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4 Adar 5773 - February 14, 2013 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaAdmor Rabbi Yitzchok Eizik of Kaliv, ztvk"l

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 7 Adar

All year round, the kever of R' Eizik'l of Kaliv was a focal point for Hungarian Jews. It was there that many a broken heart found solace, and those in need of salvation found their prayers answered. The Divrei Chaim of Zanz was once heard to remark that the holiness of R' Eizik'l can be felt for a three mile radius around the burial site.

On the yahrtzeit of Rabbenu, the place would teem with throngs of people from all over the Austro- Hungarian Empire. One year on the seventh of Adar, the Belzer Rov, R' Yissochor Dov zt"l, came to the tziyun to daven. The huge crowd pushed and jostled, when suddenly the Admor of Belz called out, "Where's the derech eretz? Why are you all pushing? Can't you see that the Kaliver himself has come out to bless all those who have come to him? Please behave with respect."

During his lifetime too, the Kaliver drew people to him like a powerful magnet — simple folk as well as the great Torah giants. Many were the wayward souls that he redirected just with his songs, the most famous one being Sol a kokosh whose every nuance expresses a yearning for Moshiach and an end to the golus.

Before the Yomim Noraim the city of Kaliv would experience a virtual "aliyoh leregel" as old and young, great and simple converged on the town to experience the uplifting tefillos of Reb Eizik'l.

A wealthy but simple Jew made it his annual practice to come to Kaliv for Rosh Hashanah. Each year he would be moved anew by the Rebbe's supplications for a good year and his songs proclaiming Hashem's majesty. Before leaving home each year, he would try to persuade his wife to join him, assuring her that it would be a memory to treasure. She, however, unprepared endure the harrowing journey, adamantly refused.

It happened once that Reb Eizik'l was traveling to collect much needed funds for tzedokoh and stopped for a few days in the hometown of this rich man. Delighted at the opportunity to show his wife who the Rebbe was, he foolishly begged the Rebbe to sing "Unesaneh Tokef" as on Rosh Hashanah. He was sure that his wife, after hearing the Rebbe's rendition, would accede and join him in Kaliv every year.

The man blurted out his request to R' Eizik'l, promising him a large sum of three thousand Reinish to tzedokoh if he would agree. With such a sum the Rebbe could return home to his learning right away.

"Let me think it over," the Rebbe smiled," and I'll give you an answer in the morning."

The wealthy man spent a sleepless night, hoping the Rebbe would not turn him down.

The next morning saw him hurrying his wife toward the home of the Rebbe's host.

"Listen my dear Yid," said the Kaliver. "Naturally it would be wonderful if I could just do you a favor, accept your money in return and then I could go back home to my avodas Hashem, avoiding further bitul Torah. However, I thought about it and decided I cannot do it. Why? When I say the tefilloh "and the mal'ochim hurry and a fear and trembling seizes them," the angels in heaven actually begin to shake and tremble. On Rosh Hashanah, it is the correct time for everyone to shake in fear for the Yom Hadin. However, if I just say it now in the middle of the winter, the mal'ochim will be gripped by tremors and will want to find out why this is happening. They'll discover that Eizik'l is saying the poem. Why? Because Eizik'l needs money. Nu! So for a few hundred Reinish I'm going to cause the holy angels to be shaken up. I tell you, I can't do it."

The story was retold by the Minchas Elozor, the rov of Munkacs, who would dwell a long while on the part of the story that relates that the mal'ochim would actually shake due to the Kaliver's words.


Among the other praises etched onto his matzeivoh is the description: He was an "ehrlicher Yid." The Nassoder Rov gives an explanation to this expression. R' Eizik'l of Kaliv was once walking together with R' Yaakov zt"l, an eminent Jew. On their way they passed through a field where a common- looking farmer, cigar dangling from his mouth, stopped the Rebbe and asked him for a light. R' Yaakov watched in immense surprise as the Rebbe, with extraordinary reverence and awe, lit the farmer's cigar for him. In gratitude, the laborer patted the Rebbe's shoulder and complimented him, "Detshuletsh Jhidah" — which translates as an "Ehrlicher Yid."

A while later, it was heard from R' Eizik'l that this was Eliyohu Hanovi. Since the honorable compliment came from Eliyohu Hanovi himself, it was decided to engrave it onto his tombstone.


Throughout the generations many people felt they were miraculously saved after davening at the kever of R' Eizik'l for a yeshu'oh.

One of R' Eizik'l's sons strayed from the Torah path for awhile. All his father's rebukes and entreaties were in vain, as the boy slipped further and further away. After the Kaliver passed way, a close talmid by the name of R' Shaul saw how many people were helped from heaven after davening at the kever. He leaned on the holy tombstone and cried, "All the world is saved here in the zchus of Rabbenu. What will be with your own son?"

The next day the dissident boy walked resignedly into the beis medrash. Raising his hands in defeat, he sat down with a sigh.

"This morning I was taking a walk in my garden, when suddenly my father appeared to me, his face contorted in anger. In no uncertain terms he warned me that if I would return to the fold all would be fine. But if not, he would come and break every bone of mine."

In dire fear, the Rebbe's son stayed in the beis medrash and eventually became a true ba'al teshuvoh.


During World War II, while Europe was being ravaged by the Nazis, Jews steadily lost hope. The kever of Rabbenu of Kaliv became synonymous with faith in the future. Many desperate Yidden clutched onto this, their last floating straw in a turbulent sea and, despite the risks involved, traveled to Kaliv to beg to be saved from the lion's jaws that already had them in their grip. Indeed many saw open miracles after having davened there.

The Admor of Satmar, shlita, often relates his personal miracle. With false identification papers he still had no definite plan of escape and decided to daven at the Kaliver's kever on behalf of himself, his family and his community. His conviction that he was a shaliach mitzvah kept him reassured that no harm would befall him on the way.

After davening for the yeshu'oh of all Klal Yisroel, the Satmar Rebbe began the perilous journey home by train. Just as he feared, a group of German soldiers alighted at the next stop and began checking everyone's identification. Trying desperately to control his trembling fingers, the young man handed over his forged documents and waited with bated breath, while his very life hung in the balance. Flicking his fingers in disdain, the Nazi officer threw the precious documents on the floor of the carriage and grabbed hold of the Jew, ready to cart him off the train to a certain death.

All at once, a young officer tapped him on the shoulder, saying, "Let me deal with him." Following this, the whole gang moved on into the next carriage, leaving R' Moshe to gather up his papers and whisper a silent prayer of thanks to Hashem for his new lease on life.


My grandmother, Mrs. Feldman of Bnei Brak, was a young refugee from Plavnitz in Slovakia who escaped to Hungary. Wandering from place to place with false identification and blond hair, blue eyes and pretty features, she looked the typical gentile girl. However, the Jewish heart that beat within her trembled every step of the way.

Searching for a sign of comfort and hope, she decided on the day of Reb Eizik'l's yahrtzeit to daven at his kever, come what may. The year was 1944 and danger lurked round every corner. Every Hungarian or German gendarme she passed had the potential to send her off to Auschwitz. But the young girl pressed on and made the dangerous ride.

Arriving at the cemetery, she found the place deserted. Feeling alone in the world, she sat herself on the wall and, throwing all caution to the winds, burst into loud crying. For a long while she sat there, pouring out her tefillos, davening for all of Yisroel's salvation. Then, wiping her tears, she sat up straight and sang the well-known song of yearning for Moshiach, "Sol a kokosh," with only the wind to echo her voice.

As she ended her song, she felt a new strength surge within her. Infused with determination to survive, she left the beis hachaim. And survive she did, Boruch Hashem, to raise a wonderful family in Eretz Yisroel.


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