Weekly Story: The Way the Rebbe Would Want It

by Rabbi Sholom D. Avtzon

Reb Avrohom  Zushe Ziskind was a chassidishe and ehrliche Jew, who lived in Newark New Jersey, before the Frierdike Rebbe settled in the USA.  In 1938, when the Shadar (emissary of the Rebbe), Reb Mordechai Chefetz came to America, Reb Avrohom bemoaned to him, that he has two daughters of marriageable age and there are no chassidishe and ehrliche bochurim in America; who will they marry? After much thought and discussions, it was decided that the two girls will go to Poland, with Reb Mordechai, and they will rely on the decision of the Frierdiker Rebbe. He will arrange the shidduchim for these two girls, from amongst his students in Tomchei tmimim there.

The Frierdike Rebbe agreed to this, and on Isru chag of (the day after)  Shavuos, the older sister married Rabbi Mordechai Mentlik, (who later on became the Rosh Yeshiva in 770) and a week later the younger sister married Rabbi Moshe Pinchos Katz, (who later worked as an administrator in Tomchei Tmimim). A short time later, the two newly wed sisters returned to the states with the necessary documentation, in order to expedite the visas’ for their respective husbands.

Almost a year later, Rabbi Katz received his visa and he left Poland to America on the 19th of Iyar 1939, (a few months before the war broke out), while Rabbi Mentlick received his visa almost five months later, and he left between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a few weeks after the war broke out.

Before leaving, Rabbi Mentlick went to the Frierdike Rebbe, to receive his brocha for a safe trip and for whatever else he wanted to ask in this yechidus. During the yechidus, the Frierdike Rebbe asked him, “What are your travelling plans?”

Rabbi Mentlick replied, I am going first to London, England and the following day, I am to go on a boat to America. And Boruch Hashem I have the ticket already.

The Frierdike Rebbe said, “You should see to chazer Chassidus (review a maamar Chassidus in public) in England.

Rabbi Mentlick arrived in London and it was arranged that he will stay overnight in the house of the chossid Reb Yosef Avrohom Kagan. Reb Yosef welcomed him warmly, gave him a nutritious meal and asked him, “What time is the boat supposed to leave tomorrow, and when do you have to board?”

Rabbi Mentlick replied,” I am not going tomorrow. I will be going on the first boat after Shabbos Shuva.”

Reb Yosef couldn’t believe his ears. “What,” he exclaimed; “there is a war going on and who knows if there will be a boat next week. It is a matter of Pikuach Nefesh (saving your life), and you must go as soon as possible! There is no next week, you are going tomorrow!”

Rabbi Mentlick responded, “Before I left, I had a yechidus with the Rebbe, and the Rebbe instructed me to chazer Chassidus in England, so I will not leave England before I fulfill the horoah (guidance and instruction) that the Rebbe gave me.

If the Rebbe said that, obviously that has to be done, replied Rabbi Kagan. Prepare your thoughts, because this evening, I am going to bring over a minyan of Jews and you will repeat for them the maamar the Rebbe said this Rosh Hashanah. Then you fulfilled the Rebbe’s horoah and you can and must go tomorrow. You realize, it is in middle of a horrific war and one cannot ignore realities of life.

Rabbi Mentlik, although much younger then Rabbi Kagan replied; “The Rebbe instructed me to chazer a maamar. When do chassidim chazer a maamar in public, that is done on Shabbos and Yom Tov, when Jews are not busy, and they can concentrate properly on it. So I will chazer a maamar on Shabbos. A chossid fulfills the Rebbe’s horoah properly, the way the Rebbe would want it.

So, although he did not know if there will be another boat (as some rumored that the next days’ boat may be the last one to make the voyage) and if there is another one, no one can say for sure, when will it sail, nevertheless, Rabbi Mentlick remained in London for Shabbos and reviewed the maamar in various shuls. Friday night he spoke in one shul, Shabbos day in a second one and in the afternoon between Mincha and Maariv in a third one. After Shabbos he boarded the next boat and arrived in America in middle of Sukkos.

When he arrived, obviously there was tremendous joy from his wife and the entire family, but he noticed, it was way more than usual and more emotional than the way the other passengers were being greeted. Only then did he find out that the boat he originally was supposed to sail on was bombed by the enemy, yimach shemam, and there were no survivors from it. His family had feared that he was on that boat!

He immediately realized, “Only because he determinedly fulfilled the Rebbe’s Horoah in its best way was he saved.”

So as this week is Shabbos Mevorchim Tammuz, and we all prepare ourselves for Gimmel Tammuz; let us firmly resolve, not only to follow the Rebbe’s guidance, but to do so meticulously, in the best way and manner possible: The way the Rebbe would want it.

This weeks’ story is in memory of my dear brother-in-law HaRav HaChossid Menachem Meir ben HaRav Chaim Moshe Yehudah HaCohen Blau, who exemplified and personified this concept of fulfilling the Rebbe’s Horaos in a way and manner that the Rebbe would have a nachas ruach. His first yarhzeit was this Thursday, the 21st of Sivan.

Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and author of numerous books. He is available to farbreng in your community and can be reached at avtzonbooks@gmail.com.

Update from Rabbi Avtzon:

Dear Readers, it was brought to my attention via email on erev Shabbos (which is the preferred way to communicate to me directly) that Rabbi Mentlick’s father in law was Reb Dovid Stockhammer.

Reb Avrohom Zushe Ziskind was Reb Dovid’s oldest son-in-law.

Thank you for clarifying it.

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  • 1. myg wrote:

    a number of details of this story are not factually correct.
    including [but not limited to] the person was was R dovid stockhammer
    – his first SIL was R AZ ziskind
    – his other 2 SIL’s were R Mentlick and R katz

    • 2. Rabbi Avtzon wrote:

      Yes I am corrected,
      During this past week I spoke to one of Rabbi Mentlik’s nephews and based on the information he provided me, I wrote it up.
      Two of Rabbi AZ Ziskind’s grandchildren emailed me with the correction and thank you.

  • 3. Anonymous wrote:

    Reb Dovid Stokheimer was the father of the 2 unmarried girls.
    Reb Avrohohom ziskind was his son-in-law who married his 3rd. and oldest daughter
    Thus Rabbi Ziskind and Rabbis Mentlik and Katz were brothers-in-law. For a period of time they all lived in Newark, NJ

  • 4. CORRECTION (from a family member) wrote:

    The man in the story was Dovid Shtokhammer, A. Z. Ziskind was his Son-in-law, A brother-in-law to Rabbi’s Katz and Mentlick, H emarried the 3rd Daughter of R’ Dovid Shtokhammer

  • 5. The name is Dovid Shtakhamer wrote:

    Reb Dovid Shtakhamer lived in Newark and had THREE daughters.
    His sons in law were Horav Moshe Pinchos Katz, Horav Mordechai Mentlik and Horav Avrohom Zushe Ziskind. Horav Ziskind was the brother in law of Horav Katz and Horav Mentlik, not the father in law.

  • 6. Wrong name wrote:

    It was not rabbi Ziskind, it was rabbi Dovid shtockhamer his father in law whom the previous rebbe called “my mechutan”

  • 7. Moishe pipek wrote:

    Rabbi Mentlick was devoted to the Rebbe and fine Rosh Yeshiva and extremly caring about the bochurim.

  • 8. Dina wrote:

    Sad- why couldn’t these facts be clarified before going to print. It seems like there are a lot of family members that could have been consulted.
    So important …

  • 9. Malka wrote:

    The point of story is not the prophesy of Rebbe that saved his life but rather the merit of fullfilling the words of Sages (in the best manner possible). The Talmudic story of the person who was destined to die at het wrdding but gave charity and later a dead venomous snake was discovered killed by her hair pin which she stuck into hole in wall. The merit of following meticiously the direction of Rebbe has stood by many individuals and saved them from physical or spiritual tragedies. I know from personal experience.

    • 10. Kop wrote:

      Is this the famous Malka – the one who had a special relationship with Rebbe? Please share the details that you are referring to!

  • 12. To "Malka" wrote:

    Are you sugesting that it doesn’t really matter if a story is true or not, as long as there’s an important message?

    • 13. Berel wrote:

      How did you get to that assumption.
      All she wrote is that the punchline and lesson is how a chossid should see that by obeying the Rebbe the chossid is benefiting. Sometimes we see the benefit and sometimes not.

      Additionally Rabbi Avtzon wrote that he had the names mixed up after discussing it with one relative. He did not know thatRabbi Ziskinds grandchildren live in Crown heights and elsewhere and some of them contacted him directly and others via the comments and they are only saying that the names are mixed up but the story is correct.

  • 14. The kangeroo wrote:

    And it is true that Rabbi Mentlick was devoted to the Rebbe a good Rosh Yeshiva and devoted to the bachurim


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