From: menasche scharf
For immediate release.
Karlsruhe, 15 May 2006
This year, as in the past couple of years, the pilgrimage to the resting place of Rabbi Nathanael Weil (picture attached: Rabiner_netanel_weill.gif) in Karlsruhe, Germany took place on the occasion of his Yahrzeit, 15th Iyar. As this year's anniversary fell on Shabbos, it was postponed for Sunday 14th May.
For the first time in many years, there was a minyan at the grave, composed of visitors from Antwerp Belgium, London, England and also some local people.
The Korban Nesanel, as this highly esteemed Rabbinic authority is called lived in Karlsruhe and was buried there. However his soul departed in neighbouring Rastatt, reportedly on the eve of the holy Sabbath. It has been recounted that whilst the Jewish community of Rastatt were adamant that the Holy Rabbi should be laid to rest in their Cemetery, the Jewish community in Karlsruhe insisted that his wish was to be buried in his hometown. By the time the Karlsruhe community succeeded in convincing their Rastatt counterparts to honour the deceased Rabbis wishes, it was already Friday afternoon, nearing candle-lighting time. As much as the hearse hurriedly proceeded along the Rastatt-Karlsruhe road, they couldn't fathom how they would manage to respectfully carry out the burial of their beloved leader before sunset. Lo and behold, the sun literally waited until the last respect was paid and the mourners started for their homes to light the Sabbath candles. This episode is alluded to in the engraving on the tombstone (picture attached: KARLSRUHE MAY 06 006.jpg), which has withstood the ravages of Napoleonic, Prussian and European wars for nearly three centuries.
With regards to the exact date and time of Rabbi's Weil's 'petira', Mr David Seldner contends that there are differences between the local council's version and the universally accepted version. The date on the Korban Netanel's tombstone is 7.5.1769, which was on a Sunday (30 Nisan 5529, Erev Rosh Chodesh Iyar). However, according to Jewish sources, he was niftar 15 Iyar 5529, which was the 22 May 1769 and was on a Monday. To compound matters further, it is a well-known historical fact that Erev Shabbos was the day he was niftar. In fact, the levaya was attended by many gentiles, who regarded him as their 'wunder-rabiner'.
In the late 1800's, the local municipality won a decades-long legal wrangle with the local Jewish community, regarding the relocation of the Jewish cemetery on Mendelssohn Platz, to make way for a new tenement complex. The last funeral there was in 1826 and the remains were transferred en masse in 1898, to the cemetery in the Kriegsstrasse (which was closed in 1896) and also to the now still used cemetery in the Haid-und-Neustrasse. This is when the remains of the holy Korban Nesanel, together with many hundreds of Kevorim were transferred to their current resting place. Rabbis from the local provinces, together with some French Rabbonim were involved in the transfer, to ensure all was done according to Halocho.
Traditionally, Jews from surrounding cities - as far away as Zurich in Switzerland and nearby Strasbourg, France - used to frequent his burial place to spend time praying for salvation, for health and other requests.
Since Reb Dovid Scharf, a Belz Chossid from Antwerp, Belgium started visiting the grave, improvements became noticeable. It is to be hoped that the merit of this great Rabbi, who has guided so many generations with his prolific Halachic writings, will effect salvation and blessings on the Jewish people and especially those who took the trouble of praying at his resting place.
According to Mr Seldner, head of the Jewish Community, there were two synagogues and one Hassidic shtiebel – the first of its kind in the whole of Germany - before the 2nd
World War, all were destroyed during this infamous period.
As a sign of the rejuvenation of the Kehilla, a new purpose-built Shul was built in 1971, in the shape of the Mogen Dovid (David' Star). It is well attended by some 30 people on a regular Shabbos and about 300 worshippers flock there on the high holidays.
In what could be termed as a positive development, this event cemented the beginning of a link between several Jewish communities throughout Europe. All participants were unified in the aim to further the dissemination of Jewish values and enhancing the life of a fellow Jew.