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Reading the Haftorah

It was the second day of Rosh Hashanah. As it turned out, Rabbi Bryn was honored for Haftorah, paid for by someone else who won the auction for the Aliya, but purchased it for our beloved Rabbi. In the midst of this Haftorah, which mentions about Rachel Imanu crying for the Jewish people, and Hashem reassuring her that we will return to our homeland once again.

Rabbi Bryn starting crying as he was singing this. It's the only time in the many years of knowing and spending time with him that I ever remember him crying. Maybe it wasn't so noticeable to much of the crowd as many only came during the High Holidays, and hadn't seen him in action during the year when he was in all smiles and laughters.
In any case, when he spoke a short time later, the reason to me was quite obvious. Certainly, there are other parts of liturgy which the rabbi had recited in public before, but his speech was virtually parallel to the situation in the Haftorah reading. He spoke of the situation of Jewish children in public school who are Rachmana Litzlan exposed to the physical and spiritual dangers out there. No need to mention drugs, violence, sex, etc. And Rabbi Bryn certainly knew firsthand what some of these Jewish kids in such goyishe environment were like, as he visited some of them every week whether to talk to them, or put Tefillin on them. And as he spoke, it became obvious how he felt about these Jewish children, echoed in the words of this Haftorah, "Habain Yakir Li Ephraim" "How precious to me is my son Ephraim (one of the many names given to the Jewish people).

The Kosher Bar Mitzvah

The Kosher Bar Mitzvah
It was in the early days before Rabbi Bryn had his own Shul. There was a weekday Bar Mitzvah in a Chabad Shul, and he, a Lubavitch friend and I were there, helping to make the morning minyan. On this particular morning, this was not a problem, even though the Shul rabbi was out of town. However, in the midst of the prayers where you don't talk, members of the Bar Mitzvah family came in with all kind of foods to eat after prayers. But, not being all that religious, they brought in food that didn't seem to be Kosher. I can't forget our good friend being alarmed when he saw the packaged Chips A'Hore cookies, which didn't carry a kosher mark at the time. I can imagine what he would have said had he been able to talk if not in middle of prayers, but you could see him walking towards the kitchen where everything was being brought.
Meanwhile, after davening, you saw a table with Entenmann's, carrying a Kosher mark. O.K. not Cholov Yisroel, even as the policy at this particular Chabad House didn't even allow for milchiks to be on premises, and certainly not food which doesn't meet Lubavitch standards. But what was most noticeable was Rabbi Bryn with the Bar Mitzvah family. During the course of the past hour, you didn't hear any raised voices, complaints, or comments. What you did see was a very relaxed rabbi and a happy family.
Many of us would be quick to react, thinking that even if the family is not kosher, shouldn't they at least know that at a synagogue, they should ask beforehand what would be acceptable. But obviously, they didn't even know this much, which is more the reason why you have to be understanding for people who only wanted to celebrate a humble Bar Mitzvah in the best way they felt they could show.
And the Shul policy? Well, another lesson we can learn is that sometimes, we have to work our way around something. In Jewish Law, there are times that we are supposed to do something or not do something. for example, in the various laws of kashering meat, or when we are supposed to say something in prayers, but we forget that in certain instances, we don't have to worry about the meat not being kosher even though we were supposed to have done it right to begin with or we don't have to go back and say the particular prayer.
You see, of course Rabbi Bryn knew what the Halacha is and what the Shul policy was. But though he may have been strict when it came to himself, but in dealing with people, he did it the best way possible within the Halachic realm which allows for certain leniances after the fact, and at the same time, not to make anyone upset. Certainly, there was nothing wrong with the Bar Mitzvah family eating non-Cholov Yisroel items that was certainly more kosher for them then what they would eat the rest of the day. But one thing is certain, Rabbi Bryn was Machmir was the Halachos of Bain Odom LaChaveiro. 

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