R

eb Dovid Werdyger a”h, the great chassidic chazzan and composer, was born in Krakow. When he was ten years old, Reb Yossele Hanchiner, the legendary composer of the Gerrer chassidus, visited the Werdyger family’s little shtibel in Krakow, where he led the congregation in Kabbalas Shabbos. As they were singing Lecha Dodi, his ears caught the melodious voice of a child. When the prayers were over, he made some inquiries and then approached young Dovid’s father, Reb Yisroel Aryeh Werdyger Hy”d, and asked if he could take the child to the court of the Imrei Emes of Gur to sing in the choir during the Yamim Noraim.

Reb Yisroel Aryeh agreed, but made one stipulation: that his son would study every day with a chavrusa. With Reb Yossele’s consent to this condition, the young boy went to the Rebbe’s court, where he learned the new tunes composed for Rosh Hashanah. On that Rosh Hashanah he sang solo the segment of “Kevakoras ro’eh edro” in Unesaneh Tokef, and the Rebbe, who always sat with his face toward the wall, turned around to watch the child who was singing so angelically. That moment when the Rebbe gazed directly at him was etched in Reb Dovid’s memory as long as he lived. (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 727)