14 Teves is the yahrtzeit of Reb Alter Elazar Menachem (ben Moshe Mordechai) of Lelov zy”a. (1935-2001)

I was zocheh to know him for the last few years of his life. I have never since met anyone like this. He was what I imagine a Rebbe from 200 years ago to have been like. By the second time you went to him, he knew your name and everything about you. Everyone that knew him felt like he was the closest person to him.

There would be Jews from all walks of life coming to speak with him for advice and brachos. While waiting my turn for a private audience, I always heard many amazing stories about him. I’ve heard people say they always hear amazing tzaddikim stories from others but never experienced one personally. With the Lelover Rebbe, I believe everyone that knew him had numerous amazing personal stories to tell.

His Tisch was always an incredible experience. Although he lived in Bnei Brak, he would visit his Chassidim in Boro Park several times a year. When I lived in Boro Park, I would go to almost every Tisch he gave. He would call each person up by name as he distributed shirayim with a big smile, often inquiring of us about something or making a personal comment.

When he sang zimiros he was like a ball of fire, and to this day I can visualize his face beet red as he repeated the words בירושלם קרתא דשופריא on Friday night.

As I am writing this, it occurs to me that the last letters of these three words are the first letters of his name, אלתר אלעזר מנחם. Indeed, these are the words that I remember him being the most fired up by. I was privileged to have attended Tisch numerous times and each and every time, he said these words with the same vigor.

The last Shabbos of his life, parshas Vayigash, he said the following Torah on a pasuk from the parsha:

The tzaddik taught that the הנערות ימי, one’s younger years, are the foundation of one’s life. If these years are wasted away, the shleimus of the neshama is damaged.

This is alluded to in the following pasuk: כי איך אעלה אל אבי והנער איננו אתי פן אראה ברע אשר ימצא את אבי.

כי איך אעלה אל אבי – The neshama wonders it will appear when it returns to its Father in heaven, because –

והנער איננו אתי – Its הנערות ימי, younger years, weren’t spent serving Hashem properly

פן אראה ברע – The neshama is frightened that it will be punished – it will see רע.

The words of this pasuk, כי איך אעלה אל אבי והנער איננו אתי פן אראה ברע אשר ימצא את אבי, are exactly gematria האדמו״ר מלעלוב הרבי אלתר אלעזר מנחם בן רבי משה מרדכי ז״ל זי״ע – 2735.

Zechuso yagein aleinu!

R' Dovid Friedman
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