A respected tomim and chozer, R. Avraham Baruch Pevzner was sent by the Frierdiker Rebbe to serve as a rov and mashpia in Minsk. When the KGB confiscated the Rebbe’s picture during a search of his home, he went after them to get it back.
Born in approximately 5650, R. Avraham Baruch Pevzner learned in Tomchei Temimim in Lubavitch, where he served as a chozer for the Rebbe Rashab and also merited to assist him. He served as a rov and Mashpia for Anash in Minsk until he was forced to flee to Kharkov, where he continued to give shiurim and serve as a mashpia. He was arrested by the Communists in 5699 and exiled to Kazakhstan, where he passed away on Erev Pesach 5700.
Whenever the Rebbe Rashab recited a maamar, he had the Frierdiker Rebbe stand across from him as a recipient, and they would exchange glances throughout the maamar. When the Frierdiker Rebbe became Rebbe, he instructed R. Avraham Baruch to take that position.
Once, as R. Avraham Baruch stood there listening, he began thinking about how the maamar being said was based on one said by the Rebbe Rashab. Afterward, the Frierdiker Rebbe called R. Avraham Baruch and told him that since a “machshava zara” entered his mind during the maamar, he should no longer stand across from him. R. Avraham Baruch continued to be a leading chozer until the Frierdiker Rebbe sent him to be the mashpia in Minsk.
R. Boruch Shifrin related:
It was after Frierdiker Rebbe left Russia, and R. Avraham Baruch asked me one day to accompany him to the NKVD offices. He explained that they had searched his house the night before and confiscated some documents and a picture of Frierdiker Rebbe that he hid between the pages of a sefer. He said, “The documents I won’t bother with, but the picture – I can’t live without!”
When I asked what he wanted me to do, he said, “Just wait outside. If I don’t come out after two hours, please inform my family where I am.” Thankfully, R. Avraham Baruch came out a short while after.
A few days before he was arrested, R. Avraham Baruch unexpectedly fasted three days straight. As he lay on his deathbed in a hospital in Kazakhstan, he revealed to his wife what prompted him to take on that fast:
One night, before my arrest in Kharkov, I dreamed that the city’s recently deceased rov, R. Aharon Tumarkin, came to me and said, “Avraham Baruch! We need you as the tenth for a minyan…” When I asked him what would be with my wife and children, he replied that Hashem would care for them as he does for all almanos and yesomim. That is why I fasted.
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