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Wednesday
Sep052018

GOING ON HIGH ON YOM KIPPUR

A typical scene was Rabbi Avrohom Tauber a”h, with his unusually tall figure towering over other Jews, with his two hands on their head as he blessed them with the priestly blessing, with great feeling. He did this upon explicit instruction of the Rebbe and many saw salvations from his blessings. * For decades he made the effort to walk a long distance every Yom Kippur to make a minyan on yishuv Orot.

R’ Ariel Tauber, the son of R’ Avrohom, relates:

Yom Kippur for my father was a very different sort of day, in terms of his approach and outlook towards this day. For many years, my father was devoted to making a minyan on yishuv Orot, near Nachalat Har Chabad, every Yom Kippur. I remember when I was a boy, walking with him to the homes of residents of the yishuv where he would “pull” them out of their homes to come and daven. This was his main chayus on Yom Kippur for decades!

Even when we moved to B’nei Brak, he would travel especially to Orot to make a minyan there. This was to him the greatest thing, and I think what gave him his chayus for this holy day.

STRONG CONNECTION WITH THE MASHPIA

R’ Avrohom Tauber was born in Vienna a few years before World War II began. When the Germans were welcomed with open arms as they overran Austria, he and his parents moved from village to village until they arrived, like many other refugees, in France. With open miracles, the family was able to avoid the clutches of the evil ones and their henchmen.

R’ Avrohom began his initial foray into Chassidus when he was a boy and was staying in a DP camp in France, before making aliya along with thousands of other Jews. One day, he went to where the Lubavitcher Chassidim gathered and learned a Chabad niggun from them. After that, he joined the company of the Chassidim and loved being with them. When he arrived in Eretz Yisroel, he looked for Chabad Chassidim. He greatly desired learning more niggunim and went to the shul in Ramat Yitzchok, later Ramat Gan.

He joined shiurim in Chassidus and farbrengens with the mashpia, Rabbi Meir Blizinsky a”h, and later he regularly visited the yeshiva in Lud and Kfar Chabad where he connected with the mashpia, Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Kesselman.

The first letter he received from the Rebbe had to do with a beard. He was of marriageable age and had good shidduch suggestions, on condition that he trim his beard. As a Chassid, he did not make a move without asking the Rebbe. The Rebbe told him not to consider doing so and that greater tzaddikim than he did not touch their beard nor consider trimming it.

“With great nostalgia, my father told me about that first letter he received. When he was told that there was a letter for him from the Rebbe, he did not dare to open it until he went to the mikva, davened mincha with the vidui of Yom Kippur, and learned Chassidus.”

AT THE TABLE OF KINGS

The first time he went to the Rebbe was after he married, when he won a raffle. Part of the privilege of the raffle-winner was to eat at the Rebbe’s table for the holiday night meals in the Rebbe Rayatz’s apartment. R’ Tauber trembled with excitement when he was present for that experience. At first, he refused to eat, until someone told him that if he did not eat, the Rebbe would take an interest that would discomfit him far more, so he made a supreme effort to put food in his mouth.

“In later years, my father told me about what he saw of the Rebbe’s conduct at that meal. Among the things he saw was that between the fish and meat, the Rebbe wiped his glass, his lips and his eyes. The fish itself was without a lot of spices and was salted to the extreme.”

On the second night of Rosh Hashana, R’ Tauber did not come to the meal, and the Rebbe asked, “Where is the guest who came from Eretz Yisroel?!” They went to look for him but did not find him. He was unaware that he was invited for this night as well, so he had gone to eat in one of the homes in the neighborhood.

When the secretary informed him that he went looking for him, he was disappointed over what he had missed and asked that he be allowed to go in at the next opportunity. In fact, he was let in for the holiday meal of Motzaei Yom Kippur.

Since that first visit, R’ Avrohom had the privilege to enter for a number of yechidus encounters and to receive many letters. The Rebbe told him repeatedly that he is a Kohen and it is his job to bless Jews. There was not even one yechidus in which the Rebbe did not mention this topic. Therefore, R’ Avrohom fulfilled this directive with great devotion, and it was a regular and typical occurrence to see him blessing Jews in every place and at every opportunity.

“When I was a boy, I once went into yechidus with my father,” said his son. “The Rebbe said, ‘You are a Kohen. Bless the Jewish people and in this merit, Hashem will bless you.’ My father took this very seriously. With deep heartfelt feeling he would bless every Jew that he met. Many people told him that his blessings came true and barren women had children. One time, my father arrived late when the Rebbe was giving out lekach. The Rebbe smiled and asked, ‘Kohanim act with alacrity; is this alacrity?’”

Blessings were a lofty thing to him and gave him much chayus. Each time, he would bless Jews with renewed chayus; not in a way of “here we go again.” It was like each time he felt anew the Rebbe’s order to bless Jews. At that time he became a completely different person, even to those who knew him.

R’ Avrohom was a very spiritual person. He sometimes sensed what would happen before it happened. At one yechidus, he asked the Rebbe what to do about this. The Rebbe turned grave and told him that since we don’t know what forces this derives from, he should not use this ability.

A NACHSHON WHEN IT CAME TO SPREADING THE WELLSPRINGS

He was very active in the Rebbe’s mivtzaim and worked primarily within branches of HaShomer HaTzair (a virulently anti-religious kibbutz movement). He was mekarev many of them to Chassidus. One time, he made sure there were shmura matzos on the seder table at a leftist kibbutz. When the directors of the kibbutz heard about this, they were furious. They maintained that there were treif meat and ham on the table so how could there be matzos? Their Jewish spark flared without them realizing it.

R’ Avrohom repeated this to the Rebbe in yechidus and the Rebbe smiled broadly. He was obviously pleased.

For a long time, he would daven regularly at the Chabad shul in Ramat Yitzchok in Ramat Gan. Although his parents lived in the HaPoel HaMizrachi neighborhood, he would walk half an hour to the shul.

For years, he arranged many “Evenings With Chabad” for people on kibbutzim with whom he found a common language. He would do the early groundwork and pave the way for the Lubavitcher lecturers who would be invited to homes or kibbutzim. Dozens of people were drawn close in this way.

For a long time he lived in Nachalat Har Chabad, after it was founded in 5729, and was one of the first residents. In a yechidus, he brought the key to his house to the Rebbe. The Rebbe looked at it and asked whether it was copied here or brought from Eretz Yisroel.

R’ Tauber said, “From Eretz Yisroel.”

The Rebbe went on to ask whether he decided to give the key from the outset or made the decision here.

He said that he had already decided in Eretz Yisroel. Only then did the Rebbe agree to accept the key.

ON THE HIGH HOLY DAY

He suffered greatly from the dreaded disease in his final years yet still kept in touch with hundreds of people and influenced them in the ways of Chassidus and Judaism.

In the last period of his life, in the middle of Elul, he asked his family members again and again when the Yomim Nora’im would be, as though he sensed something.

He was in the hospital, his condition worsened, and he was no longer conscious. Erev Yom Kippur, the doctors thought those were his final moments, but it seemed like he was trying to “hang in there” until it was actually Yom Kippur.

His son Ariel recounted, with tears:

“A few minutes before the onset of Yom Kippur, I went over and told him that it was Erev Yom Kippur and it was the time to do teshuva. My father lay there with closed eyes but I saw that he understood what I said. I also told him that it was the time to bless the children and I asked for his blessing. Instead of him, I recited the verses of the priestly bracha and saw that he understood where he was and when it was and was just unable to say the words himself.”

R’ Avrohom passed away Yom Kippur morning, shortly after nine o’clock. It suddenly poured that day, for a few minutes, highly unusual for Yom Kippur. “I felt that the heavens were crying too.

“Yom Kippur was undoubtedly the day that he truly felt the most; both by being a Kohen who blessed thousands of people and because of his special sensitivity for this day. What could be more fitting for a Kohen, called ‘HaKohen HaGadol’ lovingly by many, because he was so tall, to enter ‘within and within’ on the Day of Atonement?”

During the holy day, his son returned from the hospital to B’nei Brak and informed people of his father’s passing, for he was one of the familiar figures in the Chabad community in B’nei Brak. Hundreds of residents of B’nei Brak including Rabbanim, Admurim, and Chassidim, attended his funeral on Motzaei Yom Kippur.

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