שבת כ' בתשרי תש"פ 19/10/2019
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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Reflections

Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

Barak Sarig 16/12/2009 13:55
On Rechov Bialik in Tel Aviv, a large, wide-fronted building still stands, one that has been preserved from the early days of the city. This is the beis knesses that carries the name of Rebbe Yisrael of Husyatin, a testimony to a chassidic presence in the area, a shul that until a few decades ago, was still operative, and full of activity. In recent times, with the petirah of the last of the Husyatin chassidim living in the area, those who daven there are still trying to keep the embers burning, but many are the occasions when they seek a tenth man to complete a minyan.

Harav Yisrael Friedman was born in the year 5618 in the town of Husyatin, which lies on the Zebrotz river in the south-west of Ukraine, to his father, Harav Mordechai Shraga Feivush Friedman, the youngest son of the Ruzhiner Rebbe, Harav Yisrael zy”a, the founder of the Ruzhiner chassidic dynasty. At the age of sixteen, Harav Mordechai Shraga was orphaned of his father, and he then began to lead chassidim himself, as did his elder brothers. When he arrived in Husyatin, he found a small and weak Jewish community which was immensely grateful for the changes the Rebbe wrought in the town.

Hundreds of chassidim now began to flock towards Husyatin and the great Rebbe who resided there, and the kehillah grew due to its merit of hosting a recognised chassidic court, known as Beis Ruzhin-Husyatin.

In the year 5654, Harav Mordechai Shraga was niftar, and his son Harav Yisrael Friedman, named for his grandfather the holy Ruzhiner Rebbe, took over his position to become the second Admor of the chassidus of Husyatin.

Harav Yisrael Friedman lived to the age of ninety-one, during which time two world wars took place. With the outbreak of the First World War, he, along with many of his chassidim and other Admorim of the Ruzhiner dynasty, moved to Vienna, Austria. At the war’s conclusion, he chose to remain there, although he made regular visits back to Husyatin to those of his chassidim who were still living there. During his stay in Austria, he repeatedly emphasised the importance of the mitzvah of settling in Eretz Yisrael, and of supporting the yishuv there. At the assembly of Agudas Yisrael which was held in Vienna, he was a prominent advocate for greater focus on this matter. When the suggestion was made to allocate a section in the Jewish cemetery for the burial of Admorim from the Ruzhiner dynasty, he responded that he had no need of such a thing, since he had no intention of remaining in Vienna, but rather planned to ascend to Eretz Yisrael.

Two years before the Second World War broke out, anti-Semitism increased dramatically in Austria, and over Europe in general. Sensing the mounting danger, he exhorted his chassidim; “Whoever has intelligence should flee, even in his slippers.” And so it was; in the year 5697, when he was already advanced in years, he fulfilled his dream and ascended to Eretz Yisrael, accompanied by many of his chassidim. Large crowds came to the train station in Vienna to take their leave of him, and he took this opportunity to continue to plead with them to themselves flee, even if it meant leaving all their possessions behind and leaving with only what they could carry on their backs.

Harav Yisrael chose to settle in the city of Tel Aviv, explaining that; “In this solely Jewish city, there are no churches and one does not have to hear their tolling bells.” The building he rented on Rechov Bialik housed his beis knesses, various other rooms for the needs of the chassidus, and an apartment for himself. Thus did he plant the kernel of the Husyatin chassidus in that city. Those who remember him from those days related that he refrained as much as possible from speaking, and on the occasion that he did allow a word to escape his lips, it was first thoroughly calculated and considered.

Meanwhile, the Second World War broke out, and the Germans swiftly conquered much of Europe and were approaching Eretz Yisrael. Understandably, the Jews of Eretz Yisrael were gripped with fear, and the gaon Harav Yaakov Landau ztz”l, who was then serving as the Rav of Bnei Brak, asked the Admor to beseech Hashem in prayer that the Jews of Eretz Yisrael might be spared from the German enemy. In Yerushalayim, Jews gathered at the kever of the Ohr HaChaim on Har HaZeisim to daven – and it was then that the Rebbe suddenly turned to his chassidim with words of reassurance, telling them that the Germans would not be able to conquer Eretz Yisrael. To their wonder at the certainty of his statement, he answered that he had seen the Shem Hashem shining in letters of red fire over the kever of the holy Ohr HaChaim, and that it was a tradition from his holy ancestors that this was a sign that the tefillos had been accepted Above.

Many wondrous tales are repeated of his great holiness and piety. The gaon Harav Yisrael Grossman ztz”l, Rosh Yeshivas Karlin, would relate with great longing his memories of the days when he merited having a relationship with the Admor of Husyatin, during the few weeks when the Rebbe came to the holy city of Yerushalayim. One day, related Harav Grossman, he was walking along Rechov HaNevi’im, and from afar he recognised the striking figure of the Husyatiner Rebbe sitting on a bench, partially hidden from view by a large tree. In front of him, a large Gemara was open, from which he was learning with great concentration. As he approached the Rebbe, he noticed with amazement that the Rebbe’s hands were not supporting the Gemara at all – it was simply floating in the air in front of him. He stared again and again at this wondrous sight, in order to be certain that his eyes were not deceiving him, but it was quite apparent that they were not.
On Friday the 29th of Kislev, on the fifth night of Chanukah in the year 5709, the Rebbe was niftar and was brought to his eternal rest, at the age of ninety-one. Although he had expressed the desire to be buried on Har HaZeisim, this was then impossible, since the Jordanians were in control of the area and all of eastern Yerushalayim. Therefore, the Rebbe was buried in the section of the talmidim of the Baal Shem Tov in the beis hachaim in Tiveria.

Harav Yisrael Friedman was the last living grandchild of the holy Ruzhiner Rebbe, and therefore he was known as ‘The elder Rebbe of Beis Ruzhin.’ He left behind an only daughter, the Rebbetzin Chayah Sarah Rachel, and after his petirah, his son-in-law Harav Yaakov Friedman, the author of ‘Ohalei Yaakov’ was crowned as the third (and ultimately last) Admor of the chassidus of Husyatin.