Friday, the 23rd of Nisan, (April 17, 2020) marked the first Yahrtzeit of Rav Menachem Mendel Taub, the Kaliver Rebbe zy”a. Born in Transylvania in 1923, the Rebbe was the seventh generation in a family of Chassidic leaders.
In the summer of 1944, just three days before Shavuot, he was deported to Auschwitz together with his family arriving there three days before Shavuot. There, he was tortured and experimented on by Dr. Josef Mengele.
Because of “chemical burning experiments”, he was unable to grow facial hair; he also had an unusually high-pitched voice, and was rendered sterile, unable to have children. He was transferred from Auschwitz to the Breslau Death camp and later to Bergen-Belsen
Six months after the war ended, he reunited with his wife in Sweden. In 1947 they immigrated to the United States and settled in Cleveland, Ohio.
He and his wife immigrated to Israel in 1962 The following year he founded Kiryas Kaliv in Rishon LeZion The foundation stone was laid on 7 Adar 5723 (3 March 1963), the day of the yahrzeit of the founder of the dynasty, Grand Rabbi Yitzchak Isak Taub. Several years later he moved his headquarters to Bnei Brak. In 2004, Taub’s court moved to Jerusalem
The Rebbe would often relate how shortly before liberation, the Nazis made a final attempt to burn Jews alive. Narrowly escaping death, he made a deal with Hashem:
“I cried out the Shema Yisrael and I said ‘Ribbono Shel Olam (Creator of the World), this might be, Chas V’shalom (God forbid), the last time I will be saying Shema Yisrael. Soon I will be with the rest of my family in Heaven. If you give me life, then I promise You that I will say time and again Shema Yisrael, declaring Your eternity with those who will outlive the war.”
A source of strength and inspiration, he traveled extensively, speaking to diverse groups – secular and religious, young and old – calling for Jewish unity and proclaiming together aloud the Shema Yisrael, fulfilling the promise he made to Hashem all those years before. May his memory be for a blessing.
During the last 60 years, since World War II, the Rebbe dedicated his life to perpetuating the memory of the Kedoshim of the Holocaust, and to this end traveled to millions of Jews with his story and has encouraged the reciting of Shema Yisrael, also in memory of the Kedoshim.
The Rebbe once explained the reason behind the Shema Yisrael: “Just a few hours before we were liberated, they took many Jews and threw them into the fire. I cried out Shema Yisrael and I said: Ribbono Shel Olam, this might be, chas v’shalom, the last time I will be saying Shema Yisrael. Soon I’ll be with the rest of my family in Heaven. If you give me life, then I promise You that I will say time and again Shema Yisrael, declaring Your eternity with those who will outlive the war. ”
The Rebbe also taught that since he was alive and the six million were dead, he would say Kaddish for the six million each day. This impressed me so much as I am a holocaust child as well that I took on the custom and now say Kaddish for the six million each day..
It was very painful that all the shuls closed. I continued the tradition outside. Then after about two weeks, outside davening was disallowed. The Chief Rabbis said that because of the emergency situation that Kaddish could be said with the Radio at home. But that is not the Halacha.
Fortunately, in 20 days (it takes 21 days to make a new habit according to most theories) we were able to start outside minyans again and I started Kaddish again. It is no coincidence that it was exactly 20 as 40 is what it takes to make a new life in Judaism
To see more on the Kaliver Rebbe and what he Promised G-d in the Warsaw Ghetto please go to YouTube.
to lighten things up a bit
A Knockout Punch
While reading a newspaper, Moishe came across an article about a beautiful actress and model who married a boxer who was noted for his IQ.
“I’ll never understand,” he said to his wife, “why the biggest shlimazels get the most attractive wives.”
His wife replied, “Why, thank you, dear.”