in 5728. He was a Talmid of Tomchei Tmimim who remained behind in relative obscurity doing what his Rabbeyim taught him to do; have Mesiras Nefesh for other Jews. The name Kazan got me thinking.
I remember reading 2 years ago about the passing of R' Yitzchok Silber, "The father of the Russian BT movement", or "רבם של יוצאי רוסיא" in Hebrew. As is the custom of the Artscroll/Agudah world we live in today, whenever they find somebody other than Lubavitch doing "outreach" they go into full PR mode. That person becomes a Tzadik, chief Rabbi, pioneer, you name it. Those of you who remember the Eliahu Essas parades will know what I mean, but that's for another time.
In the obituaries written you would think that RYS he lived alone in Kazan all those years, hiding from the authorities, בקדושה ובטהרה, with no contact between him and other other frum Yidden. He would learn in the dark fearing the knock at the door at any time. A quick glance into the Kfar Chabad magazine, biased and prejudiced as it may seem, would've told you otherwise.
Silber had plenty of contact with Chabad in Russia, EVEN AS FAR AS HIS SON, HIS SUCCESSOR, LEARNING IN TOMCHE TMIMIM TASHKENT FOR YEARS, WITH HIS CHAVRUSA LIVING IN ISRAEL TODAY. His son would probably not have remained Frum today were it not for that. Of course the "rusty nail" publishers would have you believe that his father taught him Gemoroh underground , making him a Talmid Chochom all by himself...
Upon leaving the Soviet Union (if my memory serves me correctly) he traveled to New York to have Yechidus with the Rebbe. THE REBBE was the one who told him to travel to Israel and do "outreach" with Russian Jews, something that he had no interest in doing. I would imagine that were it not for the Rebbe he'd remain an unknown, which was what he was upon leaving the Soviet Union. Why did none of the Charedi rags mention any of this? probably because these 2 Tzaddikim, upon reaching Israel, realized that it's not something you want to mention in Today's Lithuanian-controlled society, so הכרת הטוב be damned, make up a story if you have to.
Upon returning to his hometown many years later Silver encountered Lubavitcher Shluchim there, not emissaries of the Agudah. He as warmly greeted there by them and encouraged the work being done.
That's what the name Kazan conjures up in my mind.