Thursday, November 13, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Chayei Sara
21 Cheshvan 5775/ November 14, 2014
Next Thursday, 27 Cheshvan will be the yahrtzeit of my Zaide, Rav Yaakov Meir Kohn zt’l. Every year during the weeks before his yahrtzeit I take out the few binders I have containing his sketchy writings containing his Torah thoughts. Many of those thoughts were written in his distinctive (difficult to read) shorthand writing, hastily recorded on the back of any paper that was in his vicinity. So there are divrei Torah written on the back of invitations, bills, letters, and receipts stuck into the pages of his seforim.
Zaide also had a tremendous collection of seforim which lined many of the walls of his Lower East Side apartment. My Bubby ybl’c would often complain to him that there was no more room for more seforim. Her efforts were futile however, as he would sneak bags into the apartment and leave them under the dining room table. Then when Bubby wasn’t in the area he would clandestinely move the bags into his study.
The week after he passed away two bags full of seforim were found under the dining room table.
I have a few seforim from Zaide. Although most of those seforim have been reprinted, those old seforim are obviously very precious to me.
The prize of that collection is Zaide’s Kovetz Shiurim.  
Kovetz Shiurim is a familiar sefer in the hallowed halls of yeshivos the world over. It is a collection of the shiurim of Rav Elchanan Wasserman zt’l hy’d, the great Rosh Yeshiva of Baranovitch who was murdered during the Holocaust. Kovetz Shiurim was first printed in 1964 by the author’s son, Rav Simcha Wasserman zt’l.  
The sefer I have is from that original printing and has a purple cover. The reason that particular sefer is so special to me is because Zaide was a talmid of Reb Elchanan in the Baranovitch Yeshiva for some time. I imagine him entering a seforim store in 1964 and seeing that the shiurim of his late Rebbe had been collected and printed. I imagine how it brought back memories of his days as a student in the yeshiva and the images of his saintly rebbe delivering those same shiurim. I imagine the bittersweet emotions that seeing the sefer for the first time must have evoked, perhaps even a few tears.    
When I hold that sefer and I learn from it I feel connected, not only to my beloved Zaide, but also to what he felt connected to – the Torah of a previous generation.
This week our family celebrates the birth of our newest nephew, Mordechai Shlomo, born to my brother and sister-in-law, Yaakov and Michal. [B’ris was Thursday morning in Yerushalayim.]Yaakov is named after Zaide and it is especially meaningful that his son’s b’ris will iyh be this Thursday, 20 Cheshvan, seven days before his namesake’s yahrtzeit.
May the newborn baby be a source of pride for our family, and all of Klal Yisroel, as he becomes the newest link in the endless chain of our glorious heritage. 

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
            R’ Dani and Chani Staum      

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