Machberes: Inside The Chassidish And Yeshivish World
By Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
On Shabbos Noach, October 24–25, thousands of chassidim converged in Williamsburg to celebrate the aufruf Shabbos of Yaakov Yosef Twersky, son of Rabbi Nochum Twersky and grandson of Rabbi Yitzchok Chai Twersky, Rachmastrivka Rebbe (Boro Park). Rabbi Nochum is a son-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Taub, Kalover Rebbe (Williamsburg). The thousands who gathered to celebrate, mostly Rachmastrivka and Kalover Chassidim, convened at the Kalover Beis Medrash. All of the children of the Rachmastrivka Rebbe participated.
Kabbalas Shabbos was held at the Kalover Beis Medrash. Minchah was led by Rabbi Nosson Dovid Rosenberger, Gamzu’er Rav and brother-in-law of the Kalover Rebbe, and Kabbalas Shabbos was led by Rabbi Zusha Twersky, son of the Rachmastrivka Rebbe and uncle of the chassan. After davening, the line was extraordinarily long in waiting to personally wish a mazel tov to the Kalover Rebbe and the chassan.
The Friday night tisch was spirited. The Kalover Rebbe delivered divrei Torah at several junctures during the tisch. The honor of bentching was given to Rabbi Dovid Moshe Twersky, rosh kollel Rachmastrivka, son of the Rachmastrivka Rebbe, and son-in-law of Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Unger, zt’l (1932–2002), Dombrover Rebbe. Rabbi Dovid Moshe is an uncle of the chassan. After bentching and the chassidishe customary distribution of fruit, everyone rose to sing and dance.
On Shabbos morning, the chassan was escorted, with high-spirited song and dance, to the Pardes Faiga Hall at 241 Keep Street, where Shacharis was being held in order to accommodate the huge crowd. Rabbi Aharon Shimon Taub, rav of the Kalover Beis Medrash in Boro Park, led Shacharis. Hallel was led by the Kalover Rebbe, who sang old family melodies. Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Heshel Twersky, son of the Rachmastrivka Rebbe and son-in-law of Rabbi Dovid Twersky, Skverer Rebbe, led Mussaf. Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Heshel is an uncle of the chassan.
As davening ended in the other shuls in Williamsburg, thousands upon thousands made their way to the grand Kiddush that was being served. Personally wishing mazel tov to the celebrants took great effort and time.
The mesibas fohrshpiel (chassan celebration) was held on Shabbos afternoon, immediately followed by Minchah, shalosh seudos, Ma’ariv, and Havdalah. In keeping with the custom of Skver and Rachmastrivka to escort the chassan home with torch-lit singing, dancing, and music, the procession was most colorful.
The chasunah took place on Sunday evening, October 26, at the Vizhnitzer Beis Medrash in Monsey with the participation of thousands of Vizhnitzer Chassidim. Rabbi Mordechai Hager, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, graced the kabbalas panim. From there, the chassan was escorted under the chuppah.
There, he waited for the kallah, daughter of Rabbi Dovid Dov Hager, son of Rabbi Yisroel Hager, Vizhnitzer Rav of Monsey; son of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe and son-in-law of the Unheiler Rav, zt’l. Rabbi Dovid Dov is a son-in-law of Rabbi Chaim Moskowitz, Shotzer Rebbe in Williamsburg. The Vizhnitzer Rebbe, great-grandfather of the kallah, was the mesader kiddushin, and the Shotzer Rebbe read the kesubah. The first berachos were given to the Rachmastrivka Rebbe and the last berachah was recited by the Kalover Rebbe.
The Vizhnitzer Rebbe entered the wedding hall immediately before bentching. Yeshaya Meir Neiman, serving as the badchan, called upon the Vizhnitzer Rebbe to be the first to dance the traditional mitzvah tantz. Ordinarily, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, being a great-grandfather, should have been called last. However, the Rebbe had just recently been released from a hospital stay. This was the very first chasunah of a descendant since his release and the Rebbe was preserving his strength. His dancing in front of the kallah, and then with the chassan, was a highlight of the chasunah. Hardly a month has gone by in the last dozen years without a chasunah of a grandchild or great-grandchild, and often two chasunahs were celebrated in a month. However, this chasunah, coming after his hospital release, made it most special.
The Vizhnitzer Rebbe’s mitzvah tantz was followed by that of the Rachmastrivka Rebbe, a brother-in-law of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe; the Kalover Rebbe; Shotzer Rebbe; and the Monsey Vizhnitzer Rav. The singing and dancing was intense and meaningful. Thousands of chassidim stood and watched intently for hours.
A week of sheva berachos followed. The Shotzer kehillah of Williamsburg hurried to host Monday evening’s event. Tuesday had the Kalover kehillah in Williamsburg celebrating that evening’s sheva berachos. All members of the Kalover Kollel attended, wearing their shtreimels, an indication of deep joy usually reserved for family members. The Rachmastrivka Rebbe also participated, heightening the joy. The Rachmastrivka Rebbe danced with the Kalover Rebbe to the accompaniment of singing by everyone there. The Gamzu’er Rav was honored with bentching. The final sheva berachos, on Shabbos Lech Lecha, was highly celebrated in the Vizhnitzer Beis Medrash in Monsey, with the significant participation of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe.
On Shabbos Lech Lecha in Boro Park, the aufruf of a grandson of the Rachmastrivka Rebbe was held at the Rachmastrivka Beis Medrash. The chassan is the son of Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Halberstam, son of Rabbi Moshe Halberstam, zt’l (1924–2011), Kiviashder Rebbe. On Wednesday, November 5, in Monsey, he will be marrying the daughter of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Hager, rosh yeshiva Kiamisha Lake, son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager, Kiamisha Lake Vizhnitzer Rav, son of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, and son-in-law of the Rachmastrivka Rebbe. Rabbi Yaakov Yosef is a son-in-law of Rabbi Yeehosef Benzion Rottenberg, Kosoner Rebbe in Boro Park and son-in-law of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe. The Vizhnitzer Rebbe will participate in the wedding.
Additionally, Shmuel Zvi Hager, son of Rabbi Chaim Meir Hager, son of Rabbi Pinchas Sholom Hager, Boro Park Vizhnitzer Rav, was engaged to the daughter of Rabbi Shimshon Hager, Bet Shemesh Vizhnitzer Rav, son of the zVishnitzer Rebbe and son-in-law of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager, Vizhnitzer Rebbe in Bnei Brak. Rabbi Pinchas Sholom is the son-in-law of Rabbi Shmuel Zvi Horowitz, zt’l (1921–1997), Spinka Rebbe. Rabbi Chaim Meir is a son-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Zev Meisels, Monsey Uheily Rav.
Also announced was the shidduch of the son of Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Heshel Hager, son of the Kiamesha Lake Vizhnitzer Rav to the daughter of the Kosoner Rebbe of Boro Park. Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Heshel is the son-in-law of the Kiviashder Rebbe. The Kiamesha Lake Vizhnitzer Rav, the Kiviashder Rebbe, and the Kosoner Rebbe of Boro Park are all sons-in-law of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe.
Oh yes, another shidduch was announced! The son of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Hager, son of Rabbi Pinchas Sholom, Boro Park Vizhnitzer Rav, and son-in-law of Rabbi Avrohom Dov Twersky, Monsey Rachmastrivka Rav, was engaged to the daughter of Rabbi Yosef Meir Horowitz, Beis Shmuel Rebbe, son of Rabbi Yissachar Dov Berish Horowitz, zt’l (d. 2007), Shmuel Zvi Rebbe, oldest son of Rabbi Shmuel Zvi Horowitz, zt’l (1921–1997), Spinka Rebbe. Rabbi Yosef Meir Horowitz is a son-in-law of Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Zev Rosenbaum, Kretchnif Rechovos Rebbe. Rabbi Pinchas Sholom is the son of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe.
The Vizhnitzer Rebbe is the son of Rabbi Chaim Meir Hager, zt’l (1887–1972), beloved Vizhnitzer Rebbe who authored Imrei Chaim and settled in then Palestine in 1947, establishing the Vizhnitzer community in Bnei Brak and moved there in 1949; son of Rabbi Yisroel Hager, zt’l (1860–1936), Vizhnitzer Rebbe and author of Ahavas Yisroel; son of Rabbi Boruch Hager, zt’l (1845–1893), Vizhnitzer Rebbe and author of Imrei Boruch; son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager, zt’l (1820–1884), Vizhnitzer Rebbe and author of Tzemach Tzaddik who was crowned as rebbe at the age of 24; son of Rabbi Chaim Hager, zt’l (1795–1854), Kosover Rebbe and author of Toras Chaim; son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager, zt’l (1768–1825), Kosover Rebbe and author of Ahavas Sholom; son of Rabbi Yaakov Kopel Chosid Hager-Kapiletis, zt’l (d. 1787), Kolomayer Rebbe and disciple of Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov, zt’l (1698–1760), founder of the chassidic movement. As one of the principal disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Yaakov Kopel Chosid served as the shaliach tzibbur, and his treasured nusach is used to this very day by all of his Vizhnitzer progeny.
The Vizhnitzer Rebbe, born in 1922, has 14 children, eight sons and six daughters, all of whom have large families. May Heaven grant him robust good health and much nachas.
Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum is the rav of B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Boro Park and director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He can be contacted at email@example.com.