Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A treasure discovered

We discovered a treasure today: My father had given me two pairs of tefillin to get checked-one small pair, and one pair that he said was from his bar mitzva. I had my doubts, as the pair he was using during the shloshim period of mourning was what he had told me earlier was from his bar mitzva, 73 years ago. Anyway, my dear sofer friend, Rabbi Yaakov Safranovitz, told me, that there was good news and bad news: The bad news was that the small pair, which I believe were from a deceased cousin who more than 50 years ago, had left them with my parents when he was in the army and stationed in California, were not kosher, nor were they worth fixing as they were of poor quality. However, the other pair, he said were definitely not from my father--they were at least 150 year old! The quality of the parchment was thick and superb, and the script, which was in the style of the Baal Hatanya, came from Russia, had to have been written by a G-d fearing person, by a very high soul, and was of a very high quality.

I remembered back, that in 1974, when my father had come to NY for my graduation from Yeshiva University, he had brougth with him these tefillin. At the time the batim (cases) were very old and falling apart, and we brought them to a sofer (scribe) in the lower east side, who checked them and placed them in their present batim. For those of you who know anything about safrus, the parchment was so thick, that it would only fit into dakos, not the usual gasos that are used today! So my dad and I put our heads together, and we realized that these must have been the tefillin of my great-grandfather, Yosef Schwartz,a"h, born in 1862, moved to Jerusalem circa 1925, in his last years was a gabbai tzedoka for Kollel Shomrei Hachomos, and who, when he passed away in 1931, was buried among the holy souls on Har Hazeisim (the mount of olives). I have merited to visit his grave twice. It will take about 2 weeks to properly restore these treasures, and G-d willing, my dad will be use them for special occasions for many years to come.

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