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.

6 comments:

Isaac Balbin said...

Rabbi Groner was quite comfortable talking about the old days. All you needed to do was ask, and if not for the fact that the whole world interrupted him every 5 minutes, he c/would have spoken for hours about it. I never felt Rabbi Groner hid under his CB blanket. He was proud of it ... I can still hear him thundering "I learned in Chaim Berlin, you know"

He was also only too happy to describe Rayim Aheevim (and he pronounced it this way) and the days of yore.

I think that Rabbi Groner was unique for a Chabadnik in that he was completely ibbergegeben to the Rayatz and then the last Rebbe, but his was not a binary system of 1's and 0's. Yes, the Rebbe was (number) 1, it's just that he encountered and appreciated many other Gedolim and didn't feel that they needed to be turned into 0's in order to make the 1 more dramatic.

Anonymous said...

If you read the new book on Rav Shloyma,you'll see tha his people waned that. RGroners people werent interested in hearing abou what was pre 7th Rebbe.Rav Freifeld had newly frum chassdim, who wanted to hear it all...

friendly anonymous said...

To Anonymous 11:20 PM:

With spelling like yours, I'm surprised you actually could read the book. Maybe you listened to it on books-on-tape?

Isaac Balbin said...

Rabbi Groner's "people" were very interested to hear pre 7th Rebbe. You could hear a pin drop when he related how he stood at the dock when the Rayatz arrived in the USA. In fact, one of his strengths was that his "people" listened to him.

anonymous: I don't know where you get your information from.

The Bray of Fundie said...

great pic Tzig (as usual, you have the best pix in the J-Blogosphere).

Shkoyakh!

Joe said...

As R' Balbin says, people always wanted to hear Rabbi Groner's stories. Even if they had not been fascinating in their own right (and they generally were) and even if he had not been an accomplished raconteur (which he was) the fact is that he was so imposing that he could have recited a list of telephone numbers and people would have paid attention.