Posts Tagged ‘Rabbonim’

How Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev Learned to Respect Nusach Ashkenaz -איך ר’ לוי יצחק מברדיטשוב למד להחשיב נוסח אשכנז

June 30, 2016

In various sources, an interesting story regarding the famed Chasidic leader R. Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev is related, related to nusach hatefilloh, along the following lines.

Some years after the petira of the famed Rav Zvi Hirsch (Horowitz) of Czortkov, Reb Levi Yitzchok spent a Shabbos there and prayed in the Shul where R. Zvi Hirsch used to daven. The shul’s minhog was to daven nusach Ashkenaz, as R. Zvi Hirsch did. Reb Levi Yitzchok nevertheless led the prayers in nusach Sfard, as was his wont. All of a sudden, he fell deeply asleep, and dreamed that Rav Zvi Hirsch was standing over him, rebuking him in a vein of ‘How did you dare change the local accepted nusach after I worked so hard to make a path to heaven for the tefillos thus said’?

Upon this scathing rebuke, Reb Levi Yitzchok ceased leading the prayers in nusach Sfard.

The story can be seen in English in the book “Mamma Used to Say: Pearls of Wisdom from the World of Yiddish“, on page eighty seven (at times it can be seen online in the book preview via the attached link).

It can also be seen in Hebrew here (top of page twenty eight).

Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev is one of the best known and loved Chasidic leaders of all time, a legendary and iconic figure. So this story is a מעשה רב, a story of a leader that is to be looked to for guidance by his followers. וממנו ילמדו אחרים וכן יעשו אי”ה, אכי”ר.

To our dear friends and supporters, א גוטען זומער!


Memories of Seder Night With Rav Shimon Schwab zt”l – זכרונות מליל הסדר עם רב שמעון שוואב זצ”ל

April 21, 2016

In an engaging and entertaining presentation last year, R. Yosef Chaim Schwab shlit”a, shared various tidbits from, להבחל”ח, his father Rav Shimon Schwab זצ”ל on Pesach seder night, with various other, related, interesting pieces thrown in for good measure.

Following are some nuggets from the talk (some of you may already be familiar with them, but for those who aren’t, as well as those who might enjoy a chazara, and additional details, we share it). Times in the recording are approximate.

There is a mitzvoh of והגדת לבנך (you should relate to your son about the Exodus) –  in America they changed it to והגדת לאביך (the child tells it to his father). The meaning of the Biblical הגדה is like a monologue, as opposed to a dialogue.

Why is there no ברכה of shehechiyanu recited on biur chametz? Answer given – it is not recited when something is destroyed.

Why is a kittel worn at the seder? (40:00)

Ma nishtana – why is the term rather not למה נשתנה instead, as typically used for questions?

Why is there no ma nishtana on other Yomim tovim, which have unique practices as well?

What Rav Schwab zt”l asked his son after he visited the zoo with his children (about zebra stripes) (18:30).

Why is there no ברכה of בא”י אמ”ה שעשה ניסים לאבותנו בימים ההם בזמן הזה on Pesach? That is what hagada is, as stated re why there is no הלל on Purim (one explanation given), because the megillah reading takes that role.

Why do some people dip four times during the seder, e.g. adding dipping the Koreich sandwich in charoses, as well as matza in salt, when in the מה נשתנה it says that we dip twice? Rav Schwab, and other respected authorities advocated strictly dipping two times only, so he felt should be done to be true to the הגדה and honest.

מעשה ברבי אליעזר, ורבי יהושע, ורבי אלעזר בן עזריה, ורבי עקיבא, ורבי  טרפון, וכו  – Why are these five in Bnei Brak singled out? There were many others doing so, having sedorim, were there not? These were descendants of groups that were not subjugated in mitzrayim, being e.g. Leviim, or in the case of Rabbi Akiva, a ben Gerim.

Meaning of the expression חוטפין את המצות – get to matzos/afikoman quickly – you can be מאריך later 22:35 app. The famous Rishon known as “The Mordechai” says that in olden days they ate first, and then said the הגדה, so the children would be around for the eating. Not to  be overly lengthy in saying the haggodoh before the meal(22:35.

Rav Schwab was opposed to the idea of (even) children (even) playfully “stealing” the afikoman (see here for more on that). That term should be avoided.

A vort from R. Shimon Schwab’s father about צפון (tzafun) (26:50).

Numerological  discussion re the numbers four, seven, and others.

The connection of modern human rights doctrine to יציאת מצרים.

R. Shimon Schwab’s father, החבר ר’ יהודה שוואב ז”ל, asked his five sons  (dubbed by some חמשה חומשי תורה) which one of four types of sons of the הגדה do you want to be? Four gave the same answer, but one son, the later ר’ מרדכי שוואב, differed. Hear why (44:55).

He (R. Shimon’s father) also said to them, I want you to know boys, I love you very much, but if you go against the Torah, I don’t want to know you (quite different from the “unconditional love” doctrine advocated by some educators today) (45:50).

חג כשר ושמח

Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer zt”l Film: The Man and His Life – סרט על חיי הרב לוי יוסף ברייער זצ”ל ופעליו

January 2, 2016

Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer zt”l: A Loving Tribute RDJB

Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer zt”l: A Loving Tribute 

A fine professional film on the life of Rav Breuer and his famous kehillah in NY, prepared for a YRSRH dinner years ago, with historical footage, alongside reminiscences of family, talmidim, kehillah members, and prominent personalities.

Learn the story of the man behind “Breuer’s”.

Plain Speaking Profundity: Rav Shimon Schwab Speaks – עמקות בפשטות: רב שמעון שוואב זצ”ל דובר

December 23, 2015

A public spirited יהודי has just made available for viewing a valuable historic collection of several video clips of Rav Shimon Schwab zt”l, famed Rav of KAJ WH, and author of various renowned ספרים.

The recording consists of the following:

1) It opens with some brief, quiet clips of Rav Schwab and Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer zt”l, senior Rav and meyaseid of KAJ WH. From the 5730’s/1970’s I would guess (approximately two and a half minutes).

2) Following that quiet segment, a segment from the yovel (50th) anniversary commemoration of KAJ WH is featured. That was in approximately 5750/1990. One can see in attendance there prominent personalities of the present Torah world, שליט”א, such as R. Avrohom Ausband,  Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe Riverdale (Rav Schwab zt”l learned in Telshe in his youth), and R. Yaakov Perlow (aka Novominsker Rebbe), who served for years as a marbitz Torah with KAJ WH. Rav Schwab expounds upon the meaning of the words יובל and דרור, as stated in the Torah with regard to such a jubilee and shares appropriate Torah השקפה for the occasion. The shofar is blown as well (thirteen minutes approximately).

3) That is followed by a segment from the installation of Rav Zechariah Gelley שליט”א (he should have a רפואה שלמה במהרה בתוך שאר חולי ישראל), which I guess is from the early 5750’s/1990’s (nine minutes approximately).

It is in turn followed by video messages from Rav Schwab

4) on the occasion of the simcha of the wedding of Rav Gelley’s son (six minutes approximately),

and, concluding,

5) to a dinner of the KAJ branch in Monsey, where he expounds upon the future of the kehillah based on the words in Bereishis of ועתה הייתי לשני מחנות (six and half minutes approximately).

We are indebted to the one who has shared this great material with us, and hopefully we will be zoche to see more such treasures in the future.

In these video clips we see Rav Schwab’s combination of profundity with deceptive simplicity and straightforwardness.

I would propose to say that that might  describe his מהלך החיים, way of life, in general, not just his דרך הלימוד, and way of speaking, and that that is also a מורשת אשכנז, a way of great gedolim of אשכנז.

יהי זכרו ברוך – זכרונו לברכה לחיי העולם הבא

New Issue of Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz Annual, Yerushoseinu 5772, Released – ירושתנו התשע”ב, ספר שנה של מכון מורשת אשכנז, יצא לאור

June 8, 2012

A new issue of the מכון מורשת אשכנז annual, ירושתנו, has recently been published.

As usual, it contains many interesting pieces, from a wide range of contributors. The English section contains an excellent, extensive (over seventy pages) article on  מורנו הרב לוי יוסף ברייער זצ”ל, Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer z”l, of Frankfurt and ק”ק קהל עדת ישורון, KAJ, of Washington Heights, by Rabbi Yaakov Lorch. The article is of great interest not only re the immediate subject, but also re his renowned ancestors, family members, kehilloh, etc. It is over seventy pages, and includes relevant photos, which most readers likely have not seen before.

All in all, highly recommended reading.

More info on this new Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz gem can be seen here. Many pages, from both the Hebrew and English sections, including the table of contents, are online for your sampling pleasure, and can be seen there as well.

יישר כחכם to all who labored to make the new work available.

א גוטען שבת

Is it proper for a Rav to leave his kehillah during a time of danger (e.g. wartime ר”ל)? A historical perspective from the חתם סופר and נודע ביהודה

March 22, 2011

In recent times, especially in the wake of Churban Europe in the WWII period, a hotly debated topic has been whether it is proper for a leader, esp. a spiritual leader such as a Rav or Rebbe, to leave his kehillah in time of danger.

Interesting historical perspective can be gleaned from what I recently read in הישיבה הרמה בפיורדא, חלק ב.

In the chapter on Rav Chaim Zvi Hirsch Berlin, it is related (p.83)  that during the Napoleonic wars, when he was Rav and Rosh Yeshiva in מגנצא (Mainz), the heads of the Mainz kehillah, in concern for his safety, spirited him away to Frankfurt.

רבש”ה then cites the words of the חתם סופר discussing this question (bottom of right column in Chasam Sofer).

The Chasam Sofer says that he he heard that when Prague was under siege some sixty years earlier, the Noda biYehudah (NBY), R. Yechezkel Landau, wanted to escape, but the leaders did not allow him to do so. He continues, that  the NBY’s wanting to leave was understandable, as we know that one should not stay in a place of danger (סכנה), so that ones זכויות not be diminished (at least, if not for other reason as well). The leaders not allowing him to leave is also understandable, as they wanted their shield (the great Rav and tzaddik) with them, and so it is fitting for a leader of Yisroel, to give himself for his nation….and not leave them in danger and save himself alone.

However, he continues, many dispute this, as when Mainz was besieged a number of years ago, they sent their Rav, the Gaon Rav Chaim Harsch זצ”ל to Frankfurt, and so did the leaders of Koblenz with their Rav….as Frankfurt sent my teacher the הפלאה…(elsewhere)….as even (after being moved for safety) elsewhere (these great leaders) could daven for the kehillah and protect them as possible…so why do they need to suffer….So what emerges from this, is that there is a machlokes between the leaders of the kehillah of Prague and the other kehillos mentioned.

Interestingly, רבש”ה in the footnotes states that a friend of his brought to his attention the words of the son of the NBY (toward the bottom of the right column, ד”ה רחב לבב), who wrote that in 5517 (1756 or 1757 7 C.E.), when the city was in danger, the NBY, in contrast with many of the notables, did not leave his flock, not exactly what it reported above. As an aside, it is not clear (at least to me) if both accounts are describing the same situation, or if they pertain to different episodes.

Anyway, it seems that the חתם סופר comes down on the side of the מנהיג staying with the ציבור. However, it is not phrased as absolutely unequivocal halachic pesak, rather he uses terminology such as ראוי and נראה יותר הגון. One should also keep in mind that it appears in דרשות חת”ס and not שו”ת חת”ס.

Anyway, since no two situations are exactly the same, perhaps each case needs a separate pesak.

והשי”ת ירחם עלנו ויגן עלנו ממקרים כאלו, אכי”ר

Vying for a famous Rav – Metz and Feurth seek Rav Yonason Eibeschutz

March 14, 2011

An interesting account is brought in the beginning of הישיבה הרמה בפיורדא, חלק ב, pages 11-17, about an aborted effort to bring the famed Rav Yonason Eibeschutz to be Rav (and Rosh Yeshiva) in Feurth.

In ניסן of 5508 (1748 C.E.), elections were held for the Fuerth Rabbinate. Six candidates split one hundred and eight votes of a special committee chosen to elect a new Rav. R. Yonason Eibeschutz won the election with thirty two votes. At that time, he was serving as Rav of Metz.

However, the community of Metz didn’t want to let R. Yonason go, and they reminded him that according to the conditions he accepted upon himself when coming to Metz, he could not leave the kehillah for twelve years, unless he would pay a monetary penalty of 6,000 francs, a giant sum. They insisted upon this provision and thereby prevented R. Yonason from leaving them.

I have come across in the past other stories of Rabbonim preparing to leave kehillos and move on to new positions in days of yore, while the kehillos tried to prevent them from leaving. I was under the impression that usually the efforts to prevent such moves did not succeed.  In this case, however, they did.

My recollection of the other cases where such efforts failed was along the lines of ‘the Rav left town in the middle of the night to move to his new position’. I had the impression that the efforts to keep the Rav were along the lines of physically preventing the coaches from pulling away with him. In this case however, the means to prevent the departure were financial and legal. Perhaps that is why they had more success?

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