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Haggadah: Ohev Yisrael: Why Bnei Brak

The 5th of Nisan is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Apt, the Ohev Yisrael (1755-1825). He learned under Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk and Rav Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov. In 1800 he accepted the post of Rabbi of Apta. Although he held many other rabbinic positions, to the chassidim he remained always the Apter Rav. He lived his last years in Medzibosh, the birthplace of the Baal Shem Tov.


The story may have happened in Bnei Brak, but why is it important for us to know that? In truth, these holy Sages gathered to ponder the terrible exile and its darkness which seemed to spread each day. They wanted to do something to help that Israel not sink into the darkness of the impure Shells of exile. They looked with their clear and pure minds at that night of the Redemption from Egypt, when all the Ideas of Greatness were revealed and the Shells of Darkness were naturally displaced and removed.

They succeeded so much in attaching to the Divine Abundance of “That night, “kol oto haleila,” that they were able to bring the illumination of that night to their night; the light burst forth as lightening, “Barkai,” and they transformed that night they were together into a reflection of the burst of Light of Redemption, “Bnei Brak,” a child of the original burst of the light of redemption.

The Light was so intense, that their students, who were outside the room, experienced the Light as a new morning, rushed in, and said, “Our Masters! We can now recite the Shema of the Morning of Redemption!”

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