Despite his “advanced age” and having just returned from a visit to Israel, Rabbi Elchonon Halpern made what a “last minute appearance" Saturday night at Chabad’s Yeshivah Gedolah in London to join Chabad’s commemoration of the 200th anniversary of its founder’s passing, reportedly telling his close associates that he felt that he had to attend, despite being exhausted from his travels.
Originally published at 9:52 pm CST 1-6-2013
Scandal-Plagued Rabbi Addresses Chabad Gathering In Honor Of Founder’s 200th Yartzeit
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Despite his “advanced age” and having just returned from a visit to Israel, Rabbi Elchonon Halpern made what the Chabad news website COLLive called a “last minute appearance" Saturday night at Chabad’s Yeshivah Gedolah in London to join Chabad’s commemoration of the 200th anniversary of its founder’s passing, reportedly telling his close associates that he felt that he had to attend, despite being exhausted from his travels.
Chabad lore says that Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Lyadi died while fleeing Napoleon’s troops. Their first rebbe had supported the Tzar in the Russo-Napoleon War and had instructed some of his followers to spy on the French and pass the information to Russian military commanders.
The Russian army eventually defeated an exhausted French army, mostly by retreating deeper and deeper into Russia, burning its own cities and crops as it retreated.
Napoleon’s troops won many battles but the Russian’s policy of continual retreat, constant guerilla attacks against the French, refusal to negotiate peace, and its scorched earth policy eventually caused Napoleon to retreat. Lacking supplies and reinforcements, the French were targeted by Russian peasants and Russian army guerilla units alike.
By the time the French were out of Russia, its Grand Armée had lost approximately 380,000 men to disease, starvation and Russian attacks, with another approximately 100,000 captured by Russian peasants, who often executed the French deserters on the spot.
Only 27,000 French troops remained.
It was during the last days of Napoleon’s retreat that Schneur Zalman of Lyadi fled, afraid that the fleeing French would take out their anger on him.
He died of an illness during that escape.
Halpren, who is not a Chabad hasid, is considered to be the haredi chief rabbi of the Golders Green area of London where Chabad’s yeshiva sits.
Halpren’s son Chaim has been accused of sexually abusing women who came to him for marriage counseling.
Despite hearing from alleged victims – and, apparently, even hearing recorded evidence – Kedassia, the largely hasidic haredi umbrella organization the elder Halpren once headed, has refused to take credible action against Chaim Halpren, in part because of pressure from the senior Halpren.
The affair has caused widespread disgust in the London haredi community, and even though the Halpren family still has its supporters, many haredim – including many rabbis – believe that Chaim Halpren may longer serve as a rabbi.
Rabbi Elchonon Halpren told the Chabad gathering that there is great joy in Heaven on the day of the passing of a tzadik, a saint or a very righteous person, like Schneur Zalman of Lyadi.
[Hat Tip: The Lion.]