Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Monsey’s Secret

Yisroel Besser

We grace our walls with images of gedolim, men who inspired and taught the masses. Rav Shmuel Shmelka Taubenfeld was a different kind of gadol: He lived in relative isolation, far from the public eye, and his only pursuit was Torah. But the people he touched will forever carry his memory.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Walk up Monsey’s Route 306 where it intersects with Route 59 and savor the options: sushi or prime cuts of meat, upscale cafes or ice cream in a dazzling array of flavors. You can turn right, left, or go straight in Monsey, a capital of contemporary heimeshe gastronomy. Sixty years ago, this very intersection was already a capital. Back then, it also featured diversity, breadth, and range, an incredible assortment of options, though not of the edible sort. Food was fairly limited — fresh baked goods imported from Brooklyn — but the tiny settlement boasted an assortment of unique geonim. And like a gleaming display case in an epicurean heaven, it featured all sorts of scholars: some proficient in all of Shas, others capable of hairsplitting analysis. Those possessed with the penetrating self-awareness of Reb Yerucham Levovitz’s mussar alongside others filled with the crackling warmth of Reb Shraga Feivel’s chassidus; there was room for everything in the display case that was the humble beis medrash of Beth Medrash Elyon, breeding ground of gedolim. If you slip through the trees of Main Street, between the rustling leaves of Elyon Court, you can still see the old building, the rocks upon which Reb Shraga Feivel sat, talmidim at his feet, and shared mysteries of creation, the humble bungalows from which the first generation of kollel couples in America taught those who would yet come what the lifestyle demands. And with a bit of imagination you might discern the impression left by a unique figure, humble in stature, carriage, and title while towering in genius and kindness. Reb Shmelka Taubenfeld didn’t head a prestigious yeshivah or author best-selling seforim, but it was he who gave the entire chaburah its pride and prestige. His story, largely untold, is the coming-of-age tale of the American Torah world.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
No Misunderstandings
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Hashem revealed the secret of a balanced life
What Was the Court’s Rush?
Yonoson Rosenblum The Democratic Party’s descent into madness
Survey? Oy Vey
Eytan Kobre How could YAFFED promote such a farce?
Filling the Void
Rabbi Henoch Plotnik Jewish leaders don’t need to be declared or coronated
Top 5 Ways We Remember Our Rebbeim (and we love them for it!)
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin An ode to these pivotal people in my life
Hanging On in Newark
Rabbi Nosson Scherman Rabbi Nosson Scherman remembers the shul of his youth
A Fine Kettle of Fish
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman The “minor” chasadim are often the most meaningful
The Next Hill
Jacob L. Freedman The look on Malachi’s face nearly broke my heart
Tradition and Modern Meet in One Long Dance
Riki Goldstein Fusing tradition and modernity comes naturally to him
A Playlist for Shabbos
Riki Goldstein What does Moshy Kraus sing at the Shabbos table?
With Flying Colors
Riki Goldstein My 15 seconds of fame on the Carnegie Hall stage
Full Faith
Faigy Peritzman With emunah, everyone’s obligation is the same
Speechless
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Silence isn’t always golden
The Only One
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Within every Jew is the flame of instinctive emunah