R' Avrohom Moshe Klaar zt"l, and his worn copy of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch
Aliya in his Eighties
The following amazing, inspiring story came to light this week. It took place very recently, not as a dream but in broad daylight. We asked to hear it from the very person in question, HaRav Eliyohu Klaar, one of the foremost talmidei chachomim in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Yerushalayim.
HaRav Eliyohu was born in Argentina. His father, R' Avrohom Moshe, was born in Poland, in 5693 (1933), and emigrated to Argentina with his family before the War. He lived in Argentina for most of his eighty-seven years. Even though this family and its offspring were raised in the Diaspora, their dream was always to eventually go up to Eretz Yisroel, at least towards the end of their lives.
Three years ago, the father, Avrohom Moshe Klaar, succeeded in making aliya from Argentina at the age of eighty. Shortly after, he settled into a Senior Citizens Home, Shomrei Hachomos, where he continued to lead a very regimented daily schedule as before, throughout his life.
One particular facet always drew people's attention: wherever he happened to be, one could always find his copy of the "Kitzur Shulchan Oruch" by his side, which he studied every day. He was thoroughly immersed in his Torah study and even taught others. All of his acquaintances knew that R' Avrohom Moshe and his Kitzur Shulchan Oruch were inseparable `friends'.
About a month-and-a-half ago, on the evening preceding the 27th of Nisan, R' Avrohom Moshe passed away, at the age of 87, in the very midst of the Corona epidemic. As is known, burials were performed very quickly, with a bare minimum of participants.
The family adhered to the Yerushalmi custom to have him interred that very night. The funeral was scheduled for one a.m., leaving from the Shamgar Funeral Home. Health regulations for that period stipulated that only five members of the Chevra Kadisha were allowed to accompany the deceased in the van, so as not to endanger the full crew in the event that they might have to be quarantined. The family had to round up another five people to complete a minyan for the burial itself.
Here, the son, HaRav Eliyohu, relates the incredible events that followed, to which he was an eye witness:
There were very few of us from the family: myself, the only son, and my son-in-law, who is a kohen. We took leave of the departed with a few words, since in Nisan one does not eulogize. I recited the Kaddish, and the stretcher was laid inside the Chevra Kadisha van, to make its way to Har HaZeisim, to the plot of Anshei Yerushalayim.
The members of the Chevra Kadisha had to ascertain that there will be a minyan for the actual burial, which is essential. A full ten quorum was lacking. Family members were ruled out according to the Jerusalem custom that they are not permitted to attend the actual interment in the cemetery. I remained behind at Shamgar until the van left, after which I would be free to return home with my two sons-in-law who are kohanim. My third son-in-law was in Argentina, anyway, because of the closure. There remained only four men, my sister's sons-in-law living in Israel, to go to Har Hazeisim. A tenth man was missing!
The members of the Chevra Kadisha came to a decision that under these very extenuating circumstances, they would make allowance and ask one more one their men to join them at this wee hour of the night, and they would pick him up en route. They weren't sure, however, that he would be available on short notice.
At this point, a man of about seventy suddenly appeared. He had stood by during the funeral at Shamgar and declared that he would join burial. The family members were very curious about this tenth man, who was a total stranger, and was willing to go out of his way at one a.m., especially during this dangerous period of the epidemic. They thought he was had mis-information and tried to dissuade him from joining them. "Don't go out of your way, Reb Yid," they suggested, believing that he was just a do-gooder stranger, "we will find a tenth man somehow."
The stranger was adamant. The family members asked him discreetly if he had known the deceased. "I am a relative," he replied succinctly.
The family was very surprised since they didn't know of any relatives living in Israel, and were convinced that he was making a mistake. Many other funerals had taken place that evening at Shamgar, one after another. Maybe he was confusing our funeral with another. "Are you sure?" they asked.
He continued to insist that he wished to accompany the deceased to the burial. One of the sons-in-law did not argue the matter further and took him into his car.
After the burial, this son-in-law saw the stranger standing by the gravesite and his curiosity was piqued all the more.
"What's your name?" he asked.
This was not a name known in the family in the least. How could he claim to be a relative?
The stranger accompanied them on the way home. When a cousin was picked up along the way, he sat up front and the stranger took a back seat. After they let him off somewhere in Jerusalem, the driver asked his seat mate, "Do you know anyone in our family by the name of `Ganzfried'?"
The man nearly fainted. "That's the name he told you?"
He asked the driver to stop so that they could find the man but he had completely disappeared.
"Do you know what the name `Ganzfried' represents? HaRav Shlomo Ganzfried was the author of the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch!
He knew about the special relationship that Abba had with the sefer of HaRav Sholom Ganzfried, the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch, and he came right over to my house to tell us the amazing story, saying that he was sure that this was an emissary from Heaven for his levaya.
What was your father's special relationship with the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch?
When my parents arrived in Argentina from Poland there were no organized Torah mosdos. There was a wonderful Yid named Rabbi Zev Greenberg who was like a Heavenly agent to spread Yiddishkeit among the many immigrants who reached Argentina. He managed to bring hundreds or maybe thousands closer to Yiddishkeit.
When my late father hk"m became bar mitzvah, 74 years ago, Rabbi Greenberg told him, "You are fortunate to enter the world of mitzvos. For your bar mitzvah I am giving you a holy sefer called "the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch" whose author is HaRav Sholom Ganzfried. It can guide your during your entire life."
My father accepted the gift and took as a central task of his life the accompanying words. "Every day in which you learn in this holy book you will be a good Jew. You will be able to follow its teachings about the proper way of life of a Jew which are clear and simple and cover all facets of life. Hashem will be very happy."
I can testify that from the day of his bar mitzvah until his last day on 26 Nisan, not a day passed in which my father did not learn from this holy sefer. When he came to Eretz Yisroel it was in his hand luggage and in the Shomrei Hachomos home it was next to his bed.
I remember that 25 years ago when I got married in Argentina, before the wedding I saw my father learning the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch about getting married with such simchah. I asked him, `How many times have you already learned this holy sefer?'
"Maybe thirty times..."
This was 25 years ago. A few years ago when we celebrated his 80th birthday, he was asked to say a few words.
He said, "I do not have much to say. I only know to say Tehillim and to learn the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch. So I will say some halochos."
And he started saying over halochos that he knew by heart,
Three years ago when my parents decided to move to Eretz Yisroel we were surprised. They had lived their whole lives and raised their family in Argentina. But Abba insisted that he wanted to spend his remaining years in the Holy Land. When they were about to leave, he got together all the money that he had saved, including the savings that he had in the bank, to take with him to Eretz Yisroel to give out to his children. Then, in broad daylight, thieves dressed as meshulachim came and robbed him of all his money and even the jewelry they had in their home.
My mother was frightened and asked him what to do. He answered her calmly, `It says in the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch that everything that Hashem does is for the best. Apparently He is helping us to reach Eretz Yisroel in purity, as it says of Yaakov Avinu that left behind all his property in chutz la'aretz when he went back to Eretz Yisrael. We must daven to Hashem that we will be able to go to Eretz Yisrael the best way possible."
Ima said that in their 65 years of marriage he never said a word of criticism or loshon hora. When people would say something not proper he would pretend not to hear. He always used to say, "The Kitzur Shulchan Oruch doesn't allow this." Whatever he could, he fulfilled of the words of the sefer with simplicity, even halachos that were not ruled by other poskim.
Whoever knew my father knew that he had an unusual yiras Shomayim. Once he told me the secret of his lifelong yiras Shomayim. `The first paragraph of the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch says: "Shivisi Hashem lenegdi tomid is a great rule of the Torah and one of the maalos of tzadikim."
Abba lived with this passage his entire life. Whenever he opened the sefer to continue where he had left off, he also used to review this opening statement. So to us it is not that surprising since he lived like that all the time, that this amazing story happened during his levaya."
We spoke with several rabbonim, asking them whether we should publish this. They said it is a mitzvah to publish it so people can see how wonderful it is to cleave to a sefer, which accompanies a person in this life, and even in the world of Truth.