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Monday, May 11, 2015

22 Iyar - hilula of Rav Shlomo Eliezer Alfandri - the greatest gadol to abnegate himself before Saba Yisroel


The Maharsha Alfandri (1820-1930) was born in Istanbul. He served as chief rabbi in Istanbul, Damascus, and subsequently in Tsefas for 20 years. He passed away at age 110 in Yerushalayim. Many of his halachic responsa are included in his book Saba Kadisha.

It was known that the the Alfandri had very little tolerance of the charlatan rabbis, he despised them, and thus we find many rabbis boasting that they were an exclusion to this, and were accepted graciously.

Here's a translation of a transcript of what Saba Yisroel tells over about the Alfandri:

Rav Alapandri.

I was inferior to everyone. I was a simple person and inferior to everyone. The Rav Alapandri, he lived in Safed, he came to Tiberius to immerse in the hot springs of Tiberius, so I descended from the Yeshiva, I went down and said to the Rav Alpandri, “I have a request from you, I would like to serve you.” He was a world renown genius (Gaon), yes. He had allocution. And so strong! He heard how I say Likutay Tefilos, so afterwards I went and came to his room and I said to him, “What would you like? What do you need?” He said, “I want to serve you! That's what I want!” (he was a man of truth?) Yes. He was very old, and he was strong, very heroic, he didn't ask all the rabbis, he said to me, “I heard about Rabbi Nachman, I heard great things, that he was a big genius, but what I hear from you? I did not know from this at all! Now? I want to serve you!” he was my neighbor in Safed (you lived in Safed?) no. I got married in Safed, he was living in Safed and I was born in Tiberius and I lived in Tiberius, all of Tiberius cried, they cried over me, my father and my mother, they cried, “What? It is impossible to be a Breslov Chasid! What is this? We don't want Breslov!” And that's how everyone was, all the scholars and everyone, “He became Breslov? Breslov?! Breslov?!...” I, I was lower than everyone, I didn't have any mind, and any intellect, and any...nothing, no elocution and not anything, mamash nothing... and our holy master writes to me (in the Petek), “My student, my precious student”...

Chacham Bashi [Turkish title: Head of the Wise Men], Rav Shlomo, the genius of the Sephardim.

Once Rav Shlomo, the genius of the Sephardim, came to Tiberius. 'Chacham Bashi', he was an old man and a genius, 'Alapandri', and he was a genius and a tzadik, he was single, he didn't have a wife. He came to Tiberius, and I went in to him by the Sephardim, I went in to him, and I requested him, “I want the merit to serve you...” Him... nu. I asked him, and he was a genius, nu, let it be like that! He agreed! He was a genius and he heard about Rabbainu, Rabbi Nachman, that he was a genius and a tzadik. What happiness needs to be ours, that we have merited in this world to be close to Rabbainu! We don't know what this is!

There were some greats that thought that they were Messiah, that they, that they, and they, and they! And just them! They spoke in such a way. But this was not correct! This that they spoke, they were mistaken! Yes! Just our holy master! By him there is no mistake! What he revealed... such words... such words, every word clarified! The law, as given to Moses at Sinai!

Another talk about Rav Alapandri.

In Safed there lived an old man, a great old man named, he was called the Rav Alapandri, he was a great man renown in the whole world, do you know about this? (I didn't hear of him) You didn't hear of him? How is that? Nu, you are a young man and I am old, and I heard from this Rav in Tiberius that he is a man of great genius and very wise and with great fear of Heaven, he was very tough against the rabbis that he understood were not in order, so he would not pay attention to that they were rabbis, he said the truth, he lived, he lived in Safed, and he would get up every night, every night at midnight, and cry before H”Y about the destruction of the Temple, yes. He was a genius, but he had great fear of Heaven, and he would get up every night at midnight, and cry a lot before H”Y, with tears. I was not in Safed, but I heard of him, and he came in the winter to Tiberius in order to use the baths of the hot springs of Tiberius. So the Sephardim all knew that he is a great man, so they gave him a room by them, by the Sephardim, at Rabbi Meir Baal Hanais, and they gave him a room. And I heard that Rav Alapandri was to be found by the Sephardim, so I went to him, this was after I had become a Breslover, after the passing of Rabbi Yisroel [Karduner], after Rabbi Yisroel passed away. And I went in to him, and I requested him, “I want the merit to attend him.” And he saw that this was with a whole heart, yes, he had understanding, so he gave me permission to attend to him. I took off his shoes, and I made his bed, I brought him tea, any service... a few days passed, and I prayed once by the Sephardim, and I prayed like that which I saw by Rabbi Yisroel, prayer, and I also said Likutay Tefilos and Psalms with tears and arousal with fervor, and he heard in his room, so when I finished the prayers and I came to serve him, and I asked him what he needs, what he wants, tea or anything that he needs, so he said to me, “I don't need anything, I want... I don't want that you... that you should serve me!” He didn't know that I was a Breslover, that I... he just heard the sound of the prayers, so he said to me, “ I don't want that you should serve me!” I was 22 years old, 23 years old, and he was an old man, and such a genius, so this was not... how he, such a genius and I, simple, I, a simple kollel (yeshiva for married men) man, there was a bond between us, and I saw that he discussed with me some issues and my assessment concurred with his view, and he had some matters that he needed to take counsel with other people, and he took counsel with me, and I told him the truth, so/then he understood that I am a man of truth, and say the truth, and there was a bond between us, and he asked me, “How is your livelihood?” So I said, “I am a member of the Yeshiva, I learn in Yeshiva.” “And how is your livelihood? Do you have a livelihood?” He took interest and asked me. So I told him, “I learned in Yeshiva, and after I became a Breslov Chasid they didn't want to retain me in the Yeshiva, a Breslover, maybe he will make others, maybe, maybe... they didn't want, but even still they couldn't reject me, I learned there for a long time, from bar mitzva, so they gave me less than all the members of the yeshiva, I received less than them.” So I told him that my life was such, with great poverty, and I told him that they give me less than the others because I am from the Breslov Chasidim. He was with this... after some days, the Ashkenaz rabbis came to visit him, and they wanted to take him to visit in their yeshiva, in the yeshiva by Rabbi Meir Baal Hanais of the Ashkenazim, and he, they came to him, there was the Rav and the manager (gabbai) of the yeshiva, and another person, there were three, and they came to him like... with honor and reverence, and they spoke with him, and he said to them, “Why do you give this man less? He doesn't have a livelihood!” So they said to him, “He is a worthy man, he is a man who serves Hashem, but he is saying always Psalms, prayers, this isn't a member of a yeshiva. Yeshiva is just for the intellectual, but he doesn't keep the schedule of the yeshiva, he goes between the mountains, and he is a kosher man, but not a member of a yeshiva. What we give him is just, just from the side of kindness, that we have mercy on him.” Nu, so he, so he got angry at them, and said to them that “his Psalms are more important by H”Y than your intellectualism, from your intellectuals!” Oy, oy, oy the whole time... and I went down to him every day, but I did not merit to serve him, because he did not want, by no means, and he... and I saw that he, when I told him that I was from the Breslov Hasidim, that I told him what I suffer, he said to me, “A Breslov Hasid! This is something very precious! This is something very important!” Yes, that's what he said. Nu, honor to the Rav, to the Rav that came to him, nu, in the end, because he told them, so they gave me a raise of half a lira a month, after he spoke to them. Oy, oy, oy, a great man, world renown, a genius, holy, and the Rav Alapandri... apparently.... Who said, “I don't know”? You are young, and maybe he was around before you were born, but till today his name (reputation), he is very great the Rav Alapandri, look into it, ask maybe the Sephardim about the Rav Alapandri, he made many books, and he was a man famous in the Land of Israel and in the whole world....

Na Nach Nachma Nachman MeUman!

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