Category Archives: Slabodka

Sunday’s Slabodka selection

R Avraham-Elya Kaplan, a beloved student of the Alter, wrote the following poem, “As I Listen” in 1912. The poem describes the how the Alter “captured the hearts of his talmidim:
The spark of the heart of the sage of Israel,
fanned by his past,
Guided by the force of his presence,
solaced by his morrow,
Angered by the rebellion of his challengers,
constrained by the cry of his pain,
Is carried atop his storm
in a desert of exile and wandering.

(from page 573 of MAKING OF A GODOL by R Nosson Kamenetsky)

Good links for Elul

So, it officially Elul.  Here are a few links you might like.

Rabbi Micha Berger just started writing about the sefer Shaarei Yosher by Rav Shi’mon Sh’kop (who was the rebbe of Reb Dovid Lifshitz).

Rabbi Revuen Brand, Rosh Kollel of the YU Torah MitzionKollel of Chicago has a great shiur available to listen to or download titled, The Character of Elul.

Also, Elul wouldn’t be Elul with posting a link to “Elul in Slabodka“.

First hand details about the Alter of Slabodka

This building that might have been the
Yeshiva of Slabodka
“Knesses Yisrael”
(picture from here)

I almost had to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, when I download and started listening to the recording of an interview with former Slabodka talmid, and founder of Yeshiva Ner Israel, Rav Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman zt’l.

The recording of R Ruderman is available here, at a fantastic website called closetotorah.com.  The mp3 is a series of questions and answers about the Alter of Slabodka, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel conducted by students from Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, prior to 1987 (when R Ruderman was niftar)

Topics discussed include:

  • Churmas/Being Machmir
  • Individuality
  • Limud haMussar in America
  • The Atler’s outlook
  • A personal story about the Alter’s reaction when R Ruderman bought a tallis katon
  • R Ruderman’s view of what needs the biggest tikun in America

Even if you are not so inclined to hear first hand memories about the Alter of Slabodka, it’s worth it to listen to this interview, so that you can hear and experience the love and kavod that a talmid has for his rebbe.

Alter of Slabodka on Mishpatim (and his yartzeit)

This Shabbos, the 29th of Shevat is the yartzeit of R Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the Alter of Slabodka.  The following was story was printed in Likutei Peshatim, published weekly by the Hebrew Theological College.
“And when a man opens a pit…and he does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it.” Shemos 21:33

One of the students studying in the Yeshiva of Slobodka saw a piece of paper on the floor. He bent over to pick it up, thinking that it might have been a scrap from a holy text which would require that it go into a geniza (a burial vault) to maintain its holiness. When he realized, however, that the material written on it was merely some trivial matter, he threw it back on the floor.

The Saba from Slobodka noticed his actions and called him over to speak to him. “It was an act of negligence on your part to toss that paper back on the floor!” he said. “You have now created a hazard in the public domain with that crumpled up paper.” The student was amazed. A “pit” is an obstacle which may cause an animal to stumble into it or a person to get injured. What damage could a simple piece of paper cause?

The Saba noticed the student’s lack of understanding and he explained. “Do not think that a ‘pit’ is only dangerous when you create a trap which may ensnare and injure another person or animal. Even now, you have required another person to have to bend over and to clean up this trash. His path is disturbed and he will be delayed in his studies. You have stolen from his time. This is also a damage, and it falls under the category of “bor” – the prohibition of creating an obstacle which causes harm to others.

“Furthermore, although you are not the one who owns the paper and you did not toss it on the ground originally, you have legally acquired it by lifting it up.” (See Bava Kamma 30a).

HaSaba MiSlobodka

Sunday’s Spark of Mussar

Rav Nosson Zvi Finkel, the Alter of Slabodka

In doing a mitzvah, R’ Nosson Zvi taught, one must be careful not to cause unpleasantness or harm to anyone to avoid forfeiting its rewards.
He never gave shmuses during mealtimes.
When he prayed with a minyan, either he finished Shemoneh Esreh with everyone, or he knocked on his shtender to indicate that he congregation should not wait for him.

From Sparks of Mussar by R Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik