Jan 9, 2013
Deep Talk at UK Farbrengen
The central 24 Teves Farbrengen in Stamford Hill included in-depth speeches by 2 Roshei Yeshiva (London and Brunoy) and a dayan.
Several hundred Anash, Tmimim and other chassidim gathered in the hall of Lubavitch House of Stamford Hill in London, England, to celebrate the Alter Rebbe's 200th yarzeit.
The event was well advertised in the Heimishe press, featuring as Guest Speaker, Rabbi Yechiel Kalmenson, Rosh Yeshiva of Brunoy in France, who has authored a 12-volume series on the 39 Melochos, named 'Mei Tal' published by Machon Yerusholayim.
The event was enhanced by renditions of the Alter Rebbe's 10 Nigunim, sung by a group of Yungeleit, plus musical accompaniment, interspersed throughout the evening.
Opening remarks were given by the Head Shliach of England Rabbi Nachman Sudak who recalled meeting 60 years ago with an elderly man who related an incident with the Sochatchover Gaon, the Avnei Neizer, which he had personally witnessed in his youth.
Upon seeing the then-newly-published picture of the Alter Rebbe, the Gaon stood gazing at it for a long while, after which he declared: "Like the Rambam in his generation – he was for sure greater; perhaps like Moshe Rabbenu in his generation!"
This was followed by a short presentation by Dayan Levi Raskin, who chaired the proceedings.
Using the large screen, he addressed a statement of the Alter Rebbe (in his Siddur), that the direction from France to Yerusholayim is due east. This could not mean 90 degrees from the North Pole, because the latitude of France is considerably higher than Yerusholayim.
He said that instead, 'due east' means the average point of the sun's appearance each morning, this being at the equator 90 degrees longitude east of any given location. Using a graph, he showed how the said diagonal from Lyon to the equator actually crosses very close to Yerusholayim.
Echoing the theme of Shnei Or, two lights – of Niglah and of Chassidus, the Rosh Yeshiva and Rov of Anash in NW London, Rabbi Yitzchok Meir Hertz discussed a Chidush of the Alter Rebbe in the Halochos of lighting Shabbos candles, peppered with personal anecdotes and words of inspiration.
The highlight of the evening was the address by Rabbi Kalmenson.
Comparing the wording of the Rambam and how the Alter Rebbe quotes the same halochos, he showed how the Alter Rebbe omitted a crucial phrase, and how that omission recurs in several similar instances.
In a very lucid manner, he showed the different perspectives of the Rambam and of the Alter Rebbe as to the definition of the Melochos in question, reflected in their respective wording.
Quoting the Avnei Neizer who took issue with a related ruling of the Alter Rebbe because of a contradicting Yerushalmi, Rabbi Kalmenson showed how indeed the Bavli and the Yerushalmi have differing perspectives in the overall definitions of the Melochos of Shabbos, and not surprisingly, the Alter Rebbe had adhered to the view of the Bavli.
Using basic concepts of Chassidus, he showed the deeper motives to both views, one being Daas Tachton, the other Daas Elyon.
The final speaker was Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Alperowitz, Shliach in Bournemouth, who shared insights from his just-published Sefer, 'Tanya b'Oraysa'. The 53 chapters of the Tanya correspond to the same number of Sidros in the Torah, and the Sefer fascinatingly highlights themes in each chapter of the Tanya which reflect the same idea in the corresponding Sedra of the Torah.
An especially emotional moment was the singing of the Alter Rebbe's Nigun of Four Stanzas. This was followed by a freiliche Nigun, when spontaneously all rose to dance, encircling the entire hall.
The chairman concluded by thanking Yerucham Raskin, Moshe Kestecher and Yitzik Lider, who took care of the catering; Rabbi Shmuel Zajac and Eli Sufrin for leading the Nigunim; Yossi Negin and Mendel Moses for playing music; the various donors who paid towards the costs of the event; the speakers, and all participants.
Birkas haMozon was led by Rabbi Aharon Bassous, Rav of Knesset Yechezkel, NW London.