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Words of Fire, Hearts of Love

Refoel Pride

Rav Shlomo Brevda ztz”l was known as a maggid who traveled around the world giving shiurim, and his listeners knew they were in for a journey that would carry them to vistas overlooking all of human history and the cosmos. Few people knew the concealed parts of this sought-after international man of inspiration, and for so many more, Purim this year won’t be the same without Rav Brevda’s famous drashos on the Megillah. He passed away in Brooklyn on 26 Teves /January 8, 2013, at the age of 81.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

rabbi mishpacha magazine“My father [famed Yerushalmi darshan Rav Mordechai Druk] used to say that what we once called a drashah is today called a hartza’ah, a ‘lecture,’” says Rav Asher Druk, a son-in-law of Rav Shlomo Brevda ztz”l, who passed away a month and a half ago after a prolonged illness. “The darshan, the one giving the drashah, was doresh from the tzibur, he demanded something of them, he made a claim on them. These days he doesn’t demand from them, he gives them a hartza’ah — he wants to be meratzeh his friends, to ‘appease’ them. My father-in-law was a darshan!”


“Above all, my father was doresh from himself,” reflects Rebbetzin Estie Druk, Rav Brevda’s daughter. “He never spoke a lot at home. He left all the speaking for the drashos. He lived for speaking. Our whole life revolved around my father’s speeches — to the extent that I didn’t even have time to get engaged to my husband. It was during bein hazmanim, and my father had drashos scheduled in advance, one after another. He used to have six to eight a day. My husband and I met very few times, and baruch Hashem it went very quickly. But my father couldn’t cancel all the drashos he had scheduled — in the Negev, in the north. All these people were waiting for him. Finally there were two drashos one night that he was able to shorten, and the first picture we have as a chassan and kallah was taken at 1:20 in the morning.”


Hold the Pickle

Rav Brevda famously spoke on a wide variety of topics, although his drashos on Yamim Tovim were particularly sought after. But he had a special interest in the subject of how a Jew should eat, and this interest came to hold a central importance in his life and worldview.

“Once he was giving a drashah here in Yerushalayim in Yiddish on the subject of eating Yerushalmi kugel together with pickles,” Rav Druk, who lives in Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, recalls. “He went into great detail about the kugel and the pickle, joking about it for half an hour, how a person should not be drawn after that, and the effect it has on a person. Someone who was there told me later that he couldn’t eat pickles after hearing that drashah.

“Another time he was speaking in Lakewood, at Beth Medrash Govoha,” he continues. “He saw a bochur bring in a large bottle of Coca-Cola. This bochur’s chevra thought that he was bringing it for all of them, but my shver watched in amazement as this bochur drank the entire bottle himself in one afternoon. My shver did not fail to mention this in the drashah he gave there. He said this bochur must have had a real svara — a svara! A svara!”

His reproof to his listeners could carry a sharp sting, but it was always delivered with a therapeutic intent. And as his daughter Rebbetzin Druk observes, sometimes medicine is best not administered with a spoonful of sugar.

“My father was a real ish emes,” she says. “He wanted people to like what he was saying, but he often held himself back from saying beautiful things because he wanted to give the right message to get the listeners to change. That doesn’t always go with hearing beautiful things. It can be very painful to hear what the emes is. So if he had a dei’ah about the Coke, he said it, even though they might not invite him back for a long time.” 


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