Monday, June 16, 2008

Freifeld is no more


Pics Courtesy Of Sh'or Yoshuv


Chaim Berlin Tragedy commenting on Circus Tent: Big, Big Man:

"People stop haggling.

It is well known that while Rav Shlomo Freifeld (RSF) always was and remained a 100% loyal and true Rav Yitzchok Hutner's zt"l (RYH) talmid muvhak and chosid until the end, that of all of RYH's greatest talmidim, it was RSF who became the greatest admirer of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, to the great consternation of many of his Yeshiva Chaim Berlin (CB) friends. It would be interesting to know if and when RSF went to have yechidus with the Rebbe, and if anyone has any knowledge about this and of what was discussed between them. In any case, RYH himself had close ties with both the Rebbes, and the last one was his personal friend -- and RIVAL -- so RSF was simply moving along a familiar pathway of his own Rebbe - RYH. The love between RYH and RSF was very great. So much so that when CB left East New York and moved to Far Rockaway in the early 1960s, and when Rav Avigdor Miller ceased to be the mashgiach at CB, it was RSF who became the new mashgiach for a short time, and when CB left Far Rockaway for Flatbush, RSF remained behind and went on to build his own Sh'or Yoshuv yeshiva from scratch. For some reason some CB people were not happy with that, but they have long made peace with it, and now support Shor Yoshuv to the hilt with Rav Naftoli Yeager, RSF's son-in-law, as the rosh yeshiva, while RSF's son was sent into golus to Eretz Yisroel where he has a small Kollel in Yerushalayim.

But RSF in his lifetime was not daunted. He took upon himself to pioneer working with and mekarev'ing people in the tumultuous 1960's, and built the first REAL Baal Tshuva yeshiva for BTs outside of Chabad, way before Ohr Somayach and Aish HaTorah. (Rav Noach Weinberg who established both Ohr Somayach and Aish HaTorah also studied the Chabad mehalech and game plan for Baalei Teshuva very closely and came up with his own successful formulations for mekareving BTs and building up BT institutions. It was based on the way Chabad was doing it, but not to the extent that RSF followed the Chabad model. Rav Weinberg sometimes hints at it on some of his tapes.)


Shor Yoshuv In The Old Days

RSF was also a very close life-long friend from childhood of Rav Aron Shechter (RAS). There is a huge picture of the two beardless friends seated up front in light suits in the recent CB 100 Year journal. Their bond was so close that RSF was one of the few people whom RAS would take tochacha from on matters relating to frustrations and problems with talmidim they had in common. In one case RAS had expelled a talmid and it was RSF who "derlanged" RAS on behalf of that talmid when no one else dared stand up to RAS's known scare tactics. And they can be very scary. One wonders what RSF would have told RAS regarding how Isaac Hersh was treated? Would RSF have "blessed" 16 year old Isaac Hersh being sent to incarceration in far off Jamaica by his BT father? A clear-cut case of how NOT to do kiruv! No doubt RSF's views would have led to RAS getting some more well-deserved tochacha. He is sorely missed. RSF guided his closest talmidim to do like they do in Chabad; encouraging recent Baalei Teshuva to take on changing their levush and put on long reklech on Shabbos and grow beards. (for many of them this was no big deal because they were coming as hippies from the counter-culture with longer beards.) RSF was noheg himself like a Rebbe spending time with the talmidim in yeshiva as much as possible in formal and informal gatherings with the great ruach that he had.

Nowadays, under the new post-RSF hanhala they have long moved away from RSF's derech and have tried to build Shor Yoshuv up as a regular Litvishe yeshiva. It has basically become a yeshiva for bochurim who do not fit the Lakewood or Brooklyn yeshivishe molds, and they are VERY happy over there, because there is still an awareness of the need for good ruach and freilichkeit that RSF exuded and taught. They are still living off the capital of RSF's genuine heilige charisma. RSF maintained positive links with Chabad until his last days, even though he never became a Chabadnik himself and retained his life-long 100% loyalty to his own Rebbe, RYH.

In an interesting final note, unlike other Chaim Berliner Rav Freifeld used to like to tell over that after Rav Hutner had his near fatal stroke and was gravely ill and semi-conscious in bed in Yerushalayim for three weeks fighting for his life before he passed away, he said many things that puzzled his followers at that time, and one of the things that he supposedly said was that the (Lubavitcher) Rebbe was the "Tzadik HaDor," which RSF took in stride and would like to tell it over to a number of people, but the CB people denied it. No matter, RSF has made his mark on Jewish and Torah history in America HIS WAY."

20 comments:

An Ailmesher said...

CB moved to Far Rockway in the late sixties, 1967, I believe.

Rav Hutner did not have a good opinion of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Ailimisher

Shor Yoshuv started in 1967, IIRC, and that was only after CB had LEFT F ar Rkwy. to move to Flatbush.

Anonymous said...

TRAGEDY-

did you read the book? dont you think a certain level of complications between RSF and RYH comes throuhgh?

Anonymous said...

Rav Elya Weintraub (who, was himself, along with Rav Gershon Weinreb "deprogrammed" from their Chabad-keit by RYH) said about the great CB "cavemen" of the "stone age":

"None of us (the top talmidim) had either the t'chunos or the kishronos of Gadlus. Except for Rav Shlomo. He had the t'chunos of Gadlus."

I guess that being the case even if he lacked "Da'as Torah" he was still the "Da'as T'chunos"!

Anonymous said...

Legend has it that RYH made a shecheyonu with shem and malchus during his remarks at Shor Yoshuv chanukas habayis, telling someone
in private that he bought a new kapote that the brocho applied to.
The CBers were in full support of RSF. The machlokes to which you are alluding to had to do with a group of talmidim who started a Yeshiva called Romema. RYH"s supposed response was Bonim gidalti veromamti vehem poshu bi

The Bray of Fundie said...

no legend. I've heard the audio.

Anonymous said...

The Shehechiyonu was made at the first siyum made at SY on Masechta Megillah. I have never heard the Kapote detail.
Anyone who knew RSF knows that whenever he referred to "the Rosh Yeshiva" it was to RYH.

As an aside, I rememeber reading in the Chabad propaganda "Shemen Soson Mechaveirecho" that RYH had a secret chavrusa with the Rebbe ZY"A, but that following snag influence it ceased. Any confirmation on that?

Ben Eliezer said...

My family, on shlichus (not in metro NYC), knew the Freifelds personally, and had a very good yachas with them (needless to say, k'yodua l'yod'im). Rebbetzin Sara Freifeld stayed by us many a time, after her husband was nifter.

One vort they heard from Rabbi Freifeld, was a fitting description of modern-era "chumra'nikes" l'mineihem:

He said, when the whole Yiddishkeit is "m'tzumtzem" to be obsessed with 3 things: Loshon Hara, Yoshon and tola'im - Dos heist nisht kein Yiddishkeit.

Coming from the old world, er hot farshtanen there's more vitality and energy in Yahadus than Bnei Brak chumros..

[- AGAV, M'INYAN L'INYAN: talmidei HaChazon Ish, were so obsessed with chumros - they didn't even take the kulos which their Rebbe had laid forward. -- This was quoted from an old essay of HaRav Simcha Elberg z"l which I had seen of late (poss. in HaPardes?)].

vus nisht said...

CBT,


“RSF's son was sent into golus to Eretz Yisroel where he has a small Kollel in Yerushalayim.”

He was not sent into galus, he was goleh himself.

He was slated to be the next Rosh Yeshivah, and did not want the position. So he went off to E”Y.


“RSF was also a very close life-long friend from childhood of Rav Aron Shechter (RAS)… Etc…”

Another cheap shot. Did you really feel it was necessary to write an entire seemingly out of place paragraph simply to take another cheap shot at RAS?
Yes, the fact that RSF and RAS were close friends is true. The fact that RSF had the koach to sway the decisions of RAS might also be true. But RSF had many close friends who he was mashbia who were gedolim. So why write this about RAS? Are you that desperate to trash him?
When will you realize that the reason why your alma mater has not treated you the way you feel you deserved is because you are an oisvurf?


“RSF guided his closest talmididim to do like they do in Chabad of encouraging recent Baalei teshuva to take on changing their levush and put on long reklech on Shabbos and grow beards”

RSF got that minhag from RYH. RYH would often encourage his talmidim to change their levush at a time when langeh reklech were generally reserved for Rabbis of stature.

Anonymous said...

And so it should have stayed.

RMF TALMID said...

i know and learned by RMF he is not less than ihs father maybe even 'tifer' in learning. he is brilliant, captivating and certainly unconventional, but he builds real people, one at a time.

WDK said...

I didn't know R. Shlomo, but R. Avraham Mordechai is a neighbor of mine in Bayit Vegan whom I consider both a friend and teacher... He enriches the life of his family and the community....

Anonymous said...

Rav A M is a 'tzadik nistar' who opted for a life of anonymity so he can grow and develop talmidim, one on one.

Chaim Berlin tragedy said...

The last post by anonymous of Saturday, June 21, 2008 10:59:00 PM sounds strange: "Rav A M is a 'tzadik nistar' who opted for a life of anonymity so he can grow and develop talmidim, one on one."

Hmm, maybe Rav A M opted for a lobotomy as well and moonlights as a milkman at night and on Purim dresses up a Darth Vader who is really his true self?

Well give us all a break because at least the two previous posters intimated that he was a real koach, in spite of outward apperances and bray of fundi's disparaging descriptions of him (standard CB attack dog ways of making ash as un blotte out of people who have been "de-selected" from the "top of the pops list of in people") so that when rmf talmid post says: "i know and learned by RMF he is not less than ihs father maybe even 'tifer' in learning. he is brilliant, captivating and certainly unconventional, but he builds real people, one at a time." A light goes on one says aha, here is someone significant who has kept a gentlemanly silence for many long years (well now in the age of the Internet it may be time for the silence to be shattered!) and who we don't hear from, but whose side of the RSF and Shor Yoshuv story yet remains to be heard in the open because as bray of fundie has already informed us, RAS *did* crown RMF as Rosh Yeshiva, so how come he (RMF) is valgering around Israel like an alleged "tzidik nistar" when there is so much else going on with the Freifeld story according to the latest round of PR books and articles to boost Shor Yoshuv's image -- but not RMF's? How strange indeed. Tzrich iyun gadol.

And then there was the post by wdk, who confirmed RMF capabilities as REbbe and mentsch: "I didn't know R. Shlomo, but R. Avraham Mordechai is a neighbor of mine in Bayit Vegan whom I consider both a friend and teacher... He enriches the life of his family and the community...." Now are all thse things elaborated in the book about who and what RSF's son really is, how he got enthroned and then dethroned and how he was packed off into exile, willingly or unwillingly or both, into EY and then what he has been doing with himself all these years as his family back in the good ol' USA paints him as sort of "black sheep" when he is his father's real son and true heir? Tzarich iyun gadol, and oh, the RMF story sounds like one huge CB TRAGEDY!

Anonymous said...

The book was not a SY project, as those in the know can attest, and it is about RSF, not the last eighteen years in SY. There are pictures of RAM, but then again, also of RNJ and RAH.

I dont know RAMF, but I heard him speak and he can open up a Sfas Emes like few others. Truly a koach.

Anonymous said...

Just to correct something. I have learned in the Mir and by R' Tzvi Kaplan. When I visit my father in law, I learn/daven in Sho'r Yashuv. And I find the boys, at least in Rav Jaeger's shiur, to be as deep, committed and sold a ben torah as any of the other Yeshivos in which I have learned. Its not about fitting into a mold--some kids stay in their communities. And, in the case of Rav Jaeger's shiur, there really is no reason to go to Brooklyn to hear a solid shiur.

Chaim Berlin tragedy said...

To anonymous of Sunday, June 22, 2008 1:23:00 PM:

"Just to correct something. I have learned in the Mir and by R' Tzvi Kaplan."

Good, Mazel Tov. Did he also teach you how to surf the net leshem shomayim?

"When I visit my father in law, I learn/daven in Sho'r Yashuv. And I find the boys, at least in Rav Jaeger's shiur, to be as deep, committed and sold a ben torah as any of the other Yeshivos in which I have learned."

Ok, fine, so who said otherwise? They are a good lot of bochurim, but they are not Lakewood, or CB or Mirrer Yeshiva, or Torah Voda'as types in their backgrounds and personalities. Noone was questioning their status as Bnai Torah, amkus baTorah or their commitment to the highest ideals of Yiddishkeit. If that is what you thought than please accept my apologies.

"Its not about fitting into a mold--some kids stay in their communities."

Sorry, but you are wrong about this. I personally know a cross section of the talmidim and they do not fit the exact strict yeshivish mold, and guess what, they would be the first to admit it.

"And, in the case of Rav Jaeger's shiur, there really is no reason to go to Brooklyn to hear a solid shiur."

What Rav Yeager wants and who the bochurim in his yeshiva are, are two different parshiyos. No doubt Rav Yeager wants to create the next Sura and Pumbedisa of the Five Towns and conquer all of Long Island leshem Uletiferes for the olam hayeshivos and he may just pull it off given enough time and with the seemingly limitless financial backing he has received from many sources with the help of big guns like RAF and his octopus-like faundraising machine. BUT, and it's a big but, Rav Yeager's shver did not have his eye only on this type of thing because the life of RSF was first and foremost devoted to kiruv rechokim and Rav Yeager and Shor Yoshuv have long abandoned and gone off that derech.

And in all probability, the symnol of that parting of the ways in the history of RSF's legacy is that his own son who embodied his father's Torah and Avodah (but not his huge physical body that was so impressive) and who who would have made a great Rosh Yeshiva for Baalei Teshuva in AMERICA but not in Israel where he has no real financial backing and must wonder the streets like a "beggar in Jerusalem" while his rich relatives in the Goldinne Medina of Amayrika laugh at him and his plight after they TRAGICALLY sent him packing. Why isn't all this in an objective book about the life and times of RSF his family and his legacy, instead of bubba maysos meant to fartchakke the oilem goilem?

Anonymous said...

tragdedy; RAMF is tall and handosme. He is also a fired up Amshinover chossid and that is why he lives in Bayit Vegan

Chaim Berlin tragedy said...

"RAMF is tall and handosme." -- Noch besser, the way bray of fundie described him he was a case, but still RSF was literally a phyiscal giant of a man, probably almost six and a half feet with immense broad shoulders, flailing arms and strong hands, and an awesome and wide body, with a booming voice that came forth with joy and mirth. I saw and heard him a few times and he was a true physical presence.

Rav Hutner was once asked why so many of his talmidim were so huge and he supposedly replied "groise neshomas bedarfen groise gufen" -- at least that is how he amusedly put it to one perplexed person

Anonymous said...

here is a quote from reb aron rubashkin:

lubavitch toot heint vas novaradok hut geton in der heim.

loosely transalated: the original model is novardok under reb avrahom yafen z"l.n