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6 Adar I 5774 - February 6, 2014 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaAdmor R' Avrohom zt"l of Tchechenow

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 3rd Adar (5635)

Above all, Reb Avrohom was renowned for his unparalleled dikduk beTorah uvemitzvos. An initial example is that, although the minhag of the other Rebbes in Poland was to daven nusach Sefarad, R' Avrohom chose to use nusach Ashkenaz, claiming that it was more correct.

As a baby in his crib, his mother noticed that he would place both hands on his head and cry incessantly. His mother suspected that her holy child wanted to cover his head. A small hat was knitted to fit his head until he grew old enough to wear a regular yarmulke and this calmed the baby.

As he grew up he was extremely particular to follow the Shulchan Oruch to the letter. Since it is written that a person should not indulge in laughter, in sadness over the churban Beis Hamikdosh, there was never a sign of a joke on R' Avrohom's face.

Rabbi Meir Shapira zt"l related that R' Avrohom would write the name Amolek on a paper and rub it out once a day in fulfillment of the command to blot out the memory of Amolek.

Rabbenu liked to have his coffee piping hot. Once, when Rabbi Avrohom and his son were served a steaming cup, the father drank and signaled to his son that he too may drink. Rabbi Avrohom's son refrained, saying, "Es kocht — it's boiling" (literally, it's cooking).

Rabbi Avrohom admonished him, "How can you say something contrary to the Torah? The gemora says that a kli sheini can't boil and you're saying it's boiling."

Subsequently, his son met the holy Rebbe of Kotsk. The latter asked him to tell him a chidush from his father, and the son related the above incident. "Nu!" exclaimed the Rov of Kotsk in delight. "Who can be compared to the Rov of Tchechenow, whose every limb is only Torah!"


So sensitive was Rabbi Avrohom to every nuance in the Torah that all his powers of deduction and judgment went according to the Torah's criteria. A distinguished gentleman brought his new son-in-law, a learned talmid chochom, to Rabbenu in order to show the Rebbe the chosson he had chosen for his daughter. For a while, the Rabbi and the young man spoke on a Torah topic. Then, in the course of the discussion, the latter said, "But the Rambam differs from the gemora."

Immediately, Rabbeinu ended the conversation and showed the man out. His father-in-law, eager to hear compliments concerning his new son-in-law, went in to Reb Avrohom in anticipation, but was sorely disappointed. The Rebbe answered him with a few monosyllables and then changed the subject.

The Chelkas Yoav tells us that only years later, when this young man strayed from the correct path R"l, did everyone understand R' Avrohom's lack of enthusiasm.

The Amshinover Rebbe of America zt"l would recount an amazing incident. Once on Rosh Hashana, the ba'al tokei'a began to blow the shofar. Reb Avrohom signaled to him that he didn't hear a sound. With shofar in hand, the man moved closer to the Rebbe and proceeded to blow again. Yet again Reb Avrohom shook his head and put his hand to his ear to signify that he was unable to hear the sounds of the shofar. The matter was later looked into and it was discovered that the man was not a pious and devout Jew as everyone had thought him to be.


Rav Yisroel Yitzchok Riesman zt"l repeated a story he had heard from his father. In Tchechenow it was customary for the Rabbi to check the lungs of every animal that was slaughtered. Once before Pesach when Rabbi Avrohom was checking the lungs of an animals, he commented, "Tzu shein (Too nice)." Because of the unusual reaction, the Beis Din called in the butcher. After probing, they found that the lungs were from a firstborn calf whose mother had been sold before the calf was born, but not in accordance with the halacha. Therefore, the calf was forbidden. It was duly buried as stated in the din, as admiration for Rabbi Avrohom of Tchechenow abounded.

From a far-flung little hamlet, a Jew came to Rabbi Avrohom of Tchechenow complaining that he found it difficult being the only Jew in the entire village. The loneliness was unbearable.

"Is a Jew then ever alone?" remarked Rabbi Avrohom. "Doesn't he always have Abaye and Rovo to accompany him?"

The Divrei Shmuel of Slonim reminisced how in his youth he wished to become acquainted with R' Avrohom's derech avodoh. He stayed for six weeks in Tchechenow and in that short time managed to learn all of Shas, "which I'm sure is only due to the koach haTorah and holiness of the Rov of Tchechenow."

During his time, the technique of silver- or gold- plating utensils was discovered. Immediately, poor Yidden availed themselves of the opportunity to adorn their Shabbos tables with candlesticks that looked like silver yet were not as costly as the solid silver which they could not afford.

The family of R' Avrohom, too, wished to buy a silver- plated candelabrum lichvod Shabbos, but Rabbeinu adamantly refused. These candlesticks were a lie, pretending to be silver and in reality a cheap metal. "Better to have real copper candlesticks than false silver ones," he claimed.

Also a novelty in his time was the soda drink. Once the bubbly, effervescing beverage was brought before Rabbi Avrohom. When he didn't drink it, those present told the Rebbe that the soda must be drunk as soon as it is poured or else all the gas escapes and it loses its taste.

"I see," replied R' Avrohom slowly. "If this drink decides when I'm going to have it, then I don't want it at all."

Pushing the glass away, he stated firmly, "A person must be the one to make the decision when to drink, not the drink itself!"


Chassidim relate that an old man once came to Tchechenow looking for the Rebbe. He had heard so much about Reb Avrohom that he wanted to see him with his own eyes.

Walking into the Beis Hamedrash, he was just about to ask somebody to show him who the Rebbe was, when he was startled by a thunderous voice behind him. There at the door to the shul stood a venerable old man crying in a mighty roar, "Toshev enosh ad dakoh vatomer shuvu bnei odom." The trembling Jew had no need to ask who the Rebbe was.


In 1943, World War II was raging. Somehow, word reached the Jews of Tchechenow that included in the Nazis' diabolical desires was a plan to dig up and desecrate the grave of Reb Avrohom of Tchechenow.

An emergency meeting was convened with all the roshei hakehillah and chevra kadisha in attendance. After much deliberation, they decided to take on an awesome and dangerous task for the sake of Rabbenu's honor.

In the dead of night a small group made its way to the Jewish cemetery. With trembling hands they set their shovels to the task. With copious tears, begging forgiveness from Reb Avrohom, they painstakingly dug up the area surrounding the holy tziyun in order to transport the Rebbe's remains elsewhere. Clod after clod of earth fell in muffled thuds as they came closer to the body. Suddenly, a flash of white stunned them. The Rebbe's tachrichim were a pure white, unsullied by the years in the earth. More, his holy body had remained completely intact.

Shaking in awe, they lifted the body and, reinterred him in the new Tchechenow cemetery. When the Nazis came to do their evil work, they didn't realize that they were tampering with a hollow grave and R' Avrohom's true tziyun is safe to this day.


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