Yakov Goraly




At the beginning of XX century, when developed revolutionary movement and "lifted waves" in great czarist Russia, it's echoes also arrived far away Jewish towns, and this also was felt in Bereza.


Until then, daily life lapsed in calm and gentle form, especially in the religious and traditional sense. The places of more effervescence were the five town's "Batie Midrashim" (study academies). During morning hours voices were listened of those that prayed, of readers of psalms, of specialists of sacred texts. In other hours of the day, youths studied in Yeshivas. Each one studied Gemará with his own style and intonation...  


Jews converged to Batei Midrashim and they didn't care if it blew winds, storms, tempests, it snowed or it rained. The Bet Medresh was not completely warm, but reigned a sacred atmosphere, which influenced like magic cure to Jewish soul. Among those that came there, were for example, merchants that waited their clients during the whole day while none stepped the threshold of the business, or for example, workers sitting hoping to make some work, and were  many that didn't have fix work.


There was also in town following groups: "Study of six post biblical treaties of laws" and "Students of  book SHULCHAN ARUCH". Each one of Jews of the town tried to belong to some of these groups, each one according to his knowledge and possibilities. They considered that this was the "hall of future world."


In that traditional spirit lived Bereza youth. Until certain age, children passed days in Cheder and then - sooner or later, they left the town to study in Yeshivas in more important cities. They remained there during years, until arriving to the age of 18 when they married.


Not whole youth was this way. Were children that during childhood, and directly after the Cheder, should help their father in business or in work. Not all males that left to study, continued until marriage age; some interrupted their study for lack of talent to study, or for lack of interest, or for the obligation of helping to the sustenance of family. These returned to their homes in the town.


All had only one place in which could spend their leisure and free time; each one went to father's Bet  Medresh.


Revolutionary spirit that reigned in all Russia, also brought its seeds to distant Bereza. Many homes were contagious of this illness called " revolution ", and it began to be felt more and more every moment.  Among evening and  nigh prayer hours, Jews spoke about political news in homes "poisoned" by these ideas, and of danger that watched - G-d doesn't want it - whole population.  In honor to truth, Bereza was not the place for social classes fight, because they didn't have proletarians neither big capitalists. We were in a small town, far from a commercial, industrial and cultural center. If a Jew found "black work" near his house or in his orchard, It was a success. In general, was helped by a peasant, or a gentile of the area who worked from dawn to evening for some coins even in extreme hot days, and in spite of everything they were not caught by revolutionary ideologies.


When community leaders foresaw the " epidemic " - G-d doesn't want it - that watched the town, they united all equally, and decided to call for a General Assembly to take preventive measures against the fire that began to expand and sow panic.


In this Sacred Assembly, for the first time were seated one beside the other , the two rabbis that discussed always among them, due to which the community was divided in two antagonistic groups. Next to them were the two judges, Reb AZIKL HA'MELAMED and Reb MENDL RISHES.  


Their faces expressed the seriousness of the issue to discuss, and the deep suffering that nested their hearts. With voice drowned by cry, Rabbis described heavy clouds that covered the sky of Bereza, and terrible danger that watched - G-d does not want it - especially on youth, since revolution meant assimilation and negation of traditional values, which was a danger for Judaism.


All were seated and petrified. They spilled tears, and their sighs filled all Bet Medresh; especially  women seated in their remote place sobbed and they groaned. Rabbis concluded their preach but they remained seated. Nobody suggested any concrete proposal.  


In a corner was seated Reb TZADOK. All his body trembled, his face was pale, his movements were witness of the great tempest that whipped his soul. While Rabbis spoke, he paid a lot of attention to their words, but when he noticed that high authorities and   public gathered there didn't gave any concrete alternative, he could not control himself,  raised up and with trembling voice addressed to the public saying:


"My Rabbis and Teachers! I assume the great responsibility of watching over our vineyard; I have absolute faith that the Master of Universe will drive me for this road...." 


TAZDOK son of Reb ITSHE was a tall man with wide back, round and reddish face, full with peel, beard and curler " peot " (ripples to the sides of face) . Even his image was strong and manliness, his aspect was delicate. His house was located beside the Bet Medresh " Kadisha "… He spent most of the time there and was very little time in his house. In mornings he covered himself  with the "talit" (ritual mantel) and phylacteries, and did not took out them out until evening. After morning prayers he began religious studies, singing in low and pleasant voice pages of the "Gemara" and it's interpretations. 


In his house he had a small inn, which was his sustenance and that of his family. In the first room were tables and seats for gentiles, and next to the wall a counter with drinks: liquor, beer and lemonade. In a layette, had recently baked fresh homemade rolls, as well as black and white breads.. 


One of the doors drove toward guests rooms, that were Jews of the area that arrived at town for market days or for monthly fairs.


Work in the inn was carried out by his wife and daughters. He personally, Reb TZADOK, was far from all commercial matters. Only during fair days entered the inn, especially to control for somebody.... Those days were for him disturbing ones, a kind of punishment for some involuntary sin. He stayed behind the counter and remained silent. In general he was a quiet man. He always said that the man that remains silent, freckle less than these who speak. "Of an open mouth rude words can come out, also curses, or - G-d - doesn't want - a false oath".


In Bet Medresh he tried not to begin a conversation. Only when somebody asked him, he answered slow and directly to the topic. Even during his adolescence, years that passed in the Yeshivas, he had a good name. He had correct moral attitudes and a "pure soul". Also people of town respected him. Reb TZADOK son of ITSHE didn't use to interfere in  community issues, but this time he felt misfortune that was approaching, and he decided to leave his intimacy and put himself on to the front, to turn off the great fire when he saw that nobody dared to make it.  


In these years, suddenly appeared a new star in religious sky in Russia, the "CHAFETZ CHAIM". He  was the well-known Rabbi Reb ISRAEL MEIR HA'COHEN. In the town of Radom he founded the well-known ethics school, and Jewish youths' multitude flowed to it. The origin of his nickname, is in the book that the Rabbi wrote, which was consecrated to painful problems of Jewish life in Russia. 


Besides this book the CHAFETZ CHAIM wrote many other, written in a popular and understandable language for towns multitudes. Each book was accompanied by it's translation to Yiddish, not only for those who did not manage Hebrew, but also for women that didn't understand what was  written. He also published the book "Shulchan Aruch" in Yiddish, together with it's interpretations. He founded an organization with instructors and teachers that visited cities and towns, disclosed his books, and taught and guided people. 


After Great Assembly carried out in Great Temple, Reb TZADOK wrote an extensive letter to the CHAFETZ CHAIM, requesting that he send to Bereza a distinguished person to save its children of "revolutionary danger".. In the course of few days arrived the confirmation of the CHAFETZ CHAIM", the correspondent's name and the day of his arrival to Bereza. When receiving the answer, Reb TZADOK hill the Gemara, kissed it and placed it in the Library. He left to the street, repeating the verse "when it is necessary to complete a precept, an immediate action, it is allowed to men to annul the study of Torah"!.


With quick steps he went to see the two Rabbis and announced them with happiness about arrival of   "CHAFETZ CHAIM" correspondent. He decided to make a special meeting, with  important leaders of the town.  He read of a paper the detailed program that he prepared, as well as how to begin to activate it immediately. Rabbi TZADOK went  personally to each Jewish house and announced with happiness the great event for special arrival to Bereza of correspondent.. He prepared the atmosphere that should reign in Jewish homes and  in "Batei Midrashim", so they receive the correspondent with warmth and all heart. 


Arrival day was a holiday in the town. Reb TAZDOK headed the delegation, and left toward Bluden train station, to receive the guest.  The two cart drivers, Reb DOVID and his son YEHOSHUA brought to town the delegation and guest. They brought big packages that contained books of the CHAFETZ CHAIM. During the seven days that the correspondent remained in Bereza, the whole town was boiling... Each evening between evening and night  prayers, one of the Batei Midrashim was replete of people. Also the room in which women prayed was replete.


The correspondent, a plump Jew, burning eyes, black beard as tar, moved to the multitude with his preaches, especially when he described the paradise reserved for pious men and the hell to which  would be send sinners and evil people. He opened up women tears fountain.... 


During those days Reb TZADOK  with the delegation and accompanied by honorable Jews, visited each house, requesting  they buy the book of  sacred "CHAFETZ CHAIM." 


Reb TZADOK doesn't conformed himself only with the visit. He served this objective and founded "CHAFETZ CHAIM" group in the town, to which many workers and merchants went. For these activities,  he gave one of the rooms of his house and each evening they read the books of the "CHAFETZ CHAIM."


Reb TZADOK, the quiet man became a popular speaker and an exemplary teacher. The CHAFETZ CHAIM group was famous in the town, and the quantity of sympathetic grew without interruption. The room became a Bet Medresh and voices of prayers were listened at the distance. People pronounced the name of Reb TZADOK with reverential fear. His authority was so high as of judges and local rabbis. Great part of youth continued believing in red flag, but also among  Jews reigned the word of G-d, from house of TZADOK son of ITSHE.  


Modest and simple Jews, came to drink thirsty each one of his words, and to be perfumed with his oratory. 


The CHAFETZ CHAIM group existed until outbreak of WWI. In that moment Bereza was destroyed, and Reb TZADOK escaped to arrive to US. He lived his last years in Eretz Israel, and felt that G-d had privileged him. He could see with his own eyes the beginning of the redemption, and the concretion of the dream of the "CHAFETZ CHAIM", because he exhorted Cohanim to get ready to carry out their service in the temple, that would be reconstructed as soon as possible, in our days....