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Tuesday
Jun302015

A CHASSID IN ALL HIS WAYS

R’ Sholom Feldman a”h merited to receive so much from the Chassidim of the previous generation. With his prodigious talents, he knew how to transmit the sweetness of Chassidus to young people. * Along with his job running the Yad HaChamisha print shop in Kfar Chabad, he served as a mashpia. * A glimpse into the life of a Chassid who was one of the first bachurim from Eretz Yisroel to travel and learn in the Rebbe’s court.

Chassidim the world over were saddened to hear about the passing of the mashpia, RSholom Feldman ah at the age of 81.

R’ Sholom was born in Russia in 5693 to Dovid and Basya Paysen. His mother was the daughter of the Chassid, R’ Yisroel Neveler (Levin). Unfortunately, just four months after little Sholom’s birth, his father died of an illness, leaving his mother a widow with an infant. She eventually remarried to her cousin R’ Shmaryahu Feldman and R’ Sholom took on the name of his stepfather.

During World War II, the Feldman family fled from Nazi occupation. After an exhausting journey, they arrived in Samarkand where Sholom joined the secret branch of Tomchei T’mimim there. At a later point, the family moved to Tashkent and there he learned in Tomchei T’mimim in the home of R’ Zalman Leib Estulin. For a while, the class he studied in was taught by his grandfather R’ Yisroel, as R’ Aharon Zakon recounted in his memoirs:

“We went to learn in the home of R’ Zalman Leib after Shacharis which we davened in one of the local shuls. For a while R’ Zalman was our mashgiach, and for a period of time R’ Yisroel Neveler was the one who taught us.

“The yeshiva had two classes, one for the older boys and one for the younger ones. When R’ Yisroel would give a shiur to the older boys, the younger ones would sit at the other end of the room and learn on their own, and vice versa.

“In the older class were: Bentzion Friedman, Sholom Dovber Shemtov, Sholom Feldman, Chaim Yisroel Sperlin, Shlomo Galperin, Velvel Sirota, Chaim Ratovsky, myself and a few others. In the younger class were: Berel Shaikevitch, Yisroel Duchman, Shmaryahu Pruss, Boruch Brikman, Yosef Greenberg, Chaim Rabkin, Berel Ratovsky and others.”

At the end of the war, the Feldman family crossed the border and together with other Chassidishe families arrived in the DP camp in Poking. Sholom attended the local Tomchei T’mimim which was run by the Chassidim who were already there.

His family was in close touch with Rebbetzin Chana, the Rebbe’s mother. Mrs. Feldman and Rebbetzin Chana were in the same room at the local hospital. One day, Sholom went to visit his mother. She wasn’t in the room at the time and he took the opportunity to make her bed. Afterward, Rebbetzin Chana said to Mrs. Feldman, “Your son was here. His feelings toward you are apparent from the way he took the opportunity to make your bed.”

In Tammuz 1947, the Feldmans moved to Paris where Sholom attended Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Brunoy. From that period of time, what remained etched in his mind were special memories of the mashpia and menahel of the yeshiva R’ Nissan Nemanov, the mashpia R’ Yisroel Blinitzky, and his son R’ Aharon Yosef.

From France, the Feldmans moved to Eretz Yisroel and after a brief stay in the transit camp in Pardes Chana, they moved to Kfar Chabad and were among the first families to settle there.

Sholom went to learn in Tomchei T’mimim in Tel Aviv and later in Lud.

“BETWEEN THE LINES”

R’ Sholom was one of the first bachurim to go to the Rebbe in those years, when a trip like that was a major undertaking. It was Kislev 5713 when he arrived and he stayed until 5717 in 770 where he found refuge and was able to slake his thirsting Chassidic soul.

R’ Sholom was very knowledgeable in Chassidus and was also an ardent Chassid who was particular about all the darkei ha’chassidus. This is apparent in a letter that he sent to his friend, R’ Leibel Raskin (later a shliach in Morocco), shortly after he arrived at Beis Chayeinu. He described the first time he saw the Rebbe:

“The Rebbe walked in and everyone looked in only one direction, at the Rebbe. It made a great impression on me, how when the Rebbe is in shul, everyone else is literally nullified.”

And here is a description of his first yechidus:

“On Thursday at about 2:30 I had yechidus. At first I was completely overcome. When I handed the paper I had written earlier to the Rebbe my hand was white as snow, but afterward I settled down a bit and I remember everything the Rebbe said. He blessed me as follows, ‘May you learn Torah with fear of heaven, may you be a Chassid, yerei Shamayim, and lamdan; we should have pleasure from you, materially and spiritually.’”

R’ Sholom went on to describe the bittul and awe for the Rebbe and said that the main thing is not what the Rebbe says but what is seen “between the lines.” “I have already attended three farbrengens. For the first, I grabbed a good spot near the Rebbe and heard and saw everything in detail. In general, when you hear a maamer or sicha from the Rebbe, the main thing is looking between the lines and consequently, this cannot be written in a letter; you can only see it.”

R’ Sholom merited special signs of affection from the Rebbe, such as: In the middle of the Chag Ha’Geula – 12 Tammuz farbrengen of 5714, the Rebbe suddenly said to him, “Feldman, why don’t you say l’chaim for your mother?”

R’ Sholom quickly said l’chaim, not knowing that his mother’s health had taken a turn for the worse.

A few months later, on Erev Yom Kippur of 5715, he passed by the Rebbe for lekach. After receiving a piece from the Rebbe he kept walking and the Rebbe told him from a distance, “Feldman, why don’t you ask for lekach for your mother?”

R’ Sholom received a letter from his sister in which she described their mother’s serious medical condition and what the doctors said. He submitted the letter to the Rebbe as is and asked for a bracha. The Rebbe’s answer was to obey the doctors’ orders and for her to wear a wig and try to convince other women to do the same. Despite her medical condition, she bought a new wig.

While in Tomchei T’mimim in New York, he diligently studied Nigleh and Chassidus and after four years he returned to Eretz Yisroel.

PRINTING SIFREI CHABAD

R’ Sholom married Mussia, daughter of R’ Avrohom Swerdlov, may Hashem avenge his blood. R’ Avrohom was a maggid shiur in Tiferes Bachurim in Leningrad and was arrested for teaching Judaism and exiled to Siberia. He was miraculously released, but during World War II he was drafted into the Red Army and sent to the front and was killed.

R’ Sholom was appointed as the menahel of the Yad HaChamisha printing school at the vocational school in Kfar Chabad. At first he directed the carpentry school and then he was appointed to run the print shop where the students learned this profession. This print shop was not only a place for students to study, but was also a source of income for the network of yeshivos Tomchei T’mimim. In addition, it served as the factory for the printing of many sifrei Chassidus and publications for the dissemination of Judaism and Chassidus. R’ Sholom directed the print shop very successfully.

Managing the print shop entailed great responsibility but along with his work he diligently learned deep maamarei Chassidus. He used his many talents to carry out instructions from the Rebbe in many areas. He was an active participant in gatherings attended by directors of mosdos and distinguished askanim; whether it was amending the Law of Return or the Rebbe’s mivtzaim. Sometimes, he joined delegations which met with rabbanim and public figures for the purpose of amending the Law of Return.

For example, R’ Efraim Wolf reported to the Rebbe as follows: “Yesterday, R’ Shmuel Chefer, R’ Elozor Garelik, and R’ Sholom Feldman visited the Knesset again and returned very disappointed.”

From another letter, “ …Today, R’ Shmuel Chefer along with R’ Ezriel Zelig Slonim and R’ Elozor Garelik and R’ Sholom Feldman, visited R’ Unterman [Israeli Chief Rabbi] and gave him a telegram from the Rebbe. They said that this time he was more enthusiastic, and he said that the Rebbe is the only leader who understands the seriousness of the matter while everyone sleeps, and he said he would present a motion for Mafdal to leave the government.”

INFLUENCE ON MIVTZAIM

When it came to mivtzaim, R’ Sholom was a soldier of the Rebbe. For a number of years, I would go to Nes Tziyona for Mivtza T’fillin. Each time, I saw R’ Sholom Feldman as he stood on the street next to R’ Monia Shneur and other elders from Kfar Chabad, putting t’fillin on passersby.

That’s what he did on Fridays, winter and summer. At the corner of Rothschild and Herzl streets in Rishon L’Tziyon, among the people rushing to shop for Shabbos, you could see the imposing figure of R’ Sholom walking among the stores. He would start his weekly rounds at the shoe store located inside the covered passageway. When R’ Sholom appeared in the doorway, the store owner would immediately drop everything and go and welcome him. After R’ Sholom’s friendly inquiries about the past week, he would take a pair of t’fillin out of a faded black bag and put them on the arm and head of Michoel.

He spent 34 years on his rounds. From Michoel’s store he went to another three shoe stores and then to a pastry shop. The owner, an older man, loved to talk to R’ Sholom who would ask how things were going financially. “Boruch Hashem, managing,” he would say. “I’m not complaining. Money comes and money goes.”

R’ Sholom would say with a smile, “Better when it comes …”

Time is pressing and his route ended at a fruit and vegetable stand and a store that sells sports clothing.

The store owner and his partner said they were in touch with R’ Sholom for 27 years. “Every Friday he would come to the store, whether a rainy day or stormy, he always came,” said the partner. Store owners mentioned his warm approach, the shmura matza he brought before Pesach, and how impressed they were by his character.

R’ Sholom spoke little about himself, certainly not about his accomplishments, but his son Dovid who went along with him said that a number of people became more religiously involved because of his father.

As director of the print shop Yad HaChamisha, he was in touch with senior people in various institutions and organizations around the country such as top executives at Bank Leumi. He also used these connections to spread Judaism. Those he was in touch with considered him a respected and discreet source for all their Judaism related needs and requests.

MASHPIA TO THE
YOUNGER GENERATION

R’ Sholom’s expertise in Chassidus included both bekius (wide-ranging knowledge) and depth. His vast knowledge of Chassidus was thanks to effort and diligence over the years.

His farbrengens were popular, for people knew that he was saturated with and had a vast storehouse of knowledge of Chassidus and the customs and practices of Chassidim. He was also able to “bring things down” for the younger generation. For many years he farbrenged on a regular basis in the central shul in Kfar Chabad, with a large crowd pressed in trying to take in every word.

In recent years he was appointed as mashpia in the Chabad yeshiva in Holon where the bachurim enjoyed his farbrengens.

R’ Feldman’s health deteriorated recently and he passed away on 28 Nissan.

He is survived by his wife Mussia, their children R’ Dovid Feldman, Mrs. Chaya Zalmanov, Mrs. Rochel Leah Zaks, and Mrs. Esther Olidort; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He is also survived by his sisters, Mrs. Ella Belfer, Yerushalayim, and Mrs. Sara Kasinetz, Livingston, NJ.

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