A large and diverse crowd of Chassidim of all stripes and colors converged on the Auditorium Hall in the Ramat Elchanan neighborhood in the Torah city of Bnei Brak. There, a special conference was taking place in honor of the yahrtzeit of the founder of Chabad Chassidus, author of the Tanya and Shulchan Aruch, known as the Alter Rebbe. The venue was packed, as people continued streaming in throughout the entire evening, from its very beginning and up until the farbrengen which lasted into the wee hours of the night.
The event was honored with a head table of Rabbanim and Admorim, among which were Chief Rabbi of Bnei Brak Rabbi Landau, Guest of Honor Rabbi Lazar, the Admorim of Alexander, Machnovka-Belz, Narol, Bialo, Shomrei Emunim, Ashlag, Radzin, Opala.
Also seated at the head table were; Rabbi Belinov, Rabbi Goldshmidt, Rabbi Hurwitz, Rabbi Weiss, Rabbi Tobias, Rabbi Landau, Rabbi Feldman, Rabbi M. Shtern, Rabbi A. Shtern, Rabbi A. Shapiro, Rabbi C.T. Shapiro, Rabbi Sherman, and public figures, Mayor of Bnei Brak Rabbi Chanoch Zeibart, Member of City Council of Bnei Brak Rabbi Shlomo Kostelitz, and member of City Council of Beit Shemesh Rabbi Shimon Goldberg.
The conference was opened by the Rabbi of West Bnei Brak and Av Beis Din of Shaarei Torah, Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer Stern, who discussed the uniqueness of the “Shulchan Aruch HaRav” and the special rulings of the Hilula. He cited many wonderful examples.
The Chief Rabbi of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Landau gave a powerful talk about the amazing siddur of the Baal haTanya, with halachic examples that shed light on his genius of a mind.
With the help of large screens, the audience connected live to a farbrengen in the USA together with the Baal HaNes Reb Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, who shared with the crowd a few personal stories of his miraculous redemption from imprisonment, arousing and inspiring everyone to greater emuna.
The Av Beis Din of the Chassidic communities in Elad, Rabbi Yisroel Zushe Hurwitz spoke about the Chassidic approach to davening as is explained by the Baal Hilula. He inspired the crowd to daven in the soul stirring Chassidic manner.
The keynote address was by the Chief Rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berel Lazar, who with stories and facts wove together a stunning tapestry describing the mesirus nefesh of Russian Jewry throughout the generations. The tremendous awakening and renaissance that can now be seen, is only thanks to the mesirus nefesh of the Baal HaTanya and all the Chabad Rebbeim and their Chassidim who were ready to give up their lives during those difficult years for the sake of Torah study, Jewish Chassidic education, and kosher food.
Rabbi Lazar implored the audience to study Chassidus by attending the many shiurim that are organized in Bnei Brak, as well as with the help of the many books that are now available.
The Mayor of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Chanoch Zeibart, whose assistance greatly contributed to the gathering’s success, brought greetings from the city’s municipality. He spoke emotionally about his memories of meeting the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and praised the work of Chabad in his city.
The evening was beautifully emceed by Rabbi Menachem Kenig, one of the Rosh Yeshivas of Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim in Lod.
A Chassidic choir added to the pleasant evening with melodies of the Baal Hilula, as well as other Chassidic songs. As the official part of the event came to a close, the crowd broke out in joyous dancing in honor of the Baal HaTanya.
After davening Maariv, the hundreds of guests sat down to a large Chassidic farbrengen with the Guest of Honor, Rabbi Lazar, who intertwined the Rebbe’s sichos with Chassidic discourses as well as stories and facts into an inspiring farbrengen that lasted until the wee hours of the night.
The city’s residents were full of gratitude to the municipality of Bnei Brak, and praised the organizers, at the helm of which stood Rabbi Yosef Filmer of “Memalei Kol Almin”- in cooperation with all the Chabad institutions in the city; “Tzeirei Agudas Chabad”, “Heichal Menachem” and “Maayanei Yisroel Bnei Brak”.
Prior to the gathering, Rabbi Lazar paid a visit to the homes of the Admor of Alexander, the Admor of Spinka, Rabbi Kanievsky, Rabbi Landau, and Rabbi Shtern.
He gave a special shiur to around one hundred and fifty students of Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim in Bnei Brak, with the Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi M. Goldshmidt and the principal Rabbi L. Rosenberg in attendance.
Additionally, he also paid a visit to the matza bakery together with Rabbi Y.Y. Marzel, the Kashrus Rabbi of Russia, in order to oversee the matza baking of shmura matza for all of Russia, which is under the hashgacha of the Chief Rabbinate of Russia as well as the Eida Charedis.
He also paid a special visit to the Soup Kitchen as the personal guest of its chairman, the famous Baal Chesed Rabbi Simcha Krakowski, a loyal chassid of the Admorim of Lelov.
Photos by Berish Filmer