The Admor of Amshinov, Rav Sholom Shimon Kalisch זצ’’ל

In another blog I was asked to post the picture by a commentator, but I can’t recall the article! Anyway, I have in our dining room a picture of the Rebbe זי’’ע. I just took a picture of it with my iPhone. He was very well-known. In Lubavitch he is known because the Rayatz instructed his Chassidim, when the Rayatz was in hiding from the authorities, and unable to respond to their questions to only ask R’ Sholom Shimon. In addition, at the wedding of the last Rebbe, R’ Sholom Shimon walked into the Simcha in the wee hours of the morning while the Rayatz was saying a Ma’amar Chassidus. He must have sensed R’ Sholom Shimon had come in, because in a very rare occurrence, he actually stopped saying the Ma’amar Chassidus until the Rebbe from Amshinov had sat down. In Amshinov, there is also a tradition which I have seen written, that says there is only one sefer that has to be learned to understand all Chassidus, and that is the Tanya of the first Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Interestingly, I heard Rav Schachter saying that a Scholar is now working on an important Sefer comparing the Tanya to the Nefesh Hachaim of R’ Chaim Volozhin, the prime student of the Vilna Gaon (who did not sign the Cherem against Chassidim). The word is that he finds the thoughts and approaches close to identical. I also heard the Rav (Soloveitchik) say this, although he qualified it by saying that the differences are advanced and he doubts many actually understand the differences. The Rav was unique of course in the sense that he knew both those Seforim inside out, and had been taught Tanya by his Lubavitcher Melamed when a boy (but that didn’t matter because the Rav had a superior intellect, as is well known).

As for me, I know nothing about either! The current Amshinover Rebbe in Bayit Vegan,  is well-known as one of the Tzadikei HaDor. He doesn’t get involved in politics, and is a truly incredible Oved Hashem. My only connection is a nostalgic familial one, because my grandmother, Toba Frimet Balbin ע’’ה (née Amzel), who I loved very much and was the engine behind the Balbin family, was from Amshinover Chassidim. She and my Zeyda Yidel are buried in Israel, and I still remember Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner ז’’ל speaking about her before her coffin left from Essendon Airport. Rabbi Chaim Gutnick ז’’ל told me that she used to bring him a present every Purim. I never knew that, and he told me they were all around his house!

PS.  I got this picture from Chayi Glick (nee Rotter), whose mother I believe stems from Amshinov and whom I cajoled incessantly to bring back the picture from New York.


שבת אחדות at the Yeshivah Centre

On the 3rd of Iyar, שבת פרשת אמור, the Yeshivah centre saw fit to commemorate the anniversary of Rabbi Groner’s birth with a themed date of unity. All shules and institutions financially affiliated with the centre Davened together. This was also the Yohr Tzeit of Moshe Zalman Feiglin ז’ל described by Rabbi Telsner as the “Avraham Avinu” of the community.

Rabbi Groner was always prepared to go the extra mile, even when gravely ill, to wish Happy Birthday to someone else.

It was nice to sit in a packed shul where a wide cross-section of ages was represented. In addition, rather than a normal shabbos, this shabbos was designed to promote cooperation and tolerance. I attended Shule and a little of the Kiddush/Farbrengen afterwards. I would have liked to have heard the guest speaker Farbreng first, but I understand why they did it in this way, inviting representatives of each Minyan to speak.

While I was standing during קריאת התורה two things struck me:

  1. The number of people who were מחמיר to stand during קריאה
  2. The silence and decorum.

One of the things Rabbi Groner ז’ל used to constantly bemoan was the incessant chatter and “wandering” that took place in Shule. I cannot help but think that he was smiling from above to see that, without anyone having to Clapp on the Bimah, the קהילה naturally assumed a proper level of decorum.

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