Thursday, September 17, 2020

תקיעות ביים רבי'ן - Guest Post

The Rebbe's face is white on the bimah, in a sea of thousands in white and black. 770 is silent. It is so quiet that a paper cup falling from a table could be heard among the gathered seven thousand chasidim.

My brother Moishy pushes me closer so I have a clear view above the hats of Israelis standing on the bench in front of us. We are standing together on three milk boxes which we chained to the bench before yom tov.

There is a white light in the wordless room. The souls united creates a vacuum. All faces are glued to the Rebbe.

מן המיצר קראתי קה, the Rebbe's plaintive voice beseeching, in a low voice; a beckoning from son to father, from the vacuum to the light.

ענני במרחב קה, the Rebbe's voice is crying through the words, though all we hear are the words.

טוב טעם ודעת למדני, כי במצותיך האמניתי

The Rebbe's voice fills the room, but not a loud voice; koil demomoh dakoh, a still small voice. Others write about the exact intonation, or the exact way in which the Rebbe moved the handkerchiefs, but what I remember is the still holy voice and a room filed with the bright light of creation.

We were learning the maimorim about the world being recreated through the Shofar and now it was happening.

The sound of the shofar from the Rebbe was unlike any sound I ever heard. The pitch was low, each moment a cry from the universal soul. The sound was so low, you cannot imagine the silence required of the gathered 7000. But you could hear the still low wail of the Rebbe's shofar in every corner of 770.

 And all of us can hear it today, as I hear it now as I write these words.

Yet words will never capture it.

To have seen and beheld.


Monday, August 31, 2020

תכירו: "אמשינאוו-בארא פארק-בית שמש" רבי אויף א בליץ-באזוך אין דער פופצענטער עוועניו שטיבל

B'hemshech to our previous Amshinov-BP post; Here's what a devoted reader sent us from yesterday's kabbolas ponim at the 15th Avenue shtiebel. This Rebbe is a brother of the one who will fill his father's seat in Boro Park. His place is Beit Shemesh, where he recently hung out his shingle. Now he needs our help to help his fledgling mosdos, so he's come all the way to America.

At the time we wrote about his brother, the Sadigerrer Rebbe was still alive. Now, he's the first cousin via marriage of Reb Yitzchok Yehoshua Heschel of Sadiger (Bnei Brak), who is the son-in-law of Reb Osher Sternbuch, the Amshonover brothers' uncle. How is he their uncle? He's their mother's brother. Their maternal zeide, Rav Eliyohu Sternbuch of Antwerp, brother of Rav Moshe Sternbuch of Yerushalayimwas the son in law of the Sereter (Vizhnitz) Rebbe, aka Mekor Boruch, who passed away in 5724/1963.  

Rav Dovid Soloveitchik is married to their sister.

According to the above article, the young man has a bright future ahead of him. 

We wish him the best of success.

Seated second from right is the Amshinov-BP Rebbe from Beit Shemesh. 

Rav Osher Sternbuch, left, at the Sadiger wedding in Shvat, 5778.

חתונה של הרב אלי' שטרנבוך בשנת תשט"ז. מימין גיסו הגרמ"ד הלוי סולובייצ'יק שליט"א

הרב שטרנבוך בשנותיו האחרונות

Back to the kabbolas ponim...

Pouring some l'chaim for the BP-Alexander Rebbe.

Nice to see that Beis Vorka sticks together...


Monday, August 17, 2020

צר לי עליך אחי מש"י ....


So if we're to believe the Israeli frum websites and the Whats app chatter, the rumors were true. Son # 5, Yitzchok Yehoshua Heschel Friedman is the new Sadigerrer Rebbe of Bnei Brak. This at 23-24 years old and two years after his marriage to Ms. Sternbuch of Antwerp. Most of us did NOT see that coming. Those that folowed Sadiger at a distance were made to believe that when the time came it was to be his Rebbistive for the taking. The reyd on the street was that the Bostoner Rebbe from Boston hit the jackpot when he made the shidduch with Sadiger and that his son-in-law would naturally be the Rebbe of Sadiger when the time came. When we heard the rumors we could not believe that a father would do that to his son and basically embarrass him like that. But it was his choice to make by virtue of him being in charge for these seven and a half years.

But one of two things happened here: Either the ones that are "in charge" of the chassidus (huh?) told the Sadigerrer Rebbe that he cannot name his oldest son - Mordechai Sholom Yosef = מש"י  - as successor because then all that they've worked for all these years all these years will collapse. As one Sadigerrer I spoke to said: He made it into a brand name - מותג - and it would be in danger of crashing down. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know why his being Rebbe would do that. Or, maybe he takkeh isn't worthy of the position. The skeptic in me says it's likely reason number one. 

There seems to be plenty of resentment among the younger generation in Israel against the royal family - as crazy as that seems. This, from seeing the chatter on the interwebs. I mean, if you like the Rebbe and you're devoted to Sadiger don't resent his family because they're rich. They didn't take it from you, the money didn't come from high yeshiva tuition or forced מעמד געלט. They married rich and that's that. If you don't like it you can go to Boyan or Bohush. Chances are you'll be unhappy there too. 

Young Shia seems to be the only one who bucked the Sadiger trend and decided on his own to carve out his own little path. Even his younger brother pretty much toes the line. We usually like black sheep here at the Circus Tent, but maybe if he'd have become a Litvak or a Breslover. Stam to let your peyos hang out and try to look more generically Chassidish because you're always looking over your shoulder at the Rebbishe types with the white socks? Meh. But it seems like that's what the Sadigerrers want as well, judging from the chatter and the happenings today in Gutmacher Street. 

We like to look back at recent examples of such explicit tzava'ahs from Chassidishe Rebbes to NOT have their oldest sons replace them. Toldos Aron, for one, although there they were told to vote on it and take one of his children or איידעם. Maybe Reb Avrohom Yitzchok Cohen knew how that would turn out, so he decided not to hurt his son by NOT naming him. If the people vote on it then they shall have their way. Besides, Toldos Aron was also created by means of a vote after Reb Are'le Rot's passing, if I'm not mistaken. Even if it wasn't with an official ballot box they did vote with their feet there in 1946.  

Interestingly enough, it was a Lubavitcher with Rizhiner connections that reminded me of the fact that it was the Tzemach Tzedek that said that he wanted his YOUNGEST son, the Rebbe MaHaRaSH to take his place in Lubavitch. He was disappointed to think that the Rebbe of Sadiger's will may not become law there. Yes, Lubavitch wasn't to where most Chassidiei Chabad traveled after the Tzemach Tzedek;s histalkus in 5626, but in the end we see why it was davka the MahaRash that needed to take over. 

Back to MeSH"Y:

צר לי עליך is what came to mind when it seemingly was made public that it was Shia's for the taking and not מש"י. I was hurting for him when I heard this and decided to put keyboard to web page. Here he was told all his life and was made to understand by history that it was his position to lose - and then this ambush. Personally, if I was the one advising Shia I'd tell him to play hard to to get, to say that he was not doing this to his family - that he's not worthy. He'd get back on the plane to Antwerp and sit back in Kollel. Just like in Ger in 1948. This would work wonders and would make him even more appealing to the Sadigerrers. The rest of the Rebbishe branzshe would watch and be amazed by this strange phenomenon.

One chassidic observer said it best when he told me that people complain about Rebbes who don't leave clear tzava'ahs, but look at what happens when they DO!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Royal Court Once Again Mourns - כ"ק אדמו"ר רבי ישראל משה פרידמאן זצ"ל מסאדיגורא איננו!

It's been only seven years since he had assumed leadership in Teves of 5773/2013. To an outsider like me it seems like Sadiger, after a slow start in Bnei Brak, was finally picking up steam. The zeide Reb Mordechai Sholom Yosef had remained in Tel Aviv, at Rechov Pinkas 41, some say at the behest of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He had left Vienna after the anschluss and gone to Eretz Yisroel. In the 50's he came to New York. The old timers still remember his shtiebel on Crown Street.I once wrote how he was a literal melech in the old country but lost it all during the war. Thousands of chassidim all up in flames. He never really made it again.

The son Reb Avrohom Yakov (the 3rd) stayed in New York after his father left and ran the shul in Crown Heights. Later, he built Yeshivas Ruzhin/Sadiger in Bnei Brak, and moved his court there when his father passed away in 1979. So there were two Ruzhiner Yeshivos in EY, one Boyan and one Sadiger.

And now this. A terrible calamity for them and Klal Yisroel. Most of us were thinking that there was hope, that the treatments would help. That the tefillos would be answered!

And then this! כרעם ביום בהיר. 

The previous Sadigerrer Rebbe had been ill for some time. Parkinson's, it would seem. The untrained eye would say that maybe the Israeli oylem didn't really relate to him, but then again, this is Sadiger, and like Boyan, there doesn't really need to be a relationship. They have the bittul to their Rebbe and that's that. Those that don't have that Yerushalmi streak in them, anyway. Then, two years ago, the Rebbe fell ill. Since ascending to the mantle of leadership, he had won the hearts and minds of Jews the world over. His grace and mere presence filled the room; you couldn't help but notice it. 

He was a talmid of Kamenetz and Ponovizh, so the naysayers couldn't deny him, since he was a product of their yeshivos. For years he lived in London and lead the Sadigerrer shtiebel there, officially being a dayan in the Kedassia Beis Din, but I don't think he sat in on dinei Torah. Then, when his father passed, being the only son and successor in waiting, he came to Eretz Yisroel.

You might say that unlike his father he did veer a bit back toward the mainstream; whereas his late father was a fighter for the integrity of Eretz Yisroel, I searched but could not see that this was on his son's agenda. He was busy building his little vinkel and I guess could not be concerned with settlements and peace talks. OK. Sadiger seemed to have a bright future ahead of them. They had let some of the old bygones be bygones. Chaim Yitzchok Cohen was seen there again, so it looked they had made up. Meir Porush was a frequent guest as well. The shul was bright and beautiful and filled to the brim. 

A little known fact about him, is that his shver was his uncle as well. R' Chaim Moshe Feldman was his shver and his mother's brother. Feldman was the son-in-law of Getzel Berger, the big Satmarer gvir who made a killing after WW2 in bombed-out London. So there's a nice mix, but I would assume that the Rizhiner within was the strongest element.

Now the rumors begin. That the the tzava'ah wasn't read because it would cause too much strife and pain among the family and chassidim. I hope this isn't the case. What we don't need now is another 5 Sadigerrer Rebbes, not with 9 freshly minted new Sanzer Rebbes now in the pool. We should discuss that at some point.

.יהי זכרו ברוך


A search of the blog for the word Sadiger brings up a slew of good posts, if I may say so myself.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

ותחי רוח אמשינאוו ד'בארא פארק - finally getting around to finishing this

Amshinov in Boro Park - what? you never heard of it? It does exist, squeezed in between the big Bais Yaakov/Bobov45 building and the Korn's bakery trucks blocking 15th Avenue - has sprung to life again! This past Shabbos, Parshas Shelach in America, they had the largest crowd ever to pack in to the confines of shtiebel.

Here's how I see it, and correct me if I'm wrong. Some 30 years ago I once walked into the tish of Reb Itzikel of Amshinov, in his apartment above the shul. If there were 25 people there it would be an exaggeration. He said Torah for a few seconds and the oylem was content with that.

The next time I was there was 20 years later, for a family simcha. I have no recollection of the then-Amshinover Rebbe. He passed away a few months ago - a victim of coronavirus.

Reb Itzikel, son of Reb Yosef (d. 5696/1936), was a nephew of Reb Shime'le of Amshinov, who passed away on the 19th of Av, 5714/1954. Reb Shime'le's son Reb Meir went up to Eretz Yisroel with his father's aron and stayed there. He passed away in 1976. The Current Amshinover Rebbe in Bayit VeGan is a grandson of Reb Meir. His mother was a daughter of Reb Meir. Reb Chaim Milikovski, father of the Amshinover Rebbe, was a Mirrel Talmid who escaped to Shanghai, as did the Amshinover Rebbe. 

The Rest is history.  

The young Rebbe, Reb Menachem Kalish, a grandson of Rav Eliyahu Sternbuch of Antwerp, is also a Vizhnitzer eynikel. Rav Sternbuch was a son-in-law of Reb Boruch of Seret-Vizhnitz, later in Haifa. Those in the know foresee a great and bright future for the Amshinovers of Boro Park. The young Rebbe, a son-in-law of the previous Zutchker Rebbe of Bnei Brak, had been living in Eretz Yisroel, and even started his own independent chassidishe yeshiva last Elul, but is expected to relocate to Boro Park.

I did hear, from my Chabad sources, that the current Rebbe - while a talmid in Rachmistrivka Yeshiva in Yerushalayim - learned Chassidus Chabad with a Lubavitcher mashpia.

As it should be done.