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 Tchebiner Rav

Harav Dov Berish Wiedenfeld ztz”l, more commonly known as the Gaon of Tchebin, served as rav, rosh yeshivah and prominent posek halachah – and was one of the recognised leaders of the Torah world in Eretz Yisrael.

David Sofer 28/10/2009 10:25
Harav Dov Berish was born in the year 5641 in the town of Hermolov in Poland to his father Rabi Yaakov ztz”l, author of the sefer ‘Kochav m’Yaakov’, who served as the town’s rav and was a Husyatiner chossid. His father was niftar when he was still young. Rabi Dov Berish learned Torah first from his father and also from his brothers; Rabi Yitzchak, the rav of the town of Grimilov; and Rabi Nachum, the rav of Dobrovitza, author of the sefer ‘Chazon Nachum’. In the year 5660, at the age of nineteen, he married and went to live in the town of Tchebin in Galicia.

Rabi Dov Berish did not wish to use his knowledge of Torah for personal benefit, and so he supported himself from his family business, which he himself ran. Despite his many business commitments, he devoted long hours to limmud haTorah, and he was renowned throughout Poland for his gaonus, sharp mind and broad knowledge. Rabi Dov Berish was in constant contact with many gedolei hador and Admorim of Poland, who in turn honoured him greatly; these included Rabi Meir Arik; Rabi Shalom Mordechai HaKohen Shwadron, the Maharsham of Brezan; Rabi Menachem Ziemba; and others ztz”l. He was widely acclaimed as one of the greatest rabbonim of Poland.

Despite the entreaties of many that he accept a position as a rav, he continually refused to accept any such position, and insisted on continuing to support himself from his business. However, the business failed in the year 5678, he was forced against his will to accept a position as moreh hora’ah, and around five years after that, in the year 5683, when he was forty years of age, he was appointed as rav of Tchebin. At the time of his appointment, he refused to attend shalom zachors on leil Shabbos. When the local residents protested that their previous rav had attended such events, Rabi Dov Berish replied in humility that the reason for making a ‘shalom zachor’ was to comfort the baby for having forgotten the Torah that he learned before birth from an angel. Therefore, the previous rav, who had been a great talmid chacham, had been able to comfort the baby and tell him – see, I also forgot my Torah, but then I toiled myself until I regained it – but as for myself, concluded Rabi Dov Berish, I am not of his standing and I cannot provide this comfort…

Rabi Dov Berish established a yeshivah gedolah in Tchebin which he named ‘Kochav m’Yaakov’ after his father. This yeshivah became one of the most prominent in all of Poland and gained great repute among its rabbonim, and even in the eyes of the government. With the outbreak of the Second World War and the Nazi invasion of Poland in the year 5699, Rabi Dov Berish had great reason to fear for his life, since his image was widely recognised. In fact, even in the newspaper of the Nazi party, ‘Der Sturmer’, he was personally portrayed as ‘the greatest Talmudist in the world’. Rabi Dov Berish therefore fled Poland to Lvov (Lemberg), which was then under Soviet control, where he stayed in the home of the Husyatiner Rebbe.

In the summer of the year 5700 Rabi Dov Berish was arrested by the Soviet secret police as an illegal alien, and he was exiled together with his family to the forests of Sverdlovsk in Siberia, where he was forced to engage in back-breaking manual labour. It is related that during these years, he would learn secretively and by heart with his son-in-law who would later continue his legacy – this was Rabi Baruch Shimon Shneersohn – and he would record his chiddushim from this period in his life on scraps of paper or wood. Once, Rabi Dov Berish commented that when he had still been in Poland, he had learned the halachos of netilas yadayim and which utensils were permitted or forbidden to be used for this mitzvah. In Poland, these halachos had never had any practical ramifications, since all the washing utensils in his home had been kosher l’mehadrin – it was not until he had been exiled to Siberia, where there were only old broken scraps of utensils available that his learning had become halachah l’ma’aseh.

In the year 5702 when he was sixty-one years of age, he was transferred to Buchara, and four years later, in the year 5706, he managed to leave Russia and reach Eretz Yisrael with the remnants of his family. His name and reputation preceeded him to the Holy Land, where he was immediately accepted as one of the gedolei hador alongside the Chazon Ish and Harav Yitzchak Zev haLevi Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rav. Rabi Dov Berish served as one of the Torah leaders on the Moetzes Gedolei haTorah of Agudas Yisrael, and was at the forefront of activities for the public benefit.

Despite the fact that Rabi Dov Berish was associated with Agudas Yisrael which had a more accommodating approach to the existence of the Zionist state than did the kano’im, Rabi Dov Berish and the Satmar Rov, Rabi Yoel Teitelbaum ztz”l held each other in the greatest of esteem. The Satmar Rov was greatly opposed to the existence of any connection between Agudas Yisrael and the institutions of the state, and yet he greatly admired Rabi Dov Berish, as did many other kano’im.

Rabi Dov Berish settled in the Shaarei Chessed neighbourhood of Yerushalayim, and reestablished the Kochav m’Yaakov-Tchebin yeshivah together with his son-in-law Rabi Baruch Shimon Shneersohn. The yeshivah exists until this day, and is one of the most popular ‘general chassidish’ yeshivos.

A story that illustrates the great level of humility of the Tchebiner Rav relates that once, he was informed that the Chazon Ish would sell all of his seforim to a goy before Pesach, in case they contained chametz – except those that were important to him to have in order to learn from them during the Yom Tov – these he would thoroughly clean and did not sell – and one of these seforim was the sefer of halachic responsae ‘Dovev Meisharim’ by Rabi Dov Berish. To this the Tchebiner Rav replied that the Chazon Ish obviously did not open this sefer throughout the year, and therefore there was no suspicion that chametz might be found in it…

In the shul in Shaarei Chessed where Rabi Dov Berish davened, several other gedolei Yisrael also davened. One Shabbos, Rabi Dov Berish did not arrive in shul as usual, and somebody was sent to find him. Rabi Dov Berish replied when questioned that he felt fine – however, as he had been leaving his home to go to shul, he had noticed huge posters in the street advertising his shiurim, and he had been too embarrassed to go outside…

On one Shabbos, during the afternoon, a small boy knocked on the door of Rabi Dov Berish’s home, who opened the door and gently reminded the boy that he should be more careful in future, in case the person he sought was asleep. To this the boy replied that it had never occurred to him that the Rav slept in the afternoon. These words penetrated Rabi Dov Berish as if a snake had bitten him – ‘how could it be that the Rav sleeps in the afternoon?’ – and from then onwards, he never did. In fact, his hasmadah was legendary. When his little grandchild was niftar and messengers came to inform him of this, he was in the middle of his learning, and when he heard the tidings, he repeated the possuk in Tehillim; “If not for Your Torah which is my delight, I would be overwhelmed in my grief” – and he resumed his learning.

Rabi Dov Berish was niftar in Yerushalayim on the 10th of Marcheshvan in the year 5726 at the age of eighty-five, and was buried on Har haMenuchos in Chelkas haRabbonim.