Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kdai Rashbi b'shas hadchak

Rabbi Berel Zaltzman came to farbreng for the bochurim of the Rabbinical College of America tonight (Lag B'Omer). He spoke (mostly) in Yiddish, and therefore it's very possible that I misinterpreted (even more than normal) something that he said. Still, I think I got the toichen. Enjoy.

Reb Mendel Futerfas before he left Russia was in my house in Samarkand, and he recieved a letter from his daughter in law in English (she lived in England then with his family). He sent her back a letter, "You'll learn Yiddish faster than I'll learn English." Six months later she sent him a letter in Yiddish.

His ahavas yisrael was incredible. I'll never stop talking about it. He learned things from everyone. He once saw two goyim sitting and drinking mashke.

One of them said, "I love you."
The other answered, "Oh, leave me alone."
The other replied, "No, really, I do!"
"If you really love me, you know what I need."
"How should I know?"
"If you don't know what I'm missing then you don't really love me."

Reb Mendel was a businessman in Russia and England. He only became a klei kodesh once he became mashpia in Kfar Chabad. All his free time he spent in Chabad House-no home, no supper, no nothing. He spent all his free time working in the Chabad House, making flyers, taking care of programs, etc. All his salary he sent to Merkos, and Rabbi Chadokov sent him a salary, as a Shliach.

In the war in Samarkand all the Lubavitchers made a living from sewing and weaving. It was impossible to find anything in the stores, it all went to the war effort. Reb Mendel, was one of three partners, and one of them would go once every week or two weeks to a big factory in Tashkent were there was a large cloth factory; they'd buy a large truck's worth of cloth there, and then come back and sell it to the Lubavitchers who would make out of it clothing.

The three partners would all put a certain amount of money together and buy cloth. The only problem was, R. Mendel never had any money! They asked him, "Where's your money? Last week you had a hundred or a thousand ruble, and now nothing?!" He said, "How can I have money in my pocket when people are starving? Please, layout for me, and I'll pay you back."

Eventually his partners got fed up and told him, that the next time he had money he should go buy gold coins, which aren't negotiable tender, and this way he'd have money for more than a day. He did as they suggested, and that night he took the gold and put it under his bed, he didn't have a mattress, it was on the floor. The whole night he couldn't sleep, he was sleeping on gold and people were starving! The next morning he woke up early, hurried to the exchange, and distributed the proceeds. When his partners asked him where the money was he said, "Either you continue to lay out money for me or kick me out of the partnership." They did the former.

Reb Mendel used to say, a wife only needs two dresses, one for the weekdays and one for Shabbos, everything else has to go to tzedaka. Once a bochur spent forty rubles on a pair of pants, and Reb Mendel said, "What are you doing? You just spent 36 rubles of tzedaka money on yourself?!"

They used to say that he would first buy someone else chocolate and then himself eat dry bread with cheap fish.

(i.e. even someone who had all their needs taken care of, besides chocolate, he would give help them with luxuries before taking care of his own basic needs).
There were two friends, one a chassidishe yid, and one a misnagdishe talmid chacham. The misnaged asked his friend, "What benefit do you have from learning chassidus?" The chassid answered that without chassidus it was impossible to have bittul to Hashem. Without chassidus, the greater you become in Torah and Mitzvos, the more full of yourself you get.

The misnaged answered that he doesn't think it's true-it's certainly possible to become an anav from learning Gemara.

A little while later came Simchas Torah, and the chassid, who happened to be the gabbai of the shul (though it wasn't a chassidishe shul) started to call people up for hakafos.

First he called up all the rabbanim and those who had smicha, and they came up and did their hakofah. Next he called up all the shochtim, and they also took their turn. After them was the melandim of the town, and up they came for their hakofah. After them the gabbai called up all the anovim, and the whole shul stood up....
There was once a real misnaged named Avraham who built a sukkah and was sitting in it on the first night of sukkos waiting for the ushpizin to appear.

On the other side of town there was a chassid who suffered a lot at the hands of this misnaged, and he decided that it was time to put him in his place. He said some lchaim and started to walk over to the misnaged's sukkah.

A little while later a voice called from the heavens and said, "Avraham, Avraham!" The misnaged answered, "Hineni!" The voice, said, "I am Hashem, and I've come to give you a message. Tomorrow I want you to get up in the middle of kriah and tell everyone exactly what happened. After that you should call up the chossid who will give further instructions. I'm now going to make holy rain on your sukkah, that you should be blessed." Immediately after this some water started coming into the sukkah, and the misnaged ran about collecting as much as he could of the precious liquid.

The next morning the misnaged got up in the middle of krias hatorah and said, "Last night I was sitting in the sukkah and Hashem himself appeared to me, calling out 'Avraham, Avraham.' (I know it was Hashem, because a malach would have said 'Reb Avraham.') He then told me to call up the chassid, who would give us all instructions, and then holy rain came down and watered my sukkah with blessings."

Up came the chassid, and he said, "Last night I said a lot of lchaim, and after simchas beis hashoevah I went over to the misnaged's sukkah
and went to the bathroom..."

The misnaged didn't bother the chossid again.
The Rebbe made a big shturem about the daily learning of the Rambam, and after the completion of the first cycle they made a big siyum in one of the big halls of New York. There were several thousand Jews there, and on the dais were many important Jews, Roshei Yeshiva, Poilishe Admorim, big talmidei chachamim.

There were two roshei yeshiva (Torah!) sitting next to each other, and right opposite them in the crowd were two poilishe chassidim. One of the roshei yeshiva turned to the other and said, very seriously, "When I was a bochur we always made sure to shave every day, because a
bochur has to be a mentch, a yid. It happened though once that I was so involved in a sugya that I totally forgot to shave! That morning I was walking down the hallway and who do I see walking down the hall towards me but one of the mothers of one of the other bochurim! I immediately realized that I hadn't shaved that morning, and I was so embarassed! How could I forget?"

That year Yom Kippur I was busy klapping al cheit and I was thinking, 'What is this bubba meisos? Al cheit schmal cheit, with what have I sinned the whole year?' Then I remembered that morning when I had forgotten to shave, and made a major chilul Hashem, and I thought, 'Ahh, now I have what to say al cheit for!'

Later I told this story to my rosh yeshiva and he said, 'Ahh, a kluger yid.'"


Nemo said...

Token Misnagdim story.

le7 said...

Right I know someone else who used to say the dress bit.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

As per Nemo's request the token misnagdim story:
A very close talmid of the alter misnagdishe rebbe of fakewood was fond of referring to the lag baomer hadlaka as "bonfire night" after the Xtian custom of honoring saints

Dovid said...

Not only is it a chilul Hashem, but those bochrim that don't shave are disrespecting their Rebbanim: who do they think they are to grow a beard, they're just bochrim not Rabbanim.
Sometimes the YH comes dressed as a pious Jew.

Just like a guy said...

Nemo: he actually said a bunch more, and sang some Russian/Yiddish songs making fun of 'em, but I didn't catch them. More's the pity.

le7: who?

Modeh: what a guy.

Dovid: I agree one hundred percent! Now if only someone would teach me how to shave...

le7 said...

I'll tell you another time.

Dovid said...

Then again isn't it bittel teyreh to spend time shaving? I mean if mivtoyim and davening are, should shaving be as well?

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

Mivtzoyim and davening are because they are useful and good and the people who complain about them are incapable of doing either. Shaving isn't because it's a pointless activity so it is not mevatel pointless and havanaless shuckling. As for shaving, you can't shave a full beard straight off unless you use a d'oraisa razor.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

And as for the chossid story, this one really makes you people look bad. What kind of Jew pisses on a chefetz shel mitzva. And that snag must have been a poilesher in disguise because a real litvak would have figured out what was happening.

Just like a guy said...

My sins I recall today... I missed a good third of the story, it probably made a lot more sense with that bit.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

Nu? so you dug yourself a slightly shallower hole.

Anonymous said...

Ha, that stupid snag... death to snags!

Just like a guy said...

That's the kind of brilliant comment I've come to expect from anons...

menachem said...

I heard the story of the two guys at the bar slightly differently.

The one guy tells the other guy "if you don't know what hurts me then you don't really love me."

Modeh B'Miktsas said...


Rebbeinishleilem! Get over your stereotypes already.

Just like a guy said...

Modeh: LOL.

SZB said...

The title doesn't make sense.

Just like a guy said...

Forgot what he says-focus on Rashbi himself!

Altie said...

ok, I read it. Yes, I can read about a farbrengin, even though its long. But I realized it's not boring.

What kind of comments do you expect to get? 'nice farbrengin'?
If you really listen, and internalize it, then you keep quiet, think about it, and let it sit in your brain for a while. No need to comment.

Nice farbrengin.

Just like a guy said...

Geesh, you're a freakin' mind reader! Yes, you are correct. And thanks.

Altie said...

lol. I'm right most of the time.

Just like a guy said...

I'm glad you think so.

Altie said...

Never fear, in time, you will also think so.

Just like a guy said...

The chances of that are moving ever closer to zero.

Altie said...

We'll see

Just like a guy said...

Famous last words.