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Disgrifiad

These nine-pages are an introduction to the book P’ri Asher (The Fruits of Asher) by Rabbi Asher Grunis. It consists of four parts. The first page was written by Rabbi Asher Grunis himself and is dated 12 June 1935. The next five pages are an introduction by his son Rabbi Doctor Aryah-Leib Grunis. This is undated but were written between his father's death in 1937 and his own death in 1945. The next two pages are a short essay by Rabbi Dr Shmuel Greenberg about the Rabbi’s late son, and is dated 26 May 1946. The final page is a commemoration with dates.

Transcript of the first page:

The Authors Introduction
In my youth I was among those who dwelt in the Beth Hamidrash. It never entered my head to publish my writing in the subjects of Jewish Law and Homiletics, as I never considered myself to be worthy to be considered among those eminent authors whose penmanship brings great benefit to the Jewish Scholarship.
When I was a Rabbi in the city of Wiltshin from 1902 to 1921 I didn’t to publish anything besides the monthly rabbinical magazine “Shaarai Torah” (he Gates of Torah), which was published in Warsaw under the guidance of the Gaon Harav Yetchak Feigenbaum, of blessed memory, who was the head of the Beth Din. Many of my writings were printed there, including Responsa with this Gaon and other great Rabbis.
Now that I feel old age creeping up on me, besides being ill, I have decided that the time is right to publish my writing in Jewish law and Hhomiletics, by the grace of G-d. Unfortunately most of my written work was lost and only a few of the above mentioned publications have remained with me. These I have not included in my book. (Publishers note: this monthly publications have been included from Chapter 16 onwards.)
I have called my work P’ri Asher (The fruits of Asher). Perhaps you will find therein a nice thought or idea which will be a merit for me.
Cardiff
11th of Sivan 5695
The words of the embittered ASHER GRUNIS of Cardiff.


The second part, a personal account by his son, describes his father’s family and life, including his experience of German occupation during the First World War. The concluding part is transcribed below without comment:

After the end of the First World War he was invited to become Chief Rabbi in Cardiff, England. There were two communities there, each one with their own synagogue, study hall, Shechitah and cemetery. They had never been a Rav there so he became the first communal Rav of Cardiff. Here begins a new chapter in his life.
The city of Cardiff is the capital of Wales. There about 400 Jewish families. The majority of them had come about 20-30 years earlier from Russia, Poland and Lithuania was just the clothes on their backs. A large proportion of them were manual workers. A small number were businessmen who were forced to leave their countries of origin to a place of refuge. Only a small percentage of the Jews were born in Wales of parents who had come from Eastern Europe. Most succeeded in business with some becoming very wealthy.
Although many of them grew up in religious homes, and in their used learnt in Chederim and in study halls in the Shetlim of their birthplace, they knew that every community needs an ordained Rav and someone responsible for Kashrut etc. Here in Cardiff, in a place where their economic situation had improved, many turned their backs on the traditional ways of their forefathers. They therefore didn’t feel the need to have a Rav to guide them, as is the custom among Jewish communities, to make sure that at least in the home of the Rav of the word of G-D would be heard. When father came it felt to a handful of meritorious individuals whose spiritual light had not yet been extinguished from within their hearts to persuade, with great difficulty, the two communities to except him as their Rav. This only happened because of his refined personality, his astuteness and his learning, which made a profound impression on them. Who can imagine the pain and broken heart of this great man who served as a Rabbi in this spiritually devoid city. His pure heart could find no solace there. He was always upset about his bitter lot, that he needed to live amongst people who had no connection with the Torah and Judaism. In addition, those few individuals who had supported him when he first came to Cardiff were coming fewer and fewer.
From time to time he revealed in his letters to me the aspirations of his heart and prayers to G-D that he would merit in his old age to leave this strange city and make Aliyah to the land of Israel which he loved with all the fibres of his being. In one of his letters he wrote: I’m fed up of living here. How I wish I could fly like a dove and settle in the mountains of Judea and spend the rest of my days there. Oh, how I wish!
Here is not the place to tell about all his blessed accomplishments that he achieved from when he came to Cardiff until his death. But this I must mention. That he tried his upmost to bring close the members of his community, particularly the youth, to their Father in heaven. After great personal effort he succeeded in gaining permission for the children to leave school early on Friday afternoon in order to prevent them from desecrating the Sabbath. You’re so succeeded in implementing that university Students should not have to sit exams on the Sabbath. As a result of this achievement he received a letter of thanks from the Student Union of the University of Wales. He was always trying to help his brethren. He exchange letters with various Members of Parliament and ministers to try and get permission for Jewish prisoners to be given Kosher food. He turned to the Board of Deputies to enlist their support, telling them that, even in Germany, prisoners were given Kosher food. But all his efforts were in vain. He only obtained permission for Jewish prisoners to have Kosher food over the Passover period if they so wished. Only after a lot of wrangling with the local authorities did he manage to set up a Mikvah for ladies according to all the Halachic requirements.
With all his strength he fought the custom of the times of celebrating weddings in non-kosher restaurants. He organised communities to bring their own Kosher dishes I keep them under supervision, and he lent them out for weddings under the supervision of a special supervisor whose job was to make sure that everything was strictly Kosher. He was extra vigilant about Kashrut of the local abattoir and the Jewish butchers.
A few weeks before his death it was already difficult for him to travel and even to walk. Despite this, and the very cold weather, he went to the Kosher butcher who was outside the city, to make sure that everything was in order. Many times he had to stop on the way to rest and catch his breath. When our mother, of blessing memory, asked him not to exert himself so much he answered her, “Am I not the Rav of the city? What will people say that I get paid for doing nothing? And what about all the supervising?
A few weeks before his death, after the accursed Nazis had taken over Germany, he himself went to the Jewish wholesalers begging them not to buy German goods and to stop trading with Germany.
He put tremendous effort into trying to help “Agunot” so that they would be halachically able to re-marry. He wrote hundreds of letters to Rabbis worldwide until he managed to locate husbands who had disappeared in order that the wives would be able to receive a Get (Bill of Divorce). Whenever he heard about an argument between man and wife, or between a man and his friend, or communal problems, he would not rest until he was able to reconcile them - thereby sanctifying the name of G-D publically.
It would be fitting to give one of his halachic insights, may it be a merit for him, and may the words of the verse be fulfilled. “May the righteous be remembered for blessing”

The final two pages are about this eldest son, who qualified as a doctor in Berlin, while continuing with his Torah studies. He moved to Cardiff with his parents and gained a license to practice medicine In England, becoming “a very well-known doctor in London”.

The final page gives the date of death of Rabbi Asher Grunis as 10th Av 5693 (2 August 1933). The Jewish Chronicle records his death as 10th Av 5697 and his grave bears the dates 1877-1937.

(Dates converted using https://www.chabad.org/calendar/converter_cdo/aid/6225/jewish/Jewish-Hebrew-Date-Converter.htm)

From the Grunis family archives, which are to be deposited in the National Library (Edward J. Safra Campus) at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

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