Sunday, July 13, 2008
Groner, Freifeld and Chaim Berlin
What seemingly placed Rabbi Groner apart from the others was the fact that you could not ignore him. I don't mean physically, although his build was imposing, I mean his presence. It demanded attention and respect. Even the greatest adversaries of Chabad had to accept and respect him, because they knew there was no pushing him aside. His passing was and still is discussed by all who knew him. Somebody here mentioned the Rayim Ahuvim Shtiebel in Brownsville, and that we would be remiss if we wouldn't mention it in a tribute to RYDG. We can draw parallels to Rabbi Freifeld and to what the two of them grew to become and accomplish. As I sit and think about it the parallels are so scary that it seems each one of them could've taken the exact same path.
If my memory serves me right, both RYDG and RSF were born in 1925, one in Brownsville and the latter in East New York. A stone's throw from each other. Both attended YRCB in East New York, then in its beginning stages under its new charismatic leader, Rav Yitzchok Hutner. Both were giants of men, physically that is, and both went and built large and unique institutions. People here have questioned Rabbi Groner's kesher to YRCB, but it was very obvious in everything he did. His breitkeit was unheard of Chabad, there's really no other "excuse" for it other than Rav Hutner. Maybe he never or seldom spoke of those days - just as a former Lubavitcher might not have spoken of his Lubavitch days - but it was with him. Both took the lessons they learned from their childhood shtieblach and applied it to their everyday lives, RSF more so than RYDG, but that can be understood, since he didn't have a group of old time Jews in his life like Groner had in Lubavitch.
More Later, iy"H.