Thursday, May 31, 2007

More On Katnus & When Not To Use A Sick Person's Name

I wrote a post for Parshas Bamidbar, based on Degel Machane Ephraim, involving Reb Nachman Horedenker and katnus. I couldn't help but notice the Degel on Parshas Bahaloscha again involving Reb Nachman Horedenker and katnus. Below is also Torah from Reb Nachman Horedenker's grandson, Reb Nachman of Breslov, in connection with the Degel.

Reb Nachman Horedenker says that if someone is in a state of katnus, he can be lifted up by knowing that there are people in a state of gadlus. This is alluded to by the posuk (10:7) וּבְהַקְהִיל אֶת הַקָּהָל תִּתְקְעוּ וְלֹא תָרִיעוּ And when the assembly is gathered, sound a tekia and not a teruah. When the congregation is in achdus, together with love, like a tekia (which is one long sound as opposed to a teruah, which is a broken up sound) then even if an individual at times is in a state of katnus he can pull himself out of it by including himself in the congregation, which is in a state of gadlus.

The Degel Machane Ephraim writes further that the Toldos Yaakov Yosef says in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that when one falls into a state of katnus, it is to raise up those that have fallen from their level. As the posuk above says: "And when the assembly is gathered" - meaning the am, and the "fallen ones" are called am, then "sound a tekia and not a teruah", meaning, through togetherness and not divisiveness, you can gather together the people, by lifting them up from their low levels.


The Degel Machane Ephraim says that when Miriam was sick, Moshe Rabbeinu said קֵל נָא רְפָא נָא לָהּ. Usually when one prays for a sick person the sick person's name and mother's name is mentioned, but here Moshe Rabbeinu didn't mention the names. There is an allusion to the names in the posuk, as רְפָא נָא is exactly the same gematria as מרים יוכבד, the sick one and her mother.

Reb Nachman of Breslov explains the reason why Moshe Rabbeinu alluded to the names is because when there are dinim (harsh judgements) on a sick person, mentioning the name of the person strenghtens the dinim on the person. Therefore, since there were dinim on Miriam, Moshe Rabbeinu alluded to the names through gematria, without mentioning them explicitally. (Likutei Mohoran 174)


I asked Rabbi Chaim Kramer of the Breslov Research Institute, how to apply this practically; do we mention the sick person's name or not? Rabbi Kramer responded: "The custom is not to mention the name when by the bedside of the person who is sick. Away from the ill person we do mention the name and the mother's name."

15 Sivan - Yahrzeits

Yehuda ben Yaakov Avinu (1436 B.C.E.)
R' Yedidyah Raphael Chai Abulafia (1869) Head of Yeshiva Beis El, Yeshiva of Mekubalim in Yerushalayim
R' Sholom Shekalo (1919) Tzadik of the Syrian community of Aram Soba
R' Yaakov Yisroel V'Yishurin Rubin of Sasregen HY"D (1884-1944) ben R' Boruch of Gorla, scion of Ropshitz. Murdered in Auschwitz. Wrote hagaos on Shulchon Aruch. One of his sons open the Sulitzer Shul in Far Rockaway, NY. Anothe son is Rebbe of Muzai - Ropshitz, on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, NY, whose Rebbetzin a'h, a niece of the Satmar Rebbe, wrote a fascinating book for Artscroll: The Final Solution Is Life, A Chassidic Dyansty's Story of Survival and Rebuilding about their's and the Satmar Rebbe's escape from the Nazi's y's. Another son has a shul in Midwood, the world renown Khal Sasregen .

Reb Chaim of Volozhin

Reb Ahron Kotler told over the following story:
There was a man who donated large amounts of money every month to the Yeshiva of Volozhin. Reb Chaim, the Rosh Yeshiva, went to visit the man to thank him. The generous benefactor told him that he has no family and the only thing he wants in return is for someone to say kaddish and learn Mishnayos for him when he leaves this world. Reb Chaim assured him that he would do this personally.

Several years later this man died, and Reb Chaim attended the funeral which was on a very hot summer day. After returning home, Reb Chaim, remembering his promise, immediately starting learning Mishnayos for the neshama of this man. He was learning Seder Toharos and was having trouble understanding a Mishna. From his toiling to understand the Mishna and the heat, Reb Chaim fell asleep. While asleep, the recently deceased benefactor came to him in a dream and thanked him for learning Mishnayos for him and proceeded to fully explain the Mishna that Reb Chaim couldn't figure out. After this incident, Reb Chaim said that he always knew that one who supported Torah would get to learn and understand Torah in Olam Habah, but he never realized how fast this happens. The funeral was hours ago and this man was explaining one of the most difficult Mishnayos to one of the greatest Torah scholars of the generation.

After Reb Ahron Kotler finished the story, a student asked Reb Ahron why he leave the Yeshiva and support many Torah scholars and then he will know all that Torah in Olam Habah. Reb Ahron responded beautifully: "It is 100% accurate that you will know all that Torah in Olam Habah, but what kind of Olam Hazeh will you have without learning Torah.
(Similarly, Reb Elazar Shach was once speaking with one of the great supporters of Torah, and Rav Shach said that he is really not sure which one of them will get more reward in Olam Habah, but he said that he himself definitely has the better Olam Hazeh.)

Many people say that Reb Chaim Volozhiner's Nefesh HaChaim is the Litvish response to Chasidus and that the sefer proves that many thing said by the great Chassidish Rebbes are in error. Reb Gedaliah Kenig wrote a sefer, Chayei Nefesh, proving that this is incorrect and there is no argument between them, He says that he has kabala passed down that there is no argument between Chassidim and Misnagdim on the principles and foundations of Yidishkeit, as they are beyond dispute. Parts have been translated into English by Rabbis Dovid Sears and Dovid Zeitlin, of The Breslov Center , and are available for download (PDF) - Part 1 and Part 2. They are quite fascinating and explain a lot.

The yahrzeit of Reb Chaim of Volozhin is 14 Sivan - Zchuso Yogen Aleinu

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

14 Sivan - Yahrzeits

R' Chaim of Volozhin (1749-1821) Talmid muvhak of the Vilna Gaon, wrote
Nefesh HaChaim, Ruach Chaim and Nishmas Chaim. Founded the Volozhin Yeshiva

R' Chaim Dovid Amar, talmid of the Ohr HaChaim

R' Moshe ben R' Pinchas Dovid HaLevi Horowitz (1985), Bostoner Rebbe

R' Nissim Chaim ben R' Yaakov Yagen (1999) Tzadik from Yerusalayim who was
very involved in kiruv.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Preparing For Rosh Hashana Already

The Satmar Rebbe, Reb Yoel Teitelbaum, used to say in the name of his father, the Kedushas Yom Tov, that when we read in Parshas Naso נָשֹׂא אֶת רֹאשׁ – "רֹאשׁ" is a reference to Rosh Hashana, telling us that we already need to start preparing ourselves for Rosh Hashana.

13 Sivan - Yahrzeits

R' Ephraim Katz of Vilna (1616-1678), Shaar Ephraim

R' Avrohom Yitzchaki (1729), Tzadik in Yerushalaim, author of Zera Avrohom

R' Chaim Yisroel Morgenstern of Pilov (1905) ben R' Dovid of Kotzk ben R' Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. Wrote Shaelu Shelom Yerushalaim and Maaseh Hamenorah, which are included in sefer Shearis Yisroel

R' Yaakov Meir ben R' Shlomo Betzalel Biderman (1869-1941) Married into the Gerrer Dynasty, was very involved in Agudas Yisroel. Died in the Warsaw Ghetto.

R' Yitzchok Issac Weiss of Spinka HY"D (1944) ben R' Yosef Meir, Author of Chakal Yitzchok

R' Yaakov Mutzafi (1983), Mekubal & Rov of the Sefardic Eida Chareidis in Yerushalaim

An Unholy Thought Disguises Itself As a Holy One To Reb Menachem Mendel of Bar

Once, while davening, Reb Menachem Mendel of Bar, who was one of the talmidei Baal Shem Tov, thought to himself: "How can I daven to Hashem when I am so full of aveiros?" He figured this was a holy thought until he pondered it for a while and realized that such thoughts never bother him while he's eating, only while davening, so it must not be a real holy thought. He immediately banished this thought from his mind.
There is much to learn from this small story, as from every story of tzadikim.
Reb Menachem Mendel of Bar - 12 Sivan 5525
Zchuso Yogen Aleinu

Monday, May 28, 2007

12 Sivan- Yahrzeits

R' Menachem Mendel of Bar (1765), one of the early great talmidei Baal Shem Tov

R' Dovid Pardo (1710 - 1792) Author of Maskil LeDovid on Rashi and Chasdei Dovid on Tosefta.

R' Avrohom ben R' Noach Weinberg (1981) Slonimer Rebbe, author of Birchas Avrohom

Sunday, May 27, 2007

11 Sivan - Yahrzeits

R' Yechi ben Moshe Levi (1932) Rosh Yeshiva and Av Beis Din in Yemen

R' Yitzchok Yaakov ben R' Yosef Yehuda Weiss (1989), Av Beis Din of Eidah Chareidis in Yerushalaim, his Minchas Yitzchak is one of the most respected halacha seforim of recent times.

R' Yehuda (Yidel) ben R' Alter Yechezkel Horowitz of Dzhikov (1989)

R' Shmuel Rosenberg, Rov of Unsdorf, wrote Be'er Shmuel

R' Shlomo Zalman Bloch (1976) talmid of the Chofetz Chaim

10 Sivan - Yahrzeits

R' Elazar Rokeach (1741) ben R' Shmuel Shmelke, Maaseh Rokeach, descendant of R' Elazar of Garmiza

R' Moshe of Rozvadov (1894) ben R' Eliezer of Dzikov

R' Yishmael HaKohen (1811) Zera Emes

R' Ezra Harari-Raful (1936) Syrian Mekubal in Eretz Yisroel

Friday, May 25, 2007

9 Sivan - Shabbos Yahrzeits

R' Moshe ben R' Naftal Hirsch Rivkes, author of Be'er Hagolah on Shulchan Aruch (1672)

R' Yisroel ben R' Shmuel Ashkenazi of Shklov (1839) Talmid of the Gra who moved to Eretz Yisroel, Wrote Pe'as HaShulchon

R' Yaakov Chaim ben R' Yitzchak Baruch Sofer (1870-1938), Wrote Kaf HaChaim, for many Sephardim it is the equivilent of the Mishna Berura. The Sefer Kaf HaChaim is used in many other circles as well, and contains many things according to the Arizal.

R' Yitzchak Issac ben R' Yisachor Beirish of Ziditchov (1873)

R' Moshe Asio (1838) Tzadik of Solonika, wrote Higid Mordechai

R' Ahron Ben Azriel (1879) Av Beis Din of the Sephardim in Yerushalaim, Rosh Yeshiva of Beis El, Wrote K'fi Ahron

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Shavuos Yahrzeits

The first day of Shavuos is the yahrzeit of:

Dovid HaMelech, Dovid ben Yishai Avdicha Mishichecha

The Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760). Born in the Hebrew year "NaChaS, 5458, on Chai Elul. There is a difference of opinion whether the yahrzeit is the first or second day of Shevuos. I heard that there are certain descendants of the Baal Shem Tov that have a kabala that it is the second day and there is ssupposed to be a story behind it. I am trying to find out more information on this. If anyone has any knowledge of this please let me know. Thank You.

There is a connection between Dovid HaMelech and the Baal Shem Tov, as the Baal Shem Tov descends from Dovid HaMelech. When the Baal Shem Tov’s name is written, it is often written as הבעש״ט. This is because the gematria of הבעש״ט is exactly the same as דוד בן ישי.

The Imrei Emes of Ger, R’ Avrohom Mordechai Alter (1866-1948). He was the son of Reb Yehudah Leib, the Sfas Emes. Under his leadership, the Gerrer Chassidim grew to number over 100,000. A large portion of them were killed by the Nazis, yimach shemom. The Imrei Emes escaped and rebuilt the Gerrer Chassidus.

R' Avrohom Azriel, Mekubal of Yeshiva Beis El

R' Yehuda Rosner(1944), Imrei Yehuda

The second day of Shavuos is the yahrzeit of:

Hoshea ben Be'eri, Navi

Avrohom ben Avrohom , the famous Ger Tzedek of Vilna, originally the son of Count Pototski. His family was a well respected family, but he decided to become a Jew. He was from the same family of Sofia, after whom Sofia Park in Uman is named. He was killed for refusing to give up his newfound religion. The Vilna Gaon offered to save him through the use of Kabbala, but the Ger Tzedek refused. He said he wanted to give his life up “al kiddush Hashem”. He also said that the souls of converts were those individuals that wanted to accept the Torah, but weren’t able to because the rest of their nation didn’t want to accept it.

R' Zelig Reuvein ben R' Tzvi Hirsch Bengis (1864-1953) Av Beis Din in Yerushalaim

R' Shmuel Ehrenfeld of Mattesdorf (1990)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Reb Wolf Zhitomir Does Teshuva For Clapping His Hands

Erev Shavuos, 5 Sivan, is the 210th yahrzeit of Reb Zev Volf of Zhitomir,
was one of the greatest talmidim of the Magid of Mezritch, with his seat
being between Reb Ahron of Karlin and Reb Mendel of Vitebsk. He is the
author of Ohr HaMeir, one of the essential texts of Chassidus. He may not
be as well known, because he didn't leave behind a dynasty, but in the world
of Chassidus, the Ohr HaMeir is among the most respected seforim.

Reb Volf's way was to never show any outward sign of emotion in serving
Hashem, such as clapping hands or davening loudly. He said this could only
be done when you feel inside the way you want to express yourself outside.
Reb Volf said that in all his life he never showed any outward signs except
once. This is what he said happened:

He was in the Beis Medrash one Erev Shabbos, with many of the other
tzadikim, and the Magid was sitting in his house, which was adjacent to the
Beis Medrash, reading the parsha,
shnaim mikra v'echod targum. (He always
did this in a closed room, without anyone watching.) The door to the Magid
accidentally opened and all the talmidim in the Beis Hamedrash saw him in
this great state of kedusha - there was such a light coming from the face of
the Magid. The brothers, the Rebbe Reb Shmelke and the Haflah, and the
brothers, the Rebbe Reb Meilech and the Rebbe Reb Zisha ran out of the Beis
Hamedrash from fear. Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev was rolling under the
benches, feeling like his neshama was going to leave him.

And Reb Volf, from seeing this awesome sight of the Magid reviewing the
parsha, simply clapped his hands. Reb Volf said that for the rest of his
life he did teshuva for this outward sign of emotion - the clapping of his
hands. Praiseworthy is he whose teshuvah is on such an act.

What can be learnt out from this is that even those who follow tzadikim that
say to daven with outward emotion should strive to internalize in their
neshama the expressions the do externally.

Reb Zev Volf ben Reb Shmuel HaLevi of Zhitomir

Zchuso Yogen Aleinu

It is also the yahrzeit of R' Chaim Yaakov Safran of Komarna (1969) Author
of Shabbos Sholom U'Mevorach and Beis Avos. He was the son of R' Avrohom
Mordechai of Bureslov. Moved to the USA and the to Eretz Yisroel.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

3 Sivan - Yahrzeits

R' Yaakov Shimshon ben R' Yitzchok of Shpitovka (1801) Was considered a great Halachic authority; he is quoted by R' Ephraim Zalman Margolies in Sefer Zera Ephraim. Talmid of the Magid of Mezeritch, Toldos Yaakov Yosef and R' Pinchos of Koritz. Moved to Teveria, where he met Reb Nachman of Breslov. Traveled to Arab countries to collect money for the poor of Eretz Yisroel. See A Simple Jew for a story about R' Yaakov Shimshon.

R' Yosef Irgas (1730) Italian Kabbalist, author of Divrei Yosef and Shomer Emunim

R' Yisrael Tzvi of Koson HY"D (1944) ben R' Yehosef , was killed, "Al Kiddush Hashem" in Aushwitz

Thanks to Yitz of Heichal HaNegina for the following yahrzeits

R' Ovadia ben Avrohom Bartenura, the Rav -one of the most used commentaries on Mishna

Rebbetzin Chaya Sarah Kramer, who is the subject of this book.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Vizhnitzer and Munkatcher Debate Who Should Enter Gan Eden First

2 Sivan is the yahrzeit of 2 of the greatest Chasidish Rebbes of that time
R' Yisroel Hager ben R' Boruch of Vizhnitz, the Ahavas Yisrael (1936)

R' Chaim Eliezer ben R' Tzvi Hirsch Shapiro of Munkatch (1937), author of many seforim, including Minchas Elazar, Shaar Yisaschor, Nimukei Orach Chaim, and Divrei Torah
The following encounter, between theses two tzadikim, is told over:
They were once together, and as they were about to enter a house, each one wanted the other to enter first. Each one of these great Rebbes kept insisting that the other should enter first. Eventually, the Ahava Yisroel of Vizhnitz entered first (perhaps because he was 12 years older). The signifigance of this story was revealed several years later, when the Ahavas Yisroel passed away on 2 Sivan, and the next year the Minchas Elazar passed away on the first yahrzeit of the Ahavas Yisroel.
Zchusom Yogen Aleinu

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Degel Machane Ephraim on Bamidbar - When NOT To Emulate A Tzadik

The following is my understanding of the Degel Machane Ephraim on Parshas Bamidmar, writing in the name of his grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov. (Incidentally, this parsha contains the words “Degel Machane Ephraim”.)

The last posuk in Bamidbar (4:20) says:וְלֹא-יָבֹאוּ לִרְאוֹת כְּבַלַּע אֶת-הַקֹּדֶשׁ וָמֵתוּ And you should not go in to see as they cover the holy, or they will die.

At times, one will go to see a tzadik, in order to learn from his actions, however, the tzadik will be in a state of katnus (doing thing he normally wouldn’t, due of his lowered state), and this person will learn things improperly from him. This happened once, when someone saw Reb Nachman Horedenker drinking coffee, while wearing his talis and tefilin, and this individual proceeded to do the same thing, thinking this is a proper way to act.

This posuk alludes this important lesson to us, in the: And you should not go in to see – and learn improperly, as they cover the holy – meaning while the tzadik is in a state of katnus, or they will die - meaning you will fall from your current level.

I could just imagine the scene. A fellow comes into shul, sees some people drinking coffee before davening and thinks to himself that these guys don’t know what they are doing. He puts on his talis and tefilin, then makes himself a coffee and smugly tells his friends that an erlicher yid should really drink coffee like this – only while wearing talis and tefilin.

Similarly, there are those who daven Shachris after the zman and sometimes even after chatzos, because they saw a great tzadik davening late. Some of them actually think they are extra frum because of this and look askance at those who are particular to daven bizmanah. The difference is the tzadik didn’t roll out of bed at the crack of noon. (This is not the place for the discussion of tzadikim davening late, but they have reasons for this and don’t want the general public to copy them. One of the great tzadikim, who davened Shachris after the zman often, said that every day he intends to daven at 8:30AM, however, for reasons beyond his control he usually is not able to daven at his intended time. It says one sin causes another sin, so if this is the only sin one can find in a tzadik, it must not be a sin.)

Rosh Chodesh Sivan - Yahrzeits

R' Eliezer David Greenwald of Satmar (1928) author of Keren L'David

R' Yechiel Aharon ben R' Dovid Leifer (2000), the Bania-Nadvorna Rebbe of Tzefas

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Reb Meir'l of Premishlan

Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 29 Iyar, is the yahrzeit of the famous tzadik, Reb Meir'l of Premishlan.  He was the son of R' Aron Aryeh Leib of Premishlan, who was the son of R' Meir "HaGadol" of Premishlan, a student of the Baal Shem Tov. When Reb Meir'l was a little boy he was already something very special. His mother commented on this saying: "Meirlech like this don't grow in every garden" (Meirlech means carrots in Yiddish).
Reb Meir'l and Reb Yisroel of Ruzhin were very good friends, even though they had very different ways of serving Hashem. The Rizhiner lived in grand luxury while Reb Meir lived with the bare minimum. One day Reb Meir'l was riding in a simple wagon drawn by a lone horse and he came across R' Yisroel of Rizhin riding in a wagon drawn by four powerful horses. Reb Meir asked him why he needed this. The Rizhiner replied that if he got stuck in the mud, these horses could get him out easily. Reb Meir responded: "since I have one weak horse, I am careful not to get stuck in the mud, in the first place".
He was also on very good terms with Gedolim from the non-chassidic world, such as Reb Shlomo Kluger and Reb Yosef Shaul Natanson. There are many recorded Divrei Torah and interchanges between them. Some of the most beautiful stories out there involve Reb Meir of Premishlan. To me he was always one of the most beloved figures in Chasidish stories. I read a biography, written in English, years ago, about Reb Meir and Reb Uri of Srelisk; I searched online and couldn't find any information on it. It had lots of great stories and Divrei Torah.
It is also the yahrzeit of R' Shmuel Shlomo of Radzin HY"D (1942) ben R' Mordechai Yosef Elazar
Zchusom Yogen Aleinu

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Segulas For Good Children

This Thursday is Yom Kippur Koton, Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan. There is a well known minhag to say a tefila for one’s children that they should go in the proper derech, on that day. The source for this is the Shlah HaKodosh (Mesechta Tamid, Ner Mitzva), where he says:

“There is an obligation to daven and ask from Hashem every need we have, at any time, because it all comes from Him. People should be especially careful to daven for their children to be “kosher” forever. My heart tells me that an auspicious time for this is Erev Rosh Chodesh of Sivan, because that is the month we received the Torah and we are called “children of Hashem our G-d. It is worthy for man and wife to fast and do teshuva.” (It is actually Yom Kippur Koton. Some daven a special Mincha with slichos, and some also fast a whole or half day and read Vayichal from a Sefer Torah, like on a Taanis Tzibur.)

The tefila the Shlah lists was written by Reb Shabsei Sofer of Premishla, a talmid of the Levush, and can be found here.

The Shlah says one should also have in mind their children by Birchas HaTorah (v’nihiye anachnu v’tzetzoeinu), Ahava Rabbah (v’sein bilibeinu) and Uva Litzion (l’maan lo nega lorik v’lo neled l’beholo)

Tanna Devei Eliyahu says one should constantly ask for mercy from Hashem that his children shouldn’t sin.

Sefer Chasidim says one should daven for their children and grandchildren.

Rabbeinu Yonah in Iggeres HaTeshuva says a woman should daven for her children, night, morning and afternoon, that they should fear Hashem and be successful in Torah. He says she should also do this while giving tzedaka and light Shabbos candles.

Many of the great tzadikim (from all segments, Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Litvish, Chassidish) said that all of the success of their children came about because they constantly davened and cried to Hashem for that their children should go in the proper derech.

Other Segulas For Good Children

There are many segulas for good children; I will list a few here.

It is brought down in many places that tznius is a great segula for good children. The Mishna Berura quotes the Gemara in Yoma that says a very modest woman name Kimchis, merited having many sons who became Kohanim Gedolim because of her great modesty.

Making sure that people who serve Hashem have parnasa is a segula that one’s children won’t be swayed to bad influences. (Sefer Hamidos)

R’ Yissachor Dov of Belz told someone whose son was straying a bit from the ways of his father, to bring guests into his house.

Serving meat at a Bris is a segula for the child to grow up properly. (Divrei Yechezkel)

See here for a segula to do after a child is born.

Learning Sefer Degel Machane Ephraim is a segula for good children. See A Simple Jew for the source. You can get a PDF of the sefer here.

Reb Nachman of Breslov says that if a boy comes to him before the age of 7, he will be saved from sin. (Chaye Mohoran/Tzadik) Reb Avrohom B'Reb Nachman Chazan says that this also applies these days, after Reb Nachman's passing. (Kochvey Ohr) Many people, even ones that aren't "Breslovers", take their sons to Uman at various times during the year, before they turn 7.

I've heard in the name of tzadikim that washing a childs hands, negel vaser, before the age of 3, even though not halachically required, is a segula for the child's yiras shomayim.

28 Iyar - Yahrzeits

Shmuel Hanavi (878 B.C.E.) and his mother Chana

R' Yitzchak of Kurweil, author of the S'mak, Sefer Mitzvos Kotton (1280)

Monday, May 14, 2007

27 Iyar - Yahrzeits

R' Avrohom Shmuel Bacharach (1615), married the grandaughter of the
Maharal of Prague and was the grandfather of the Chavas Yair

R' Yitzchok Abulafia (1825), Av Beis Din of Tzefas

R' Shlomo Zalman ben R' Yehuda Leib Schneerson of Kapust (1900), author of Mogen Avos, grandson of the Tzemach Tzedek of Lubavitch

R' Eliezer Zev of Kretchnif HY"D (1944) ben R' Meir of Kretchnif

R' Yerachmiel Yehuda Meir ben R' Shimon Sholom Kalish, the Amshinover Rebbe (1976)

Free Tikun Chatzos Wake-Up Service

I received the following email from someone, Yaakov Shalom, offering a great free service, which is worthy of being publicized:
My Dear Brother,
It's no secret that we are in difficult times.
Klal Yisrael needs so badly to be uplifted from this Galus.
"Al Eile Ani BoCHiya Eini Eini Yarda Mayim".
It is known from all the sefarim the importance of waking up for Chatzos to
Say Tikkun Chatzos to uplift the Shechina from the dirt.
Knowing clearly how important it is to say Tikkun Chazos,
I still find it so difficult to say it.
I live in middle of nowhere and I feel if we can make a Chevra Tikkun Chatzos that
we can give each other chizzuk to wake up and say it at the same time.
If you are interested in getting a phone call to your home or Cell phone
at a specific time please email me the Number and the days of the week
you wish to get up.
I will be following the Chatzos of Reb Nachman which is always 6 Hours
after Tzeis HCoChavim.
You dont have to send your name just the Number and the time.
If people are interested in Eretz Yisrael, we could call you while it's still day by us at the time you are interested in.
Wishing you just Bracha VHatzlacha.
We Should be Zoche to see the Geulas Hashchinah BMHeira Vyomeinu. Amen!!!
Yaakov Shalom
email: yaakovshalom (at) comcast (dot) net

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Reb Shlomke's Miraculous Cholent

Reb Shlomo Goldman of Zvhil, known as Reb Shlomke, was a descendent, ben acher ben, from the Magid of Zlochov. While he was Rebbe in Zvhil, he managed to conceal his greatness. Though everyone knew he was learned, they didn't realize what a lofty level Reb Shlomke was on until the following story happened:
One of the town shikers (drunkard) of Zvhil was a man that we'll call Andrei. He was basically harmless, being content with a bottle or two of vodka. Although Andrei was not Jewish, he liked to frequent the Jewish section of town, because he wouldn't get beaten up there, like in other parts of town, and he knew that the Jews were compassionate people, who would give him food when he went begging.
One Saturday morning, after a big drinking binge the previous night, Andrei felt especially hungry. He knocked on several doors, but got no answer, as it was Shabbos and the residents were in shul. The next house he went to also had no answer, but he noticed the door was not locked properly. The homeowners, in their rush to get to shul had left the door unlocked. Andrei opened the door, and was greeted by a set table with beautiful golden challahs, a decanter filled with red wine and other delicacies. There was a heavenly aroma coming from the stove; the smell of the cholent and kugel was making his mouth water. Andrei didn't know where to start first. The wine attracted him the most, but he thought it would be best to get some food in his empty stomach first. He opened up the pot of cholent and scooped out a big portion for himself, which he shoved down his throat like a man who had never seen food before. A huge piece of kugel followed the cholent. At this point, he heard people outside, walking home from shul, and he thought it would be best to leave the house right away, before he would be caught redhanded. He was still chewing his food, as he headed for the door, but was stopped in his tracks by the golden challah on the table; it looked so good and he was still so hungry. He ripped out a huge chunk of challah, took a big bite from it and reached for the doorknob. He had so much food in his mouth that he couldn't chew properly. A piece of challah went down the wrong pipe and he couldn't breathe. Andrei gasped for air and his face turned colors, as he began to choke on the challah, and moments later he fell down, dead, in front of the door.
A few minutes later, the couple who lived in this house arrived home. They tried opening the door but there was something preventing the door from opening more than a crack. The husband pushed with all his might and got the door opened. They walked into the house and looked to see what was blocking the door. They were in a state of shock when they saw, Andrei, the town shiker, lying on the floor of their house. The husband stated shaking him and yelling at him to get out of his house, but soon realized that Andrei was completely lifeless. He saw the big chunk of challah next to Andrei and surmised what had transpired. They began to panic. Just recently there had been pogroms in the area. If people found out that Andrei was found dead in a Jews house they will accuse the Jews of killing him. Even though they couldn't care less about Andrei, they would use any opportunity to attack the Jews. The wife told the husband to go run to the Rebbe, Reb Shlomke, and ask for his advice.
The homeowner rushed over to the Rebbes house and told him what happened. The Rebbe concured with him, that the townspeople might use this as an excuse to make another pogrom. Reb Shlomke took a spoonful of his cholent and told him to take it and put it into the dead shiker's mouth. Thoughts started going through the man's mind; how could he feed a dead man, but he did not ask any questions, as he was a simple Jew who had complete emunah in whatever the Rebbe told him.
He walked home briskly, being careful not to drop the cholent. He tried to put the cholent in Andrei's mouth, but his mouth was sealed shut. So the man said in a panic "Reb Shlomke said I should feed you the cholent". At the mention of the Rebbe's name, the lifeless shiker opened his mouth, and the man quickly placed the Rebbe's cholent in as far as he could. He almost fainted from what he saw next. Andrei got up from the floor and looking straight ahead, walked out the door. The man followed Andrei, curious to see what would happen. Andrei walked across town, in a zombie-like manner, looking straight ahead. After several minutes, Andrei arrived at his own house. As soon as he stepped in to his house, he fell down to the floor, lifeless as before.
The man ran back to his house to tell his wife over what happened. They had just witnessed an open miracle. They had seen a dead man get up and walk across town to his house. They now realized that Reb Shlomke was a lot more than he made himself out to be. The story spread quickly and everyone now knew that their Rebbe was a very holy man, who had tried to conceal his greatness. It is said that this story is what prompted Reb Shlomke to start thinking about moving to another place, where people wouldn't know him.
Eventually he did move to Yerushalaim, where he managed to conceal his identity until one day someone from Zvhil bumped into him in shul and revealed his identity. After that throngs of people flocked to him for his advice and help until his passing on 26 Iyar 5705/1945, the 41st day of sefira, yesod sheb'yesod. One of the tzadikim by the funeral smelled all sorts of fragrant spices coming from Reb Shlomke's body. Later on, he asked Reb Shlomke's son, Reb Gedaliah, what the source of this custom was. Reb Gedalia replied that they have no such custom. They realized that this beautiful smell was actually from this great tzadik himself. May his memory be a blessing.
Reb Shlomo ben Reb Mordechai
Zchuso Yogen Aleinu V'Al Kol Yisroel

Yesod Sheb'Yesod - 26 Iyar

On this day of Tzadik Yesod Olam, each of these tzadikim are special in their own way and all come from completely different backgrounds.
Rabbeinu Sa'adia Gaon (942)
Ramchal, R' Moshe Chaim Luzzato ben R' Yaakov Chai (1747), wrote many seforim, including Mesilas Yeshorom, Derech Hashem and Daas Tevunos. Died at age 39, which the Magid of Mezerich said was because the generation was not worthy of such a great tzadik. The Vilna Gaon said he did not find one extra word in the first 8 chapters of Mesilas Yesorim and that if he were still alive he would walk from Vilna to Italy to learn from him.
R' Yitzchok ben R' Chaim of Volozhin
R' Shlomo ben R' Mordechai of Zvhil (1945) See story above.
R' Shmuel Eliyahu of Zvolin, son of R' Yecheskel of Kuzmir and father of the first Modzhiter Rebbe (Thanks to Heichal HaNegina )
R' Yitzchok Issac Epstein of Homil (1857), better known as R' Aizel Homiler. He was a talmid of the first 3 Lubavitcher Rebbes, and author of Chanah Ariel and Maamar Shnei Hameoros. He was among the greatest Lubavitcher Chassidim. Many wanted him to become Rebbe, after the passing of the Mitteler Rebbe, but he declined and became a chosid of the much younger TzemachTzedek.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

25 Iyar - Yahrzeits

R' Ozer ben R' Meir HaKohen of Klimintov (1710), Even HaOzer

R' Chaim ben R' Menachem Mendel Hager of Kosov (1854), wrote Sefer Toras Chaim, he was the father of the first Vizhnitzer Rebbe.

R' Avrohom Yosef ben R' Meir Ash, Chassidish Rabbi in New York in the second half of the 19th century. He is buried in Queens, NY, in one of the old cemeteries.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Shabbos Behar-Bechukosai - R' Binyamin Mendelson, Who Dedicated Himself To The Observance Of Shmitah

This Shabbos, 24 Iyar, is the 28th yahrzeit of R' Binyomin ben R' Menachem Mendel Mendelson, Rov of Komemiyus. He was one of the founders of Moshav Komemiut, in Eretz Yisroel, which was one of the first moshavim to keep the laws of shmita. See here for the famous story about how their crops grew better after shmitah than the ones who didn't observe shmitah. Interestingly, his yahrzeit this year comes out on Behar-Bechukosai (he died the Monday after this parsha), where it talks about shmitah and the blessings that come through it's observance. This is testament to the deeds of this great Rov.

Also the yahrzeit of:

R' Yaakov ben R' Yaakov Moshe Lorberbaum of Lisa (his father died berore he was born, hence, the name), wrote Chaavas Daas and the Nesivos. Great-grandson of the Chacham Tzvi.

R' Eliezer Tzvi ben Yitzchak Issac Yehuda Yechiel Safrin of Komarna (1898), wrote Damesk Eliezer on Zohar

R' Chezkiah Aharon Chaim Pinkarli, Rov in Italy

R' Yitzchak Ibn Dana (1900), Rov in Fez, Morocco, wrote L'Yitzchok Reiach

R' David HaCohen Sakali (1948), wrote Kiryas Chanah Dovid

Thursday, May 10, 2007

23 Iyar - Yahrzeit

R' Shalom Bashari, Dayan in Yemen (1773)

Eliyahu HaNavi On Parshas Behar

Reb Mordechai of Lechovich says that the following Divrei Torah was heard by the Rebbe Reb Zisha of Anipoli, directly from Eliyahu HaNavi. The Noam Elimelech writes in the name of his brother, the Rebbe, Reb Zisha the following:

In Parshas Behar (25, 20-21) it says וְכִי תֹאמְרוּ מַה-נֹּאכַל בַּשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִת הֵן לֹא נִזְרָע וְלֹא נֶאֱסֹף אֶת-תְּבוּאָתֵנוּ. - And if you will say: 'What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we will not sow, nor gather in our crops'. וְצִוִּיתִי אֶת-בִּרְכָתִי לָכֶם בַּשָּׁנָה הַשִּׁשִּׁית וְעָשָׂת אֶת-הַתְּבוּאָה לִשְׁלֹשׁ הַשָּׁנִים. Then I will command My blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring crops sufficient for the three years.

What need was there for the posuk to say: "And if you will say: What shall we eat the seventh year?" If the Torah would just write the next posuk: "I will command My blessing....", wouldn’t that be enough? Then we wouldn’t have to ask: "What shall we eat…"

These pesukim teach us how Hashem sends blessing down to this world. There is a constant abundant flow of blessings (shefa) that Hashem sends down to us, through pipes. As long as we have proper bitachon in Hashem the flow of shefa continues, unabated. If, however, the bitachon is lacking, then the shefa gets disturbed and Hashem has to send down a new flow of shefa. Therefore, one should always have bitachon that Hashem will provide; otherwise he is going to cause the flow of shefa to be interrupted.

This is all seen in those pesukim. If one shows he doesn’t have bitachon by asking: "What shall we eat the seventh year?", then the shefa gets interrupted, causing Hashem to say: "I will command My blessing…"; He will now have to send down a new flow of shefa.

May we all be zoche to have proper bitachon in Hashem, with an uninterrupted flow of shefa showering down on us.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

22 Iyar - Yahrzeits

R' Mordechai Shraga Feivish Friedman of Husiyatin (1894) youngest son of R' Yisroel of Rizhin
R' Shlomo Eliezer ben R' Yaakov Alfandri, the Saba Kadisha (1930) See here for more.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Magid Of Chernobyl - Pure Simple Emunah

Although the Magid of Chernobyl was a gaon in Torah with a brilliant mind, he still knew when to act with complete simplicity, as can be seen from the following story:
The chassidim of R' Motel of Chernobyl saw him standing by the window moving his lips. They came close to hear what he was saying, imagining he was saying some deep Kabbalistic prayer. They were shocked by what they heard; the Rebbe was saying: "Ribono Shel Olam, the maid that helps out my wife wants to quit, but my wife really needs her help, so please make the maid change her mind." The chasidim couldn't believe what they heard, and asked the Rebbe why he, the great gaon, was praying like a simple person, asking Hashem for such a simple thing. Replied the Magid: "Who else should I ask?"
An invaluable lesson can be learned out from this story. Now matter how minor something may seem, we should turn to Hashem and ask for it. Nothing is too big or too small for Hashem, as this great gaon demonstrated that we need Hashems help for everything. This shows real pure emunah, when for each and every thing we need, we ask Hashem for it, and only then go about our hishtadlus to get what we need.
See Heicha HeNegina for more on R' Mordechai of Chernobyl.

Monday, May 7, 2007

20 Iyar - Yahrzeits

R' Saadia Marjok of Yerushalaim (1773)

R' Mordechai ben R' Menachem Nochum Twersky, Magid of Chernobyl (1838) See Heichal HaNegina for more.

R' Chaim Avrohom ben R' Moshe Gagin of Constantinople (1848), Rishon Letzion & Rosh Yeshiva of Beit El, wrote Mincha Tehora on Menachos and Responsa Chukei Chaim.

R' Yitzchok Eizik Halevi Rabinowitz, wrote Doros Harishonim to counter the false history written by maskilim

R' Eliyahu Elejimi, Mekubal and Av Beis Din in Yerushalaim

R' Yechi ben R' Avrohom Abuchatzeira (1935)

R' Yosef Valtuch, mekubal in Eretz Yisroel (1983)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

19 Iyar - Yahrzeits

Maharam MiRuttenberg, R' Meir ben R' Boruch, died in prison because he wouldn't allow the Jews to pay an enormous ransom to free him (1293) Rebbe of the Rosh

R' Shmuel Abuchatzeira - The forefather of the Abuchatzeira dynasty, which includes the Abir Yaakov and Baba Sali. Origianally the family name was Elbaz, but it was changed to Abuchatzeira, which means master of the carpet, after the well know story of the him travelling on top of a carpet over the sea, after he was refused passage on a ship. He was a talmid of R' Chaim Vital, and is mentioned by the Chida in Shem Hagedolim as being a great tzadik. He was born in Eretz Yisroel but lived in Syria for a while.

R' Menachem Mendel ben R' Yosef "Charif" Thurm of Rimanov (1815) He said he would do a favor for one who lights a candle for his neshama. He was one of the 4 main talmidim of the Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk. See Heichal HaNegina: How the Riminover became a Chassid

R' Ezra Attiah, Rosh Yeshivas Porat Yosef (1970)

R' Yaakov Moshe Soloveitchik of Zurich, Rosh Yeshiva in Lucerne (1995)

R' Avraham Chaim Pinaso (1896) Wrote sefer Beis El

R' Moshe of Brosholi, talmid of the Chofetz Chaim

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Lag BaOmer - Segulas & Minhagim

Lag BaOmer is the yahrzeit, Yom Hilula, of the Tanna HaKodosh, Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi), who is “Reb Shimon” in the Gemara and authored the Zohar HaKodosh. The Chida says we are joyous in honor of Rashbi, because that is what he wanted. (Avodas HaKodesh)

Why do we mourn on 7 Adar, the yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu (many people used to fast on this day), but celebrate on the yahrzeit of Rashbi? Because the Gemara says (Temuros 16a) that 3000 halachos were forgotten during the mourning for Moshe Rabbeinu, therefore, we mourn. On the day Rashbi left this world, however, so man secrets of the Torah were revealed, making it a day of joy and celebration. (Ner Yisroel)

The days of Iyar are mesugal for refuah, especially the days of hod, and more so Lag BaOmer, which is hod sheb’hod.

The Arizal says that Rashbi blesses all those that come to Meron to celebrate on his Yom Hilula. (Hilula D’Rashbi)

The Tzemach Tzedek points out that the first letters of מ׳לך ר׳ופא נ׳אמן ו׳רחמן spell מרון, meaning in the merit of the tzadik at rest in Meron, Hashem will heal the sick.

The posuk (Yeshaya 57:19) says שָׁלוֹם שָׁלוֹם לָרָחוֹק וְלַקָּרוֹב, אָמַר ד׳-וּרְפָאתִיוpeace, peace to those far and those near, says Hashem, and I will heal him. ורפאתיו is the same gematria as שמעון בר יוחאי. The allusion from this is that even those who couldn’t come to Meron for Lag BaOmer can have their prayers answered, wherever they are (as the posuk says “to those far and those near”), and receive a yeshua in the merit of Rashbi. (Hilula D’Rashbi)

Similarly, Mesechta Pesachim (51b) says one can rely on Rashbi, if you’re in front of him or if you’re not in front of him. This alludes that one can receive a yeshua on his Yom Hilula “in front of him”, praying by his tzion, or “not in front of him”, meaning, any other place you may be on Lag BaOmer. (Kol Aryeh)

R' Avrohom of Kalisk would say, when he went to the mikvah on Lag BaOmer morning, that he accepts upon himself the kedushah of Yom Tov.

R’ Chaim Elazar of Munkach points out an allusion from the second mishna in Rosh Hashona. It says on Rosh Hashana all the people pass by Hashem kibnei maron”. This can be read as on Rosh Hashana, passes by Hashem, the merits of all the people mibichinas Meron, where Rashbi and his son, Rebbi Elazar, are buried. Through this merit the world continues, as it says, the tzadik is the foundation of the world. (Shaar Yisaschor)

It is brought down that Lag BaOmer is also a day of salvation for everything. (Shaar Yisaschor)

The light of Kabalas HaTorah starts on Lag BaOmer, therefore, the most important part of the day is Torah. (Bnei Yisaschor) It is especially good to learn the story of Rashbi starting on Shabbos daf 33b (That is daf "lag"), or other Gemaras with Rashbi.

R’ Yaakov of Husyatin says that it is a day to pray for material and spiritual things, because this is the day the mon started to fall, opening up a pipe of parnasa, not just for that generation, but for all generations after. Each and every year there is a renewal of the light of this great and holy day.

Sfas Emes heard from his grandfather, the Chidushei HaRim, that on Lag BaOmer one can merit Yiras Hashem.

R’ Yehoshua of Kaminka said the following to the Divrei Yechezkel of Shiniva: Lag BaOmer is the “aspect” of Yom Kippur, because on Yom Kippur the avodah could only be done by Ahron, who was the aspect of hod. So too, Lag BaOmer, which is hod sheb’hod, one is able to receive good yeshuas, just like on Yom Kippur.

There is a custom to light bonfires in honor of Rashbi. The souls of all the tzadikim are there when the fire is lit.

R’ Avrohom Yaakov of Sadiger says tens of thousands of neshomas get tikunim from the lighting of bonfires in honor of Rashbi.

R’ Moshe Mordechai of Lelov says just saying over the name of the city, Miron, where Rashbi is buried, can bring yeshuas. This can be learned from the mishna in Yoma 3:1 which says they asked if the sky was lit up till Chevron. The Yerushalmi and Rav Ovadiah Bartenura explain Chevron is mentioned to bring about Zchus Avos, since the Avos are buried in Chevron. Similar to this, the Sadigerer said just saying the name of the city, Berdichev, brings rachamim from heaven, since R' Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev was always defending Klal Yisroel.

The Kedushas Zion of Bobov HY”D, in a letter told someone who wanted a child to donate Chai Rotel Mashke (about 54 liters of drink) for the people in Miron, in honor of Rashbi. (Taamei Minhagim) This is also done as a segula for many different things. See Tzidkas Rashbi to participate and send a kvitel. They have a video you can watch of Lag BaOmer in Miron and Chai Rotel in action.

There is a custom to put olive oil in the fire and to burn clothes in the fire. The Rizhiner used to send silk garments to Miron to be burnt in the bonfire. Tzadikim of Eretz Yisroel say this is a segula for success, materially and spiritually.

Reb Mendel of Rimanov says that the reason we use Bows and Arrows is because no rainbows were seen while Rashbi was alive and the bow symbolizes the rainbow. (Bnei Yisaschor)

A segula for one to have a boy is to shoot a bow and arrow on Lag BaOmer. (Sefer HaMidos) This is alluded from a posuk in Divrei HaYomim 1 8:40 וַיִּהְיוּ בְנֵי-אוּלָם אֲנָשִׁים גִּבּוֹרֵי-חַיִל דֹּרְכֵי קֶשֶׁת וּמַרְבִּים בָּנִים וּבְנֵי בָנִים And the sons of Ulam were mighty men of valor, shooters of bows (archers), and had many sons, and sons' sons. (Tcheriner Rov)

There is a minhag to cut a boys hair for the first time, if he is near the age of 3. There are many different customs related to this. See Nitei Gavriel who has a very thorough volume dedicated to this, listing every imaginable minhag of Upsherin.

Zohar & Tikunei Zohar

Many tzadikim say one should read Zohar or Tikunei Zohar, even if you don’t understand anything, because it is beneficial to the neshama. (This applies any day, but more so on Lag BaOmer) Among those that said this or similar statements to this are: Chida, R’ Yaakov Koppel, Degel Machane Ephraim, Shearis Yisroel, Komarna, Pela Yoetz, R’ Moshe of Kobrin, Shomrei Emunim and others.

R’ Pinchas of Koritz says reading Zohar is good for parnasa.

Many tzadikim say to read Tikunei Zohar, especially, from the beginning of Elul until Yom Kippur. (Sichos HaRan, Mateh Ephraim)

See A Simple Jew for Shem Mishmuel on Lag Baomer.