A Father To So Many Chassidim: The Story of Reb Avrohom Drizin Mayorer
Review by Miriam Swerdlov, acclaimed speaker and Chabad educator
During Shabbos as I was reading the book, I was composing a letter to you, but since I couldn’t underline the lines I looooooooved and couldn’t put my words down on paper, I now forgot what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it…
The book was INCREDIBLE. Every page was brilliant, the language, the organization of the material, the feeling, the humor, the chassidisher lachluchis. EVERYTHING.
Being the daughter of Reb Zalman Butman, I knew every person you described, every city you mentioned, every nuance. I grew up with these names, with these ‘faces’.
I remember when Reb Avrohom was coming to Montreal, I was a little girl, and my father said “Oy, Avrom iz a malach”, and he counted the days, the hours, and the minutes until he would see him. I did too since I had never seen an angel before, and now I would. I couldn’t wait. As a child, i was disappointed, but now i see that truly he was a malach.
Thank you for this incredible work.
May der Aibershter repay you for the chayus you have given all of us.
Review by Rabbi Nochum Kaplan, Director of the Merkos Office of Education
I read the book from cover to cover.
The writing is interesting and well done. It draws the reader into the world of Reb Avrohom (Mayorer) Drizin in a very personal way. Perhaps because I knew the subject, perhaps because I know the times, but I almost felt as though I were looking through a window at his life. For anyone who was not fortunate to have known your zeide, your book brings him and his times to life.
In other books too often one reads about a subject of which one is knowledgeable and one is disappointed with the whole rather than the parts. The writer gets the details right but does not convey their sum total, he doesn’t get the picture right.
But in this work, I am very impressed that the facts (at least as I know them) were 100% on the mark. But even more importantly, the book conveys the environment and generates a real feeling of understanding Reb Avrohom and his world.
Review by Zalman Alpert, Reference Librarian at Yeshiva University
Every once in a while an important and unusual book appears on the scene. We are familiar with books that are biographies of famous Rabbonim and gedolim.These have become commonplace in our days. These are published in Hebrew and English. While they are at times criticized for playing with history, they do an important service in serving as Mussar seforim and showing how great Jews lived their lives and devoted themselves to Avodath hashem. Lubavitch has also been blessed with many biographical studies both of the 7 Rebbes and of individual chassidim. Most of these have appeared in Hebrew and have not been fully appreciated by the reader not at ease with Hebrew. The book under review is a first it is written in an excellent English and portrays an important personage in 20th century Lubavitch history. Years ago a friend of mine who is a devout Bobover chasid told me that as a teenager older Bobover chassidim told him to go over to 770 during Yamim Tovim and see how the elder Lubavitcher “hoben farbracht“. The older Chosid referred to these men as the talmidei haBesht. Indeed they were such! Indeed these men were the talmidim of the Rashab and many of them spent years in the Soviet Union where they practiced Judaism under the worst of conditions.
Rabbi Avrohom Drizin, known as Avrohom Mayorer, was an unusual chosid indeed; that he was not only a chosid of all 3 Lubavitcher Rebbes in the 20th century, but also excelled in all 3 areas of Jewish service. If the Rebbe stressed an inyon Reb Avrohomwas there to implement this inyon. Indeed he was a major league lamdan who served as a Rosh Yeshiva in the Central Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Nevel. He was a devoted Oved hashem and chasid. he spent long hours at prayer and studying chassiduth. He was also as mentioned mekushar to the Lubavitcher Rebbes of his time. In the years of persecution in the Soviet Union , he also excelled in gemillas chassadim, practicing “Eys La’asos lashem hefeiru torasecho“. He became a pillar of chessed, and gemmillas Chesed to the Chabad community in the Soviet union. He was not a “zaddik in Peltz” but cared about his fellow man and Jews. But his service was not limited to the spiritual and personal level, for years he acted as the director of the Lubavitcher yeshivos in the Soviet union and made sure these schools and their students had food, and the proper material items needed for their survival. This at great personal cost. In fact, Reb Avrohom was a one-man communal institution representing Chabad in the Soviet Union.
What comes across in the book is also Reb Avrohom’s tremendous ahvas Israel to all Jews, not only Chabad chasidim. I have met people from the YU community who were highly impressed by his personality when spending time with him in the Catskills during the summers. He was an ish Ha-Eshkolith, as I mentioned. But he was also a true Chasid contemplating his behavior and his person. As the author relates in a wonderful story in the preface to the book as to how when the situation called for it, he could farbreng with no one else but himself ! And yet this same person set the gold standard for farbrengungs in Crown Heights with many in attendance. But for him the quantity was of no importance it was the quality even if it was only himself. The volume also depicts Reb Avrohom’s doros – his children raised under Communist persecution yet developing into proud Chabad chassdim and many serving as shluchim in various parts of the world. Reb Avrohom represented Chabad at its best. many of us are only familiar with the great Chabad Rebbes, but what made Chabad ever great is the quality of chassidim who these rebbes produced and chose to follow these rebbes in fire and water.
Although not a Rebbe , Reb Avrohom was a true Chasid.I think this volume can serve as not only a lucid account of chabad history in the 20th century but also an inspirational account for the younger generation of Chassidim of all stripes today. A few final words of full disclosure , I did have a minor role in the production of this volume and I was honored to do so. In addition my late uncle Reb Zalman Alperowitzwas a friend of Reb Avrohom who was also part of the hanhola of the Lubavitcher yeshiva in Nevel serving with reb Avrohom.. As we appraoch the 20th Yarzeit of reb Avrohom on the 10th day of Nissan , we know that just as he was a devoted chosid in this world he remains so (maybe even more so) in the sublime spiritual world. I pray that many will avail themselves of this volume and read about the life and times of Reb Avrohom and be inspired as these days are not only his yortzeit, but also the birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe whose leadership continues to inspire the Jewish world.