Friday, July 31, 2009

......האלבע ארבעט

Let me preface this by wishing you all a speedy recovery from the fast day. I know it can be tough on a man or woman, not eating or taking care of bodily needs and then getting back into it the next day. So let my well-wishes act as a transition helper. I know that all of you have a very hard time on 9 Av, with mourning the Beis HaMikdosh and the subsequent Golus HaShechinah (besides for Lubavitchers, who just sit around laughing, and throw berelach, if you would believe the idiot who commented like that here) and being inspired by the various speeches. So let me wish you all a very inspiring rest of the summer, a Happy Tu B'Av, and pleasant vacationing, wherever it may be. Be it Deal, New Jersey, Monsey, or the Catskills. We all know that vacations today are not what they used to be. BH they are full of inspiring lectures, Tzedokoh functions and shiurim galore, and the only thing that we vacate are the dreaded streets of Brooklyn, the streets of sheer impurity. No expense is too great to escape those nasty streets for the pure and unadulterated air of Woodbourne and Monticello.

Now on the video posted above. I was almost in tears when I first watched the video. Remember that I'm a former Talmid of his Mosdos. The fact that the Spinka Rebbe was subjected to listen to Mr. Brafman's speech and the speeches of the other Tzaddikim is one thing. Dernoch we have that he was basically getzvungen shtein un leynen a droshoh vos di advokaten zeine hubben em matzia geven tzu zoggen, vi a klein kind vos di mamme heist em ibberbetten a bruder oder shvester, is another reason to cry. Yeder einer farshteit alein az di matzav is nisht azay poshut. No Mosad can survive today the way they run. Every Rebbe darf womb to tomb mosdos far zich, val az nisht iz er nisht kayn Rebbe, az nisht ken er nisht fabritziren Chassidim. Most of you would agree with me that most generic Chassidishe schools, such as Belz, Bobov, Vizhnitz and Skver, BeSoch di andere fun di Peylishe Chadorim, could really be morphed into one super-Mosad, where all boys of those kreizen, and all girls of those kreizen could be educated in one school. Throw Satmar and Ger into that mix too. If you need thicker socks or longer peyos then expect it from your children without the enforcement coming from the school.

Is this in our future?

That maybe a way to get Mosdos haTorah VeHaChesed into ship shape, ober "mah yaaseh ho'Odom VoChoy?!" וואס זאגט מען פאר א יונגערמאן מיט א שטוב קינדער, וואס די מוסדות רייסן ביי אים געלט, און די קינדער גייען אין קעמפס און סעמינעריס, וויזוי דארף ער אזוי אנגיין??????? These multi-Millionaires are sitting up there and lecturing to the masses how to conduct an honest life? How many kids does Ben Brafman have? What kind of salary does CD Zwiebel make working for the AI? Will I have my weddings paid for like Reb Avrohom Schorr has rich, Poylishe supporters paying for his? Why not put up Joe the Plumber - his frum counterpart, I mean - and let him tell us how he does it, despite all those kids, tuitions, camps, seminaries and no help from his rich parents/in-laws! Nobody's advocating anything but a legal lifestyle, KeMuvon VeGam Poshut, but nobody tells us vi kumt di katz ibber di vasser. Even the ones with 2.2 kids in the FT and LI are already screaming that keeping up with the Goldbergs has become too much of a burden, so what are we supposed to say? Which goes to show you that the whole "ועשית הישר והטוב" forum that they have there every year is what, exactly? what does it teach us, other than telling the masses how hard the Government is cracking down, and how difficult it is to sit in jail?! And that just addresses the issue of the cost of education. What about housing and food? שומו שמים!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

טוב לצדיק טוב לשכנו

Whe somebody tells you that only through Chassidus can you reach the highest levels of Avodas Hashem, he doesn't mean to belittle you or the people who also follow the non-Chassidic path. He's not trying to degrade you. But he IS trying to show that only through Limud Toras HaChassidus can one reach the level where he sees the greatness of a Yiddishe Neshoma, and acts on that premise. He then sees how Torah learned in the light of Chassidus lifts one up higher and higher. The Chassidus you learn gives you a new geshmak in all of your learning and in your whole life. Where he sees that G-d never gives up on that Neshoma, like the Rebbe said here, and that he expects you to help him return those wayward souls. If this sicha, said as a siyum on Mesechta Sukkah does not show that to you, then nothing will.

!ווי גוט איז אונז אז מיר האבען אזא רבי'ן

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"ליובאוויטש בעיני גדולי הונגרי-ה"

Hungarian Yiddish yingel in the late 30s... Probably in Marmures somewhere, maybe Munkacs. The photographer called these children "peasants."

An article that appeared in this week's Gilyon Hishkashrus published by Tzeirei Chabad in E Israel. The article discusses Reb Tzvi Meir Steinmetz, z"l, a Hungarian Yid who joined Lubavitch yet maintained a strong ongoing connection with many of the Hungarian Rabbonim. He would report back to the Rebbe for ,הוראות and would get all kinds of very interesting answers. Obviously this speaks to my heart and it piqued the interest of many of my Hungarian landsleit who also joined Lubavitch. I suggest that those of who can should read the whole, long megilleh, even if you'll be spitting blood. There will be times where some of you will say that it's "Fantazyes," as some have said already when shown the piece, simply because it doesn't fit your agenda. It allows for Koved to be bestowed upon those who you may disagree with... There may be times when you read this when you might laugh and say: "See how hard he tries to be accepted, the poor guy." Just read it. There's a lot to say but little time these days. Every anecdote can be dissected ten ways to Sunday, but time does not allow for it. And remember; Morgen nacht iz Tishe Bov...

See the PDF Here

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mah Yofis'nik Numero Uno

Shame on Yitz

This has absolutely nothing to do with the organization that he works for. It has everything to do with him wiping himself clean of the whole story. Nobody cares for his opinion, and nobody should be pointing fingers, Jew or Gentile, religious or not.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

One of many faces

So my buddy is telling me about this great Shabbos he had in the Hamptons, rubbing shoulders with all the Hotsy-Totsy Fancy-Shmancy people. Then he tells me about the shul there; that it's the greatest Shul in America, That he wants to go live there, just for the shul, yadda, yadda. That got me wondering; why is he so excited about a shul when he has so many shuls in his own neighborhood, and travels around to so many other places. מה ראה ביכ"נ זו that he loves it so much? So I poked around online and found a picture online of the Hallowed halls of the Hamptons Shul. And then it all became very clear to me. He had never sat so close to his wife before! Even in some of the more Modern shuls he had to crane his neck and either turn around and/or look up to see her. Here it was so easy, not even a glass partition to keep them apart. And best of all, it was all Orthodox, no guilty feelings to deal with after davenen. Don't get me wrong, I'm not here to condemn any shul or anybody's choice of shul, it was cute to me to see the laws of Eruvin applied to Mechitzah,, where poles stuck in the ground counts as walls, despite the reasoning for a Mechitzah, being pretty simple... The shul is under the leadership of Rabbi Marc Schneier.

One of the many faces of Orthodoxy...

Friday, July 17, 2009

וכסית את צאתך, ובא לציון גואל - דברים כ"ג, י"ד

[DISCLAIMER - The following is not meant to attack the American Yated Ne'eman, a wholly independent newspaper which only shares the name with its Israeli counterpart. The proceeding lines are directed towards the Israeli paper only. Thank You.]

COL ran this "story" about a review of a sefer that was recently published in Israel, where the mechaber lumps together three groups that in his distorted, hate-filled mind are one and the same: Tziyonim, Mizrochim, and CHABAD. There are several fascinating elements to the whole sefer, to the pick and choose attitude, and to the whole revisionism that we're witnessing in front of our very eyes. It's one thing when it's Mikveh or blog reid, but when these lies are published, and the lies get Haskomes from so-called Gedolim, iz shoyn tzorres. You wanna say that Chabad was too buddy-buddy with the Tziyonim for your liking, despite the obvious reasons, go right ahead. You wanna say that you're upset that they don't follow the directives of your Rebbes? fine. I can see that it hurts your collective ego. But don't LIE! Don't sit here and tell the minions who would spend money on this BUCH that Chabad trumpets the medinah as Aschalta DiGeula, because a five year-old could tell you otherwise. If this is the way you did your supposed research how trustworthy is the book, and how trustworthy are the ones who gave Haskomes to this piece of fiction?!

Then we go on to revisionist part of the book, the one that tells you that Rabboseinu in Di Lita were all anti-Zionist and anti-Medinah. And that he and his cohorts are carrying that fine tradition handed down from the Chofetz Chaim and Reb Elchonon. What a joke! Any student of history could very easily tell you that the Lita was full of Zionism. That many, if not most of the Rabbonim there were active in the Mizrachi and Revisionist movements, and that REW was the black sheep (for lack of a better term) when it came to Zionism and the Medinah question. And these Litvishe Rabbonim were for the most part talmidim of the great Yeshivos too. Even Reb Chaim was supposed to have said that all Rabbonim in di Lita are quasi-Maskilim! At the 1937 Knessiah Gedauloh Reb Elchonon was the from the only ones (or maybe the only one?!) to vote against supporting the creation of a Jewish State were it to be created. I realize that these Rabbonim have long since passed on and that they no longer make policy for the Yeshivishe world, but still. At least the Hungarians have a long history of being anti-Zionist, so for them it's carrying on the traditions of their forefathers, but you guys? Unless these are all Hungarians turned Litvaks?

Rav Reines of Lida

Over the last few decades the Olam HaYeshivos DiLita has basically reinvented itself. They've become very shtarke "Kanoyim." Why not? They can have their cake and eat it too! get Billions from the State and say that we don't believe in it at all, we hate them, we have no Shaychus to them. Old timers like the Ponovizher Rov had the common decency to appreciate what he got, no matter which negios they had when they gave him land and money for his yeshivos. After all, blogger Yumy told us that even Moshe Rabbeinu had Negios, so why shouldn't DBG or the current Israeli PM?! Today every TD&H is a Brisker Rov, but he lives off the Government anyway, and knocks the Medinah, and anybody he accuses of liking it too much, any chance he gets. And since Chabad is always fair game in their murky eyes they lump Chabad in to the same pile as the Mizrachi. A commenter on the story on COL brought the pasuk listed above and made a nice pshetel out of it, besides for the actual pasuk, that is, where the וכסית is very appropriate, that they're covering up their own crud by going after Chabad and others. Why do they knock the fact that people say that Moshiach is on his way etc.? Because az s'vet zain ובא לציון, vet verren גואל, אויס לייזער, no more Lazer..... וד"ל

ודפח"ח ושפתיים ישק

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Study Notes

For your reading pleasure; Here are three pages from the sefer Migdal Or by Rav Itche Meir Schorr, son of Reb Gedalia, z"l. They're important to our conversation - ongoing and heated - about RGS's leaving Kleck for America despite his Rosh Yeshiva's opinion that no harm would befall the Jews of Europe. I see that some very subtle changes were made upon translation to English. See if you can find them...

Question: Why is the sefer called Or Gedalyahu and here it's "Gedalia?"

Thanks to Hashem for making our father not listen to his Rosh Yeshivah....

Reb Aron was in Druskenik, the letter arrived too late

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


So, I'm communicating via e-mail to this Misngadic friend of mine and we're talking about Lubavitch. Aher un ahin. The same old reid; was Lubavitch always so hated by certain elements among the Litvishe or not. He brings up Reb Leib Bakst, later of Detroit, and says that since his Eyniklach went to the Lubavitcher cheder in Detroit, presumably because they had and have no limudei chol, and today they don't attend any more, that the change happened within Lubavitch, that they brought this upon themselves. Shoyn. Zol zein. Then he admitted to me that RLB was no soyneh to Chabad, something corroborated by Detroit Lubavitcher Chassidim whom I asked, who told me that he was very friendly with the old Rov of Lubavitch in Crown Heights, Rav Zalman Shimon Dworkin, z"l, and was bichlal not interested in the whole new Daas Teyreh movement. All he wanted to do was learn BiMenuchas HaNefesh, not wage wars against his own landsleit.

Then my tatte, ZGZ, told me over Shabbos how a chaver of his who learned in NIRC many moons ago told him at the chaver's child's wedding or subsequent Sheva Brochos how RJIR was such a farbissene soyneh to Chabad that it was mamesh shocking! The Talmdim who knew RJIR's background - that his father was a Lubavitcher Chossid who took young Yankel to Lubavitch to be blessed by the Rebbe Rashab - asked why he hated Lubavitch so, wasn't he from there? His answer? מתחלה עובדי ע"ז היו אבותינו..... I guess he was saying it in jest, but still, is that what you tell Temimus'dike American bochurim? The man also said that RJIR was originally taken to Lubavitch to learn, but the Rebbe told him he was too young to learn there, so he took him to Slabodka instead. I'm not sure of that. All I heard was that he got a Brochoh from the RR, and made some snide remark years later about that Brochoh not being Mekuyam, beacuse the Brochoh to be a Talmid Chochom never came to fruition...

Today after Mincha I was talking to a Yid, a Lubavitcher Chossid, a former Talmid of Gateshead, and the discussion turned to his former RY, Reb Leib Gurevitz. I was always under the impression that he was a strong adversary of Chabad, and I told him so. The Misnagdim - not the Nisht Chassidim - use him as another "rayah" that Chabad is evil, so me being a curious guy, I tried to verify that supposed fact. The man told me the following story in response to my query: One day Rav Moshe Sternbuch - mechaber of Moadim U'zemanim and today Ra'avad of The Eidah HaCharedis, came to town. Now, in GH just about anybody could come to Yeshiva and give a shiur, and RMS was to give a shiur that night (or day). The morning of the shiur after shacharis RMS and RLG were talking, while the latter was wrapping up his Tefillin, and the discussion somehow turned to Lubavitch, with RMS using the term "der Parisher student" to refer to the Rebbe. Reb Leib heard that and turned his back on Sternbuch, saying "that if the world would listen to the Rebbe we'd be much better off." Next thing they know, RMS was not allowed to say his shiur... Take that as you wish. Reb Leib was apparently very close to Rav Simcha Elberg, who was very close to the Rebbe and would visit Lubavitch very frequently, so maybe from there he got a shtikkel education.

.....שיינע מעשה'לאך

Monday, July 13, 2009

Never trust a choosid....

Synopsis: Reb Gedalia Schorr was a talmid in Kletzk in the summer of '39. His family wanted him to come home to America. The American Consulate advised the same thing, citing imminent turmoil in the region, which came soon after. Young Gedalyohu wrote a letter to his Rosh Yeshivah, later of White Plains and Lakewood, and asked for his opinion - Daas Teyreh - on what to do. Should he stay and shteig in Kletzk or go back to the Toomene Amerike. The Rosh Yeshivah was away on vacation and the only way to reach him was by snail mail. The Rosh Yeshivah's reply arrived too late. Gedalyohu could not wait any longer and took the ship back home. He had sold all his furniture and he was afraid of what was in store for him, בתוך כלל ישראל. By the time the letter arrived he was relaxing port side on the Atlantic, probably enjoying the warm breezes with a Ketzos in hand. The story doesn't raise any eyebrows until the last few lines, where the son of RGS - not sure which one - makes a very strong statement; a statement that was APPARENTLY too strong for the editors here, and one which they needed to "water down" just a bit...

"In that difficult time of hester panim the One Above obscured the future gezeirah even from the vision of tzaddikim." So said the son, whom I assume is a very good Jew, just as good as the editors are. The editors added the word "Apparently," probably worried about an outcry of the righteous, screaming about the lack of Kavod HaTorah for Daas Torah and the Meyased Torah here in America. Or something like that. I find it very ironic that the Kletzker Rosh Yeshivah, who's Kavod is במקומו מונח, was given vision of tzaddikim by son of RGS, which is not something that even his talmidim would say that he had, yet that was good enough for the newspaper. This is not meant as a knock on RAK. I just don't get what the issue was here. Why the need to add that word, and what does it accomplish? There was no concept of Ruach HaKodesh amongst Litvishe Yidden at that time. I think that's safe to assume. The last one that was thought of that way was probably the Chofetz Chaim. The fact that most of the bachurim in Mir ignored the opinion of the faculty there speaks volumes about what they thought of daas torah, even with much older Rosh Yeshivos, and Tzaddikim such as the mashgiach Reb Chatzkel, who maybe some DID think had a veite kook.

[I'll go out on a limb here and say that RGS never asked him as a chossid would ask his Rebbe; and if he did it was only because he shtammed from chassidim. But he soon realized that this is no chassidishe Rebbe, so he packed his bags and left. OK, enough of my boych s'vores, back to the story.] The story in and of itself, I think, is not terrible. You don't think MISTAKE when you read it. You see more of an Hashgocha Protis that the letter arrived late, rather than a kashe on a Rosh Yeshiva "how could he be mistaken." The fact that they added those two lines shows that the son had his own doubts about the "veiter kook" of RAK, and shows that he's a shvache believer. I guess the editors could not take out the whole two lines, so they needed to add that one word. The point is never trust a chossid; even if he goes to learn in a pure Litvisher Yeshivah he never really believes all the way. He still doubts his RY, and he sure as Gehennom won't die just so he could listen to Daas Torah. If he thinks his life is in danger he's on the next boat home! Then again, the Mirrer Talmidim were mostly Litvaks and they high-tailed it out of there too... hmmm.... what happened to my whole binyan here?

On the other hand; maybe the writer put in that word, not the editors.....

Friday, July 10, 2009

My Shabbos with the Tzig - By Mordechai Lightstone

Mottel from Letters of Thought spent Shabbos Parshas Chukas Balak in New Hempstead (Greater Monsey, New York) with his wife at the Tzig house. Here's his short report.

I've known Hirshel Tzig for nearly four years, yet never seen him face to face . . . I first found the Circus Tent when some of my pictures from Kaunas, Lithuania (Kovno - קאוונא - HT) ended up on MentalBlog (ע"ה) . . . then used as a graphic by Der Tzig. He's been a valued blogging companion ever since. Though Hirshel and I have tried to meet up - by the Ohel, in 770 or by Chassidsher Farbrengen'ish - we were never able to work things out. So, the years and comments went by, and in my mind Hirshel remained a be-horned goat or a bearded face from a Vishniac painting. Then, last week, my wife and I were offered a ride to Monsey. (Mottel asked if he could come, I checked with the wife and we both agreed it would be a great idea!) Sending the Tzig an email, we worked out the details of our meeting for a shabbos together in his home. (In the end the poor guy, had to catch the bus in Williamsburg since the ride didn't materialize. - HT) Bottle of Laphroaig in hand, (That stuff could kill you -- HT) we waited along Route 306 for our dear host to reveal himself. (He means come pick them up. I took three kids with me and we drove down to Rte. 306 and Viola Rd.- HT) I was somewhat taken aback when we ultimately met. True his stature was different then I had imagined, perhaps his hair a bit whiter, but in truth it was his normalcy that surprised me. I feel very strongly that Bloggers are normal people - perhaps a little too passionate or opinionated - overall we tend to mesh very well with the general population. Yet while I didn't expect Tzig to have horns like a real goat I did almost expect him to be very much the firebrand and maverick that we know him as.

Instead I found a chassidisher youngerman, with zisse chassidisher kinderlach, and overall a very fine and 'normal' life. (Mottel is so holy he didn't even notice that I have a wife too! - HT) After speaking to him, I could tell that he was in the 'know' about all the interesting tidbits, trivia politics and history that make up the discussions here . . . but at most he seemed like the kind of guy who would comment on the Circus Tent and then get into a chassidishe dvarim b'teilim session about it in the mikva or by the kiddush after davening. (Me being the anav, I made sure to hide my vast knowledge in Nigleh and Chassidus from Mottel... - HT) He did not seem like the Anti-Tzemach himself. We spoke briefly about blogging - I gave him a few pointers (such as using scribefire to write up posts, and what Twitter could be used for) - and he showed me some of the vile junk he must filter out of the comments, but over all we spent the Yom Tov of 12-13 Tammuz singing geshmaker niggunim and speaking over divrei yemei chassidus.

Hirshel - stay strong in all things, and may we give the Rebbe nachas in what we do - and farbreng again in the near future.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Looking beyond Greater Hungary (Part IV)

In our last discussion about the young Tzig's life we discussed how he became very disenfranchised with the new tone that he saw in Spinka. Times were changing and so were the people he was to share the Beis Medrish with. So he moved on to a more neutral yeshivah, where he thought he could settle in for years of serious learning. Also at that time; since he was growing older, the Tzig began to realize that the current approach to serving G-d, the one he was seeing amongst his peers, was not one that "spoke to him," and he began to explore other avenues. Please read Part III, linked to above, for a refresher.

This is not an attack on the personnel at Spinka, nor do I blame anybody in particular for the changes; that's just the way it happened there. Nobody owed me anything. There was no need for them to adapt to me. The clientele changed there just like in many other Yeshivos. Places like Munkacs, Vien, Ch'san Sofer, and even Yagdil Torah, where the Poylishe/Flatbush Gerrer was not as welcome anymore, underwent similar changes. The Chassidim moved in and the "Pareve" left in droves. The whole frum world shifted heavily to the right, and I felt very uncomfortable with some of the changes; it made me feel very much out of sorts. There often is that sense among children that the Yeshivos they attend are "MORE" than what they are. Among children and their parents, that is. Meaning, they feel as if the school is way too frum for them, or a bit too frum, but they attend the school so that the watered down version is still above what they would do on their own. Let me explain this in layman's terms, so that even the daftest among us can understand this:

Let's say you have a boy who goes to a Mesivta where he must wear white shirts. This bachur comes from a family where white shirts are not the norm. His father doesn't wear them during the week, he wears non-white shirts on Sundays and during the summer, and sometimes when he comes from school he'll go and change. That doesn't mean that he's not a good, frum bachur, it's just that he doesn't think that he needs to be in white shirt all the time. Now, let's say this bachur, who really does everything he needs to, was told by the Hanholoh that if they ever caught him not wearing a white shirt that they would throw him out of the Yeshivah, what do you think he would do? He may follow the rules to begin with, but ultimately he may begin to look for another Yeshivah. This was not the case with me, necessarily, but the point is the same. When the changes come to a school you attend, and you're just not comfortable with them, and you don't see yourself making all those changes, then you KNOW it's time to move on. If I'm repeating myself here, or if I made those points last time, I apologize.

So, where does a kid from Boro Park, Chasidish Geshtimt but with no true allegiance to any particular group, never wore a tie but no bekishe either, spoke Yiddish mostly, but could read and speak English with the best of them go? To another Yeshivah of a dying breed, of course! Yeshivah Ch'san Sofer in Boro Park, a jump, hop and a skip from home. There too the old Oberlandishe type was almost on his way out, but there were still enough there, and there were also guys who considered themselves full-fledged Yeshivish too. This was something I was really never exposed to; serious learners who spoke English, wore casual clothes in the summer and played sports mit a geshmak, basketball too! Here I was the Chassidishe one whereas before I was the less Chassidish one because I wore a short jacket, albeit one bought at a Chassidishe (like G&G Clothing) store. This was Mesivta; in the "Beis Medrish" most of the bachurim were far more Chassidish, since the old type of bachur had long since left YCS. That's where the decline of Chasam/Ch'san Sofer heritage was really felt. Yes, the Rov was still at the helm, but they had long since switched to Nusach Sefard, and a hard right turn had been made several years before. Not like Nitra, but hard right nevertheless.

More later, iy"H. ( I promise not to make you wait very long this time.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Passing Quietly

A Reader writes: [ and I add my thoughts in brackets...]

R' Chezkel Grubner from Detroit who was niftar yesterday - R' Yitzchok Sorotzkin's shver- was The Gerrer Rebbe's cheder Rebbi right after the war - it might have been in Europe if that makes sense- [ it does, since the GR was in Belgium after his zeide the IE was niftar, but that might not be Aleph Beis, he was like 9-10 years old then - HT] for some reason The Gerrer Rebbe had a lot of hakaros hatov to him and was exceptionally nice to his eyneklach (till he chapped that the Sorotzkin's were pushing it too much.)[ I knew R' Grubner from the Lubavitcher angle. He would often come to the Rebbe's farbrengens and sit right up front, behind the Rebbe. His sister was married to a prominent Lubavitcher Chossid in Detroit, which may or may not have sent him to that Midwestern city. What gets me is how a Poylisher/Chassidisher Talmid of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin had all Litvisher/Yeshivisher sons and Eydems... He was the last of the remaining Radomsker chassidim too - HT ]

Tzig: You are probably in Bensonhurst right now listening to the hespedim [ on Reb Shaul Sholom Menashe Gottlieb, zt"l, Rosh Yeshivah in Beis haTalmud. The truth is I had never heard of RSMG before, and I thought I knew a little bit about local Roshei Yeshiva. In any case I wasn't there, maybe I should've made the trip. - HT] He was R' Leib's (Reb Leib Malin - HT) age - from the biggest masmidim around. Adom Godel - hide the seforim when people came in - didn't know anything about the velt. As far as I know, he k'mat never left Bensonhurst, he didn't do the photo-op things - none of those chevrah [ the old Bais haTalmud group - HT] did. He had no idea who R' Elya Svei was. He had never seen him or heard of him in his 98 years. You might not believe me, but the whole Lakewood (yeshiva) heard of him. Anyways, years ago I heard somewhat embellished mayses how R' Elchonon went to the Mir for a few days just to speak with him in learning. From what I heard, he gave the shiur in Baranovitch when R' Elchonen was in America, besides for R' Elchonon's son who was killed in the war and, I think R' Mendel Kaplan from Filly. Interesting that R' Shmuel Berenbaum heard shiur from him in Baranovitch.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Holy City Number Five

Whatever floats their boat.

In the end I decided that I like the fact that a tract of land in Spring Valley off State Route 45 became "holy." I like that they stick by their Rebbe's words that he was mamshich the holiness of the Holy Land in his village. More power to them. Yeah, I know. "Kan Tzivoh." But this seems - to me, at least - to take it one step further. UPDATE: I see some of you just don't get it! There's a difference when you write Ir HaKodesh, as in Jersalem, Safed, Hebron and Tiberias, to writing that there's brochoh in a neighborhood because a Tzaddik, a Rebbe lives there. It's not rocket science, people. Don't think you're Einstein when you tell me about what the Rebbe called Crown Heights. Nobody ever referred to CH as Ir HaKodesh, nor to Mezibuzh, Mezritsh, Lubavitch, Warsaw, Otwock, Riga, Rostov, Leningrad or any other station.

Thank You for your understanding.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Keep on Keepin' on

It seems easy, replacing a man. You get a guy that looks like him, sings like him, dances like him, flips he tallis like him, and we're done. We have ourselves a bonafide memaleh makom. Just ask the Bobowers, they love RSH's son because he does that same "walking on air" routine that his father did at the weddings. He waves around the Lulav and Esrog the same way, and his peyos are just so, just like they were by his father. And he has the same last name too. That's often what they care about. If he didn't do it just so they'd complain that he was "meshane fin di tatte's deyrech..." But hey, who am I to complain about them? I imagine the same would be true in Lubavitch too if there was a replacement. On the other hand, maybe not. The Rebbe did things his own way, despite being a very big chossid of the FR, his predecessor. People often were taken aback by some of the changes, but they quickly learned to accept them, because they saw and realized who the Rebbe was.

And now that phenomenon has spread to the Chassidei Carlebach of the West Side. The board of Directors, or whoever is in charge there, decided that they too need to replace Reb Shlome'le in all aspects, so they got two people to fill his hippie shoes. They got former Lubavitcher Naftoli Citron to fill the Rabbi role at the Carlebach Shul by lecturing and teaching, and they got Yehuda Green, Shlomo wannabe extraordinaire, to do the singing and davening routine. The end result is that the two together make you feel like you had Shlomo up there like in the good old days. And in case Green's singing and dancing is not enough during Selichos they have Citron right up there next to him to complement the look. Put the two of them together, close your eyes, and you can take yourself 15+ years back to the times when Shlomo did the preaching from the Bimah. I'll tell you the truth it surprises me to see that there. I thought this was a speciqal connection, a connection to a man, not to a vest and a guitar...

Now, maybe there are many that were mekushar to him personally and they haven't come back since, but I would think that those people who do come back to the shul to hear Citron & Green would need more than just a similar-looking guy or guys up there to fill the void left by SC. Those that were influenced by him and shlepped out of the muck by him needed him to do it for them. It wasn't the fact that he was teaching Izhbitza or telling stories of Moishele the holy Gannif. Anybody can teach or tell stories - not like him, yes, but still. What made it special was who was telling the story or teaching the vort from Reb Tzadok HaCohen. They believed that he truly believed the Torah and the story, and believed in what he was telling them and teaching to them. No vest or length of hair or banging on the bimah just like that can replace that. You can wear a shtreymel, and keep your hair short, and accomplish just the same if you keep it real. The point is some things are just irreplacable. Case closed. You hear me, Green?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Suggestions box

Faige Illanit (Hindes)

I like the fact that people actually responded to my writer's block with what they wanted to see and read here on the blog. Some said pictures, because they can't STAND when I voice state my opinions on issues of the day and previous days. Some want me to dig up dirt on whom they don't like, or verify old time rumors about this one and that one that they never could ascertain for sure. Like one question I was asked was "was Shulamit Aloni Reb Shimon Shkop's granddaughter?" the answer is NO! You're confusing her with another very left wing MP, Faige Illanit of MaPam, daughter of Reb Shrage Faivel Hindes, Reb Shimon's eidem. She was actually raised by her illustrious zeide after her mother, daughter of Reb Shimon passed away. It seems like her zeide kept in touch with her even after she made aliya and left the path. Which shows up a side of Reb Shimon which today's zealots wouldn't want you to see; ah tatte, ah zeide, ah yid mit ah yiddishe hartz. I would always dare say that she has an eydele geshtalt, despite her lifestyle... And if you think I "shep nachas" from these "expose's" you couldn't be more hopelessly wrong. Others wanted me to write about my childhood again; they said they liked the Stories from Spinka etc. All suggestions were duly noted and will be weighed heavily. Which reminds me; all the talk about the Schneerson gezha and the lack of religious descendants brought this irony to the surface:

There was a certain Rebbe who had a non-frum daughter. She too grew up in very difficult times in the Holy Land, and eventually joined a non-frum Kibbutz, living her life there till the end of her days. She passed away recently and her death was noted in some sort of publication, I don't remember if it was a Kibbutz publication or a national newspaper in Israel. She was some sort of leader in the Kibbutz movement till her dying day, which made it newsworthy, I guess. The woman had siblings who should have sat shiva for her. One of the siblings has a grandson, whom I met recently, and I asked him if his antecedent sat shiva recently, so he said "Yes, for his brother." The truth is he had a brother who passed away recently too, but that's not what I meant. I was asking about the sister. Yet, this bochur HAD NO IDEA THAT HIS ZEIDE HAD A SISTER, BICHLAL! Talk about revisionist history. So which is better: lying to your kids and not telling them that they have an irreligious aunt, or telling them that there was an uncle who nebach made life's choices that we do not agree with, but we still include him in our family?

Do tell.

Reb Shimon, zt"l

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Creating the Lubavitcher Talmid Chochem

like to think of themselves as equal. They're all equal. No head table at events - most of the time. Rosh Yeshivos are often called by their first names and a Rosh Yeshivah will often just let it go. A friend who meets a former chavruseh of his who's now a famous mashpia or the rov of Bnei Beraq would still call him Leibel or Yossel or Mayshe. At the Rebbe's farbrengen it didn't matter if you were 90 years old, you'd often have to fight for a vantage point or a seat if you didn't have one reserved. You also don't get many accolades for doing what you're supposed to; meaning a bachur in yeshivah who learns the whole mesechta baal peh won't be called the best bachur in yeshivah and won't be groomed to be the next "Reb Akive Eiger." The same goes for yeshivos; there are better and not such good yeshivos, but there is no Yeshivah LeMetzuyonim. In other words - not to chew your eyes and ears off - it's a pretty much classless society. Which is why a recent ba'al tshuveh has no problem and getting up and darshening his boych s'vores in 770 or in public, because he too wears a hat and kapote and beard, so he's no different than anybody else... Actually the latter is an outcome more of Meshichism than of genuine Chabad, but you might say that was the nesinas mokem. ?קלאר

I'm getting off the point here. With bachurim often involved with mivtzoyim and shlichus at an early age - despite it not being b'zman sidrei haYeshivah - the chashivus of full-time learning often gets lost. Add to that the fact that many of the finer yungeleit go on shlichus and are often left teaching young kids or beginner adults and what you have is a gap that needs to be filled. Kolel is meant to last one year, maybe two. There are those that stay longer, but they're the exception. Most that are shayech to learning and don't go on shlichus go into chinuch. The main emphasis - as the Rebbe wanted - is placed on going on shlichus, meaning that every bachur yearns for that one he's married and past Kolel. It's gotten to the point that much good talent - bachurim that are really shayech to learning - are "wasted" on shlichus since they're being utilized to the fullest potential. It seems like somebody has begun to take notice, surprise, surprise, and has decided to step out of the box and do something about it. I say "out of the box" and I mean today's Chabad "box." After all, we do each have our own boxes, don't we?

Having said that, a blurb on the website "shturem" today caused somewhat of a ruckus. According to the story, and take it at face value, there is to be a Yeshivah for מצויינים founded somewhere in Europe next year. It will be a breeding ground for the next generation of Rabbonim and Rosh Yeshivah in Chabad. 14 precious bochurim will be allowed entry after a careful selection process. It doesn't sound like a very Lubavitcher idea to some, them being more equal and stuff, but I think it's a good one, considering the times we're in, and considering it's 15 years "since Gimmel Tammuz." Yes, Lubavitch is all about love and inclusion, and yes, every Jewish child - no matter his background - deserves an education similar to the average kids, but why can't there a level dedicated to those who show exceptional talent and skills? Why must we keep those who are capable of accomplishing more down with the average kids? Nobody is going to do away with the regular Yeshivah setting, rest assured of that. Mrs. Doe, your Zalmy and Mendy will get to go to Melbourne or Sydney or Kfar Chabad when he finishes Oholei Torah "zal" just like his older brothers did.

All we're asking for is that there be who to teach your sons. That there be Roshei Yeshivah in the caliber of Reb Yisroel Friedman and the brothers Kalmanson for the next generation. The way it's going now, with almost every available talent going out to teach beginners, it doesn't seem like it'll happen - al pi derech haTeva, anyway. This seems to be a private venture. Some rich man with money was convinced of the need for such a misgeres and will fund it completely, so they say. And as far as the asinine comments on Shturem complaining that trying to raise lomdim is a "misnagdishe, Litvishe" idea; all I can say is PUH-LEEZ. If you in your right mind that the biggest nachas the Rebbe could have was for a Gaon Olam in the tradition of Leibel Kaplan a"h teaching Aleph Beis to a child and then learning Gemoroh בעיון on his own late into the night, then you don't know the first thing about "unzer heilige Rebbe." For a yungerman of below-average intelligence to do it is kain kuntz nit. For a shliach who only learns Chumash Rashi to teach that to his class is מהיכי תיתי, The Rebbe wants "bacon," not "eggs," if you remember the story of the hen and the dovor achar walking along the street, and the only way to do that is to be something first and then avek gebben fun zich later.

I realize now that I sort of went off the point by first saying that it would create Roshei Yeshivah, and then saying it would create Lomdishe shluchim. Oh well, efsher lekayem shnayhem.