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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"You should never ask yourself, 'What am I,' because you'll never know. Ask yourself, 'What am I doing?' "

"When I am what I am, I am limited. When I become what I become, I am limited. In between is the touch with Infinity. We must always be changing."

-- Rebbe Benzion Chaim Shloime Twerski, of Blessed Memory

Tonight - Simchas Torah in Chutz La'aretz [outside of Israel] is the Yahrzeit of Rebbe Benzion Chaim Shloime Twerski Ztuk"l. Anyone who knew him, knew that Simchas Torah was "his" day. A few brief words about him, from the Beth Jehudah website:

Rabbi Twerski, zt"l, was born in Cracow, Poland in 1923, and came to Milwaukee, where he grew up under the tutelage of his saintly father, ZT"L the revered Rebbe of Hornisteipel. Endowed with a brilliant mind, Reb Shloime drank in the rich Chassidic tradition of his forebears, while remaining keenly alert to the new challenges of America and its melting-pot culture. With penetrating insight and compelling authority, he was able to apply his commanding knowledge of Torah, Chassidus, and Kaballah, to address the kaleidoscopic and transitional Jewish landscape of the late 40's, the 50's and 60's. Reb Shloime assumed the rabbinate of Denver, Colorado, which he served with unsurpassed devotion until his passing in 1981.

Rabbi Twerski was a pioneer in the outreach movement, to which he opened his heart and home, where hundreds came to seek the definition of their spiritual identity. Ultimately, in 1973, the Rav founded the Torah Research Institute, where he was able to devote himself full time to his outreach efforts.

Reb Shloime was a teacher of unique stature. With breathtaking originality, depth and compassion, he was able to address large audiences in a way which left each listener with an intensely personal message. His clarity of language was filled with a subtlety appreciated by scholars of Torah and understandable to those with no background at all.

Rebbe Shloime Twerski was the oldest of the Milwaukee Twerski brothers, which include Reb Michel, Reb Avraham Shia, and Reb Aharon [all Shlita, may they have long and good years]. While he was not a prolific composer of niggunim, he often sang his younger brother Reb Michel Shlita's compositions. But he was blessed with a few very soulful tunes of his own - one of the most notable being his "Pischu Li." His son, Rebbe Mordechai Dov Ber, has succeeded him as the present Hornesteipel Rebbe. Rebbe Mottel has composed several niggunim of his own, some of which his beloved father Zt"L used to sing as well. [More about Reb Mottel Shlita, another time].

Zechuso yagein aleinu - May Rebbe Shloime's merit protect us!

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