The memento booklet hyperlinked below was compiled from various published works and was presented at a Fabrengen held last night at Yeshivas Bais Toras Menachem of Los Angeles, in honor of the Fifth Yartzeit of Rabbi Mordechai Meir haKohen Bryski, OB”M.
Way back, as a young teenager, Reb Mottel had the privilege to attend the famous Yeshiva Tomchei T’mimim Lubavitch in Otvotsk, Poland. It was there he first acquired tremendous Lomdus and a proper Derech in learning, and he then developed as well, a deep appreciation for the “Avodah Shebalev”-Tefilah, particularly with Niggunim.
After World War II erupted, he, along with two dozen Chabad students, managed to miraculously escape the horrors of the Nazi y.sh. Regime by fleeing to Vilna, and then across Asia to Kobe, Japan. There, they found themselves in the ghetto of Shanghai, China, feeling lonely, and traumatized with fear as to the welfare of their families back in Poland. Nevertheless, despite squalid living conditions and meager food rations, they managed to establish “Tomchei T’mimim of Shangchai”, and they adhered to Sidrei Hayeshiva with intense study of Nigleh and Chassidus. They even printed classical Sifrei Chassidus for themselves and the Jewish Community of Shanghai.
During those years, they also composed and sang Nigunim of longing and faith, which served as an anchor amidst the pain and confusion. This gave them expression for their strong emotions, and created a window of hope for the future.
The hiskashrus of these orphans to the Rebbe, which was a reflection of the loving deep concern the Rebbe had for his beloved disciples, continued to be the light which gave them the ability to withstand the pain and darkness of their trials. BH, they finally made it to the safe shores of United States and were reunited with the Rebbe.
In the late 1940s, the Previous Rebbe had sent Reb Mottel to Montreal for the express purpose of offering encouragement and moral support to the Yeshiva bochurim there – outside and apart from their regular day-to-day studies. Thereafter, he served as a deeply beloved and respected melamed in Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim on “Bedford and Dean” for more than 25 years.
Thus, these young immigrant refugees, who knew little English and had zero financial resources, went on to not only rebuild their lives, b’Chasdei Hashem, but to become the leaders of the next generation of Chabad, establishing families of Shluchim and educators who have have built and sustained Mosdos throughout the world.
One such Moisad is Bais Toras Menachem of Los Angeles; a post Yeshiva Program founded in 2008- 5769 by his daughter and son-in-law, Rabbi Mordechai and Rivka Katz. Its mission is to develop today’s bochurim into productive members of the Anash community, by providing an innovative Program which suits the needs of many students in today’s day and age who need a more balanced curriculum and individualized care while not compromising on Chassidish standards.
Enjoy this small collection of selected parts of history of this noble person, some ma’aselach Reb Mottel loved to share, and personal impressions of some people who respected and admired this venerable yet humble Chosid.
Download PDF of the Teshura here
Here is a collection of the many Niggunim Rabbi Bryski loved to sing: family songs he grew up with, as well as some famous ones that he recorded to memory, such as “Reb Itche der Masmid” and “Reb Hillel Particher’s” otherwise known as “Hillel Kup”, and the “Amshinover NIggun”. There were many he himself composed, using Chassidishe Nigunim which he put to various parts of prayers, and the Nigunim composed and sung at the Lubavitch Yeshiva in Shanghai. Most notably, the Shir Hageulah, the Song of Redemption (#22) The lyrics of Shir Hageulah were first published in the the Lubavitch periodical Hakriah V’haKedusah in 1.941. The melody was later composed by Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Rosenberg in Shanghai. It was sung for the Frierdiker Rebbe and the Rebbe at the Yud Bais Tamus Farbrengen in 5706 (1946), and the Rebbe showed a fondness for it.
Click here for Niggunim Audio