Sunday, January 31, 2010

שמונים שנה למורינו ר' יואל שליט"א
Please click the header above for a nice link

The Loshon "Moreinu" was used in the 1930s by many of the New York bachurim who were under the tutelage of Reb Yisroel Jacobson, a"h to address him in letters they wrote to him. I used that as a basis for using the term on Reb Yoel as well. Please try not to confuse that with Maureinu Jacob Rosenheim, nisht dos meint men. My connection to RYK goes back to the tanya shiurim in Tzemach Tzedek shul in Boro Park, when you could still choke on the Marlboro Reds that went on one after the other.

May the Eibershter bentsh him mit lange gezunte yohren.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

.......הכל תלוי במזל

You know me, I'm just the like next guy. If I'd have the money I'd be in the Beis Medrash all day, no doubt about it. Not that I'm such a learner, but I'd take that over business any day of the week. I cannot stand talking business if I don't absolutely need to. But G-d has other plans for me. He wants me to struggle to make a buck, and to fall asleep at the sefer when I do manage to open it. Strange sense of humor he has... Some people don't have that problem; G-d them all the money in the world, so they have time to learn. Others may not utilize the time properly, but many do. Some of the swankiest summer home colonies have packed shuls on Sundays and on July 4th, Akhshir Doro, BeNichuseh. They take fine bnei torah as husbands for their daughters and they have the best of all three worlds. We had a discussion a while back about one such "Litvishe" Baalebus, who was talking Torah to his eidemel in the office on a Friday morning, and how we were envious of him, being able to support a fine ben torah in Eretz Yisroel. Azoi geit es. This is what we mean when we say that we have nisht der velt un nisht yener velt, nisht alein a ben torah un nisht an eydem a Ben Teyreh, it's poshut too expensive to have one these days...

These other people, the few that managed to have the best of all three worlds - there seems to be a new way for them to feel good about themselves. Not, new, new, but relatively so. Now they can have it all. Money, their own businesses/companies, time and money to vacation, stay at the Ramada Renaissance, aaaand have all the Gedolim come to them too! The annual Yarchei Kallah is the perfect opportunity for guys who have a hard time studying and learning, and thus lack real kovod, to feel good about themselves even in the realm of Torah. They go to Eretz Yisroel, visit the mekomos HaKdoshim, visit the Gedolim and the Gedolim visit them, and they get to see their tchatchkes in Mir and Brisk and learn with them too! It's a win-win all around, no strings attached. Kulo LaShem. Why do the Roshei Yeshiva have to come to them? I'm not quite sure why, to tell you the truth. Why should a 95+ year old Rav Shteinman have to shlep to them to give a shmuess? why they can't they all be loaded onto a bus and make the rounds to all the addresses on the Gedolim tour? I'm sure that showing them how the gedolei haDor live in simplicity and maybe even poverty would go a long way towards getting them to support Torah in Eretz Yisroel, despite that not being the puropse of their visit.

Come to think of it - what is the purpose of the visit? Who came up with this idea? What does it accomplish? And how does it help the Agudas Yisroel of America? Why not at least make a Yarchei Kallah to Lakewood? I don't get it. Excuse me if I don't see the beauty in it, but all I see is gepashete kelblech velche zoyfen milch un lekken honig. Meileh if you give freie donors and students such gifts iz ein zach. But to do this to former Yeshivaleit?! feh. The worst part is using Torah, klompish, as the reason for this shindig. yuk. The Mussar giants of yesteryear would have their food come up on them if they heard about trips like these. Maybe we can have a limud zchus on the organizers, that they felt that no place in America could deliver such an opportunity, and they held their breaths and put this together, even if it meant to be matriach the elderly ziknei Roshei Yeshiva. Yes, that must be it. Ayb Azei you can forget all that I wrote above and stand up and cheer for this great event - monumental in the course of history - that got as much press coverage as the passing of a Torah luminary, if not more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Holding down the fort on The East Side

The pictures were actually taken in Israel in 1960, 20+ years after the Hermans of "All for the Boss" fame made aliyah to the Holy Land. How the East Side survived once they left is beyond me, since if we're to believe his daughter he was the only frum Jew in New York at the time... I wonder what he was telling thye American photographer at the time.

Friday, January 22, 2010

great cause - ideas are a bit off...

Eizer Bachurim - Come back home

Please follow the above link and watch the entire clip - if you can. No pressure.

The video here is a very mixed bag, IMHO. There's the idea that two types of kids frei out, or just get into trouble. One is a Yosem and the other is the one whose father doesn't understand him, and just worries about HIS Shabbos and HIS meals. As if that's the extent of the issue with kids leaving the fold. That's the way I see their portrayal of the problem. We all know that's not the case. There are no rules anymore. Any kid is vulnerable. So if a group that claims to help such kids doesn't get it - then we ersht have a problem. Then we have the problem of what they consider signs of the kid dropping out, namely the smoking. Now, I don't smoke, I never have, I mean I never smoked regularly. I may have smoked 2 packs in my entire life, including Purim. Cigarettes give me headaches, which is why I never did it, not because I'm such a tzaddik. But a kid smoking cigarettes is not what is the problem here, so why does every such video and picture include the kid smoking? And then there's the baseball cap and the peyos behind the ears; why do they need to perpetuate the silly 3rd grade stereotypes that a guy that puts his peyos behind his ears is freying out.

Then there's the idea that only through tricking this kid into believing that his parents care can we get them back home. As if he'll come home and everything will be peachy again. What about the fact that he's suffering, he misses his mother, so does his father, and none of them can continue like this. They both need to do something drastic to help them, a warm word and a smile won't cut it - as much as they're important. I can understand that the video can't show the real things that some of the kids do today, but they do stretch the limits there, they do show the music, the drinking. I also can understand that they cannot show all the trials and tribulations that an eizer leBachurim professional will have until he reches the young man. And I know that I should not be talking, since I never did anything myself other than nit-pick and criticize those that do. But please - good people there, please leave the mindset of the charedi street at the door, don't bring it along when dealing with these kids. Don't measure success by him now wearing a hat and jacket and finding a shidduch, which is often the only reason that people worry about their children...

הצלחה רבה בעבודת הקודש

Thursday, January 21, 2010

למען תזכרו

The testimony of one Reb Henoch Abramovich after WWII - who this Rosh Chodesh Shvat turned 90, tzu lange yohren - describing what he witnessed and encountered during the war years. In the picture below RHA is sitting on the right, pictured with a group of laborers in 1940 digging trenches for the Nazis in Rzasnia, Poland, near Lodz.

Reb Henoch today

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dr. David Glasner responds

photo from Cluj yizkor book

Dr. David Glasner, ben Rav Yudah Tzvi, ben Rav Akiva, ben Rav Moshe Shmuel (dor revii from the "Dor Revii,") writes:


A couple of people emailed me about your very interesting post regarding my great-grandfather and my grandfather. It seems to have provoked quite a discussion from all sides of the spectrum. I was thinking of commenting directly on the blog, but as a nogeia l'davar, I am reluctant to join the fray even though I have previously participated in some on line discussions. Instead I will just share with you some mainly factual observations by way of background. I think that it is correct that the K[lausenberger] Rebbe had good relations with my grandfather R. Akiva, although obviously there was an inherent tension in the relationship because my grandfather viewed the existence of a separate community as an affront to his father (which it clearly was) and as a halakhic violation, and his objective (never fulfilled) was to bring the kehilas ha-sefardim back into the community (which is probably why he did not speak out publicly in favor of Zionism) something which he later regretted and reproached himself for. I think that it is reasonable to assume that the K Rebbe had a very different attitude towards Zionism from that of R. Joelish. So whatever the origin of the kehilas ha-sefardim in K and the role of R. Joelish in establishing it, the K Rebbe did not necessarily buy into the Satmarer ideology. A K chosid once told me that he heard a shmuse that the K Rebbe gave in Kiryat Sanz in which he discussed the gemara in the beginning of Sanhedrin about the punishment le'osid lo'vo that will be meted out to the gentiles. The Rebbe asked, but many gentiles never had anything to do with the Jewish people, so why will they be punished? The Rebbe answered that they will be punished for voting against the state of Israel in the UN.

The Satmarer's hatred was ignited by the outspoken Zionism of the Dor Revi'i, but after the DR left K, the Satmarer had no problem transferring that hatred onto my grandfather who inherited the rabbonus from his father, even though my grandfather did not speak out openly in favor of Zionism and even though many very Haredi and anti-Zionist rabbonim who had opposed the Dor Revi'i were friendly with my grandfather. The story in the family, which is also found in Rabbi Miller's book about Hungarian Haredi Jewry, Olomo shel Abba, is that either in the K ghetto or in Bergen-Belsen my grandfather approached the Satmarer to try to reconcile with him, and the Satmarer simply refused to speak to him. So although I have great respect for the K Rebbe, I have none for the Satmarer. A famous story about about the Tzaddik of Nasoyd (which can be found in Olomo shel Abba and in the biography of the Satmarer) was that on Erev Yom Kippur after Kol Nidre, the Tzaddik got up to speak and delivered the following message to his kehillah. "You know, they say that he (it was obvious whom he was speaking about) is a poshe yisroel because he became Zionist. But they are wrong! He became a Zionist because he was a poshe yisroel." The comment of the Satmarer about this statement (recorded in his biography) was that not all Zionists were poshei yisroel before becoming Zionists, there were indeed also those who became poshei yisroel only after they become Zionists. The inclination of the Tzaddik of Nasoyd and of the Satmarer to brand others as poshei yiroel reminds me of the Talmudic saying "kol ha-posseil be-mumo posseil." By the way the chapter in the biography of the Satmarer that is devoted to the Dor Revi'i and Rabbi Kook is called "milchemes ha-shem neged amolek."

Here are two quick comments about some of the discussion. One of the anonymous commenters accused the Dor Revi'i of writing with chutzpah about R. M. Panet of Dezh. I believe that he was referring to a passage on p. 44 of the kuntres Halakhah Le-Moshe that was republished a few years ago with several other of his kuntresim under the title Ohr Bahir. I am familiar with that passage and I detect not a single bit of chutzpah. Indeed, the whole point of the discussion is to show that as a young man he had questioned a leniency of R' M. Panet, but he writes that when he became older and wiser he understood that R' M. Panet had been correct to be lenient. The DR was personally very close with RMP. He writes at the end of the hakdamah to Dor Revi'i, "when I became bar mitzvah, the holy gaon R. M. Panet of Dezh, sent me a congratulatory letter as if I were a colleague, against the wishes of my father." The custom of the Dor Revi'i was to wear a shtreimel at home on Shabbos and Yom Tov and the shtreimel was given to him by none other than RMP. According to a number of sources the neolog community in K was started
because the DR was viewed as being too inclined towards chassidus. He even exchanged very warm teshuvot with the Yeitiv Lev.

In his book ha-kera shelo nit'ahah about Hungarian Orthodoxy, Jacob Katz, who knew just about all there was to know about the history of Jews in Hungary, refers several times to R. Shlomo Tzvi Schick without identifying him as a status quo rabbi. Had he been status quo, I am sure that Katz would have so identified him. Katz writes with great sympathy about the status quo communities and their rabbis, especially the gaon atzum R. Meir Perles. But there is no doubt that R. Schick was bit of a left-winger by Hungarian standards. According to Sagi and Zohar in their recent book on conversion, both R. Schick and RMSG cooperated in publishing similar works justifying the conversion of the non-Jewish spouse of intermarried Jews. Sagi and Zohar mistakenly assert that there was a family connection between RMSG. They were misled by the fact that the Maharam Schick had a son-in-law named Moshe Shmuel Glasner. But the Maharam Schick was certainly not the father in law of RMSG. The son-in-law of the Maharam Schick is identified in the introduction to the shut Maharam Schick as being from Nicholsburg, so the Maharam Schick's son-in-law was clearly someone else with the same name. I have no other information about the other Moshe Shmuel Glasner.

David Glasner

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

זכרון קלויזענבורג - קלוזש

More pics from the site dedicated to the Rabbonim L'beis Glasner, zt"l. Many thanks to Dr. Reb Dovid Glasner for his assistance. See Here

Reb Akiva Glasner with his son, Reb Yudah Tzvi Glasner, Rav HaTzoir of Cluj

RYTG at his son's Bar Mitzvah in 1955. The man in the hat and tie is Reb Simcha Wasserman, z"l, son of Reb Elchonon, HY"D.

RYTG's wedding in B'Gyarmat, Hungary, 1941. The two men in the back with the Rabbinic hats are his father Reb Akiva Glasner, and his shver Reb Dovid Deitsch, HY"D, Rav of B'Gyarmat.

Reb Yosef Yisroel Deitsch of B'Gyarmat, father of Reb Dovid Deitsch, HY"D.

Reb Dovid Deitsch, HY"D, of B'Gyarmat, FIL of RYTG

Sketch of RMSG, Rav of Klausenberg and author of Dor Revii.

Wedding of the youngest daughter of RMSG, the DR. A very diverse and colorful family, indeed.

Reb Shaye Zilbershtein of Vaytzen, the Maysey L'Melech, shver of RDD of B'Gyarmat, who was the shver of RYTG of Cluj'

Drawing of RSZ

RSZ of Vaytzen, zt"l

Monday, January 18, 2010

why Reb Dov never "made it" - עכ"פ לדעתי

(book review - Part II)

The "Chamsas" on the building were painted by the Arab owner

So I'm reading about Reb Dov Cohen in the book we discussed here a little while back, and these thoughts pop into my head. You know me, not much goes on up there, so it takes a while till a coherent thought comes together. Actually the basic premise was mentioned to me by a reader here who discussed the book with me on Google Talk. Now that I read the book I see it too, very clearly, as a matter of fact. Reb Dov seemingly needs to prove to the reader that he too was "somebody," despite never being a Rosh Yeshivah or having a choshu've Rabbinic shtelle. And often times it's even done at the expense of others who did "make it," maybe even putting them down a wee bit, showing how they too were in his pekkel. After all, someone who learned in Chevroner Yeshiveh for 10 years and got semichah from them should've been good to go as a choshu've Rov or Rosh Yeshiveh/R"M in anybody's book. A similar lament can be seen in the עולמו של אבא, where the protagonist admits to a plaguing thought he had for many years, namely being stuck in a backwoods Rumanian shtetl far, far from his native Oberland with a bunch of Amiratzim Chassidim as his constituents, Hashem Yishmor...

There were many others like Reb Dov. As a matter of fact, most of the names he mentions as being the "Gedolei HaLomdim" in Chevron never made it in the Yeshivah world. Some of them went on to be Rabbonim in the Rabbanut system, yes, but most of them are absolute unknowns in the yeshiva lore that we know today. Yitzchok Meir Ben-Menachem? (married RIZM's daughter but then what?) Aron Brisker? Yitzchok Varshever? (he went out and did it on his won, that's R' Yitzchok Hutner, FYI) How is that?! And countless others, which I do not remember off-hand. Wasn't the Olam HaYeshivos different than the Rebbe branzhe, where it all worked on Protektzia? Wasn't it all about accomplishments rather than pedigree and lineage? My friends, I'm afraid not. You might even say that the yeridas hadoros in the yeshiva world might even be due to this very sad development, where yichus and protektzia took over and scholarship and erlichkeit was ignored. I realize that there weren't enough positions for everybody, but there should've been some sort of merit system, not all just sons and sons-in-law, don't you think? In Reb Dov's case there was an extra "problem," a shortcoming, if you will. He was a Mahkaner, an American. (GASP!)

Reb Chatzkel Sarna, zt"l, SIL of RMM Epstein, zt"l

It's tough for some of you to relate to this, especially when Lakewood is what you consider the epicenter of Torah this side of the Mediterranean, but in those days America was treif. And if you came all the way from Seattle and spent ten years(!) in Yeshivah you're still suspect. This despite Reb Dov shtamming from very fine, erliche LITVISHE Yidden only one generation before. Yet, we can learn alot from RDC. That despite being shut out he usually places the blame at the feet of the Zionist establishment, never at the feet of Chevron... When it comes to explaining why he never climbed the ladder in the Rabbanut he'll usually say how he never was a Zionist, always remained a yeshivah man, and they only gave jobs to party members. R' Dov speaks about his accomplishments in Torah and tikkun HaMidos, I should say that the author of the book uses Reb Dov's diaries and writings to highlight his accomplishments, and how at a very advanced age he was still working on tikkun hamidos. There's mention of the fact that he took Reb Dov Kook - who the kallah's family was very close to - as mesader kiddushin, upsetting the yeshivah brass and the talmidim as well. They went as far as telling him that he was "no longer a talmid haYeshivah! Which makes you think:

Did the Chevroner Yeshivah blacklist Reb Dov as revenge for disrespecting them and not taking the Rosh Yeshivah Reb Chatzkel Sarna as Mesader Kidushin? Sounds far fetched, I know. Maybe in the beginning they did, if they were asked about him. Then again, he does show a letter he has, signed by RCS, where Reb Chatzkel writes that he attended the yeshivah for 10 years, and is a quasi hamlotzoh, so take it as you wish. We also don't have to assume that just because he was in Chevron for ten years meint noch gornisht, veDal, but that they won't tell you in the book... But still, he was a mechaber seforim, (wore a high Litvishe yarmulke) so I would think he could give a shiur in some mesivta somewhere in Israel, despite there not being many yeshivos in Israel in the 40's. Instead we read about activities that befit Chabad shluchim, not that it's a bad thing, c"v, but not what a rosh yeshivah type wants in his resume. And we also hear how it was the coolest thing to be seen in public with an Israeli army uniform of any kind, which is why he wore it in public to all functions, even in the presence of Rabbonim, etc. So that's that. All in all the book makes for great reading, great viewing, i.e. great pictures, and some laughs too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Forgotten dynasty

Thanks to reader CE for sending me the links listed below

בעל "דור רביעי" ז"ל

Ask most people today who was Klausenberger Rav before the war and they'll say Reb Yekusiel Yida Halberstam, zt"l. They may even tell you how his then-uncle the Satmar Rov got him the job, and he later stabbed him in the back by speaking out against him... But chances are that's all they'd know. Those more knowledgeable may say Glasner, but he's basically forgotten about, despite his scholarship and pedigree. It's tough out there, even for the bluebloods. Once you're blacklisted no yichus will help. In Hungary you could not be inclined to Zionism, no matter who you were. Reb Moshe Shmuel was the oldest great grandson of the Chasam Sofer, thus entitling himself Dor Revi'i of his elter zeide. He left Klausenberg and made Aliya in the 1920s after 40-something years as Rav, saying how after the atrocities of WWI he could no longer stay in Europe. They say even marched in Zionist parades in K'berg, waving the Zionist flag! The holy Chasam Sofer's Eynikel! They tell a story how the Nasader Rov, darling of the kanoyim, would tell travel around checking Mikvaos in various towns and cities of Hungary/Transylvania. He arrived in Cluj (K'berg) and checked the mikvah, deeming it pasul, as he often did. The problem was that he would not speak to Rav Glasner, because of the latter's open Zionist tendencies. So he opened the door to his house, shouted "Kloysenborger Roov, di mikveh iz poosil!" and left. Never looking at or speaking to RMSG...

A biography of RMSG

בנו בעל "דור דורים" ז"ל

Reb Akiva Glasner succeeded his father as Rov of K'berg and served until the deportation of the Jews in 1944. He was deported to Bergen Belsen but was saved from the jaws of death by the Kasztner transport, later living in Zurich until his passing. Him being a (sort of clandestine) Zionist it makes sense that he was one of the lucky few. I wonder if he talked with the Satmar Rov on the train... The biographers say that he hid his Zionism so as not to incur the wrath of those who vilified his father. While he was in K'berg, that is. Later on he was not bashful of his views anymore. The "Sefard" kehillah there was founded so as to separate from his Zionist father. They blame the chassidim who came from Poland for the machlokes; until then - they say - all was well. They always tell you to look at what happened to the descendants of these albeit great Rabbonim who embraced Zionism; they mostly assimilated into the Mizrachi and worse, often leaving the fold completely. That - they say - is proof that the kanoyim were - and are still - correct in opposing it. They point to Rav Herzog and others as proof. In the case of the Glasners we do have Harav Schlesinger of Monsey, known Maggid Shiur and Darshan to refute that theory just a little bit... Please see the links posted here about the Glasners to get a full picture of the two men, especially the DR.

Read about RAG

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dear Mum - 11

anybody know who this is???

Motze Rosh Hashono
- 28th Sep '54

Dear Parents,

This letter will probably not be finished this evening as one still has to rise early for Selichos tomorrow, but just having spent two days Rosh Hashonoh in Yerushlaim, I must try to put down in words how fortunate I feel being zocheh to spend another Yomim Noiroim in E.Y. How different it is from kalter England..........I had some difficulty in deciding where to Daven. Y'm with its 300 plus Botey Knesiot ........ spoilt for choice. The first night I was at the Breslover (Toiter) Chassidim. They make a kinnus of all their Chassidim in E.Y. on Rosh Hashonoh and there is a great Hisorerus [soul-stirring]. Special pamphlets are distributed for the occasion and they have many peculiar minhogim. The Tefilloh there was very satisfying, so I was there for
Shacharis as well and was able to buy an Aliyoh very cheaply. For Tekias Shofar I went to Brisk, where a select olam of about 25 were davening. The Rov Shlita came back from Switzerland last Thursday. Before the Tekios he gave a short talk, all about technical instructions such as Kavonos, and not to say the Yehi Rotzon between the Tekios and so on. The scene of the actual blowing deserves a picture to preserve it for posterity. The Rov in his old dressing gown with a look of utmost strain on his face, leaning over with his ear only some inches from the actual Shofar. The [Chassidishe] Baal Tokea almost scared out of his wits lest he should slip on any of the technicalities. The sons all standing round with the same tense mien and the little grandchildren wondering what it's all about. The Rov has his own system of sometimes three sometimes five Shevorim, to be Yotzay all Shitos.

[Whilst writing about Brisk, I will add a bit more. It was all, I am sure in a mislaid letter, but I am now describing it from memory. Most of my several visits to the Rov's house in Rehov Yehoshua Yellin took place during the last hour of Shabbos. The Rov sat in his chair looking serene. In the dim light of the “lux” kerosene lamp his sons stood reverently. There was usually a handful of bachurim watching in awe. Frequently, a contemporary or two of the Rov came “Tzu Schmussen in lernen” The Kharkover Rav, a noted expert on Talmud Yurshalmi, was a regular interlocutor. He more than once came primed with a “Shverer Rambam”. Occasionally he came up with a novel solution. I remember in particular one exchange between the two. A resolution to a difficult Rambam propounded by the Kharkover was not received with enthusiasm by the Rov. The Kharkover was unhappy, “Ober der Rambam is doch Shver”; he pleaded. “Der Rambam is Shver”, responded the Rov soothingly. These solemn sessions were occasionally lightened with the arrival of the Rov's personal physician. (I think he was called Dr. Aronson). He was a jolly Chabad Chosid to whom the Rov demonstrated gratitude. He liked to daven Maariv at the Omed and often asked the Rov's permission to do so. I recollect the Rov agreeing, but stipulating that he should not say “Veyatzmach Perkunay” in Kaddish. Nevertheless, the doctor had the temerity to adhere to the Chassidishe Nusach and the Rov smiled indulgently. ]

For Minchah I was at the Yeshivah. There being no rivers or lake in our part of Jerusalem, Tashlich is said over wells. In Tel Aviv the thousands at the seaside are supposed to be a wonderful sight. For the second night Maariv I went to Reb Ahrele's (Shomray Emunim). You have been there, Daddy, on Pesach, so you can imagine the din raised and the energy expended in Shokling on Rosh Hashonoh. The "Yehay Shmay Rabboh" is still ringing in my ears. There was still time after ending there to go to Karlin, whose Rebbe is at present here from the States. After Ger, Karlin is in members the most powerful Chassidus in Jerusalem and is one of the few on the rise, having a well organised youth. The present Rebbe is quite young and of unremarkable appearance, but like all Rebbes countless Mofsim are told about him. He certainly has great organising capabilities. The noise in Karlin vies with that of Reb Ahrele's. After davenning it was a pleasant sight to watch hundreds of Chassidim singing and dancing around the Rebbe in an escort home. I managed to give him Sholem etc. He has a very sharp look, reminding me of the Gerer [Rebbe] , whom I went to see before YomTov for a KVT. He said (the Gerer Rebbe) “Nee Elozor Pyg'e , vus machst dee” and many more things...........

On the second day Shacharis I tried out the [Chevron] Yeshiva, which was not too bad after all. The main trouble is that so many Baaley Battim come to Daven, leaving very little space. They started, half an hour later than Breslov. During the day I made a short tour of Sephardi Botey Knesiot, where the chanting to my Western untrained ears seems to be the same as that of Tisha B'av and Krias Megilloh. I also visited some Chassidisher Shtieblach including the Modzhitzer, where the Chazoras Hashatz is one series of inspiring marches, but too little davenning to my taste. For Mussaf I was back at Brisk, where we finished before two. Generally, far less Piyutim are said here compared to England; the Minhogim being mainly those of the Gro. During mealtimes at the Yeshivah it was very YomTovdik with the most leberdike singing etc. After dinner I left for Katamon, i.e. Belz. Arriving at the other end of Jerusalem at 3.45 I found them up to Krias Hatorah. There was a crowd of seven to nine hundred packed in a very small outhouse, and the pressure was indescribable. I managed to get to the centre by the old technique of holding on to someone getting an Aliyoh. The day was very hot and the temperature there about thirty degrees higher, but the Rov Shlita was still wearing his heavy fur coat. The Rov was Baal Kore and afterwards Sandik at a Bris and later Baal Tokea. I stayed until after Mussaf, when it was getting late for Minchoh. On returning at nightfall, I waited thirty minutes for Kiddush [of Shacharis] followed by Minchoh. There I met Pinny [Pinchos Adler, a cousin]. He now wears a Kapota and has adapted himself to the minor inconveniences of late hours, lack of cutlery and space. There are many other visitors from England, many of whom I know. Also present were Chassidim from both North & South America and South Africa. After Minchoh it was about an hour after YomTov and I got the bus back.

Tzom Gedaliah

Just this minute I received your letter written last Thursday. One misses the post here on Shabbos and even more on YomTov. Chaim Steinberg, the new Choson of Reb Favish [Feingold], I know very well from Gateshead. The new British arrivals at Chevron from Gateshead you inquire about are aged about eighteen. Why they all come is understandable, but not always advisable............

Wishing you all a Gmar Chasimoh Tova. I shall try to write again before Yom Kippur, but...........


Previous "Dear Mum" letters: Please not that the numbers were recently changed. "Parts" were taken out, meaning no more Part I and Part II, only numbers.
Dear Mum - 1
Dear Mum - 2
Dear Mum - 3
Dear Mum - 4
Dear Mum - 5
Dear Mum - 6
Dear Mum - 7
Dear Mum - 8
Dear Mum - 9
Dear Mum - 10

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Do you hear it?

----- I don't. The silence is deafening. Tragedy after tragedy in the Chabad community and nothing. No direction from any group. No Rabbonim, no shluchim, no askonim, no baaleibatim. Nothing. All you'll see is morons on COL's comments section telling G-d to stop it already and for the Rebbe to "reveal himself" already, because they can't take it anymore. If you do see some calls for introspection and reflection it's always about Ahavas Yisroel, or something feel-good like that. Let's all of us just love each other forever. Never any serious calls for change. What gives? What happened to all those years of learning RaMBaM and seeing what he says to do when tragedy strikes? Why is there no real call for improvement? Where has the collective seyechel gone in Crown Heights and in the greater Chabad world? I realize that it's hard to improve, and that people would much rather just go back to their normal lives, believing that no harm will ever befall them, c"v, but there still needs to be SOME movement! Even if nobody heeds the call, even if nobody shows up at the Kinus Hisorerus that you'll make, there still needs to be some shuffling of the cards up top. How many more such tragedies r"l will it take for people to change - not their ways, but - their manner of thinking?

And I don't mean just blaming the women, but a real, thorough, cheshbon haNefesh, a chassidisher cheshbon haNefesh. No pointing fingers at the BTs or some other under represented minority, and no "are we doing what the Rebbe wants," either. That just leads to way too many arguments and then the whole thing just falls apart. No seder niggunim or Niggunim of the Rabbeyim either, just serious talk, without talking down to anybody. Talk about what's going and what needs a tikkun. Get the conversation started and take upon yourselves hachlotos tovos. If this sounds too "snaggy" for you go find another group that suits you better, or stop smoking whatever it is you smoke for relaxation. If you that all it takes is demanding that G-d send Moshiach then you missed the point. Even the Rebbe's point. (That point was totally lost on people at the time of the Holtsberg tragedy as well, derech agav, with the "talking to G-d" demanding this and that.) Just demanding gets you nowhere; in life and when it comes to Bein Odom LaMokom. At least show him that you care while the iron is still hot, while the families still mourn. Then you can prove to the world that you were shaken by the events, that you trust that all this is from Hashem and that he runs the world. Otherwise people will c"v think that you don't believe in Hashgocoh Protis, otherwise you'd respond differntly.

This and the 10 Teves eaters; the Rabbonim sure have their hands full now...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

ידינו לא שפכו - עינינו לא ראו - אזניהם להם ולא ישמעו

Photo source

So you're waiting to hear what I have to say about the Asoroh B'Teves eaters, as if it's only mine and Lubavitch's problem. OK. I can understand that. You also probably think that I'll do one of several things: 1) defend them and say that they did nothing wrong because it really is Yemos HaMoshiach and the fasts were annulled. 2) They're only a couple of meshugenes who were excommunicated by Chabad, so the book is closed on them. 3) Decide that the Vaboylniker was right along and leave Chabad once and for all. 4) I can bury my head in shame and never talk to you guys again. 5) I can blame the guys McKareved them or ignored them when they were dancing on the streets of Melbourne since G-d knows when. And the list goes on. The point is that this a terrible development, anyway you spin it. I won't ignore it, nor will I wipe my hands of it, because as a Lubavitcher I feel somewhat responsible. I feel like had we all not ignored these crazies and not allowed them to parrot sichos without understanding, that maybe this never would've happened. We gave boors like these two too much freedom, we were afraid to alienate them by guiding them, so we left them to their devices, maybe because we never believed it would go this far.

Part of the personality of machlokes is that it takes its toll where once least expects it. In the case of Lubavitch, where the machlokes is basically dormant, save for a few flare-ups here and there, the toll is that people think that what the meshugoyim do is not so terrible. The fact that there's no outcry tells the youngsters that it's OK. (The same goes for other infractions; we think that since there's no outcry that we agree to what's going on. The problem is as follows: We all know that most of the big askonim are also the ones that have issues with such matters - Leib Tropper being the most recent example - so nobody wants make it known that he has issues.) In the case of the Australian yahoos one wants to blame the establishment there for not putting its foot down long ago, for sort of encouraging them by not discouraging them. For putting politics - very petty politics, to boot - before reason and for allowing it to goon despite not really believing it. In other words Meshichism in Australia is all politics, no real belief in it. It's hard for me to point fingers when I'm 12000 miles away, but I speak to people there very often and that's the general consensus. Then there's the nutjob in Spain, who seems to be on a very long acid trip, but he too has a video camera and an internet connection, VeDal.

photo from ASJ

The mere fact that the guy with the long white beard was quoting Rabbi G at the outset of the clip, and basically used him - albeit posthumously - as the springboard for his hideous deeds, tells us that there was a Jewish soul that could've been "saved." Saved from transgressing, that is. I realize that RYDG was not well the last few years of his life, but a man with his experience should recognize a problem when he sees it or hears of it. These people should've been reined in a long time ago. There also the fact that even the cherem was posted all over is not specific - it does not name names - and from what I understand they do not plan on expelling the children from the Chabad mosdos, apparently the kids are not to blame for their parents... That tells people that they're not as serious as they should be about it. Don't get me wrong, the current Rov is a huge T"C and frum almost vi a misnaged, but it's the politics again that's rearing its ugly head. Somehow, by admitting guilt here he'll have caved to the "antis," וזאת לא יעשו, not for any reason, even if the whole Chabad will go down (or up) in flames.

So what can we do about it? I'm not sure, I never claimed to have the answers, but one thing is for sure: LOTS of Bittul will be necessary. People who cannot stand the sight of each other because of previous disagreements will have to sit down and wrack their brains. This will be the ultimate litmus test to see whether or not you care about the Rebbe, זי"ע and the future of his monumental work - and the work of the six Rebbes previous - or you just talk the talk and do what's convenient for you. The old excuse of "they hate us anyway" and "they knocked us when we started Mivtza Tefillin" won't cut either. We're talking about families that will be completely lost very soon if an end is not put to this NOW. If that's not enough motivation maybe the fact that guys like Harry and Scotty and licking their lips and jumping for joy is what will light a fire under your feet. As impure and wrong a motive as that is, it's still better than inaction. But something must be done immediately! Not next week or month or by the next kinus hashluchim have a closed session about it. ACTION NOW, before it's too late. And yes, eating on fasts (Briskers not withstanding) and saying the shem Hameforash is already just about too late.

Monday, January 11, 2010

.........און איצטער - די ספארט נייעס

Vos Iz Neias now doing Sports....

you wish

Reb Avrohom Hirsh Kamai HyD with Yeshivah bachurim - Photo Source

You people out there seem to think that somehow Chabad has changed, deliberately so. That they've left the path of their ancestors and created a new Chabad. Which is why guys like "An Ailemisher" will announce that the fact that by two hours after Motzoei Shabbos there was no post about chof daled teves means that Chabad has no connection to Lubavitch of today. That the Alter Rebbe means nothing to Chabad. Not that it's the only "proof" you have. There also the fact that the AR says to daven shacharis for 1.5 hours daily, and no chabad minyan does that! I think that Rav Wolfson's minyan does carry on that tradition, if my memory serves me correctly. Then, of course, guys that comment here often will tell you that the focus deliberately shifted to outreach, and that no longer is emphasis placed on matters of the heart, meaning avodah and such. And the so-called list goes on. I'm not here to argue the facts, but I will you tell this much; look inward, my friends and then point fingers. Just as you righteous dudes always tell me to do.

The fact is that today's yiddishkeit is merely a shell of what it once was. Nobody would readily admit to that for obvious reasons, but a little scratching of the surface will easily attest to that fact. The fact that American Jewry is seen as a group of Novol B'reshus HaToyreh'nikkes is opgeredt, but even Europeans and Israelis are no better. Most Jews, however, have an easier time covering it up, thought, and very often that's all it takes - trappings. A young chossid who dresses just like they did in Galicia, complete with the heavy tallis under the Rezhvulke on July Shabbos mornings in New York or Bnei Beraq, is all set - he's good to go. A yungerman who lets his sidelocks grow wild is an immediate Brisker - just like the Brisker Rov, even if he never cracked a sefer. When it comes to the Lubavitcher the probing is much deeper. No longer is it good enough to look like his zeide, and even that they doubt and question, but he needs to be on his zeide's level too, both in learning and in Avodah. And he needs to do things as the "Ailimisher" guy sees fit!

I'll never forget how one evening in Boro Park there was a conversation on 18th Avenue that I was part of that still rattles me when I think about it. We had just finished davening maariv and somehow the conversation got to Chabad and the Rebbe. This man was somewhat of a hybrid; he was a talmid of Lakewood before Reb Schneur took over, was/is a chossid of a smaller Boro Park Rebbe, yet all his kids are chasidish/ch'nyokish. So this genius was going on about Chabad, and how today's Chabad was only concerned about "giving out dollars to women," but his Rebbe (RAK) knew what the "old" Chabad was all about, and that's why he opposed it so. נישטא ווער ס'זאל לאכען. The point is this: Today's oylem HaYeshivos is but a shadow, a shell, of what it once was 90% of bachurim in yeshivos would never be accepted into the Litvishe Yeshivos 70 years ago, and the ones that are accepted have lots to learn when it comes to Havonoh, Hasmodoh and so on They have no idea what it means to lose yourself in a sugyah, and to sit in the Beis Medrash from Thursday to Sunday non-stop and just learn. The same goes for the non-Chabad chassidim; don't pat yourselves on the back because of the shell, because you have the look down pat. It only goes so far, and not far enough.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dear Mum - 10

Photo by Y. Horowitz - via A Simple Jew

This is the tenth batch of my 1954 letters, published on Dec 24 2009 in the Jewish Tribune of London. (Elozor Reich, Manchester)

12th September '54

From a letter to my brother Yidel and my sister-in-law Leah

....Re Judy's [Sternbuch's] engagement [The soon to be Rebbetzen of R' Dovid Soloveiczik, a sister-in-law of my brother, Yidel, had just become his Kalloh]... The match had been rumoured for weeks. Eli [her brother] seemed particularly preoccupied, but understandably stonewalled my persistent queries. You ask, Leah [the Kalloh's oldest sister] for all details. Well, the Choson has two older brothers, one married called Yoshe Ber and one called Chaim; an older sister married to a big Talmid Chochom, two younger brothers named Refoel and Meir and a younger unmarried sister. I know the Choson by sight from my being many times at the Rov. [You ask about his character] To understand this one must have an insight into the whole Brisker Royal Family; a difficult set-up to describe in a few words. The Rov Shlita, who most certainly is one of, and most probably is the Godol Hador in Torah......... He is most exacting in everything and so always has complicated cheshbonos in all his actions. His family have inherited this tendency to a certain extent. They are all extremely sharp and keen witted. I imagine that [R'] Dovid will generally be the complete Moishel in the marriage, but on the other hand not interest himself in domestic matters, leaving these entirely to his wife. The Brisker shtempel will predominate. This is not as harsh as it sounds, but I am incapable of giving a condensed comprehensive picture. Generally, the Shidduch is about the most choshuv in the whole country, an exceptional yichus and also a big catch himself, as they say that he is the biggest Baal Kishron of the family.........

Says HT: I find this "meddling" in yenem's gesheften pretty juvenile and petty. Vos geit em ohn who will be the moyshel in the family? and why is a "ben torah" even thinking about these things? I also don't understand the love affair that so many seem to have with the whole Soloweyczyk clan, as if this was some kind of British Royal Family that needs to be followed in the tabloids. I'm also quite surprised at the chit-chat going on with the SIL, that definitely would not happen today... There's also very little talk about what's happening in his OWN life, I guess that's not very important when there are "celebrity" weddings to talk about... And what's up with the jabs at every other chassidic group? First it's Chabad that have "queer shitos," and now he's going after Breslov, calling them Toiter Chassidim in letters home, telling Leah back home that she too should poke fun at Tzaddikim like Reb Shmuel Shapira pictured above? Is that what the jokers back in Manchester taught him to do? No wonder he's so in love in with Brisker kinder, he has yet to recognize greatness!

Rabbosai! I just realized that I left the part with the jabs at Breslov in part 2 of this letter home, so when you thought to yourselves "what is he talking about?" you were right! The letter was just too long for one part.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

.....שווער צו זיין א גאנצן טאג ביים לערנען

What to do if you're bored in Yerushalayim

In short, you go watch a dybbuk being banished from some poor zhlub's body by Hakham Basri. Maybe the Hakham waited till after night seder was over in the Yeshivos Kedoshos to perform the ritual. Or maybe even after Hatzot. I thought these things were supposed to be private matters, and that only 10 special people attend the exorcism. Those who do can remember the dybbuk he removed from a person back in 5760, right before the elections in Israel that would net the Sefardic Shas party 17 seats in the Knesset elections.

Not that I'm implying it had something to do with the election....

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

!פנימי - לאנ"ש והתמימים בלבד

ציור של כ"ק אדמו"ר זצוקללה"ה נבג"מ זי"ע בשעת יחידות

געמאלען דורך ג'קי ירחי

טייערע אנ"ש און תמימים

!עבר קיץ כלה חורף ועדיין לא נושענו

ס'איז שוין מער ווי פופצן יאהר וואס אונזער רבינ'ס ליכטיקן, הייליקער צורה זעהט מען נישט

די קינדער האדעווען זיך ווי פרייע פייגעלאך, אהן א פאסיקן הדרכה, און אפטמאל קומט די הדרכה פון די גאס וכיוצ"ב. אלץ א טאטע פון עטליכע קינדער קע"ה קען איך אייך זאגן אז ווען עס קומט צו עניני חסידות, התקשרות וכדו' קומט מיר אהן זייער שווער צו "פרעדיקן" צו מיינע קינדער וועגן רבי'ן. דער אמת איז אז די פראבלעם איז נישט נאר מיט מיינע קינדער, און נישט נאר מיט קינדער בכלל, נאר גאר מיט די ערוואקסינע, און אפילו נאך מיט די עלטערע חסידים. אזא עולם ווי ליובאוויטש, וועלכע האט די לעצטע 60 יאר געטוהן אלץ נאר ווי די רבי הייסט, איז שווער היינט אנגיין אהן קלארע הדרכות ווען עס מאכן זיך נייע פראבלעמן. יא, כ'ווייס אז די בריוו רעדן פון אלערליי פראבלעמן און פון כל צרה שלא תבוא, אבער פארשטייט איר זיכער אז נישט יעדער איינער פירט זיך קוקען אין די בריוו פאר יעדן שריט און טריט. איך רעד נישט פון די גורל האגרות קודש, נאר איך מיין אז מ'טוט וואס מען וויל און ווי מ'וויל, איש כל הישר בעיניו יעשה, וד"ל. די "רוח" השעה איז נישט ווי עס דארף צו זיין. היינטיקער צייטן איז אסאך געשמאקער פאר א יונגער בחור אדער מיידל נישט צו זיין א חסידישער, און דאס איז נאך איידל גערעדט. א קרייז וואס האט זיך אזוי שטארק פארלאזט אויף א מנהג - שלא כמנהג חב"ד מקדמת דנא - האט נאך ביז היינט נישט איינגעארדענט א נייער צוגאנג צו דער נייער מציאות. איך אליין האלט אז די זארג - עכ"פ ביי מיר - הייבט זיך אן הערשט ביי מיינע קינדער, ד.ה. אז איך אליין האב גענוג געזעהן און געהערט אויף צו נישט זיך לאזן ווערן פארשלעפט מיט די כוואליעס און ווינטן פונעם טאג. אבער וואס טוט מען אז די קינדער האבן קיינמאל נישט געזעהן? פון וואנעט וועלן זיי נעמן דאס געפיל? איך אליין קען נישט און אפטמאל וויל איך נישט אז ----------יענער זאל עס טוהן. נאר איין ג-ט אין הימל ווייסט

נאר ענטפערס אין אידיש וועלן דערלאזט ווערן אין דעם אשכול

נכתב ע"פ בקשת רבים שרצו לראות יותר "תוכן חב"די" כאן בבלוג

Monday, January 4, 2010

(book review) ויותר דב לבדו Part I

So I'm busy now reading the fairly new Feldheim publication וילכו שניהם יחדיו, which are memoirs by the deceased Rabbi Dov Cohen z"l. Reb Dov (aka Benny) was a kid from Seattle whose mother wanted him to be a yeshiveh bocher. Her father had been an erliche Litvishe Yid, and her zeides were mamesh tzaddikim. The family had moved to America at the turn of the 20th century from Di Litteh to seek their fortune there a few years before he was born, and had been living in Seattle for a while now. Benny's older brother Yaysef (Joe) had been at RIETS in New York and had returned home, saying that he was through with Yeshivah. His mother was devastated. Her dream of having yeshiveh boch'rim as kids was - for now - shattered. There were Rabbonim in Seattle - learned men, alumni of the great Yeshivos in Di Litteh - who eitzeh'd her to go to Israel, then Palestine, and to enroll him in a yeshivah there. A certain Rabbi Winograd, who was a Rov in Seattle but was originally from the Holy Land, and whose father was the Rosh Yeshivah in Yeshivas Toras Chaim HaKlolis in the Old City, told her to enroll her son there. So Mrs. Cohen took her fifteen year-old son one morning, packed him up and took him on a train to New York. Her husband had no idea. She telegramed him from New York (or somewhere along the way) that they were en route to Palestine and Benny didn't see his old man for another 20 years.

When they arrived in the Holy Land four weeks later they soon realized that there some kind of misunderstanding here. Toras Chaim was no place for an American boy who went to Public School and who had private tutors as Gemoroh teachers. It was a yeshivah for Yerushalayimer guys who learned full time, often zeides joining sons, joining grandsons. Until his dying day Reb Dov had no idea what R Winograd was thinking when he sent them there... Needless to say Mrs. Cohen was shattered. (Mr. Cohen is absent from the whole ordeal, one cannot be sure what he thought of the whole idea) She was ready to take him home when she met Reb Meir Berlin, son of the Netziv and uncle of Reb Chaim Brisker, zt"l. RMB had met Mrs. Cohen when he visited Seattle while traveling the world for some Zionist or Mizrachi cause and recognized her, asking her what she was doing her and how he could help. Reb Meir suggested she enroll her son in the Tachkemoni school in Tel Aviv where both his son and Rabbi Zev Gold's (founder of Torah VoDaas in the US) son studied. (RZG had since left New York and made aliyah.) Tachkemoni was not a Yeshivah Kedoshah by any stretch of the imagination, they studied more secular studies than Kodesh, but it had good staff there, and it was better than Public School, so Mrs. Cohen relented, but she stayed in the Holy Land with her son, making sure everything was OK. When Benny's year was up at Tachkemoni she decided that this was not why she journeyed across the Atlantic and decided that she was taking him after all.

I'd like to pause here and discuss what we know up until his his first year was over at Tachkemoni. This may not be very obvious, but other than him and his sister, who married a frum guy named Katzman, it seems like all others left the fold. Which makes Mrs. Cohen's sacrifice that much greater! It seems like once the Cohen's arrived in di goldene medineh they each had different ideas as to how to raise their children. Mrs. Cohen had very choshu've zeides (and a father that died young) and wanted her children to follow in their ancestor's ways. Mister Cohen, on the other hand, was busy making money, Shabbos aher Shabbos ahin, IYKWIM. The whole time all she's worried about - this Litvishe Yiddene - is that her sons grow up to be Talmidei Chachomim. So she sends Joe to RIETS, where he supposedly would become a fine Talmid Chochem, but Joe gets tired of learning and quits. The reader can deduce that there was no way that Mister Cohen would allow his young son to go to Eretz Yisroel, but the wife is not deterred. She packs him up without her husband's knowledge and shleps him 9000 miles away. Such is her Mesiras Nefesh for Teyreh. To call this commendable would be a gross understatement. The only comparable thing I can think of is when Reb Elya Lopian zt"l refused to join his parents when they left Lita for America, saying that "Amerikeh iz a treyfene medineh." He was 9 or 10 years old at the time.

To be continued...