Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bnei Brak and "Noam Elimelech"


It seems like I am becoming more and more attached to the haredi part of Bnei Brak. While living in Jerusalem, I have become extremely familiar with many local haredi areas and never really liked the haredi Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv. Those looking for real haredi action, great Tishes and Synagogues need, of course, go to Mea Shearim. Unfortunately, Mea Shearim has become an Israeli tourist center almost every Friday night. Visitors who are neither haredi nor have any deeper knowledge about Chassidism, stroll around the ultra - Orthodox neighbourhood. National religious youth, not having any clue about haredi life, starts yelling around and squeezes itself onto the Tish benches. Moreover, quite a few so - called "tour guides" make lots of money by taking groups to the Mea Shearim Tishes. 

Bnei Brak doesn't have too many visitors from the outside on Friday nights. This is a bit unusual, as the inhabitants would show their dislike publically. You don't just walk into Kiryat Yoel on a Friday night when you are national religious or a tour member. Outsiders don't run to the Gur (Ger) Tish. By the way, the Gerrer Chassidim don't accept any women at the Rebbe's Tish ! 

Not too many people go to the Bnei Brak Tishes unless it is Vishnitz. Rabbi Israel Hager attracts plenty of visitors and his Ezrat Nashim goes about two floors. I have been to his Tish twice but once in Jerusalem and the second time in Kiryat Vishnitz when he celebrated outside and not at the inside Tish. 

I have been quite a few times to Bnei Brak lately. For several hours in a row and walked as many streets as I could. I have become familiar with some parts but keep on getting to know the place much better. What I love is all those small Shtieblachs all over town and I finally found the Chernobyl Synagogue where I am planning to go for a Tish. 
Yesterday, I again went to Bnei Brak but this time I wanted to buy a Yom Kippur Machzor, as my other Machzor is still in Jerusalem. I am not getting to Jerusalem before the Chag in order to pick it up and so I decided to get a new one. Not just a plain Machzor but the "Machzor Rabbah" Nussach Sfarad. Meaning, a chassidic Machzor. 

Now you think that buying a Machzor in Bnei Brak shouldn't be a problem and it will basically take about, hhmm, let's say, 15 - 20 minutes. Maybe even less. But here I was wrong because I had completely forgotten about something. 

Ashkenazi booksellers have the habit to sell everything in a set and thus I found all Machzorim in sets. However, I didn't need a whole set with the holiday prayer books for Pessach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot but just a single one for Yom Kippur. All the rest I am going to pick up in Jerusalem anyway. 

The first two bookstores I went to (all of them in Rabbi Akivah Street) were offering sets only. I didn't put on my religious wardrobe yesterday and went in pants. You should have seen the face of some people in the bookstores when I walked in.:-)))

Only sets and one entirely Sephardi bookstore. I spoke to the owner who almost convinced me to take a Sephardi Machzor, as he had plenty of single ones. This is nothing new for me because I already have a Sephardi Machzor for Rosh Hashana, besides my chassidic one. What I found out is that you, as an Ashkenazi or Chassid, are able to survive with the Sephardi Yom Kippur Machzor. It is much harder having a Sephardi edition on Rosh Hashana. However, towards the end of the Machzor, Ashkenazim start introducing different prayers and then you are in trouble for a while. Eventually I ended up not buying the book and I was almost down at Kahaneman Street, as I saw another bookstore. Not the Artscroll one which is totally overpriced !

I walked into the store and found myself with the shopkeeper who was a younger Chassid. Chassid like hardcore and not some Breslover or Chabadnik.:-)))

A national religious woman looked through the Machzorim and Siddurim and I finally found a single Yom Kippur Nussach Sfarad. I was so happy, the national religious woman wasn't and started an argument with the shopkeeper. While she left, I had found some more interesting books. Among others, the Torah commentary of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhansk, "Noam Elimelech". I asked the shopkeeper how much it is and he almost fainted. Also because I asked him about the "Ohev Israel" commentary. 

The last thing he had expected was me buying "Noam Elimelech". I probably looked like Tel Aviv to him and he saw me going through the Machzorim. This was okay but when I showed some deeper interest, he couldn't believe it. 

However, I bought the Machzor and "Noam Elimelech" and when I paid, the Chassid handed me another book to look at. Then it was my time to faint, as he had given me a book like "Modest Women and their Thoughts" or something like that. I told him that I may buy it next time.:-)))

Anyway, I am very happy with my two books and I think I found a bookstore where I am going to buy more often. Maybe even the "Modest Thoughts". 

My new Machzor for Yom Kippur

The "Noam Elimelech" I purchased. 

Photos: Miriam Woelke

1 comment:

  1. Hi if you are interested in the Noam Elimelech please visit thsi website it is translated into English Gemar Chasima Tova