Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Mesirus Nefesh Of The Rogochover's Daughter And Talmid

Re: The previous post where I alluded to the heroism of the daughter of the Rogochover.

An immense debt of gratitude – so meager a word for so monumental a debt – is due for the incredible heroism of the Rogatchover’s daughter, Rebbetzin Rochel Citron, and the Rogatchover’s successor in Dvinsk and talmid muvhak (major disciple), Rabbi Yisroel Alter Safran-Fuchs. When the Rogatchover passed away on the 11th of Adar I, 5696 (1936), Reb Alter was chosen as his successor although he was only 25 and as yet unmarried. From the moment of his acceptance until the last day of his life, he spent every moment in dedication to the writings of his great Rebbe. Amazingly, during the most difficult of times, the war years of 1940 and 1941, he managed to publish two volumes of Responsa from the Rogatchover. During this desperate period, the Rogatchover’s daughter, Rebbetzin Citron – by then widowed – left Palestine to help Rabbi Safran-Fuchs in his work in Dvinsk.

But of course, times got worse. The end was coming closer and the Nazis w””ny were nearing Dvinsk. Rabbi Safran-Fuchs and Rebbetzin Citron had many opportunies to escape to America where they had relatives, but they recognized an eternal purpose in remaining in Dvinsk to save the writings of his Rebbe. Thus began the great race against time. For two years, Reb Alter and Rebbetzin Citron, against great and dangerous odds, made micro-photographs of the Rogatchover’s writings – the glosses on the sides of his Gemaros, Churnashim, and other sefurim – and sent them to his uncle in America. Every two weeks, he faithfully mailed his precious cargo.

All in all, he miraculously managed to send one entire Gemara (Makos and mesichtos ketanos), 2500 pages of Talmudical glosses, 1500 pages of commentary upon the Rambam, and 1200 more covering assorted parts of the Torah. The last package was sent one week before the Nazis entered Dvinsk; undoubtedly, by the time the invaluable package arrived in the United States, the young rabbi had already offered up his life to his Maker Al Kiddush HaShem.

HaKol Taluy B’Mazal Afilu Sefer Torah She’BiHeichal, Even the Torah needs good fortune. From June, 1941, when the last package of the Rogatchover’s Torah writings was sent to America, until June, 1957, the tiny photographs lay abandoned and unread. Mrs. Yetta Leah Safran, in whose possession the writings have been entrusted, made a number of attempts to bring the manuscripts to the public attention. The organizations with whom she spoke were largely uninterested and claimed that, anyway, there was no way to sufficiently enlarge the miniscule prints. So the matter remained for sixteen years.

In 1957, the hashgachah – the Heavenly Hand – guided the confluence of a number of events to allow the Rogatchover’s writings to finally emerge from obscurity. Rabbi Menachem M. Kasher found out about the manuscripts and, with the aid of several foundations, obtained the funds to initiate the Tzofnas Pa’ane’ach Institute, publishing the writings of the Rogatchover in understandable form. Also, an enlarger had been designed that could produce the pages of the Rogatchover’s Talmud with sufficient clarity to allow faithful transcription of his words. Rebbetzin Citron and Rabbi Safran-Fuchs must know in Gan-Eden that their deaths were far from in vain, and that every letter of the Rogatchover’s Torah studied throughout the world today is the direct result of their noble and heroic sacrifice.

May we be zocheh to spread the Torah of the Rogochover to the world!!