Monday, May 23, 2016


Why is Lag Ba'Omer called Rav Shimon's Hilula? What does Hilula mean? (Source:
Va'amartem Ko LeChai).
The holy Zohar (III 296b) calls the passing of Rashbi a Hilula and tells us:
During the levaya for Rashbi, his bier flew through the air and a pillar of fire
moved before it. This is how he entered the burial cave. Suddenly, all
present at the
funeral heard a heavenly voice proclaim, "Enter, come together, gather
for the Hilula of
Rav Shimon."
What does Hilula mean?
A few possibilities include:
Hallel – praise: we tell stories of praise about Rashbi, his good
deeds, miracles and
Simcha – the simcha of Chosson and Kalla is called by Chazal a
Hilula, alluding to the
yichud, the supernal unification that Rashbi performed above and below;
Ohr – light, as in the pasuk (Yeshaya 14:12): Heilel ben Shachar,
which Rashi explains
as "The planet Venus that shines like the morning star."
Yahrzeit – The Ramak says that every Tzaddik's day of petira or
yahrzeit is known as a
Hillula: "When the soul of the Tzaddik ascends on high on the day of
his passing, his
soul unites with the Holy One and the Shechina. On this day, all the Torah and
mitzvos that he studied and performed and engaged in during his lifetime all
awaken and shine forth their light and a great yichud (spiritual
unification) occurs
on high.
Rav Aharon of Karlin wrote in Beis Aharon that "Just as HaKadosh
Baruch Hu is for everyone, so too is Rashbi for everyone even for the
The Nesivos Shalom explains this to mean that a great tzadik is so
great that he not only loves the righteous Jews but he even finds
something beloved and precious even in the lowliest wicked Jew as
well. This is the level of Moshiach who will be able to love even the
most wicked as much as the greatest tzadik! He uses this to explain
the story of Rashbi in the Gemarra Shabbos when Rashbi exited the
cavern to where he had been exiled, he observed people working in the
fields and he exclaimed in wonder, "How can they leave behind the
eternal reward of Torah study for this world and its temporary
business?!" His eyes burned wherever he gazed and a heavenly voice
proclaimed, "I didn't let you out of the cave to destroy my world!"
They went back in for a year saying, 'The judgment of the wicked in
Gehinom is a 12 month sentence.'" Asks the Slonimer rebbe in Nesivos
Sholom, "why did the judge themselves as wicked and sentence
themselves to twelve months again in the cave?" He answers that their
lack of ability to love those people who were simple, lowly and worked
the fields in this temporal world as opposed to being occupied in
Torah study, that was their lack and this is why the judged themselves
wicked and re-entered the cave to atone for and rectify this failing.
When he emerged Rashbi was the epitome of the tzadik yesod olam – a
righteous foundation of the world and that is why his great awesome
light was revealed and shines on Lag BaOmer which falls out on the
sefirah of Hod she'be'Hod – the sefirah which is the lowest and most
deepest form of harsh din and judgment. For his light and love shines
down below to even the lowest and deepest depths to love every Jew,
even the wicked, and to find within even the lowest place light and
Regarding such a love and such an ability my Rebbe, the Clevelander
rebbe shlita once told me the following tale: There was once an
informant, whose terrible ways constantly plagued the Jews. The
tzadikim and Chassidim gathered to put an end to him once and for all
and to excommunicate him and sentence him to death for he was a rodef!
They approached the talmid of the Baal Shem Tov, Rav Zeev Wolf Kitzes
to complete their quorum, and join their minyan, however to their
astonishment he refused! He explained himself and said, "One day in
the future the righteous Moshiach will finally arrive! He will conquer
the lands and the hearts of many. All the nations shall rush to greet
him and subjugate themselves before his reign and his might, and all
the exiles shall return. As word of his dominion spreads Jews will
flock to him from far and wide all kinds of Jews all . . .except one!
There will be one black hearted, dark obstinate fellow who will remain
in the exile scoffing to the final day. Then the nations shall send
emissaries and dignitaries bearing gifts and offerings. Gold, Silver,
precious stones and treasures, yet Moshiach will scoff at them all.
Then the Jews will also wish to bestow upon him a gift, but seeing how
he despises ordinary wealth, they will search far and wide to bring
Moshiach the most precious gift, that of a Yiddishe Neshomo – a Jewish
soul ! They will search and scour the entire exile and find none,
everyone has come, everyone except for. . .one miserable soul. They
will locate him and bind and gag him and carry him kicking and
screaming, flailing all the way to Jerusalem! There they will bring
the king moshiach the most precious gift, a Jewish soul which is
unblemished and untarnished and he will remake and reforge him anew
into a Baal Teshuva. Be it known that it is revealed to me from on
high that that precious soul resides in your informant and moser, now
I ask you. Tell me the truth are you really willing to annihilate this
most precious soul, the gift of the Moshiach of whom it says "VaYovilu
Shay LaMoreh – they shall carry and bring a gift to the master?"
When the Rebbe Reb Baruch of Mezibuz would study the holy Zohar he
would begin with the Shaar Blatt – the title page and he would explain
it as follows:
Ze HaSefer HaZohar SheChiber HaTanna Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai – lit.
this is the Sefer HaZohar authored by the Tanna Rabbi Shimon Bar
Yochai. Rav Baruch explained this:
Ze HaSefer – Dos iz a sapir – this is a brilliant sapphire!, HaZohar –
vos er laycht in alle olomas – whose splendor illuminates all of the
worlds! Asher chiber – vos iz mechaber idishe hertzer tzum Tatten in
Hilim – which attaches and binds Jewish hearts to their Father in
Heaven! Tanna – er lernt iz az se'iz du a bashefer oif der vellt – he
teaches us that there is a Creator in the world! Mihu Zeh? He asked
himself rhetorically, who is this? and answered zehu – this is Rabbi
Shimon Bar Yochai may his merit shield us! (Otzar Yisroel 118)
The holy Rizhiner was plagued by an informant, a rodef and a moser,
who constantly chased after the tzadik. He used to mock him and jest,
why doesn't the holy rebbe just punish me and condemn me to die?! The
holy Rizhiner heard this and turned to his Chassidim and said, "When
Rashbi left the cave to which he was exiled and he saw the informant
Yehuda ben Gerim he said, Is he still around? He gazed upon him and
turned him into a heap of bones!" Isn't it a wonder that Rashbi was so
angry and upset at him that he would do that?! Rather Rashbi said when
he saw him, "Is this man still around?" he was asking himself a
question, perhaps he is still around because I have not yet succeeded
in rectifying all that I need to in myself. So the Talmud says he
gazed upon him – this means Rashbi gazed intently upon himself and
began to reckon through cheshbon henefesh regarding his own spiritual
standing, as he did this Yehuda ben Gerim was transformed into a pile
of bones [proving that Rashbi had now sufficiently rectified himself
and this wicked informant had no longer any reason to be here alive].
Thus, concluded the Rizhiner so long as this wicked informant is still
around it must mean that I have not rectified myself completely yet,
how will it help if I punish him and cause him to leave this world?
Another person will come to take his place, only when I rectify myself
then he will have no place here either! (Be'eros HaMayim Be'er Sheva
p60 )
Once the holy Rizhiner asked a visitor who had been Lag BaOmer in
Meron to describe the event. The chassid described how Lag BaOmer is
observed in Meron at the kever of Rashbi and he explained the way it
felt using the comparison that the great emotions inside where similar
to Yom Kippur whereas outside it felt like Simchas Torah!
This is no contradiction, for the awakening is the same awakening,
both are awakenings from Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai! Except inside it is
felt and experienced one way and outside a different way. The simcha
in Meron is also nisht kayn pashuta simcha - not a simple mundane
happiness or joy, rather it is a supernal holy joy – a hecher simcha!
(Imros Tehoros 49)
Rav Dovid Biderman of Lelov once told how on one of his visits to
Meron on Lag BaOmer he stayed in Tzefas and walked on foot to Meron.
As he travelled he passed an older woman who was also on her way to
Meron and she was very old and fragile and accompanied by a Jew
dressed in the manner of the Sefardim. They went very very slowly, as
the path to Meron is uphill and rises higher and higher. When she
finally reached the entrance to the burial cave she sat down and began
to weep, and she cried out in Hebrew with a Sefardic accent, "Rabbi
Shimon, Shechinta BeGaluta! – the Divine Presence the Shechina is in
exile!" Afterwards she asked a petition and requested some prayer in
Arabic that Hashem should have mercy and redeem and gather in all the
exiles she then kissed the Tzion turned any made her way slowly back
to Tzefas! Rav Dovid lelover was so moved by her simple pure faith
that he declared, Epes Mit Aza Temimus Tzigegangen – She came all this
long way with such faith and she prayed her prayer! (Imros Tehoros 49)
Reb Motel Avritsher (a descendant of the Bas Ayin) once told how one
Lag BaOmer in Meron he watched a Sefardic Jew who was present at the
hadlaka – the bonfire lit in honor of the holy Tanna Rabbi Shimon Bar
Yochai. This Jew was so moved and excited that his pure heart was
aflame and he shouted out, Och Yah Rabbi Shimon! And so saying he
tossed his cloak into the flames to be consumed and burn in honor of
the Tanna. This did not calm him and he called out again louder Och
Yah Rabbi Shimon! And proceeded to toss into the bon fire another
article of clothing! He continued to do so, until he was left standing
in his Tallis Kattan and his breeches, at this point he began
ecstatically dancing aflame with delight and awe, moved to emotive
expression he danced and sang with such passion and fire that it
seemed that if he could have he would have thrown himself into the
bonfire in honor of Rashbi! (MiZekenim Esbonan I 102)
One day as Rashbi left his home he observed that the world appeared
dark and menacing like a great cloud had covered the land and blocked
the light of day. Rashbi turned to his son rabbi Elazar and said, this
is no chance occurrence, obviously Hashem wishes to do something, let
us see what He has planned to do in the world?! Rashbi and his son
exited the city limits and before them stood a terrible angel, as tall
as a mountain and from his mouth poured forth thirty tongues of flame!
Rashbi asked the angel, what are you planning to do? "I am about to
destroy the world because there aren't thirty tzadikim to be found, to
safeguard the world," answered the angel. "Go and tell my Creator that
Bar Yochai is here in the world and that he is comparable to thirty
tzadikim!" The angel went before the throne of glory and delivered
Rashbi's message. Hashem answered the angel, "go and destroy the world
and do not pay any attention to Bar Yochai!" The angel returned to
destroy the world again, once more Rashbi saw him and commanded him,
"If you do not return again to deliver a message I will send you to
descend down below to the depths from which you shall not arise to the
place of the fallen ages who were cast down from Hashem!" Rashbi
continued his message and said: "Tell Hashem that if there aren't
thirty tzadikim, twenty are enough as it says in the story of Avraham
and Sodom and Amora, and if twenty are no enough then ten suffice as
it says there and if there aren't ten tzadikim found then two should
be enough as it says, that two witnesses cangive testimony, and if you
cannot find two then there is at least one and I am that one as it
says Tzadik Yesod lam - a tzadik is the foundation of the world!"At
that moment a heavenly voice rang out and proclaimed, "Happy and
Praiseworthy is your portion Rabbi Shimon, for Hashem decrees and you
cancel and abolish it, regarding you it is said, "Ratzon Yerayav
Yaaseh – Hashem fulfills the will of those who fear Him." (Zohar
Bereishis 33a)
Once Rashbi arrived in Lod and there was a plague there, he witnessed
many stricken dying and he remarked, "All this is happening here now
while I am here present in town?! I command this decree be abolished!"
A heavenly voice rang out and proclaimed, "Mazikim – evil forces and
damage depart from this city immediately because Rabbi Shimon Bar
Yochai is in town, even though Hashem has decreed Rashbi has abolished
it." Immediately the plague ceased. Rabbi Chanina was impressed at the
greatness and stature of Rashbi and he went and told Rabbi Meir of
this. Rabbi Meir replied "Who can praise and compare to Rashbi? Even
Moshe Rabbeinu who sent Aharon with the incense to stop the plague
during Korach's rebellion, still Moshe had to have Aharon act, yet
Rashbi abolished the decree and stopped the plague by the power of
speech alone!" (Zohar Chadash Rus 103a)
In Tzidon there was a couple who lived together for over ten years,
they loved one another dearly but they had no children. They came
before Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and asked him to help them divorce
through a Get. I have just one request please do not refuse me, said
the tzadik, just as when you were united in marriage there was a
feast, please eat, drink and make a banquet now that you wish to go
your separate ways. The couple fulfilled the tzadik's request and they
held a large festive banquet and invited friends and scholars. As the
tables lay laden with food and drink and in the midst of the
merriment, when the husband's heart was glad with wine he turned to
his wife and remarked, "see all my goodness and wealth is here before
you, please choose any precious object here and take it with you back
to your father's house!" She was greatly moved by his words, and when
she observed that he had been plied with much wine and had grown
drowsy and fallen asleep she asked the servants to carry him and place
him in a bed at her father's home. When the husband awoke from his
deep slumber he gazed about and discovered that he was in a strange
bed and not at home. He turned and saw his wife sitting beside him and
asked her where he was. When she replied that he was in her father's
home he asked why she had done this? I was told that I could take any
precious object home with me, and so I found nothing more precious
than you and so I took you home! The couple came back and stood before
Rashbi and told him the entire tale. When he heard this and saw their
love for one another he stood up and prayed on their behalf for mercy
and they were blessed with children. (Midrash Shir HaShirim Rabba)
BonFires and Bows and Arrows
We will discuss two more customs for Lag BaOmer, Bonfires and Archery
with Bows and Arrows.

Rav Avraham Yaakov of Sadigura once said regarding the hadlaka of the
Lag BaOmer bonfire that "tens of thousands of souls are rectified and
receive their tikkun through the hadlaka of the bonfire lit for the
honor and glory of Rashbi!"

The custom to light bonfires in honor of Hillula DeRashbi on Lag
BaOmer is very old. The great light and splendor of the secrets of
Torah were revealed on this day and so a great fiery light is kindled.
The bonfires were sold often to the highest bidder and the honor to
light them given to the holiest rabbis and tzadikim. At one point the
holy Rav Yisroel of Ruzhin purchased this honor and right for himself
and his descendants for all generations till the coming of Moshiach
and till this day his descendant, the current Boyaner Rebbe Shilta
lights the bonfire.

The custom to perform archery with a bow and arrow on Lag baOmer is
found amongst the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov and they brought it
with them to Eretz Yisroel. Some reasons for this custom include the
Yerushalmi Berachos 65a where rav Chizkiya declared in the name of Rav
Yirmiyah that during Rashbi's lifetime, the rainbow, was not seen at
all. (In Parashas Noach Hashem says that the rainbow is a symbol that
Hashem refrains from destroying the world again as He did with the
floodwaters of Noach because of the bris He made.) The generation of
Rashbi as cited by Rashi in Noach, was righteous enough to not need
the rainbow as a reminder or sign of this bris.

The Bnei Yissaschar cites Rav Menachem Mendel of Rymanov to explain
the connection between the rainbow and the bow and arrow (Bnei
Yissaschar lag ba'omer 3:4) "The custom of the yeshiva students and
disciples of the rabbis is to shoot a bow and arrow on this day
because in Rashbi's generation the rainbow as never seen, and
therefore on the day he asceneded on high we remind ourselves of this
fact in this manner."

Rav Moshe Yechiel Elimelech of Levertov notes that the gematria value
of HaKeshes = Raban Shimon Ben Yochai.
The Magen Avraham of Trisk notes that "Lag baOmer = gematria of Moshe
and baOmer = 312 which is Shin Yud Beis, the acronym of Shimon bar
Yochai. This teaches us the two forms of Torah, Moshe's Torah, the
simple meaning of the text and the hidden esoteric secrets of rashbi's
Torah are both needed. Each one is a feature of LAG baOmer, and LAG is
the same letters as GAL, GALGAL means a wheel, half of a wheel is the
cresecent shape of the bow. When the bows are joined and both the
hidden and revealed Torahs are merged their union is like the archer's
bow, the primary weapon of war which we need to use to combat the
Yetzer Hara and wage war against him. The only way to truly due
teshuva is win the war against the yezter and so we take the weapon of
war the bow and arrow which symbolize the hidden and revealed Torah to
fight the evil one as our sages said, Hashem says "I created the evil
inclination and I created the Torah as the antidote and cure against

Thursday, April 28, 2016




It was Erev Shabbos and the holy Yid HaKadosh of Peshischa was in shul. All the G-d fearing baalei batim were also in shul reciting Shir HaShirim and preparing for Shabbos Kodesh!

The holy ear of the Yid picked up a soulful youthful shir hashirim whose sweet melody had an otherworldy sound! As the Yid leaned in to listen to this young child's recitation, he turned and said to the lad's father, "Your son recites shir hashirim just like Shlomo HaMelech!" All present were amazed by such a pronouncement and so saying the Yid HaKadosh ben down and kissed the young lad on his forehead.

This young boy was actually named Shlomo, years later he was well renowned as a tzadik and rebbe, he was none other than the author of the famed Chassidishe Sefer Tiferes Shlomo of Radomsk!

"I always felt the Yid HaKadosh's kiss on my forehead for many years later. Until I became Bar Mitzvah and donned Tefillin. It was then after putting on and wearing Tefillin in that very same spot on my head, that I then realized that the Yid HaKadosh's kiss felt just like wearing Tefillin!"

A Rav once approached the Tiferes Shlomo for a beracha that he merit not having to pasken and rule over complex halachic matters relating to Chametz on Pesach. The Segula for this, explained the rebbe to the astonished Rav, is that you study all the halachos of Pesach from the Shulchan Aruch. The reason for this is, that each and every halacha from Shulchan Aruch yearns to be studied and learned. Since many of the halachos are neglected, therefore questions arise that cause the Rabbis to have to study and review the halachos to rule on these matters. If however you study all the halachos beforehand, then you can be assured that you need not be forced to study them by having them arise as questions of Chametz on Pesach!


Rav Asher of Stolin said that whoever has any sechel and intellect understands that when you get up from the seder, you can already hear them klapping to rouse the sleepers and banging on the shutters announcing Selichos.

When his grandson the holy Karliner used to say this he taught that it was hinted at in our parsha: because we read in parshas Achrei Mos the parsha of Yom Kippur.


Rav Asher of Stolin was so inspired when he read the parsha of Yom Kippur during Achrei Mos, that his soul almost expired in longing for Yom Kippur! He used to explain this with a Mashal:

Everyone was all in a rush, busy preparing for the great chasuna!!! The chassan and kallah were each busy with their preparations and so was the cook. There was a wedding feast to prepare and the cook was testing his finest recipes and delicacies in honor of the event. As he cooked and baked he tasted from each of the dishes. Hmmm. . .Ahhh what a sweet flavor! How else do you prepare for a feast?

Similarly this Shabbos is a taste of Yom Kippur to help us prepare, hmmm, ahhh how else do you prepare a dish without tasting it first?


Self sacrifice – Mesirus Nefesh

Rav Elimelech Biderman shared the following stories and anecdotes regarding Shevi'I Shel Pesach:

The Avnei Nezer explains that when Bnei Yisroel jumped into the sea before it split that this was an act of self sacrifice and mesirus nefesh. The power of such mesirus nefesh is that it can nullify and cancel harsh decrees and bring down any barriers between us and Hashem and silence any prosecution and accusations against us! Therefore Bnei Yisroel were now worthy of the sea splitting for them! (Shem MiShmuel) This is the power that now awakens on Shevii Shel Pesach that of Mesirus Nefesh!

Here is are some examples of what mesirus nefesh can achieve :

The Pezinger Rav was not officially licensed as a mohel to perform circumcisions according to the secular authorities. However he was asked to perform the milah for a Ger tzedek, however he soon began to bleed profusely. The Pezinger rav was very worried and he didn't know what to do: On the one hand if he went to seek professional help surely when the Doctor found out he had performed the bris and was not licensed he would report him and involve the authorities, the consequences of which could endanger all of Hungarian Jewry! On the other hand if the ger bled to death surely this incident would also endanger them all. What to do? He quickly went to the Chasam Sofer and asked him what to do, explaining the possible consequences and weighing all the outcomes.

"There is no choice," said the Chasam Sofer, "you must both sacrifice yourselves to save Hungarian Jewry, go to the riverbank and cast yourselves inside and save us all." Sadly the Pezinger rav and the bleeding ger both made their way to the river. As they approached the bank full of a sense of mission and personal sacrifice an old man saw them and gauging their determined look he engaged them in a dialogue and asked them where they were headed to and why? The rav explained the situation and the grave and dire possible consequences, "but what a silly thing to do!" exclaimed the old man, "to cast yourselves into the river and drown when I have here with my healing medicinal herbs that can put a stop to this bleeding!" And so saying he immediately went to work and sure enough shortly the wound was healed and the bleeding had miraculously stopped! Amazed the Pezinger rav turned to thank the old man, but he was gone! Somehow he had simply vanished into thin air!

When the Pezinger Rav confronted the Chasam Sofer he asked him, "rebbe, if you had the power to send Eliyahu haNavi to help us with a yeshua, why couldn't you have done so here in town? Why send us frightened have to death to the riverbank on a suicide mission you knew would fail and scare us out of our wits end?" "Ahhh," explained the Chasam Sofer, "You think you could merit to see Eliyahu haNavi when you sit here all calm and collected. . .eh? No, only when you accepted upon yourself true mesirus nefesh and self sacrifice then you acquired the merit to be zoche to see Eliyahu HaNavi!"

On a somewhat lighter note:

It was Motzaei Shabbos Selichos and a young driver was driving to his rebbe for the first selichos when he noticed a group of bachurim waiting by the side of the road for a hitch to give them a lift to the very same destination.

Although he was driving a small sporty hatchback he stopped and explained to the eager bachurim that he would love to take them all but, "there is just no room, so squeeze in as many as you can and whoever gets in gets the ride and whoever can't fit will just have to wait for the next lift, OK?" Where there is a will there is a way and somehow, don't ask me how, but all the bachurim, pushed, shoved, jostled and squeeeeezed in tight until somehow miraculously they all fit in!

Well wouldn't you just know it, but a few miles down the road our young driver was pulled over by a traffic cop who noticed that there seemed to be just a tad too many people squeezed into this here vehicle. The traffic officer grew more and more agitated when he ordered them all to step out and he proceeded to count no less than, "Fifteen bachurim!" he fumed and thundered, "You endangered the lives of fifteen young boys!"

Now you must understand, pauses Rav Biderman, traffic violations are no laughing matter! A traffic cop once told me how bad he felt serving summons and slapping fines on other frum yidden and so he approached the renowned posek Rav Shmuel haLevi Wosner Zatzal who told him that he was mechuyav al pi din, he was obligated by Torah law to give out fines and summonses to transgressors because of the life danger, sakanas nefashos that traffic violations cause!

Back to our story: The cop was beside himself with anger, he threw the book at our young driver and he not only fined him heavily and gave him points on his license he served him with a court summons to trial! The poor chassid came in crying to his rebbe, the rebbe upon hearing what he did also berated him for driving dangerously and endangering the lives of the bachurim, yet after he saw that the driver was truly sorry and remorseful, the rebbe gave him an eitza and a beracha, a blessing and some advice on how to handle the case!

When the trial began, the prosecution's case seemed open and shut, the traffic cop was summoned as a key witness and he testified before the judge and the courtroom, "Your honor, I saw with mine own two eyes how this driver recklessly endangered the lives of these bachurim." "Well," said the judge turning to the defendant, "what do you have to say in your defense?" "Your honor," began the driver, "surely it is pointless of me to try and defend myself against these charges it will just make a mockery of me and the court, instead I ask your honor to indulge me by doing me one small unconventional favor?" "Yes, what is it?" asked the curious judge, "my car, the one in question that I was driving that night is here, parked just outside could you please accompany me to it so I can demonstrate something?" The judge, the plaintiff, the traffic cop and the court stenographer all exited and followed the driver, they in turn were all followed by a gaggle of curious onlookers from the courtroom. What was the driver going to show the judge? "Here it is your honor, here is my car, now I ask you, your honor, is it possible, does the officer actually expect us to believe that somehow by some miracle, fifteen bachurim all fit into this car?" The judge look at the small vehicle that was built to seat five and turned his angry stare towards the traffic cop, he stood there bewildered by this unexpected development, "What is the meaning of this! Come on do you actually expect us to believe your story?!" he was yelling at the traffic cop! "But, but, but your honor, I mean I saw them, really I did, I tell you fifteen bachurim, I counted them!" he stammered. In the end the judge ordered fifteen passerby to attempt to squeeze in! But after the eighth barely squished inside, there was just no room!" Case dismissed, banged the gavel. Quietly, defeated and deflated the officer walked over to the driver and whispered,
"OK you won. Hey just between us, though, you know and I know the truth, somehow by some miracle fifteen bachurim were in your car. You explain it, tell me, how did they do it!"

Answered the chassid driver: "All these bachurim all had the same will and desire, to make it to the rebbe for selichos, well when you all share the same common goal and are willing to sacrifice, squeeze, push and experience pain and discomfort and achieve your goal, nothing can stop you, there is no stopping you, not even nature, lack of space and no room could stop them from getting in.

Similarly Klal Yisroel, with one goal and one mission to serve Hashem and perform His will, they determinedly willingly sacrificed with mesirus nefesh, not even nature, not even the sea could withstand them, and so it split for them and for us.

Finally a little humor:

A chassid once came to his rebbe, Rav Duvid Tolner for YomTov. How did you get here? Asked the rebbe. "Mitten Goy – answered the chassid, meaning off course I came with the gentile coachman who drove me and brought me. "Und mit vemen furstu tzurik aheim?" which simply means, "and with who are you going back?" Bewildered and not understanding the chassid simply answered, "Mitten Zelben Goy" with the same gentile coachman.

The Tolner rebbe asked the chassid pointedly, "Mitten Zelben Goy vus di bizt gekimmen erev YomTov furstu tzurik motzaei YomTov?!" With the same goy you came with before yomtov that's how you are going back after yomtov! The rebbe meant to hint to the chassid, that he may have arrived erev yomtov lacking in his Yiddishkeit and jewishness, but hopefully the YomTov had transformed him! The chassid's answer however made the rebbe remark sharply: What the same way you arrived is how you are leaving? Haven't you changed over YomTov? May this YomTov Pesach transform us so that when we leave we aren't leaving mitten zelben goy.

Friday, April 8, 2016

This cute Pesach poem was forwarded to me

Pesach Cleaning Questionnaire

In order for this questionnaire
To work the way it should,
You must be very honest
As I knew you would.

Go through the questions-
One, two and three,
Think through each one
Very thoroughly.

1. How many times
In the past year
Have you served supper
In the chandelier?

How you've done it
I'd like to ask
It surely wasn't
An easy task

Seating the whole family
On the fixture all around
Making sure that place up there
For every kid was found.

The serving must have also been
No easy feat;
Getting portions up on top
For every child to eat.

In the end, when all was done
Some crumbs stayed, I fear…
And so now you must start
Scrubbing your chandelier!

2. How often have you served
Your guests some food and drink
In the mirrored cupboard
Above the bathroom sink?

It must have been embarrassing
Trying to fit in,
Especially if the guest you had
Weren't very thin!

In the end, I hope they enjoyed
Your hosting, nonetheless,
But now you found the leftovers
And have to clean up the mess.

3. Just a few weeks ago
Did you have an urgent feeling
To serve the Purim meal
Upon the kitchen ceiling?

You must have used electric tape
Or maybe crazy glue
For everything to stick up there,
A real venahapoch hu!

In the end you all jumped down
But worthwhile it hasn't been,
'Cuz now out comes the ladder,
And the ceiling you must clean!

If you answered yes
To any of these three,
Go ahead and puff and pant
And be as busy as you can be!

But if you answered negative
Then stop fooling around,
Look for chametz only
Where it can be found!




"If a woman shall conceive and give birth to a male" (12:2).

Rav Hirschele Lisker, in his sefer Ach Pri Tevua, explained this pasuk in a unique way. He cites Chazal (Makkos 10b), that "whoever wishes to purify himself, they help him from above," and applies this to our pasuk:

If a person tries to succeed – even if he only applies himself a little and invests only a small effort, like someone who only plants the seeds (isha ki sazria), then veyalda zachar – he can bear a zachar mashpia. This refers to the aid of shefa and blessings that Heaven sends to help him with his efforts to succeed.

Whoever wishes to succeed, therefore, need only invest some minimal effort, and from shamayim he will be helped. However, he needs the light and sanctity of Shabbos to help him in this process. Thus, as Chazal say in the Medrash (Vayikra Rabba 27:10), we may not merit to visit and see Hashem before first visiting the Shabbos Queen. The pasuk tells us that the woman will be impure for seven days and then continues: "on the eighth day they shall circumcise his foreskin." In order to emerge from the tuma (impurity) of the seven days of the mundane workweek, we must experience Shabbos, which will free us to achieve kedusha.

The pasuk continues to tell us that "she must remain in the blood of purity for thirty-three days," which, together with the first week and Shabbos, is a forty-day period. The Rebbe Reb Melech of Lizhensk, in his Tzeitel Katan (16) tells us that in forty days a person can acquire a new teva, a new nature and new traits for himself. Whoever sets out on this course to sanctify and purify himself will succeed.

Rav Eliezer Dovid Friedman of London tells us that Rav Tzvi Kinstlicher once told how a person came before Rav Hirschele Lisker and complained, "Rebbe, I saw in the seforim that if a person refrains from speaking idle chatter for forty days he merits ruach hakodesh; I have refrained from all idle talk for forty consecutive days now, yet I have not been zoche to ruach hakodesh – why?"

Rav Hirschele thought for a moment and asked, "Tell me, did you daven during these forty days?"

"Yes, of course, Rebbe!" replied the astonished man.

"Well, there is your answer then! That must have been your idle chatter!!!"

Rav Friedman tells us that in the sefer Ach Pri Tevua, which Rav Hirschele's family published soon after his passing, they recorded a conversation which Rav Hirschele had had with them: "When I was younger, I desired to purify my soul and come to the truth and to study the secrets and wisdom of Kabbala. I did not succeed (he said in humility), and therefore I decided that since Tzaddikim teach that we can transform ourselves in forty days and be reborn as a new person, I would separate myself from the desires and pleasures of this world for forty days. On Shabbos I was weak and fell asleep; at midnight I awoke from my sleep like a newborn, and I tasted the fragrance and flavor of Gan Eden which I had never tasted before, and all the flavors of this world were disgusting and evil-smelling. From then on, all sinners were evil-smelling to me, as well as haughty, arrogant people; I could not stand their sight nor be in their presence because of the stench!!!"



Rav Elimelech Biderman shared these Divrei Torah about Parshas Hachodesh:

The Shem MiShmuel (Mishpatim) teaches that on Rosh Chodesh Nissan Hashem breathes new life into every one of us, and this continues annually for all generations; each year on Rosh Chodesh Nissan Hashem gives into the heart of every Jew new life. This works only for those who seek to purify and renew themselves (just as during the Exodus those who didn't seek to be redeemed died during the Plague of Darkness and remained behind).

Rav Hirsch Meshares of Rymanow teaches (Be'eros Hamayim) that the pasuk Hachodesh hazeh lachem – "this month shall be for you the head of all months," means that Nissan is the leading month for all forms of hischadshus (renewal) and all future renewals; it is in our hands to merit this strength of soul and begin to serve Hashem anew with added strength!

The first Gerrer Rebbe, author of Chiddushei Harim (Likkutei Harim) teaches us that a chodesh (month) means that each month a Jew is granted the power and ability to renew himself and began his avodas Hashem afresh! The pasuk Hachodesh hazeh lachem teaches that it is all in our hands. If we realized this – that whatever we can achieve is in our hands, that we have the ability to transform and renew – then surely we would not waste even a moment!

As we prepare for the awesome level of inspiration of the upcoming Seder night, we should have in mind that the Beis Aharon of Karlin taught (Pesach 85b): "Whoever serves Hashem sincerely can take away great awesome things from the Seder nights, in spiritual as well as in physical matters. Not only great people with lofty souls, even simple people, coarse individuals and lowly souls – each person merits this on his own level."

Rav Yaakov Eliyahu Lazer, author of Sova Semachos, once spent Shabbos Para in Shinova with Rav Yechezkel Shraga. As he prepared to leave on Motzaei Shabbos, waiting in line to receive the Rebbe's blessings of departure, the Rebbe expressed his surprise and said, "What, you are not leaving already, are you?!"

"No, no!" answered the gabbai instead of Rav Yaakov. "No, of course not! He is staying for several more days!"

"Good, good," said the Rebbe. "A talmid should spend Shabbos HaChodesh with his Rebbe and then he can merit to transform himself into a new person!"

Later, Rav Yaakov reported that what he had experienced and witnessed that Shabbos could not be put into words. Only one thing did he reveal: the incident that occurred during the beracha of Ahava Rabba on Shabbos day. The spiritual awakening and intensity were too much; he ran out of the Beis Medrash and burst into tears. As he sobbed, he felt that indeed he was transformed into a new person!


The Bnei Yissaschar teaches us in Agra Dekalla that the first twelve days of Nissan correspond to the twelve tribes and their offerings. These special days each correspond to an entire month of the year, and those who have pure, refined eyes can see the future of each month of the upcoming year on each one of these days, as we all witnessed from our master, the holy Rav Yaakov Yitzchok, the Chozeh of Lublin, who recorded what would happen each month of the coming year every day of the first twelve days of Nissan. He passed away in the month of Menachem Av and that year, all he wrote for Av was one word – Menachem.

The Zohar teaches that holy souls awaken each day of these twelve days of Nissan and we recite the pesukim of the korbanos offerings of the Nesi'im for the chanukas hamizbe'ach (the inauguration of the altar) Some have the minhag to read this from a sefer Torah, and a special tefilla is then recited.

This cute Pesach poem was forwarded to me

Pesach Cleaning Questionnaire

In order for this questionnaire
To work the way it should,
You must be very honest
As I knew you would.

Go through the questions-
One, two and three,
Think through each one
Very thoroughly.

1. How many times
In the past year
Have you served supper
In the chandelier?

How you've done it
I'd like to ask
It surely wasn't
An easy task

Seating the whole family
On the fixture all around
Making sure that place up there
For every kid was found.

The serving must have also been
No easy feat;
Getting portions up on top
For every child to eat.

In the end, when all was done
Some crumbs stayed, I fear…
And so now you must start
Scrubbing your chandelier!

2. How often have you served
Your guests some food and drink
In the mirrored cupboard
Above the bathroom sink?

It must have been embarrassing
Trying to fit in,
Especially if the guest you had
Weren't very thin!

In the end, I hope they enjoyed
Your hosting, nonetheless,
But now you found the leftovers
And have to clean up the mess.

3. Just a few weeks ago
Did you have an urgent feeling
To serve the Purim meal
Upon the kitchen ceiling?

You must have used electric tape
Or maybe crazy glue
For everything to stick up there,
A real venahapoch hu!

In the end you all jumped down
But worthwhile it hasn't been,
'Cuz now out comes the ladder,
And the ceiling you must clean!

If you answered yes
To any of these three,
Go ahead and puff and pant
And be as busy as you can be!

But if you answered negative
Then stop fooling around,
Look for chametz only
Where it can be found!

Kol Tuv,
R' Tal Moshe Zwecker
Director Machon Be'er Mayim Chaim Publishing
Chassidic Classics in the English Language
in Israel: 972-2-992-1218 / Cell: 972-58-322-1218
from US call VoIP: 516-320-6022 or 718-210-9732
Free Audio Shiurim
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Friday, April 1, 2016




Rashi cites Rav Moshe HaDarshan that the Para Aduma comes to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf – the Chet Ha'egel; the mother, the cow, should come and clean up the mess left by her wayward youngster, the calf.

The Rebbe Reb Melech in Noam Elimelech, Parshas Shemini, asks on the pasuk: "And he slaughtered the calf of the sin offering that was his," (Vayikra 9:8): where do the sins of a Tzaddik come from? How is it that a Tzaddik might sometimes stumble and inadvertently sin or transgress – how do such misdeeds befall the righteous?

He answers that it all comes from the Chet Ha'egel – the sin of the Golden Calf. This filth and impurity, the sin that tarnished and stained us, can cause even Tzaddikim to sin, even if ever so slightly.

Then when they express remorse over their actions, this pain, regret, and thoughts of teshuva are what aid them to "slaughter the calf of sin – to slaughter the sin of the Egel Hachatas"! The pasuk continues: "that was his – asher lo." This action is actually not a sin at all, objectively speaking, but asher lo – subjectively for him, for the Tzaddik, such an action is considered a sin because it is beneath him and his elevated stature! * When others witness the Tzaddik's actions; how much he repents and suffers from this and how he does teshuva, even over such seemingly small matters that on the surface aren't even sins, yet the Tzaddik does teshuva for them – then their hearts break and they serve Hashem with self-sacrifice and are willing to give their lives and spill their blood for Hashem.



Rav Elimelech Biderman cited the following well-known teaching from the Chozeh of Lublin:

The Chozeh asks: what was the actual sin of the Chet Ha'egel that made it so terrible; after all, we know that the women and Levi'im did not participate at all? In fact, only the Erev Rav (mixed multitude) and a handful of sinners were involved! If so, why was the entire Jewish nation punished? He explains that the pasuk says afterward: vayisabalu, (Shemos 33:4) – they mourned and were saddened by the event.

When a Jew sins and instead of moving on he remains focused on the aveira, that is the worst thing he can do! Sure he sinned, but what is in the past is in the past; what was, was. Now look toward the future – how can you repent? How can you improve? What safeguards can you introduce to prevent future relapse? The sadness and depression that Am Yisrael felt as they remained focused on their past aveira held them in the grip of heavy depression. Lack of simcha means no energy to move forward and grow; how does this help avodas Hashem? It doesn't! This sadness and depression, obsessing about sin and failing to do teshuva be'simcha, to move on and grow – this was their great sin!

When a person falters and falls he should never focus on the fall. Instead he should stop, pick himself up and go on. He should not focus on how far he fell, but on how high he can rise!

Imagine a person driving from one city to another in order to get to an important meeting on time. On the highway, one of his tires has a flat and he is unable to continue on his journey. Should he stop to examine and analyze why his tire had a flat? Should he launch an investigation and invest his time and efforts to discover what happened? Or should he get out the spare tire, raise his car on the jack, and change the flat tire so he can proceed on his way?

Obviously, if he stops to investigate and examine the tire he might never complete his journey on time; he would miss his scheduled appointment. Better to change his tire and get to where he needs to go; at the end of the day, after he achieves what he sets out to accomplish, he can reexamine what went wrong and clarify what, if anything, needs fixing.


Mottel was the wealthiest man in town. He owned flourmills, lumberyards, and various other concerns. He also hired trustworthy and capable managers to run his vast business empire. His immense wealth was invested in all his properties and he tallied them up and listed them all in a ledger. This book was his most prized possession, besides his only son, Chaikel. Chaikel was the apple of his eye, his ben zekunim – the son of his old age. But Chaikel was a slow child and a simpleton. He paid no attention to his lessons and even failed to learn how to read!

Mottel was by now an old man and he felt his days were numbered. On his deathbed he summoned all his managers and created a board of trustees. Finally, he called in his only son. "Chaikel, my child, I love you and I am leaving you as a yerusha (inheritance) everything I own. These managers will be your trustees; they will run the business after I am gone, just as they did in my lifetime. Here, take this book; guard it and keep it, for its value is great." Then he called the chevra kaddisha and passed away.

Chaikel mourned for his beloved father and so did all of the Jews of the town. At first, life continued as before. The trustees ran the business and the dividends were duly invested and deposited on behalf of Chaikel, who lived well off the proceeds. But one day, things changed. The trustees, seeing that Chaikel had no mind for business, and instead, grown-up child that he was, played and wasted his time, decided that Chaikel would not mind if they all gave themselves a raise in salary. After this subterfuge went unnoticed, they began to take more and more leeway, investing vast sums in any idea they wished, ferreting away profits in secret, offshore corporations and Swiss bank accounts. Slowly, one by one, the trustees turned into untrustworthy swindlers and, after all Mottel's efforts, his vast fortunes were embezzled and stolen.

The day came and the board of trustees summoned Chaikel and explained, "We are very sorry but business isn't the way it used to be. All the concerns and holdings are still here but they aren't turning out enough profits for us to support you anymore." Poor Chaikel, unlettered, unlearned, and gullible, swallowed their story – hook, line, and sinker.

That afternoon found Chaikel sadly at the train station, waiting for the train to anywhereville. Perhaps somewhere out there Chaikel could find a simple, unskilled job and earn his keep. As he sat forlornly, fingering his small bundle of clothes and food, a neighbor passed by, and recognized him.

"Chaikel, how are you? Why the long face? Why so sad? What are you doing sitting here at the train station? Which train are you waiting for and where are you headed?"

Chaikel burst into heart-wrenching tears and, choking with sobs, cried out his woes to his kindly neighbor.

"I am poor and destitute. I will go and seek my fortune wherever Hashem will lead me; the directors tell me they can no longer support me and all I have left is this book!"

The directors knew about the deeds and the will and inheritance inscribed in the large volume that Chaikel now held in his hands. They knew that all their treachery could be discovered once this book and its ledgers were perused and studied; Chaikel could recover his wealth – and they could sit in prison. And so they had tried to coax Chaikel into selling them the book, arguing, "You cannot read it anyway," and offering him large sums of their "personal" money. Yet Chaikel would not part with the book that his father had entrusted to him as his dying wish.

When the friendly neighbor opened the book and quickly looked over the contents, his eyes widened in disbelief as he shouted and shook Chaikel with glee.

"Chaikel! You are a rich man!!! Do you know what this book says?"

Chaikel sadly shook his head; he had never learned to read.

"If you just read and studied this book, you would understand just how wealthy you are! This book is your inheritance and lists you as the sole yoresh (heir) to all your father's wealth. All his vast business holdings and concerns are in your name and you can now reclaim what is justly and rightfully yours!"

And so it is with us. Hashem left us a precious book, our inheritance, morasha kehillas Yaakov – the heilige Torah Hakedosha. Yet what happens to those of us who fail to study and understand it, and plumb its depth and meaning? We spend our time in worldly pursuits while the directors spend our money – until the day comes when we are spiritually bankrupt, heaven forbid. Then a Tzaddik comes along and admonishes us, reminding us of the precious book we own, left to us by our Father in Heaven. Sadly, we do not even know what treasures and spiritual wealth it contains. If we had just studied enough, we would realize how rich we are and would regain all our ruchniyusdigge (spiritual) treasure anew!





Rav Shlomo of Bobov told how the two holy brothers, the Rebbe Reb Zisha and the Rebbe Reb Melech, traveled together in self-imposed exile, suffering together the Galus of the Shechina (Divine Presence). They traveled, refining and purifying the air of the exile, as they wandered from place to place incognito, dressed in tatters like beggars, and drawing their lost brethren closer to Hashem. Finally, they reached Ushpitzin, which at the time bordered Galicia and Germany. In fact, the Jews of Ushpitzin claimed that the Rebbe Reb Melech had immersed himself in a particular well and Tzaddikim used to tovel there on Erev Yom Kippur.

As the two holy brothers prepared to cross the border into Germany and continue on their journey, the evil one, the Satan, stopped them and blocked their advance. The two brothers paid him no heed and prepared to go on, when he warned them thus:

"If you step foot into Germany I will transform all of Deutschland into Chassidim!"

Hearing this, the Rebbe Reb Melech turned to his brother and said, "Zisha, lomir antloifen – Zisha, let us flee! Dem Ba'al Davar's Chassidim vi lich nisht hoben – I do not wish to have the Satan's Chassidim."

They retreated, and we see that all of Poland and Galicia, wherever the holy brothers, the Tzaddikim, the Rebbe Reb Melech and the Rebbe Reb Zisha stepped foot during their travels – even though Misnagdim (opponents to Chassidus) were once present there, still Chassidus took root and flourished in those places, and there were towns and cities filled with Chassidim, and simple Jews filled with yiras shomayim, heeding the word of Hashem. And so it was up till and including the city of Ushpitzin. Yet across the border no Chassidim were to be found; it was as if someone had drawn a line, marked the border and said, "Till here." Even Katowice was known as a Deutsche Modern Enlightened place, tainted by foreign winds and influences. (Pri HaKerem Gilyon 15 p. 5)


In Etz Chaim, the Bobover Yeshiva, they used to tell how once the Rebbe, Rav Ben Tzion of Bobov, entered on Motzaei Shabbos and saw how the bachurim sat and conducted a melave malka together among themselves. It was the week of 21 Adar, the yahrzeit of the Noam Elimelech, and a bachur remarked to his fellow, "I wish someone would tell us a maaseh – a story about the Rebbe Reb Melech!"

The Bobover Rebbe heard and said to him: "Oib m'zeht heint a Chassidishe Yid mit a burd un payos, iz das a maaseh funem Rebbe Elimelech zy"a – If you witness and see today Chassidish Jews with beard and payos, this is a maaseh – a testimony and an action that was done by and achieved by the Rebbe Elimelech! (Pri HaKerem Gilyon 15 p. 5)

18 ADAR II (Accidentally left out of last week's issue)



There once came before the Alexander Rebbe a simple ba'al agala (wagon driver), complaining that his horse was sick. "Rebbe, Rebbe, my horse, my sole source of income and parnassa, has become sick – please help!" he cried.

"What is the matter with the poor beast?" asked the Tzaddik.

"He has stopped his usual eating habits. In fact, he doesn't eat like a horse at all anymore! He eats as little as a person!" moaned the ba'al agala.

"Let me ask you a question, but please be honest: when you wake up in the morning do you say Modeh Ani and wash your hands and face?"

"No," admitted the ba'al agala.

"And please, answer me this, tell the truth – do you daven each morning?"

"Well, if I have time, I don my tallis and tefillin and daven at home, otherwise I rush and daven while driving my wagon," admitted the ba'al agala.

"And do you wash before bread and bensch after eating?"

The wagon driver was silent and shamefacedly, he shook his head back and forth – no.

"Well then, it's no wonder at all," explained Rav Heinich, the answer is simple, what do you want from your horse? If you behave like a beast and eat and act like a horse, your horse will behave and eat like a person. Conduct yourself like a person, act like a mensch and your horse will once more behave like a horse and eat like a horse as well!"


A Yid once came before Rav Heinich of Alexander, complaining that others mistakenly suspected him of bad deeds and wrongdoing.

"Well, what have you to say about the matter?" asked the Tzaddik.

"Me? I am totally innocent. I pride myself in Chazal's Ashrei mi shechoshdim oso ve'ain bo – 'Happy is he who is suspected but has no guilt.

"Eh," the Rebbe dismissed his words. "Choose for yourself a better Ashrei than that. Here, take this one: Ashrei yoshvei veisecha – 'Happy are those who sit at home!' Better sit at home and don't go to suspicious places. Don't haunt places of ill repute – then no one will suspect you again!" concluded the Rebbe. (Ner Yehoshua)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Rebbe’s SECRET WEAPON BY Aryeh Ehrlich PHOTOS Rabbi Tal Zwecker, Rabbi Meir Kranzer

BY Aryeh Ehrlich PHOTOS Rabbi Tal Zwecker, Rabbi Meir Kranzer

To read the full article purchase a copy of:
ENGLISH MISHPACHA MAGAZINE  - 20 Adar II 5776 | March 30, 2016

An upscale Israeli town has become home for the Clevelander Rebbe, who
eschews honor and recognition and wants nothing more than to bring his
Jewish brothers and sisters closer to the light of the Torah. When the Rebbe's
holy Seudah Shlishis proved stronger than a terrorist's knife, he revealed how
opening hearts is the best protection of all

The Rebbe's Secret Weapon

It seems an improbable name for a chassidus. And to
add to the riddle, it's based in Raanana — an upscale
city in the heart of Israel's Sharon Plain — an enclave
of professionals and high-tech executives. Most of its
inhabitants aren't religious, and the minority who
are don't appear to be typical candidates to join in
the weekly tish.

Yet it's there in Raanana that the Clevelander
Rebbe reigns.

To one familiar with the sacred path chosen by Rav Mordechai of Nadvorna (Reb Mordche'le) and his
many descendants, it's no riddle at all. It wasn't just back in the heim that the tzaddikim
of this dynasty fanned out, across Hungary, Romania, and Galicia; it was also in America.
They left Williamsburg and the Lower East Side behind, choosing places like Newark, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.

The Clevelander Rebbe, Rav Yitzchak Eizik Rosenbaum, is a son of Rav Yissachar Ber of Strozhnitz. His rebbetzin is the daughter of Rav Meir Isaacson of Philadelphia, a
brilliant talmid chacham and author of Teshuvos Mevaser Tov. Both are grandchildren of Rav Issamar of Nadvorna and descendants of Reb Mordche'le.

This elderly couple is chassidic aristocracy, yet they've made it a point, from the very beginning, to transmit their holy mesorah quietly and humbly, reaching Jews one at a time.
When the Rebbe was a young immigrant from Romania, he became close to the Klausenberger Rebbe, who had settled in Williamsburg after the war and built a yeshivah
there; he then went on to learn in Torah Vodaath and received semichah from Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Rav Yonason Steiff.

After their marriage in 1961, the new Rav and Rebbetzin settled in Long Beach, but a fire soon consumed the small beis medrash the Rebbe had established on Long Island. A
delegation of Cleveland Jews heard that the illustrious young man was contemplating a move and hastened to invite him to their city, but the young Rebbe wasn't sure he was
ready to venture forth. He wanted to be in an established frum neighborhood with mosdos and shuls for a bit longer. His father, Rav Yissachar Ber, assured him that Cleveland was
a "heimeshe city."
So they went.

For 13 years, the Rebbe and his rebbetzin manned an outpost of Nadvorna chassidus in the cold Midwest. Through that decade, a most frenzied and tumultuous era for young
secular Jews, the Rebbe provided answers, warmth, and direction to students and secular Jews, his rebbetzin providing nourishing meals and comfortable accommodations.
They created a flourishing kehillah, and it seemed that Cleveland had its rebbe, and the Rebbe had Cleveland.

But then in 1970, Rav Issamar of Nadvorna, shared zeide of both the Rebbe and Rebbetzin, left America and settled in Eretz Yisrael in the Yad Eliyahu neighborhood
of Tel Aviv. Before his petirah in 1973, Rav Issamar encouraged his grandson to move to Eretz Yisrael as well. They were honored to follow the Zeide's
directive to move, difficult as it was to part from their chassidim in Cleveland. Until recently, the Rebbe would visit the kehillah in Cleveland each year, but he no longer
has the energy to travel; still, his chassidim are in constant touch with him via phone and through personal visits. When the sons and daughters — and more recently, the
grandchildren — of those families come learn in yeshivah or seminary in Eretz Yisrael, they adopt the Rebbe and Rebbetzin as surrogate

Why was it the practice in the Nadvorna
dynasty for the sons of the rebbes to serve
as admorim while their own fathers were
still alive?

"The Zeide, Rav Mordche'le, instructed his
children to assume positions of leadership
during his lifetime, commenting, 'The world
will see that Mordechai knew best.' All of
his six children, including my grandfather,
became admorim during his life. Both my
father and his brother, Rav Chaim Mordechai
of Nadvorna, followed suit and served as the
leaders of chassidic communities during their
father's lifetime."
In a city like Raanana, the importance of
making a kiddush Hashem is especially

"Certainly," the Rebbe confirms. "A chareidi
Jew, especially in a city like this one, must act
in such a way that people will not speak ill of
him. He must be kind and pleasant, and he
must fulfill Chazal's admonition to cause the
Name of Hashem to become beloved through
his actions. Throughout the years, people have
tried to convince me to move to Bnei Brak
or to Beit Shemesh, but Hashem has made
it very clear that this is my place to sanctify
His Name."

And when the Rebbe sees a Jew being
mechallel Shabbos?
"I don't walk down the street and shout at
drivers, but if I have an opportunity to talk
to a Jew when I see him driving on Shabbos,
lo aleinu,

"I say to him gently, 'You know, it's Shabbos today,
and it is forbidden to drive on Shabbos.' Shouting
accomplishes nothing, but the soul of every Yid
wants to hear the truth gently and politely"

Lone Troops The Rebbe has learned
to fuse the different roles of the shul —
chassidishe shtiebel, kiruv center, minyan
hub — into one.
In Elul, Sephardic Selichos are recited in
the beis medrash at night, while a separate
minyan meets in the morning to recite the
Ashkenazic version. The Rebbe is also faithful
to his forebears' traditions, and so davening
on Shabbos is three hours long. During Sefiras
Ha'omer, chassidim from various locales
come to watch the Nadvorna-style avodah
of counting the Omer, which takes about
a quarter of an hour. During the month of
Elul, the Rebbe has the custom of reciting the
perek of "L'Dovid Hashem ori" when the aron is
opened for the Torah reading; the Rebbe reads
each pasuk aloud, and the congregation repeats
it after him. It's a bit of a lengthy procedure,
but it's suffused with a chassidic intensity that
is not unwanted even in the "modern" city.
"Sure, there are some people who are
deterred from coming here on Shabbos by
the length of the tefillos," the Rebbe relates,
"but the minhagim of my forefathers take
precedence. I would daven with only ten men
in order to maintain those customs, but in the
end, people feel the emes."

In the chassidic yeshivah world, a Shabbos
with the Clevelander Rebbe is considered a
sublime experience. Thousands of bochurim
have visited here over the years, drawing
profound inspiration from their encounters
with the Rebbe. The Rebbe's Kiddush — which
takes close to 20 minutes — is one highlight.
"It feels like the world is reaching its climax,
like Creation is being completed as the Rebbe
says the words," says a chassid who comes to
the Rebbe for Shabbos at least once a month.
An no one wants to miss Shabbos Parshas
Va'eira with the Rebbe, the annual Shabbos
Hisachdus for Clevelander chassidim from
all across the country. It's the Shabbos the
Rebbe has yahrtzeit for his father, and the local
residents already know that on that Shabbos,
hundreds of chassidim will converge on the
neighborhood. They don't live in Raanana,
this younger generation of Clevelanders, for
their Rebbe has sent them forth; but on that
Shabbos two months back, they came out in
force and lit up its streets, bringing a sense of
calm and normalcy to a city that's been feeling
itself under a terror siege since the newest wave
of Arab violence.

To the Rebbe, the events of these past
weeks — the terrorism just outside his window
and other recent stabbings on the streets of his
city — haven't changed anything.
"A person has to live with an awareness of
HaKadosh Baruch Hu, to feel Hashgachah
pratis. Nothing happens by itself. No bullet
can be fired unless it was decreed in Heaven.
We must beseech Hashem to save us from
the birthpangs of Mashiach, but at the same
time, we must not forget the primary way
to accomplish that: by awakening our lost
brothers to engage in complete, genuine

The Rebbe looks out the window at the
Raanana street scene, at his brothers of all
colors and stripes. "That is what we can do
during times like this — love all Yidden and
seek to draw them close."
And he smiles, this Rebbe who sends his
chassidim elsewhere yet remains heroically
in place with only his rebbetzin at his side —
the generals fighting a battle without troops.
"We live in Raanana. We do our mission
here." —

The Rebbe's Secret Weapon
—Yisroel Besser contributed to this report

And here are the stories that did not make it in:


The rebbe's home is open to many guests and many times Yeshiva bachurim and seminary girls have stayed for Shabbos basking the rebbe and rebitzen's hospitality and hachnasas orchim.

One Shabbos several bachurim from Rav Tzvi Kushelvskis Yeshiva were at the rebbe's Shabbos table and the talk turned to whether tziduk and righteousness was preferable or whether lomdus was more important. The bochurim seemed to theink the learning trumped everything else. The rebbe smiled his characteristic smile, chuckled and said to them, really is that so, well then tell me what did Dovid HaMelech say in Tehillim Hashem Shamra Nafshi ki Chossid Ani? According to you he should have said Ki Lamdan Ani?!

The Rebbe's Ahavas Yisroel extends to all Jews from all walks of life. I was once zoche to be with the rebbe in Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh on his father's Yahrzeit on the way back to Raanana we stopped at the gas station to fill up. The rebbe noticed from his window next to the driver's seat that directly across from us was another driver who was bareheaded he was about to bite into a sandwhich. One second! Said the rebbe to the driver, are you Jewish? Yes admitted the surprised driver. Well then here take this, the rebbe removed his wide brimmed felt hat and took of his own yarmulke, offering it to the stunned driver, he said "here take this and make a beracha! How can a Yid eat without a beracha?"

Another time we had just finished davening by the kosel, as we walked back to the car waiting for us we passed by a large group of youn Israeli soldiers who were there to be "sworn in" in their induction ceremony. Unabashed the rebbe walked straight up to the leader of the group and asked him in Ivrit if he was in charge of this group of soldiers. respectfully he answered in the affirmative and then the rebbe asked if he would do him a personal favor. I am assume you are swearing these soldiers in to serve? The latter nodded and indicated that this was so. Please if you are doing so and mentioning G-d's holy name I urge you to at least see to it these young soldiers have their heads covered with a kippa. He smiled and continued on his way.

In fact the rebbe is the only chassidishe rebbe I know that says the MiSheBerach for Tzahal himself at the amud on Shabbos and concludes it asking Hashem to return them all BeTeshuva Sheleima BiMehara. I once asked him why he does so? As he does not recite the MiSheBerach for the Medina nor does he celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut. He told me that since they guard and protect us we must daven to Hashem that He gives them the ability to do so. We must always daven to Hashem for His protection and they are His shlichim, the rebbe explained. In fact he was extremely distressed when he heard news that soldiers had been attacked by fanatics in the charedi camp and told me that it was a terrible unthinkable thing that they did to attack a Jew.

A non religious Jew asked to get an aliyah and bentsh gomel. But Rebbe I said, the man is not shomer shabbos. Nu said the rebbe, I never saw him be mechallel Shabbos, and you, you say so? So I dont have to believe you when you say something bad about another Jew. The Jew got his aliyah and Bentshed gomel.

There was once a ger tzedek who visited the rebbe many times before his conversion when he was still a non Jewish gentile. He was studying in a yeshiva and when the rebbe asked them to send bachurim to help make a minyan they sent our gentile friend who had never told them he wasnt Jewish! In fact he often visited the rebbe many times, no one knew he wasnt a Yid and no one took any precautions around him for Yayin Nesech counting him for the minyan etc. One day he revealed to the yeshiva he was attending the truth. They sent him back to the US to convert. When he had undergone conversion he then realized what he had done. Here he had attended the rebbe's minyan and home and accidentally caused the rebbe to not have a minyan of ten or stam yayin etc. He wrote the rebbe a letter of apology. Not only was the rebbe not makpid. He welcomed the ger tzedek with open arms back to his home and treated him as an honored guest many times. Finally when B"H the young man was engaged the rebbe himself sent out the invitations signed himself and the Rebitzen on them and led the couple down to the chuppah to build a bayis ne'eman beYisroel.

The Rebbe was raised in a rebbishe home and he and all his brothers were crowned to serve as rebbe even in their father's lifetime. His older brother lived in Williamsburg was called Strozhnitz, the next brother was the Moshulou Rebbe of Moshulou Parkway Bronx and later in Boro Park, his youngest brother is called the Kalischer and holds court in Flatbush.

The fact that the rebbe would be a rebbe was to his parents a foregone conclusion. He told this story about his mother A"H

1. Three stories I heard recently from my Rebbe Shlit"a the Clevelander Rebbe of Raanana:

The Tafkid of a Rebbe

We were discussing the hardships of working for a living and how a Rebbes parnassah and financial hardship are part of his mesirus nefesh, "A Rebbe is a Rebbe, not a businessman, my Rebbe told me," and so he continued with the following story:

When my Rebbe was a teenage bachur he was studying the beis medrash. He soon met a chassid of his father, the Strozhnitzer who took a liking to the young Rebbe's son and began to involve him in some of his ideas. He was a wealthy succesful businessman and entrepreneur, and he was eager to partner with my Rebbe. My Rebbe's mother noticed this and did not like it. One day she called my Rebbe in to her and said:

"I notice you are spending too much time with that businessman." Then my Rebbe continued to quote his saintly mother, in choked sobs with tears in his eyes he related, "Isaac'el," she said (My Rebbe is named after Rav Yitzchak Isaac of Komarno) "Isaac'el, I did not shed tears to the Ribbono Shel Olam and daven and beg Him for children so they should be businessman ! I want you to be devoted Oved Hashem and nothing else!" With tears in his eyes my Rebbe concluded: "Azay Heilige Mama! - I had such a holy mother!"

He certainly did . . .,

2.The Golden Coin Dripped Blood

and then he added regarding Pidyonos - the monetary donation handed to a Rebbe along with the kvitel - the note inscribed with the names and requests of the petitioner(s). "My zeide (grandfather) the Rebbe Reb Mordechail'e (founder of Nadworna's dynasty) once told his chassidim that if they could snap the golden reinish coin he accepted as a pidyon in half his very own blood would pour out from the coin!" (Alluding to the sweat blood and tears of toil that the tzadik did in order to grant his petitioners salvation and thus earn his keep).

3.Who's the Ba'alHaBus?
Regarding the concept of Shidduchim my Rebbe related how his mother and father's shidduch came about.

"My Babbe, (Reb Isamar of Nadworna's Rebbitzen) once came to the zeida Reb Isamar (son of Rav Meir of Kretchnif) and said, I was told in a  dream last night that Esther'el from Satmar (my Rebbe's mother, the daughter of Reb Bertzi of Satmar [son of Reb Mordechaile of Nadworna] ) is the shidduch for our son Ber'l (my Rebbe's father). 'Well,' replied Reb Isamar, 'who do you think is the Ba'al HaBus here? (who is the master of this house?) you or me? If she is the heaven sent shidduch for our son, let them reveal to me from on High in a dream!' And so it was that night Reb Isamar dreamed that he was standing at the window and saw people running to and fro outside, he asked them where they were all hurrying off to? and they said, didn't you hear that the Rebbe Reb Bertzi is here! (who was no longer alive at the time), Reb Isamar put on his Razhvulke (the silk satin overcoat) and proceeded to the train station where the train had arrived, he stepped onto the platform and the door opened, Reb Bertzi stretched out his hand to him in greeting and said Mazal Tov Mazal Tov! and so was the shidduch, sealed. The next morning Reb Isamar wrote a letter to Satmar and his parents became engaged."

I had the zechus a few time to travel with my Rebbe, the Clevelander Rebbe Shlita of Raanana up North to Kivrei Tzadikim.

He related that we would imyh first stop in Tiveria by Rav Meir Baal HaNess, as to why we would go there first (usually many people begin with Rashbi in Meron) he related that when he asked his zeide, Rav Isamar of Nadvorna Zatzal, where to go first that Rav Isamar told him to first visit Rav Meir.

I asked my Rebbe, why? My Rebbe said he did not ask his grandfather as to the reason for this. I speculated whether it was because the Nadworna dynasty hails back its ancestry to Rav Modechaileh's uncle Rav Meir of Premishlan of whom the tzadikim used to say (I saw this in the sefer Raza DeUvda Kretshnif) that Rav Meir of Premishlan is Rav Meir Baal HaNess and that he is the same Rav Meir (Der Reb Meir and Der Reb Meir zaynen der zelben Rav Meir) ? He speculated that it is possible that this is why.

He then related a story that (I saw this also in Raza DeUvda) once a Jewish woman came crying tearfully pleading with Rav Meir of Premishlan that her son merit to have the same level as the tzadik did. Rav Meir answered her admonishingly with a jest "Not in all gardens do such Meiren (carrots in Yiddish) grow!"

Last year around this time before Shabbos HaGadol I was in Detroit with my rebbe staying by Rabbi Meir Kranzer the rebbe's achsanya and we visited a neighbor HaRav Shmuel Kaufman an einikel of Rav Herman (of fame as in the bio about him All for The Boss).

The two sat and exchanged Eliyahu HaNavi stories!

Rav Kaufman related how many many orchim would be his zeide's Rav Herman 's guests as he kept a home open to orchim with a high standard of kashrus. Often he would help them make the many beds, cook the food for Shabbos and help get the orchim anything they needed.

One "guest" came and asked for a meal, Rebitzen Herman quickly prepared it for him for which he gave them his beracha but when they came to attend to his needs further he had vanished! Rav Kaufman said that they believed it must have been Eliyahu HaNavi.

My rebbe then countered with a story of how they had had a "guest" who also visited their home in Cleveland who had similarly vanished without a trace.

It was erev shabbos chol hamoed pesach and a strangely attired "guest" came knocking at the door.
In Cleveland the rebbe's shul & beis midrash was on the ground floor and the
2nd floor was were the bedrooms & dining room and pesach kitchen were located.
The Yid rang the bell, and he looked strange like a beggar, he asked if we had anything to eat
but strangely enough whatever the rebitzen offered he seemed to eat just a bit
and refused the rest, again and again he requested food yet he didnt seem to actually
eat anything really at all. Then he got up thanked us and gave us berachos for our kindness
and hospitality and announced "I am leaving please give me some food to take along,"
We were surprised and so we asked him "Where are you going?," "I have where to stay."
He took the package of food and walked out. At that moment I thought to myself, recalled the rebbe
where can he possibly go and stay on erev shabbos chol hamoed? So after left I also followed
I went down a flight, and I watched to see him leave, I wished to see where he was going
But When I went down and he had vanished, now he was not a young enough man to have run,
and he had to have gone down a flight of stairs and gone out of eyesight?
Yet he vanished, I searched for him and came up emptyhanded
Finally when I came back I discovered the package we had given him
all the food was left by the door, blessings he gave food he didnt eat
I said to myself perhaps it was Eliyahu HaNavi!?