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July 15, 2013 12:32 pm

Russia’s Chief Rabbi Treks 20 Miles After Putin’s Plane Delayed

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Rabbi Berel Lazar. Photo: Wikimedia commons.

Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar accepted an invite by the Kremlin to attend a memorial event with President Vladimir Putin this past Friday in Belgorod on the condition he’d be home before Shabbos, so the Kremlin promised a plane that would fly him back on time. The short story of the rabbi’s very long day: Putin’s plane did get him to Moscow but with just 10 minutes to spare, so he ended up walking the 20 miles home, Chabad blog Collive reported.

As requested, Rabbi Lazar traveled to the town of Prokhorovka for the ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Prokhorovka. Putin and World War II veterans laid flowers at the Zvonnitsa memorial bell tower at the Prokhorovskoye Polye military-historical museum to honor the Soviet tanks which stopped Nazi forces from breaking through the Soviet Army’s defense lines, Collive said.

The plane was late in takeoff because of the celebration, arriving in Moscow only 10 minutes before sunset, not with the 60 minute window, as promised.

Collive reported: “Rabbi Lazar phoned his home, notifying them about the debacle and started walking back to his home. A government official, seeing him walk, offered him a ride. ‘We’ll do it quick. No one will know…’ the man said. The rabbi kindly declined and made the 30 km trip by foot. He was back home in the wee hours of the morning, only to wake up a short while later to lead services at the Marina Roscha Synagogue.”

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  • R

    Thank you, SHLOIME! You said it all quite clearly. MAKING extenuating circumstances for yourself does not make you a better Jew.

    Maybe this guy has a screw loose. What are we supposed to think: he’s SOOOOOO


  • Phil

    Great story! It reminds me of the 20 mile-or-so late-Friday night hike that Reb Shlomo Carlebach had to take with a bunch of his chevra. (See the first story in “Holy Brother.”)

  • Yasher koach!

  • shloime

    walking for hours is also not permitted on shabbat. at the very least, he could have taken a 10-minute ride in the car, and saved himself 2 hours of walking. (he could also have borrowed a bicycle, which does not violate the shabbat.)

    the torah is to live by, not to harm ourselves.

    • shloime


      With all due respect where do you get your Halachas from.??

      What do you base your statements on ??!!!!

      Whay can’t you walk all day long ?

      Who allows to ride a bicycle on Shabat ?!!

    • Zalman

      Actually if it’s within city limits you may walk for hours and a bicycle is mukzte on Shabbes.
      So being that he is the chief Rabbi, you can safely assume that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to halacha. 🙂

    • Jon

      Your wrong. Check your sources. Only in life and death can we take car etc and a bike is also forbidden to most authorities, especially if no eruv.