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A Path All His Own

Yisroel Besser and Aryeh Ehrlich

Rebbe Duvid Twersky of Rachmistrivka is an innovator who crafts his own rules, keeps to his own schedule, and navigates his own unique path to the Creator

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

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While there aren’t too many “official” chassidim, since 2004, Rebbe Duvid has ignited the chassidus, making it a place for anyone seeking dveikus and inspiration (Photos: Mattis Goldberg, Eli Cobin, Shuki Lehrer)

For many years, he was a fixture in the neighborhood, a secluded man who didn’t quite belong in any of its institutions.

He’d stand davening in the corner of the Satmar beis medrash on Jerusalem’s Rechov Yoel, but you could also find him in the side rooms of Zichron Moshe, or on the cushioned benches of the nearby Sephardic Moussaieff shul.

In a worn rekel and faded hat, with a ubiquitous box of snuff on the table nearby, he was a picture of humility. They knew his name was Reb Duvid, but few people knew he was a scion of greatness, and even fewer knew of his refined spiritual stature.

Reb Duvid smiled and laughed along with them, his eyes wide and sparkling with good humor, free of cynicism or scorn. Geula residents recall coming into the small Bobover beis medrash on Rechov Chaggai the morning after a rare Jerusalem snowstorm, and being offered a warm greeting and hot drink by Reb Duvid. As they scraped their feet against the worn rug to remove the snow from their shoes, he raced back and forth between the large samovar and the shul entrance, bearing steaming glasses of tea.

Others recall the friendship between Reb Duvid and one of the more colorful figures in Geula, a sweet Jew who rides around on a motorized scooter. The scooter owner would spend time in the Satmar shul, and if ever Reb Duvid wanted to go somewhere else in the city — to daven at a holy site, to immerse in the mikveh, to a chavrusa or shiur — his friend would take him, the two men riding the scooter together.

What they didn’t realize, back then, was that the inscrutable schedule had a firm motivation. Reb Duvid didn’t entirely belong anywhere because he was determined to be his own man. He would belong to no sector other than the sacred order of ovdei Hashem.

 

One Thursday morning in 2004, Reb Duvid sat at his regular seat in the back of Satmar, giving no indication that he was heir to a throne. The next day, Erev Shabbos, his father, Rav Yisroel Mordechai of Rachmistrivka, was niftar. Following the levayah, the Rachmistrivka Rebbe of America, brother of the deceased Rebbe, presided over a l’chayim tish and crowned his nephew, Reb Duvid Twersky, as the new Rebbe of Rachmistrivka–Eretz Yisrael.

The secret was out.

People were skeptical at first. The new Rebbe seemed too detached from the realities of this world to ever really connect with the people around him and understand their very human problems. But there was the letter.

A few years earlier, Reb Duvid had been dispatched to London to raise funds for the Rachmistrivka yeshivah, Meor Einayim. His father, Reb Mottel, had written a letter to a British philanthropist. It read: “Please be kind to my son, Rav Duvid, for he is a yerei Shamayim and he will inherit my position, and many people will benefit from his light.”

Reb Mottel had known with certainty what so many doubted. With his passing, a new era dawned for the chassidus. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 704)

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