Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Yahrtzeit of Rebbe Shulem Leizer'l of Ratzfert

Rav Shulem Leizer of Ratzfert
The 16th of Sivan is the yahrtzeit of Rebbe Shulem Leizer Halberstam of Ratzfert. Born in 1862, he was a son of the saintly Divrei Chaim of Sanz and hence a brother-in-law to the Rebbe Reb Motele. He was a son-in-law as well as Reb Shulem Leizer married Reb Motele's daughter, Sarah Mariam.

Click to enlarge.
To the right is the second printing of Reb Motele's Emek HaChochmah. It was printed by Reb Chaim, the son of Reb Shulem Leizer, "the son-in-law of the author".


 Here is a short anecdote I heard from the Rebbe, shlit"a:
Reb Shulem Leizer's daughter once suffered a loss and she was inconsolable. At a certain point her father sensed that it was too much, that it was time that she reorient herself. She was facing the wall, crying to herself when Reb Shulem Leizer approached her and placed his hand on her shoulder. "Remember, my child, who it was that gave you this klap (lit. hit)."

Reminding ourselves Who the source of everything is, that Hashem's love is boundless and that He desires to do good for us, may not remove the pain of loss but it takes off the edge and allows us the requisite perspective to move on. Remember, Who gave the klap.

The Rebbe related that once when he was in Eretz Yisroel, an elderly man stopped him in the street and forced him to listen to the story he was about to tell a group that gathered around him. He told the following:
"I was a youngster in Auschwitz and I always had a certain impetuousness, a boldness that enabled me to do things that weren't expected. One day a new group arrived that were wearing different clothes, and they were in better condition than the rest of us. As they walked by, I decided that it would be better for me to join them. Their leader stopped me and said, "Yingaleh, vus vilst di? (Young boy, what do you want?)"

"Ich vil a siddur. (I want a siddur.)"

Somebody in the group turned to the leader and said, "Reb Moshe, gib im. Ihr hut a siddur. (You have a siddur. Give it to him.)"

I saw that he hesitated but eventually he did give me the little siddur. I had that siddur for six months until they took it away from me. Later I found out that it had been the siddur of the Ratzferter.

It turned out that this group was trained in how to take care of the crematoria. This Reb Moshe was Rav Mosheleh Wertzberger, the Rav in Oshuv, Hungary. While dealing with all the bodies and tending to the crematoria, he tried to record the names and dates of death of anyone who he could identify, so that if he survived they could help with agunos and know the yahrtzeits, etc. They later found a piece of paper with the following written on it: "On the 16th of Sivan, 5704, the holy body of Reb Shulem Leizer of Ratzfert came here to be put in the oven. I put it off to the side because I hoped that I still might have the opportunity to bring it to burial but, unfortunately, I was unable to do so. In his hand I found a small siddur, and I kept it until a little boy asked me for it." He had been davening till the last moments.

Rav Shulem Leizer
As Reb Shulem Leizer was being brought to the showers to be gassed, an S.S. officer approached him and mocked, "Your lips are still moving with your worthless prayers? You are already at death's doorstep! Don't you see the reality of the situation? Do you really still believe that there is Divine intervention, that your G-d will help you?"

The response of Reb Shulem Leizer as he walked into the showers to be murdered inspired those around him and left the officer speechless. Calm and collected, Reb Shulem Leizer said, "With my whole heart and my entire soul do I believe that there is a Creator of the world and that everything is Divinely orchestrated!"
זכותו יגן עלינו ועל כל ישראל אמן

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