Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Question & Answer With Rabbi Betsalel Edwards - Komarno & The Internet


A Simple Jew asks:

Who are the Komarno Rebbes today, and what is their attitude towards the Internet and the dissemination of Kabbalah?"

Rabbi Betsalel Edwards answers:

It was the sixth of Iyar (May 4th), the yahrtzeit of the passing of the Komarno Rebbe zt"l, Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Yehuda Yechiel Safrin of Komarno. Winter was exchanged for summer and I was wondering what was going on in Heaven. As I sat on the rooftop of our rented apartment in the Old City of Jerusalem, I looked at the clouds that reach down and touched me, sat down in the dust in my stocking feet, and felt the raindrops of a threatening climate. It felt a little like Tisha B'Av.

You are looking at the Internet. You are looking at a blog that is dedicated to the dissemination of Torah and Chassidus over the world wide web, and it is likely that you want to know about Komarno. You could click the mouse and read the news, watch a movie, or, God forbid, take another look at what anonymous people sometimes do for money in a depraved world. But God can be found elsewhere on the Internet. You seek a life of purity and holiness, reading in and around His Torah and loving Israel.

Which way are we turning the world? I don’t know, but in the world of Chassidus and Kaballah, you might say it has something to do with the Internet. There are two possibilities. Either ban it, or use it in a responsible way. But you can’t stop it.

I daven at Tzemach Tzedek, the Chabad shul in the Old City. There are a number of machers (businessmen) who come through our shul, and one Shabbos, I noticed that one of them had the word “Komarno” embroidered on his tallis bag. I have noticed how certain members of our shul seem to pander to the wealthy, even on Shabbos, often in the form of what they consider a brilliant speech at the Kiddush. At one such occasion, I assumed that the speech was really a guised, Shabbosdik appeal for cash, as the speaker couldn’t take his gaze off the macher, barely looking at the other fifty people in the room.

But, like all shuls, people often network, even on Shabbos, and it opens doors for them. Going back to the man with the “Komarno” tallis bag, struck up a conversation with him about our common Komarno interest. It turns out that he was an American baal teshuvah who works with Internet and a burning interest in Chassidus and Kabbalah. He said that for the past three years, he has wanted to fund a complete translation of the magnum opus of Komarno, the “Komarno Chumash: Heichal HaBracha and Otzar HaChaim” and put it in a data base on the web. I said, “I’m your man.” He said, “Wait a second, I am not doing it without the complete agreement of the Komarno Rebbe, shlita.”

So, up for a challenge, I said, “I’m right on it.”

I needed to confer with Rav Yitchak Shlomo Safrin, the Komarno Rebbe of Givat Shaul, who can be found any weekday at the Kotel around nine a.m. A shy, tall man with a beatific face that bears the burden of modern Israel, he is, as far as I know, the only Chassidic Rebbe who goes to the Kotel every weekday. In his younger, more mobile years, he went every day of the year, regardless of the weather. He has met thousands of people in his life, and after davening, takes out a list of their names and davens for them before the Holy Temple in Heaven.

I mentioned the Komarno Internet project. Upon hearing the word Internet he went pale and clutched his shtender. I felt a little uneasy, seeing as how I disturbed him, and offered a brief prayer that there would not be a repeat performance of the time when a group of modern religious girls started singing on the women’s side, whereupon he jumped up, put his hands over his ears, and bolted north in the direction of Robinson’s arch crying, “Kol B’Isha Erva! Kol B’Isha Erva!” (a woman’s singing voice is a kind of “nudity.”) In all seriousness, he is not a “haredi,” which is a pose, but rather, “chared mi’dvar Hashem,” trembling at the word of God. I got the feeling that Internet would be a very hard sell indeed.

The next day, after asking him about the Internet, he was still alive. He said to ask Rav Elazar Tsvi Safrin, Shlita, the Komarno Rebbe of Beit Shemesh. There are five men who have assumed leadership roles in Klal Yisrael – two in Jerusalem, one in Beit Shemesh, one in Bnei Brak, and one in Manhattan. I started to wonder why several cities in Israel don’t put a sign for “Komarno Rebbe” at the entrance to town in between the signs for “Center,” and “Rabin Park”. Though I was a little cynical when I first found out that there are five Komarno Rebbes, ever since forming a relationship with three of them my cynicism has waned.

Rav Elazar Tsvi Safrin was out of town, so I met with his sons. They were all enthusiastic about the possibility of putting their great, great, great grandfather’s Heichal HaBracha Chumash on a website. We made an entire business plan with the blessing of the Komarno Rebbe, Shlita, of Beit Shemesh. In order to make the website in the elaborate and wondrous form envisioned by the Chabad macher, it would take three years and a million dollars, but we were ready to roll up out sleeves and get to work. In a meeting with the macher at an undisclosed location, just before Tisha B’Av, he said, “I’m not doing this unless I have unanimous approval from all the Komarno Rebbes.”

I got a little nervous. After all, we are talking about a family of tzaddikim known for their ruach hakodesh. Sometimes ruach hakodesh runs in a family, where some descendants display its wonders more than others. One of the Safrin, not from Beit Shemesh, has such a pronounced clairvoyance that the Israeli Secret service wanted him to work for them. He refused. A Rav of mine once told me how he was sitting with him once with a few other visitors. They asked him about how his ruach hakodesh worked. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.” One of the visitors took out his cellphone. He said to Safrin, “Tell me where my sister is. Then I can call her and ask her myself.” Safrin closed his eyes, and said, “She is sitting in an airport on a bench under a sign written in English letters.” The man called his sister, and sure enough, she was in the airport in Rome sitting just as Safrin had seen it.

I have had a few personal experiences with the ruach haKkodesh of the Safrin family. As I drove through the Jerusalem hills to meet with the Safrin boys in Beit Shemesh, I was doing a bit of a cheshbon nefesh, a soul reckoning, about a certain mitzvah that I was neglecting. At the end of our meeting, we decided to choose one of the 613 mitzvos as explained in the Otzar HaChaim, and present it in English and Hebrew as a “pilot” for the Chabad macher. The boys asked me to wait, and went into their father’s study to discuss something. When they came back they told me which mitzvah to work on. And yes, it was my poor, neglected mitzvah. You might think of this as a case of how there is no privacy with some rare clairvoyant tzaddikim, but “k’mashama lan,” they could have been unaware of how God was using them to send me a message. Reb Chaim Yankiv, the eldest of the brothers, who seemed to be conducting the meeting, looked me in the eye and said, “My father is known as Rav Elazar Tsvi Baal haMofsim – the master of miracles.”

I decided to go to the top. I went to Rav Elazar Tsvi’s older brother, Rav Nesanel Safrin, Shlita, the Komarno Rebbe of Jerusalem. His conclusion?, “We cannot give criminals a Yad VeShem – a place and a name, in the secrets of the Torah.”

“But what about the many sites already on the net: Daf Yomi, Chabad, Breslov?”

He then shot down my argument with, “These sites deal with the revealed Torah, basic introductions to educate newly religious Jews. But the secrets are precious, easily misunderstood or corrupted, and must be protected,” The Rebbe, a wall, was harder to scale than the Kotel. And still, from the way he spoke one might say that he doesn’t know a Internet from a fisherman’s net. Clearly he is aware of how secular culture and the western entertainment industry are accessed at the click of a mouse, and this was the reason for his wall. “We must protect our children.” It may come as a surprise to some readers, but sadly, there are Ultra-Orthodox Jews who fall into the pit of porn. Just last week, I was reading the walls in Mea Shearim, who were turning over heaven and earth about the young Yerushalmi boys who went to Tiberias, rented some rooms and did something that the walls were too ashamed to repeat. Before the signatures of several rabbis at the foot of the poster, the conclusion was that, “anyone who knows the boys must confiscate their devices immediately.” “Devices?” I was a little puzzled, but still sympathetic to the need for vague language.

Regardless of how much I agree with the Rebbe about the dangers of the Internet, and the need to create fences or even walls in order to protect a community, I held my ground. After all, a million dollars in income for a team of torah scholars and the battle to redeem the Internet through Torah is nothing to sneer at. My recourse was to defend the need for transmission and dissemination of Kaballah through Chassidus while concurrently guarding the secrets from either unprepared or irresponsible enthusiasts. An English site cannot reveal too much by definition, as the mysteries cannot really understood outside of the Hebrew language. He was even resistant to any translation of Kaballah. “In order to be Jewish, you need to know Hebrew. And the only way to learn the mysteries of Komarno is through Torah classes held in synagogues and houses of study.” he ruled. End of story. Not giving up, I tried to find a common ground. First of all, a Jew is anyone born of a Jewish mother who holds Jewish beliefs regardless of the language he or she speaks. And furthermore, I suggested that we both have an interest, even duty, to educate and refine the world through the Torah of the Baal Shem Tov, particularly in the transmission of Komarno. The teachings of Komarno are something that would enrich the lives of Jews living in far off lands speaking strange tongues, and has the power to release them from foreign beliefs. I didn’t say it to him in this way, but as I see it, the web may catch some flies, but the net can catch some fish. Not to be eaten by the tzaddikim, but still, in this wayward world, one could do far worse. Such precious fish would then be kissed and then released to swim free on the ocean. Only to be gobbled up by a shark. In retrospect, it was good that I just asked the Rebbe to pass the herring instead of offering this analogy.

Many Jews, if not all, are taaddikim hiding from themselves. Internet Torah has the power to bring such a hidden tzaddik out of hiding. When Rabbi Shimon said, “Woe if I reveal it, and woe if I don’t reveal it.” He was not only speaking to an elite group of angelic men, but well knew that “a friend has a friend,” and that his secrets would inevitably spread beyond his fellowship. When the Arizal revealed the meaning of the Zohar, his teachings were also kept hidden, but he systematized the meaning of the Zohar in a way that more people could understand. And yet, “for every span of Kaballah the Arizal revealed, he covered up a thousand.” For most, the complex spiritual wiring of the Arizal as exemplified by the Rashash Siddur manages to keep the secrets better locked away than the Zohar! But when the Baal Shem Tov and his students, including the first Komarno Rebbe who actually lived four generations after the Besht, revealed a clear path to the love of God, the Torah, and Israel, they were not hiding the seeds but reaping the fruits of revelation. The Besht is for everyone. The teachings of Komarno are for the pure and brave of heart whose value for halacha goes hand in hand with the wonders of The Zohar, the Arizal, and the Baal Shem Tov. It is well to remember that the Zohar also has legal ramifications, practically affecting the way decide the Halacha when there is no clear conclusion in the Gemara. The Magen Avraham, one of the great Rabbis in the Shulchan Aruch, rules that the very customs and conduct of the Arizal have the force of Halacha.

In a letter to Rav Nesanel, Shlita, I offered the following teaching I heard from Rav Brandvine, the Stretiner, Shlita, who heard it from Rav Yehuda Laib Ashlag, ZTsL.

In the liturgical poem, “Bar Yochai,” dedicated to author of the Zohar, it reads, “Let us make a man was said for your sake, Rabbi Shimon bar Yocahi!” We can understand this through the lens of the Midrash (Rabba, Bereshit, 8.) “Moshe started taking dictation from God. 'In the beginning, God created, ect. And it was evening and morning...' and so he went, writing down everything that happened on each of the six days of creation. When he arrived at, 'and God said, let us make a man in our image and in our likeness,' he said, 'Master of the World! You will only give an excuse for heretics to believe that there are two Gods!' God replied, 'Write, and whoever errs will err.' And years later, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was also unsure as to whether or not to reveal the Zohar for the very same reason. If he reveals the knowledge that, “...and Hashem E-lohim created – refers to Abba (the image of the father) and Imma (The image of the mother), heretics will take it as a proof that there are two “gods” or forces governing creation. It is known that the soul of Rabbi Shimon is the same soul as Moshe Rabbeinu. At this point, the Rashbi recalled what God had told Moshe, “write, and those who will err will err.” For this reason, we say in the poem, “Bar Yochai,” “let us make a man was said for your sake, Rabbi Shimon.”

How is Komarno different from any other Chassidus? The first Komarno Rebbe, Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Yehuda Yechiel Safrin of Komarno, explained the Torah of the four worlds in the language of Halacha, the Arizal, and the Baal Shem Tov. Yet this is true of other masters. He was distinguished from them in his capacity as an expert in the revealed Torah and “piskei din,” or the current Halachic rulings of his day. In the estimation of Rabbi David Fink, a posek in Jerusalem, he is perhaps the most Arizal-based legal authority in Ashkenazic Jewry. In my limited experience with Chassidishe seforim, I have only found the Tzemach Tzedek of Chabad in the Derech Mitzvosecha and the Dinover Rebbe in the Bnay Yissocher to be in the same league as the Komarno – with regards to the overt use of the language and concepts of the Arizal in their writings. In other words, we know that the Isbitzer Rebbe, the Mei HaShiloach, was an expert in the writings of the Arizal, but rarely uses the Arizal’s terms overtly in his writings. The Isbitzer reworks the Arizal, and for that matter, the Baal Shem Tov, into his own language and conceptual world. But the Komarno will quote at liberty long passages from the Zohar and the writings of the Arizal – all from memory. In one of his introduction he apologized profusely for not putting in citations. He would enter into a kind of ecstatic state while writing, unable to stop it in order to look up sources and page numbers.

Rav Nesanel teaches in Yiddish mostly to students who wear velvet yarmulkes. His younger brother from Beit Shemesh, Rav Elazar Tsvi, teaches in Hebrew to velvet and nit kippas alike. If you are holy enough, you can discuss holy seforim with Rav Nesanel, and go to his house to enjoy ten kinds of food at his Shabbos table. (Rav Nesanel turned me on to “galleh,” a kind of cube of fat culled from the hooves of a cow.) In Rav Elazar Tsvi’s class on the Torah of the Baal Shem Tov, “anything can be brought to the table.” (Maybe even “galleh.”) Before opening up the writings attributed to the Besht, subjects like politics, military technology, and modern music pass over the table. And in the class, I recall once that the Rav even used a Buddhist tale, lehavdil, to elucidate a concept in the Besht’s teachings.

Rav Elazar Tsvi does not use the Internet. Still, he told me point blank, “You cannot stop the Internet.”

Though he is a Chasidische Rebbe like his brother, still, he doesn’t lead a community, only holding court while sitting in the succah at his yearly tish in Jerusalem. There is so much joy in the succah! If you are there, you bring him a glass of wine. He takes it, looks into it, rolls it a little between the palms of his hand, smiles as if seeing something. He may ask you few questions, and then confer with his top chassid sitting next to him. He may take a little sip of your wine before giving you a bracha. Sometimes he sees visions. I remember the man who came before him in the succah after me. Later, in the class, he shared with us how while the man was standing before him, he saw him wearing tefillin on his arm but not on his head. It turns out that that man’s head tefillin had defect in the calligraphy than needed correcting. “Prophecy only rests upon the prophets in a state of simcha!”

In retrospect, I am not so interested in the miserable ruach-hakodesh of contemporary Israel. As one of my Rabbanim is fond of saying, “I am the last Rabbi in Jerusalem to be left without ruach hakodesh.” What impresses me about Rav Elazar Tsvi is his genuine concern for his students, his depth of knowledge, and the fervor with which he “opens the gates” to the way of prayer of the Baal Shem Tov. I can safely say that studying the “Amud HaTefilla” from the “Sefer Baal Shem Tov,” has radically transformed my davening. I feel greater clarity and honesty in my daily meetings with the Master of Heaven and Earth.

The basic starting point for the way of prayer of the Baal Shem Tov is very simple. Think about the words in the siddur before you say them. Before every word, think about its meaning and before whom you are saying it. Train yourself to fill the words of your davening with thought, with consciousness.

And once doing so, you will find that you are no longer davening for your own personal needs, but for the Shechinah, healing Her “blemishes” that are the source of whatever we are missing in the world. A “blemish” in the Shechinah, in the ten sefiros, is a kind of blockage of divine light that is due to man’s transgression. I remind myself that it is not Betsalel saying the words, but as the Baal Shem Tov taught, the Shechinah using me to pronounce the letters and offer them back to the Source beyond. And it is such a wonder that I can share these words with you over the Internet.

Rav Elazar Tvi’s cousin, Rav Tsvi Elazar, the Rebbe of Bnei Brak, seems to also be adamantly against the Internet. Like the Komarno Rebbe of Jerusalem, he wants to protect his community as well as his ancestor’s writings. At a pidyon haben, I discussed the issues with him. “I wouldn’t put Komarno writings on the Internet for any amount of money,” he told me with a heart in the ways of Hashem. But it's not about money, its about kashering the Internet with Torah education. To his credit, Rav Tsvi Elazar was once sighted at an office of the macher witnessing for the first time the phenomenon of the “Download of an Internet Torah class,” and asked, wide-eyed, “Could you put up shiurim (classes) in Yiddish?”. Maybe it is a sign of hope, that one day the battle for Internet Torah will be won among the leaders of the houses of study and the dynasties of Chassidus.

All of these Rebbes were starting to fray my nerves, so I decided that I need to take it to a higher court. I make the long and arduous journey to the town of Komarno, in the Ukraine, to pray by the grave the first Komarno Rebbe, may mentioning the name of the tzaddik be a blessing for all of us. There was a slight rain as I got out of the car, miles from nowhere, and met with Iyor, the Ukrainian caretaker of the grave. We walked down a path through the tall grasses, and reached a building in a pasture that was once the Jewish cemetery, but had been desecrated during the war and has since overgrown. The only way they found the graves was because when Iyor used to take the cows to pasture there was a place in the pasture, where despite the tall, tasty grasses, the cows refused to go. Lo and behold, the graves of the Safrin family were found under these grasses.

He unlocked the building and let me in. I felt a need to serve the Rebbe, and though it was fairly tidy, tried to straighten things up a bit and clean the graves. Then Iyor left me alone, so I could converse with the rebbe. Laying flat upon the cold marble, with a Ukrainian storm brewing outside, I heard a little voice in my head saying, “Who is this worm crawling on my grave?”

“Its me, Betsalel, who took the time a few years back to learn … read your Otzar HaChaim, Rebbe. Please, let me ask you a question.”

“Speak,” he said.

“Can I translate your writings and put them on the Internet?”

“What’s an Internet?”

Something told me that this was going to be a non-starter. But I went for the gold. “It’s a tremendous new advancement of our age where a man can sit in a cabin in Alaska, click a button, and have your writings, complete with definitions and commentaries, appear in front of him.! He can be a million miles from nowhere, and take part in an online shiur with great rabbis! It’s a way to connect the world and if “koshered,” could even be an important step in bringing the Moshiach!”

The little voice was overjoyed, “Great, when do we start!”

“Just one problem, Holy Rebbe, what if your holy writings get in the hands of non-believers or Gentiles, and their corrupt it, either treating it like philosophy, or take it and make a new religion out of it, with Komarno centers all over America?”

“Feh!” the grave shuddered in disbelief. “What are the chances of that? Go and do it, and whoever errs will err.”

“Thank you, Holy Rebbe! I will now make a vow before the court in Heaven, that if anyone reads my translations of your works and as a result, falls in his belief or fear of Hashem, that I forfeit my portion in this world and the world to come.”

Laughter filled the Ohel (the building over the graves). “Betsalel, calm down! Just do what you have to do.”

The next week, back in Jerusalem, I told Rav Nesanel, the great wall before the Internet, that I had prayed at the Komarno Rebbe’s grave, not mentioning the details.

He smiled and said, “May all your prayers be answered.”

There won’t be any master site of the Komarno Chumash and the mysteries of the Torah over the Internet any time soon. But with God’s help, it is just behind the wall, and peering through the cracks of pixels that appear before you.

24 Comments:

At June 10, 2009 at 9:42:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Raphael Davidovich said...

Please forgive me, but the nature of this blog and the reputation of the post's author compel me to make a few points:

"The next day, after asking him about the Internet, he was still alive."

"And still, from the way he spoke one might say that he doesn’t know a Internet from a fisherman’s net."


I find these two quotes, and the tone of much of the response, to be snitty and distasteful.

These two quotes, betray a disdain for the men Rabbi Edwards claims to respect.

The tone is unbecoming of this blog, which is a haven of temimus.

I look forward to learning more about Komarno Chassidus, as well as other branches of Chassidus, in future posts.

 
At June 10, 2009 at 10:21:00 AM EDT, Blogger Devorah said...

Interesting post.
I can also vouch for the ruach haKodesh of the Komarnos.

I have some posts on the Komarno Rebbes, including some that have not made it to the internet on any other site.
See this:

http://shiratdevorah.blogspot.com/search/label/Komarno%20Rebbes

 
At June 10, 2009 at 10:56:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

1. I agree with Raphael about the tone of the article

2. The gravesite story sounds fishy

3. Who ever made a good case that the most esoteric secrets of Torah belonged in the plain sight of the masses (and not only Jews, either) as it would be on the Web?

 
At June 10, 2009 at 10:58:00 AM EDT, Blogger Betzalel Philip Edwards said...

Raphael, the higher up a man is, the more snitty and discourteous I become. So I will probably be quite polite around you.
Holy Rafael, you are a Tsaddik, but I am not. In my contact with both Rebbes, Shlita, it seems to me that neither Rav Nesanel of Jerusalem and Rav Elazar Tsvi of Beis Shemesh is greater than the other. One supports the internet, and the other doesnt. I believe I acknowledged both views, but clearly, both you and I are supporters of the Internet, and believe me, Rav Nesanel, no matter how great, has probably never come within a mile of either "net."

 
At June 10, 2009 at 11:22:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Raphael Davidovich said...

Raphael, the higher up a man is, the more snitty and discourteous I become. So I will probably be quite polite around you. Holy Rafael, you are a Tsaddik

I'm reading a good deal of snark there, so I think I will pull out of this correspondence.

Hatzlacha

 
At June 10, 2009 at 11:59:00 AM EDT, Blogger Betzalel Philip Edwards said...

Dear Bob,

Just between us, I embellished the Gravesite story in the hope that it might entertain. I don't appreciate spiritual exhibitionism, as even just talking about a truly spiritual moment tends to ruin it. I did make a trip to the Komarno Rebbe, ZTsL, specifically to ask about spreading his teachings over the net. And I did get the feeling that he allows me. Did the Rebbe's neshama speak to me, or was it my own fantasy? Gd knows.

There is no way to truly reveal the Mysteries of Creation in words. Don't worry, be happy.

Rav Safrin, the ultimate Hared mi'Dvar Hashem at the Kotel, was my son's sandak. Whoever knows him, knows that kol Isha could quite possibly kill him.

 
At June 10, 2009 at 12:01:00 PM EDT, Blogger Betzalel Philip Edwards said...

Bye, Rafael. With no snark whatsoever, I have some "kinat sofrim" regarding your politness.

 
At June 10, 2009 at 2:24:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Betzalel-

What did the Komarna Rebbe of Manhattan say?

 
At June 10, 2009 at 3:18:00 PM EDT, Blogger Alice said...

What an interesting article. Thanks for sharing. Many blessings.

 
At June 10, 2009 at 7:14:00 PM EDT, Anonymous R' YY Bar-Chaiim said...

R' Betzalel, I DID find it entertaining. The writing was superb. But something of this holy blog's tmimus was downgraded. And the response to Rephael out of line. I think you pushed a kedusha line somewhere that makes me double-question the value of "kashering" the internet with translations.

Chareid l'dvar H' and entertainment seldom go hand in hand.

 
At June 11, 2009 at 1:25:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Son of Shlomo said...

Rabbi Betsalel Edwards is a sweet Yid with a sense of humor. Lighten up we are all brothers. My understanding of Lashan Hakodesh is weak on my best days, so a translation of the Holy Komarna's sefarim would be literally a soul saver. Please let it be soon.

 
At June 11, 2009 at 2:36:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what happenned to iyor? someone needs to be sure they know where the kever is. you can't always ask the cows.

 
At June 11, 2009 at 5:05:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz.. said...

From the comments it seems there was a lot of misunderstanding going on.

Tones are hard things to judge on the internet, which means we all have to practice giving one another the benefit of the doubt all the more here.

More than any Torah anywhere on the web or off we need shalom between Bnei Yisrael -- if there's no shalom, then the Shechinah will be distanced, and all the Torah will be hollow and empty -- chas v'shalom!

 
At June 11, 2009 at 7:12:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yitz: You are absolutely correct. Which is why I was very disappointed with: "...In all seriousness, he is not a “haredi,” which is a pose..." from the article.
Perhaps Rabbi Edwards should ask the Kamarna Rebbes what they think about this issue. I have a feeling he would get a marked lesson in ahavas Yisrael and humility, two of the foundations of Komarna Chasidus.

 
At June 11, 2009 at 10:45:00 AM EDT, Anonymous schneur said...

Who is the Komorner rebbe in Manhattan ?
As far as I know Manhattan is presently devoid of any practicing Chassidic rebbes. The LES and UPW have none.
The rabbi of the Lisker Shul on the Upper East Side is also not a real rebbe.

 
At June 11, 2009 at 1:01:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a Komarna Rebbe in Boro Park.

 
At June 12, 2009 at 7:40:00 AM EDT, Anonymous IGOR said...

Yo Rebbe Edwards, my name ain't no Iyor, it's Igor, EEEEEEGOR!!! Ponimayesh?
Good luck with translatin' em the holy books, when is the Ukranian translation comin' out?
A'right, gotta get back to the cows, my laptop ain't workin well here in the fields...

 
At June 12, 2009 at 11:59:00 AM EDT, Blogger Betzalel Philip Edwards said...

Thanks for the lively response, chevre. Rav Yehoshua Safrin of Manhattan doesn't act like and "admor," but davens at the Vorhan Shul on the upper west side. I suggest anyone in the NY area interested in Komarno to speak with him.

There are a number of ukranian drivers who are expert in getting to all the kivrei tsaddikim. I am told that the old beis medresh in Komarno has also been renovated. Igor (I heard him say Iyor) told me that there are a number of visitors each week. He is very poor, so its good to give him ten or fifteen dollars if you should actually go to the kever.

Rav Bar Chaiim, the original meaning of the word "fabrengen" has to do with entertainment. In the history of Chasiddishe Rebbes, a big part of their job description was to entertain the simple yidden. Some would even play musical intstruments for their chassidim. Yes, there is holy entertainment.

Master of Heaven and Earth! bless the interent to be filled with Torah, Kabbalah, and fabrengens.

 
At June 12, 2009 at 12:06:00 PM EDT, Blogger Betzalel Philip Edwards said...

Response to Anonymous "a Charedi, which is a pose."

This is actually something that I have heard from the Rebbe of Stretin, Shlita in Jerusalem and the Rav Yaakov Lainer, ZTsL, of Radzin-boro park.

The point is to be trembling at the word of God, not to wear a Shtreimel and drink "ginger ke-l", in other words, a pose.

"It used to be that a Shtreimel really meant something," the Stretner lamented last year. Then his son in law told me a nice vort.
Shtreimel = She'tirei MiE-l (to fear God)

There is the Shabbos horn in Jerusalem, Good Shabbos, Chevre!!

Shabbat Shalom!

 
At June 12, 2009 at 12:52:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Igor (I heard him say Iyor)"

Inn my college dorm lived a Ukrainian-American who spelled his first name "Ihor". I think they often use an "H" where a Russian would use a "G"

 
At July 23, 2009 at 5:15:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous "a Charedi, which is a pose." said...

Rabbi Edwards: I am sorry but the word pose was a terrible choice since it means that virtually all charedim are insincere. This kind of statement belongs in Yeidiot Achronot and the like, not from the keyboard of a sincere Rabbi who wishes to follow in the path of the great Chasidic masters.
Now perhaps you meant that being a charedei is an aspiration that almost everyone fails to meet. This is certainly true. And it also does not claim that charedim by and large are fakers. They are just Jews like the rest of us, but with high aspirations, that they rarely realize in full.
Sadly for some being a charedi is a pose since they fail to even remember to want to aspire. But most chasidim (and all Rebbe's to my knowledge) are charedim. Do you think most chasidim are just actors? Why should you denigrate such a huge number of religious Jews?
The fact remains that Bnei Akiva schools started losing much more students to observance when they got rid of their Charedi teachers and replaced them with non-Charedim. What does this tell you about Charedim's yiras Shamayim?
What would you say if someone wrote "Rabbi Edwards is a true Yarei Shamayim unlike (Chardal/ Modern Orthodox/ whatever group of religious Jew) whose Yiras Shamayim is just a pose."
I for one would say that any person who made such a statement was sadly lacking in anavah and ahavas Yisrael.

 
At September 5, 2009 at 10:57:00 PM EDT, Blogger Betzalel Philip Edwards said...

Anonymous "charedi pose."

Yes, I do need to work on Ahavas Yisrael. But being a "charedi" means very little more than aleigence to a set of norms.

Let me quote two of my teachers. "Wearing a shtreimel used to mean something." (Stretner Rebbe, Shlita) BE: "What annoys you about living in boro park?" Rav Yaakov Leiner (ZL) "The frummer shtanse (pose).BE: " What do you mean?" RYL: "Its like someone who is very careful to say, Ginger Keil instead of Gineger Ale." (Ale sounds like God's name.) Lets face it. Some are posing, and some are really doing it.

 
At February 13, 2011 at 3:20:00 PM EST, Blogger Best Zaydie said...

Robinson'a Arch is SOUTh of the kotel plaza, not north

 
At December 13, 2012 at 12:25:00 AM EST, Anonymous jill said...

Great post.Just a quick note it is important that Ukranian translation being accurate and efficient can indeed not be overstated. Especially in the ever faster moving world of globalized business, successful information and technology transfer within multinational businesses can make the difference between win or lose.

 

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