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Halusk
(Hlusk, Belarus)

52°53' 28°41'

by Rabbi N. Waxman

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

As far as it is known, in 1847 the Jewish community in Halusk numbered 3,148 souls. I the past, the town, located near the river Petitz, was named Halusk Dombrovitzki.

In 1897 the number of residents was 5,328, including 3,801 Jews. The town had 2 Pravoslav (Orthodox) churches, one Catholic Church, one synagogue and 5 prayer houses, a general elementary school, a Jewish school, a school for girls.

There were 3 tanneries and 22 shops.

Halusk is mentioned in documents from the XV century. It is mentioned that in 1508, the Prince Michael Galinski held negotiations with various emissaries.

From the Brookhaus-Efron Jewish-Russian General Encyclopedia.


The Rabbi of Halusk

by Rabbi N. Waxman

Translated by Yocheved Klausner

The rabbi R'Baruch-Ber Leibowitz was born around 5630 (1870) in Podlivtza in the suburbs of Slutsk and married the daughter of Rabbi R'Avraham Yitzhak Halevi Zimmerman, the rabbi of Halusk.

When his father-in-law was appointed Rabbi of Krementchug, R'Baruch-Ber took his place in Halusk. Although during his young years, as he studied with Rabbi Soloveitchik at the Volozhyn Yeshiva he was already famous as a great genius and a deep thinker, when he became rabbi and obtained the right to make decisions he was very fearful and strict with himself in matters of prohibition and permission. When a woman came to him with a “question” [she'ela] he would try to evade the question and postpone it for a day or two, finally sending her to the other rabbi, R'Shmuel Paritzer, the rabbi of the Hassidim in Halusk.

Many legends were told in town about R'Baruch-Ber's boundless innocence and his remoteness from the facts of life; here are two of the most famous and characteristic: at the beginning of his service in town, a woman came with a chicken in her bag and asked him what to do – a needle was found in the gizzard [pupik in Yiddish] of the chicken – was it kosher and fit to cook and eat? R'Baruch-Ber, who knew all the laws by heart but didn't know the names of the innards of a chicken, didn't understand where exactly the needle was found. He asked one of the students and received the correct answer. The Rabbi said Ah! and solved the problem.

One of his students went to see someone's daughter for the purpose of a shiddukh [match]. As he returned, the rabbi asked what he thought and the man answered that she was not beautiful and elegant enough. R'Baruch-Ber wondered and said: As far as I know, only the Etrog [the citrus-fruit, used on the holiday of Sukkot for blessing] should be beautiful and elegant [mehudar] – for a woman the Torah does not say that she must be so…

There was no limit to his love of the Torah and he became famous in that respect, and a group of young men gathered around him and drank his words with thirst.

 

Slu186
The Rabbi R'Baruch-Ber Leibowitz, head of the Yeshiva Knesset Bet-Yitzhak

 

Their sustenance came mostly from “Eating Days” [a custom by which poor Yeshiva students were eating each day of the week in the home of one of the wealthy families in town; for the students it was real support, and for the families it was an honor, mostly]. R'Baruch-Ber himself, who was also the Rabbi of the town, ate the food that his parents brought him every week from their village, on a cart. His meager means did not allow him to seek out excellent young men and make them study the Torah in the Yeshiva, and whenever he discovered such a young man he made every effort to take him in.

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In his nature, he was very talented to teach in the Yeshiva. But it turned out that he was also an excellent guide and leader of his community as their rabbi. He was loved by the people, hated greed and had a soft character, but was never biased toward anyone.

Halusk became a center of learning. From near and far people came to study with R'Baruch-Ber and his Yeshiva became famous. The Knesset Bet-Yitzhak Yeshiva in Slobodka appointed him Head of the Yeshiva. The Yeshiva thrived in his time.

During WWI, the Yeshiva relocated to Krementchug and R'Baruch-Ber went with them. In 1921 he went with some of his students to Vilna. He didn't like the life in the big city; he was of the opinion that it distracted his students and kept them away from learning Torah.

After some time, he relocated again, to a quiet corner in the small town Kamenetz, near Brisk. During 18 years, the Yeshiva remained there, flourishing. With the outbreak of WWII, Kamenetz came under Soviet rule; R'Baruch-Ber and the Yeshiva returned to Vilna.

He aspired to make Aliya to Eretz Israel with his Yeshiva, but he died in Vilna. May his memory be blessed.

 

Some of the Well-Known Halusk Rabbis

Rabbi R'Yosef of Halusk, gave in 1772 an approbation to the book Tif'eret Israel by Israel Yaffe of Shkalov and signed “Yosef son of the great scholar Menachem-Mendel head of the Religious Court in Slutsk and Halusk.”

R'Shmuel Landa.

The rabbi R'Shmuel Zimmerman.

R'Shmuel Paritzer, the rabbi of the Hassidim in Halusk.

The rabbi R'Baruch-Ber Leibowitz.

 

Avraham Regelson

He was a Hebrew poet and critic. He was born in 1896 in Halusk. At the age of 11 he immigrated with his family to the United States. By profession he was a teacher. His first poems were published in Miklat (New York, 1930). He also published essays in newspapers and periodicals in Eretz Israel and America. His poem Kaiyn veHevel [Cain and Abel] was printed in 1932. After he made Aliya he was member of the editorial board of the daily newspaper “Davar” (1934) and Davar Liyladim [Davar for Children]. In 1936 his book “The Dolls' Journey to Eretz Israel was published. In 1936 he returned to the United States and remained there until 1949. Upon his return to Eretz Israel he worked first at the Publishing House Am Oved and later was member of the editorial board of the newspaper Al Hamishmar.

Regelson was knowledgeable in English and American literature, as well as Hebrew poetry. In relation to poetry he was very self-demanding, concerning form as well as content. ----- So he was as a critic and essay writer, in particular in poetry. A considerable part of his essays is devoted to Hebrew and English poets. In the poem Cain and Abel Regelson presents his view on the powers that fight over human experience. Cain's victory over Abel is a symbol of the powers that control the world. Yet his conclusion is optimistic – faith in a new man, freed from Cain's curse.

His books: “A Shawlful of Leaves” (essays and discussions), NY 1941; “There the Crystal is” (sights and legends), NY 1942); “Non-Being and Was Cleft” [El Ha'ayin Venivka] (poems), Tel Aviv, 1945.

Translations: Poems by William Blake, William Cullen Bryant,Walt Whitman and others. Stories by Kipling.

 

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