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18 Adar II 5774 - March 20, 2014 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Zvi Elimelech Shapiro of Bluzhov

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 5 Nisan (5684)

Reb Zvi Elimelech was renowned for his gadlus in Torah and many are the anecdotes depicting his sharp mind and power of concentration.

Once, the Beis Yitzchok, rov of Lemberg was visiting in Bluzhov over Shabbos. During the tisch, the Bluzhover honored his guest with a drosho. The latter proceeded to deliver a deep pilpul.

The Beis Yitzchok was more than slightly perturbed to notice that his host continued distributing shirayim while he was talking, instead of concentrating on his profound chidushim.

Upon finishing, the Rov of Lemberg turned to the Bluzhover and asked him a number of kushyos on his pilpul. When the Rebbe fired back clear and concise answers, the Beis Yitzchok exclaimed,

"The rabbonim are lucky that the Bluzhover Rebbe became a Rebbe for chassidim and not a rov, for had he been a rov, he would have put many rabbonim to shame!"


Rabbeinu constantly demanded of his talmidim and chassidim that they conceal their madreigos and true feelings in avodas Hashem.

When a new chair was made for him, he asked that arm rests be added on the two sides. Upon being asked why, the Rebbe answered, "Perhaps during saying Krias Shema the fire of love for Hashem that is within me will want to burst forth and I'll want to shout out loud. In that case, I'll clutch hard onto the handles until I compose myself.

His grandson, Reb Yisroel of Bluzhov zt"l, began his own minhag of saying "lekovod Shabbos kodesh" before eating any Shabbos food. Reb Zvi Elimelech disapproved of this custom and, upon receiving a large bowl of soup from which to give out shirayim, he pushed it in the direction of his grandson.

"Nu, take lekovod Shabbos," he told him. After Shabbos, he reprimanded him.

"First, how can you be sure that had you been served this food on a Tuesday you wouldn't eat it? Furthermore, even if you do eat one hundred percent lichvod Shabbos, does everyone have to know about it?"

One Rosh Hashana before tekias shofar, the Rebbe saw his grandson returning from the mikveh.

"Does my tefillas Shacharis make you tomei that you have to immerse yourself again?" he retorted. He then added softly, "Even if you think that your going to mikveh was with pure intentions, without any other considerations, if you're even a little satisfied that people see you with wet payos from the mikveh, then all this avodoh is worth nothing!"

For the same reason, the Rebbe rejected the way people would wave their hands and sway too much during tefilloh. It thus came as a surprise to the Chassidim to see the Rebbe acting close to a particular chossid who would shout out loud during davening and gesture widely with his arms.

The Bluzhover explained: "There are two ways to cause a pot to overflow: either by boiling it up or by shaking it. However, the latter is usually a random act without reason. Here we have a chossid who is literally boiling over with fervor for Hashem; the shaking is only a sidepoint. Therefore, I value and respect him."

Reb Zvi Elimelech was extremely vigilant as to what his eyes saw and was known to be an ish kodosh.

When Reb Yechezkel Halberstam of Shinova was in Bluzhov, he pointed out to the Rebbe that the mechitzoh in the shul had to be raised higher. Saying so, he walked with the Rebbe towards the mechitzoh to show him. At that point, the Bluzhover stopped and said that he has always been careful never to raise his eyes to the height of the mechitzoh, "However, I am prepared to look if the Rav takes responsibility for it." The Shinover Rov, however, refused to take the achrayus.


As meticulous as he was with his own kedushoh, Reb Zvi Elimelech was careful not to cause others embarrassment.

Advanced in years, Rabbeinu once attended a meeting of several rabbonim in Budapest, Hungary.

As the oldest of the Rebbes present, he was honored with Bircas Hamozone. Yet having completed the bentching, the Bluzhover Rebbe very quietly mumbled a brochoh and then drank the entire goblet without leaving over any kos shel brochoh, as is customary.

Later, the Rebbe revealed that the maid had brought in a cup of liquor instead of wine. Having smelt the liquor already during Bircas Hamozone, the Rebbe understood her mistake, but did not want the hosts of the evening to be annoyed. He therefore quietly said the brochoh shehakol so that no one should hear, and drank all the liquor without leaving a drop of evidence with which to incriminate the maid.


Before his petiroh, he related a few facts about himself. One point that he noted was that in all his years of being a manhig, he did not delay the public more than five minutes. Not five minutes on one occasion, but having made an account of all the few seconds delays he had made in his life, their total amounted to less than five minutes altogether!


Reb Yisroel of Bluzhov, his grandson, related that when his grandmother, the Rebbetzin of R' Zvi Elimelech, was sick with the illness that ended her life, Rabbeinu went to her room one night and stayed there for several hours.

Later he revealed part of the conversation they had.

"In the beginning, when we started living in Bluzhov, we suffered extreme poverty to the extent that there was sometimes no bread in the house to eat. Once, when she had to buy meat, she did so with great embarrassment, for we had an enormous bill already. Upon her return, she cried bitterly. It was then that I promised her that she is my full and equal partner in this world and in the next.

"Now," continued the Rebbe, "she asked me if even lying ill as she is, is she still my business partner, and I answered her, `Not only will you get your investment returned, but all the interest will be added.' "

The joy of the Rebbetzin was unbounded and the following day, relaxed and assured, she returned her pure soul to its Maker.

To end, an interesting anecdote was told by HaRav Shammai Zahn zt"l rov of Sunderland:

"When I visited the Admor zt"l I asked him to tell me the story about the brochoh that my grandfather R' Beinish z"l had received from R' Zvi Elimelech zt"l.

"He replied that once R' Zvi Elimelech came to visit his father, the Tzemach Dovid of Dinov (he was the son of the Bnei Yissosschor) towards evening when R' Beinish was the gabbai.

"When Reb Zvi Elimelech asked permission to enter, R' Beinish firmly refused, stating that the Rebbe had explicitly said no one should be allowed in that night. He flatly refused to open even for the Rebbe's own son.

"Reb Zvi Elimelech wished urgently to see his father and pleaded with the attendant. Then he promised R' Beinish that if he would let him in, he would give him a brochoh that all his descendants until the end of time would be perfect Jews, yirei Shomayim.

"Such a promise our grandfather R' Beinish could not resist, and he promptly allowed R' Zvi Elimelech into his father's room. The Bluzhover stayed there all night and, upon his exit in the morning, he blessed R' Beinish as he had promised.

When the attendant entered the room, the Tzemach Dovid smiled and said, "I'm sure my son promised you a reward in exchange for allowing him into my room, right?"

R' Beinish recounted the promise and the brochoh, and the father smilingly said that he too, agreed with his son's blessing."


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