Wednesday, December 23, 2009

a Prince has Passed

R Yisroel Sholom Yosef Friedman passed away yesterday, on his 95th birthday, that is. [My grandmother died on her 86th birthday, not that you care.] Not much is known about this quiet, unassuming man who managed the Ruzhiner Yeshivah in Yerushalayim for close to sixty years. He was the son of Reb Mordche Shlomo of Boyan-New York, and the brother in law of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, having married RHL's sister. Some years ago, when we discussed Boyan at the visit of the Boyaner Rebbe to Crown Heights for the wedding of his wife's cousin Nosson Gurary's child, Schneur mentioned him in passing, and dubbed him and his younger brother Yitzchok "MO lay people." "Yisrael has the personality, appearance and temper of a Rebbe," he said. "It's too bad he was not interested in the position. He would have met a fine Rebbe in the US," Schneur said. I guess what Schneur is saying is that he wishes that R Yisroel would have bucked the trend and had more of an impact in a much broader circle of Jews. What happened by him refusing the position was that we waited 14 years for a Boyaner Rebbe, who despite being an exceptional leader, moved to Israel and has no impact here, his accomplishments not withstanding.

I realize it sounds corny, using the term "Prince" just because he was a Ruzhiner eynikel, but what else would you suggest?

Schneur comments:

Baruch Dayan Emes.
As was the case with many pre War Rebbische kinder, he probably saw no future in being a rebbe in the US. In that sense he was wrong. Once he made that decision it affected his shidduchim, education, and social setting (friends) etc. He had regal bearing, was highly intelligent and a fine man, but the life decisions he made sort of prevented him from being a Rebbe when his father passed on. A word about Rabbi Brayer the present Rebbe. I do not know him, but I spoke to him on the phone several times concerning a business matter (about Torah) and he was such an anav and spoke in normal tones; what a contrast to lots of other Rebbes I have dealt with - although some are clearly wonderful people. If R. Brayer were in the US I do think he has what to "sell". I wonder if his Anash in Israel appreciate him. Mr. Friedman was a MO, which is not a shem genai, he was a professional social worker and a lover of books, as he collected festschriften (Sefer Yovlos). He ran the Boyaner shtibel on 441 (Emes) West End Ave. It was a nice place with him and Reb Sender Bistrizky ZT"L and others.

Rabbi Israel Friedman Zecher zaddik Livracha


Anonymous said...

is Lookstien a Livisher family? a Polish family?
did he go to Torah Vodaas? or Reb Yitzchok Elchonan? how old was he when he arrived to the US?

schneur said...

Baruch Dayan Emes.
As was the case with many pre War Rebbische kinder, he probably saw no future in being a rebbe in the US. In that sense he was wrong
Once he made that decision it affected his shidduchim , education ,social setting (friends) etc.
He had regal bearing, was highly intelligent and a fine man.
But the life decisions he made sort of prevented him from being a rebbe when his father passed on.A word about Rabbi Brayer the present rebbe. I do not know him , but spoke to him on the phone several times concerning a business matter (about Torah) and he was such an anav and spoke in normal tones , what a contrast to lots of other rebbes I have dealt with - although some are clearly wonderful people . If R. Brayer were in the US , I do think he has what to "sell". I wonder if his Anash in Israel appreiate him.
Mr. Friedman was a MO which is not a shem genai, he was a professional social worker and a lover of books , as he collected festschriften (Sefer Yovlos).He ran the Boyaner shtibel on 441 (Emes)west End Ave. It was a nice place with him and Reb Sender Bistrizky ZT"L and others.
Rabbi Israel Friedman Zecher zaddik Livracha

Mottel said...


Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

subscribing to what? the blog? RSS?

snag said...

R. Lookstein shtams from Chassidim (another case of militant MO of Chassidishe opshtam).

His late father, R. Joseph Lookstein (who was dubbed 'holy Joe') used to boast of his Hassidic ancestry (brought in 'New York's Jewish Jews', by Jenna Weissman Joselit).

What Hassidic sect, that I don't know at this time.


Unknown said...

He was an extraordinarily eidel individual, even for a Ruzhiner einikel. He chose not to be Rebbe for reasons only he knew, but he totally dedicated himself the the Ruzhiner Mosdos.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this piece on a true mentsch of K'lal Yisroel. The apple didn't fall far from the tree as his Father Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo was an incredibly sweet man as well as his brother in law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Brayer, long time Rebbe at YU and Father of the current Boyaner Rebbe. I do have a book where R' Yisroel Friedman discusses why he chose not to be the Rebbe. I think he felt much better about the decision when his nephew R' Nachum Dov Brayer, a man who reminded him of his holy Father R' Mordechai Shlomo, accepted the position several years later. I have noted on this site and on others how R' Mordechai Shlomo of Boyan was one of the true Tzaddikim in post WWII America. He was an incredibly humble man, and it was his midda of humility which is probably why he is not a well known figure. However, the yesteryear gedolim recognized his gadlus, such as R' Moshe Feinstein and others.

evanstonjew said...

The niftar and his father are discussed I believe in a favorable light in the book "Hassidic People:A Place in the New World" by Jerome Mintz. The book is readily available.

Anonymous said...

lookstein is a mechutsaf mo sheygetz, going into a church converting trump's shikse daughter and staying that the torah resides in tzion not by reb moshe feinstein.

Anonymous said...

Evanston Jew - Good call - that is the book to which I refered, although I couldn't remember the name. I think I'll have to dust it off and read it again. I think that is the book that also has a fairly in-depth look at the Sholom Dov Ber "Barry" Gourary vs. Lubavitch library court battle.

schneur said...

Truth be told I doubt that the BOyaner Rebbe himself saw much of a future for the chassidus in America. As for Europe there were 3 Boyaner rebbes to lead the group there.
I suspect that while Reb Israel was raised in the true Rizhiner geist , he was not being groomed as a rebbe.Ruzhin is like Chabad , people were very hesitant to take leadership even if qualified. Thus today we have only 1 Ruzhiner rebbe who is Ben acher Ben with no generational interuption that being the Sadigerer (the Kopishnitzer is not such is father was not a rebbe, the Vasloier is not a Friedman , but otherwise qualifies too.)But a person can be an erliche Yid without being a rebbe.

Anonymous said...

The Kapishnitzer are also not Friedmans

Anonymous said...


When did Lookstien go to a Church? Trump had a Orthodox Giur

yoshe kalb said...

The present Bohusher Rebbe is also a Friedmann, but the grandson of the previous Bohusher Rebbe. His father was also a Rebbish kind, but didn't venture into Rebbistveh.
It's interesting to note that quite a number of present day Rebbes are einiklakh, skipping their parents, who for the most part were much too modern or not ambitious enough to take over the Rebbistveh (Boyan, Bohush, Karlin, Kozhnitz et. al.)

Anonymous said...

Did Rabbi Israel Friedman z"l have any children?

schneur said...

Some obituaries calim he had children. As far as i know he had no natural children, but may have adopted his wife's children.

schneur said...

Rabbi Haskell Lookstein. Why are you critical of R. Lookstein converting Trump's daughter, and silent about the current scandal about a Charedi rav rosh yeshiva who designed an international organization for the exact same purpose ( of course he also had something else in mind )
Lookstein went to a church for a Government function It was not a Catholic Church. I do not go into any churches. But this really may have been an aveira lishmo. How would it look if all Jewish leaders and Christian leaders show up, but orthodox Jews are absent. In East Europe rabbis at times were also forced to deal with Christian clergy even though they would prefer not to. For example the Erloier rav Rav Shimen Sofer Hayad had to mee the local galach weekly and talk to him , something he found distasteful , but darchei shalom mandated it.Well it may even effect all the Federal programs benefitting not Dr. Lookstein's Upper East Side congregants, but the Charedim in Brooklyn, MOnsey and lakewood.
I am sure its easy for the eylem sitting in lakewood and Flatbush to scream at Lookstein. But both father and son have created an Orthodoxy suitable for the manhattan crowd. Friends there its either being a Reform Jew or gornisht They are not ready to become charedim. And yes how many of these people in Brooklyn and Lakewood have benefitted from the doctors and other professionals at KJ - Lookstein's shul. Ramaz school has educated thousands of proud Jews most do not marry out , a great many are Shomer Shabbes and more than a few have become accomplished talmide chachomim.
When the rebbe was in Mt. Sinai hospital, rabbi Samuel Butman attended services i KJ and was warmly greeted and perhaps misguidedly the shul stood up when he entered.

schneur said...

Joseph Lookstein was a desc of Chabad people.So he told R. Gershom Jacobson in an interview in the Algemeiner Journal, many years back. He married the grand daughter of one of NY's most famous Litvishe rabbis the Ramaz Margolis and eventually became his memale makom at KJ.
His son is rabbi Haskell Lookstein Both father and son studied at RIETS at YU.

Althoguh Lookstein has a rabbi son it appears that the current Lookstein is the last in this dynasty..
There is room for disagreement with the philosophy and work of both men, but they also accomplished much in a community that was very wealthy and very much in an assimilation mode.
Full disclosure requires me to state that I have been a professional employee at the Ramaz school years ago.

An Ailemesher said...

Is R. Yisroel Friedman, the rosh yeshiva or Oholei Torah, a ruzhiner ainekel?

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

I believe that RYF is a Magid's an eynikel, and Reb Avraham haMalach, but not through the Ruzhiner.

Anonymous said...

they would never take RYF as a rebbe, he is too sharf for Ruzhiner style, in his lomdus he would compete with reb Moshele of Krakow Hy"d, the only rebbe of Ruzhin that went public with his nigleh

russian chusid said...

...and then you talk about pnimius!!!

i new the men personally, he was a great character moiredike baal midos and baal toive for a lot of yiden but:

a) HOW YOU CAN BE A REBBE IF YOU ARE NOT A GUON B'NIGLE V NISTER, NOT A BAAL AVOIDE and do not leave b'kedusha v tahara?????


(the above questions questions go on Rabbi N.D. Bryer as well)

ALL the rebbes in Rizhiner had the above. I nRussian there is a sayng "PAN ILI PROPAL" -or you a Pan (prince) or you are a nobody. Prince does not mean appearance only.

As far as Heskel Lokstein goes, he is an apikores. When Boyaner Rebbe zeicher tsadik l brocho came to his sons wedding(his son was 50 years old), LOKSTEIN RAN OVER TO HIM AND TOLD HIM"MCHUTEN, SHOLOM ALEKHEM". To that Boyaner Rebbe answerd " YOu are not my Mechuten-the fact that my son felt in love with your daughter, does not make me your mechuten"
Vdok lhuvin.

R Isroel did not have any kids- only her kids.

russian chusid said...

Reb Isroel Friedman from Lubavich is a Magid/ Maloch einikel, not Rizhin.
His Father (who was a rov in Kiev) and mother were Boyaner chasidim.
Boyaner Rebbe had all the 7 bruches by his chipe.

Anonymous said...

Russian chosid
I cant believe the story of the Boyaner and Lookstien,he didnt behave that way, maybe he had it in his mind, but not to insult a person that didnt do him no harm..

Anonymous said...

The Holy Boyaner Rebbe, R' Mordechai Shlomo was a true ahavas Yisroel and I cannot believe that he would have treated his mechutan Rabbi Lookstein with anything but derech eretz.
itch de san luis

schneur said...

Russian Chusid,
I do not believe you have any idea of what a rebbe is. Many rebbes were not the greatest of geonim, rather their gadlus was their ziddkus and their avoda and their messiras nefesh for their kahal and for klal israel. They knew yichudim and knew tikkunim. There were in every generation chassidm who were bigger geonim then their rebbes but that did not prevent them from being chasidim.
Indeed some rebbes were well known as Talmide Chachomim , others as poskim , others in recent days as magide shiur but many clearly were not, and their koches in nigle did not make them a rebbe. their keyches came from avoda, perishus tahara and zechus avos.
According to your definition how is a rebbe different from your gaon who is a rav or rosh yeshiva.
No one has ever claimed that the Besht was the gaon hador and the same is true with othr great rebbes, but they all had ziddkus, perishus were learned in Kabbalah and had tremendous mesiras nefesh for their followers.
as Reb Mweir premishlaner the gaon hador. Was the Spoler Zaida the posek hador ?



i heard it from at least 2 people who were there and alle alter boyaner chasidim know this story.
By the way, to thous who do not know, Boyaner Rebbe was EXTEREMLY sharp Rebbe- when it was necessary of course. None of you know what stood behind this shiduch, and how it came about- so it is better to keep quiet. Ich bin nisht ken ungarisher- ich zoog nisht alts aroise.

Shneur,do you know how to read?
Thats what i had said" GUON B'NIGLE V NISTER, NOT A BAAL AVOIDE and do not leave b'kedusha v tahara"

i never saw anywhere that thair negle did not count- i just know that Ari zal got all his gluim from the zchus of him learning nigle. Some tzadikim ( Reb Reb Meilch/reb reb Zishe) went "Fedex express" but it was a rare exeption.(Unless maybe N.D. BRAYER, BERL ROKEACH, DUVID TWERSKY , BENZI HALBERSTAM ETC ARE AS BIG AS THE ABOVE) ALL TALMIDEY BAAL SHEM AND MAGID WERE GDOILIM BNIGLE. The difference came only that they went much further then that :) M GEVIST VOOS IS SHTEIYT IN TSIVISHEN SHIROIS.

Anonymous said...

Russian Chusid,
since you are creating the Boyaner into a new iron character that only had a velvet facade, I would like to ask you a sensitive question? Did you ever hear that the Rebbes Mashbak Freund didn't eat anything that was cooked in the Rebbes house? is it a myth? or some truth?

russian chusid said...

Yes I know about it. He was a glicianer- by them it works different :) And R Note Zeinvert ate only in the Rebbe's house when he came to States?And what do you say about R Shlomo Benzion Chernobiler from Kiev, that was a baal moifes and chasidim did not want to drink water in his house?(Neither did he, by the way) You can not judge a tsadik by what his chasidim did. There was a problem in the Rebbe's house..But as stated above- I am not an ungarisher.
Just one thing- Boyaner Rebbe is not what Hamodia, Artscroll and Rabinivits-Brayer LLC make out of him.He was not a "mr.suger"- he was (and like all his cusens Friedmans) a richtiger Ukrainisher/Bukoviner Rebbe mit ale pichefkes.
Did he had Satmerer Rebbe's temper?NO
Can you say that Satmar Rebbe was not a baal midos? Also not.

Do you hear what I am trying to tell you? Do not put a tzadik in a tsimtsum of "baal midos"- if a person is a tsadik he automatically is. And it does not have to fit into your judgment.

Another note- just today I had met a Rizhiner einikel and asked him about that storry. He told me he never heard it, but it is 90% that the Boyaner Rebbe had said it-he has a picture how R Yisroel is being walked by his father and Lokstein to the chipe- Boyaner Rbbe had a horrible look on his face-even a photo showed it.

Anonymous said...

Russian Chosid
" R Shlomo Benzion Chernobiler from Kiev "
is he the grandfather of the todays Racmistrivkers ? he had a SIL Yochnan of Rachmistrivka?
you probably heard of the Mamar of the Rav( AR) on the chosid that didn't eat by his Rebbe

VohlinerChusif said...

R' shlomo Bentzion had nothing with Rachmistrivka.