Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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8 Adar 5759 - Feb. 24, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







HaRav Dovid Povarski, zt'l

One of the great leaders of chareidi Jewry, Maran HaRav Dovid Povarski, zt'l, rosh yeshivas Ponovezh, returned his sacred and pure soul to its Maker at 8:30 on Sunday night, the 6th of Adar.

Late Sunday afternoon, the situation of the Rosh Yeshiva, who had been hospitalized a few days earlier in the Laniado Hospital in Netanya, took a sharp turn for the worse. In the evening it deteriorated and became critical. Bnei Torah tried to arouse rachmei Shomayim, for a speedy and full recovery.

The news of the critical condition spread like wildfire throughout the Torah centers in the country. Immediately, all of the students of Ponovezh, where he had taught for more than fifty years, assembled to daven, and emotion- filled prayers reverberated beis hamedrash.

By eight in the evening his situation became even more critical, and the doctors felt that they could do no more.

His family and closest talmidim entered the room, and with mournful cries, they called out Shema Yisroel and Hashem Hu HoElokim.

His Biography

Maran HaRav Dovid Povarski was born on the 10th of Shevat, 5662/1902, in the Russian city of Luban. His father, Reb Sholom, a teacher in the local cheder, was an outstanding mechanech, and in that illustrious home R' Dovid's unique personality was fashioned.

As a child, the traits which were destined to accompany him throughout his entire life and for which he was so greatly esteemed, were formed: remarkable hasmodoh, rare talent, outstanding refinement and deep sensitivity.

When he was twelve years old, HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer asked Reb Sholom to send the young Dovid to his yeshiva in Slutzk. Even though Reb Sholom was of the opinion that his son should continue to study with children of his own age, he agreed to send him to Slutzk, where the young Dovid studied for a number of years with amazing hasmodoh, to the point that there were days in which he barely touched food.

Afterward, he transferred to Poltova, where he became deeply attached to his rav muvhak, R' Yeruchom Levovitz, whom he followed to Kelm and Ponovezh. From Ponovezh, he transferred to Mir yeshiva, where he toiled in Torah with great hasmodoh.

During his six years in the Mir, he did not miss even one tefilla or one seder. Reb Yeruchom loved him as a son, and regarded him as one destined to illuminate the Torah world with his greatness and teachings. From the moment rav and talmid met, they remained deeply attached.

In Mir, Rav Dovid was considered one of the outstanding students, and like his close chaver, HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, he was considered a model of the genuine ben Torah. His life was one long saga of deep devotion to Torah study, and maximal exertion in Torah and avodas Hashem, all in a humble manner, which he continued to maintain after his marriage to the daughter of HaRav Dov Kreizer, the rosh yeshiva of the yeshiva ketana of Slutzk, and throughout his entire life.

Rav Dovid's marriage took place during bein hazmanim of Av. Reb Yeruchom, who had arranged the match, wept over the loss incurred to the yeshiva by Rav Dovid's leaving. But on rosh chodesh Elul, Rav Dovid returned to the yeshiva like a genuine ben Torah, and continued to study there with the utmost exertion and diligence. One of his chavrusas (in Shulchan Oruch) was HaRav Aharon Kotler zt'l.

A while after his marriage, he transferred to the yeshiva in Baranowitz, where he studied under HaRav Elchonon Wassermann, with whom he was very close and who mentions him a number of times in Kovetz Shiurim. In time, HaRav Elchonon appointed him as a ram in the yeshiva, and during the periods Rav Elchonon was absent, Rav Dovid substituted for him as rosh hayeshiva.

Later on, Reb Yeruchom sent Rav Dovid to be a ram in Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin headed by HaRav Meir Shapira of Lublin.

HaRav Dovid merited to form a special bond with HaRav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky, rosh kol bnei hagolah, and would visit his home constantly in order to speak in Torah with him.

When Rav Dovid published his Yeshuas Dovid on Choshen Mishpot in memory of his father-in-law, he showed it to HaRav Chaim Ozer, who asked R' Dovid to wait outside. R' Dovid, who understood that Rav Chaim Ozer wanted to grace the sefer with a haskomo, left and did not return.

The students of the Baranowitz relate that once, when HaRav Boruch Ber arrived in Baranowitz to participate in a simcha, he told his hosts that he wanted to speak in learning with the yeshiva's best student. All of his hosts unanimously agreed that no one could be compared to the author of Yeshuas Dovid. But Rav Boruch Ber said: "Before speaking with him, I would like to see his sefer. Rav Boruch Ber opened the Yeshuas Dovid, and delved into it. Then he asked for a pen, and said, "I want to give this sefer my warmest haskomo."

With Hashem's help, Rav Dovid succeeded in fleeing the inferno, and he arrived in Eretz Yisroel together with the family of the Rav of Brisk.

Upon his arrival in Eretz Hakodesh, Rav Dovid settled in Tel Aviv, where he assembled a group of students.

In 5705/1945 the Rav of Ponovezh, HaRav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, invited him to serve as rosh yeshiva of his newly (re)founded yeshiva of Ponovezh, and at that point, a new chapter in his life began, of teaching Torah to tens of thousands of students, in the mother of the yeshivos of Eretz Hakodesh, Yeshivas Ponovezh.

This illustrious saga lasted for 54 consecutive years. Rav Dovid Povarski had a potent impact on the tens of thousands of students who sought his counsel and acquired the everlastingkinyonei haTorah and pure yiras Shomayim from him, regarding him as the perfect oved Hashem, whose entire life, and whose every thought and aspiration were directed toward only one aim: to serve Hashem Yisborach with all his heart, and to increase kevod Shomayim.

They saw him as a compassionate father who sought only their benefit and aspired to guide them along the path leading to Beis Hashem. His shiurim were famed for their depth and superb quality. Each shiur provided the ben Torah with guidance in learning, and taught him how to analyze a sugya, and how to perceive each of Chazal's statements.

He was outstanding in the analysis and clarification of sugyos, and would teach his students how to probe the inner depths of the gemora. He was the embodiment of yegias haTorah and omeil beTorah.

Throughout his first 44 years in Ponovezh he would arrive in the beis hamedrashat 4:00 a.m., and study behasmodoh until shacharis.

During the last decade of his life, he would begin his studies at 1:30 a.m. He studied with tremendous fervor, and it was evident that he derived his vitality from Torah study, and was totally detached from his environment while he learned.

His zerizus and meticulousness in mitzvah observance were exemplary, and many remarkable accounts of this conduct are yet to be related.

His most outstanding trait was his humility, which reached untold heights. When he was still a young student in Kelm, his nobility of spirit and amazing humility were already an integral part of his personality, and these traits accompanied him during the fifty-four years in Ponovezh, in which he taught tens of thousand of students, and produced legions of talmidei chachomim, roshei yeshiva, and gedolei haTorah, leaving a deep impression on them.

After the petirah of Rav Abba Grossbard, the menahel ruchani of Ponovezh, Rav Dovid was asked to deliver va'adim to the yeshiva students. They later on distributed them in the sefer, Mussar Vodaas.

His home was a beacon for all those who sought Torah and mussar. He received everyone warmly and genially. His unassuming and pleasant manner had a deep affect on those who visited him, and were the basis of the esteem in which he was held.

Rav Dovid had a tremendous impact on the generation, by means of his shiurim, his enlightening seforim, his lofty character traits, and the generations of students he raised.

He is survived by an illustrious family. His sons and son-in- law are gedolei haTorah, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren are continuing to uphold his spiritual legacy.

His sons are HaRav Boruch Dov Povarski, one of the roshei yeshiva of Ponovezh, HaRav Chaim, a rosh yeshiva in the United States, and HaRav Sholom, a rosh yeshiva in yeshiva Kol Torah. His son-in-law is Rav Boruch Pines.

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