Sunday, March 8, 2009

Modern-Day Besh"t?

Kabbalat Kahal in Guadeloupe

The Kaliver Rebbe of Williamsburg travels the world at his own expense, counseling people and helping them in their times of need. When I say the world, I mean The world. The most remote corners of the world. he travels to places that hardly ever see a Gutter Yid; mostly places with small Sefardi communities. He never asks for or accepts money; all he does is speak and give chizuk. They say he made his money from British Real Estate, and is a very rich man, ba"h. Yet, despite his travels and his Baal Shem Tov like activities they say he's what you'd call very "Farchnyokt" in his personal life, making very Rebbishe shidduchim with his children. We need such leaders today. It's tough to call him a leader when his sphere of influence is so small among Jews. Or is it? is he less important than the Rosh Yeshivah in NJ with a school for 30 guys, who tells us not to eat the vegetable of the day? I don't know. I would say he's no less important, and I think you'd all agree with me on that.

Martinique - on the way to San Juan


Anonymous said...

The Kalever is really special for going around the world to be mechazek yidden, but as I heard from a friend of mine, he has a major problem he doesn't know how to relate to these yidden in the small communities. He doesn't understand them. At least he tries.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree. I'm a secular Jew, albeit in New York, and I've been uplifted by the Rebbe's advice. Furthermore, I've seen others like me when I've gone to visit his shul. I will agree that Williamsburg isn't necessarily the most hospitable place for us, but once you get inside Kaalov, the hasidim do everything they can to make you feel at home.

A Kaliver said...

Hirshel ,would you consider a switch to kalev, now that HE is doing the real thing? or was your conversion just a teenage fad ?

oheiv yisroel said...

"hardly ever see a gutter yid mostly places with small sefardi communities"


schneur said...

I see his ads in the Israeli papers printed here in the US. As a cynic of the frum world I was skeptical. So I am glad to hear that we have a kleine Besht among us.
He seems to be interested in Sefardishe Yidden.
If he or his gabboim are reading , may I suggest he travel to the follwoing type of communities.
1. Neighborhods in NY with no real Chassidic presence like Washington Hts, the Upper West Side, Lower east Side, Riverdale.
Places in NJ with no cHassidim like Teaneck and Engelwood.
Mid size cities in the US with a Jewish pop over 10,000 like Providence, Hartford, New haven,Springfield who have never seen a chagas rebbe.
In the period before 1965 many of the old time American rebbes travelled to various cities for Shabosim.

Anonymous said...

when is at home base taking care of his own community?

Anonymous said...

why didn't the rebbe do this?

hillel said...


I used to loe your blog, and I dont mean to be rude, but your losing it. You used to post things abour real yidden and how thye acted, which gave us yidden chizuk knowing that although there are alot of fakes ot there, we still are part of an "Om Kadosh". Lately you are posting these "Life" pictures and beggining to show hate. Please (for the sake of old times), be what you were and stay away from what yo are becoming.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


where do you see the hate and why do you not like the LIFE pictures?

Anonymous said...

Where do you get the information that the Besh"t went around from town to town like an itinerant preacher? Of course he traveled, but not for most of the year like this Kaliver.

Anonymous said...

Please keep the Life pictures coming. Some of them really bring back fond old-times memories of yiddishkeit and chassidishkeit without any chochmes. You can feel the 'תמים תהי in many of these pictures. Please

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

well, the Besht had lots and lots of Kfitzas HaDerech, that cut down on travel time...

avakesh said...

For additional information and a video of this Rebbe in Richmond, Va, see

Twistelton-Twistelton said...

“is he less important than the Rosh Yeshiva in NJ with a school for 30 guys, who tells us not to eat the vegetable of the day? I don't know. I would say he's no less important, and I think you'd all agree with me on that.”

Actually HT, I do disagree with you. I am sure the kalever Rebbe meets with more people that the hypothetical RY under discussion. (Although a lot of small time RY spend a decent amount of time running around too). But said RY changes his entire yeshiva every two three years. So it is not unusual for a small time RY after ten years to have 100 ++ talmidin who think he is the Moshe Rabbenu of our Dor (subject for a different day), along with 200 talmidim who think he is a true Gadol. And add to that all the friends of those talmidim. The Kalever Rebbe may meet 5,000 people a year, but were he to decide that you cant eat oranges, how many people would listen. Certainly less than were our hypothetical RY to say the same.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

A Kaliver

you're kidding, right?

Anonymous said...

from limited experience i would say at best i think he spreads himself too thin and at worst i think he is a hobbyist, a dilletante especially if it is true that he was or is a businessman.

i wrote to him twice with hard questions. once no response at all. second time the gabbai said he got the letter and hopes for a response. no response. at time i was searching to see where and if i belonged and ended up with chabad by default as i would prefer a live rebbe and still have many questions but have not found a rebbe and dont think i ever will.

the kaalover probably means well and is not out for gelt or kovod but nothing much there.

Anonymous said...

in the spirit of purim
Its ironic, that this Kaliver of NY has the longest beard of all Rebbes while the Israeli Kaliver has no beard

Anonymous said...

I beleve he is the only Talmud of Belzer Rov ZY"A (he was 1 of the first talmidim of the yeshiva)that took his lessons of Ahavas Yisroel into full practice.

Anonymous said...

Mishpacha had a beautiful article about him last year. It was an interview with him.

Maybe a Litvak said...

It relates to the old fight regarding who deserves more respect: those making minor improvements on the lives of many minimally observant people or someone who makes teenagers into R'Baruch Ber yidden: Mitzvak tank or Birkas Shmuel.
I don't know if you were referring to Swerdloff or Sorotzkin. Regardless, they both are unique in being maymud talmidim and created an atmosphere of ligin and mutzerehn in lehrnen. As a lubab, you should applaud the way they revere their leader and think that their respective Rosh Yeshiva is 'it'. (The difference is that when they get older they see that there are others out there)
If you want to know who is more leshaim shamayim, that is a seperate story, but you discussed the accomplishments.

Anonymous said...

>>the kaalover probably means well and is not out for gelt or kovod but nothing much there.

But a dead rebbe is better? That makes no sense at all.

schneur said...

Although there are amany erliche rebbes and more who have lots of book knowledge, annymous is better off having a dead rabbe than 99% of living rebbes

Anonymous said...

Is it substance as well as form, or is it more form than substance? The Kaliver definitely does have a hadras ponim. What is his message?

yehupitz said...

I met the kaalover rebbe when he came to Baltimore when I was a bochur. He was spending Shabbos with the shaar-yoshuv-type yeshiva high school. I went from Ner in to see him for a "yechidus" on a Sunday afternoon. He looked at me, read me very quickly, and advised me very gently and intelligently. In my opinion and experience, he is for real, and a treasure for Klal Yisroel.

Avrohom Yaakov said...

Someone told me that the Rebbe hates me. Even though I learn two sedorim a day, am shomer Torah u mitzvos, and extend myself very generously for other Jews, the Rebbe, I was told, hates me because I do not learn Chassidus (though I do learn Toras nistar outside of Chassidus).

Is this true? Why would he hate me?

Anonymous said...

>>The difference is that when they get older they see that there are others out there

Funny, I used to be Lubavitch, and through my interactions with one of these named Rosh Yeshivos, I realize that the Rebbe is not it--that one of these named Rosh Yeshivos are far greater in learning and (probably) yiras shomayim.

I know Tzig won't let it in--he censures any truthful statement which presents even the possibility that the Rebbe is not it. When he grows up, he, too, will see reality for what it is.

Maybe a Litvak said...


I suspect you are an imposter

a kaliver said...

Hirshel:I am dead serious, are you a Mevakesh or not?
at least try to meet him

Anonymous said...

>>I suspect you are an imposter

Your suspicion are not correct,

drek mit feffer said...

Hirshel:I am dead serious, are you a Mevakesh or not?
at least try to meet him.

You gotta be kidding!
A Tziganner nuchschlepper

Anonymous said...

Lebedik or Geshtorben
He means well but a very small brain, I remember his first Tish veda"l

Anonymous said...

I've met him and more importantly my wife, who is a giyores and is having a hard time understanding where the religion she joined has gone, spent time with this remarkable person.

He was able to provide us both with deep insight and had his Gabbai follow up a number of times to see how we are doing.

It's nice to see a person do what he does. I can't tell if he is the gilgul of the Besht but clearly he is person that cares about Yidden.

hillel said...


What I am saying is, please post stories of REAL yidden ( like you posted a while back of the Nickelsburger on Mumbai) and the beatiful stories of the rebbe( RMM). leave out the "Chisronnos" of other yidden, Just focus on the positive...its refreshing to know there are yidden out there that see straight:-) Regarding the life pictures, they are nice but I always though of your blog as a mokum to read gevaldige zachen as opposed to an history of photography

moshe said...

does the Kaliver Rebbe speak english?

How can I make an appointment to meet him in New York?

Anonymous said...

Have you heard of a modern-day rebbe who doesn't speak english? The answer is, yes, he speaks english quite well, and with a british accent as well (I remember seeing a video of him).

I would appreciate hearing from chassidish people who have actually met and spoken with him, what they think of him.

I read that (by the non frum or not chasidish oilem) he holds your hands, looks in to your eyes and tells your future, however I would like to hear something a little more inspirational.

Max ben Ronald said...

"I read that (by the non frum or not chasidish oilem) he holds your hands, looks in to your eyes and tells your future, however I would like to hear something a little more inspirational."

Jokes. A bunch of jokes.
Do you really believe that he looks into peoples eyes and tells their future?!

I met him. He is a very nice man and a tremendous ohev yisrael. I did not speak to him in learning but I did hear a drasha from him. I can not comment on his level of bekiyus in niglah or nistar because I did not hear very much.
But one thing is for sure, he didn't tell me my future.

At the time I saw him I was living in Waterbury Connecticut. He randomly showed up one day gave a shmuez and then met with all the b'nei hayeshiva and community members individually.

Till this day I have no idea why he came.
To help spread Yiddishkeit? Maybe. But if that is the case then he probably wasted his time.
He spoke a very broken english and he discussed inyanim that practically nobody had any shaychus to and nobody was interested in hearing.

After he spoke we all had the chance to go into the office and meet with him one-on-one.

All the people who went in to him said the same thing.... He held their hand, looked into their eyes and said some sort of general statement which any person can apply to themself, i.e. "You should work on your yiras shamayim", which of course any jew can apply to themselves.

Of course there were some bachurim who came out of the office after meeting him that were floored. But I didn't hear anything that he said that was overly impressive.
Those who were floored were the gullible oilam who would love to have said that they met a navi.

One thing that did slightly impress me though was that he told each bachur to learn a certain amount of gemara over the next while.
He alloted each bachur a certain amount. It seems that in the few short minutes that he met with each bachur he was able to tell their level of kishron and where they were holding in learning. The shvacher bachurim got a blatt or tow and the better bachurim got a larger number of blatt. In fact, from all the bachurim who I spoke with afterward, there was only one bachur in the entire yeshiva who he told to learn a small masechta. That bachur was hands down the biggest ba'al kishron and best in learning in the yeshiva at that time.

But telling the future? Not a chance.