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[Page 118]

My Youth

by M. Rosenshtein, Paris

Translated by Murray Citron

I was a child of very poor parents, so for cheder I was sent to Motel the teacher. But the teaching went badly. I have not thought through the cause, whether I was a dense pupil, or the rebbe was a no good bully. In short—the whip did not leave my backside, and even my ears were well pounded by the teacher.

So I went “on strike” and didn't want to go to cheder. My parents, having no choice, had to change the rebbe, and they sent me to Leybke the teacher. That also from there I did not come out a scholar—that is certain.

But there came about another odd story. The rebbe's son had a bit of a workshop, and he put me to work. I was then nine years old. I “learned” half days with the father and the other half days I worked for the son. My “master” agreed with my father that he would pay me three rubles a year. It was a laughable wage, but that is what was agreed on. I worked for a full four years and never saw a groschen before my eyes.

Meantime I became 13 years old, and as it goes with Jews—I became bar-mitzvahed. My father had to buy me a pair of tfiln. But there was a question: from where does the money come? My father, as I said, was a poor man. Therefor the matter of the tfiln troubled me greatly. I did not think for long, and knowing that my boss had two pairs of tfiln, I took one pair for myself.

When I brought them home—my father thought for a long time what to do. On the one hand he was pleased, because the bar-mizvah problem was resolved. And besides, he was comforted by our religious authorities, who declared to him:

“--haganev mhganev ptur—when a person steals from a thief, there is no penalty.”

[Page 119]

People, Shtiblech, and Institutions in Przytyk

by Moshe Vagshal

Translated by Murray Citron

In honor of my honorable father, the righteous rabbi, genius in the Torah, R' Yehiel Gedalia son of HaRav HaGaon R' Henoch Hendil zt”l. Died 21 Sivan 5678 in Przytyk;

My mother the Rebbetzin, Chana-Freida, daughter of R' Shlomo-Yehudah may peace be upon him, perished in the Holocaust 21 Tishrei 5703 in Yedlinsk-Bialabzheg;
My first wife Mrs. Yochevd daughter of R' Avraham Peretz-Zeida may peace be upon him;
My daughters Chava-Neche, Ester-Galde, Bracha-Keile, my beloved friend Miriam-Malka, her only son Mordechai-Menachem Peretz, May Hashem avenge their blood;
My brother Yakov-Shmuel with his family;
My brother Shlomo-David, ritual slaughtered in Yedlinsk, with his family;
My sister Chaya Yakov with her family;
My sister Yochevd, her husband Yakil Zucker and their family;
My sister Ester-Hadassah her husband Moshe Lerner HaCohen and their family;
My sister Bracha-Galde and her family;
My brother Simcha Bunim, ritual slaughtered in Leskazshev, Miriam Liberman and their family;
My sister Miriam-Dvora and her family.
All, holy and pure, were killed and burned for the sanctification of God's name in the year 5703, 21-22 Tishrei. May Hashem avenge their blood. For these I weep with a broken heart, with tears day and night, their son, their father and their brother, Avraham-Moshe Vagshall, my grandmother Racheli Moshe-Yizchaks, May peace be upon her.

I was born in Przytyk. In the year 1912 my parents settled in Vistik. I was then still a little boy.

In the year 1920 I was married in Przytyk to the daughter of Abraham-Peretz the grandfather, may he rest in peace, Yokheved, who was called Yadzshe, may the Lord avenge her blood. We stayed in the home of her parents. We dealt in drygoods. We travelled to fairs—Thursdays to Radom, and on Mondays we went to the market in Przytyk. We did not make a living from that business.

One morning in the year 1927 there came to see me R' Itshele Apotshner, R.I.P. He was an uncle of my mother. He said to me:

__How long will you struggle like this, going to fairs, borrowing money and not making a living? Take my advice and start a bakery, it's very good to be a baker.
I did not know what to say to my great-uncle. He calmed me, and with pleasant words showed me that I did not need to be ashamed of that

[Page 120]

trade, gave me examples from the Talmud, that great Tannaim worked in trades—R. Yochanan the cobbler….

At that time we already had two little daughters and needed an income. So I agreed on the condition that I must first pay all my debts to the merchants in Radom. Since I had no money, we packed up the drygoods and sent them away to the merchants in Radom.

Only then did I go to borrow money, in order to set up the bakery. I must remember all those who helped me out with loans without deadlines—R. Pinchas Malts and his wife (200 zlotes); R. Shmeiah Shmedro (75 zlotes); R. Moshe-Iehusha Lindenboim (200 zl, a promissory note), also R Dovid Lerner, may the Lord avenge his blood, gave me goods for the business and R. Menashe Shtengel set up the oven for me and waited for his money. In a short time we paid off all the debts.

We made a good living (we had parnose). From all groups in the population they came to us—tradesmen, merchants, Chasidim. We soon decided to give free tea to everyone every shabos morning, everyone, without difference. Very early there would come R. Iosef-Chaim the shochet, may he rest in peace, R. Moshe Apotshner, my uncle R. Itshele Apotshner, R. Yeshihu Tober. To Chasidim and tradesmen we gave tea with sugar, even with raspberry syrup.

I prayed in the Vorker Shtibel. There were no well-to-do people there, but love of friends and brothers -ahabas reim vachim- ruled. People were concerned about the well-being of others. Every Shabos after prayers someone made kiddush, in order to benefit anyone who did not have at home what to make kiddush with. At the kiddush we spent time with
Torah lessons and Chasidic lessons (divrei-torah and divrei-chasidus).

In the Vorker Shtibel both shochets prayed. We received from them kugel, kishke, and miltz. R. Iosef-Chaim the shochet and R. Dan Hofman, R. Yakov-Shmuel Vaksman, R. Hershl Farbeer, and R. Asher Vaiser were very good prayer-leaders.

With the passage of time R. Iosef-Chaim grew weaker, R. Dan Hofman went over to the Amshimover Shtibel. So R. Iosef-Chaim drew in young prayer-leaders, and by conscription, his son Leibel. Also me he made a prayer-leader. At first I didn't want to be. When he asked me why, I answered that I

[Page 121]

was afraid. He said that that was very good, and because of that I would davn well. So it was until the war.

Who doesn't remember the winter, in the year 1937, Shabes Parsha Beshalach? It was Sunday. There came to Przytyk the Admur of Otvotsk. He stayed in the home of Moshe Lerner. On Shabes he received his followers at the bet-medresh. Groups of people came, from Radom, Shidlovtse, Yedlinsk, Bialobzsheg. The respect for him was great, even from the youth. The Rabbin was received with great respect and honor. R. Pinchas Maltz, singing, brought a sefer-Torah from his home to the Shul.

In Przytyk there was also a Beis-Yakov Shul, onder the leadership of R. Yosef-Chaim the shoichet. Every second week people used to meet there, to make sure everything was in order. In that Shul were the best teachers. In Israel is to be found one of the teachers, R. Tsvi Waiser's daughter-in-law, from the home Sarah Boim.

Also the Vorker Rabbi came every year to Przytyk and stayed by R. Yosef-Chaim the Shoichet, and sometimes by R. Shmieh Shmedro. People went to meet him with great fanfare.

In Przytyk there was also a Gerer Shtibel with Talmud experts (talmidei chachomim), with excellent prayer-leaders; an Amshinover Shtibl, which was located in the courtyard of Zeyde's family, by R. Shmuel-Simcha, R.I.P. Lastly R. Dan Hofman lived there, a Talmud scholar, a Torah-reader and prayer leader in the Days of Awe. Mendl-Dovid the grandfather, who had the government alcohol monopoly, was not ashamed to wear Chasidic dress—on Shabes a silken overcoat. His house was really Jewish. His wife Rachel was a big charity-giver-- anonymous gifts. She cared about the sick and the poor, and for women in labor, and always asked after them.

In the Amshinover Shtibel there was a handsome young man, Yosl Hendl. He learned well and in his sweet voice he sang Modzshitzer nigunim. There was also a Biolobzsheger Shtibel, which was at the home of R. Elimelech Katz, who was a great Talmud scholar, a problem-solver, and who was interested in everyone.

I also knew the book of the chevre-kadishe in which were written the tikunes. R. Meir-Leyzer, my father Harov Iechiel Gadli (sic). The book was kept by the Gabbai Rishon. In the last ten years before the war R. Itshele Apotshner was in charge (mseder geveyn). The chevre took in about ten Chasidishe young persons. I was one of them. In Przytyk there was a beautiful shul, from the old times. In summer I davened a mincha-maariv there and on Shabes a mincha. It was a pleasant midrash-house. Half the night you would find there proprietors and tradesmen studying Mishnah, saying Psalms, and davening till 12 o'clock in the daytime.

That was Przytyk with its people, shtiblech, and organizations—until the war.


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