Inspired by a Kiss

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5 Responses

  1. Mordechai says:

    Fine article. While Rav Bulman’s gesture was spontaneous, it was not unprecedented. The gemara (Talmud) mentions that precise gesture – of Rabbis kissing students on their heads after hearing something that particularly impressed them from their mouths. Rav Bulman was following in their footsteps.

    Nevertheless, despite the gesture not being unprecedented, it is not an everyday occurrence either. I wonder how rare it is (note – a general generic kiss is not what we are talking about – it must be a Rebbe to talmid, mouth to forehead kiss upon hearing something special, to qualify). Maybe readers can comment if they have ever seen or experienced it themselves. Perhaps Rebbetzin Katz can also comment if she saw or knows of her father employing it at other times as well.

    I guess we could also wonder about other types of Rebbe-talmid kisses or other demonstrations of affection in the course of limud haTorah as well. Presumably such kisses exist more with younger students, as they may not be too PC these days among older students. However we may study this, we should keep in mind that the kiss focused on was not an unearned gift intended to bolster self-esteem or what have you (which may or may not have a place of it’s own), but rather a reward for a good Torah thought. Presumably the idea of kissing the head/forehead in particular, is because that is where the Torah thought that earned it emanated from.

  2. Dov W says:

    I recall an article by a student of Saul Lieberman at the JTS extolling Lieberman’s devotion to his students, which he said Lieberman had inherited from his Rebbe the Alter of Slobodka.

  3. Moshe Feldman says:

    I’m sure that it’s quite a lot of nachas for your father. My impression is that David Ellenson has caused Reform Judaism to become somewhat more traditional, and certainly more open to Orthodoxy. See, e.g., http://www.huc.edu/newspubs/pressroom/2004/6/bridge.shtml

    “I feel it’s important to cross denominational lines,” said Rabbi Ellenson, “and reinforce a message to my students that they are part of a larger Jewish community.” Rabbi Ellenson is an anomaly – a Reform leader with close personal and intellectual ties to the other branches of Judaism, particularly Orthodoxy, and a deep respect for and understanding of the tradition. Given his role, he is a rare bridge between two extremes of religious life. …

    He is also a traditionalist in his firm belief that Jewish day schools “are crucial for the Jewish future” and his goal to “spread Jewish literature and common Jewish culture.” He opposed the Reform movement’s adoption of patrilineal descent in defining who is a Jew, but believes it is now irreversible.

    As Rabbi Buchwald has noted, Jewish identity provided by the Conservative and Reform movements often serves as a springboard for baalei tshuva.

  4. HESHY BULMAN says:

    On the subject of holy kisses bestowed upon worthy recipients, my father, Z”L, often recounted the story of a spontaneous kiss he himself received from the sainted Kapichnitzer Rebbe “Lifne kall am v’edah” at the conclusion of a major address he gave at a major Torah convention.It was clearly one of the highlights of his life.

  5. zvi freund says:

    I have many memories of Rav Bulman, ZT”L, who was my uncle. Now that I think of it, I think I received such a kiss when I was in sixth grade and asked a good Kasha on a Gemara. His answer went way over my head.
    I remember the occasion vividly. Perhaps it did not leave that deep an impression on me because I hated being kissed.
    I have another memory of him kissing me at the airport, seeing me off to Israel to learn for a year.
    On another occasion I told him an original Vort and he praised me to his rebbetzin, TBL”Ch, for several minutes. He couldn’t have kissed me then, as I was driving at the time.

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