Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Legacy of the Baal Shem Tov: Inspiration for Today

(Replica of the Baal Shem Tov's synagogue, Medzhibozh)

Sunday, November 20th
The JCC Makom/Jewish Spirituality Programs and The Carlebach Shul present:

The Legacy of the Baal Shem Tov: Inspiration for Today 

Location: JCC of Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave at 76th Street

Sunday, Nov 20, 2016 

9:30AM - 1:15PM
The teachings of the Baal Shem Tov served to inspire the creation of the Hasidic movement and ignite a vibrant renewal of Jewish life. How do his teachings continue to impact Jewish spirituality today? Join renowned teachers, Nehemia Polen, Yitzhak Buxbaum and Chaya Rivka Zwolinski, for this dynamic morning of learning. Co-sponsored by the Carlebach Shul as part of the yahrtzeit celebration in memory of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, z'l. Light breakfast included.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Yahrtzeit of Reb Wolf Kitzes

From R' Dovid Friedman:

12 Cheshvan is the yartzeit of Rabbi Zev Wolf Kitzis, zy'a, one of the earliest and most senior talmidim of the Baal Shem Tov. (Don’t know his father’s name) There are many stories about the two of them together. B"H I was zocheh to visit his kever many times. He has the zekhus of being buried immediately to the right of the Baal Shem Tov in Medzhibuzh. Reb Wolf Kitzis was able to prevent the rabbonim of Brod from placing a cherem (ban of excommunication) on the Baal Shem Tov, since he greatly impressed the Rav of Lvov, who was the final decisor. He is well known as the baal toke'a (one who sounds the Shofar) of the Baal Shem Tov -- so it is no coincidence that he passed away the week of the Torah reading "Vayera," when we read about Akeidas Yitzchok. One of the ten reasons for blowing shofar on Rosh Hashonah, given by Rabbeinu Saadia Gaon, is to remember Akeidas Yitzchok. Here are some remazim (hints):

שופר with the 4 letters is equal to זאב וואלף קיצעס זצ״ל.

בעל תוקע with the kolel is equal to רבי זאב וואלף קיצעס with the 4 words.

עקידת יצחק with the 9 letters and kolel is equal to רבי זאב וואלף קיצעס זצ״ל.

ויעקד את יצחק with the 3 words is equal to רבי זאב וואלף קיצעס זצ״ל.

איל אחר נאחז בסבך בקרניו is equal to הרבי זאב וואלף קיצעס זיע״א.

Zechuso Yogen Oleinu


PS from Dovid Sears:

Close to 30 years ago, when we lived in Providence, RI, I was part of a group that visited Jewish patients in nursing homes on Yom Tov. I'm not sure if it was on Rosh Hashanah, but I once visited an elderly man named "Kitzis" in the Jewish Home for the Aged. When I mentioned Reb Wolf Kitzis to him, the patient readily told me that he was a descendant of the Baal Shem Tov's famous disciple. We were both happy to have met each other.

Yahrtzeit of the Piazeczna Rebbe

4 Cheshvan:
Yahrtzeit of the Piazeczna Rebbe
By Dovid Friedman

4 Cheshvan is the yarzeit of the Piazeczna Rebbe, Reb Kalonymos Kalman, the son of Reb Elimelech of Grodzensk. He died al kiddush Hashem in 5704 on a Tuesday between parshas Noach and parshas Lech Lecha. There is remez to the death of tzaddikim al kiddush Hashem at the end of Noach, where the Midrash Rabbah speaks of Avrohom Avinu being thrown into the furnace.

First, parshas Noach starts off "Noah was a righteous man, whole-hearted in his generation" נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו /. The gematria of צדיק תמים היה with the 11 letters is 725. This is equal to קלונימוס קלמן בן אלימלך with the 20 letters.

The Midrash about Avrohom Avinu being thrown into the furnace is found at the end of Noach, on the words "and Haran died in the presence of Terach his father" / וימת הרן על פני תרח אביו. The gematria of קלונימוס קלמן בן אלימלך זצ״ל הי״ד is equal to על פני תרח with the 3 words.

When Avrohom Avinu was thrown in the furnace, the Midrash uses the words לכבשן האש, which equal 709 with the kolel. קלונימוס קלמן בן אלימלך with the 4 words is also equal to 709. Significantly, 709 is also equal to "incense" / קטרת.

קלונימוס is equal to אש ("fire") with the kolel. קלמן is equal to טהור ("pure"). He was אש טהור -- a "pure fire" of avodas Hashem.

בן אלימלך is equal to עקיבא, who died al Kiddush Hashem at the hands of the Romans while saying the Shema. Interestingly, in an unbelievable piece in his sefer, "Aish Kodesh," which was written in the Warsaw Ghetto, the Piazecza Rebbe speaks about how Rebbe Akiva prepared his whole life in order to die al Kiddush Hashem.

After Rebbe Akiva was killed, a Bas Kol came out saying "Happy are you, Rabbi Akiva, that your soul went out with the word "Echad" / אשריך רבי עקיבא שיצאה נשמתך באחד. The words אשריך רבי עקיבא with the letters and kolel are equal to 940, the same gematria as רבי קלונימוס קלמן בן אלימלך with the letters.

At the beginning of וזאת הברכה it says אש דת למו. The words אש דת are exactly equal to קלונימוס קלמן בן אלימלך. It is also equal to אש קדש written without the letter “ו”. It is brought down that דת למו is the letters of תלמוד.

The Piazecza Rebbe was, of course, one of the most innovative Torah educators of modern times.

Zekhuso yagein aleinu!