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Spiritual Currency

Yisrael Feller

“I’m the lawyer, the agent, serving as an advocate between you and your Father in Heaven,” Rav Dovid Chaim Stern tells those who seek his counsel. The work he demands isn’t easy, but Rav Stern, the mekubal of Bnei Brak, is ready to pour out his tefillos and bestow his brachos in exchange for spiritual “deals” he makes with his chassidim around the world.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

When Rav Dovid Chaim Stern of Bnei Brak comes to Boro Park, the home of his host Reb Aryeh Wald looks like a beis medrash for the ingathering of the exiles. Rav Stern has no court or kehillah, and his adherents run the spectrum of Torah Jewry: chassidim from Monsey, Litvaks from Lakewood, businessmen from Manhattan and the Five Towns, and Sephardim with roots in Aleppo. They don’t daven in the same style shuls or send their children to the same schools, but when their mentor visits America, they all join together under one roof for a few short days of spiritual elevation. Rav Stern is not only a rebbe for chassidim. He unites thousands both in Israel and around the world, likely because of his multifaceted affiliations. He is Hungarian-born, but he grew up among the giants of the litvishe community and was personally nurtured by the Chazon Ish. At the same time, Rav Stern is fully proficient in chassidic Torah and the esoteric world of Kabbalah; 40 years ago he received an endorsement of his enormous powers of tefillah from the Beis Yisrael of Gur zy”a. Yet he combines chassidus with the Torah of his rebbi muvhak, Rav Yechezkel Levenstein ztz”l, his mentor from the time he was a bochur in Ponevezh. (In fact, the shiurim of Ponevezh rosh yeshivahRavDovidPovarsky that were prepared for publication are based onRavStern’s notebooks from yeshivah.)

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