Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review (Pt. II)

Reb Avrohom as a younger man

See Part I

(I started the first part of the review because I felt that I owed it to the author, since he had sent me the book as soon as I agreed to review it, and several days had gone by since I finished reading it. Which is why all that you saw was a general, one-paragraph review, without any clear references to the actual content. )

As was mentioned before much effort went into attaining as much information about Reb Avrohom and his family as is possible. The same goes for his wife's family, the HaYitzchokis from Nevel, who traced their lineage back to Rashi HaKodosh. In the spirit of full disclosure all family pictures are displayed, even those that aren't very flattering for the family of a famed chossid and mashpia. Many of you "truthers" out there will be pleased by that. We're all adults here, we know what the matzav HaYahadus was like in Russia post WW1, and we ca take the fact that this brother didn't grow a beard or that aunt didn't cover her hair. I may have misunderstood one picture in the book, but IIRC there's a picture where Reb Avrohom and his family went to visit relatives of his on Rechov HaYarkon in TA, who seemed to be on the modern side, and the caption reads something like "Reb Avrohom and family with relatives that he called only "di kroyvim fun rechov haYarkon," which would seem to indicate that he wanted to shield his children from these "kroyvim," I guess because of their lax religious observance.

But here I am, getting way ahead of myself again. Let's get back to the review, shall we?

The book reads like a regular mussar sefer, you'll excuse the term. We're used to chassidim being medakdek b'mitzvos to the extreme, and we're used to them being nizhar from any chashash issur like it was a roaring inferno, but in this case there's more. Reb Avrohom managed to raise a chassidishe family - a very large one - in the USSR under those conditions, as did hundreds of others, but there's more to that than just that fact. There's the fact that for well over a decade he was a wanted man, plain and simple. They were looking to arrest him just like all the others that were sent away and never came back or came back after years in the gulags. Yet, somehow, they never got to him. And all that time he managed to help others that were less fortunate, hide other wanted people, and raise and have a connection with his family. I realize that we haven't spoken about his earlier life very much, whether it be pre or post Tomchei Tmimim in Lubavitch days, but right now, looking back at what I read a several weeks ago, that's what stays fresh in my mind. Besides, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Yid like Reb Avrohom talk about himself and about what he accomplished. If anything, he'd talk about the Rebbe, his chaverim and mashpiyim in Yeshiva, and about what he saw and heard. There are no "we finished gantz shas together waiting on the lunch line" stories here like you may find elsewhere...

Reb Avrohom being osek in avodas hatfilloh in zibben zibetzig.

I'm not an official book reviewer, so I still have a hard time figuring out exactly what it is that I need to do when it comes to a review, but I assume that a review shouldn't (just) repeat nice stories or anectodes that he sees in the book. I speak to the general body of work. I'd like to thank Moshe Rubin for taking the high road when it came to he style of writing he uses in his zeide's story. Unfortunately, in the world of Chabad English literature today it's commonplace to cater to the unaffiliated and to forget about those that don't need a glossary and all Hebrew words in havara sefaradit. Rubin manages to keep the original old world flavor without alienating those that have no connection to the old world. (come to think of it, I may have made that point last time as well. In any case, it's worth repeating.) The style of writing ensures that you continue and finish the book. Every chapter in RAM's life, even the relative menucha here in the US, is interesting, if not riveting. You're no less intrerested in his keeping the KGB at bay than the fact that later in life he would travel all across the US collecting funds for Lubavitcher Yeshivos without knowledge of English - and we're talking towns that many of us Yankees would be very uncomfortable in, small American cities, not just Chicago and L.A. And of course, his farbrengens here in the US - or at the least the descriptions thereof, make for very good reading material as well.

[I'd like to highlight some of the stories in the book in the next segment of the review. B'ezras hashem and if time allows for it. I hear that the book is selling very well, in all Jewish neighborhoods in NYC, and that makes the Tzig happy, seeing that Rubin's hard work is being rewarded by good sales.]

[Many of the books were that were written about the difficult times in Russia were written by the people involved. In this case Reb Avrohom had long since passed on, but most of his children are alive and well, so a very clear picture can be presented about their life in the USSR, as well as life in the Holy Land and in America.]

With Teimaner Kinder that he taught in Tomchei Tmimim in Lod

In his final years, receiving a dollar from the Rebbe

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Practical Belzer advice

Call me a panderer, but it seems like some of the best conversations here happen when they concern Belz, and that topic has also been discussed here at great length - why Belz makes for such fascinating discussion. I was actually gonna give this post some other title, especially since of you may deem the advice that the Belzer Rov, Reb Yisocher Dov, zt"l, gave a little too practical, especially since it seems to be not in accordance with Shulchan Aruch, shall we say? Two things here can be questioned by any mesivta kid here in any one of Monsey's fine institutions: 1) why he told him to daven late if he could daven early; is davening with the Rebbe שלא בזמן better than davening with an עולם of regular chassidim בזמן? It's not like he was gonna in the Lakewood or Mirrer Minyan in the shtetelle Belz... Then, if that wasn't enough, he tells him to eat before davening! How much can one man take? Of what purpose is a davening that you daven on a full stomach after the prescribed time?! Do they even daven to the same G-d, these people? Chassidim were often accused of believing in their Rabbeyim, even if what they did was not necessarily LeKatchilah according to the letter of the law. Of course Lubavitch gets the brunt of those "complaints." Is it fair to try and divert some of that criticism? The redeeming advice here - for those who need it - is where he tells him - the שנה ראשונה yungerman - to quit complaining so much, which shows you how despite it all the tzaddikim were concerned for the well-being of Yidden, spiritually and physically, and that telling a yungerman to daven with his minyan even if it's late is just as "sound" advice as telling him to look after his health.

On that note; I heard from a Yid whose father was in Budapest in 5704 and went to daven by the Belzer Rov, who davened very late, they started Shacharis in the afternoon. (!) There were thousands of people there waiting to daven with the Rov, and they were hungry, so they were served potatoes before davening. We can sit here and argue the difference between coffee, (שהכל) potatoes (האדמה) and the Lubavitcher chocolate chip cookies, if you'd like. Anything to make you people happy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Did we see this coming? Should we have seen it?

Egypt is on the brink. Mubarak may be out of there by the end of Sunday, and G-d knows who steps in. The Muslim Brotherhood seems like they have a good shot. Now I never claimed to be an expert in foreign affairs, but one thing I do know: That the Rebbe - the Lubavitcher Rebbe, זי"ע, - spoke countless times about how dangerous the Peace Process is, even with "friendly" regimes like Egypt and Jordan, secular regimes, that is. Now I know that every man, woman and child in Israel considers themself worthy of being PM in Israel, and I know that they think that they know better than a man in Brooklyn because of the last 30 years - where it's been quiet on the Egyptian border ever since the Camp Davis Accords, but I think some of the עיני העדה can see a bit further down the road. Without using too much of the Rebbe credentials, we can easily agree that the Rebbe knew his military strategy and history, and was as good a Sociologist as a 21 year old who graduated from TAU. Having said that; can we agree that giving all that land, the whole Sinai (as well as Gaza, that was Egyptian pre-1967) to Egypt in return for a promise that a new regime would use as אשר יצר פאפיר, is now a terrible idea?

Lebanon = Hizbullah

Gaza = Hamas

Egypt = Muslim Brotherhood

Is this what they asked for when they withdrew for all that territory?

(AP Photos)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A *star* we can all look up to!

Mark me down as one person who's not a fan of "A Jewish Star," the infamous competition that makes every kid and adult think he can sing - which is terrible in and of itself, until three guys in oversized chairs, two of which have no shaychus to neginah, tell them how awful they sound. I think the fact that this is what Lubavitchers and a "non-affiliated, unofficial" website which at the same time is pretty official as far as anybody is concerned, is doing and promoting is a disgrace. The idea that this is what's put on a pedestal for our kids is nothing short of an outrage. Call me intolerant and old-fashioned, see if I care. (and a party pooper too, if you so please.) I would not be surprised if they do a girl's version next year and tell those that have a problem with it "not to watch it..." This year Tzivos Hashem started a similar idea, where children submit videos and the video is then displayed on a certain unofficial Chabad website. I'm not sure what the winner gets, if there is a winner at all. "the power of the Jewish Child, they call it. Most kids submit videos of them singing some "Yeshiva Boys Choir" song that's been beaten to death, but what we have here is refreshingly different, and different in a good way, not the artsy way. I was skeptical about this TH competition, it seemed like more of the same, but what we just saw may be the redeeming factor, if only until the next kid does the standard YBC yelp.

Having said that - despite the fact that AJS is currently in full swing - I will stand up and cheer for Yisrolik Wilhelm - who happens to be my cousin - and tell all of you to do the same. Yisrolik bucked the trend in many ways here. For one, he didn't do the standard YBC tune, there's a lot to be said for that. Just for that he deserves our thanks. But then there's what he DID do, memorize, learn. In the old days it was expected for every bachur to memorize the first 12 perokim of Tanya Ba'al Peh, including the Shaar Blatt and the Hakdomoh, before his Bar Mitzveh. I'm not saying every kid actually did it, but it was expected. Nowadays we're happy if he knows the ma'amar. If he does a pshetel/pilpul in addition to that we're overjoyed. If he leins his parsha as well we're giddy with joy. Imagine the nachas that parents shep if their son learns the 12 perokim ba'al peh! Such is the nachas that Yisrolik's parents have. and we applaud the fact that he went and publicized it because he will influence others that are shayich to it to work hard and do it as well. If this competition was created only for Yisrolik to show the world (this is the world wide web, after all) that it CAN be done, and that the words of Tanya CAN be metaher the avir no matter where we go, DAYENU!

א גרויסן דיינק, ישראל'יק, זאלסט אויפוואקסן און זיין א חסיד, ירא שמים און א למדן

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More Jealous Rantings From Me

Leib Tropper Gets כבוד מלכים In Israel!

I'm jealous. You're right. I also would like to live the good life instead of doing what I do. That's why I try and put him down, that fine, eydeler Yid who brought so many Jews back to the fold while I ate potato chips. That's also why I put down the Belzer and the Bnei Teyreh. What's that, you ask? why did Satmar put down everybody else in their newspapers all those years - and still do? Were they also jealous? Did they see the success of the Agudists and were green with envy? no. Were they jealous of the fact that young men found the answers to their questions in Lubavitch? G-d, no! You don't seem to understand/ Jealousy is a one-way street. Only Lubavitchers are jealous. Everybody else attacks out of very pure intentions. Tropper also had very pure and noble intentions when he attacked other Rabbonim. Only Lubavitch is evil and corrupt. The only question that remains is: does LT think we're still that naive?

Monday, January 24, 2011

סאטמאר revising history, בעלזא on the warpath

First we were told that Toras HaBaal Shem Tov was forgotten. Not the derech, they said, just the Torah. So what we have now in our Chassidic world is - I'm supposed to believe - derech HaBaal Shem Tov. But why then was the davka the Torah forgotten? Why is it different than Toras HaMussar - or Torah in general that never was and never will be forgotten? Was only Chassidus Chabad forgotten, since it's too deep for our shallow heads? Now we're being told that there really was never TRUE opposition to Chassidus after all! Yes, the Gro may have opposed the davening late, or maybe all the drinking and dancing, but that was probably because of the Bittul Zman and Bittul Torah. And besides, we're against that too, so that's no chiddush. But there was no "Ches," despite the documents we've seen and all the history written about it. If you tell me that ווייסהויז made this stuff up then I guess we can go back to the drawing board... Also, I hear that the new book "The Rebbe" about the Satmar Rov has some cute attacks against the new Yeshivishe derech haLimud, (such as saying that it's very often "boych s'vores," and that's why they're so "into it.") which is interesting, since the book will be read primarily by those who subscribe to that derech...

then I received this via email: (with minimal additions by yours truly)

"The Belzer Rebbe and his mouth piece are on a full fledged war against Mevakshim that are not satisfied in Belz. As usual they're saying that it's a disease in many chassidesen that people look elsewhere. It's shocking the way things that used to be unofficial talk (and were discussed in private - "pnimi") are now officially discussed in the Zietungen. The "Hamevaser" covers this new jive with pages upon pages of coverage. Pinchas Friedman - the unofficial spokesman for the Belzer Rov - spoke about it at the jubilee of the hatzola of the Belzer Rov zt"l and his brother the Bilgorajer Rov (9 Shvat.) The Belzer Ruv first gave the pep talk with his childish observations with very little Torah, he creates a "kedushas Belz" that is hot air, He says things like "the Yoshvim were mafkir themselves, their families, and gave away their nefesh for Belz." What kind of a lie is that? They gave away their life for torah and kedusha that they believed they found in Belz, they were chasidim of the Belzer Rebbe that they believed is the Tzadik Hador, but this lie of the name "Belz!" it's all brainwashing the people so that they stick around with him and his son, a certified "nobody in all fields." He finished it off saying that we have to chazer that again and again; the whole year, we have strive and work for that, and ask Hashem for Kedushas Belz. He claims that the Belzer Derech is not a lot of going to the Mikvah, no Tehilim, no Fasting.

Pinchas Friedman claims as follows: after the Belzer kingdom was rebuilt after the war, the Yetzer Hora does not stop, he's not happy seeing that the great Belz has been rebuilt. He tries to confuse the people with thoughts that you are not respected enough in your current place, and all kind of thoughts and Nisyones about where he currently is, so that he thinks about other places. This is all so that the Yetzer Horah can destroy Belz. All that is atzas haYetzer, Friedman says. The Baal shem tov came on this world that people should be affiliated with a Kehila and a Chotzer. From my experience - he says - in education, I can say that I personally know people that left their Kehillos for other places and got confused, it is not only when the leave Belz it is also in other places too. It's interesting to note that Pinchas Friedman learned in Krasne Boro Park and left that structure to a new place called Belz, but he can't see other people leaving where they grew up to go elsewhere. Also how come all these 100's of Pupener Talmidim left Pupa for Belz; is this only a 1 way street? Are you only allowed to leave to Belz, but not FROM? why can't Kluger create a chabura and a kehila?

Sorry for my long rant, but I can not take this big farce that Belz has become."

See the Friedman interview Here

Sunday, January 23, 2011

הלוואי אויף אנדערע קרייזן געזאגט די "מחלוקת" וואס מיר האבן אין ליובאוויטש

,הרה"ג ר' עמרם בן הגאון הגדול ר' מנשה קליין שליט"א בעל משנה הלכות ביי די "מעמד ההכתרה" זונטאג נאכט אין 770. פון קראנטע מקורות ווייס איך אז מ'האט צו ר' עמרם'ן ליגנט געזאגט און מ'האט אים צוגעזאגט אז הרב אזדבא ווערט אויך דארט זיין און די הכתרה איז נישט שרוי במחלוקת. ר' עמרם, וועלכע פירט היינט צו טאג אהן די בית מדרש און ישיבה פון זיין טאטע'ן, איז אן אייניקל פון מיטעלער רבי'ן מצד זיין רביצין, און איז זייער נאנט צו חב"ד

Call it damage control if you wish - the fact that I'm writing this - but the fact that such a contested event went off without a peep from the opposition tells you alot about Lubavitch today. Nowhere else would people who are so opposed to an event sit idly by and watch it happen, while mumbling in their leftover chicken soup from Shabbos. The fact that is what people point to and call it "Machlokes," and tell us how Lubavitch is falling apart at the leadership level, is laughable. Or the fact that two groups of "Shomrim" are in court. Of course there are differences of opinion, and there are struggles for who should be at the leadership forefront, but to compare that to what happens elsewhere is wrong. Wrong, I say. In CH people who supposedly can't stand each other often daven in the same shuls, send their kids to the same schools and yeshivos and shop in the same stores. They're even meshadech with each other! I don't think I need to start bringing proof from what happened in other kreizen, how the cops were called on YomTov and the chilul yomtov and Hashem that ensued. Yet for some reason some of you see what you want to see, not what actually happens.

But that's not the point of this thread.

The whole machlokes within the CH Rabbinate is a head-scratcher. Nobody really knows what they're arguing about. Something about who's in charge of the hashgocha in CH, and then a simple מי בראש between the two Rabbonim. Child's play, really. No multi-million dollar lawsuits, they're not fighting about hundreds of millions of dollars in Real Estate. A few old retirees of Russian descent decided they don't like the Tzugekumener Amerikaner Osdoba and they started this whole non-fight. So while the machlokes over nothing did turn ugly, and it should not be condoned, I don't see why Lubavitch needs to be ashamed of it, or why people wring their hands all day saying how it's things like this that turn off the youth and make them go OTD. The only question is why people who have such disagreements DO stay together? Why DON'T they start new mosdos, another complete new Beis Din, new yeshivos, chadorim, schools, camps, seminaries, and so on? Why does that only happen if the "antis" are in charge, and then the Meshichisten are the ones to break away and open shop? Is it because only the Meshichisten are ideologues, does nobody else REALLY care what their kids are taught and by whom? Or is it all Ahavas Yisroel, we don't want machlokes so we live in conditions that are not prime? Maybe separate but equal would stand to benefit all of us in this case.... I'm just saying...

The letter that Reb Amrom Klein sent to Rav Osdoba, apologizing for attending the "hachtoroh"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Something to take your mind off Crown Heights.

Had a rough week. I have several unfinished posts waiting. Simply didn't have the time to write, not even to respond to many comments here that needed responses. We'll be back after Shabbos, IY"H. In the meantime here's a picture of HaRav Reb Shmuel Salant, Rov of Yerushalayim for what seemed like forever.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I've decided to go all out here in regards to CH Rabbonim election and the ensuing politics. From Day One, that is.

?ר' איד, וואס לאכט איר אזוי? אויף וועמענ'ס חשבון

?ר' עמרם? איר זענט אויך דא
איך בין דאך דארט אויפגעוואקסן, און איך ווייס ווי איר האלט .....

? איך גלייב נישט. וואס זוכט דער בורשטינער צדיק דארט? ער פלעגט דאווענען אלץ קינד ביי אים אין שול?

.....וולפא, דאס איז דער מכה בפטיש

הרב שוויי זיצט כשושנה בין החוכים

.....דער גרויסער פאטער , היינט שעפט ער שוין נחת פונעם זונ'דל


I'm not sure what brought this on now. Maybe it was the passing of Reb Moshe Morozov, who was once very actively involved in the whole process, before old age prevented him from continuing. Or maybe it was the fact that people ask me all kinds of questions and I figure that if they get their info elsewhere it might not be as good as if they get here. But I want it all here on the table, going back to ששת ימי בראשית. Why, after years of using Rav Osdoba for their agenda, they decided that he isn't good for them anymore, and especially why the Russians decided now that a young Hungarian is good for them and their agenda? I'd like your input, please. I know the answers, more or less, I just wanna hear ALL the details here. Years ago they needed Rav Marlow for their power struggle and they got him and used him, but what good is Braun for them now?

I started this thread on Thursday, when we weren't sure if there would be a Hachtoroh or not, but now that there was one last light, and they brought out anybody that RYYB had a shaychus with as a child until he joined Lubavitch, I'm even more intrigued. I look around at those in attendance and all I see is rabblerousers, troublemakers and those looking to destroy Lubavitch for personal reasons. And, of course, locals looking for a bite to eat and a way to pass the time. And some bachurim. And they too were sent to the coronation by the leadership of OT, which also is part of the troublemaking crowd, as was the MC, one of the first to make himself big by destroying what others built with their sweat and tears, and using the "Moshiach" issue to the appeal to the ass - , I mean masses. I don't usually discuss internal Lubavitch politics, but I'll do it, and may G-d forgive me, for I know not what I'm doing here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

!ס'קומט א גרויסער טאג, רבותי

און ווי אלע גרויסע טעג קומט עס נאר מיט הכנה. "אם בגפו יבא בגפו יצא," זאגט דער צאנזער רב זי"ע, אז מ'קומט ווי א גאפ, גייט מען אוועק ווי א גאפ. א גאפ, אויף די פוילישע שפראך, הייסט א באק, א בהמה, בקיצור. חסידים האבן קיינמאל נישט האלט געהאט א שוטה, און פארפאטשקען אזא טאג ווי יו"ד שבט איז נישט מער נישט ווייניגער א שטות אוים ונורא. מ'קען שעפן קאדקעס מיט עמערס פון תורה, יראת שמים, התקשרות להצדיק און כל טוב בגשמיות אין אזא הייליקן טאג,

לדעתי איז דאס בעסטע פלאץ אויף פארוויילן אזא טאג סמוך לציון רבינו הק', און דארטן וועל איך אי"ה זיין במשך דעם גאנצן שבת

א גוטן שבת

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Review: R' Avrohom Mayorer (Pt. I)

One of the few perks of maintaining this blog - other than interacting and meeting with so many fascinating people, of course - is that every once in a while somebody appreciates what you do, values your opinion, and wants to hear what you think about a certain subject/matter. If that weren't enough, an author or publisher will want you to read what he wrote and share it with the readers! Which is what happened here. We got the book so that we review it here on the blog. After several days of reading I finished, and can now share my humble opinion with you all.

For starters, Rubin did a very thorough job, going back several generations to find the roots of the Drizin family. Father, father's father, brothers, sisters, cousin, town Rov, and so on are all described in as much detail as possible, not much is often known. Mayore's Rov (which is why he was named Mayorer - from Mayore) was also an Oylimisher, as was the case in Chassidishe shtetlach all over Russia. Reb DovBer Pianko, HY"D was loved and respected by all, and considerable attention is given to the details of his death at the hands of the local goyim, who made him and example, as well as the mesiras nefesh - literally - that Reb Avrohom's uncle had to bring the Rov and a family member (I forget which) to kever yisroel. Even before getting to the story, much effort is made to credit absolutely anybody and everybody who helped make the book possible - from Zalman Alpert to parents and spouse, which tells you right off the bat that this work was one of thoroughness, and that what we have here is something that can be Oleh al shulchan melochim. I also think that the fact that the book was written by a rechter eynikel of Reb Avrohom makes it so much worthwhile; the love for the protagonist, the respect, even the longing for him, is evident in every page.

New York, 1950s. Reb Meir Itkin standing, left. Is that Zelig Levin sitting in the middle?!

I'll leave it for now and post this as part I, since I'd like to get this review going and not wait for the whole thing to be done before I post any of it. It makes it better for all parties involved.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

טאלנער רבי שליט"א זאגט אריין פאר חב"ד אין טאטענ'ס טאטען אריין

The Tolner Rebbe from Yerushalayim was a guest of the Los Angeles Community recenty and made many stops along the way. One of his stops was the Yeshiva Or Elchonon - Chabad in Los Angeles, under the leadership of the Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Reb Ezra Shochet, where he spoke - IN ENGLISH - to the bachurim there. The Tolner Rebbe is probably the greatest friend Lubavitch has amongst the Rebbes today. He learns the Rebbe's Torah and repeats it where ever he can. He also understands the makeup of today's Lubavitch and some of the problems associated with it, and when he speaks of those problems it's not to knock Lubavitch, but rather it's because he cares - he really does. If it was up to me this speech would be mandatory for every bachur and yungerman in Lubavitch today, and for the women as well. I think sometimes it needs to be said from the amud, without the distraction of the intoxicating beverage.

Listen Here

Monday, January 10, 2011

Today at the ציון הק' של רבינו זי"ע

דער מקובל, הרב ר' יצחק מאיר מורגנשטרן שליט"א, האט היינט מאנטאג אפגעשטעלט א באזוך, און האט מתפלל געווען און געליינט קוויטלאך, אויפ'ן ציון פון ליובאוויטשער רבי'ן זצוקללה"ה נבג"מ זי"ע. חסידים זאגן ער איז זיך געקומען אנווארעמען פון די גרויסע קעלט וועלכע הערשט די טעג אין די ניו יארקער אומגעגנט

Friday, January 7, 2011

שבת ג' שבט איז זלמן משה'ס יארצייט

ר' זלמן משה איז געווען מגדולי החסידים בדור הקודם און דער שווער פון ר' אברהם מאיארער. ער איז געווען א שוחט און אן עובד השם נפלא, פלעגט לערנען חסידות שעות ארוכות, דאווענען שעות ארוכות און שחט'ן אביסל אויף צום לעבן. ער האט געהאט א מסורה אז זיי שטאמען פון רש"י הקדוש און פון דארט איז די פאמיליע נאמען. רז"מ איז ארויס פון רוסלאנד אין די 30'ער יארן און איז אוועק אין כפר חב"ד אין תשי"ב
מיר וועלן בעז"ה בקרוב באשרייבן דער נייער ספר וואס ר' אברהם'ס אייניקל ר' משה יוסף רובין האט נישט לאנג צוריק ארויסגעגעבן

Thursday, January 6, 2011

a new trend, perhaps?

They placed a matzeivoh on the frishe kever of Reb Volf. In Chabad we're makpid to do so at the end of the shivah, no matter what time of year, and no matter if more people would attend at a later, more auspicious time. If you'll look closely you'll notice something at the very top of the stone; a line written in handwritten script, and different from the rest of the wording. What happened was as follows: When Reb Volf's Rebbetzin was niftar some 29 years ago he sent in a nusach for her matzeivoh, referencing himself as only "Reb Menachem Zev HaLevi." The Rebbe added the words you see written here, and added "if he will agree." Reb Volf, of course, of course agreed, and that's how her matzeivoh was engraved. Now, when Reb Volf was niftar, I believe they had a dilemma as to what to write for him, since he so refused to be addressed by such titles, yet the Rebbe wanted him to be addressed as such. So they came up with this very clever idea, with which they'd be mekayem divrei haMes and divrei HaRav shechayim VeKayomim Lo'Ad. I believe we'll see alot more of this in the future in Chabad. A gut feeling, that's all.

The nusach with the Rebbe's additions on the bottom.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

הלכות ת"ת treat

I must tell you I'm quite shocked by some of the responses here with regards to the Tzaddik of B'Kerestur. I never realized how great the machloh is today - the lack of emunas tzaddikim. And we're not talking about today's gutte yidden either, we're talking about people who weren't born with a silver sppon in their mouths, but made a name for themselves the hard way, by helping others and saving lives. I'm stunned at how some of the same people who supposedly stand up for "real Torah values" can so nonchalantly make such disparaging remarks that even a goy in his time - as well as twenty years later - would not make! Now, I'm not gonna stand here and tell you to take a minyan and ask mechilleh at his resting place; I'll leave that for you and your collective conscience to bear. Somehow we decided that greatness in Torah should be the only measuring stick to see whether or not there is tzidkus as well. I can bring you this: most of you - even the skeptics would agree about his d'veykus to the Eybershter, besides for that fool who compared to the TA"Y Rebbe. Interestingly enough, the Alter Rebbe, Rav Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav, says otherwise. In his opus primum, which was warmly approbated by the greats of his day, the Alter Rebbe brings proof from the Chassidim HoRishonim, who would spend some 9 hours a day thinking about G-d, and connecting to him ביראה ואהבה עזה ודביקות אמיתית, proving to us that not only was this not bittul torah, but this service of Hashem was greater than the study of Torah! Is that good enough for you all?!

Start from Halochoh Hey and on.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

אוצרות מהרשת

Harav Chaim Berlin, son of The Netziv, Rov of Moscow, and later in Yerushalayim. A hadras ponim for the ages, don't you think?

I guess one of the shortcomings of being famous - for any reason - is to have pictures you may not want the Oylem to see appear in the papers, and these days: online in seconds. You need the press when it's good for you, and you hate them when they show things you're uncomfortable with. Which is why people get VERY excited when they come across "good stuff," pictures of Rosheshives from days gone by, and of Rebbishe families way back when. It makes them feel good about themselves - here's this big Rosheshiveh or Rebbe, and look at him - or her... They also posed for family pictures. That goes tenfold where Lubavitch is concerned; Lubavitch deserves it because they stick their faces out there for all to see, or so I'm told, so they shouldn't complain when people research their history and publish "juicy" stuff! Ultimately what happens is that family members publish these pictures, much to the dismay of the rest of the family, whether in book form or on the internet, and we all benefit from it eventually.

Reb Boruch Epstein, author of the "Torah Temimoh" and of Mekor Boruch (aka "My Uncle the Netziv") He was the son of Reb Yechiel Michel, (the Aruch HaShulchan and Rov of Novardok,) and a נהנה מיגיע כפיו, working as a banker in Pinsk.

Wife and sons of Reb Itzikel Twersky of Skver-BP. Reb Itzikel was a son of Reb Mordche of Skver, who was a brother of Reb Yaakov Yosef of New Square. We discussed him at length. He passed away some 25 years before his uncle, who didn't live a very long time either... l-r we have Reb Duvid'l of Boro Park, Gedalia Aron and Reb Mottele from Flatbush. The Rebbetzin, Mirel Twersky, was the daughter of Reb Pinchas Rabinowitz of Manestritz.

Wife and kids of Reb Chaim Twersky of Tchernobel-Loyev, who passed away in exile, in 1943. Rechil Devorah was the daughter of Reb Shayelle Tchechoyver, youngest son of the Divrei Chaim, The Sanzer Rov, zt"l. The Tchernobler Rebbe of Bnei Beraq, Reb Meshulam Zishe is seen top right. He was a talmid of the underground Lubavitch Yeshivos in the USSR, and managed to escape in 1934, IIRC. The little boy is presumably a brother, Yechiel, who passed away a short time ago in his 90's.

Reb Meshulam Zushe in his later years

There's a lot more where this came from...

Layout Change

In the interest of expediency I've changed the settings so that only the last 10 posts (instead of the whole month) show up on the front page. That way the page loads much quicker. For all previous posts click on the archives in the sidebar and choose the month you want to see. Current month's posts - all of them - can be seen that way as well.

Monday, January 3, 2011

רוה"ק without Torah cannot be!!

We know about VeLo Am Ho'Oretz Chossid, but can a Tzaddik be a Tzaddik/Baal Mofes without being a Talmid Chochom? Surprisingly enough that seems to be the general concensus when it comes to Reb Shayelle, sadly enough, and that point is addressed in the book. They try hard to disspel it as a myth, and bring several stories to counter that opinion, saying that it was a chelek of his hiding his greatness in Torah and Avodah, and that from time to time he would remind people of his proficiency in Torah, just so that they remember... Despite that it seems like the general opinion did stem from the fact that he would read from Noam Elimelech during tishen, instead of saying divrei torah like some other Rebbes. During the poezer (recess) between Shacharis and Mussaf on Rosh Hashonoh, when other Rebbes would go to the Mikveh and learn Zohar etc. Reb Shayelle would cut cake and pour schnapps into cups so that hungry Jews would have what to eat... And believe it or not, but they say that his final - or at least one of his final - request(s) before he passed away was to tell his hoizgezint that they should prepare lots of food for all the people that will soon come to the levaya, so that they not go hungry... No wonder they say in the name of the Minchos Elozor that he said on Reb Shayelle that אויף בארשט און קארטאפל איז קיינער נישט קיין מתנגד.....

So when I said yesterday that the Petrushener Rov - a Pressburger Talmid - belittles Reb Shayelle's prowess in Torah I may have singled him out unfairly. We can infer the same opinion from the Munkacser Rov, and I see some of you heard the same thing from your antescedents. I'm very bothered by this, especially when it comes from friends, not "Misnagdim," because it perpetuates the myth that Chassidim can't and don't learn. After all, here we have this Rebbe of thousands of Chassidim, or at least admirers, who could see MiSof HaOlam VeAd Sofo, Kipshuto, who could send wild dogs to hold back a wagon of his Chossid and keep his Chossid out of harm's way, who could keep the Budapest express train from leaving until his Chossid got on that train , and he had difficulty with a "shtikkel tosfos?!" So עולמו של אבא seems to bavoren this question and says that the reason he was zoche to that level of ruach haKodesh was because he was nizhar in Cheyt Hayodua and because he gave away all his money while still a MaSHB"K in Liska. What also is baffling is that Reb Hershelle Lisker is the one that took him out of Yeshivah - after Reb Shayelle's mother sent him there to learn - and made him his MaSHBaK! His mother heard about it and wanted to take him home, but RHL convinced her that he'd lose nothing by becoming his Meshamesh, and she agreed. So did he remove him from Yeshivah because learning was not his "thing?" Can one be a Tzaddik without being well-versed in Torah?!

The Minchas Elozor of Munkacs in Marienbad (perhaps)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

העלפן אידן - ווי נאר מעגליך

The new sefer about the Tzaddik Reb Shayelle Kerestierer, zt"l

In the tradition of sharing with readers what I'm reading I bring you this. 600 pages of Mofsim, one after the other, sometimes 2 or 3 per page, and most of them from Kli Rishon or Kli Sheyni. We spoke a short while ago how his main object in life was to help the unfortunate Yid in any way possible - even if he was a Mechalel Shabbos, and that very much is the case, but what got me was the Mofsim, one after another after another, Baal Shem'ske mayses one after the other, for 50 years. And it's not just that; Every person I spoke to about it - it seems - has a personal moyfes that wasn't even published in the book! I myself heard from my father, ZG"Z, how he heard from his shver, my zeide, how my Bubbe's parents (his wife - my Bubbe's - parents) were once evicted from their home by a non-Jewish landlord. They were left homeless, out on the street, with nowhere to go. IIRC they lived in Nyirmada at the time, which is about 50 miles from BodrogKerestur, where Reb Shayelle lived. They traveled there and told the Tzaddik how they were evicted from their home for no good reason by the wicked landlord and are homeless, a family with children. Reb Shayelle told them to write down the Orel's name on a piece of paper, and he then proceeded to take that paper and burn it in a burning candle nearby. He then sent them home, saying that it was all OK now, they had no need to worry any further. Sure enough when they arrived home the landlord had left this world. And the zeide would always stress that this wasn't some old man who you could say could've died anyway - he was "a champion," big and strong.

And there are hundreds and thousands more of those - unpublished stories that are kept in families and passed down from generation to generation. On the way back from a wedding last week I shared my thoughts with another Yid of Hungarian descent. He responded with a story of his own - where his father's mother lost TEN children in various stages of pregnancy - before she traveled to Reb Shayelle and asked for his help. The Tzaddik gave her some Kotzko Tzikker - sugar cubes and told her keep it with her during the whole term, maybe to wear it like a Kimeya, I forget that detail now. She had four children after that, with this man's father the first of the four. I could be here all year writing about the mofsim, but you can save me from doing all that work by buying or borrowing (like I did) this sefer'l and reading how G-d name was sanctified by both Jew and, Lehavdil, Gentile thousands upon thousands of times over decades. Surprisingly enough, one of the marei mekomos that they bring is the famous עולמו של אבא, which I took out to look at what he writes and I was more then a bit disappointed at that Pressburger Talmid's take on Reb Shayelle, which is not really respectful - since he says that he wasn't known as Godol BaTorah, and all he basically did was prave mofsim and serve food to hungry Jews... which shows you that jealousy is a terrible thing, and that even Rabbonim can suffer from it.