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Wednesday
Jan162013

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KOPUST AND LUBAVITCH?

Stories and sayings from R’ Chaim Shaul Brook a”h as recorded by his close talmid, R’ Chaim Ashkenazi a”h.

ON WHAT WOULD THEY DO ISKAFIA?

R’ Shaul Brook said that R’ Eliezer Kaplan (the “kontorchik,” i.e. the menahel gashmi of Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Lubavitch) once wanted to cut down on the yeshiva’s expenses because of the difficult financial situation. He wanted to eliminate the compote served for dessert. However, the Rebbe Rashab told him not to eliminate it since if they did not serve compote to the bachurim, what would they do iskafia on (i.e. in what area would they deny themselves).

NOT JUST WALKING AROUND

R’ Eliezer (see above) once wanted to remove R’ Michoel der Alter from his position. He had been a mashpia in the yeshiva and could no longer teach as a result of his advanced age. The Rebbe Rashab said, “Michoel deserves the few coins he gets just for walking around the zal.” In other words, the personal example he set for bachurim was worth the salary he was given. I think that the Rebbe put his hand on his heart when he said that.

THE CHIDDUSH OF THE “LAMDAN”

R’ Shaul Brook said that when he was in Lubavitch, he finished learning the tractate Bava Metzia and he asked the mashgiach R’ Yaakov Boruch Karasik which tractate to learn next. (This was a period of time when each bachur learned what he wanted). The mashgiach said: You probably know it like that fellow knew all of Shas …

What was he referring to? Someone claimed that he had completed Shas seven times. They asked him to say some chiddush from his learning. This “lamdan” said he had no chiddush. They pressed him until he said, “I wonder why the Gemara says, ‘a person is obligated to purify himself on the regel’ (which means Yom Tov in this context and not literally a foot).” I don’t understand why specifically the foot and not the head.

SOLDIERS OF THE HOUSE OF DOVID

R’ Shaul once met one of the great Chassidim of Kopust. The Chassid said to him: Your Rebbe (i.e. the Rebbe Rashab) has a yeshiva, and therefore he has young Chassidim with whom he can turn over worlds, but who does our Rebbe have with whom to do anything?

POVERTY BEFITS THE JEWISH PEOPLE

R’ Shaul would say: In Lubavitch they would go about with torn overshoes due to poverty. There were mud puddles in Lubavitch, and when water entered their overshoes they would jokingly say (words from the Ketores): Yayin kafrisin she’shorin bahen es ha’tziporen (lit. The wine of Cyprus which was used to soak the onycha (an ingredient for the incense, tziporen also means nail as in toenails).

R’ Shaul would say that the clothing they wore in Lubavitch were torn and that is why they wore a long coat to hide the rips.

HE LISTENED TO THE MASHGIACH

R’ Shaul said that when he learned in Lubavitch he was informed from home that since his father had died, he was asked to return home for Pesach to run the seder. R’ Shaul asked the hanhala for permission and it was given to him on condition that he return to yeshiva right after Yom Tov.

When he returned home, he did not find the house since he did not recognize the area, not having visited in several years. He found out that his family had moved. He spent Pesach at home and Motzaei Yom Tov he wanted to leave for yeshiva. But his mother asked him to stay one more day so he could meet his brother whom he hadn’t seen in a few years. R’ Shaul said he had no permission from the mashgiach and he left right away (as a result, his brother was angry at him for decades).

THE ROLE OF MASHPIA

R’ Shaul would say to us: Don’t think that all the mashpiim in Lubavitch were big maskilim; that wasn’t necessarily so. We learned from them how to learn Chassidus and how Chassidus affects the one who learns it.

THE SHMA OF A TAMIM

R’ Shaul said that in Lubavitch there was a bachur by the name of Avrohom Dovid Klimovitcher. When he davened, it did not look like he was thinking Chassidus because he walked around and one could think he was just doing so aimlessly.

However, they would suddenly notice his face redden and they knew that he would soon be up to Shma. And so it was. Within a few minutes he would take his tzitzis and prepare to recite Shma.

TO RELY ON THE REBBE

R’ Shaul spoke about R’ Dovid of Horodok (who was one of the outstanding T’mimim in Lubavitch) describing him as a ben-bayis (member of the household) of the Rebbe Rashab.

The Rebbe Rashab once told him to get smicha from the rav of Lubavitch whose name was R’ Dovid. R’ Dovid of Horodok went to him and was tested, but he did not pass the test and he was not given smicha. R’ Dovid of Horodok was afraid to appear before the Rebbe, since he hadn’t fulfilled his instruction and so he hid from the Rebbe.

The Rebbe once met him and said: Nu, what’s with the smicha? R’ Dovid told him he hadn’t passed and the Rebbe responded: The rav acted improperly. He should have relied on me. He told R’ Dovid to go to Rabbi Eliezerov and get smicha from him, which he did.

SITTING AND STANDING

R’ Shaul would explain what it says in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch that one says the words “va’anachnu lo neida” (we do not know) while b’yeshiva (sitting) and the words “ma naaseh” (what we should do) while b’amida (standing). In Lubavitch they would say, “va’anachnu lo neida” – we do not know while in yeshiva, “ma naaseh” – what will be with us “b’amida” – during the later years of life known as the years of Amida.

In other words, what we are like when we are in yeshiva is no evidence as to what we will be like when we are older.

 

ON THE TOPIC OF HISKASHRUS TO THE REBBE

A WORM IS EATING AT HIM

The Alter Rebbe said about the Volper (one of the talmidim of the Maggid who became a drunkard at the end of his life) that even while he learned by the Maggid, they saw a worm eating away at him. One time, the students of the Maggid were sitting in their lodgings in order to review the teachings of their master, the Maggid. They were sitting in the cellar where the air was full of smoke, on sacks of potatoes. The Volper said: We cannot review our master’s teachings like this.

That is when the Alter Rebbe suspected that a worm was eating at him, because when you are learning your master’s teachings how is it possible to pay attention to things like that?

WHEN DO YOU HAVE YECHIDUS?

R’ Shaul Brook told us that it used to be that Chassidim did not have yechidus often but very seldom, for as long as they did not feel that they had carried out the instructions of the Rebbe from the previous yechidus, they saw no reason to go again.

A SUPERIOR BACHUR

R’ Shaul said that he saw the Rebbe MH”M in Rostov by the Rebbe Rayatz and heard him say Aleinu. It was apparent from his recital that he was a superior bachur.

LEARN FROM THE REBBE

During Aseres Yemei T’shuva of 5725, I visited R’ Shaul for nichum aveilim (I think his brother had died then). R’ Shaul said that whoever paid attention to the Rebbe’s practices now would learn many dinim because he was sitting Shiva for his mother, Rebbetzin Chana.

TO THE REBBE OR TO AMERICA?

After R’ Shaul went to America to see the Rebbe, he said that he was in the United States two times. When they said to him: How is that possible – you only flew there one time!?

He said: I only traveled to the Rebbe once, but there were two occasions when I needed to step out of the Rebbe’s four cubits into the outside world of the United States.

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