Thursday, April 30, 2009

a 12-year old's hesped....

This should not be happening.....


Money can now be sent and checks made payable to:

Keren Yesomim Radzin
c/o Dr. Marvin Schick
1529-56th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11219

I understand money can be sent on their behalf via paypal by using the phone number: 718-851-1025.

Please. Please don't ignore this plea.
Forward this to all your contacts.
Copy and paste this link.
Imagine all 10 yesoimim looking into your eyes.
ולשועת חינונם אל תעלם אזנך

12-year old Mordche Yosef writing a hesped....

Surrounded by Ksovim his father will never publish.....


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Radziner Catastrophe

Rav Yakov Leiner of Radzin, zt"l

The Levaya on 54th Street today

A Reader writes:

A terrible thing happened today, the Radziner Rebbe, Rav Yakov Leiner passed away at 46 years old. He was a great historian, yad'an and lamdan. He lived in absolute poverty, with 11 kids. He told me that when he became bar mitzvah his father gave him the Lubavitcher siddur and said "this is our nusach." It was almost in shreds but he davened in it every day. There were over 1000 people there today at the levaya. I can't explain to you my deep pain and tza'ar. I don't know where to put my mind, what an unglick. Every day I stayed after davening at the Radziner shtiebel on 54th street and spoke to him. He knew "everything," and I mean everything. He was a true scholar and yerei shomayim. He was a kanoi for Izhbitza but extremely warm and "liberal" in outlook of life. By "liberal" I mean in ahavas yisroel, he couldn't stand any kano'us against tziyonim or the like. He learned in Lakewood and Rav Yeruchem Olshin gave such a moving hesped! R' Olshin spoke like a true chosid about the dynasty, about Izhbitza, about what RAK held of his Zaide the Radziner Rebbe. I could send you and exclusive recording how a "Litvak" is maspid ah Chasidishe Rebbe.

Listen To Rav Olshin's hesped here.

The Reader Continues:

He (RYO) cried like a baby...
The groyse niftar spoke to me a few days ago about the chasidic movement and the matzav of it today .. He (RYL) was very partisan for chasidus, then he said to me ....You want to know of a real gadol who is truly so.. its Harav Olshin. After the levaya I repeated to Rav Olshin. His Rebbetzin is Bokshin from Monsey. Reb Aron Schechter's son is also an eydim there.

Asking Nicely

You listen to the Rebbe speak and you're overcome with love. You're somewhat surprised that the Rebbe needs to ask - no, beg - that people go out on shlichus, but you realize that it was revolutionary, and most people were not up to the task. And all this at a Purim farbrengen, no less!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Maybe a Bialik....

Mirrer Yeshiva, 1930's

To help the downtrodden
whom many have forgotten

Azah shayneh mayseh
procurement of a "shmaytsa"
kindle the rischa d'oraysa

Ven a yid zitst uhn lerent uhn zayn hartz vert farbrent
Uhn ehr batracht zich in dem in der Dvar Hashem

Mir darfen nisht gleiben az ehr iz geven der "Ge'an HaG'eynim"

Der vus iz geven tzu zehn di gantza bren

Vee ehr hot gezugt Teyre mit a teefereh havoneh a bechinah fuhn aish sh'chayroh al gaby levonoh

A member of the "Bund"
didn't know a kutzo shel yud

Saw a 'mar'eh' that was awseome
a shiur that was thundersome

Was brought to tears
over all those lost years

Ah shod af di tzeyt
and with all of his might
learned through the night

When the night was gone
his neshamah moved on
and he was gone

( - by Maybe a Litvak, 2009)

Runaway Titles....

Seems like "Maybe a Litvak" was on to something here. What we see on our screens is a copy of the famous - or infamous - שב שמעתתא printed by the VH in Munich in 1947. You might ask, "why infamous?" I guess because it was printed with VH funds that could have gone towards other things, like resettling Jews. Ok, strike that last sentence from the record. I'm not sure how many people were learning ShShm in Munich 1947, but I digress. Anyway, whether or not they were learning it in the DP camps pales in comparison to the dedication on the inside. Not only do they dub the Kletzker Rosh Yeshivah just as the author of the Sh Shm was called, i.e. "גאון הגאונים," But they also go as far as anointing him as the the נשיא ישראל and Captain of the Jewish nation way back in 1947! Very telling words, indeed, especially since we still had the CI, the BR and many, many others at that time, despite the passing of RCE, RBB, RSS and REW. To go out on a limb and name him like they do is very telling indeed, despite the bias of the VH, publishers of the sefer.

Truth be told Chabad also printed seforim for the pleytim in Germany after WW2, so attacking the VH may be unfair. After all, people that are there for several years need seforim and other Tashmishei Kedusha. But we CAN discuss the Hakdosheh, right? Do we think that the opinions expressed therein represent those of the majority of Jews at that time? After all, if he's to be called by that name then wouldn't he need to be the accepted leader of at least all frum Jews? That's the kind of complaint we often hear from Chabad's adversaries when Lubavitch dares to refer to the Rebbe as Nesi Doreinu or such. We can agree on RAK's genius, and we can even agree that he was a genius amongst geniuses, but isn't the title here a little bit of a stretch in 1947? Can we agree then that others are just as guilty of such "offenses," but since they're at the helm that they get away with it? This looks to me sort of like a KeHoT sefer writing that on the Rebbe, wouldn't you say?

Monday, April 27, 2009

3am on a Shabeisenacht

In the world of blogging anonymity is key. Nobody wants some crazy to take revenge and start spreading lies and misinformation about himself. So we try and keep our identities secret, at least from those who we don't know nor trust. There are exceptions, of course, but those people live in another galaxy. The blogger Maybe a Litvak was someone - who despite our stark differences of opinion - was someone I thought I could trust. He's not like the idiot anonymous guy who repeats the same mantra about the Rebbe hating frum Jews. He argues - somewhat disrespectfully, as can be expected of someone who was raised to laugh at Lubavitch - but never gets personal, like some of you do. So when he asked, impulsively, if I'd meet him, I tiptoed out of the house at 1:10 am and drove the few minutes to out meeting place. I remembered that I had some warm beer in the pantry that I sold with the chometz, and thought about taking it along, but judging from his macho demeanor I didn't think think he'd appreciate the warm aspect of the beer, and might even make a very bad first impression.

I arrived at the shul and turned on some lights, cautiously making sure that nobody was there already, waiting in the dark to jump me. After securing the premises I walked outside and waited for the car to show up. I doubted he was walking, nobody walks in Monsey if they could help it. Soon enough, about 4 minutes late, a small import turns the corner and pulls into the parking lot, right alongside my white Porsche. In the dim light, I walk down the hill and greet with what ends up being a very non-firm, almost mushy handshake. I guess he never got the handshake memo, where they tell you tell you to make it firm and look the other guy straight in the eye. After walking inside, MAL tells me that he was pleasantly surprised; he imagined I was some kind of psychopath, an old bachur or divorced man perhaps, and was impressed by my calm demeanor and Chassidic (Lubavitch) dress. I showed up with hat and kapote, him white shirt only. I wasn't sure what to expect and wanted to make a good impression, especially as sort of a Lubavitch representative at that meeting; he was comfortable as he was and had nothing to prove.

Not having brought any beer with me I did the next best thing, I offered him some of the shul's free instant coffee, Monsey's finest I might add, with milk. He graciously accepted, but asked that we step outside since he wanted to me maktir ketores, if you get my drift. Of the legal variety. He then proceeded to fill me in on some of the Yeshivishe velt's deepest and darkest secrets, some of which I had no idea were ever and issue. Topics covered include: The older Mirrer Bachurim, Reb Chaim Wysoker and "Reb Lazer Hagodol" who would travel around together to Yeshivos, Reb Shmuel Charkover, The two Reb Lazer's of Ponovizh (Shach and Platchinski) and the possible confusion when the more famous Reb Lazer was hired in the above-mentioned Yeshivah. Reb Zelig Epstein and the last shmuess with the Brisker Rov before the latter passed away. Reb Shlomo Harcavi, The Grodner Mashgiach, hy"d, and the fact that most Litvishe bachurim never heard of him. Reb Leib Malin, and much, much more. I was duly impressed with this man's deep knowledge of the yeshivishe Velt, no wonder he thought everybody knows of Reb Chaim Wysoker, he thinks they're all like him! I also appreciated his honesty when it came to people from "his own side" he didn't like; he let them have it too, using pretty unflattering terms!

All in all it was a very good and beneficial meeting for the both of us. Besides for starting a lasting friendship with a man who now has a name, it also teaches us both that behind those biting attacks are human beings with feelings. We can vehemently disagree with each other, yet respect one another just as well. We can discuss history and even current events objectively and maybe pick up a good story here and there, maybe even learn something from each other. I never tried to convert him, and I don't think he tried to "convert" me either, despite him wanting to know how exactly I got involved with Lubavitch. Were it not for the fact that it was after 3am we could've swapped stories for hours more. So if you think you'd like to meet me, and you're a half-normal guy, drop me a line and tell me when and where, and I'll try and accommodate you in the near future. I can't promise you beer and pretzels, but we can try and have something on hand to quench your thirst. Until then enjoy the blog and shteig away!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mission: Saving Torah!

A younger Rav Reuven Grozovsky

A friend of Circus Tent made us aware of the current issue of Yeshurun, where a comprehensive biography of Reb Ruven Grozowski has been compiled, and among other things, they discuss the exile of 2 great Litvishe Yeshivos to far away Kremenchug, Ukraine during WWI. The two were the Knesses Yisroel and Knesses Beis Yitzchok Yeshivos of Kovne-Slabodke, and there may have been three others there too. Luminaries like Reb Chaim Brisker and Reb Moshe Bezalel Alter also wandered hundreds and hundreds of miles from home to escape the German armies. Reb Ruven joined the Yeshiva in 5678, and was soon chosen as RBBL's son in law. The parts in Yeshurun leading up to the period of WW1 are all must-reads as well; they discuss his own diligence in Torah, as well as his fight to pry others away from the snatches of the Haskalah. Some of you may not know this but RRG was a mechuten with the Chossid Reb Avrohom Elya Akselrod of Baltimore, and has a Lubavitcher eynikel living in - of all places, Lakewood. It seems like the Eybershter gave him Schar on this world as well....

In the biography of Reb Baruch Ber, zt"l, they mention the fact that Reb Baruch Ber was in Kremenchug with his Yeshiva. He had traveled there after his shver's passing and stayed on, with the possibility that he'd replace his shver as the Misnagdishe Rov. The RBBL book mentions some kind of friction between the Lubavitcher Chassidim and the Litvishe, that the Lubavitchers wanted to know why they came to K'chug. Are you a katzev that you come here,? they supposedly asked RBB. - Kremenchug was a center of Kosher provisions in those days. They make mention of the Kremenchuger Lubavitcher Rov, HaRav Rafolevitch, - they say it was Moshe, I thought it was Yitzchok Yoel - as "gaining the respect" of RBBL and how they would always red in lernen. The Yeshiva remained there until 1921 (!) and was only forced to leave when the Yevseksia yms"h started causing trouble by calling them counter-revolutionaries etc. So for several years the Yeshivah was in a small Chassidic town far, far away from home. I would imagine that some of the Yidden may not have been to happy with their modern dress either, yet something very unique and special happened here.

In his later years

According to this biography, the Jews - קרי חסידי חב"ד - gave away their last pieces of bread to the yeshiva bachurim. Forget not that in the 1920's millions died in the Ukraine due to Stalin's forced famines. Many, many Jews were among the dead. I guess he figured later that it was easier and more convenient to ship them off to Siberia than to starve them to death. To support hundreds of yeshiva bachurim at that time - bachurim with whom you supposedly have strong disagreements with over policy - takes courage and the utmost devotion, wouldn't you say? Here there were no Chassidim or Misnagdim, there were only frum Jews who spoke one language and learned one G-d's Torah. For the Chassidim this was the greatest thing they could do, support Lomdei Torah. Because Torah is what connects you with the Eybershter, and those that are lucky enough to learn full-time - no small feat in those days - were to be respected and fed and housed, so as not to c"v disturb their seder of learning. Which makes you wonder: why were bachurim in Shanghai - aka ShandeChai - that were not part of the Lithuanian Yeshivah cabal not considered Bnei Torah? Why were those in charge in New York being so petty as to belittle other peoples' learning, call them unworthy and not authentic?! The Jews in Kremenchug knew that the mission here was to save Torah, why couldn't those in New York?!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Demand of the Day


When they say that people verren meshuga fun leidig geyen they weren't kidding. It seems like in Israel the most important thing on their minds now is having separate - or divided - buses for ladies and gents in cities with major Charedi populations. Not that it's a bad thing, necessarily, it's just not what I think needs to be top priority right now. I think we can safely assume - based on Daas Teyreh being dead - that is a grassroots effort here, and not in a good way. What I mean is simple: In times like these, when we need to take the minds of the masses off of what really matters, like jobs, health and education, there are those that try and put diversions up, so as to make the masses forget about what really bothers them. It might have been kosher cellphones until now, and now it's separate but equal busing. So you have a few Gerrer and Toldos Aron Jews, who seem to put lots of emphasis on these inyonim, and they make a big, big tummel about this. They DEMAND that Egged Bus Co. provide it for them. At least in New York it's a private venture, if you don't like it take a train. In Israel, it seems, they want it all, separate busing provided by the Government.

Truth be told, vos geit mir ohn if they want separate busing? I live here and haven't visited the Holy Land in a loooong time. Nor Vos? I feel like they're making us all look like a bunch of meshugoyim! Then again; there's not much I can do about but write my thoughts. What I do find appalling is the fact that it's quite obvious that this was not something that the Rabbonim realized needed tikkun, rather they were "convinced" by people with way too much time on their hands to get on board, otherwise they'd look like they don't care about "Kedushas Yisroel..." It is good to see, however, that not all were duped into this, most Rabbonim stood their ground and didn't get on board. But we can have a good laugh at some of those who DID sign up for this ridiculous campaign. I think Reb Baruch Mordche Ezrachi prize student of Yeshivas Chevron, and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Ateres Yisroel is not whom you'd take as the "poster Rov" for this campaign, if you know what I mean. Especially since he seems to think that he's giving some kind of shmuess, judging from the faces and hand gestures I see.

Over and out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

!קיינע בני תורה


When I posted the letter of complaint yesterday there was one thing I wanted to achieve: Not convince the haters, that'll never happen. It was to prove to the fence-sitters that it's not just hearsay. That it's true when we say that the hate for Lubavitch has no explanation. That it's got nothing to do with Moshiach or putting on tefillin at Tachana Merkazit or Chinuch Atzmai/Agudah. That it's pure unadulterated hate, brought upon the world by a group of ex-Lubavitchers or relations of Lubavitchers: namely the Rabbis Ruderman, Kotler and Kamenecki. What Kalmanovich had against Lubavitch is beyond me, but it seems to be a dispute over מי בראש, which one can understand based on the fact that he took the Mirrer Yeshivah for himself when it was re-established here in New York after WW2 and much of the faculty that would work for him was Mishpooche. So the bachurim weren't "Bnei Teyreh," ok. So they were like Goyim who were to be ignored and not feed? I don't get it. Besides, when did they ever farher them that they could just make such assumptions?!

It seems like it was quite common for that perception to be held even by the greatest Balei Middos and Tzaddikim among them. Even the great Reb Baruch Ber Leibovitch was surprised to see that they were either bachurim from Poland or in Poland that could learn like the Litvishe! So it should come as no surprise that men with lesser Ahavas Yisroel should think along those lines too. But the Lubavitchers were Litvishe, just not these boys. They were Polish from Warsaw and Lodz. Oh well. What I don't get is how these same people after WW2 managed to teach all those Hungarians and Galicianers if they weren't true Bnei Teyreh! It must have really tested their patience... My friends, we can sit and complain about the fact that Lubavitchers bash "snags" all day, but this - I believe - takes the cake. Talk is cheap, withholding cash and foodstuffs from hungry bachurim just because is low. Very low. A forthcoming post will shed some light on a situation that happened only 20-something years before, where the Lubavitchers were in a position to give and the Litvisher on the receiving end. What happened then might surprise some of you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shanghai Shocker!


 Read it and weep. We'll discuss it more later. We always knew it happened, but we never had written proof from that time. Here's a little something that includes shocking accusations regarding RCS, RAK, and the treatment that the Amshinover Rebbe was subjected to in Shanghai.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Clarification (On Is this what Torah wants?)

It seems like I wasn't clear enough when writing the previous thread, and there are some clarifications that need to made. So, despite this being Erev Yuntiff in Lubavitch as well, believe it or not, I'll take the time to clarify, since you, the readers are so special and dear to me, like a student with special needs that needs everything broken down just so for him to understand...

Realize this: I'm not a jealous type. I don't sit and stare at people's houses and cars with my tongue out. I don't wish I looked like him or had his voice. It's not something I needed to work on very hard, it came relatively easy. Having said that there is a shtarke kinas sofrim thing going on with me. I do wish I could learn or teach or understand like the other guy does if I feel he does it better than me. Having said THAT, the yungerman we spoke about, the one who has no financial worries, and whom I have zero respect for, is not someone I emulate. It seems to me - and I may be wrong here - that all there is here is just a facade. There's no real learning going on, especially not the learning that is expected from somebody who has never had any worries and has everything done for him by others. Not in the Rashbi sense, just in the I-pay-for-everything-in-life way. I believe it's very easy to tell the difference between someone who really lives a life of Torah and someone who toots his own horn and just TELLS everybody how great he is for having such utter mesiras nefesh..

On to the other Yungerman. We can sit here and argue if he should close the Gemoroh and go find a job. But we fail to see that this was not the point of the discussion. The fact is that he has mesiras nefesh. He gave up the comforts of life abi to be able to sit and learn. His choshuv'e Rebbetzin also seems to share this noble way of life; she wants him to continue learning until they find it absolutely impossible, even if it means not having a car or a custom sheitel to her name. It's very easy for me to tell him to stop kvetching di baynk and get a job, but that would be like me going over to a messy kid and telling his father to get him some new clothes. It's none of my business. "Hizharu MiBnei Aniyim" seems very real to me. I have a hard time seeing anything great coming out of such a spoiled chinuch, especially one that also manages to scorn others who are not Bnei Torah in his eyes. I'm a firm believer in allowing serious learners to sit and learn. There definitely needs to be that element among us, their zechusim are very great, I just think it's way overdone, especially in E Yisroel. But who cares what I think....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Is this what Torah wants?

Yuntev has its advantages. Yes, there's the vicious cycle of eating, drinking and sleeping, and maybe some learning and davening thrown in for good measure, but it's a strain. Yet, you get to meet family and friends. that you may not have seen since last Yuntev. Many of those friends are readers of the blog and have lots to say about it and how its being conducted. They especially want the comments section to be cleaned up. "No more pointless comments that just repeat you hate, Rebbe hates, you goy, etc." You may spend hours catching up with those friends, and you may get to hear about meeting they've had with old schoolmates and friends. How despite all those years the friends have just grown to be so much more full of themselves. Yes, we're biased, but so would you once you hear the contrast in two situations. You can also help me decide whether the whole "Torah-learning" Keveyochol is worth a hill of beans.

Friend from out of town meets me and tells me his story. Picture this: He meets an old schoolmate on the 2nd day Yontev. After Mincha they stand outside shul and catch up on years of missed contact. Old schoolmate tells him how he's continued a life of complete devotion to Torah even after close to a decade of marriage and several kids. Old Schoolmate tells FFOOT that just like he was from the very best in Yeshivah, as OSM surely remembers, so too now. Now he lives - where else? - in Lakewood and has a modest brand new 5 bedroom house adorned by two cars for him and the missus. After all, getting to and from BMG every day can be cumbersome, and a late model Japanese import is needed for that daunting task. Being that the missus b"h need not work there's no need for a live in cleaning lady, only a 6 day a week four hour a day variety.... You get the picture: rich kid marries rich girl, gets everything he needs, PLUS gets to think that he's a Ben Torah, since he goes to BMG every morning... But, wait! there's more. FFOOT tells OSM that he won't settle for anything but the best when it comes to schools for his little ones. Only the absolute best. And he uses every contact and connection he has to basically take the place of some kid from a good family who doesn't have those connections.

Now, contrast that with OSM's relation who has the following situation: He has a sick oldest child, r"l. They had to leave Eretz Yisroel, where the husband was Hurreving in Torah, so that the child could get proper care here in the States. Not to be outdone, he continues to sit and learn here mitoch dachkus, living in a two bedroom Apartment with six kids. To say that they have ample food on the table is an overstatement. They get hand-me-downs from other hand-me-downs, third hand in other words. Cars are man dichar shmey, as are cleaning help and other amenities some of us are used to. So we have two families here, both supposedly "sitting and learning," and both supposedly "Kolel families." Bnei Torah, if you will. But we really don't. Living on someone else's dime, better than most people who work and try to be Kovea Itim, is no life of Torah. Especially if you sit there and patch zich in beichel. The clown is apparently "worried" that he may have to go work some time soon, for whatever reason, but he's not worried. He says he'll just go to law school and will find suitable employment soon after graduation. I guess in zechus of his "mesiras nefesh for Torah," right?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

L.F.E.M. Part II

A Brisker Nafka Mineh...

So Reb Aron found a new derech - at least as far as Avodas Hashem goes. It seems like amongst the Chevroner bachurim Reb Ahrele became quite popular, which is surprising. I cannot think of two more extreme shittos in Judaism. The Chevroner were very much into their looks, and in a way still have that reputation. The Chavrei Shomrei Emunim were the extreme opposite. They wore the old Kaftans, and had takanos that were quite foreign in the Chevroner circles. Yet, the serious ones in Chevron saw this tremendous burst of new Chassidishe energy and wanted in. Reb Chatzkel Sarna, RAC's brother-in-law and fellow Rosh Yeshivah, would not have it. He was to have entered the Beis Medrash and banged on the bimah saying: "Those who cannot get Yiras Shomayim from this Yeshivah cannot get Teyreh neither!" It was an ultimatum to the bochurim, all or nothing! They say that RAC would go to Shomrei Emunim for Tefillos as well as Tishen, until he realized that it wasn't "Lefi Kvodo", but we can argue that point. Maybe it was at the request of his choshuv'e shvogger....

It seems like Chevroner Yeshivah in Geula was losing boys to lots of other kreizen, with defection to Chassidus being the most common. The Bais Yisroel of Ger seemed to derive great pleasure if he could shlep a boy out of Chevron and make him into a Gerrer Chnyok. I'll go out on a limb here and say that had that happened with any other Rebbe there would've been really bad blood between the two groups. But since Reb Chatzkel Sarna sat with the BY on the Moetzes, as well as on other boards like Chinuch Atzma'i, he couldn't say anything to him, he needed to accept it! The whole Parsha here goes against what Maller himself taught us in HoRav MiBrisk, where he tries to dispel a "myth" that HoRav S"Y Zevin brings in Ishim VeShittos regarding Reb Chaim Brisker and the educational of the young Solovejcyks. Zevin brings a story where Reb Chaim was to have sent his sons to the Karliner shtiebel in Brisk to "learn how to daven." He shlogs op the story - maybe in the name of Reb Dovid Soloveycyk - that there was nothing lacking in the education of Reb Chaim's children, everything he needed to teach they could learn from him. They definitely didn't any screaming Chassidim to teach them! Yet here he taynes that the CI himself (!) told RAC to go to the Chassidim - and Reb Ahrele took his style of davening from Karlin - to learn how to daven!

UPDATE Monday 12 Nissan

I distinctly remember getting a lot of flak from guys here for using the term "KeVeYochol" when referring to the Rebbe. Yet the great Maller has no problem using here when speaking of Reb Aron and his turn to Chassidus later in life. Why is it ok with him? Why no outcry from the self-righteous ones here? Look at line 3 of the clipping I bring at the top of the thread. I even remember some Lubavitchers giving me a hard time about it! I think I've been vindicated.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Looking for Epes Merrer..... Part I

Reb Aron Cohen was one of three sons in law of Reb Moshe Mordche Epstein, Rov and Rosh Yeshivah in Slabodke. He traveled with the Yeshiva to Chevron and lived the rest of his life in EY. A life of Torah and not much else. A life riddled with pain for the last few years of his life. He died, childless, at the young age of 57. He was Rosh Yeshivah from RMME's passing till his death in 5721. A recent book - הכהן הגדול מאחיו - by Brisker historian שמעון יוסף Meller does a nice job of bringing his story to life. Which reminds me - I'd venture to say that 90% of bachurim in America's Litvishe Yeshivos have no idea who RAC was, but I digress. Then again, most don't read the history of their Gedolim, so how should they know? Reb Aron came from a long line of Prushim in Eishishok and other places, so he was pure Litvish/Misnagdic. HIs zeide once took his father to see Reb Yisroel Salanter when the latter was returning from a long trip to France and Germany to mechazek yiddishkeit. B'kitzur he (RAC) had probably never seen a chossid before arriving in Eretz Yisroel...

Now I see that Reb Aron's father, Reb Avrom Mordche, became a Kaydenover chossid! He befriended the Kovner Shaychet - a chossid, and joined the kat. His family was - needless to say - devastated and tried very hard to deprogram him, but to no avail. His brother stopped talking to him. Only later in life, after seeing that Reb Aron came out of Reb Avrom Mordche, did the brother agree that it could not have been THAT bad, since the result was such a fine son... It's unclear from the book what impact the conversion had on his children - since he sent his son to Slabodka after all, so maybe THAT was the beginning of what happened later on with Reb Aron, the fact that he began to look for what they call "Shleimus," a more satiating way of serving Hashem, one that he didn't find in the halls of Hebron and Jerusalem, even under the guidance of the great Alter. "Gadlus HoAdam", the shitoh taught in Hebron and Slabodka was not what his soul needed, despite his great love of Torah and his position as Rosh Yeshivah. Why would they put that in a book of his life? not to worry, they make sure to assure the readers that it was only to enhance certain aspects, not to chap malochim, and not at the expense of learning Torah, despite him attending Tishen and other such gatherings.

It seems like Reb Aron Cohen first observed Reb Aron HaCohen Roth when the latter visited the Holy Land in 5688 and stayed at the Meoras Hamachpelah from RC Elul till the first day of Selichos. Reb Ahre'le went back to Hungary/Rumania, where he was the butt of many a redifoh, and later traveled back to Eretz Yisroel and remained there. Reb Ahrele - for those who may not know - was the father in law of Reb Avrohom Yitzchok Cohen, who succeeded him as leader of the Chaburah of Shomrei Emunim / Toldos Ahron. Reb Aron Cohen - the great Chevroner Rosh Yeshivah - son in law of Reb Moshe Mordche - saw in Reb Ahrele a great Oved Hashem - one who served Hashem with all his body and soul, one who would "give it all" during davening and was drawn to him and to his ways. It was at the behest of the Chazon Ish that Reb Aron Cohen was told about Reb Ahrele Roth - when the CI was to have told RAC that in Yerushalayim there is a man who serves Hashem through Tefilloh with Mesiras Nefesh, there you can learn how to daven. RAC had spoken to the CI about wanting to improve his davening, and that's what the CI had told him to do!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Apples, Oranges

Photo by Roman Vishniac

I was asked a question that I often think about, despite it being unrealistic and very hard to compare fairly. The questions were respectful, and it seems like he REALLY wants to know the answers. I'll try and answer to the best of my ability.

Hirshel ,

Q. Did you or your family "shteig" in ruchniyus by making the switch to Lubavitch?

A. I know I did. I was wandering with very little TRUE direction, which is spiritually dangerous for a young bachur. If you want to be honest and sincere about it you might say that I shteiged tenfold since joining Lubavitch. I made a quality shidduch by any standard. Ten times better than had I stayed as neutral, "international" chossid in Boro Park. If I had to guess I'd say that I'd be one of the numerous shtraymel/trimmed beards you see around town. You know, the ones with the little jackets and the weird glasses during the week? that would be me. Or, you might say that I would've gone much further than that. Or you might say that somewhere along the way I would've found a Rosh Yeshive somewhere who would've convinced me that the Litvisher Derech HaLimud VeHaChayim is the absolute best. Can one ever decide for sure what would've happened? Can one know for sure what WILL happen? I don't think so. Not that it's not a question one could ask; it's just that the answers are hard to come by.

Q. Is your family in a more Yiddisher environment because of your switch to Lubavitch?

A. This question depends on the question above, I would think. If I'm in a more Yiddishe environment then so are my kids, right? Then again, sometimes being in a chassidisher environment may sometimes have good repercussions on its own. The kid's home can be terrible, yet he's influenced for the better by the outside, and he comes out looking like a million bucks! I often wonder how that's fair to some parents; that they work so hard on raising their kids and aren't successful, and the ones that live it up and have a grand old time have the good kids.... We can play the game of percentages and make assumptions, but those stats are very quickly becoming worthless in these the days of the internet and text messaging. So to answer your question: There is no clear answer, unless you look only at appearances.

Q. How is your family's level in Yiddishkeit in comparison to other grandchildren of your great zeide ?(if there is any GC)

A. That again is very difficult to properly gauge. We each have different things that we stress. Some of us may stress longer peyos and no stripe white shirts, while other may stress loud brochos, negel vasser, and Krias Shma BiZmano. Compare that if you will, I won't tell you who stresses what, but you could probably figure it out if you tried.
I can see that your question is a loaded one, that you basically have an answer in mind, but it's hardly the case with me and family. You must have a wrong impression of me and of Lubavitch in general, some it based on experience and some based on misconception. We run a very tight ship at home.

Q. How would you compare the level of avoides hashem of any Rav Toifes Yeshiva in pre war Hungary to the ReYatz or ReMaSh?

Again with the comparing? Why the need to compare all the time?

Q. Would you as passive as you zeida if one of your children switched to a different kehila outside of Lubavitch?

A. I was asked that question here before. Hypothetical questions are always very difficult to answer, but I can try. Since I only joined Lubavitch myself as a bachur, and maintain close contact with the "outside world" on a daily basis, I can only imagine that I'd be quite fine with that happening. I wouldn't prefer it, but it would go over well. I would wish that he joined a kehilla that didn't hate Lubavitch - become a misnaged - but then again, if he remains a frum Jew I'd be happy that it was the worst thing that happened to my kid. Try and remember that my family is not hardcore Satmar, we didn't have a strict code that we needed to follow, like some of the Wiliamsburgers who joined Lubavitch in the 70s and 80s had. For them it was devastating, since they were fed a pack of the lies about Lubavitch. My zeide z"l was not part of that camp. You didn't become an apikores in his eyes if looked, sounded, or thought a little diferent than him. He respected every erliche yid, whether he looked or sounded just like him or not. That's why he had no problem with me going over there.

Q. I will learn a whole
perek mishnayos L"EN your zeida if you answer some of the above.

A. Learn a long and difficult perek, like Keylim or Negoyim. With RO"B and TY"T, please.