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13 Cheshvan 5774 - October 17, 2013 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Ha'Admor Rabbi Yechezkel HaKohen Rabinowitz, zt"l of Radomsk, author of Knesses Yechezkel

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 18th Cheshvan 5671

The son of the Knesses Yechezkel, the last scion of Radomsker Rebbes, Reb Shlomo Chanoch, Hy"d, wrote the introduction to his father's sefer. There he mentions that "it is known to all that my father endangered his life in the face of those who wished to uproot Torah values."

The rest of the story has been passed down to us by the old Radomsker chassidim.

In the year 5666 (1906), Poland was in the midst of a revolution against its Russian rulers. In the spirit of the time, a group of Jewish workers organized themselves into a group called the "Bund" which was aimed also at throwing off the yoke of all authority — including the Torah.

All too soon they were luring young boys out of the beis medrash and girls out of their houses with the tantalizing promise of a future of freedom. The stream caught dozens in its strong current, while the parents stood helplessly by, watching their children floating further and further away downstream.

Reb Yechezkel Radomsker knew this must be stopped immediately. On an ordinary weekday he ordered all the Jewish shops in Radomsk closed and called all the Yidden to come to the shul.

The largest shul in town was packed to capacity and the Rebbe began to speak. Passionately he described the current situation, of which most knew only too well. Then, with fiery strength and absolute authority, he decided that no one allow a single girl or boy to attend the Bund's meetings, even on pain of death. He declared the intentions of the Bund to be gezeiras shmad and therefore must be opposed with yeihoreg ve'al ya'avor.

The Rebbe himself was to prove his words and be a true example sooner than anyone foresaw. As he was finishing his droshoh, the heads of the Bund movement burst into the shul, weapons drawn.

Seeing them, the Rebbe did not flinch. Calmly he opened his shirt and called out loud to the brazen intruders.

"If you wish to shoot me, you can do so now. I am not afraid of you. But I will not hand over one precious youth for shmad, Rachmono litzlan."

Stunned by his bravery and outspokenness, the Bundists slowly lowered their weapons and shamefacedly left the shul. Subsequently they sent a representative to the Rebbe to apologize and appease him personally.

Word of the Rebbe's bold mesirus nefesh spread throughout Poland. When Rabbi Elya Chaim Meisel, rov of Lodz, heard about the incident, he turned to the Knesses Yechezkel with a request that he come to Lodz to aid him in a similar battle against the Reformers.

With equal vigor, Reb Yechezkel tried to stem the rise of extravagance and ostentation that was becoming increasingly prevalent among Jews.

Time and again he would warn his family and chassidim of the dangers in indulging in too many clothes or household extras, "since they are among the cunning devices of the yetzer hora to distract you from avodas Hashem!"

In this vein, his son-in-law, the Admor of Krasna zt"l, Hy"d, related that the Rebbe ordered that the boots made for himself and his family be made extra wide at the top and not close-fitting to the leg, as was fashionable. He once explained that when a Yid rises early in the morning to serve his Creator, the yetzer hora immediately stands at his side ready to cool down his early morning enthusiasm. The style of boots which is the evil inclination's idea is his first ploy of the day. Tight-fitting as they are, the Yid must sit down and push and pull to get his legs into his boots. By the time he has finished, his initial bren has worn off and he has slowed down his start to the day.

"That's why I want you to have all our boots made plenty wide at the top so that we can slip in easily and out of the grip of that yetzer hora."

Indeed the Rebbe was wont to rise every day before the sho'oh shlishis of the night with amazing speed and alacrity. Immediately he made straight for the mikveh and then was ready to learn. In fact his shamash, R' Shmuel Silberstein zt"l, wrote in the monthly "Kesser Torah" (year 9, Vol. 2, Shevat 5699) that he was a firsthand witness that from when he opened his eyes until he was finished with the mikveh took the Rebbe no longer than ten minutes.

Once, the mikveh had been heated to an extreme degree and no cold water had been added. Rabbeinu in his great hislahavus had no time to consider the water's temperature. He immersed himself as usual and came out without a sign that anything was amiss. Only later when others wished to enter the mikveh was it discovered that the water was boiling hot. It took a long wait and much cold water added until people found the water a comfortable temperature to be able to toivel themselves.

As adamant and unwavering as he was when it came to matters of halochoh and Yiddishkeit, the Knesses Yechezkel was known to be soft as butter when faced with the troubles of a fellow Jew.

Once, when on a visit to a certain town on community matters, the Rebbe was kept extremely busy. Nonstop came the flood of people seeking advice, a good word, a shoulder to lean on, or a brochoh. Many of the chassidim put down large sums of money before the Rebbe as pidyon. These were immediately distributed to the needy people who came as well.

The Rebbe's visit in the town came to an end and he and his attendants packed up to leave. Upon arrival at the train station, the attendants were amazed to discover that the Rebbe had no money for the train fare home.

His every last penny had been given out and now Reb Yechezkel humbly asked if one of them could perhaps lend him the required sum for a train ticket and be'ezras Hashem, when they arrive home he would repay the money.


On motzei Yom Kippur in the year 5671 the Rebbe gave his chassidim a subtle but dire warning of what was to take place the coming year.

He asked those sitting around him at the tisch if anyone could recall the words his father said on the motzei Yom Kippur of his last year in this world. No one could remember, so the Rebbe himself repeated his father's parting words.

Later, he discussed with his chassidim the gemora (Yuma 70) , which relates that when the Kohen Godol left the Kodesh Hakodoshim without having been harmed and the red string had turned white, indicating a good year, the Kohen Godol would make a yom tov for all his close ones.

"What happened?" the Rebbe wondered aloud, if the Kohen Godol came out alive but the red string had not turned white, showing a bad omen for the coming year. Did he still make a Yom Tov or not?"

The Rebbe left the question hanging in the air above the chassidim's heads, and tensely they waited to see what the year would bring. Indeed, only a month later, on 18 Cheshvan, the Rebbe returned his neshomoh to his Creator, leaving his flock bereft.


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