A Tziyun for Everyone

May 23, 2024

Aharon Hirsh Cohen

Up hats, down hats, beaver hats, knitted yarmulkes, and suits of all different lengths all together in large crowds is a common sight at the Kosel or in Meron on Lag BaOmer or maybe in places like Shomer Shabbos in Boro Park or Scheiner’s shul in Monsey. But a beis hachaim around the corner from a large Coca-Cola factory in New Jersey, not near any heimishe areas, seems an unlikely location to witness this spectacle.

No one doubts that kevarim of the nevi’im, Tanna’im, and Amora’im are for everyone, no matter which kehillah they belong to or which nusach they daven. Meron is the classic example of a place that everyone feels a connection to, no matter what they wear or where they come from. But in today’s commercialized society, people feel that to merit a yeshuah b’zechus a tzaddik closer to our times, you have to belong to that “association.” One may feel that they must have a specific connection with that tzaddik in order to be helped.

That’s why the scene at Deans Cemetery in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey on Lag BaOmer is so refreshing.

People of all types can be seen there, all with one thing in common—emunas tzaddikim and the hope that they’ll be helped in the zechus of the tzaddikim who rest there.

For years, Bobover chassidim traveled to the beis hachaim on the Rebbe’im’s yahrtzeits enveloped in a serious atmosphere of teshuvah and tefillah. As the Bobover Rebbe Rav Shlomo often remarked on the yahrtzeit of his father, Rav Benzion, “It’s a day of cheshbon hanefesh, a day of teshuvah.”

However, on Lag BaOmer, the atmosphere is different. There’s a feeling of simchah and hope in the air. How did a quiet beis hachaim, which one might refer to as “off the map” compared to other more famous batei chaim of New York and New Jersey, become the common destination for people from everywhere and from all walks of life?

Bobowa, Galicia

Amid the storming winds of Communism, Socialism, and Zionism that blew across Europe after World War I, Bobov (Bobowa in Polish), a small town in Galicia, became the raft that thousands of bachurim hung onto, seeking to save themselves from the secular waves that had swept across Europe taking so many neshamos away from Yiddishkeit.

With his royal demeanor and holy countenance, R’ Benzion, later known as the Kedushas Zion, was a manhig Yisrael who attracted young and old from the most illustrious to the simplest Yidden—everyone found something that spoke to them in the Torah and avodah that emanated from his holy court.

Among his avodos was the one of neginah, as he composed hundreds of niggunim, many of which became famous around the world such as “Mah Ashiv” and “Kah Keili v’Go’ali.” One of the tzaddikim at the time once commented, “I envy the power of neginah of the Bobover Rav.”

The small village of Bobov was the headquarters of a Torah empire with over 40 yeshivos throughout Galicia renowned for their lomdishe talmidim who shone with yiras Shamayim and shteiblach in many towns and cities where the light of Torah and yiras Shamayim lit up the darkness of the war-stricken country.

To the right hand of his holy father stood R’ Shlomo who also served as rosh yeshivah of the yeshivah in Bobov. His young son Naftulche grew up basking in this glorious atmosphere, rarely leaving his zeide’s side.


When the Nazis invaded Poland in Elul 5699/1939, the Kedushas Zion and his son R’ Shlomo and his family fled from town to town, eventually settling in Lemberg. On Erev Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh Av 5701/1941, the Kedushas Zion was brutally taken away from his family. He was killed three days later, on 4 Av, Hy”d. Rav Naftulche was the only one with him when he was taken, and he ran after his zeide.

As he was marched through the streets, R’ Benzion told his young grandson, Naftulche: “Go after your father…”

Whether he meant it literally, that he should run back to his father’s home, or whether he was alluding to the fact that Naftulche would eventually rebuild Bobov from the ashes along with his father and then succeed him as Rebbe, remains unknown.

Either way, R’ Naftulche did both.

New York

R’ Shlomo and R’ Naftulche miraculously survived the Holocaust, and together, they replanted Bobov in America. After his father’s petirah on Rosh Chodesh Av 5760/2000, R’ Naftulche assumed the mantle of leadership, going “after his father.”

During the Holocaust, his father had prepared him for mesirus nefesh al kiddush Hashem, and this preparation later became the foundation of a life of mesirus nefesh. His life was one long tale of mesirus nefesh as he stood at his father’s side, carrying the burden of running the Bobov mosdos around the world. He didn’t only sacrifice himself for Bobov; he sacrificed himself to help every Yid in any way possible, without any bias as to which kehillah they were from.

People knew where to turn when they needed help financially or in any other way. There was always an open door, a listening ear, and wise council to be found at R’ Naftulche’s home during all hours of the day and night.

“Make sure that no extra person should know about the good deeds you do…” he once wrote to one of his grandchildren, and he fulfilled that to the utmost. All his deeds were cloaked in a cape of simplicity and humility that’s hard to fathom. After all, he was the oldest son and right-hand man of his father, yet he made nothing of himself.

Indeed, the Kedushas Zion had told R’ Shlomo to name him Naftuli Zvi after his zeide, Rav Naftuli Zvi of Ropshitz, commenting “He’ll be a tzaddik nistar like the Ropshitzer Rav.”

Although he mostly managed to conceal himself for 50 years in America, that all came to an end when his father was niftar and he became the Rebbe.

His approachable, easygoing character became far more serious. The mouth that had always flowed with words of chizuk became quieter, but in his few words, people heard incredible things. The humility and simplicity was the same, but the greatness was revealed.

A say in Heaven

In those first few months he relayed a couple of stories about his zeides of Sanz and Dzikov who’d openly stated that they had a say in the Heavenly court, as if alluding to himself.

One of those occasions was on Motza’ei Yom Kippur 5761. The tensions in Eretz Yisrael had escalated, and the many guests from Eretz Yisrael who had come to America to spend the Yamim Nora’im in Bobov wanted to know what to do about returning home.

Yossi, a chassid who was present at that tisch recalls, “At the beginning of the tisch, the rav related a story about his zeide, Rav Eliezer of Dzikov, who reassured chassidim who were concerned about a certain seemingly imminent decree telling them, ‘Hashem doesn’t do things before revealing them to the tzaddikim.’”

The chassidim had their answer, and baruch Hashem, things soon quieted down in Eretz Yisrael.

Many Rebbes even sent their own chassidim to him as seen in this story:

A brokenhearted Yid came to the Skulener Rebbe shortly after celebrating his daughter’s engagement. His wife had been diagnosed with cancer, and the doctors said the chances of her survival were very low.

“Please, promise me that she’ll live to walk our daughter down to the chuppah,” the Yid begged his Rebbe.

The Skulener Rebbe blessed him warmly, but the man wasn’t satisfied; he wanted a guarantee that his wife would have a refuah sheleimah.

“Only the Bobover Rebbe can promise,” the Skulener Rebbe said. “Go to him, and you’ll get a promise.”

The Yid went to the Bobover Rebbe. The rav told him to take a certain kabbalah upon himself and then promised him that his wife would have a refuah sheleimah and lead their daughter to the chuppah in good health.

And so it was. She recovered immediately, regaining her strength, and participated in her daughter’s wedding as the tzaddik had promised. Shortly after, her tests came back completely clear, leaving the doctors astonished.

When the father went back to the Skulener Rebbe to tell him about her miraculous recovery, the Rebbe replied, “The Bobover Rebbe brings down miracles; that’s why he’s so physically weakened. He’s moser nefesh for Klal Yisrael.”

The mysterious encounter

Among the throngs of people who entered the rav’s kvittel shteib during his few years as Rebbe was Rav Meilech Miller, who was menahel of the Bobover Cheder in Boro Park for many years.

“Just after Chanukah of 5762/2002, I went to the Bobover Rav with a kvittel,” Rav Miller recalls. “The rav took the kvittel and began reading the names. After reading the names of some of my children, he suddenly stopped, and there was a short silence, after which he looked up to me and said, ‘Rabi Shimon ben Yochai will be with me on Lag BaOmer.’”

During his few short years as Rebbe, R’ Naftuli Tzvi would often make cryptic comments like that, which turned out to be ruach hakodesh, but it was often hard to understand what he was alluding to at the time. Only later did the mysteries unravel. Many of his statements weren’t understood until after his petirah, and some were only understood in recent years.

Rav Miller continued, “In Bobov in general and specifically from R’ Naftulche throughout the years before he became Rebbe, we weren’t accustomed to these kinds of statements. Also, where does Lag BaOmer come in just after Chanukah?

“I kept silent, and the rav continued reading the kvittel, blessing me with his traditional nusach that I should merit ‘kol tuv, selah.’”

Just over three years later, on 12 Adar II 5765/2005, the rav was niftar.

Three of Rav Miller’s children got married in the following years, but after a few years of marriage, none of them had been blessed with children yet.

Rav Miller relates, “I can’t describe the pain of parents watching their children waiting to be blessed with their own children. The silence that emanated in those three new homes, waiting to be filled with the cries of zera shel kayama was excruciating.

“One day in 5770/2010, I suddenly recalled that strange encounter that had taken place eight years earlier with the Bobover Rav. I remembered how the rav had read aloud the names of the first few of my children, and at the three who were close to the age of shidduchim—who are now waiting for a yeshuah—he stopped reading and said, ‘Rabi Shimon ben Yochai will be with me on Lag BaOmer.’

“I stopped in my tracks, realizing that there was a clear message here. I could vividly see the rav looking at me with his sharp eyes as he said those words. He had clearly foreseen the struggles that these children would have and hinted to the key to their salvation. I realized that I must travel to his kever and daven there on Lag BaOmer.

“That Lag BaOmer, I made my way to the tziyun in New Jersey with my wife and one of our children who needed a yeshuah. This wasn’t a new destination; I’d been there so many times over the years, and in recent years I’d pleaded to Hashem to help me in the zechus of my Rebbes, but this time, the journey had a different implication.

“I felt like it was a journey to a yeshuah. I felt like besides coming to my heilege Rebbes, I was also coming to Rabi Shimon bar Yochai, as the rav had intimated eight years earlier. As I repeated the rav’s words out loud, tears ran down my face, tears that were full of the pain that only parents seeing their children’s distress can relate to.

“I begged Hashem in zechus of R’ Naftulche. ‘You told me that Rabi Shimon will be with you on Lag BaOmer! Go up to the Kisei Hakavod and daven for my children! Knock on the door of Rabi Shimon and bring a yeshuah!’

I left the ohel feeling somewhat relieved and reassured that for the first time in years, my burden had been eased. That year, all three children were answered, and next year I traveled to the tziyun again to thank Hashem for the wonderful chassadim he had done with us.”

After the amazing nes of three couples who had all been waiting for children suddenly having a yeshuah, word got around and already on that Lag BaOmer, masses started heading to the beis hachaim.

Personal accounts

To recount all the stories of those who have seen yeshuos on Lag BaOmer since then is beyond the scope of this article, but below are a few of them.

A bachur had turned 28 and still hadn’t found his bashert. His friend suggested that he should visit the tziyun of the Bobover Rav on Lag BaOmer. The bachur did so and traveled to the kever, pouring out the pain of the years of rejection and frustration to Hashem, begging that He should answer him in zechus of the tzaddik.

Shortly after Lag BaOmer, a promising shidduch was suggested. It dragged on for a long time—almost a year, in fact. The bachur got engaged on 12 Adar, the yahrtzeit of the Rav.


A yungerman was miserable at his job where he felt underpaid and unappreciated. He also needed a new apartment but couldn’t dream of buying his own. He went and davened on Lag BaOmer, asking for these two things.

He had a very wealthy neighbor who managed real estate, but he never really had any contact with him except for greeting him. After all, they weren’t in the same league. He was just a young man struggling to make ends meet, while his neighbor was an older, wealthy property owner.

Upon returning from the kever, he met that neighbor who asks him out of the blue, “Yungerman, are you looking to buy a house?” He saw this as a sign from Heaven that his tefillos had been heard—as if he was being sent a message of acknowledgement.

While he didn’t end up buying the apartment his neighbor offered, he did find a different one as well as a new job within a short time.


When someone heard people discussing yeshuos seen on Lag BaOmer, he commented as follows:

“It’s not at all surprising. I saw it when he was alive too!

“I once went to him when my wife was expecting twins. We were keeping it a secret and didn’t want anyone to know—not even the gabbai—so I didn’t tell him to write that she was expecting in the kvittel, as is customary.

Upon looking at the kvittel, he said, “but she’s expecting twins…”


When a childless couple from Lakewood heard about Lag BaOmer in New Jersey, they decided to go and daven there. They cried and pleaded that they should be blessed with zera shel kayama. Upon exiting the ohel, the young man told his wife, “I pledged that if we’re blessed with a child, we’ll name him Naftuli Zvi after the Bobover Rav.”

His wife replied that she had also pledged a name. “I promised to name our child after Rabi Shimon bar Yochai,” she said. A year later, the couple was blessed with twin boys. They named one Naftuli Zvi and the other Shimon.

An unlikely resurgence

Floral Park Cemetery might seem an unlikely location to visit on Lag BaOmer, but it was also unlikely that any remnant of Bobov would survive the Holocaust—especially the Rebbes. It was also unlikely that they would rebuild everything from scratch. Furthermore, how likely was it that a tzaddik who managed to conceal his lofty madreigos his whole life would reveal so much during his few years as rebbi?

Klal Yisrael’s existence is also unlikely and so was the resurgence of Torah that we celebrate on Lag BaOmer. For Hashem there’s no difference between likely and unlikely, and this location has been proven to be a place that’s mesugal for yeshuos.

May all of Klal Yisrael merit tremendous yeshuos in the zechus of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai and in the zechus of all tzaddikim.

To send a kvittel to be read at the ohel, email it to Rabbi Moshe Shimon Reichberg at or fax it to: 732-647-1326.

The cemetery is open 24 hours all year round.

GPS info: Floral Park Cemetery, 104 Deans Rhode Hall Rd. Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852