Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Monday, chof Elul, was forty years since the passing of Reb Ella Lopian. That's how he was known. Ella, not Elya. Reb Ella was special. It's tough to explain, but I'll try.
There are those that make names for themselves by attacking others or by being leaders of large groups. As a kid I collected Rebbe pictures, and the picture you see above was one of the pictures I had. I think my nephew took my collection, IIRC. We didn't know much about him in Spinka back then, but we liked the picture, it was special. As it is today, no matter how old you are. Reb Ella feeding a cat in Kfar Chassidim is special, considering he was an old man by then, well into his 80s for sure, and he was the mashgiach, not the maintenance man. Most people would send a bachur to go do it, if they remembered at all or cared enough, but not REL. That message resonates especially well with kids, being that kids are used to being shik yinglach for adults, yet here the adult, the well-respected Tzaddik, is doing it himself! That speaks to kids, and it leaves an indellible impression on those "young skulls full of mush."
I also had another experience with Reb Ella. We alluded to it here, but sans details. As a bachur in Chasan Sofer we learned Lev Eliyohu (as well as Michtov MiEliyohu) Our Rebbe was Reb Hershel Cohen, z"l, a talmid of BME in Monsey, a fine, fine Yid who suffered terribly later in life. We learned those seforim for mussar seder each morning. In the hakdomeh there's a toldos section, and one interesting - no, fascinating - detail stuck with me all these years, through Lubavitch and all: Reb Ella's parents left for America when he was all of 9 years old. He refused to go along with them, preferring to stay alone in di Litteh all by himself, saying that Amerikeh iz a trayfeneh medineh. As someone who was homesick in summer camp after one day I was blown away by that! A 9 year old kid! You can put aside all his later accomplishments - if that was the last thing he ever did, Dayenu! Now I see where someone posted a few lines of Reb Chayim Shmulevitz's hesped on Reb Ella; hafloh voFeleh! Kol Hashiurim has the hesped recording, it's just a bit difficult to understand Reb Chaim'n, with his very heavy and sloooooow voice. It's number 19 in the list.
So back to the point of why he was so special; Anybody who can make a buk like myself appreciate him, his demeanor, his personality and his accomplishments MUST be special! There are plenty of shiurim/shmuessen of Reb Ella on KH that you can listen to in your free time. That style is gone. Today we have grandstanders who build tillei tillin shel gornisht mit nisht in their speeches, which are supposed to be shmuessen. The correlation to shmuessen of old is purely coincidental. Sure, we have stories about gilui eliyohu from Reb Ella, but vos hut dos mit unz?, we can learn from his middos tovos. The same goes for Reb Chaim; that style is also gone. But what's the point of lamenting the ones that have passed? We cannot bring them back, we can only try and follow in their footsteps so that der fin oyven will give us a good year in the fullest and most mundane sense of the word.