Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Be a Real Good Yekke

"On my arrival in Reb Elchonon Wasserman's Yeshivah Ohel Torah in Baranowitz, I met Moshe Schwab, the Yekke, brother of R' Shimon Schwab, zt"l. "Moshe the Yekke," followed the mashgiach, R' Yisrael Yaakov Lubchanski, like a shadow, and became a true ba'al mussar (student of self-improvement). Later, when I came to Kamenitz, I met his older brother, R' Mordechai Schwab. R' Mordechai was a genuine "nichba el hakeilim" (one who hides among the vessels, as the humble Saul did when the Prophet Shmuel came looking for him to anoint him king): a humble, quiet tzaddik; a Yekke lamed-vovnick (one of the legendary 36 hidden saints). He was always precisely on time, whether for davening, shiurim, or a mussar discussion. In other words, a typical Yekke!

In our day, the Reform Yekkes have either died out or assimilated; they do not exist any longer. The term "Yekke" has become a true title of distinction, respect and admiration. As a Kohen, I am often invited to officiate at a pidyon haben (redemption of the firstborn son on the 30th day of life). After reciting the blessing, I lean over and whisper in the child's ear, "Grow up to be a real good Yekke!"

Chaim Shapiro, Once Upon a Shtetl

No comments:

Post a Comment