ועשו להם ציצית על כנפי בגדיהם (שלח טו:לח)
They shall make themselves tzitzis on the corners of their garments…
The two Gelis brothers, R’ Aharon a’’h and R’ Ezriel a’’h spent a lot of time with Maran Reb Aharon of Belz zt’’l and his brother The Bilgorai Rav zt’’l when they were in hiding in Budapest, Hungary during WWII.
The brothers were affiliated with the Hungarian police and were instrumental in the Rebbe’s escape to Eretz Yisroel, working alongside the authorities to scheme an escape plan. Maran Reb Aharon once told R’ Aharon Gelis, “My hatzalah – escape is like Yetzias Mitzrayim, not one minute earlier and not one minute later…”
The Gelis brothers related that when the two holy brothers prepared to leave, they came to ensure that everything was in order. They noticed tzitzis sticking out of the Rebbes’ garments which would identify them as Jewish at the border checkpoints. But Maran, Reb Aharon wasn’t going to remove his tzitzis.
Since the Gelis brothers were dressed like non-Jews as they worked with the authorities, they made themselves ‘טליתים קטנים’ – special garment tzitzis designed according to the halacha of wearing a four-cornered garment. Because of the war, the Hungarian Rabbanim permitted such tzitzis to be worn.
The Gelis brothers removed their tzitzis and handed one to Maran, Reb Aharon, and the other to the Bilgorai Rav. In exchange, they received the two holy tzitzis from the holy brothers. Maran was happy with the arrangement and thanked and blessed them profusely.
The Gelis brothers wore the tzitzis for the war’s duration and attributed their survival to this merit.Filed under Parshas Shlach | Rabbi Aharon of Belz