I've heard so much about how here in Eretz Yisrael they have funerals even at night. I'm sure some of you have too. Well, I went to one tonight. On Har HaZeisim no less.
On Yom Kippur this past Monday, The Pilzner Rebbe, Rav Yosef Singer, passed away.
I'm willing to bet that not many of you have heard of Pilzner Chassidus before. Well, I didn't either until I met Yehoshu'a, a chassid who lives in American Beit Shemesh (he's British). He worked in yeshiva last year for a little bit, cleaning, cooking, this and that. After a while he stopped working there, but everyone stilled loved him and talked to him and all that.
I asked Yehoshu'a once (well, actually probably more like 3 or 4 times) which chassidus he's part of. He said back Pilzner. I said I never heard of that. He responds most people haven't.
He was from Pilz (sp?), near Warsaw. He lived in the Lower East Side. Yehoshu'a tells me, and I don't doubt it for a second, he was a tzaddik nistar (hidden tzaddik). He knew all of Torah (CTC!*). I asked Kabbalah? "All of it." "Was he lamed-vav (one of the 36 tzaddikim that support the world)?" "Some say he was."
One time Yehoshu'a was walking with the Rebbe around the Lower East Side where he lived. At one point, 6 big, black guys were coming towards them. Yehoshu'a said "Zeidie (that's what he calls him), maybe we should cross the street?" "No, it's ok, they're my friends." So they come and they surround the Rebbe. One comes close and says, "Rabbi Singer, I haven't seen you in a long time." And they were asking him questions that people usually ask rebbes; Advice and such. One of their daughers was sick, he wrote down her name. Yehoshua later asked what's going on? So the Rebbe says, "their grandparents used to break into my shul. One time i saw them outside, so I brought them some cookies and milk. Not only did they not break in again, they protected my shul from everyone else. And because they're one of the highest gangs in the area, no one ever broke in again. And these guys are the grandsons.
Every Pesach (and I think he said Friday night and yomtov too, but Pesach sticks out in my mind) the Rebbe would go around and make sure everyone has food. It got so dangerous, that the chief of police, Patrick O'Connor would go with the Rebbe. One time he said to Bubbe, the Rebbetzin, in his Irish accent, "you know Mrs Singer, I feel safer with the rabbi around then I do with my own cops.
He had mamash had open miracles in his house daily, Yehoshu'a said. One time his one of his granddaughers was very very sick (I think it was one of those the-dr-couldnt-do-anything cases). The Rebbe said, bring her to the mikvah. He took her, holding her across his arms like a baby. He stood over the mikvah like that for 3 hours. The next morning she woke up as if nothing happened.
He said he never lost his temper. He got angry, but he was always in control -- if he got angry, it would have been avodah zarah, so how can you get angry?
The Rebbe had three things: mesiras nefesh (working hard), love, and being positive. One time the Rebbe was asked, "What do you see when people come to see you, people with shmutz and stuff? Not nice people?" "What are you talking about? I see beautiful neshamas (souls)."
After we buried the Rebbe, we davened Ma'ariv. At the top of the cemetary, facing, of course, Har HaBayyis (Temple Mount--if someone was going to ask, "where's east?" I literally would have killed them). It was the best Ma'ariv of my life. LIke, all those things put together, the Rebbe, Har HaBayyis still not ours and still having that damn mosque on it, all that, I just had so much kavanah; "Please Lord, stop it" type thing.
Hopefully we can go into this new year learning something or two from this tzaddik nistar.
Moreinu HaRav Yosef ben HaRav Dovid Singer, Zeicher Tzaddik V'Kadosh Livracha.