Eight Stories The Rebbe Related About His Father, Reb Levi Yitzchak



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    Eight Stories The Rebbe Related About His Father, Reb Levi Yitzchak

    In honor of Chof Av, we present from the Beis Moshiach Archives: AAMU”R – Eight stories the Rabbe related about his father, Reb Levi Yitzchak • By Beis Moshiach Magazine • Full Article

    By Avrohom Rainitz • From Beis Moshiach 1272

    1. EXHAUSTING TEST

    When my master, father, teacher and rebbi z’l (henceforth, just “my father”) learned for semicha for rabbanus, he decided, for whatever reason, to be tested and receive semicha from several gedolei Yisrael who were not Chassidim (“oilemishe gedolim”) like the gaon Rabbi Chaim of Brisk and the gaon Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim Meisel of Lodz, and many other “oilemishe gedolim” of that time.

    Since, by his dress, it was apparent that my father was a Chassid; moreover it was known that he was from the family of the Rebbe, R’ Chaim Brisker really exhausted him in the test so that he might succeed in avoiding giving him semicha. When he saw, in the end, that he would not be able to avoid giving him semicha, he said, “Gevald, R’ Levik. Aza gutte kup, in vus hut ir es araingeleigt?!” (Such a good head, what did you put it into?). He meant that my father put his mind to learning Chassidus and Kabbala! [The Rebbe smiled and repeated, “Aza gutte kup, in vus hut ir es araingeleigt?!]

    In order to receive semicha, the candidate had to be in R’ Chaim Brisker’s presence, in the “beis din shtiebel” when he paskened shailos and he would be asked by R’ Chaim to state how he would pasken.

    Among the questions presented to him was one that came on Succos, on a Yom Tov that fell out on Shabbos or on Shabbos Chol HaMoed. In any case, it was once Shabbos began and the question was about people sharing a succa who forgot to make an eiruv chatzeiros.

    When R’ Chaim asked my father, he immediately said that the succa itself served as an eiruv. R’ Chaim enjoyed this “creative” response and affirmed that this was the psak.

    2. DANCING WITH A SHOEMAKER

    When my father z’l became rav of Yekaterinoslav, replacing the gaon and Chassid R’ Dov Zev [Kozevnikov, also known as Reb Bere Volf], some were not pleased that (another) Chassidic rav had been chosen, especially “a Lubavitcher rav.” They looked for ways to fire him. They didn’t have to search much because being “a Lubavitcher” made it easy for them: mesira!

    Indeed, one day, the police commander himself came to our home and said he needed to speak with the rav in absolute privacy!

    You can imagine how frightened everyone was for, in those days, under Nikolai’s rule, the appearance of the police commander himself was no small thing.

    After he left, they asked my father what happened. It turned out that this was mesira that my father was not fit to be the rav of this important city since they saw him drinking whiskey and holding the arm of the cobbler and dancing with him!

    The mosrim (informers) explained to the police chief that for such a city so large and the most important in the area, which had a police commander in charge, it was not fitting to have a “drunken rabbi” who danced with a cobbler, the lowest work in those days, and surely the police chief would know how to handle a rabbi like this and first and foremost, dismiss him from his position.

    In fact, this mesira had something to it. That cobbler was not just any cobbler but a Chassid who was very knowledgeable in Chassidus and all the more so in matters of avoda, who had to work as a cobbler to support his family.

    In those days not all the Chassidim were outstandingly rich or even plain rich (if only in this country all the Chassidim were rich). So, when it was 19 Kislev or Purim, and there was a Chassidishe farbrengen, of course, that cobbler was there.

    At this farbrengen, obviously they drank some mashke, as per the Chassidic saying in Ukrainian which means you need to “grease the wheels” with a cup of “Chassidishe mashke.” In the course of the farbrengen, the participants broke out in a Chassidishe dance which is how my father danced with the cobbler after a bit of mashke and it was the basis for this mesira that he drinks whiskey to the point that “when the heart of the king was glad with wine” – he dances with a “cobbler.”

    (Hisvaaduyos 5743 vol. 3 p. 1482)

    3. THE ANONYMOUS GUEST

    When refugees from Warsaw arrived in Yekaterinoslav [At the beginning of World War I, when the czar and his general (who was his cousin) were fighting the Germans, they suspected Polish Jews of aiding the Germans which is why they expelled Jews from Poland to Russia,], there was a dignified Jew whom I noticed, on Shabbos to whom my father was giving special treatment by seating him at the head of the table and speaking divrei Torah together etc. (despite the fact that besides for him there were other elder Chassidim present).

    Due to my young age I did not take an interest in what they were talking about (I only remember that he spoke Yiddish with a different accent than the Yiddish spoken in Ukraine and southern Russia). I wanted to know who was this man that my father honored. I was afraid to ask my father himself and so I went to ask my mother and she said that he was Rabbi Menachem Mendel Kaminer, the brother-in-law of the Gerrer Rebbe [the Imrei Emes zt’l].

    (Sichos Kodesh 5736 vol. 1)

    4. HIS CARE IN ARRANGING A GET

    My father was very particular and stringent in arranging a get (divorce). He fasted on the day he had to arrange a get, mainly because of the act of cutting ties and separation between man and wife which is a separation of the name of Havaya, G-d forbid, since the Shechina dwells between a man and his wife.

    (In the name of R’ Yitzchok Dovid Groner who heard it from the Rebbe)

    5. THE RAV’S COURAGE

    Yekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk) was considered, in a number of aspects, to be the capital of the entire Ukraine (as this part of southern Russia is called), and mainly, the capitol city city regarding all Jewish matters.

    In those days, they suffered greatly from government persecution and it was necessary to travel to the capital of that country (Moscow) to make efforts to annul the decrees or at least to minimize them. The government demanded of the rabbanim that they not intervene; furthermore, that the rabbanim themselves publicize a letter in which they agreed to the fact that the government did not persecute religion (as mentioned many times in the past) and then my father went out in public with his view that not only wouldn’t he sign this letter (as some rabbanim who, because of the suffering, threats and intimidation etc., were forced to sign) and that he would publicize that he wasn’t signing.

    He said everyone knew the truth of the situation but were afraid to say so publicly and now, when he would publicize that he would not sign, and probably others would join him, it would arouse a commotion and consequently the government would be forced to accept the demands of the rabbanim.

    (Hisvaaduyos 5750 vol. 1, p. 62)

    6. MY MOTHER’S EFFORTS

    It was already told that when my father was in exile he had no sefarim and then some sefarim were sent to him including the Zohar. Nor did he have paper, nor ink, and my mother, may she live long, good years, made ink for him. Since she was no expert in ink manufacturing we find different colors in the notes that he wrote on the margins of the Zohar.

    Since we are approaching the general Geula through which comes the redemption of personal matters, after many travails the sifrei Zohar came here.

    (Sichos Kodesh 5723 p. 374)

    7. TORAH UNDER DIFFICULT CONDITIONS

    When my father was exiled to the place of his exile, to a harsh land, for strengthening Judaism, he was sent there on a train of prisoners and was permitted to take only the most essential things but not sefarim. When he reached his place of exile it was not possible to obtain sefarim for there were no Jews there.

    When my mother traveled to him, to be with him, she brought a few sefarim with her including a Zohar and my father wrote notes and comments in the margins of the sefarim (with ink that my mother manufactured herself as related elsewhere). As a result, he had to write with great brevity and naturally, when he quoted other sefarim it was from memory since he was unable to go to a library and look at sefarim there as is done today.

    Some of those sefarim (including the Zohar) ultimately came here in a supernatural way and these glosses were published.

    (Sichos Kodesh 5729 vol. 2, page 372, unedited)

    8. LIMITED CORRSPONDENCE

    [When the Rebbe received word of the passing of his father, he refrained from writing and responding to correspondence for twenty days. The first letter we have (published in Igros Kodesh) following the news about his father’s passing has the date, 10 Elul 5704 – where the Rebbe writes (originally in English but we don’t have the original wording)]: “This is the first opportunity I have to respond to your letter of the first of August with the attached memorandum containing a few ideas. To my distress I must say, since my father hk’m recently passed away, the delay in responding to you and presenting my comments was unavoidable.”

    (Igros Kodesh vol. 1 p. 325)

    ***

    BLESSING TO THOSE WHO ERECTED THE NEW OHEL

    Rabbi Dovid Nachshon, who went to renovate the tziyun of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok (as well as the tziyunim of the Rebbeim) along with his friend, R’ Avi Taub, relates:

    “When we gave the Rebbe the first key to the [newly refurbished] Ohel and we said it was the key to the new tziyun in Almaty, the Rebbe held the key firmly, looked upward and emotionally asked, “This is the key to the Ohel in Almaty?” Then the Rebbe blessed us and said, “Fortunate is their lot, much is their reward, great is their merit, for encouraging the Jews of Russia, working with them and dealing with the Ohalim of the Rebbeim, tzaddikim and kedoshim, may we not need to come onto that – until it will be ‘arise and sing those who dwell in the dust.’”

    (Toldos Levi Yitzchok, vol. 3, p. 833)

    ***

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