Monday, November 5, 2007

Warm all over


I was recently - Erev Sukkos to be exact - presented with a copy of Yisroel Besser's magnum opus (until now) Warmed by Their Fire, published by who else? Artscroll. (I wish I knew what people see in them.) I read Yisroel's articles in the English Mishpachah and know that he can write, and him being Reb Chatzkel's grandson only helps his case as far as I'm concerned. At first I thought "Another collection of ho-hum stories about Gedolim that I'll just roll my eyes at." But this one's different. This book aims - and succeeds for the most part - at bringing out a different, more "human" angle of the Rebbes, Roshei Yeshivah, and Rabbonim that are portrayed there. While most of these type of books usually don't allow for more than five minutes of reading before the reader is put to sleep against his will, WBTF is the complete opposite, it simply cannot be put down until the short biography is over. Then you feel the need to continue reading. I also get the feeling that the editorial board was asleep at the wheel, since there's mention of Rav Hutner's connection to the Rebbe, and RMBW's strong connection to the Frierdige Rebbe.

I chose the following four personalities and read the portryals, mesmerized and riveted. Reb Elchonon Wasserman Hy"D and his love of teaching Torah, recounted by his Talmid Rav Niznik z"l the Rosh Beis Din of Montreal. The Bais Yisroel of Ger and his concern for the new generation, but also crying for the old, as told to the author by his Zeide Reb Chazkel Besser TL"Y who was intimately involved with some of the stories told. The late Tolner Rebbe of Bayit Vegan, where the Montreal chapter of his life is told. His concern for every Yid, and his selfless devotion to new immigrants. I was happy to see that the author had the good fortune of spending time with the venerable Mashpia of Montreal Reb Volf Greenglass TL"Y, who was the beneficiary of the Tolner's hospitality upon arriving in Montreal in 5702/1942, when he and a group of 9 Bochurim arrived from Shanghai and used his Beis HaMedrish to start the Lubavitcher Yeshivah in Montreal.

Being that it is an Artscroll I guess the author felt compelled to write something about the late Ponovizher Rosh Yeshivah, REMMS. The story is another one of those that makes you scratch your head and say: "What was the point of that story?!" The Rosh Yeshivah was once in his advanced age invited to lecture for a childrens' Siyum Mishnayes in Bnei Beraq, but he declined to his frail health. His Meshamesh asked him to reconsider, and told him how his FIL would tell him of the time he saw the Chofetz Chaim as a child. His father took him to where he was appearing (a Knessiah Gedolah possibly) and lifted him up high so that he could see the holy Tzurah of the CC. He remembered that sight for the rest of his life. Today's children also need that, says the Meshamesh, they need to be able to see the Rosh Yeshivah so that it'll accompany them for the rest of their lives. The Rosh Yeshivah listened, then donned his hat and frock......

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

I received the book as a gift from some Shabbos guests and also expected it to be boring...I picked it up finally on Yom Tov and read the whole thing in one sitting, it is so real. The piece on my own Rebbe, Rabbi Freifeld was so perfect, I felt like the writer knew him.

MOYSHE OYSHER said...

I'm not sure why Tzig is so high on Chaskel Besser, isnt he from aguda, not lubavitch? I think he even where's a shtreimel.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tzig

Finally a complimentary post- no sqeaky voices or baseless accusations. It's a step in the right direction.

I also read Besser's articles in Mishpacha and find them exceptional, but I never knew about the book.

Friendly anonymous said...

Your last paragraph was nauseating. Some people got their rocks off from seeing Moron; why would you want to prevent these people from having this hano'oh? The man is a benefactor of mankind, and should be respected as such.

baalabus said...

Hirshel, you read about Reb Elchunun and you hve nothing nasty to say? Youre growing up.

Anonymous said...

Tzig-
you said it like it is- this is one of the most refreshing bigraphies that Artscroll (or anyone else, for that matter) has published in the last while. I can't tell you how many of my Shabbos guests have picked up the book to leaf through it, and remained riveted, (to the point of even giving up their Shabbos afternoon nap).

Hirshel Tzig said...

I challenge you to find one "nasty" thing I said about the Roshei Yeshivah of yesteryear.

Anonymous said...

when does yesteryear start? reb aron? reb yaakov? does it have to be HY'D after their name?

Hirshel Tzig said...

That's a good question, and I'm glad you asked. I always wondered that. But it seems like if you died during the war you're immune from any criticism, dying al kiddush hashem gets you that.....

I see that from lots of Gedolim who were the Rebbe's age or younger, they're A-Ok since they're looked at as an "older generation." The Skverrer Rebbe comes to mind, as does RMBW, who was 1.5 years younger.

Anonymous said...

Tzig-
dying 'al kiddush Hashem' doesn't always guarantee no critism, as seen by the current debate about R' Menachem Ziemba, and if he did or didn't support the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Anonymous said...

To Moyshe Oysher-
I think that Tzig holds from R' Chaskel, b/c he's one of those rare individuals who thinks FOR himself and diplomatic enough to keep those thoughts TO himself.(under his shtraimel...)

Hirshel Tzig said...

The debate only goes on as far as whether or not the uprising was a good thing. Reb Menachem Ziemba's reputation is not in question there.

Or is it????

Anonymous said...

Ok, Rav Shach--who you always refer to Moron--was insulted countless times on this blog. Or did you forget?

Hirshel Tzig said...

He only passed away 6 years ago, that's not yesteryear.

Anonymous said...

Depends on what you read. Check out this week's (past) Hamodia (English)

Mottel said...

Based on a conversation with Shlomo Besser in Warsaw, R' Menachem Ziemba was faced with a great dilemma when talk of the rebellion -as the unofficial Rav of the Ghetto, he was in contact with the ŻOB. Realizing that they would act in any event on their own volition -he gave his tacit approval in order to not alienate them and thus provide some guiding influence in their lives.

Anonymous said...

He was the same age as the "Rebbe", if not older. He was a yungerman during WWI--and a Rosh Yeshiva in Kletsk before WWII--that's yesteryear, buddy.

Hirshel Tzig said...

anonymous 2:46

I don't remember them doubting RMZ's greatness. They only question whether or not he gave his approval to the uprising.

baalbatish said...

The book is one big puff piece. The stories are typical Artscroll drivel. Besser writes in a sappy unbearable fashion.

You're going easy on Besser because his zayde was soft on the Rebbe, as seen in this clip.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=7GUjUh45M0o

Also the author's father and the rabbi of 84th street's son [whose name I forget] is a Lubavitcher.


Full disclosure is neccessary. Mellow posts are not your forte. Caustic posts are.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Now, now Baalbatish.

It's not a biography, but rather a collection of anectodes, what hard-hitting facts were you waiting to see that you complain about the Puffness?

I like the Bessers, him being one didn't hurt, that's for sure.

:-)

baalbatish said...

Thanks for fessing up.

Anonymous said...

Baalbatish

If the authors father is a Lubavitcher how come the book features almost every Rebbe except Lubavitch? Your father is a twerp!

King Arthur said...

the book is mainly artscroll generic style, with some notable exceptions, flashes of brilliance- its extremely accurate historically, and doesnt ascribe every maaloh to every godol...i like it

Anonymous said...

Baalbatish,
You comment sheds light on the sad childhood you had. The Besser's are from the finest and most respected families-Lubavitch or not! You would have been a better person had you spent just one day in their household.
Shame on you! You pollute the human gene pool.

Anonymous said...

I dont know much about Cheskel Besser but the son, whom I do know, is famous for Hachnusas Urchim. Baalbatish, when was the lst time that you invited someone home to partake in your baalbatish seedah? You are a small person.

ponevezh said...

Tzig is jealous of Rav Schach...

A Simple Jew said...

Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I just ordered a copy.

Real Bobover said...

I know this book. The article on my Rebbe is pretty good, but missing alot, but otherwise , its a masterpiece. Chaskel Besser is Radomsk, not Lubavitch Chassid

freileche mentsch said...

Never heard of the book, but I read the Rabbi of 84th Street, which was different type of book. Is this book a biography of Rabbi Besser?

Hirshel Tzig said...

it's not a biography of Rabbi Besser, but rather a compilation of short stories about Rabbonim and Tzaddikim. Some of it was heard from Rabbi Besser.

freddy said...

Besser writes a vey successful chinuch column in Yated- Did you know that Hershel? How pro Lubavitch can he be if he works for Yated and Pinny?

Hirshel Tzig said...

I did know that, imagine that! I guess the Yated and Pinny either don't know about his Lubavitch connection or simply don't care.

Anonymous said...

Baalbatish-
is your pen-name wishful thinking?? How 'baalbatish' can you be if you can slam Reb Chaskel, the quintessential 'baalbatishe' Yid?? If you would actually READ the book,and get to know him personally, you might actually see that REb Chaskel has friends across the Charedi (and non-Chareidi spectrum,) something that your pea size brain cannot comprehend. Perhaps spend a Shabbos on the West Side and open your vistas.

West Side Yid said...

Baalbatish-
Do the world a favor and keep your Genes in your Jeans, and your foot in your mouth!

Chaim said...

I know R'Shlomo Besser(oldest son iirc) son of R'Chatzkel, from Montreal, he is a very fine 'mentsch' talmid in Telz iirc and R'Moshe Feinstein.He is a friend of Lubavitch but not a Lubavitcher, and since they are Peylisher need a live rebbe.Another brother lives in Flatbush and is not Lubavitch either,so I don't think anybody there is a Lubavitcher.

Btw, I don't get what is wrong with the story about R'Shach?I am also still moved by seeing choshuveh yidden as a child.
You are being very childish, by looking to say nasty things when none exist.
Btw as a kid I went to various rabbonim in Eretz Yisroel with my father and R'Shach is still inscribed in my mind as a very warm person

Anonymous said...

Hershel is scratching his head about the story...its raining dandruff.

i happened to read the book,u fell asleep after fuve seconds, typical charedi fare

baalbatish said...

I almost feel complimented that I have been flamed on the Great Tzig's blog. Alas, it seems that it is the same commenter that is going after me. What did I say? That Chaskel Besser is soft on the Rebbe. Is that a bad thing? I didn't make any personal comments against the Besser family. Nothing about their genealogical status or about their uprightness.

The following five comments have a very similar style in common.

Four of the five comments start with "baalbatish".
Each comment takes a personal swipe at me.
Most of the comments accuse me of attacking the Besser family.

It seems this commenter took my comment a little too personally.

Maybe He/She has a vested interest in the book.

I'll take a guess.

He/She is probably Nosson Scherman.

___________________________________

Anonymous said...
Baalbatish

If the authors father is a Lubavitcher how come the book features almost every Rebbe except Lubavitch? Your father is a twerp!

__________________________________

Anonymous said...
Baalbatish,
You comment sheds light on the sad childhood you had. The Besser's are from the finest and most respected families-Lubavitch or not! You would have been a better person had you spent just one day in their household.
Shame on you! You pollute the human gene pool.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007 11:41:00 PM

___________________________________

Anonymous said...
I dont know much about Cheskel Besser but the son, whom I do know, is famous for Hachnusas Urchim. Baalbatish, when was the lst time that you invited someone home to partake in your baalbatish seedah? You are a small person.

baalbatish said...

I left out 2 comments.
________________________________
Anonymous said...
Baalbatish-
is your pen-name wishful thinking?? How 'baalbatish' can you be if you can slam Reb Chaskel, the quintessential 'baalbatishe' Yid?? If you would actually READ the book,and get to know him personally, you might actually see that REb Chaskel has friends across the Charedi (and non-Chareidi spectrum,) something that your pea size brain cannot comprehend. Perhaps spend a Shabbos on the West Side and open your vistas.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007 10:37:00 AM


West Side Yid said...
Baalbatish-
Do the world a favor and keep your Genes in your Jeans, and your foot in your mouth!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007 11:16:00 AM

Watson said...

maybe zolotowitz? or schottenstein himself? maybe its really baalbatsh himself looking for attention! ha, how do you like that conspiracy theory!

Anonymous said...

baalbatish-
The comments all start with the same "baalbatish" because they are addressed to you-baalbatish!!

baalbatish said...

I was trying to point out that they all had a certain style in common.
The truth must be told that Watson is right. I have been posting negative comments about myself to steer some traffic to my pathetic blog.

I have to update my profile.
My father is a twerp.
I had a sad childhood because I never spent a day in the Besser household.
I am a small person.
I pollute the human gene pool.
I don't invite people to my baalbatish seedah because Hachnosas Urchim is not my game like it is by the Bessers.
Sadly, I have a pea brain.
I help the world by keeping my Genes in my Jeans and my foot in my mouth. {Who is Gene & Jean, do I know them?)
I'm not the (big word)quintessential yid.

An Ailmesher said...

R. Chezkel Besser had a different last name in Europe and changed it to Besser in America. The Satmarer Rov, R. Yoilish once told him

דו ביסט דער איינציגער וואס איז געווארן בעסער אין אמעריקא.

a true breslover said...

The Mishpacha magazine Besser writes for has some truly great writers. I just discovered one Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter who appears to be a newcomer on the chareidi scene. His most recent article on Rebbe Nachman's concept of happiness is truly profound.