Sunday, August 22, 2010
Reb Shlomo Chaim of Sadiger, 5647-5732.
I apologize to he who sent in this tribute, for it's several weeks late in appearing on the blog. IIRC he told me in a separate email that most of what he sent was taken from a book whose name I forgot. Maybe one of you can remember? (It may have "Royal" or "Golden" in the title)
Reb Shlomo Chaim Sadigerer was born in 1887. He succeeded his father in 1908. Despite the fact that Reb Shlome'nyu was the youngest of the five(?) (or three) brothers, he attracted many of the elder and more senior chassidim after the passing of his father Reb Yisroel of Sadiger in 5668. His deep and penetrating divrei Torah were printed and distributed all over Galicia. When one of the divrei Torah came into the hands of Belzer Rebbe, Reb Yissocher Dov zt'l, he marvelled greatly that such a young person could produce such a masterpiece, and he remarked that it was Toras Emes!
When the first World War broke out and Reb Shlome'nyu was forced to flee to Vienna, he decided to give up being Rebbe, leaving his older brother, Reb Avrohom Yaakov, to lead the chassidim. Despite the chassidim's vigorous protests, Reb Shlome'nyu refused to retract his decision; he wanted to serve Hashem in the way that suited him. In a letter to one of the chassidim, Reb Shlome'nyu wrote, "I never accepted to be a Rebbe in the usual sense, I wish to go in my own way, the way of life that I have chosen for myself over many years. My derech (path) is the derech of many of the talmidim of the Baal Shem Tov.(On another occasion he said Reb Zushe) Boruch Hashem I have succeeded in my derech and Hashem should help me succeed further."
RSC, (l) with his brother, RAY, (c) in The Holy Land
Asked once why he does not take kvitlach, he answered "When I go into grocery, and I look at the grocery store owner, I see all his problems, and "take care" of him on the spot. So , why do i have to sit down and take a kvitel?" Reb Shlome'nyu was not a man who sat back and saw to his own life and problems. Although he had retired from being Rebbe, he didn't stop helping others for a minute. In another letter, Reb Shlome'nyu wrote, "My position as a Rebbe is not confined to a particular spot. It is a moving position, each time it finds itself in a different place. Sometimes it is in a cellar or in a shack which serves as a house for a poor family. Other times it is in a rich man's office where I remind him of his duty to his less fortunate brothers. Or it is in the council offices where I draw their attention to some important matter." He use to sit in parks in Tel Aviv and speak to people daily. He belonged to MAFDAL and wrote in the party newspaper, HATSOFE, (In his brother's RAY's words) to have influence on the all sorts of yidden. He did not care for a minute who said what.
In 1938 Reb Shlome'nyu left Vienna for Eretz Yisroel, settling in Tel Aviv. There he freed himself further from the trappings of the Rabbonus. Although in Europe Reb Shlome'nyu was always accompanied by at least one gabbai (attendant), if not two, in Eretz Yisroel he refused to have a gabbai. When he was asked the reason for the change he answered, "My father was always accompanied by many gabbaim, yet at home when he went from one room to another, he was by himself. In Eretz Yisroel I feel as if I am in my home, therefore a gabbai is quite unnecessary."
In 1949 Reb Shlome'nyu left Eretz Yisroel for Europe. He went to seek out the many Yiddishe children that were still in non-Jewish hands and were being brought up as goyim. These children had been given away during the second World War to avoid their being killed by the Germans, and after the war's end their new foster parents were in no hurry to return them. Reb Shlome'nyu saw it as his life's mission to rescue these children and bring them back to Yiddishkeit. In a letter Reb Shlome'nyu wrote: "My stay in this lowly world is between one Heavenly sphere and the other. I came down here, a messenger from Above, to participate in the great tikkun (rectification), to perfect the world through Hashem's sovereignty." For close to two years Reb Shlome'nyu traveled throughout Europe searching high and low for his lost brethren. Special frum absorption centers were set up in Eretz Yisroel to look after the children that Reb Shlome'nyu rescued. After a number of years, when these children grew older, Reb Shlomenu helped them to get married and set up frum (religious) homes. He would appear at their chasunahs (weddings) as a mechutan, even signing his name on the wedding invitation.
Reb Shlome'nyu excelled as a true manhig Yisroel, not someone who liked to make long flowery speeches for the masses to hear, but as a manhig in action. In his notebook he wrote: "A speech which is not followed by the appropriate actions, not only is the speech not worth anything, it is even detrimental. The speaker thinks that he has already done his duty. He forgets that he still has the obligation to help complete the task at hand."
The Sadigerer Rebbe, Reb Avrohom Yaakov, used to say, "My brother Reb Shlome'nyu is kodosh ve-tahor." His "hoisbucher" told me that when it was time for him to get married, he asked Reb Shlome'nyu "what was the minhag in Rizhin - were the ladies noheg to be megaleach ssaros roshon?" Reb Slome'nyu became red and answered "You know, I'm already married for 60 years but I do not know...."
Indeed, anyone who ever saw Reb Shlome'nyu whilst he was davening never forgot the experience. His tefillos gushed forth from the depths of his soul. Each word was said and pronounced with intense kavanah, (intention) accompanied by hot tears. The realization that he was standing in front of Hashem enveloped his whole being, elevating him to a level far above this mundane world. All his energy was inserted into his davenen and often he had to pause to rest in the middle until he regained his strength.
During the tishen that he lead on special occasions, Reb Shlome'nyu sat deep in thought as his mind drifted back to times gone by. Often when he recounted stories of divrei Torah from his zeides, he would burst into tears, weeping like a small child. Those present could almost visualize the particular tzaddik who was being spoken about. A lot of times he use to abruptly finish his toire in the middle, saying “I have already said enough…”
His advice and his berachos (blessings) were given with that same emotion as during davenen or a tish. One could sense his great love and feeling for every person. Reb Shlome'nyu wrote in his notebook, "I have tried for myself what I suggested to others with the unpleasantness and the problems that go with it, and the result was excellent. It has worked wonders!"
Not many people were zoche (had merit) to truly understand and appreciate who Reb Shlome'nyu was. He always shunned the limelight, preferring to let others receive the honor whilst in reality he did most of the work. Those who were granted the privilege of an inside view saw in him a model of a true servant of Hashem, a person who strove constantly to become ever closer to Hashem. Reb Shlome'nyu was niftar in his eighty fifth year on the twenty sixth of Av 5732 (1972). His passing was a major blow for all the Ruzhiner chassidim worldwide, who until this day speak of him with emotion and longing.