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Bikur Cholim Chevra Kadisha Seuda: Dignity in Life-Dignity in Death

mail.jpgThe members of the Bikur Cholim Chevra Kadisha perform their duty with solemn reverence and respect. 

On Monday, January 7, Erev Rosh Chodesh Shevat, over one hundred members of the Bikur Cholim Chevra Kadisha gathered.  

It was Yom Kippur Koton, a day of fasting and Tefila. It is a moment in time when the members ask for Mechila lest they did not display appropriate Kovod Haniftar during a Tahara.

This day of Tefila, Erev Rosh Chodesh Shevat follows the מנהג קדמונים that establishes this date for a day of fasting & teshuvah for the Chevra Kadisha. It has been a tradition of the Boro Park Chevra Kadisha since its inception more than 55 years ago. Mincha was led by the Posek of the Chevra, Rabbi Chaim Elazar Friedman, שליט”א, The Tenke Rov of Boro Park.

After Maariv, more than 100 Chevra Kadisha volunteers attended the Seudah, generously sponsored by Mr. Abe Weiss in memory of his family members.  The Yartzeit of his father, ר’ אהרן בן רי אברהם ז”ל is the week of the Seudah, 26 Teves.

The inspiring words of Mussar and Chizuk delivered by prominent speakers were the highlight of the evening.

Rabbi Eleizer Dovid Rappaport שליט”א, the second Posek of the Chevra, made the הדרן on      סדר מועד  סיום    He spoke poignantly on the events of that day – the passing of the great Gaon and Tzaddik, Harav Shmuel Berenbaum, זצ”ל.

That very morning, Bikur Cholim Chevra Kadisha was privileged to perform his Tahara, alongside a number of his close Talmidim. Rav Rappaport, with much emotion, observed the magnitude of this Zechus for the Chevra. He urged the members to continue to strengthen the procedures of the Taharas for even greater Kovod HaNiftar.

Harav Shmuel Dishon Shlita, משגיח רוחני of Yeshiva Karlin-Stolin was the guest speaker. His expressive words described the unique Kedusha of a Chevra Kadisha. In Europe, before the war, members of the Chevra Kadisha were held in the highest esteem by their Kehilos, in recognition of their holy work of devotion to Kovod HaNiftar. He especially praised the women of the Chevra who, with great Mesiras Nefesh, are critical partners in this holy work.

Rabbi Yossef Handler, one of the Gabbaim of the Chevra Kadisha was chairman of the evening. He astounded those present when he pointed out the overwhelming statistics: During this past year, 375 Taharas were performed for men and over 470 Taharas were conducted for women, 842 Taharas in all.

Rabbi Handler also led the Tzibur in Kel Moleh Rachamim for the departed members of the Chevra Kadisha as well as relatives of Chevra members.

Harav Avrohom Friedlander Shlita, Hinover Rov and Chaplain of Maimonides Medical Center was warmly introduced. His constant assistance and support was publicly acknowledged.

Special recognition was gratefully extended to the beloved administrator of the Chevra Kadisha, R’ Shulem Mermelstein, who has successfully and diligently steered the helm of the Chevra for more than 40 years.

Throughout the evening, a sense of serenity pervaded the proceedings.  Everyone present felt fulfilled and privileged to be part of the vital work and invaluable worth of the Chevra Kadisha.

(Photo credits: REBEL Images)

13 Responses

  1. I thought 7 adar was the day the Chevra Kadisha was supposed to fast?
    if anyone knows where this minhag came from please post

  2. The reason for the minhag to have it on zayin Adar is bec that is the yarzteit of Moshe Rabbeinu and the Eibeshter was his Chevra Kadisha so it’s a day mesugel for all Chevra Kadisha to be mispallel

  3. Yes, 7 Adar is always the day I observe, I’m not sure about this switch of “observance day”. Although any day of taanis and tshuva by a kehilla is a very special day.

    No. 1, if you are asking why 7 Adar, it is because it’s Moshe Rabbeinu’s yartzeit and on that day the Chesed Shel Emmes was “performed” by Hakodosh Boruch Hu (WHO’s actions of perfection we strive to reach).

    I usually attend the mincha and seudah that has always been given in Flatbush.

    A big yosher koach to every Chevra Kadisha in the world for their tireless work.

    Small note: I know that women are always needed to join a Chevra Kadisha. As an example, at these seudahs, there are close to 100 men (sometimes more) and usually 4 or 5 women. If there are any women interested in this ultimate of mitzvos, please contact someone in your neighborhood (or ask on here).

  4. See Sefer Gesher Hachaim Perek 33 Se’if gimmel (chelek Aleph pg. 352) that brings noth minhagim Erev Rosh Chodesh Sevat and the minhag of zayin adar.

  5. Most hold the minhag zayn Adar, but different Chevra Kedisha organizations choose to fast on different days. We fast on Tes Vov Kislev. Every year we pray we’re out of business. But the Malach Hamovos is still very busy.

    Ah bi gezunt & shtark.

  6. There are a variety of different dates for the day of tefilla for the chevra kadisha. The most common is zayin adar. But, in a large number of European cities, other dates were observed. In many cities 15 days of Kislev was the day. Erev Rosh Chodesh Adar was also used. In Pressburg, 32 days in the omer was the fast day and Lamud Gimel was the seudah. In a number of cities erev rosh chodesh Shevat was the day for the chevra. See perek 95 in the Neta Gavriel on aveilus for a more comprehensive discussion.

  7. A close family member of mine was one of the leaders of this Chevra for many years. It is very well respected and is one of the few chevras whose taharas are recognized by the chevra kaddisha in Eretz Yisroel as being done properly.

    If I remember correctly I heard from this family member of mine that one of the reasons some chevras make their seudah on Rosh Chodesh Shevat is because the roshei teivas of Shvat is Shin Beis Tes which stands for Shomreim Barcheim Tahareim (which is what the chevra kaddisha does for the niftar).

    Edited By Site Moderation Panel.

  8. I asked someone on the Lakewood Chevra Kadisha and they fast on zayin Adar
    and # 12 the boro park Chevra is by far not the only one that is trusted by E”Y most of the Chevra’s from the large community’s are
    and as far as doing it right every Chevra does it right to the tee each one according to the minhag of that place

    may the zechus of this great chesed shell emes stand for these zadikim and zidkonuyos that they should be blessed with gezunt brocha hatzlocha parnasa and mazel and may they speedaly go out of buisness with the coming of Moshiach in our days

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