יום רביעי כ' באב תשפ"ב 17/08/2022
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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

The Chassidic Court of Karlin

The Karlin dynasty is one of passion and holiness and was one of the most prominent Chassidic Courts in Belarus

Motty Meringer 09/06/2009 11:08
The Karlin dynasty was founded by Rabbi Aharon the Great of Karlin (a small village in Pinsk). Rabbi Aharon was born in 5496 in Lithuania, which was at the time a Belarusian province. As Rabbi Aharon grew up he left Karlin and traveled to the Mezritcher Maggid – the holy Ba'al Shem Tov's disciple – to learn Torah and Chassidus, and became one of his greatest pupils. The Maggid would fondly say that when his devoted pupil, Rabbi Aharon, recites the Song of Songs with his pleasant voice prior to receiving the Sabbath Queen – all the angels stop their praising and singing and listen to the melody of Rabbi Aharon which is derived from the heavenly World of Singing.

When Rabbi Aharon returned to his hometown in Lithuania, he was asked by the locals what he had learned from the Mezritcher Maggid. To their surprise, he answered: 'Nothing' – meaning that he had learned that he actually knows nothing…

Rabbi Aharon saw it as his holy duty to spread the light of Chassidus throughout Belarus and therefore began traveling from village to village, enlightening the local Jews with the ways of Chassidus and bringing them closer to their Father in Heaven. Rabbi Aharon greatly influenced tens of thousands of Jews in the area and as a consequence all the Chassidim in Belarus were called 'Karliners'.

A story is told of a widow who came to pour out her heart to Rabbi Aharon; her daughter had been engaged to an outstanding boy and she had promised a large sum of money for their nuptials. However, the wedding date was nearing and she still had not acquired the promised sum, and now feared that the engagement would be annulled. When Rabbi Aharon heard her story, he opened his drawer and took out the exact amount she needed. The woman, who was overwhelmed with joy, thanked Rabbi Aharon profoundly and left. A few days passed, and the same woman returned weeping bitterly and telling Rabbi Aharon that she did not have enough money to sew a wedding dress for her daughter. Rabbi Aharon again opened his drawer and took out the amount that she needed. After the woman had left, Rabbi Aharon's wife turned to her husband and asked: "The first time the woman came to you and asked for money – it really was justified. But the second time was unnecessary and it would have been much better to give the money to paupers who cannot provide for their basic needs". Rabbi Aharon answered his wife and said that when he opened his drawer, he also had second thoughts and wished to give the money to the poor instead, but then he realized that if it was true and that thought really came form the good inclination – then he would have had that thought the first time the woman came to him. The moment he realized this, he understood that the thought of not giving the money to the orphaned bride was the suggestion of the evil inclination, so he quickly gave the money to the widow.

His most famous saying was: "If only I could love the most righteous Jew as much as G-d loves the most evil one!"
Rabbi Aharon passed away on the 19th of Nissan, 5632 at the young age of 36. The leading rabbis of his generation said that he passed away due to his fiery fear of G-d. On his gravestone it was engraved that he had brought 84 thousand Jews back to their Father in Heaven.

His successor was his close and admired disciple, Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin, who took in Rabbi Aharon's orphaned ten-year-old son Asher into his home and raised him as his own son. Rabbi Shlomo was extremely passionate when serving his Creator and did so with outmost enthusiasm and fervor. This was evident particularly when he was deeply engrossed in prayer. Rabbi Shlomo was profoundly respected and admired by all the leading rabbis of his generation and some of them even expressed their belief that Rabbi Shlomo's soul was that of Moshiach ben Yosef – the savior who will lead the path towards the final redemption at the hands of the Messiah. Rabbi Shlomo was frequently heard saying: "I do not fear death, not even at the hands of the lame Cossack!" This statement would leave his listeners in great bewilderment. Following Rabbi Shlomo's relocation to Ludmir, Ukraine, a group of Cossacks occupied the city. One of the Cossacks, who was lame, saw Rabbi Shlomo deeply immersed in prayer and shot him. Rabbi Shlomo was seriously wounded and passed away six days thereafter. He had served as Chassidic Master for over twenty years.

Following his passing, Rabbi Asher – the son of Rabbi Aharon of Karlin who had grown up in Rabbi Shlomo's house – was appointed Chassidic Master of Karlin. He began leading his flock in the city of Karlin, but after a short while he relocated to Stolin. This led to the Karlin dynasty to often be referred to as the 'Karlin-Stolin' dynasty. After some time, Rabbi Asher returned to Karlin, where he stayed for a long period of time.

Rabbi Asher will always be remembered for his great assistance to his Chassidim who lived in the Holy Land. The settling of Karliner Chassidim in pre-state Israel was originally initiated by Rabbi Yaakov - a son of Rabbi Aharon the Great, who immigrated to Israel and settled in the north of the country. He encouraged other Chassidim to settle there as well, and to this day one can find old synagogues belonging to the Karlin communities in northern cities such as Tiberias and Safed.
Rabbi Asher passed away on the 26th of Tishrei, 5687, and was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Aharon Perlow of Stolin, who was named 'Rabbi Aharon the Second' in order to differentiate between him and Rabbi Aharon the Great.

Rabbi Aharon the Second settled in Karlin but was arrested after a certain family who wished to harass him informed on him to the authorities. Following his release, he relocated to Stolin, but said that 'the fourth generation will return to Karlin'. His prediction proved correct when his great-grandchild, Rabbi Avraham Elimelech of Karlin, later settled in Karlin.
Rabbi Aharon collected his commentaries on the Torah and the Ethics of the Fathers in his book 'Beis Aharon', which became widely popular in many Jewish communities throughout Europe. Rabbi Aharon the Second passed away on the 17th of Sivan, 5632, and was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Asher the second.

The latter was often referred to as 'the young master' and passed away on the 15th of Av, 5633 – merely one year after being appointed Chassidic Master. He left behind a four-year-old son, Yisrael, who was destined to become the future Chassidic Master of Karlin once he grew up, as per the request of his grandfather, Rabbi Aharon the Second, who had explicitly requested so in his will. Little Yisrael was affectionately called 'the baby of Karlin' by the Chassidim. On the 10th of Kislev, 5642, the little 'baby' reached the age of Bar Mitzvah and was crowned Chassidic Master by the elderly Chassidim.
Rabbi Yisrael – the 'baby' – was also knows as the 'Frankfurter', after the city of his passing. He led the Karliner Chassidim for fifty years, during which the Chassidic Court greatly expanded until it numbered several thousand Chassidim. Rabbi Yisrael was renowned for his brilliance and extraordinary knowledge in Torah. He passed away on Rosh Hashanah, 5682.
Rabbi Yisrael left behind six sons: the eldest, Rabbi Asher, settled in Stolin and did not serve as Chassidic Master. The second son, Rabbi Aharon, settled in Warsaw and although he did not wish to serve as Chassidic Master, a large group of Chassidim referred to him as their rabbi and mentor. A third son, Rabbi Yaakov Chaim, established a small Chassidic Court in Detroit, and the fourth son, Rabbi Moshe, served as Chassidic Master in Stolin. The fifth son, Rabbi Avraham Elimelech established a Chassidic Court in Karlin, and the sixth son, Rabbi Yochanan, served as Chassidic Master in Lutzk.

At the outbreak of WWII, five of the Karliner brothers were murdered by the Nazis one after the other. The first to perish were Rabbi Asher and Rabbi Moshe who lived in Stolin at the time and were murdered during the Rosh Hashanah riots. Soon to follow were Rabbi Avraham Elimelech of Karlin – who was murdered around the 14th of Heshvan – and Rabbi Aharon of Warsaw who was killed around the 11th of Av, may G-d revenge their blood.

The fifth brother, childless Rabbi Yaakov, was the last to be murdered and Rabbi Yochanan of Lutzk was the only one to survive the war and left Europe for Israel. He was welcomed in the Holy Land with opened arms by the Karliner Chassidim who had settled there many years before and had built beautiful communities, mainly in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. They even had their own Yeshivas – 'Beis Aharon' and 'Beis Yisrael'.

Rabbi Yochanan settled in Haifa; however in the year of 5708 he left Israel for the United States. He worked hard to unite all the Karlin communities and established the Yeshiva 'Beis Aharon V'YIsrael'. Most Chassidim accepted Rabbi Yochanan as their Chassidic Master.

Rabbi Yochanan passed away on the 21st of Kislev, 5716 at the young age of 56. Following his passing, a bitter dispute erupted between his Chassidim in Israel and those in the States as where to bury their Master. They reached a compromise of casting lots, and it was determined that he be buried in the States. The Chassidim in Israel, however, did not accept it and continued to fight for their Master's burial in the Holy Land. One year after his passing, his Chassidim in Israel won their battle, and Rabbi Yochanan's coffin was brought to Tiberias for reburial.

Rabbi Yochanan did not leave any sons behind, but his daughter had two sons – Rabbi Baruch Shochat and Rabbi Yochanan Shochat, and most Chassidim appointed Rabbi Baruch as their Chassidic Master, although he was only a small child at the time, and referred to him as the 'baby of Karlin' – just as his grandfather. Some of the Chassidim, though, did not accept this nomination and accepted upon themselves the leadership of Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Biderman of Lelov; subsequently, their Chassidic Court was named 'Karlin-Lelov'. Following the passing of Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Biderman of Lelov, his son, Rabbi Shimon, refused to serve as Chassidic Master, leading the Chasidim, who were referred to as 'the elders of Karlin', to appoint Rabbi Aharon Rosenfeld as their Master.

Following the appointment of Rabbi Aharon Rosenfeld, the elders of Karlin came to an agreement with the main Karliner court that they call themselves 'Karlin-Stolin', while the elders of Karlin, led by Rabbi Aharon Rosenfeld, were to be called 'Pinsk-Karlin'. The main synagogue of Karlin, the 'Beis Yisrael', was then transferred to the 'Pinsk-Karlin' court, as most congregants belonged to that section of Karlin.

The broader Karlin dynasty today numbers one thousand five hundred families in Israel and abroad, and the dynasty has centers in Bnei Brak, Jerusalem, Modi'in Ilit and Givat Zev, where Rabbi Baruch Shochat of Karlin resides today.