Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rav Moshe Feinstein's yechidus with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, זצוקללה"ה נבג"מ זי"ע, and other interesting stories


as told by his grandson, Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, Spring Valley, NY (see page 44)

Most people who knew my grandfather, Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, never saw him learn from regular seforim. He was always writing. All his learning took place in the past, before anyone who knew him in New York came on the scene. So, it was an enigma: When did he learn? On Shabbos, he did his Daf Yomi for the entire continued on week. He learned the parsha with Onkelos and Rashi, and Midrash Rabba for that parsha. Every morning, he learned two perokim from Tanach, just the words. He had, in fact, an encyclopedic knowledge of Tanach. He did no other learning, certainly not Kabbalah, the mystical, esoteric teachings. I once asked him if he had ever learned Kabbalah, and he gave me a cryptic response: "Those who talk about Kabbalah don't know it, and those that know it, don't talk about it." He never answered the question directly, but an incident that took place in 1975 can give us a clue.

He had been asked by Avram Levine, who was then serving as secretary for my grandfather's organization, Agudas Rabbanim, to be mesader kedushin at his wedding. Avram Levine, who subsequently moved to Israel, where he writes for the Jewish Press, is a Lubavitcher chassid, and the wedding was to take place at Lubavitch headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Arrangements were made so that, after the chupah, my grandfather, for the first time, would meet with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, zt"l, who, as per Chabad custom, would not be personally present at the wedding. After the chupah, my grandfather and the Rebbe spent one hour alone together. Afterwards, my grandfather told me that the first few minutes were spent on pleasantries, each asking about each other's health and families. Then they discussed questions relating to Klal Yisrael, including recent political decisions and other matters of concern. Finally, the Rebbe told my grandfather he had a question relevant to Torah. He told my grandfather that, for 50 years, he had been perplexed by a major enigma in the Zohar, the foundational work of Kabbalah. His question dealt with the Kabbalistic concept of the Yanuka, a wonder child who possesses supernatural wisdom. My grandfather did not pause for a second before giving the Rebbe an extraordinarily brilliant explanation to the question that had been posed. The Rebbe was reportedly ecstatic with the response. Their meeting ended, and my grandfather left. Later, after he told me what had happened during their meeting, I asked my grandfather if he had learned this explanation at an earlier time, but my grandfather refused to discuss the matter further. When I discussed this incident with my uncles, my grandfather's sons, we concluded that it would have been impossible for my grandfather to have responded to the Rebbe's question so quickly and with such confidence unless it was already clear in his mind from earlier study. This means he must have studied Kabbalah extensively in his earlier years.

My grandfather, of course, spent just as much time answering questions from Jews who did not have the stature of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. On one occasion, he heard from a young man who lived in the Midwest who had, nebach, just lost his father. To complicate matters, the funeral was one week before the young man was scheduled to be married. The Shabbos of his aufruf fell in middle of shiva. Because his family was close with Rav Moshe, they placed a long-distance call to New York to discuss some specific shailos regarding the groom's circumstance. The young man was very appreciative of Rav Moshe's assistance and his warm words of chizuk. A few minutes after they had hung up, the phone rang in the young man's home. A long-distance operator asked the surprised young man if he would accept a long-distance call from Moses Feinstein. Rav Moshe explained his reason for calling. "After we hung up," he said, "I realized that this Shabbos is also your kallah's Shabbos Kallah. The custom is that the choson sends the kallah special flowers for this special Shabbos. If your kallah would not get the flowers, and all her friends who come for the Shabbos Kallah would see that she does not have them, she would feel bad. I wanted to tell you that you must make sure to send the flowers, despite your situation." Rav Moshe then went on to say that the halachos of aveilus (laws of mourning) are d'rabbanan (rabbinic), but making someone feel bad is an issur d'Oriesah (forbidden in the Torah).

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

amazing. Makes one quite sad to realize the men of stature like R' Moshe and the Lubavitcher. Where are the men of learning comparable to these giants? Quite humbling.

The Bray of Fundie said...

It is because they were so humble that they were such Giants in Learning.

Anonymous said...

who is on the picture?

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

the man in the picture is Reb Leibel (ben Reb Shrage Meilech) Kaplan, today in Montreal

Anonymous said...

i like it and had to calibrate my sensibilities visa vi the articles way of expressing daas elyon and daas tachton (vihamayvin yovin)

i heard from someone i dont know who when he was a bochur in the yeshiva in crown heights he saw when reb moishe walked out of yechidus he was shaking his head saying "a gaon! mamash a gaon!

he was short much like the chafetz chayim and he was a big anav much like the video of reb shloime zalman oiyerbach

i also remember that long time ago young kids played pretend kiddushin giving a ring he said they have to issue a get well dont play such games

Anonymous said...

I know Rabbi Tzvi Mayer GInzberg told me he went it to the Rebbe with Reb Moshe and then the Rebbe asked that everyone leave and he did also and Reb Moshe was alone with the Rebbe so maybe thats when this story took place... when they were alone

Anonymous said...

"His question dealt with the Kabbalistic concept of the Yanuka, a wonder child who possesses supernatural wisdom."

This shows how clueless Mordy is, vd"l.

Chutch er hut a kishren mit froi'en...

russian chusid said...

Well, when bunch of rabunim went to R'Moishe to argue with him on SH''Z issues (even though SR told them not to go-waste of time, nobody will be able to come close to him in chochme), Krasne Roov told him "S'shteit in Zohar etc....'', to which Reb Moishe answered-"Nisht do aza a Zohar" and he was, obviously, wright. Guess he knew it a little :)It was a tough meeting - a lot of rabunim got a heavy beating from him- HE WAS NOT TOO NICE TO THEM (IN A GOOD SENCE)

azi said...

That is something today's gedolim are missing, simple mentchleckeit.

Gimpel said...

The Litvishe belief that Kabala must be studied betzin'a is the basis of our knowledge that the Chazon Ishe, Chofetz Chaim, R' Moshe etc. all had full knowledge of Kabala. They were extremley careful to hide it. Somehow it has become fashionable to believe that only chassidim learnt Kabala and the fact that the Chasam Sofer said strong statements in favor of Kabala and against those who do not believe in Kabala, makes him chasidish. Crazy.
BTW, in Lakewood there is a yid who isone of the lead translators for Artscroll Gemoros. He does not believe in Zohar. R' Aaron Kreiser zt"l would not allow him to be counted for a minyan. He certainly was not chassidish.

Anonymous said...

Does Mordy have ANY ne'emonus to give over anything from his grandfather? We know how he made up stuff in his zeide's name about gitin etc. - & not to mention his personal lying with inyoney ishus vd"l...

Bichlal, the way the Yenuka is discussed in the Zohar is a whole sugya bifney atzmoy (see end of Vahechi, Balak, Pinchas, beginning of Vayikra hosafos in the Ramak's vesion, etc. etc.). There are some differences of how the Yenuka is described, but he is always a brash boy, even a mechutzaf so-to-speak - & the chavrayah at the end usually agree with him or extol him. Someone I know just finished his doctorate thesis at Hebrew U. on the Yenuka & Saba.

-- ZIY

browser said...

this story of reb moishe z'l,about the choson who was sitting shiva,is a perfect example of a godol using his fifth shulchan aruch,unfortunately in our generation very few of our so called leaders have it.

chaim.s

Gimpel said...

Browser -
What does this have to do with the fifth chelek? The chesbon is clearly halachic and belongs in the first four chalokim. I have yet to meet anything from the fifth chelek. Everything that people tell me comes from the fifth chelek is easily found in halachically acceptable pilpul.
Daas Baalei Batim hepech Daas Torah.

grainom said...

Whether or not r moshe ever learned kabola we will never know, but that mordy tendlers word can't be taken at face value we do.

Its a regular rebbishe maise, maybe it happened, maybe not. No difference either way.

tziki kedera said...

When did the rebbi stop going ro weddings ?

Anonymous said...

tziki when there were too many people to participate personally

Anonymous said...

Gimpel:
The "kabbalah" that he doesn't believe in let him keep it. וכידוע the compliment you are paying to someone by calling him an אפיקורס, that he learned everything און האט דאס פארשטאנען then he can come and say that he doesn't believe in it.

Anonymous said...

To add--

In the Purim issue of Kfar Chabad this year, there's an interview with R. Shabsi Rappaport, (RMF's grandson through marriage), who also writes about the yechidus with the Rebbe in 5734, amongst other things.

I don't have it on me, and it may very well be the same stuff as here (bichlal, most of these are not new "giluyim", just reprints as people naturally forget what they read 20 years ago when it was new).

If anyone can add, may be worthwhile. Also, IIRC I posted the link to this PDF here a while back, it's me'inyanei d'yoma for this post (yet again, a disclaimer for the post cited..). It's from Wolpo's 4th volume of Shemen Sasson, no comment on his accuracy:

http://chabad.info/images/update/340.pdf

Here too is interesting, with footnotes and all:
http://chabad.info/chabadpedia/index.php?title=%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%94_%D7%A4%D7%99%D7%99%D7%A0%D7%A9%D7%98%D7%99%D7%99%D7%9F

azi said...

whether or not the Zohar is real or not, it wasn't written by a Tanna, It was a compliation of many centuries and many people finally published in full hundreds of years after RSBY lived.

As a pirush on chumash its ok, but people walking around thinking that people who are experts in Zohar can do magic is absurd.

browser said...

Gimple,if you can't see what this psak has to do with the fifth shulchan aruch,you obviously don't posses one either,ok let me explain.according to halacha an OVEIL is prohibited from sending gifts during his AVEILUS,and therefore according to the raw HALACHA the choson would not be allowedd to send flowers to his kallah,and i bet you,had he asked this SHAILA from our CHUMRA obssesed hungarian ra-bbonim,they would have answered CHAS VCHALILA,MEN TURNISHT,but reb. Moishe z'l,using his SECHEL HAYOSHER,and having the noble heart,realized that embarrasing a kallah in front of her friends,is much more problematic than trangressing a ISSUR DRABANON for a OVEILL to send a gift.

CH.S

LkwdGuy said...

This story is a bizoyan to Rav Moshe. If we are to believe MT, Rav Moshe relayed to him that he "didn't pause for a second"??? or that his explanation was "extraordinarily brilliant"???

Harry Maryles said...

What an incredible story of both brilliance and humilty on the part of R' Moshe. It is not for naught that the vast majority of the Torah world considered him the Gadol HaDor. Chaval Al Ma D'Avdan.

Anonymous said...

A letter of Reb Moshe to the Rebbe can be found at
http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=920&st&pgnum=14&hilite

there is also letters of the rebbe to Reb Moshe in response

Anonymous said...

To 9:53:

Our "CHUMRA obssesed hungarian ra-bbonim" would have most likely ruled that anything missing from Shaabos Aufruf/Kallah would fall under aveilus b'farhesya and would be waived. The chosson would wear all his NEW Shabbos closthes including Shtriemel and bekishe etc. There would be no reason for the chosson to hold back on sending flowers etc. for the same reason.

Anonymous said...

anon 11:55

but that's halcha not fifter chelek????!

Anonymous said...

Grainom
"but that mordy tendlers word can't be taken at face value we do."
it is as true as the 7 volumes Maisai Ish

Anonymous said...

Gimpel
"The Litvishe belief that Kabala must be studied betzin'a"
I would not call it a Litvishe Belief since the GRA and his disciples believed that Kabula has to be learned with no restrictions.

yehupitz said...

To anyone who thinks about it just a little bit, it is obvious that R' Moshe went through the Zohar cover to cover.

Ha'yitochein that he learned every other sefer in the world, especially anything having to do with halacha, but not the Zohar, which is cited in numerous Rishonim and Acharonim in their halachic works?! It is absurd to even suggest it.

Having said that, it is clear from reading only a few teshuvos that he felt very strongly that the Zohar had (or should have) no role in psak, at least his psak.

Examples:
His teshuva on Rabbeinu Tam tefillin, that Lubavitchers love to quote, is powerful in its utter halachic dismissal of the view that Rabbeinu Tam tefillin are required al pi halacha in any way.

His teshuva on Tefillin on Chol Hamoed, which again ignores the Zohar's view.

And his teshuva on Chatas ne'urim: Not a word about CHeN's views.

His teshuva on Nusach Sefard and Nusach Ari also reveal more strongly his view that nistar should not impact halacha in any way.

By the way, I am fairly confident, (though of course not certain) that Reb Moshe did not view his meeting(s?) with the Rebbe as a "yechidus", which is a word reserved for that chassidic experience of a chossid or spiritual inferior entering "Gan Eden" or some such.

Anonymous said...

Anon
"It's from Wolpo's 4th volume of Shemen Sasson, no comment on his accuracy:"
Volpo may be a rabble rouser, PR hound and demagogue, but never was caught with a lie.

Anonymous said...

Azi
"whether or not the Zohar is real or not, it wasn't written by a Tanna"
Borech Habo a new Choker in town...

Anonymous said...

Browser
"had he asked this SHAILA from our CHUMRA obssesed hungarian ra-bbonim,they would have answered CHAS VCHALILA,MEN TURNISHT,"
hoRav Browser,
the Ungarishe Rabonim are much bigger Makilim the Lithuanian rabonim, special by avielus, eiruvin where we have the klal Halacha Kedivrie Hamikel, please don't throw facts. Take any hungarian teshuva sefer vs, the chumras that are coming out from R'Elyashev and Benai Berak rabonim Kanievsky and Karelitz.

Anonymous said...

Lkwdguy
"This story is a bizoyan to Rav Moshe."
is the truth a bizoyan?

Anonymous said...

it was the rebbe having yechidus with r moshe

azi said...

@Anon 2:39:00 PM

I like to refer to myself as a scholar.

Anonymous said...

Anon
"it was the rebbe having yechidus with r moshe"
is there some hidden message?

Anonymous said...

Azi
"I like to refer to myself as a scholar."
I am green from envy

schneur said...

I fail to understand the chiddush here. RMF was an old man when he saw the Rebbe . Of course he studied Zohar and areas besides pure Halacha. I don't know when where or how intense and neither does rabbi Tendler Jr. Did his children etc folow him around all day even when they were young.
All true gedolim are interested in the whole range of Rabbinic literature.
Would you be shocked if you learned that the Rebbe was familiar with Mussar seforim ?These people had great minds and remmebered much of what thye studied.
Reb Moshe was a posek but in what sense does that exclude familiarity with kol hatorah kullo ?

unimpressed said...

I dont know anything about this website; somone sent me a link (I guess he thought it was inspiring?).

All I can say is that this has zero nemanus, and I'll tell you some reasons why:

How does he know that the answer that Rav Moshe gave privately to the Lubavitcher Rebbe was brilliant?

1) Reb Moshe told R Tendler, "I gave a brilliant answer" - highly unlikely.

2) The Lubavitcher Rebber told R Tendler "Reb Moshe gave me a brilliant answer" - also highly unlikely.

3) Eliyahu Hanovi told R Tendler "Reb Moshe gave a brilliant answer" - most unlikely.

Aaaaand, how would R Tendler know if the answer was brilliant?

The sheker in the story is revealed.

False hagiography fails to inspire me; it has the opposite effect.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

mr. unimpressed

we managed for 6 years here without you too.....

The article was taken from a Jewish newspaper. You can follow the link and look it up.

unimpressed said...

So, if it was printed in a newspaper, therefore it's true???

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

therefore nothing

I was just informing you that the original was from a paper, not here

what so unimpresses you, mein kind?

maybe he didn't say those exact words, but that doesn't mean the story didn't happen

unimpressed said...

I'm only talking about the story - it was nothing personal against you (other than perhaps your standards for quoting unreliable stories). This is a very unlikely story. If it’s true – and I assume that it isn’t – then let them make the case with some plausible facts and details.

Until then, I wonder why it has become laudable to some people that false stories be used to inspire. I say, midvar shekker tirchak. I also apply that to the maan d’amar that is comfortable with falsehood – and not surprisingly he is essentially ostracized by a large section of the Frum world

מענדל said...

הירשעלע
במחכ"ת איך מוז מסכים זיין מיט unimpressed דער גאנצער מעשה קלעפט ניט מתחילתו ועד סופו. וואס איז גאנץ טשיקאווע דא איז אז מ.ט. וויל גרויס מאכן ר' משה מיטן רבי'ן.
העיקר עס זאל זיין א חג כשר ושמח בגו"ר.
מענדל

Anonymous said...

Mendel
"דער גאנצער מעשה קלעפט ניט מתחילתו ועד סופו."
not the whole story is false, since he was by the rebbe, after the chupah.

Anonymous said...

Mr Unimpressed
"Reb Moshe told R Tendler, "I gave a brilliant answer" - highly unlikely."
I like your methods, you start unlikely and finish off with a definite "False hagiography fails to inspire me; it has the opposite effect"
is it unlikely or false?

yehupitz said...

People are making a tzimmes out of this. I read it very simply as follows: Reb Moshe reported to the family member that he gave a teretz that pleased the Rebbe (greatly).

Anonymous said...

yehupitz
regarding your earlier post./
Reb Moshe in his famous unique style,writes that the Zohar has to be learned as a Tanna, a singular Man Deomar and not the heavyweight awe that we are used to give for the Zohar.

bobov chusid said...

the belz rebbi said it, also see letter of r' moshe to bobov rebbi regarding money he owned, its quite a shocker

Gimpel said...

Browser-
How are chumra-oriented Hungarian Shteken Rabonim conneccted to the first four chalokim of Shulchan Aruch? The de'orayso of his kallah's feelings is docha the derabonon of aveilus in a simple halachic pilpul. Why would we need any feelings for this halocho? You only need feelings to understand that this is a de'oraysa. Afterwards it is smooth sailing. R' Moshe was of strong belief that everything necessary is in halocho and we do not need any additions. This was in reference to Hungarian style Takonos (shtatuten) as well as to the idea of the fifth chelek of Shulchan Aruch. I recently learnt parts of Even Ha'ezer and I am astounded to the depths the Rishonim take with regards to women's needs and marital obligations. We do not need to use our own ideas of right and wrong to decide these things in a viable fashion.

yehupitz said...

I'm no Hungarian fan either, but enough with the attacks. The fact is that Reb Moshe's approach, as sensitive and sensible as it was, and defensible according to other Shulchan Oruch considerations, like the aveilus b'farhesia point cited earlier, it was part of the much beloved fifth cheilek.

Why? Because the derech in psak halacha is not to waive derabanan's willy-nilly because they get in the way of D'Oraissa's like Ahavas Yisroel and Simchas YomTov etc. If people did that as a matter of course, there would be no more Judaism. I'm sure every reader could come up with a dozen examples of how this is not done.

Anonymous said...

Highly unlikely because the litvakes would deny Reb Moshe went to see the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the Lubacvitcher chassidim would never let is slip that the Rebbe didn't know something....

bobov chusid said...

known fact reb moshe never wore tefilin until the rebbi of lubavitch send him a pair. in belz they started a year after the wedding to don the tefilin. well thats belz, but in bobov next day. reb moshe never did until the rebbi.

Anonymous said...

@12:37 --

You mean [tefillin-] Rabbeinu Tam obviously.

ari said...

Anonymous said...
Highly unlikely because the litvakes would deny Reb Moshe went to see the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the Lubacvitcher chassidim would never let is slip that the Rebbe didn't know something....
---------------------
Just because he asked someone elses opinion, does that mean that he didnt know it. Perhaps when the Rebbe asked my then-three-year-old uncle how to say Modeh Ani, he also didn't know....

yehupitz said...

Reb Moshe says explicitly in the R"T Teshuva to the Rebbe that when he lived in Russia he did wear R"T tefillin, but that they became possul or ruined and that once in America he never got around to getting a new pair.

Fed Up In Peoria said...

Mr. Bobov Chusid,
Here in Peoria we are stunned to learn that RMF did not wear tefillin and he still was capable to become a great poisek.
Also "letter to Bobov rebbe regarding money he owned"
"owned" or "owed"?
How many people lived in the Bobov metropolitan area? How large was the Belz region?
Why didn't Bobov give you a proper education.
Why is RBZH so overweight? Is he depressed?
Does RMDU really believe that he is the Bobover rebbe?

Yours truly;

Mr. Fed U. I. Peoria

Anonymous said...

Did the Rebbe actually learn Dibrot Moshe? Was he capable of following the whole cheshbon? If he did, why didn't he write his questions to Reb Moshe?

Bumpss said...

This post has zilzul induendos. It's almost as if Reb Moshe's 'mere learning of nigleh' is thrown under the rug; like he spent his time learning about an actual ox that gored another ox. Fech!

Anonymous said...

anon 11:55

but that's halcha not fifter chelek????!

Thursday, April 07, 2011 1:06:00 PM

The fifter chelek is knowing which halacha of the first four chalakim outranks the other.

Anonymous said...

Anon
"Was he capable of following the whole cheshbon? "
what are u asking, he was definitely not capable, don't u know he was dyslexic, Shmuel Levin the Rabon Shel Kol Bnie haGola of Buenos Aires, told me so

Anonymous said...

Fed
"Why is RBZH so overweight? Is he depressed?"
because life is great

Anonymous said...

R Moishe "crown heights hi makom kodosh"

http://shturem.net/index.php?section=news&id=49460