יום רביעי י"ז בשבט תשפ"ב 19/01/2022
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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 holy Rebbe of Shtefenesht

A Light Unto the Nations: The holy Rebbe of Shtefenesht - Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu Friedman zt’l, a towering personality to whom Jew and gentile alike streamed for blessings and advice.

Motty Meringer 23/10/2009 09:00
Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu Friedman of Shtefenesht was born on the first night of Chanuka – 25th Kislev 5627 (1867), to his father Rabbi Menachen Nachum Friedman zt’l. His grandfather was the ‘Ruzhiner’, Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin. At the instruction of his illustrious grandfather, the newborn was given the names ‘Avraham’, after his ancestor Rabbi Avraham HaMalach; and ‘Matisyahu’, after the high priest Matisyahu of the tribe of Chashmonaim, in the hope that he too would work wonders for the people of Israel just like his namesake.

After his father’s passing and his subsequent appointment as Rebbe, Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu lived in Shtefenesht. He would frequently visit the neighboring city of Yasi, where his father lay buried. Each time the Rebbe visited Yasi an elaborate reception was arranged in his honor; the entire Jewish population of the town would stop their work, and line the streets to greet him with singing and dancing.

Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu was known to many as a wonder-worker, and Jews and gentile alike would knock on his door to receive blessings and advice. The gentiles of Romania called Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu ‘Marila Rabbin din Shtefenesht’ – Romanian for ‘the great Rabbi of Shtefenesht’.

Many stories abound as to Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu’s great powers as a wonder-worker. It is told that in Romania there lived an anti-semitic scholar named Alexandro Koza, ym”sh.  Koza was an intellectual, and held a position as professor in the University of Yasi. He set up an anti-semitic movement in all the large cities of Romania, whose main goal was to secure the expulsion of Romanian Jews by revoking their citizenship.

One winter morning, in the early hours of dawn as a fierce snow storm raged outside, the door of the Rebbe’s court in Yasi opened and two men entered the study hall. Their dress indicated that they were men of considerable stature. The two turned to the Rebbe’s aides and requested an audience with the Rebbe, in due haste. One of the aides, Rabbi Feivish, understood that something unusual was underfoot and set out to determine the identity of the two guests and the purpose for their visit. To his surprise, these were none other than Dr. Filderman, president of the Federation of the Jewish communities in Romania, and Dr. Solomonowitz, president of the Jewish community in Yasi.

A short while earlier, the anti-semitic leader Koza, who was a member of the Romanian parliament, presented before the parliament a suggestion to instate a new law revoking the Romanian citizenship of all Jews, and as a result, their subsequent expulsion. Dr. Filderman was a legal attorney by profession, and heard about this ominous parliament meeting. He immediately turned to his friend Dr. Solomonowitz, president of the community in Yasi, for advice. Dr. Solomonowitz suggested that they take advantage of the Rebbe’s visit in Yasi at the time, and ask him for advice as to how to deal with this new threat. And so it was that the two guests appeared at the door of the Rebbe of Shtefenesht.
As soon as the gabbai Rabbi Feivish had clarified the identity of the two guests, he hurried to the Rebbe’s chamber and notified him of their arrival and their request to be seen immediately. Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu was already wrapped in his Tallis and Tefillin in preparation for the morning prayers, but agreed to see them nonetheless. The two entered, and without preamble informed the Rebbe of the impending danger hovering over the heads of Romanian Jewry.

Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu listened intently, and after some thought turned to Dr. Filderman and said – “In the ‘Paris’ accords that took place in 5679 (1919), the Romanian government committed to providing citizenship to every Jew in Romania. In the contract it states explicitly that ‘Romania is obliged to recognize Jews living in its territory as Romanian entities, with full rights...’ And in the same contract, there is a clause that states ‘in the case of an attempt to strip a Jew of his citizenship, he has the right to appeal before the High Court’”.  This clause, declared the Rebbe of Shtefenesht, may save the Jews of Romania.

The eminent Drs. Filderman and Salomonowitz stood dumbstruck as they listened to the Rebbe’s fluent rendition of passages of Romanian law, and after they left the Rebbe’s sanctum, they determined to keep the matter secret so that should the need arise, they could put this legal weapon to use.

Years passed, and in the interim Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu passed on to the eternal world of truth. In the year 5689 (1929), with the help of the accursed Nazis ym”sh, an anti-semitic government was set up in Romania led by Octavian Goga and the notorious Alexandro Koza. On the 19th of Shevat of the same year, the government issued a command – Law No. 169, requiring investigations to be carried out anew, as to the citizenship of Jews in Romania. A potential danger hung over the heads of over six hundred thousand Jews.

Upon hearing of the new decree, Dr. Filderman recalled his visit with Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu and the advice he received from him. He immediately turned to the Superior Court and presented the appeal as the Rebbe had suggested; the appeal was registered and the edict was delayed.

A day after the appeal was handed in to the court, a messenger from the Superior Court arrived at the office of Dr. Filderman with a letter requesting his immediate presence at the court house. With no choice, Dr. Filderman returned to the court house where he was told - “You presented an appeal in the name of over six hundred thousand Jews. According to the law, the Court is required to judge each case on an individual basis. The Superior Court adjourns three days a week, and presides over a mere five cases each day – when will we be able to sit with all the cases involved in this appeal?
And so it was, that in the merit of the advice of Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu of Shtefenesht, the decree was averted and over four-hundred thousand Jews succeeded in retaining their Romanian citizenship - a matter that significantly hindered the Nazis as they attempted to carry out the Final Solution in Romania.

Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu was called to the Heavenly court on the 21st of Tamuz 5693 (1933), and was buried in Romania. He left behind no heir, and in his memory the people of his town established a Yeshiva named after him - ‘Beis Avraham’. This Yeshiva stood until the rise of the Nazi scourge, which destroyed most of European Jewry.

In the year 5729 (1969), the grave site of the Rebbe in Romania was in danger of being demolished, and his Chassidim wished to bring his remains to Eretz Yisrael. It is told that when they dug down and took out the pure remains of the holy Rebbe, they found the entire body intact - exactly as it had been on the day he was buried.

On the 3rd of Cheshvan 5729 (1968), a large funeral took place in Tel Aviv in which thousands of people, amongst them great Torah leaders, accompanied the Rebbe to his final resting place in the Nachalat Yitzchak cemetery, in Givatayim. 
The grave of the Rebbe has become a pilgrimage site for multitudes of Jews in need of blessing or salvation. On the 21st of Tamuz, the Yahrzeit of the great Rebbe, thousands of people come to pray at his grave.