Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Flashback To Teves/Shvat 5742
Recently, when discussing Reb Henoch Leibowitz, a friend of mine thought he remembered something about the Niftar. He was a Lubavitcher Bochur from a non-Lubavitch home - his father was a Lakewood talmid - learning in a Litvishe Yeshivah, so he was directly affected by the events, you might even say he was traumatized by them. He says he felt like a child trapped in a lions' den, where his only way out was either to leave the yeshivah- which was not an option for him at that time - or to just take the verbal abuse and nasty looks he'd often get. Such is often times the life of a bochur who decides that his path in life and avodas hashem is different from what his friends have chosen, especially if they vehemently disagree with the path he's chosen.
On 24 Teves 5742 the Rebbe spoke - among many other topics - about words that were said in Bnei Beraq by a very prominent Rosh Yeshivah to the affect of not needing the Golan Heights. "Give it back to the Syrians, he said, just like we lived without it for 1900 years until the Six-Day War, so too can we live without it now." Why do we need the Syrians on our backs? was his tayne, let them have back what's theirs and they'll be our friends from now on. The Rebbe was quite upset about those words, and made reference to the words and to their author, in a sharfe oyfen. Those words were transmitted in the Algemeiner Journal the following week, and soon enough the tummel began. A major meeting of Roshei Yeshiva was called and held in the Kamenetzer Yeshivah in Boro Park with the hishtatfus of many of the local yeshivos. In those days the Roshei Yeshivah were not as bold and brazen as they are today, there was no Yated and Degel HaTorah that was mattir what is Muttar today, so the wording and the tone was gentle and didn't refer to the Rebbe by name, just a mecho'oh and a "coming-to-the-defense" of Koved Hateyreh.
Looking back at those events and that time period I'm actually surprised that they felt a need to come to the Rosh Yeshivah's defense. I didn't know that he was held in such high regard here in America, we hardly heard his name here until much later, when the split between DH and AI happened in Israel. Then, seemingly to me, it seemed like he was retroactively made into the Godol HaDor since the passing of the Brisker Rav, and thus he was right in making that major rift among frum Jews. Anyway, at that asifah/macho'oh there was one speech that did make mention of the Rebbe, and not in a manner of praising him, that was the niftar Reb Henoch. I do not know what he said then, since I was not in attendance, but that's what I was told. I'm not sure why davka he felt the need to stand up and defend the Rosh Yeshivah's Kovod, and maybe it was Eygene Pni'os that compelled him to, but that's how it was. The mecho'oh was put into words and published in newspapers, but it was pre-dated to before 24 Teves, so as not to imply that it was a mecho'oh against the Rebbe!