Today, 11 Tammuz 5715 – June 28th is the Yahrzeit of my father, Yisroel Yaakov ben Avrohom Meir, ZL.

Today, 11 Tammuz 5715 – June 28th is the Yahrzeit of my father, Yisroel Yaakov ben Avrohom Meir, ZL.

My nephew, Michoel Glenner, went to my father’s buriel site on Har Hamuchos to and took these pictures.

IMG-20150628-WA0000 IMG-20150628-WA0001

Part One:

My father’s will states:

“This is a donation from the late Mr. Israel J. Morgenstern, who was continuously hungry since September 1, 1939, when Hitler and his German army with his German Luftwaffe (air power) attacked Poland, until May 7, 1945, when he was liberated from Dachau Concentration Camp by the American Army”.

Growing up my father never spoke about his life, his parents and his family in Europe. My grandfather who I am named after, was not real to me. He was not part of my psyche. I did not identify with him, did not feel him within my soul. Despite my father being a holocaust survivor, I did not feel the holocaust within me. I mourned the holocaust as part of the Jewish people, not of my family’s loss. I have gotten older, delved into my family history, understood more of life, backfilled my knowledge about my grandfather, and now can mourn my grandparents and family. Tonight we are mourning not only my father but our family who we lost in the holocaust.

 The below picture is from a meeting of the Warsaw Community Council.  It is a tragic picture because they did not know what the Nazi beast had planned for them.

My grandfather, Reb Avrohom Meir Morgenstern, HYD is sitting in the back right, partially obsucred by I believe Reb Zushe Friedman, author of the Maynah Shel Torah.  Sitting on my zedi’s right is Rabbi Tzvi Yechizkal Michelson, HYD.  For many years I did not know what happened to the holy Rabbi Tzvi Yechizkal Michelson until I read in Dr. Hillel Zeidman, Warsaw Ghetto Diaries, who describered the last day of this Tzaddik.   The Nazi’ s YS’Z,  sent Rabbi Tzvi Yechizkal Michaelson to Treblinka.  Also in the picture according to Historian Esther Farbstein who sent this picture into the Hamodia Magazine is –  Reb Eliyahu Mazor, ZL standing; Dr. Yitzchok Schiffer, HYD to his right.

warsaw

Polish Jewry was destroyed from 1939 to 1943. The liquation of the Warsaw ghetto began on July 23, 1942. Dr. Hillel Zeidman in his Warsaw Ghetto Diaries, recorded the summer and fall of 1942 along with the winter and spring of 1943 documenting the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto and the final total destruction of Polish Jewry.

It started on July 23, 1942. The head of the Judenrat was Adam Czerniakow. Dr. Hillel Zeidman writes that Adam Czerniakow was secular, but always believed that the Jews would outlast the Nazis. He felt that they must follow the dictates of the Nazis as terrible as they were. Eventually the Germans would be defeated and the Jews would remain intact as a community. On July 23, 1942, he was visited by two SS Officers. They leave and Adam Czerniakow asks his assistant for a glass of water. The assistant gives Adam Czerniakow the water, leaves, and closes the door. After a few minutes, the assistant knocks on the door and there is no response. After a few more minutes he walks in and finds Adam Czerniakow slumped over his desk.   They called doctors, but to no avail. He committed suicide. Adam Czerniakow did not leave a note or a will. They opened his appointment / note book and saw the number 7,000 on it. They understood that Adam Czerniakow was told to deliver 7,000 Jews to the Umschlagplatz, the train station which would take the Jews to Treblinka.   Adam Czerniakow realized that the Jews in Poland as a community would not outlast the Germans, Devastating.   His obedience to the Germans aided the Nazis in their pursuit of the destruction of the Jews. How does on live with oneself. He did not want to further the Nazi’s goals by being their pawn, by delivering the Jews to the Umschlagplatz, to help destroy Polish Jewry. He committed suicide.

Czerniakow

My grandparents Avorhom Meir and Ester (Blass) Morgenstern lived before the war in Warsaw and were trapped in the ghetto. We have a partial picture of my grandfather. It is uncanny that he looks like by mother’s father, Reb Sholem Sklar. They could be brothers.

My father who had a wife and child in Kielce, went to be with his parents in the Warsaw ghetto. My father kept his parents alive by providing food for them. They were elderly and could not survive on their own. His father, Reb Avrohom Meir. turns to my father one day and say, “my son, you have fulfilled the command of Honor Your Father and Mother, just like it says in the Torah.” My grandparents were taken to the Umschlagplatz, put on a train, and sent to Treblinka as part of the 7,000. Their number came up.

Michael Savage on his radio program read a first person account of what it was like for a person, such as my grandparents and hundreds of relatives to have the train doors open and you are at Treblinka., It described the horrors of the last hour of life for these holy souls. I listened to it, with one hand by the dial to shut the radio if it got too gruesome. They you Michael Savage.

This day was Tisha B’Av 1942 – the ninth day Av.

The End of the Warsaw Ghetto and Polish Jewry:

downloadThe Warsaw ghetto and Polish Jewry was fully destroyed during Pesach 1943.  Dr. Hillel Zeidman records a meeting between the remaining Rabbis and leaders in the ghetto to discuss the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Rabbi Menachem Ziemba speaks last and says, we should have resisted passively. We should not have gone willingly to the Umschlagplatz.  Rabbi Menachem Ziemba says that there is no Kiddush Hashem to die, but to fight. He places the Warsaw Ghetto uprising as a fight for the sake of God. Every person who fought was an agent of God, part of the Jewish army, in the legacy of Dovid Hamelech. They all had the kiss and love of the Gadol Hador, the Rabbinic leader of the generation. They were surrounded with his love. A few days later Rabbi Menachem Ziemba is martyred and Polish Jewry is destroyed.

Please read the following article which expresses these sentiments:

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/The-last-rabbi-in-the-Warsaw-Ghetto-Zionist-311637

Please also read this article:

http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/this-day-in-jewish-history/this-day-in-jewish-history-the-warsaw-ghetto-uprising-begins-in-the-mind-1.493880#!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

What is the lesson. On a communal level it is Torah, Israel, a strong Army, moral clarity, Achdus, loyal Jews, and wealthy Jews to donate money for the community. What does this mean and what is my father’s legacy on an individual basis. What could Mitch Morgenstern do?   I am not wealthy, I am a middle of the road Jew. Just remembering the holocaust means nothing without something tangible. I did not fight for the IDF, I am not a Torah scholar.

My Speech Continued:

It is about the Chulent:

My father’s hunger led to the following story:

I learn with a study partner. The Shul serves Chulent Thursday nights as a treat. This one Thursday a Mshulach wanders in and asks if he can have some Chulent. One of the members said, No! The Chulent is for the people learning. I was aghast. The poor guy wants some Chulent. There is always extra. I was flabbergasted but could not say anything. I have since gotten to know the no person and he is not bad, he just did not have the sensitivity. He has to be educated.

The next day on Friday, I left work at 6:00 PM. As I am passing the corner of Devon and Lincoln, I see this Meshculach at the stoplight. I made a U-Turn and picked him up. He was with a friend. As he got into my car, I said, aren’t you the person last night who asked for Chulent. He said, I think so. I apologized for the person for his lack of sensitivity, the Shul, and the city of Chicago. I told him that while he is in Chicago, he can go to Tel Aviv Pizza, give them my card and I will pay. He left the following Monday and only used it once. The bonus is that his friend’s grandfather was a Kotzker Chossid.

I do not remember his name.  I think his friend was Rotman.

Advertisements

No Pain, No Gain – A heartfelt Brocha

Rabbi Naftoli G.

No Pain, No Gain – A heartfelt Brocha

June 24, 2015

This coming Sunday the 11 day of Tammuz is my father’s 13th Yahrzeit. I offer the following incident L’Chovod my father.

I am in pain and went to visit the Doctor. I need an MRI and probably some minor surgery. I finished with the Doctor at 7:10 PM and ran over to Chicago Center for Mincha. I usually daven at Reb Moshe’s Shul or Kins, rarely at the Chicago Center. Davened Mincha and said Kaddish for my Mechutan, Moshe ben Yosef, Halevi.   As I walked out I saw an older gentlemen who I thought I recognized but being in pain shuffled past him.   I admit that had I made eye contact, I was afraid that he would ask me donate to his charity, but being in pain, I was not in a charitable mood.

B’H he followed me and gave me an envelope, did not ask for money.   I recognized these older gentlemen and told him we met a few weeks earlier at a different Shul.  He is Rabbi Naftoli G. I reminded him of what he told me at that time. This Rabbi is a Talmud of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda, TZL. His father was a Talmud of Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook, TZL. Wow. I met someone who was a Talmud and saw Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda and Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook.   He said they were Kiddoshi Elyon, lofty souls.   I gave him a copy of my Zedi’s Sefer, Sholem Yerushalim that was reprinted by Rabbi Zini, Shlita, and a Rosh Yeshiva in Haifa of Yeshivas Ohr Vishua. Rabbi Naftoli G. knows Rabbi Zini well and will visit him to give him my regards. I never met Rabbi Zini, but feel a close bond to him. Unfortunately, I was in Israel in late January and to my loss I did not visit Rabbi Zini or his Yeshiva. I pray to Hashem that in the near future we have a family Simcha in Israel and I can visit.

I asked Rabbi Naftoli G. to give a speech on Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda, TZL. He mentioned that many places would not appreciate the Gadlus of Reb Tzvi Yehuda and Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook. I told him that I would find him the appropriate venue. Rabbi Naftoli G. is leaving Chicago tonight, but I told him next time to let me know when he will be in Chicago.

I insisted that Rabbi Naftoli G. give me a Brocha for my pain and for Shidduchim.

Perhaps my week of pain was a Kapara for me, and to allow me the Zichus to give regards to Rabbi Zini.

Three Shabbosim – Three Cities – Three Great People

May 30th – June 6th – June 13th
Nasah – Behaloscha – Shelach

Shabbos – June 6, 2015 – 19 Sivan 5775 Parshas Behaloscha

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin -Shlita

In my never ending quest to meet great people, I went to hear Rabbi Shlomo Riskin speak at KJBS.   Rabbi Riskin is the founder of Efrat in Israel.

Entering the Shul, I saw Hart Hasten.  He is one of the sponsors of the Shabbos.  He called me the Kotzker.  I reminded him of the story in 1967 when the IDF captured the Kotel and Menachem Begin had called  Prime  Minister  Levi Eshkol  at 4:00 AM that the IDF must enter the old city immediately and Menachem Begin’s prayer at the Kotel.  He said that he has more stories to write another book which is what his wife wants him to do.  He should as he is living history.

Rabbi Riskin spoke at 7:00 PM.  He wore a black Kapote with subtle gold sprinkles.  He had a big white Kippah Sruga.     His theme was about the duty of the Jewish people to bring moral conscience to the world.  When we fail in our mission we are punished.  He spoke about the rainbow the God showed to Noah that He will not destroy the world.   The circle would have been a better choice, but a rainbow was used because God will not destroy the world, but man can.   Western society is based on the Greeks and Romans whose society was based on might is right, to the victors the spoils.   Anyone who imposes their views on someone is someone who is a Roman.

Rabbi Riskin spoke again at the Shlosh Siuedas meal.  He told over how the city of Efrat was created with the confluence of history with The Rov – Rabbi Yosef Dov Halevy Solovechik; theRebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe; and Menachem Begin.

In 1977, Menachem Begin was elected Prime Minister of Israel.  His first trip was to America and he went to visit the Rov, the Rebbe, and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein.   Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was the leader of the generation in Halacha – Jewish law.  The Rov, the leader of the generation in Lomdos – Torah learning. The Rebbe the leader of the generation in his concern for every Jew and the world.

1)  The Rov

kotzk

The Rav and the Prime Minister: Memories of Brisk from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s Listening to God:

Some years later, when I was teaching at Yeshiva University, I would generally request a meeting with the Rav on Thursday afternoons to ask my “questions of the week.” He would usually give me from two minutes to an exceedingly rare, two hours, depending upon the pressures of his day. During one particular meeting, while the Rav was in the midst of showing me a passage from the Guide for the Perplexed, a telephone call came announcing that Menachem Begin, newly elected prime minister of Israel, would be arriving shortly. The prime minister of Israel is generally considered to be the prime minister of world Jewry, and this first traditional prime minister announced that during his first official visit to the United States, he wished an audience with the three religious Jewish leaders of the generation: the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Soloveitchik. Now that the revered head of state was about to enter the Rav’s New York apartment, I knew that good manners dictated that I excuse myself; my curiosity, however, got the better of my gentility, and I opted to remain until I was specifically asked to leave.

When Menachem Begin walked through the door, the Rav quickly jumped up to meet him. As they embraced, the Rav seemed especially moved, with what appeared to me to be tears welling up in his eyes. These two Jewish world leaders, the foremost statesmen in the political arena and the foremost rabbi in the religio-philosophical realm, both shared a common “Brisker” (Brest-Litovsk, Lithuania) connection.

Rav Joseph Dov’s illustrious grandfather, Rav Chayyim Soloveitchik (who pioneered a new conceptual methodology for the study of Talmud), was the rabbi of the main synagogue in Brisk and therefore of the entire city; indeed, he was known worldwide as the “Brisker Rav.” Menachem Begin’s father, Binyamin Begin – an avid Zionist, a devotee of the Revisionist Movement’s founder, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and in his own right a riveting orator – was the gabbai (lay leader) of that same synagogue in Brisk. And just to add some spices to the cholent, one of the three judges (dayanim) of that synagogue community was Rav Moshe Chazan, the father of Yaakov Chazan, founder and leader of Mapam and the initiator of the secular Shomer HaTza’ir kibbutzim in Israel – and the midwife who “birthed” all of the babies was the grandmother of Ariel Sharon. Menachem Begin had been born and raised in Brisk, and Rav J.B. Soloveitchik had spent significant Sabbaths there with his grandfather, including that of his bar mitzvah.

After their initial embrace of greeting, both men stood looking at each other, respectfully, admiringly, nostalgically. The Rav seemed to burst out, “Mr. Prime Minister, you are so short, and your father was so tall.” Menachem Begin responded, “Kavod HaRav, I will say two things. Firstly, you remember how my father looked when you were a small child, and all adults seem taller than they actually are, to children. But the real point is that my father was always a much taller and greater man than I.”

And there they sat at the table and began to reminisce together, the one entering into the words of the other and finishing the other’s thoughts and sentences. Clearly they felt transported to their childhood in Brisk, as their Yiddish words and gesticulations evoked that world. A world in which either the rabbi or the gabbai held the keys to the synagogue, and Binyamin Begin had gladly given up his keys to the illustrious Reb Chayyim when the latter accepted the rabbinical position. A place where a bar mitzvah who was preparing to spend his biblical portion in Brisk, couldn’t sleep a week beforehand because his revered grandfather insisted that every cantillation had to be exactly accurate or the entire verse would have to be repeated; an ideological climate in which Zionist leaders were either revered as forerunners of the Messiah, or reviled as rebels against God’s rule over the cosmos.

And then they both recounted an incident together, the one dispute they remembered that had taken place between the gabbai and the rabbi, between Binyamin Begin and Rav Chayyim Soloveitchik. Theodore Herzl, the legendary father of modern Zionism, died, and Binyamin Begin planned to eulogize him in the main synagogue of Brisk. Reb Chayyim was an anti-Zionist who certainly did not believe it proper to eulogize a non-observant Jew who probably ate on Yom Kippur, in an Orthodox synagogue. Since it was the rabbi who had the keys, without any kind of discussion or debate, Reb Chayyim locked the synagogue door on the morning of the scheduled eulogy. Binyamin Begin, a powerful person in his own right, broke the lock, opened the synagogue doors wide, and gave his eulogy. He then purchased new keys and a lock, and left them on the doorstep of Reb Chayyim’s home with a letter of apology and a promise that he would never do such a thing again.

Both men agreed to the facts of this. But the Rav added a fascinating postscript. He had heard of this incident from his father, Rav Moshe, who was a rabbi of a smaller town a considerable distance from Brisk. Rav Moshe asked his father, Reb Chayyim, how he had reacted to the gabbai’s defiance. Reb Chayyim, who was generally a lion in defense of what he considered proper Torah values, told his son that he decided not to react, that he inquired how many people had attended the eulogy, and found out that the shul was filled to the rafters with a large overflow outside, many more congregants than for Ne’ila on Yom Kippur. Reb Chayyim explained that “a rav muz vissen ven tzu reden, un a rav muz vissen ven tzu shreigen, a rabbi must know when to speak out, and a rabbi must know when to remain silent.”

“Mr. Prime Minister, you apparently learned to be a principled Zionist from your father,” said Rav Soloveitchik. “Kavod HaRav, you apparently learned to be a sage religious leader from your grandfather,” said Menachem Begin.

At that point, the Rav suddenly took notice of my presence, made a very quick introduction, and gestured in a way that told me that my appointment had long since ended. I left the apartment happily, not at all guilty that I had overstayed my welcome. After all, this too was Torah, and I was glad that I had been in the right place to have learned it.

2)  The Rebbe

The year is 1981.  Rabbi Riskin moved forward to create  Efrat, just seven miles from Jerusalem.  He was in America and had to travel to Israel for the groundbreaking and laying  the cornerstone for the city of Efrat.  The groundbreaking for Efrat was to be on a Monday.  The Thursday before, Rabbi Riskin was at a wedding and afterwards went to the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Fabrengen.   He came after the Rov left and was seated in the Rov’s seat.  When the Rebbe finished he walked towards the exit and passed by Rabbi Riskin.  The Rebbe stopped and told Rabbi Riskin that Rabbi Riskin is always in the Rebbe’s prayers.  Rabbi Riskin said he wanted a Bracha for his project in Efrat.  The Rebbe responded, God should make your plans successful.  The Rebbe took a few steps towards the exit, turned around and went back to Rabbi Riskin and said again, God should make your efforts successful.  (I was told that Rabbi Riskin on many occasions spoke to the Rebbe about Efrat.)

3)  Menachem Begin

Rabbi Riskin lands in Israel on Sunday and his partner calls frantically.  There was a terrorist attack on the west bank and the Israeli government froze all settlement activity.  Rabbi Riskin asks who can override this policy.  His partner told him, only the Prime Minister, Menachem Begin.  They call a Knesset member, a Rabbi, who was recovering from heart surgery.  The Rabbbi despite his illness, called Begin on behalf of Riskin.   Riskin was told to show up at the prime minister’s office the following Monday.

Rabbi Riskin goes to the Prime Ministers office.  Begin asks what you want?  Rabbi Riskin told him the problem.  Menachem Begin calls over Yechiel Kadishai and asks to bring  Herzl’s The Jewish State (Der Judenstaat).  In it, Menachem Begin finds a paragraph that says that when the Jewish State is formed; there will be groups and groups of Jews going to the land (I cannot find the exact quote).

Menachem Begins tells Rabbi Riskin that you can have the groundbreaking ceremony, but only one Knesset member and no publicity.  Despite no publicity, 6,000 people showed up.

Begin then turns to Riskin and says that they met at the Rov’s house back in 1977.  They talked for another few moments.