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21 Sivan 5773 - May 30, 2013 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Dovid Menachem Manish Babad, zt"l (Rav of Tarnopol)

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 21 Sivan (5697-1937)

The bi-annual "yerid" — business fair — in Strisov was made up of a mixed concoction of Jews from all over Galicia. After all, everyone has to make a livelihood.

Lately, however, word spread among the more learned of the businessmen that Strisov has another attraction: the son of the town's rov, Rabbi Yehoshua Heshel. The little seven-year- old had captured the heart and admiration of even great talmidei chachomim. Visiting Jews would ply him with difficult riddles and questions in learning and subsequently delight in his sharp answers, given with a speed and maturity way beyond his years.

When given a coin of ten greizer, little Dovid Menachem Manish would recite a whole siman from the Shaagas Arye by heart.

"What if I give you another ten?" teased one of the traders. The little boy promptly recited another siman.


As the little boy grew up, he utilized his phenomenal talent for Hashem and His Torah. All his time was spent in diligent learning, allowing himself a maximum of two hours sleep a night. His talmid, the rov of Sunderland zt"l, related that his Rebbe would write his teshuvos at night, continually rising from bed to look up different seforim. Finally, just as the room had settled into a peaceful silence, his "sleeping" time was over and the Rebbe would get up to learn.

Once, in his later years, Rabbi Dovid Menachem fell asleep during Melave Malka on a motzei Shabbos. Upon awakening, he sighed, "You see what happens in my old age — I just fall asleep. In my younger years, I was able to stay awake several consecutive nights, learning without a break. In fact once, after I had been awake almost all week, I fell asleep on a Friday afternoon. How surprised I was to awaken and find that tefillos Shabbos had begun and I was still dressed in my weekday garb!"

A talmid once noticed that R' Dovid Menachem had drifted off to sleep for a few minutes during the day following a number of nights that he had not touched his pillow.

"Isn't it preferable," queried the talmid, "to set aside a time for sleeping at night, rather than to fall asleep in the middle of the day's seder?"

Rabbenu's reply was humble in its simplicity. "I've seen it brought in holy seforim that forgoing the night's sleep is an atonement for sins."

Rabbenu once had to stay for a while in a remote mountain area in Switzerland for health reasons. The area was devoid of any Jewish life and R' Dovid Menachem was delighted when a Yid living in the area came in. Being a simple man, the Yid did not have much Torah to tell and their conversation centered mainly around stories of tzaddikim. After the man left, Rabbeinu turned to his attendant with relief.

"At first I was happy to meet a Jew here in this remote little town, but to spend so much time without learning Torah is too much for me."

A talmid who was privileged to spend Pesach with Rabbenu related the following:

"For a few consecutive days and nights before Pesach, R' Dovid Menachem did not sleep at all. Then, after the seder, my Rebbe took a few seforim with him into his room to learn. I fell into an exhausted sleep and awoke to the sound of my Rebbe learning with a sublime sweetness such as I had never heard before. I was sure that he was learning chapters of Kabboloh and got up to watch and listen closer. How surprised I was to see that the Rebbe was studying gemora maseches Pesochim!"


Rabbi Dovid Menachem was extremely close to the rebbes of Belz and would make sure to travel to Belz every Rosh Hashonoh.

Once after spending the beginning of the High Holy Days in the inspiring atmosphere there, Rabbeinu wanted to stay for Yom Kippur too. He had nowhere to stay, but his yearning to stay surpassed all else.

He lodged in the Beis Medrash, sleeping on a bench when fatigue overcame him and basically fasting. But nothing else mattered, as long as he would be in Belz for Yom Kippur.

However, a mortal body can only endure so much and, during the Yom Kippur tefillos, R' Dovid Menachem was overcome by weakness. He was carried out to a small room adjacent to the beis medrash, where the dayonim of Belz instructed him to eat. Just at that moment, the voice of Reb Yehoshua of Belz davening the Avodoh floated through the open doorway.

R' Dovid Menachem felt the words imbuing him with renewed strength. The color returned to his face and, sitting up, he announced that he no longer felt the necessity to eat. In later years, when he related the episode, R' Dovid Menachem would add, "I felt that the Rebbe revived my body and soul simultaneously."


The year 1930/5690 brought with it new troubles for Polish Jewry, as the government issued one edict after another prohibiting the practice of Jewish laws and customs. An emergency meeting, headed by the Chofetz Chaim zt"l, was convened to discuss the situation. Rabbi Dovid Menachem was sent by his Rebbe to take part in the meeting.

Upon seeing him,l the Chofetz Chaim remarked, "I wouldn't say that the Belzer must come, but I did say that whoever is prepared to lay down his life for the sake of Heaven should attend."

Immediately Rabbeinu sent a telegram to Belz and so the Belzer Rav also joined the meeting.

It was decided that a delegation would be sent to the president. The question now was who would be sent to represent Polish Jewry. An impressive list of rabbonim, askonim, professors, and the like was presented, but the Belzer Rav said that only rabbonim and gedolei Yisroel should be sent.

Upon seeing that his Rebbe's words were not being comprehended, Rabbi Dovid Menachem asked permission to speak.

"In gemora Me'ilah, Daf 17, we find that the goyim issued decrees against the observance of mitzvos. Rabbi Reuven ben Istrobli was sent to try to revoke the decree, because he was from a different area and would not be recognized as a Jew. Indeed, the edicts were revoked but as soon as the authorities found out that R' Reuven was a Jew, the decrees were renewed. This time, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was sent to plead on behalf of the Yidden. The reason was that he had past experience in miracles.

"It's therefore incumbent on us," continued Rabbi Dovid Menachem, "to send gedolei Yisroel who have been granted miracles in the past. Furthermore our leaders are the children of Hashem."

Then, he added: "I once wanted to go to the mikveh with my friend, the rov of Prodishne, but the man in charge refused to let us in, claiming that he could not reopen now. All our pleas fell on deaf ears, until his son happened to come along. Seeing our plight he urged his father, `Come on, Father — these two honorable gentlemen want so much to go to the mikveh. Just open for them this once.' The man was persuaded by his son and he let us in.

"We, too," continued R' Dovid Menachem, "daven and plead to Hakodosh Boruch Hu to annul the decrees, but when his sons, the gedolim, put in their good word, He is sure to listen to their tefillos."


"When you go, it shall accompany you. (Mishlei 6:22)" These words were fulfilled in the case of Rabbenu, where the Torah accompanied him even as he went from this world to the next. Rabbenu was penning a teshuvoh to a talmid and while he was writing he suddenly felt unwell and his neshomoh left him.

He left us a precious legacy — his sefer Chavatzeles Hasharon.


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