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Altinke - Cute old one

D. Pinsky

Small notice. Dovid Pinsky was born around 1873 in Mohilev by the Dnieper River. He became known to the Jewish reader through his small, strong and juicy narratives of Jewish workers life. Pinsky also wrote about theater pieces that were playing on the Jewish stage, but he will remain close and loved by the Jewish reader only for his stories of workers or of the old generation. With the old generation he is more successful. Pinsky took them not with anger and toughness, as a youngster looks at older but like a clever artist, this means with love, soft and earnestness. Meanwhile this generation goes by in front of the readers eyes, like a sunset, yet leaves over after itself something of a longing. The reader himself does not know, if it is good that the generation is going away or if it is bad, most probably bad.

The young people are bored to sit with the old and hear their ear ripping chant, the entire strange thing gnawing and disturbing, and they have – with the exception of a few young people, that are still left here – gathered in another room. There they breathed freely, smoked their cigarettes, conducted their conversations and felt far from the old.

It bothered the old Zelig very much. With a forceful ironic gaze, he accompanied the escaping youth and soon he spoke, and the more he spoke, the stronger his voice sounded until eventually he was almost screaming. He wanted to show, that they, the contemporary ones, the youth, living like dogs, they only know how to give in to their desires, to be lewd, charlatans, but to live as a human should live, only the elderly could and can.

And the old grey Reb Zelig, small, settled, broad shouldered and joyful Jew, with a Chassidic essence, has the power to reveal, because he is a small Jew with a big intellect that everyone has pleasure talking with. Even though that he was a little full, he knew, from where to bring proof for his words.

“Behold I am drinking already since Hoshana Rabbah at night” he said in a victorious tone, “Hoshana Rabbah at night by hakofos I drank, last night, Shmini Atzeres, I drank, all day I drank, did not even lay down, because who goes to sleep Shmini Atzeres by day? A misnaged sleeps, an observant Jew does not sleep, I drank but did not sleep! Last night I drank, and boy did I drink! As much as possible! And today I am drinking more. Since the early morning I am drinking and what? Nothing! I am still the same. I did not miss one prayer, said the shma in its time, God forbid did not miss any blessing, why? Because I don't drink like their group who drink just to get drunk. I hate liquor! An entire week from Shabbos to Shabbos no liquor comes into my home, but today is Simchas Torah, so I drink. God commanded: “and you shall rejoice during your festivals” so I am rejoicing, that is the way it is! Is it not so, Yisroel? He said turning to a thin exhausted young man, that was sitting near him and smiled and with that he slapped him on the knee.

Yisroel's entire body shook from the slap, yet he did not stop smiling, and responded with a cheerful sneaky expression:

“This is my complaint! Do you hear my complaint?”

The religious world, the true Jewish crowd, that was in the room, happily shook their heads and looked at the young man with victory, and he even said a few words, a aphorism on the account of the young man. They all empowered themselves to show, that since the young

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threw off their yoke, stripped themselves of everything consequently “demons know what from them has become!”

The rest of the youngsters smiled in silence. In their smile was a little respect and a lot of guilt, that the older spoke about. That is how we smile when we think we are smarter, and we don't want to get involved in a discussion with the opposition.

Reb Zelig became irritated by the smile and became harsh.

“They will first capture a scapegoat before they will be let themselves be happy!” he screamed. “Because what is all their happiness from? What? A girl! It begins with a girl and finishes with a girl! Nothing more.”

“Nu, nu, nu, you are already slandering, uncle” said one of the young boys in restraint.

“Me, slandering!” he said with piercing eyes, “me slandering?” Reb Zelig said heatedly, “Nothing, apparently, and he does not know it, that I am saying the unadulterated truth. Me – slander? It seems that by you it is an explicit thing “no joy without a girl!””

They laughed: ha ha ha, you should be healthy!

Reb Zelig only became more heated:

“I would love to see some time how their group dances and makes merry without girls! I never saw it. I don't know anymore, if there is liquor, they will become happy. Because what is their entire yom tov? Give them drink! and a girl, this is their yom tov. Is that not so Yisroel?

Again, he raised his hand to slap him, but this time Yisroel grabbed his hand.

“This is what I am complaining about! Do you hear my complaint?” Yisroel repeated with an earnest demeaner and moved his hands, only the corners of his lips smiled.

The host Alter Henoch interjected, “why did you have to tell them off, leave them alone, you are causing pain to people, it is tzaar baalei chayim.”

As owner of the place, he felt that he must take the young ones under his protection, and with this he wanted to stab them with the words tzar baalei chayim.

“No, I will no longer show, the impudent kids, what type of dogs they are!” Reb Zelig said. Why did they take off, the enemies of Israel! They should burn, the empty brains! Why did they take off? Why is it not respectful enough for them to sit with us? We are drunk? Ha? I think that what I have in my heel they do not have in their head, they never had and will never have! They dispersed! No, let them tell me, what am I drinking today? I am drinking something, not because I like liquor! I need it like for atonement! I am drinking because today is Simchas Torah. It is not the liquor that make us joyful, that would be disgusting! The joy of Torah makes us joyful. Here Yisroel does not drink any liquor - he has an issue in his chest and the doctors forbade him to drink – he does not drink anything and is joyful, he does not need liquor; The joy of Torah itself lifts his feet, is that no so Yisroel? Respond, bastard, a spirit should enter your father!

With that Yisroel received a strong slap in his knee.

“For sure” he screamed as he grabbed his knee, “as you can see, without liquor.”

Yisroel began to move turning his shoulders, threw himself off the seat and began dancing with his feet.

Reb Zelig laughed, He, he, he, you are an incredible guy Yisroel! as he slapped Yisroel on the shoulders. “Nu, for you I will drink,” he added, pouring himself a tumbler.

“It should be considered for you a mitzvah” joked Yisroel as he devoutly rolled his eyes.

The crowd laughed and took Reb Zeligs words, “And which Jew would hold liquor? Which Jew would drink it? As long as we drink for no other reason other than just for Simchas Torah.”

“That is how we Jews conduct ourselves; do you understand me? Reb Zelig called out with pride, directing himself to the young guys. And with pride he added:

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“And this is nothing in comparison to former years, once upon a time or better say many years ago.” He suddenly groaned, “Oh! So what, how does what is happening now compare to what happened many years ago! Did we then rejoice on Simchas Torah? Of course! Today people rejoice for themselves, with their family, with their own group of people, this itself shows that something is not the way it was. Is it possible to say that you party for yourself! I remember when we would go through the street and how we went through the street! With music, with dancing, clapping, making noise, that is how we went! And how when we met another Jew, we would grab him, and he would join! Without any discussion. We did not ask him who he is and he did not ask either, where or to whom. We just said get up and move and he would move! Is it necessary to ask? It is Simchas Torah and that is all that he had to know. We did not look to see if a man was poor or rich, everyone was equal! Today to do that here you would have to turn the world upside down! Dancing in the middle of the street, walking through all the mud, etc., eh, how does today compare with many years ago?

Today is nothing, almost nothing! Today it is just not it, even the religious are not what they were; The truth is the truth, even the religious are not it. I hate to say, there were times when we were freer, I mean the worry about livelihood was not so great and the people were just better. The rich person was a different type of rich and the poor were a different type of poor. I know, there was more unity. Where will you find today for example, a rich person, a Jewish rich person like how Reb Meir Zevulun, may his memory be blessed was? There is not, you will not find even if you search many countries. I am not talking about the Germans, about the aristocrats and their type; I am talking even about those who are barely Jewish, they are also nothing, they would like us to stand in front of them with no head covering. We have to know how to approach them. With Reb Meir Zevulun his soul in Eden, you did not have to know how to approach him. We would approach him like I approach Yisroel, Shmerel, Chazkel, etc, His Simchas Torah! He grabbed himself, his Simchas Torahs were wow!

The crowd responded “aha aha, Reb Meir Zevulun's Simchas Torah's! In his parlor we would pour out the slop pail and slide; his portion of fish we would squeeze with our hands and push it into his mouth, and he would grab the pieces like a dog, and how many times did we drag him onto the table in his hall on the right and unhinged him. How many times did we stand around him and sing: D-eh-coo lame bridle Charlie, lame bridle Charlie and saying slight bluff pardons! Meanwhile, Reb Zelig interrupts again.

“Eh! Where do you see such a thing in current times? Never mind let it go wherever it goes and we will say “Lchaim!” is that not so Yisroel?”

“And a dance as well!” retorted Yisroel and jumped up from his chair before Reb Zelig had time to let his hand reach Yisroel's knee. He started dancing a hop and said at the same time.

“And only without liquor! On ten thousand atonements the liquor! Ay hoo Ay hoo Sisu vesimchu besimchas Torah, ay yay yay hoo sisu besimchas Torah (rejoice on Simchas Torah, words from the prayer book that are often sung on this day) …”

The crowd drank “l'chaim!” and took over Yisroel's song: Yisroel was already in the middle of the room, his right hand under his neck and the left-hand spinning in the air and skillfully dancing the hopkele.

“Where are they the heretics? They should, ah!” called out Reb Zelig with a new cup that lifted his mood, “So what, a Jew remains a Jew! Wait Yisroel I am also going to roll with the tumble.”

With the agility of a young child he

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sprung over the table and danced to Yisroel.

He said “Let us dance Yisroel, Let us perform, so what, strong generations, weak generations, all united, joyful, lively! Sing guys! Eh! Everyone religious – Moshiach will come; If no-one is religious Moshiach will also come; livelier Yisroel! Ay yay yay Sisu vesimchu besimchas Torah!”

They danced with enthusiasm and rapture, with the feet, the hands, with the head and with every limb expressing itself what is happening in their heart, expressing their feelings. Their faces were red, and their eyes burned with an inner fire. In this way they served God, praised Him and hoped, hoped and even more than hoped! They were now sure, that everything that they hoped for and what the entire Jewish nation hopes for, will happen and that everything will be good.

The entire crown felt it. It could be heard in the warmth of the crowd's wholehearted singing, felt in the slaps of the hand, seen in the shining eyes. Slowly more and more people joined Zelig and Yisroel in their dance till the entire crowd was dancing in a circle, jumping and doing somersaults.

Soon their victory was complete; they pulled in the young ones in the room, and Reb Zelig pushed, prodded and pulled the young ones in with him in the dance, hit them in the neck, and pointed with his fingers and sung: “Ha, deserters, what, deserters! Ha, deserters, what, deserters!” The entire noisy dancing crowd copied him. They also dragged the youth into the dance, pushing, prodding and stuck out their tongues, beckoning and sticking out their fingers and as a choir sang: Ha, deserters, What, deserters! Ha, deserters, what, deserters!

And the youth pulled themselves away from them, smoked cigarettes and felt distant from the elderly the old.

 

Abraham Therman
one of the first trustees of the society

Hirsh Bolter
the first treasurer of the society
 

A. Zlotkin
one of the first organizers of the society
 

Lipa Litvin
one of the first trustees of the society

Wolf Therman
one of the first organizers of the society

 

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The compatriot organizations of America

Dr. Y. S. Gallin

The compatriot organizations in America played and continue to play a very important role in the socialist and cultural and even the political life of the Jewish worker in general and in the life of the Jewish people in America in particular.

Twenty-five years ago, the motives for the founding of our guild were different then they are now. 25 years ago, when an immigrant would arrive in America he had a moral crisis, everything looked different: the language, the houses, the work, the businesses, even the faces of people bore a different image. And the main thing was the conduct, the abundance, the thoughts - points of view, the comprehension, all had a very different appearance. The old suddenly became dead for the immigrant and for him the new was not yet created. In the old home he knew what was “respectable” and what was “decent” and what it means keeping up appearances, what the things that we are allowed to do, or we are not allowed to do. There he had examples from his neighbors, from the town, from the entire world in which he lived. There everything was familiar to him, he knew with clarity to what class of society he belongs, how things must be, his place in life, and if he wanted to rise to a higher level in society, he had concrete facts, concrete examples of whom to learn from and whom to imitate.

However, here in America it is different. Here there are many new attitudes that he never thought about back home, here have come to the surface a whole host of new questions, that he will have to find answers for them. The life of an immigrant here was very complicated and confusing unlike in the old home and effected all his relationships. His relationship with middlemen, his relationship with his father, mother, wife and children whom he left on the other side of the ocean, his relationship to Jews whom he left in the old home, his relationship to relatives that came here before him and already became “Americanized,” his relationship to this new land in general, his relationship with his compatriots, his union, his society. Now the whole entangled world of love feelings and family gatherings that here in America is very different than in the old home, the immigrant has landed in a very difficult situation. Here he has become mixed up and confused, he does not know what he should do and how he should conduct his life. The upheaval in his place of living and the concepts that came to him suddenly, have made him very muddled. Not for nothing, some of the immigrants looked for a way to save enough money, pack up and go back home, but not all of them could do it, some could not save enough money to travel back home. A few had a past in the old home where they could not get back to. They had to begin against their will to make peace with their plight, but from time to time they would yearn, remembering the beautiful spiritual life they had in the old home. And sometimes on a Yom tov they would gather at the house of a fellow countryman and refresh themselves with memories and awaken the soul and become ecstatic and temporarily forget the lonely weekday mundane life. Here we read a little of story about how the Mohilever society began, written by our friend Harry Levin, one of the first founders and still now an active person of our society. I make note of something that is clear, the facts that we present here are not exaggerated. Simchas Torah is what laid the foundation for the “Mohilever

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Society,” Simchas Torah the Yom Tov of joy, the Yom tov of excitement and fervor, this was the time when the foundation was laid for a compatriots guild, not because someone decided and planned it beforehand. It came spontaneously from itself, and if for one occasion our countrymen could come together in such a beautiful manner, why not continue doing it all the time, so the Mohilever tied a knot and made one group and this knot became and everlasting one.

Of course, there was no clear constitution to solidify the function of the Mohilever society.

Who needs it? For what purpose?

Yet with time the union took on specific regulations and standards. It began to interest itself with the economic situation of its brothers, it instituted a system to pay for sick and death benefits. Created a system to help a brother when he finds himself in a critical situation, got its own cemetery, all these things were created with time, they came in stages when we were forced to respond to situations, but none of these things drove to the founding of the Mohilever guild.

On the other hand, if the Mohilever brotherhood thought of something else besides the Yom Tov spirit, it was about the situation of unrest that they left behind in the old home. When they heard about a pogrom in Mohilev they collected money for the self-defense. When there is a fire in Mohilev they collected money for the people effected by the fire. The life of the compatriots here was knotted and bound with thousands of threads to the town of Mohilev.

If all the facts can be firmly ascertained that this was the driving force for the establishment of the “American Brotherhood of Mohilev,” then we can firmly conclude that there were some similar motives existed 25 years ago with the founding of all other compatriot guilds here in America. The resolution of establishing all compatriot organizations allowed them to become the nucleus for much larger cultural and social organization, that gave life to the Jewish society. Like for example many of the organizations created branches and workers rings. Various cultural clubs, dramatic organized orthodox centers, shuls, Talmud Torah's, children's homes, etc.,

And possibly, if the times would be normal and life would flow in a natural way, then the compatriot organizations would have completely disappeared, or at least not be as important as they are now, but thanks to the revolutions, the wars and catastrophic upheavals, that have happened lately. This brought to the situation that not only were the old guilds strengthened but it caused to be organized new organizations with a broader purpose than before.

These are the new motives for the erected compatriot guilds, the screams of woe, the groans and the sighs of the sacrifices of each city and town that filled the air, and it penetrated the ears of the American Jewry. This brought to the current situation that now in America there are so many compatriot organizations as many as there are towns and villages, where Jews are compact masses.

To give an evaluation of the role, that they played for past few score years in the life of American Jewry, just as excellent as they were involved in the life of Jews in Eastern Europe, is not our current assignment, we will leave this over for the future historians, who will pause to write about the epoch of the last 25 years, that was the cruelest and the worst. What we want to show here is, that the time has come, for all the compatriot organizations to think how they can bond together all the scattered compatriot organizations in onto one central power. This would have a tremendous effect among American Jewry and could bring usefulness to the cultural cause in which the compatriot guilds are very much needed. We will not

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present the necessary plans and ways about how it should happen. There is currently being formed such an undertaking under the direction of the “guild of the Polish Jews in America.” They will for sure work out a program and we hope that the Mohilever Society will be join the effort and speak its words in such a move.

The “American Brotherhood of Mohilev” always took on itself any new problem, every new issue, that rose to the top in Jewish life here in America and got involved in any activity. They always helped financially every cause that looked to improve and beautify the Jewish human life. It is enough to look at the figures in the ledger, and this will give you a comprehension of the magnitude of the work of the Mohilever society. We doubt if many of the compatriot organizations here in America would be able to show such a shiny record of their activities, and all this is thanks to a few people, who simply sacrificed themselves. In the early years they put aside to their person needs and saw that the society should grow and progress. Such people like Moshe Levin, Harry levin, Nathan Cohen, Baltar, Sherman, Yisroel Horvin and many others who will always be remembered with esteem and gratitude for the significant work that they donate and some of them continue to donate for the society.

But the activities of the organization would not have spread so strongly if they would not have found new energy and fresh power that grabbed the partly torn threads of the life of the society and spun it further and further. And if the original founders could be proud when they see that their work did not become wasted, then the later activists and representatives of the work can rejoice by this celebration, because their part of the work had a great influence in the expansion of the society. We cannot give a correct and exact evaluation of the people who stood at the beginning of the establishment of the society and are now passive to the organization, we are not very well acquainted with them, but we are well acquainted with the current activists, who are worthy to be mentioned. The current president Hershel Levin, an activist who we already mentioned from the original members and is active until this very moment, a responsible and decent human being, who grew old together with the Mohilever organization, who went through 25 years of good and bad times and remained loyal and devoted to the guild, B. Shapiro, a human being that the society is part of who he is, who carries out the resolutions of the organization in the highest degree, helped create a new institution in the Mohilever organization, was an officer of the organization several times.

Harry Segal, a constant attendee of the meetings, takes part in all issues, was president a few times, a mentch, who loved the work and considered it precious and interests himself in the progress of the society. Zalman Newmark who was treasurer a few times and held other posts, was a tremendous help ensuring that the financial situation of the society was always secure, that gave the organization the ability to expand its activities in all areas. For sure he should be congratulated for the work that he accomplished.

Yosef Rogover, Zalman Wexler, members for whom work was never too difficult, when it concerned improvements and expansions of the Mohilever society, there is no committee where these two names were not mentioned, they can truly feel proud at this celebration for which they have yielded so much.

Harry Cohen the current treasurer, a Jew who for the last few has truly donated his time more than he could afford, only because he sees in the “American Brotherhood of Mohilev” the seriousness and devotion to all issues and problems that have recently come to the fore in the Jewish Street that the society was so active in. The names Shapatkin, Ratner, Rezvin, Saks, - are pages in the history of the society.

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We are very sorry that we do not have the room to point out at greater length about the members who brought the society to the position that is currently occupies. They will have to excuse us that we have not mentioned their names. In our view we love all activists, those mentioned and those not mentioned. The celebration belongs to all of us, and we are all equal partners. The beginning of the next 25 years should also be the beginning of new intensive work, new activities and new creations.

 

My Village

Y.H. Radotsky

It dazzles me opposite the house, the garden,
the lonely corner, where I was born.

In blue evenings and yellow early mornings,
my village comes back to life, in my memory.

In the village, there stands my wooden cradle,
there still lives my grandmother who wrapped me.

Kissed my limbs and bathed me in hot water,
wrapped me and continuously sung “ay loo loo”.

There floats dreamily around my youth,
my childish beliefs clearly remained there.

I know you, my poor home, not forgotten,
I don't know what draws me – still :I have to love you!

My small and poor village,
I see you clearly in front of me;

I left you a long time ago,
almost three score years;

Yet I still see your streets,
and every stone in that place;

The houses stand like white marble,
the well in its place;

The market is circular,
with a crown, of trees, like a kite;

From every house a chestnut tree,
a store – the doors wide open;

And Michael stands the peasant,
the old Shabbos goy;

At the well he stands leaning,
and slowly chews a piece of straw;

And Jan Marshirt through the market place,
surrounded in a sack;

And on his shoulders hangs down,
his sharp shinny axe;

The guard drags himself drunk like “lot”,
from store to store;

And scolds young and old,
everyone with anger;

The rich man's quacking with the rooster,
surrounded with chickens;

Run away from the drunk,
showing themselves as if they are unfriendly;

The town he-goat is driven with a pole,
out of the baker's house;

It bleats loudly;
the hearers ready to push;

The butchers dog chases after him,
and pushes him from the side;

And they both stand to fight,
ready for life or death;

The children gather together,
all the doors open!

How joyful and how lively,
that day shines for me!

 

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My Village

Hillel Tzeitlin

Small notice. Hillel Tzeitlin was born in the year 1872 in Korma, Mohilever area. According to his talent, Tzeitlin is not a fiction writer, but from the lines that he writes, occasionally strikes out such a force of painting, that some things are portrayed as poetry. The composition is mobile, the word is fresh and graphic, and all together they make a very deep impression, as if they were interwoven with hot blood. Tzeitlin is not a fiction writer but from being a columnist he jumps swiftly over to poetry, evading the intermediate fiction. And in the concealed rush of columnist to poet, and in reverting from the poet to journalism, lays a piece of charm of Tzeitlin as a writer.

You have stolen from me. You have taken away from me my God, my belief, my hope. What was it about my village that bothered you?

You took everything away from me, you are unable to give anything back to me. At least give me back my village.

Give me the tall shul, that is already hundreds of years old. For a long time, no-one is praying there. It was ruined. Destroyed but it was holy and large.

At night no-one can go there. Night after night the dead pray there. All the holy saints come down, stand on the ruined bimah, bringing with them a fiery Sefer Torah. Moshe Rabbeinu is the reader, calling up Yitzchok son of Avrohom.

Night after night the tall shul is full of tzaddikim, angels and serafim, the tzaddikim pray, the angels sing and the serafim say: Holy, Holy.

Yet, if we, children, come there early in the morning, we will not find the ones that live in heaven. The tzaddikim are in the garden of Eden, the angels are high, high up under the Throne of Glory.

We can see the high ceiling. Birds fly around there free as a bird. It is their space, no one disturbs them.

Night after night when the Holy assembly comes down to pray the birds join them.

And when they call up Yitzchok son of Avrohom and Moshe Rabbeinu reads, how they brought Yitzchok to the akeida and the angels put a crown on his head, the birds spread out their wings over him and make a chuppah.

And when they read how Moshe Rabbeinu led the Jews out of Egypt, the song of the fathers and the birds resounds around the world.

And when they read about all the miracles, all the wonders, they are here. With all the Holiness and clarity, they relate the praises of God.

And when we arrive in the early morning, we see the birds flying around from wall to wall, from window to window. Their wings shake, all that can be heard is the rebounding sound from the night's prayers.

And there, on the wall, the aseres hadibros are still complete, a weird east, a menorah with seven branches, a lion and a snake.

And many more drawings. But they are already faded. The shul is hundreds of years old.

Constantly in the old shul, the heart is filled with joy and together with that also a great awe. The place is filled with relaxation from God.

And with heart, full of joy and pain together, we leave the tall shul and go into the nearby old Chassidic Beis Midrash. There they pray and study.

The old Reb Yaakov is standing somewhere in the middle of the benches, his head covered with a tallis, he is praying quietly.

Once the crowd disperses, there remain only a few individuals. That is when Reb Yaakov begins his Chabad davening. Like a stone was removed from his heart, he is now with himself, he can daven the way he wants.

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And there is sound and thunder. Hashem Elokeichem Emes (end of the shma prayer), he screams out. The walls shake, true, true, he screams.

Forcefully screaming, true!

And it is full of feeling, that this is the way it is, it has to be this way, it cannot be any different, it remains this way.

And it remains truth and truth is He.

And there somewhere in a corner of the second room (chedder sheini) is Reb Avremel the daavener. He is with us as a guest.

He davens without any noise, clearly enunciating each word, word by word. In each word he puts his entire soul.

And he loves to translate each Hebrew word at the same time. He cannot contain himself and translates into Yiddish.

With a heartbroken sound he says the words and simultaneously taps his foot.

Hallelu shemesh veyreach (Psalms 148) You sun praise God, you moon praise God, hallelohoo kol kochvai ohr, all you stars praise God, you the heavens and high heavens praise him.

Water, fire, winds, mountains, trees, old, young, everyone, everyone, everyone praises God.

And in another corner is a young man. Not tall, a rounded black beard, two fiery black eyes, totally immersed in a deep, deep contemplation.

Suddenly he grabs himself as if a snake just bit him. Oy, oy oy, and runs around from wall to wall, from one end of the shul to the other, till he finally settles down a bit and returns to his contemplative state.

And there also is a Jew who makes strange gestures and weird sounds,

And there is also the guy who thinks he can sing. Luckily, he is not the cantor who leads the prayers.

But when he prays in solitude, when the crowd leaves, he spends hours in prayer, you cannot hear a scream from him. You will only hear him singing all types of songs in the world, he will sing everything.

You will hear in his tunes the deepest grief, the greatest joy, joy and grief mixed, endless yearning, heartrending and mourning, inner suffering, aspiring to the heights and falling, the begging of a child, the comforting of a father, salvation and consolation from the upper worlds.

And around a table stand a few young men who have the sharpest mind in comprehending Chassidus. They talk quietly, half words, more with a nod, wink or a nuance.

I can understand how the intellect of intellectual and the intellectual can come together as one.

It is when they are in a space of nothingness, and there everything unites into a simple unity.

But then there is no intellect, nothing to understand, no person who understands.

Around a second table are a few more Chassidish young men. They are having a light conversation.

A misnaged is like that goy, lehavdil, who says: I did not steal anything, I did not kill anyone, so I will go straight into the garden of Eden. He fulfilled everything, he got rid of all his debts. What else could he need to do?

God can never finish paying him. He never ate ham and never grabbed a bagel from the marketplace.

Soon the last people leave the Beis Midrash and it becomes quiet.

The summer sun shines through the high windows. Around the Beis Midrash is a green lawn. When the windows are opened the green lawn peeks into the Beis Midrash.

For a while it is quiet. Soon sound is again heard, the song of Torah learning. We, children, take out Gemorrahs, review things that we learned and read new things.

And there around the table sit older guys, deep in study, singing the words they study, some quietly and others aloud.

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One person:

When Moshe went up to the high place, when Moshe went up to heaven, he found Hashem – God was sitting and tying crowns to the letters.

And a second person:

When Moshe went up on high, when Moshe went up to heaven, the serving angels tried to push him away, the angels wanted to propel him down, saying: a person born of a woman has no place here! What does a human have to do among us?

Immediately God spread a cloud over him and took him in.

And another person:

Hashem said, I have to pay for the fire, that was in Zion, with fire it was destroyed and with fire it will be built.

* * *

Erev Shavuos came. We are free from cheder, free from learning, we run around in the green fields around the village. We climb on the high pear tree that is outside Shimon the nogid's (rich man) house. Shimon see us and begins to scream. We climb down one at a time, we pretend to disperse. Meanwhile we prepare, some a stick, some a stone, some a piece of metal, slowly we move towards the tree, throwing things high into the tree.

This enraged Shimon even more, he started cursing with bitter dark curses, something we ignored.

It became a war between him and us. He grabbed a child, tore his hat off and the other children pelt him with pieces of wood and stones.

And in the middle of the war a few kids who love to destroy things got up on the tree and started shaking the branches, Shimon continued screaming with a sound that reached the skies.

The war would never have finished had not a few fine Jews walked by who screamed at the “shkotzim” and drove us away.

Then we went to the stream that was at the end of the village by the bridge, looked at it and hastily went to the watermill, went down to where the water flowed, threw pieces of wood to look like ships swimming in the stream, went overboard, pushing one another into the stream, rolled in the grass, tore and pulled things and threw them in the water.

We became bored and the group decided to go to another part of town where Mishkes windmill stood with a brick construction.

It was quiet all around. A huge field.

We did not meet anyone, the windmill was silent, Mishke and his sons were not there. A life.

Even Mishke's guards, his two big dogs. They are also quiet now and did not disturb anyone. They are sitting lazily, barely moving.

The group tries to climb the windmill, wanting to push it by its sections, then climbed down and climbed onto the building that was next to it.

Some went to the pile of bricks and climbed into the box with lime in it, got smeared from head to toe, went down to where they bring the bricks and climbed out.

And one of the boys is suddenly bothered that the dogs are laying there so peacefully. What kind of dogs are they?

He takes a stone and throws it at the dog. The dog shifts a little but is too lazy to bark.

He threw another bigger stone, making the dog angry.

The group of kids thought this was fun and began pelting the dogs from all angles. It became a burning fire.

We had to retreat with our kapotes (long black jackets).

We ran in all directions, some into the ditches that were there, some into the non-Jewish cemetery, till it became quiet from Mishke's guards.

The group got together again and were preoccupied till nightfall.

We remembered that our parents are waiting, and we must go to the Beis Midrash.

* * *

[Page 31]

One by one the crowd disperses.

After so much sweat, I think it would be fitting, to rest and have a pleasant sleep, but we are Jews, and we have to stay awake Shavuos night.

Whoever wants goes to the Beis Midrash and says tikkun but whoever is lazy stays home to say tikkun.

I have another matter; I have to go say tikkun with my old grandfather who was lying in bed for a long time, and someone was constantly attending to him.

I want to spend time with my grandfather. He was one of the oldest Chassidim, he knew many stories and related them in a beautiful manner.

It would often begin with the fact that my grandfather had a dream about an illusion to the verse (Genesis 22:24) “And his concubine and her name was Reumah.” After many years he found a spiritual meaning for the words in the Holy Zohar, then he would talk about the apikorsim – heretics who say that the Torah is only the simple meaning and nothing deeper. Then he spoke about what the “Arvei Nochal” said about the Dessever, that externally he is a Jew who wears silk but internally he is a heretic, a real heretic. Then he turns his attention to Reb Menashe Iliyer, that people murmur about him. Then he would speak about the maggid and from the maggid continue to Napoleon and the great debate that was between the Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Chabad Rebbe) and others like the Karliner, Reb Levi Yitzchok of Barditchev, and how the Alter Rebbe supported Russia.

Then he would just talk about the Alter Rebbe, and he would begin with the following about how the Alter Rebbe would study alone and not having any candles study by the light of the moon; then how he was with the Maggid of Mezritch, how he was raised, how Avigdor reported him to the Russian government, the miracles and wonders that happened to him in Petersburg.

Then gradually, piece by piece arrive at the story of great wedding. The great wedding my grandfather loved to talk about. The greatness of the wedding was that the Alter Rebbe made a shidduch – match with Reb Levi Yitzchok of Barditchev and both were at the wedding.

Everyone there received Divine inspiration by the bucket full, miracles were lying around all over on top of and under the benches.

Anyone who was at the wedding received a brightness for the rest of his life and in his prayers and learning was mixed in that shine.

We saw the old Barditchever Rebbe, heard a word, got a hint, saw a movement – it was already sufficient.

Between themselves they spoke about worldly matters, and with every word they elevated the souls and fixed all the spiritual holes in them.

All the repressed souls waited eagerly for the wedding; there they were fixed.

All worries and fears became nullified. We forgot about everything, responsibility for earning a livelihood, family, the yoke of exile. The yoke of the evil inclination was also nullified.

Simple Chassidic folk were elevated to the level of “my heart is slain within me” meaning that the evil inclination has been completely eradicated. The Alter Rebbe in his book called Tanya writes that this applies only to complete tzaddikim.

And what would else would you expect at the wedding? The shine from the highest spiritual level was shining there. From the innermost and deepest aspects of God's will – atik of atzilus.

Anyhow, they themselves were beyond comprehension, and only because they had mercy on the orphaned generation did they remain alive. If not for this, they would have become nullified into infinity.

With tremendous awareness they knew how to go and come.

But not every time did it help. One time the Alter Rebbe was about to expire permanently.

It happened at the time when he, may the memory of the tzaddik be blessed, went to dance with the bride. The bride held one end of the rope and he held the other end.

They danced. The Rebbe at the head with other Chassidim. The entire heavenly retinue came down and it became Simchas Torah in all worlds.

[Page 32]

We had to sing a song, so the Chassidim began to sing, but the tunes were not of such a high frequency, so he began singing his own melody.

The more he continued to sing the more he became attached. The melody has a nature. The more engrossed in it the more one enters higher worlds; in brief, he began to sing (Psalms 84:3) “My soul yearns and craves” “my heart and my flesh sing with joy to a living God” (Psalms 42:2) “My soul thirsts for you O God.” Enough of this world!

When he came to the words of the Zohar (3, 288a) “In one bonding I am bound with you, with you united, with you glowing,” he passed out on the floor! No Pulse! His soul has left his body!

A few hours later the soul returned to the body. What the soul saw there and felt, it will never share in a hundred years.

With this my grandfather began to sing quietly the Rebbes melody.

A small lamp on the table. My grandfather is lying in his bed, the Zohar on his heart.

His face is shining. His eyes looking far into the distance.

He sings gently with restraint, and his big blue eyes a fiery attachment.

In one bond I am bonded, with you united, with you glowing!

The dark night looks into the window.

* * *

The young joyful day wants to conquer the night. The morning star shines through the window. I run out of the house.

I go into the garden that is next to my grandfather's house. But the blades of grass are still relating to one another the secrets of the night.

The first rays of sun are beginning to shine on the grass and the blades of grass begin to prepare themselves for the light of the Holy day.

The air is full of sweet aromas from the surrounding groves and fields, the shepherds whistle can be heard, sounds can be heard emanating from the Chassidish Beis Midrash.

A calm breeze is blowing, the grass is whispering, and children are still saying tikkun.

The last sounds are heard from the Beis Midrash. The birds of the tall shul have already begun their daily songs.

Gradually, bit by bit, Jews old and young leave the Beis Midrash. Children running happily, the sun begins to pour its rays on the roof tops. Jews go to the river to dip.

In pairs people walk and speak quietly in a refined manner.

They talk about the giving of the Torah, about the resting of the Divine presence, about the Rabbis of the past, about the clean air and the month of May.

Do you know what the author of the sefer “Ohev Yisroel” says about May?

What?

May in Hebrew is the letters mem and yood which are numerically fifty. Because in this month shines the fifty gates of binah - understanding, the nations also agree, that this month is healing, for all good things to happen.

Binah – understanding, is the higher level of Divine Presence and when it shines into a lower level of Divine presence that rests among us, then the world is full of ghosts.

The month is very fitting for physical healing and even more for spiritual healing.

* * *

In the Beis Midrash everyone is gathered for prayer. The scholars and Chassidim stand in the East. The sun shines on the crowns of the taleisim.

Special individuals put on a different type of yarmulka in honor of Shavuos, they dress in white clothing as much as possible.

The white color reflects light and piety, and Shavuos everyone has to be pious.

A small thin Jew goes onto the stage, opens a siddur and begins the morose heartfelt tune of the akdomus.

The congregation follows him, totally engrossed. Those who do not understand the words read the translation.

And the entire congregation feels elevated spiritually with the great honor that God gave his people Yisroel whom he loves and from the honor that they will have in the future.

[Page 33]

When they said “we will do and we will understand,” the angels put crowns on their heads of the people.

As they heard God's speech their souls left their body, God sent death, and then brought the souls back into the body, showing them the possibility of bringing back the dead.

Angels carried them on their wings, all the way to the mountain.

Angels will serve them again in the future. God will make a big feast for the righteous. On seats of fine gold they will sit and they will drink aged wine.

The crowd finished their prayers and wished each other, Gut Yom Tov! Gut Yom Tov!

After this small and big ate dairy foods prepared for them in an open field.

More refined Jews speak about matters of Chassidus, regular Jews about daily matters. Children run around, girls walk in pairs, throwing a glance at various boys and feeling embarrassed.

* * *

And when I come today in my village, I do not recognize it. The tall shul is not here already a long time.

Somehow it was gifted to another village.

The old Chassidisher Beis Midrash was burned down a long time ago.

A new one was built, but it no longer has Reb Yaakov and Avremel the daavener.

What is left are cold Jews with cold hearts.

There are weak Jews, who do not even believe themselves.

The father's hate their children, the children hate their father's; additionally, the father's hate themselves and the children hate themselves.

It seems to me that the sun does not shine there so brightly anymore, it appears to me that the meadows are not so green anymore.

There is no more holiness there, there is no youth there.

There is no belief there, there is no hope there.

Physically dumb and stupid are their thoughts and actions, suffering and aspirations, life and death!

* * *

You stole everything from me. You took away my God, my life, my hope. What was it about my village that bothered you?

You took everything away from me. You cannot give me anything back. At least give me back my village.

 

In Mestechki village, Mogilev Provence, I love you Rabbino Shneerson. (Repeat twice)

In Mestechki village, a dot in Mogilev Provence, a dot I love you Rabbino Shneerson.

Therefore, I write to you Holy Rebbe, that my business is so so, and my daughter is so so, and around and around is so so, please help me.

In Mestechki village, Mogilev Provence I love you Rabbino Shneerson. (Repeat twice)

 

Harry Levin, president: Say! Do you think we can have a meeting this way! Hey! Sit down there! Brother Wexler stop running around the hall, or you will not get a say at the meeting!

 

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