Monsey Memories: Reb Moshe Weiss (Batlan), a Legend in Skver
By: Yitzy Fried
In the lore of the Skverer chassidus, the name of Reb Moshe ‘Batlan,’ the gabbai of the previous Skverer Rebbe, zt”l, occupies a special place. About his nickname, one of the Rebbes of the previous generation remarked that “he is indeed a batlan; he has done away with the yetzer harah entirely.”
Such a yid was Reb Moshe, a fiery oved Hashem, became tethered to the previous Skverer Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Yosef Twersky, zt”l, back in the days when the Rebbe was in Kolarash, Romania.
In his youth, he spent much time with chassidim and ovdei Hashem of yore, as well as many tzaddidim of that time, and they left a deep impression upon him. One of them was the Yismach Yisroel of Aleksander. When he was about to be drafted to the army, he fled and became close to the Divrei Shmuel of Slonim. The threat of the draft reared its head a second time, and he escaped to Kishinev, Romania.
He got married in that city, and he and his wife would serve meals to the bachurim who were learning there. In general, Reb Moshe was known for his boundless ahavas Yisroel and his tremendous chassodim. He would always exhort people to help others, regardless of their Yiddishkeit. “Be concerned with your own ruchniyus and the other’s gashmiyus,” he would say.
In Kishinev, he became close to the Ribnitzer Rebbe and the Skulener Rebbe, and later to Shtefineshter Rebbe, who was in nearby Yassi. Following the passing of the Rebbe, he, like many others became close to the Skverer Rebbe. He would never leave the Rebbe’s side—even when he would be physically separated due to immigration concerns. He would write to the Rebbe each and every day.
When the Skverer Rebbe left for America, Reb Moshe naturally wanted to join him. But because he had a sick child, he was not allowed to immigrate. Instead he went to Belgium, where he became a leader among chassidim. Later he went to Eretz Yisroel, where he was an admired figure in Ger and in Slonim. Many bachurim of that era recall his teachings and his inspiring presence during those years.
Finally, in 1962, he came to America, and headed straight for New Square, where his beloved Rebbe had relocated. He became a revered mashpiah to the bachurim, and was a living example for every quality of a chossid and oved Hashem with mesirus nefesh. He was also the official gabbai of the Rebbe, and chassidim would say, “Reb Moshe’s writing of the kvittel is already half of the yeshuah.”
When the Rebbe passed away, he displayed the very same nullification and avid respect to the current Rebbe, shlit”a.
Reb Moshe lived out his years as an admired figure to chassidim everywhere until his passing in 1972.