Power To Bless Jews
By Menachem Ziegelboim
Sivan marks the untimely passing of Rabbi Shlomo Eidelman, a’h * Rabbi
Eidelman was a Chassid, an ish chesed, and a Kohen whom the Rebbe told
to bless Jews * A profile of a special Chassid and a mekushar to the
people remember the tall, impressive figure of R’ Shlomo standing
among thousands of Chassidim, in a moment of silence calling out the
priestly blessing. There was a certain enchanted atmosphere. Everybody
watched the Rebbe. The Rebbe looked at R’ Shlomo, listened closely,
and answered amen after each part of the blessing. Then everybody
joined in singing a Chassidic melody.
these brief moments one could discern all of R’ Shlomo’s qualities.
He was full of bitachon, a Chassid who loved the Rebbe, and a
Kohen who blessed his Rebbe and people with love.
Shlomo Eidelman was born fifty-five years ago to Rabbi Yisroel Eidelman,
a distinguished Jew who worked with devotion on behalf of public causes
and in various communal roles, such as being a member of the city
council in Petach Tikva.
Shlomo became interested in Chabad in his youth, and in the beginning of
the ‘60’s he went to learn in Kfar Chabad. Rabbi Zalman Abelsky and
Rabbi Yaakov Minsky influenced him to become involved in Chabad.
Shlomo was an energetic fellow, and as a young bachur he traveled
to 770, where he quickly acclimated to the Chassidic lifestyle and
became a true Chassid. It is said that while still a bachur, he
merited special signs of affection from the Rebbe.
he married, R’ Shlomo lived in Kiryat Gat and taught in the Chabad
school under Rabbi Zalman Abelsky. In 5730 he moved to Rechovot, where
he was one of three people who formed the nucleus of the present day
large Chabad community.
mashpia of the Chabad community in Rechovot, Rabbi Aryeh Yehuda
Levin, who worked with R’ Shlomo, told the following: “R’ Shlomo
was in the front ranks of the community and one of the founders of the shul.
For twenty years we worked together fundraising for the shul,
building the shul, and organizing Tzach activities.”
Shlomo Eidelman was a Chassid and mekushar to the Rebbe MH”M in
the fullest sense of the words. He was zealous about all of the
Rebbe’s inyanim. “He knew the Seifer HaMinhagim by
heart,” testifies his close friend Rabbi Elimelech Shachar, director
of mosdos Chabad in Rechovot. “He felt strongly about every
detail of the Rebbe’s minhagim and he zealously observed them
to this dedication,” says Rabbi Levin, “Chabad minhag prevails
in our community in Rechovot. In the early years when the community was
small, many outsiders came to daven in our shul. Sometimes
they would daven from the amud and follow their own minhagim.
It was feared that the ways of Chabad would be lost from this Chabad shul.
That’s when R’ Shlomo began insisting on every detail of minhagei
rav of the Chabad community in Rechovot, Rabbi Menachem Mendel
Gluckowsky, says, “He was moser nefesh for minhagei Chabad.”
Yisroel Labkovski says that often R’ Shlomo would discuss minhagei
Chabad with him, asking what precisely the Rebbe did on various
dearly loved the Rebbe,” says Rabbi Gluckowsky. “He did countless
things for the Rebbe because he knew it gave the Rebbe nachas ruach.
He helped clean the Rebbe’s home for Pesach, and even rolled up his
sleeves and helped with the cooking. The Rebbe returned this love, and
R’ Shlomo’s connection to the Rebbe was greater than the usual
connection between Chassid and Rebbe.”
word the Rebbe uttered was precious to him, and he had a special regard
for the topic of Geula and Moshiach, especially in recent years.
On R. Shlomo’s last visit to Eretz Yisroel, one of the students in the
yeshiva in Rechovot visited him in order to say goodbye. R’
Shlomo put his hand on his shoulder and said, “If you want to do
something for me, then I ask you to make sure to add ten minutes to the shiur
on inyanei Moshiach and Geula. In order to attract the
boys to join, put some food down on the table and send me the bill once
Elimelech Shachar adds, “On this visit, he farbrenged in the
home of one of his mekuravim from New York. This man brought some
recent baalei teshuva to the farbrengen and they heard
R’ Shlomo speak strongly about hiskashrus to the Rebbe,
especially on the topic of Geula. Afterwards, they said, “He
speaks straight; he doesn’t say one thing and mean something else.”
5750 R’ Shlomo lived in Rechovot. On a visit in 5750 with Rabbi
Gluckowsky, he brought with him a special scroll to be given to the
Rebbe in honor of the Rebbe’s fortieth year of leadership. The scroll
was from the municipality of Rechovot, signed by all the members of the
council. R’ Shlomo bought beautiful paper and brought it to an artist
who illustrated it. He purchased a wooden box, covered it with red
velvet, and placed a silver crown on it, decorated with gems. He took
care of every detail, making sure the scroll was fit for a king.
we went for “dollars,” recalls Rabbi Gluckowsky, “and presented
the scroll to the Rebbe. The Rebbe accepted it and then gave me a dollar
for the mayor, another dollar for the residents of the city, and a third
dollar for the gift. Then the Rebbe pointed at R’ Shlomo and said to
Rabbi Groner, “He’s from here.” The secretary said that he was
also from Rechovot, but the Rebbe didn’t respond.
we left, R’ Shlomo said, ‘Now the Rebbe made me a resident of the sh’chuna
(Crown Heights), so I have to stay here to live near the Rebbe.’
Those three words the Rebbe uttered changed his whole life. He
immediately began looking for an apartment.”
looking for an apartment to rent in Crown Heights, R’ Shlomo insisted
on living in the same building the Rebbe had lived in years before, on
Brooklyn Avenue. His efforts finally paid off and he rented an
apartment. He signed the contract on a Sunday, in the middle of the day.
“I still remember R’ Shlomo running to 770, asking people if the
Rebbe was still giving out dollars. He wanted to give the Rebbe the key
to his apartment that very day.
managed to arrive on time and gave his key to the Rebbe. It was only
afterwards that he realized that he hadn’t left himself a copy, and he
had no way of getting into his apartment. He certainly wasn’t going to
ask the Rebbe for his key!”
Elimelech Shachar: On his final visit to Eretz Yisroel for Shavuos, they
showed a video of dollars on Motzaei Shabbos, and of all people,
we saw R’ Shlomo and Rabbi Gluckowsky. We saw this as a sign from
Aryeh Yehuda Levin: Even when he lived in the United States, he always
saw himself as an ardent resident of Rechovot. He took care of the
community and was actually the “Beis Chabad of Rechovot in Crown
Kohanim live in Crown Heights, but R’ Shlomo Eidelman was
unique in this role. His distinctiveness originated from the time he
passed by the Rebbe for Kos Shel Bracha and the Rebbe gave him
wine and said, “You are a Kohen, and you have the ability to bless
that time, he began blessing Jews at every opportunity; first and
foremost, the Rebbe. He blessed the Rebbe on many occasions in the
presence of thousands, whether after davening or after a farbrengen.
His loud and clear voice could be heard from one end of the shul to
the other, and the Rebbe always answered amen.
another occasion, when he passed by the Rebbe, the Rebbe said, “Yeira’eh
Shachar relates, “I once had to undergo an operation, and when I was
in New York, R. Shlomo joined me for dollars. He knew I wouldn’t have
the nerve to ask the Rebbe for a bracha, so he came along to ask
for a bracha on my behalf. As we passed the Rebbe, I stood in
silent awe, as I knew I would, while R’ Shlomo asked for a bracha
for me. The Rebbe said, “You are a Kohen; you bless him.” R’
Shlomo blessed me right there and the Rebbe answered amen.”
his matzeiva (gravestone), among other things, it describes R’
Shlomo as an ish chesed, a kind man. Indeed, R’ Shlomo was a
tremendous ish chesed, although people did not always know the
extent of his kindness. “He was ready to run from one end of the world
to another for a Jew,” says R’ Elimelech.
the ten years he lived in Crown Heights, his house was open to guests,
especially guests from Eretz Yisroel. He had a special place in his
heart for people from Rechovot. No Rechovot resident could avoid being a
guest in his house.
Shlomo’s generosity wasn’t only toward residents of Rechovot, but to
everyone. On Friday nights and Shabbos you would see him walking around
770 searching for bachurim who didn’t have a place to eat. One
of the Tmimim related that many bachurim knew they could daven
at length because whenever they would show up at R’ Shlomo’s house
they could expect a hot meal.
Gluckowsky: “He was an ish chesed, a friend to all, who greeted
everybody graciously. Despite the troubles he had, he always had a smile
on his face and a good word for everyone. He was an extremely loyal
friend of mine. If you could describe someone as a friend, heart and
soul, that was R’ Shlomo. He knew, for example, that every Yom Tov
we hosted many people and it wasn’t easy to wash all those dishes.
Without my asking him, he would send a carton of attractive disposable
dishes from New York before every Yom Tov, or cartons of
fish that were difficult to obtain in Eretz Yisroel. He would think of
the smallest details which ordinary people would overlook.
called me on every birthday and blessed me with the priestly blessing.
He did the same on erev Yom Tov. He once told me
that every Motzaei Shabbos he went to the Rebbe’s room to daven
Maariv. Afterwards, he would mention me and ask for blessings on my
behalf that I succeed in leading the community in Rechovot. He thought
of others in a manner that was quite rare.
ago when one of my children was born jaundiced, he went to the Rebbe and
asked for a bracha for the child. He didn’t know that I had
already asked for a bracha that the bris should be b’itta
u’bizmana (on time). The Rebbe gave him a dollar for me and said
with a smile, “Give it to him b’itto u’bizmano.” R’
Shlomo didn’t know what the Rebbe meant by that, so he hurriedly
called me to ask what the Rebbe could have meant. I told him that I had
already received a bracha. The bris was indeed b’itta
loved to help others, and he did so day and night. After his death many
people came to me; one said he helped me with this, another said he
helped me with that. He was involved with everything. Wherever you went,
you saw signs that he had been there ahead of you. He had no day, no
night. He could work for hours in order to help a Jew.”
Shlomo would go about with a pushka and nickels and would give
the coins to children in order to enable them to give tzedaka.
Many people later told about the special relationship R’ Shlomo had
had with their children, though none of them knew that dozens of other
children had the same special personal relationship.
Gluckowsky: “One of the children told me, ‘I want to tell you a
secret,’ and then said, ‘I once asked R’ Shlomo where he got all
those nickels from, and he said that when he gives them out, his pocket
fills up again.’”
Shachar: “When he was here on his last visit, he noticed that the
Rav’s table in shul was missing a certain screw which supported
the table. Although his schedule was packed with meetings, he went to
Tel Aviv and spent hours looking around for the right part. He had a
knack for noticing tiny details which most people overlooked.”
daughter, Mrs. Chana Glick, spoke about R’ Shlomo’s chesed. “Abba
told me that he once noticed a bachur walking around 770 looking
for something. Abba went over to him and asked him what he was looking
for. The boy answered that he had just arrived in the U.S. and he had no
place to stay.
the spot my father said, “If that’s the case, come to my house where
you will eat and sleep until you return to Eretz Yisroel.” That bachur
was on his way towards becoming a baal teshuva, and the warm
atmosphere in the home contributed a great deal towards being mekarev
him to Yiddishkeit.”
Aryeh Yehuda Levin: “One of the young men in the community went to
Crown Heights at the time he was getting involved in Yiddishkeit.
The person who took an interest in him was R’ Shlomo. R’ Shlomo’s
home was open to him, and he took care of all his needs. You can say
that because of R’ Shlomo, he became frum. He is R’
Shlomo’s spiritual son, as were many others.”
Shlomo was an askan (a doer) by nature. He seemed to be born to askanut.
He once said that he inherited this ability from his father. His primary
askanut took place when he lived in Rechovot. Whenever there was
a need to take care of the development of the schools, the work of Tzach,
or community matters, R’ Shlomo was concerned and involved.
Elimelech Shachar was his partner in askanut, and he says that
all the municipality officials were at his beck and call, from the mayor
on down. “He was able to get the mayor out of an emergency session and
have him sign an urgent document. Nobody knew how he managed it. He was
how he did things with officials and politicians, and the same went l’havdil
for admurim, rabbanim, and other public figures. He
didn’t have to say much to be convincing. “He opened all closed
doors and we just followed after him,” says Rabbi Shachar.
Levin: “R’ Shlomo was incredibly energetic. In the early years in
Rechovot when there was hardly any hafatza in the city, I was
involved in hafatza and R’ Shlomo helped. I remember that
wherever we went, people listened to him.
remember that in 5740 there was strong opposition to the Lag B’Omer
parades, yet we managed to bring 1,500 children to the parade!”
daughter relates, “My father would say that this world is the Olam
HaAsiya, so a person must do many good deeds, for that is all he
will take with him to Olam HaBa. The truth is that he would use
every moment in order to help someone and do chesed, as if his
heart was telling him he would be taken away suddenly.”
spent the last two weeks of his life visiting Eretz Yisroel, as though
he knew this would be his opportunity to take leave of all his family
and friends there, especially the community of Rechovot, which he was so
fond of. During those two weeks he met many people he had known over the
years and he traveled to visit relatives he hadn’t seen in years.
“He stayed with me and didn’t rest for a moment,” says Rabbi
Shachar. “He would come home late at night and leave early in the
Levin seconds that. “He was relaxed. He didn’t part from us in the
usual way. Now retroactively we realize that it was his goodbye visit.
In all those meetings, each of his friends received the priestly
blessing from him.”
daughter concurs. “He visited the family, including those he hadn’t
visited in years. When he came to me before his flight, he suddenly
asked me to show him pictures of all the grandchildren. He looked at
them one by one, with pleasure, something he had never done before.
few minutes before he boarded his return flight to the States, he called
his sister and said, “What can I tell you, may Moshiach come soon and
then everybody will come from all corners of the world. And I promise
you that the one who went last will come first.”
left Eretz Yisroel on Sunday,” says Rabbi Shachar. “The night
before, I said to him, “Kasheh alai preidaschem” (your
parting is difficult for me). R’ Shlomo looked at me and said
humorously, though sharply, ‘Don’t cry today, for tomorrow you’ll
have time enough to cry.’”
Yaakov Lenchner has been working on a telephone directory of
Lubavitchers in Rechovot. In the course of his visit, R’ Shlomo asked
him to put his name on the list. Rabbi Lenchner asked him for his
information, but R’ Shlomo only gave him his telephone number, saying,
“I can’t give you my address because I don’t know where I’ll be
tomorrow.” It was as though he was prophesying his imminent demise.
evening, Beis Sivan, R’ Shlomo boarded the plane on his way back to
Crown Heights, “the Rebbe’s sh’chuna,” as he often called
it. He didn’t feel well and lost consciousness. All attempts by a
doctor on the plane to revive him were in vain. His heart had stopped
and his soul had returned to his Maker.
Jews on the flight remained to watch over him even after they landed, so
that he wouldn’t be taken for an autopsy, as is usually done in such
situations in the U.S. They stayed with him until the chevra kaddisha
Gluckowsky relates, “After the funeral, a member of the chevra
kaddisha came over to me and said, “He must have been an important
person.” I asked him what made him say that and he answered, “When
we came to release the body from the police station at the airport, the
red tape, which usually takes a full day, took an hour or so. I realized
that in Heaven they had opened all the doors for him.”
one who took care of all the details of the funeral, burial and Shiva
arrangements was none other than Rabbi Gluckowsky. By Divine providence
he was in the United States for Shavuos. People in Rechovot mused how R.
Shlomo had merited to serve the Rav in his lifetime and merited that the
Rav should take care of his burial.
goes without saying to those who knew R’ Shlomo that, while he was in
Crown Heights, he was utterly devoted to spreading the besuras ha’Geula
by way of distributing and shipping Beis