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Pact to Brotherhood

Dovid Sussman

In 1939, they were five bochurim learning together in the Novardok Yeshivah. In 1949, while rebuilding their war-shattered lives, they met again. Decades later, a series of marriages fused the lifelong friends into a single family unit. What kept them united throughout those long, difficult years is an incredible story about the power of a correspondence with a purpose — the story of the Sheves Achim.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

old photoIn 1939, on the 7th of Shvat, five young men gathered in the halls of the Novardok Yeshivah for an occasion that was at once prosaic and momentous: to establish a chaburah.

 Students in the Novardok Yeshivah often formed chaburos, small groups of young men who together took on kabbalos to bolster their spiritual growth. At this gathering, the five friends decided to unite in a chaburah whose goal was to preserve their friendship for the rest of their lives, even though circumstances might cause their little group to physically disband. 

The chaburah, which they called “Sheves Achim,” imposed seven stipulations on its members, which were detailed in a contract: They would each correspond with all other members of the group at least once every six months. Before writing to each other, they would learn 15 minutes of mussar on the subject of bein adam l’chaveiro. Every year, they would observe the 7th of Shvat, the anniversary of the group’s formation, as a personal Yom Tov, when they would learn an additional hour of mussar, also on the subject of bein adam l’chaveiro, and write letters to the rest of the group. If the 7th of Shvat coincided with Shabbos, the letters would be written on the following day. They would also assist each other in any way possible, physically or financially, just as they would have done for actual brothers. If any member of the group moved, he would inform the others immediately of his new location. Finally, their ultimate goal was to settle together, eventually, in one place in Eretz Yisrael.

A few months after they signed their pact, World War II broke out.


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