After immersing in the mikvah in the morning, R. Berke would proceed with his daily routine: He would recite, word by word, the entire Psalms, eat a little something, and then sit and learn Chassidus until ten o’clock. The morning prayers took him two hours, until noon. Then he would put on second set of tefillin, as per the view of Rabbeinu Tam. For R. Berke, just putting on tefillin was quite an undertaking, as he tried to ensure that his observance of the Mitzvah would be of the highest possible standard.

If he noticed that someone else's tefillin were of a superior quality, or in better shape than his own, he felt that making do with his would be inadequate. Instead, he would regularly ask to borrow our tefillin, andoncehe was no longer forced to hide, he would walk to the homes of certain Lubavitchers to do so. There would be one person whose head tefillin he found to be of a higher standard,while the hand tefillin of another appeared to be better, so R. Berke would ask the first one for his piece and the second for his. He also had a custom of reading the Shema from parchment. In general, when R. Berke heard of some way to enhance his religious observance–a hiddur–he tended to adopt it immediately.

He would finally finish praying in the early afternoon and then sit down to eat lunch. After such prayers, even eating became a mindful, careful exercise. He was careful not to eat ravenously or gluttonously. He would take a slice of bread, cut it into little pieces, and put one piece at a time into his mouth, chewing it slowly. That was how he ate everything he was served.

He would say that even according to good health practices, it is best to eat slowly so as to properly digest the food; people were just indulging themselves when they ate quickly.

During the long summer days, he would rest at two o’clock for an hour. (Parenthetically, whenever he went to sleep, he was particular not to cover his feet.) At three o’clock he sat down for his regular regimen of Torah study on a range of topics. During the long summer days he would have sufficient time in the afternoon to recite the entire Psalms again. Then it was time for the afternoon prayer, some more study, the evening prayer, followed by another study session that included the Code of Jewish Law and Chassidus.

R. Berke would also recite Tehillim before praying on Shabbos and afterwards he would review theweek's Torah reading with Targum, as is traditional. He would then recite the entire Tehillim once again before the afternoon and evening prayers, each of which would take him over half an hour.

R. Berke longed to pray with a minyan and we tried to the best of our ability to make this possible. Since he could not leave the house, we would arrange, whenever possible, for the Shabbos minyan to take place in our house.

Since no one yet knew of R. Berke’s presence in Samarkand , his participation in the Shabbos services presented us with various challenges. The Zaltzman and Mishulovin families, who did know the secret, comprised less than ten men, so additional men had to be invited to participate, thereby placing R. Berke in jeopardy. Whenever a minyan was arranged in our house, we were faced with the dilemma of who to invite, and we only reached a decision after first consulting with R. Berke.

Obviously, R. Berke could not actually prayin the same room as us. He would hide in his room in utter silence and follow the service from there, answering Amen and Boruch Hu u’voruch shemo, and reciting Kedusha and Modim along with us. His joy in participating in a minyan was indescribable.

Sometimes we only had nine men and needed R. Berke to make the ten. We could not announce his presence by simply proceeding with the minyan, but were loath to forego it altogether. Instead we would count a child holding a Chumash as our tenth man and say that we were relying on this somewhat questionable Halachic solution for the minyan.

For the High Holidays and Sukkos, R. Berke would always go to the Mishulovin home. Eating in the sukkah at our house was dangerous since it was located in the yard we shared with our neighbors, while the Mishulovins had a private yard. R. Feivish Genkin constructed a sukkah for them with a double wall that created a secret compartment that served as a sukkah of its own. If someone would visit, they would never dream that behind that sukkah was another smaller one, in which R. Berke was spending the Holiday, praying and learning.

The Mishulovins were also able to host a larger minyan to accommodate the bigger High Holiday crowds. Additionally, it was safe to blow the shofar there, whereas our neighbors would have likely heard those kinds of sounds coming from our house. So, we preferred that R. Berke move in from the High Holidays.

I will never forget how R. Berke poured out his soul in heartfelt prayer on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, when he was finally able to openly join the minyan. I lack the words to describe the broken heart of this chassid, estranged from his Rebbe and his family, hiding for years and uncertain of when his sorrows would finally come to a close.

He prayed at length, and with copious tears; even a heart made of stone would melt listening to him. The silent Shemonah Esrei prayer of the morning service alone took approximately an hour and a half; his recitation of the Psalm prior to the shofar blowing took about forty minutes, as tears coursed from his eyes so heavily that he could barely say the words. The rest of the congregantswould wait for him to conclude before proceeding. Observing R. Berke’s prayer, we boys tried to emulate him and pray at length: we were ashamed to complete Shemonah Esrei in less than half an hour.

R. Berke’s kapparoswas an an entire service unto itself. He would get up early in the morning and spend an hour performing the ritual, reciting each word of the relatively short Bnei Adam prayer slowly and with intense concentration as tears dripped onto the pages of his prayer book.

We would often watch R. Berke as he prayed. We noticed how, in his intense focus on the words of the prayers, he would sometimes grind his teeth. This would happen on a regular weekday and all the more so on the High Holidays. We observed his total immersion in prayer, and the tears that regularly poured down his cheeks throughout his prayers, especially during Shemone Esrei. When I eventually left Russia, it was hard for me to grow accustomed to the fast-paced prayers and the five-minute kapparos common elsewhere.