Monday, September 7, 2009

Reb Arele Roth and a Disenchanted Man

Reb Arele Roth, founder of chassidus Shomrei Emunim came to Jerusalem in 1925. He was known for his fervent and emotional style of prayer and worship. In Satu Mare (Satmar), Hungary, at the time, he was viewed as being inordinately intense, and became somewhat of a curiosity. Such was his manner of conducting himself that the students from the Satmar yeshiva were banned from visiting or even laying eyes on him. It is said that he often had to change his shirt up to three times during shabbos morning prayers. He often stretched out the davening to four or five hours. Such was his intensity. When he moved to Jerusalem in 1925 he had decided to become a sofer (a scribe), but his teacher quickly realized that this was no ordinary human being and, soon after, Reb Arele Roth founded Shomrei Emunim.

On one occasion at a simcha, the Rebbe was dancing fervently in the middle of a circle. Amidst his ecstasy he opened his eyes, and noticed a man with a disturbed face, perhaps a misnagid (opponent of chassidim), looking on with contempt. Reb Arele broke the circle, took the man by the hand, and began to dance. A circle, once again, formed around, and Reb Arele looked up into the man's eyes. The man was shaken by this look, and almost lost his equilibrium. But just then he began to feel the niggun resonate. As the dancing became more intense, this seemingly unhappy fellow was visibly transformed, and by now he had lost his self-consciousness. Still dancing with Reb Arele, hand in hand, he felt as if he was soaring. Never before had he conceived of such ecstasy. Reb Arele knew well that the view from inside the circle is much different from the view on the outside. The man never looked back. He became a devoted chosid of the Rebbe. Such was Reb Arele's intensity and influence.

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