Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back from Sabbatical

I havent posted in awhile due to other priorities, but now will iy"H be posted as much as possible with hope of bringing the blog up to a level of daily postings. The blog should move to my website soon which I ask all who read to check out. www.michaelmordechai.com. My art and design is featured there and I can help you with any designing needs from Judaica Art, Kessubah Design, Wedding Invitation Monograms, to fine art and other graphic needs.

For now please read my blog about my time spent with the Pittsburgher Rebbe Shlit'a of Ashdod, Israel.

Monday, June 1, 2009

My days with the Pittsburgher Rebbe Shlit'a

Grand Rabbi Mordechai Yisachar Ber Leifer of Pittsburgh shlit'a

The Pittsburgher Rebbe comes every year to Los Angeles for a few weeks to spend time with his Chassidim there and fund raise for Pittsburgh Institutions. I met him last year at his Tish at Anshe Emes and was very excited to hear that he was coming during the Omer. My wife and I had yechidus with the Rebbe and gave us some good advice on where to move and how to go about getting to Israel to learn for a year. He told us to move to Los Angeles and when the time comes we will be able to go learn in Israel. I told him how I dont have a Rebbe and that I am teased by Chabad Chassidim because of this. Anytime I meet a new Chabad Chasid I am always asked what kind of Chasid I am, in case they forget that we were BOTH Jewish and that should be enough. The Rebbe smiled and told me that when I meet my Rebbe I will know and we will have a very deep connection and comfort with eachother, but I could borrow him for the time being. This left me with an amazing feeling of true Ahavas Yisroel from the Pittsburgher Rebbe.

The following Shabbos was his Tish which I unfortuantly missed but thought I could at least go late and wish the Rebbe Good Shabbos. When I got there I was told the Rebbe had just left and I was a little sad about it but was determined to spend Shabbos Day by the Rebbe. Before I left, I was given the a Nusach Sefard-Pittsburgh siddur by one of the Rebbe's Chassidim. This siddur is one of the best versions of the Siddur I have come across. The layout is outstanding as you never have to turn a page to finish a blessing or section of prayer. There is kavana under the four letter name of Hashem and for me at least that helps me concentrate better on davening and makes Hashems name stand out more on the page above the words surrounding it. For me it is a more stable davening than using the Artscroll Nusach Sefard, so I was very happy with the gift.

I walked to the shul where the Rebbe would daven Shachris and apparently made a left where I should have made a right and got turned around. Out from around the corner comes the Rebbe and I felt such a feeling of relief and of joy as the Rebbe approached me. We davened at a Litvish shul and the speed was very fast and I realized as I was emersed in my davening that I was very far behind the Baal Korah. After davening the Rebbe told me to walk next to him and we spoke words of Torah and he gave me advice on moving to Los Angeles. The Rebbe made kiddush for us and I was so nervous I almost made Hamotzi on Cake. That made me realize how foolish I am with my brachas that I have such fear to falter in front of a Rebbe but not in front of the King of Kings who the bracha is directed too. We sung a niggun and then the Rebbe went to where he was staying. We joined again for Shalosh Seudah and were blessed with amazing Torah from the Rebbe and a niggun called "Kol Dodi" which was very uplifting. We finished with maariv and I told the Rebbe I would hope iy"H to be by him tomorrow for Rosh Chodesh.

The Davening was the best since davening at the Kotel. Perfect speed and hearing the Rebbe cry out to Hashem strengthened my own cry. The Rebbe layned Torah for us and once again we parted ways. Maariv was late and the Rebbe didnt have his siddur with him so I lent him mine and used idaven on my cellphone which was very difficult. We had the blessing to hear one of the most heart felt counting of the Omer that I had ever heard. I later said I never heard Sefiras HaOmer untill I heard it recited by the Pittsburgher Rebbe Shilit'a. When we were done I came to get back my siddur and when the Rebbe found out it was mine he grabbed my hand and said to me, "I bless you that ALL your teffilahs should be heard." Speechless I struggled to get out an Amen and a Thank you and ran off with joy. The final night with the Rebbe concluded with a small tish with L'Chaims and singing with some Rabbonim from the La Brea area of Los Angeles. As the Rebbe walked out he shook my hand very tight and said to call him and to not give up if I cant get through because soon enough I will.

After reflecting on my time spent with the Rebbe I was very grateful for the experience. I learned some amazing Torah and Chassidus and was strengthened in my connection to Hashem and to Yiddishkite by having such an opportunity to be close to a Tzaddik. I hope to visit the Rebbe when I am in Eretz Yisroel soon either by opportunity, by Moshiach, or by both! I may not be a Pittsburgher Chasid but I feel I have a close relationship with the Rebbe that will help me grow closer to Hashem. We should all be blessed to interact with Tzaddikim and be inspired by them to do Teshuvah, perform Mitzvos, and bring Moshiach readily in our days Amen!