When I was by Rav Avrohom zt"l for Shabbos, I would hear his bracha of Hamotzi and it felt like the sky was shaking.
Rav Avrohom Zt"l And The Rebbetzin
After visiting Rav Avrohom zt"l and the rebbetzin for shabbos and after partaking in a lavish melava malka, I had to figure out the best mode of transportation to use for the next day as I planned on visiting a certain yeshiva. I originally suggested one way and the rebbetzin agreed to try that way. I then realized that this choice might not be feasible and maybe other ideas should be considered. Rav Avrohom said that since the rebbetzin already decided on what to do that is what should be followed.
After witnessing the second plane hit the World Trade Center, I traveled to Bnei Brak to be with Rav Avrohom zt"l. Besides feeling the comfort of his presence, he quoted me a verse from Tanach that indicated physically built structures are not permanent in nature.
I was privileged to accompany Rav Avrohom zt”l to many of his bein hazimanim shiurim which took place all over Eretz Yisroel. I remember it gave me the chance to get a pulse of the country as well. I would always hear him on the phone trying to refuse transportation that was being offered to him so that he would be able to get to the shiur. The rebbetzin would tell me how everyone wanted to hear him speak, but he didn’t want to put the inviting party out. Eventually he accepted and we would be on our way. He always treated the cab driver like a king. Sometimes when he had to prepare the shiur, he would put me in the front, but I was no match in engaging the driver. It’s also well known that the Genechovsky’s would bring cab drivers into their apartment to provide food and beverage.
The Chazon Ish Zt"l And Rav Avrohom's Father
As a Member Knesset, Rav Avrohom’s father, Eliyahu Moshe Genechovsky approached the Chazon Ish, who the family was very close with, on how to proceed with the vote regarding drafting women to the military. The Chazon Ish, who opposed the vote and expressed to Ben-Gurion the same, told Rav Avrohom’s father to miss the vote. Rav Avrohom’s father travelled out of the country at the time of the vote and never voted on this measure. As a result, the Chazon Ish guaranteed to Eliyahu Moshe that he would have a son that would light up the world. Indeed, Rav Avrohom zt”l was that person.
As Told Over By My Great Uncle, Reb Nachum Genechovsky zt”l
Shabbos By Rav Avrohom Zt"l
Shabbos usually unfolded in the following fashion. For mincha, Rav Avrohom would walk me to daven with a chutz la'aretz minyan of young yeshiva bachurim. I would return and accompany him to the shiur he would give, which usually took place in a different shul every time. On the way to the shiur, he would pose a question to me and then I knew what the shiur was about. He would ask my opinion on the matter and ask for a sevara. When we arrived at the shul, I would usually take a seat near the front close to where he spoke. He was famously known to end every drasha by using the lamdus in the shiur as the prototype for the mussar given. On the way home, he usually asked me how I liked the drasha. On the table for Shabbos at night, he had garlic and after hamotzei gave challah to each person so as not to have it handed over. He often told stories at the table. After the meal, at some point he would do shnayim mikra v'echad targum and ask the rebbetzin to be his shomer as he held chumras when it came to electricity. Shabbos day I often joined him to daven at Sanz. If we ever walked to shul and a group of females were walking towards us, he would grab onto my jacket. As written in many places when people saw him walking in the street they would stop and bow their heads and he would give them a "Shalom Aleichem." At lunch we usually learned "Kitzur Hilchos Shabbos" which he said was a wonderful book. He also always told me to have extra kavana in ein Kelokainu (as it relates to the avodah). By shalosh seudos, during the summer months, we would learn Pirkei Avot. Also, it was well known that Rav Avrohom reviewed seven blot of gemara, rashi and tosofot every day. At shalos seudos I would often see him turning pages of a gemara so in my estimation that was when he reviewed those pages for that day. After Shabbos, the rebbetzin always made a festive melava malka and she packed a large bag of cakes and other food items for me to take back to yeshiva. Though I tried to resist, Rav Avrohom always walked me to the cab station on motzei Shabbos and always inquired with the cab driver that he was going to the place I had to go. These were magical times that I got to spend with a Gadol. I can only reminisce about it now missing every nuance and emotion that accompanied these Shabbosim.
Walking To Mincha With Rav Avrohom Zt"l
One day I went to visit Rav Avrohom zt”l in yeshiva. I saw the room that he slept in (as he slept in yeshiva all week, returning to Bnei Brak on Friday and back to yeshiva Monday morning). As I had to catch Mincha, he enthusiastically walked with me to find a minyan. We trekked up a steep hill from shul to shul until we found a minyan that was beginning at a time I could make it. We then walked back down to yeshiva and I bid farewell to the Gaon of Tschiben.
A Terrorist Attack
Whenever I was in Israel with Rav Avrohom zt”l and we heard of a terrorist attack that caused any injury or death, he struck his hands together in a thunderous manner and released a shriek of grief.
Hashem Gives And Hashem Takes Away
After the rebbetzin lost her brother, Rabbi Berenfeld zt"l, I called to offer my condolences. Rav Avrohom zt"l answered and he said "HaShem natan (gave) Ve'Hashem lakach (took away)."
When I first met Rav Avrohom zt”l, I didn’t know of his stature. As I was waiting for him to go to shul, his upstairs neighbor was walking down and asked how I knew Rav Avrohom. I said I was a relative. He said the Rav possesses Kol Ha'Torah Kula on his fingertips. With time, I began to learn with whom I was with.
Mitzvos Need Kavana
When Rav Avrohom zt"l was burying his younger son who passed away from cancer, as they were covering the body with the dirt for the first time, he whispered to his other son to have Kavana to fulfill the Torah obligation of Burial - as it says "Bury him on that day."
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Challah And Drink After Fish Before Meat
On Shabbos, Rav Avrohom zt"l always had me eat challah and have a drink after the fish before the meat was served.
A Well-Known Story
Rav Avrohom zt”l took a bachur to see a psychiatrist to help the bachur deal with some issues. While there, someone recognized Rav Avrohom. To protect the bachur, Rav Avrohom asked this person to not reveal that “he” – Rav Avrohom was seeking help for himself. In this way he protected the bachur from any embarrassment.
All Halachic Inquiries
Rav Avrohom zt"l often posed questions relating to the subject of whether one is allowed to wake someone up on a bus in different situations. His sensitivity to the human condition brought him to enter the Halachic realm regarding these kinds of issues.
Mashiv Haruach U'morid Hageshem At Vatikin
On Simchat Torah, two days before Rav Avrohom zt"l passed, he was still involved in being mechadesh ’Torah. His grandson Rav Baruch Shlita, who was with him that day, said over that Rav Avrohom davened shacharit that day at vasikin. When he reached mussaf he asked his grandson to exit the room and the grandson asked why. Rav Avrohom said that some hold when mashiv haruach u'morid hageshem is said it’s like an announcement, and then the grandson would have a problem in regarding what to say for shacharit. Rav Menas Shlita, Rav Avrohom’s talmid, mentioned this at the hesped and said that in fact this is the opinion of the Tehilla Le’David. This Halacha is brought down in the biur halacha Siman104 s.v. lo yakdim that says an announcement at a minyan vasikin helps for the minyan after it.
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There's No I, Only You
Based on a story about Rav Avrohom zt"l, he once said, "There's no I, just you; the only question should be, what can I do for you."
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