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Window into the Charedi World | Mordecai Plaut, director







A Tzaddik in Switzerland:
HaRav Chaim Aryeh Erlanger zt'l

by Rabbi N. Grossman

He performedyichudim in the Swiss mountains. He refined his body in the pure, white snow. He was a nistar, whose greatness was hidden from view.

"Remove my soul from confinement," he secretly pleaded when he was still a youth. During those years, in which he diligently pored over the study of Torah and mussar, he also began to study the inner recesses of the Torah. He was imbued with only one purpose, as he himself said: "I long to be a loyal servant to Hashem and His Torah hakedosha. In the depths of my soul, there exists a thirst and a longing to draw close to Hashem, and to be a tzaddik, a chassid and an upright person, beloved and genial, and in this manner to cause nachas ruach to the Creator."

In the shop in which he toiled for his livelihood he jotted down his chidushei Torah on the back of bills. When he cut cloth, he whispered the prayer, "Ono bekoach. . ." He determined the prices of his merchandise to correspond to gematrios of the sacred Names of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, in order to fulfill the verse, "Shivisi Hashem lenegdi tomid."

In Lugano, Switzerland, far from the world's main Torah centers, a man advanced from rung to rung along the ladder of Rebbi Pinchas ben Yair. There he sanctified himself and refined his soul. He clung to his Creator, toiled in the study of revealed Torah, and composed many in-depth kabbalistic books, until he was snatched away from this world in a horrifying accident.

"Since the day of his petirah I have had no peace of mind," cried out R' Shlomo Wolbe at the shloshim. "I have no peace of mind! A person who lived amidst us under hardship, in a small town in Switzerland, yet rose to such lofty heights. This is a wonder. He was a wonder, who obligates all of us to follow his example without limits."

There, in the Swiss town of Lugano, far from the prestigious Torah centers -- there, in a materialistic and alien atmosphere, lived a Jew who broke through the Swiss iciness with a fire of kedusha.

"A simple Jew," a tradesman who assumed no rabbinical demeanors, toiled in Torah, reaching lofty heights of kedusha, probing Torah's inner depths, and composing kabbalistic works, solely for Hashem's sake.

He resided in Lugano, until one bitter day, eleven years ago, he was snatched away from us in a tragic accident.

He was remarkable during his life and during his death.

After his death, the members of his family compiled the hespedim recited about him. They appear in a two booklets called Tzeror Hachaim.

Like many others, we weren't privileged to know him. However, when we leafed through the pages of the booklets, and read the personal testimonies of his way of life, we were startled and amazed.

We began to sense, and to actually discern the image of a hidden tzaddik, an image known to us until then only from stories of days gone by, stories of yore.

Following are highlights of the life of the gaon, the tzaddik, the mekubal, R' Chaim Aryeh Erlanger, on his eleventh yahrzeit.

When he was young, he studied in the yeshiva in Montreux. While there, he maintained a taanis dibbur for many months, devoting himself only to Torah and yiras Shomayim. For a long time, he would fast from one Shabbos to the next, eating nothing during the day, and breaking his fast only at night. Sometimes, he would fast for three consecutive days and nights, without pausing to eat in the evenings.

During the World War, he became known as the only student in the yeshiva who didn't pick up a newspaper the entire period in order to read the news. He immersed himself totally in the four cubits of the halocho. He jotted down the letters "G.R." -- the initials of the expression "gachalei resomim" (burning coals) on the cover of his gemora, in order to remind himself of Chazal's statement that one who pauses from his Torah studies is, in the World of Truth, fed burning coals.

Years later, he told his son that as a yeshiva student, when he recited the words `ki heim chayeinu' of the maariv service, he was filled with an all consuming feeling that if he left the yeshiva for even one day, he would die immediately.

When he would understand the Torah he was studying in a new light, he would cry out in excitement: "Do you hear? It is worthwhile for a soul to come down to this world only to make such a chiddush."

Already then, he had acquired bekius in all of the mussar works, according to whose light he behaved. With his yirah, which proceeded his wisdom, he slowly began to enter the world of chochmas ha'emmes, the hidden Torah and the kaboloh.

When his brother, R' Avrohom Erlanger, a ram in Kol Torah, asked him if he hadn't involved himself too much with the inner aspects of the Torah, at the expense of the study of the revealed parts, he replied: "I had a chavrusa for the study of the nigleh 18 hours a day."

On another occasion, he told his brother: "I don't understand the concept of `going to sleep.' When one can't continue any longer, he falls on his bed without a choice. But a set pattern of `going to sleep?' I'm astonished."

A Chariot for the Shechina

There was one topic about which R' Chaim constantly spoke with longing and tremendous emotion: the aspiration to attain the level of merkova laShechina -- a chariot for the Shechina.

As a young man, he asked his great mentor, HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman, shlita, to what level and purpose one should aspire. HaRav Steinman replied that our sacred seforim say that the highest level is that of being a chariot for the Shechina.

From that time on, he decided to realize that aim in these ways: by instilling Torah and kedusha into the practical world, by sanctifying Creation and by helping it achieve its purpose and desired level.

He once told his son, "There is no need to study hidden meanings. One must be an `acting nistar.' "

On another occasion, his son asked him why he didn't wear glasses on Yom Tov. "Meila," his son said, "on Shabbos there is a basis for being strict on this matter due to the prohibition against carrying, and the poskim discuss the possibility that the glasses might fall. But on Yom Tov, all this isn't pertinent."

R' Chaim replied to this question in a lengthy letter which dealt with the clarification of the various approaches to the chashashos on Shabbos. In the end he wrote that there is no prohibition to wear glasses on Yom Tov. However when one doesn't look outside, he has a better view of the inner recesses of his soul. Yomim tovim are sacred and exalted days. Thus, even though there is no problem about carrying, there is a mitzvas asei she'hazman gromo to rise spiritually. When a person isn't immersed in what is occurring outside him, he can immerse himself in his inner essence.

His dveikus was evident in all of his conduct and deportment. Even when he went to his place of work, all saw that he was immersed in lofty thoughts, clinging to his Maker and mediating on Torah and avodas Hashem. He would pause a number of times, remove a piece of paper from his pocket, and mark down a dvar Torah which he had thought of at that moment.

His prayers were saturated with longing, and when he stood before the teiva in shul he would bring the congregation to tears -- and not only on the Yomim Nora'im or on special times. Every one of his prayers was the result of tremendous efforts, and those standing near him noticed that he would perspire due to the immense concentration and effort he invested in his avodas Hashem.

Such was also the case with every brocho he pronounced. When he uttered Hashem's Name, he linked himself to his Maker by means of hidden intentions and kabbalistic meanings. On Friday nights, when he reached the words, "vayichal Elokim" of the kiddush, he was unable to continue, and tears would flow from his eyes, as a result of the intensity of his longings. When he recited bircas hamozon, and reached the blessing, "rachem no," where we request that the Beis Hamikdash be rebuilt, he would also weep.

One of the members of his family explained his conduct saying: "In his daily recitation of the bircas hamozon, he reached the level that a true yirei Shomayim reaches on Tisha B'Av while reciting the Kinos."

R' Shmuel Wozner discussed this point in the hesped he delivered at R' Chaim's levaya: "Who could have looked into his four cubits when he secluded himself with his Maker? Who could have looked into his four cubits when he conducted a tikun chatzos? Who could have observed the righteousness of this Jew, when he fulfilled `kumi roni balayla lerosh ashmuros,' when he was alone with Hashem Yisborach?"

When he visited Eretz Yisroel, he wanted to kiss its earth before being greeted by his children. "Ima comes before me, as far as the children are concerned," he said. When he traveled from the airport to Yerushalyim, he retreated into himself, and throughout the trip, he softly hummed the melodies of Nirtza from the Seder. He continued this way until reaching Har Hazeism. However, when he reached Har Hazeisim, and looked out at the site of the Mikdash, he could no longer contain himself and burst out into heartrending weeping.

"One Must Act in Secret"

Everything in the world must be utilized for the service of Hashem, and every situation must be maximized for spiritual growth and for the intensifying of one's devotion to the Creator. R' Chaim, conducted himself in that way in his daily life, and his motto was: "One must act in secret."

One vacation, he and his sons took a trip to the Alps. When they reached a spot from which a particularly breathtaking view was visible, he began to sing the melodies of the Yomim Nora'im with dveikus and with the outpouring of the soul. "In such places, the air is purer. One feels the closeness of Hashem," he told his sons.

Throughout the hike, he stopped many times and said, "Who knows if words of kedusha were ever uttered here. Let's say a dvar Torah." (In the writings he left behind, chiddushim written atop the Swiss mountains or while waiting at the station for the mountain train, were found.)

His sons relate that on one occasion, when they stood at the peak of a Swiss mountain, and gazed in awe and amazement at the breathtaking view, he told them to close their eyes and picture a bonfire whose flames reached the Heavens. Then he told them to imagine that they had decided to throw themselves into it, in order to sacrifice themselves al kiddush Hashem.

"He imbued his home with the sanctity of the beis medrash," said one of the maspidim. In his home, the walls weren't decorated with drawings and paintings, but with sayings and verses which aroused one to serve Hashem and to observe the mitzvos.

A Special Room for Shabbos Kodesh

He had a special room in his home in honor of Shabbos kodesh. On each vessel and dish in that room, there was an inscription, designating it for use on Shabbos kodesh. All of the bottles, and even the vessel for netilas yodayim were set aside especially for Shabbos kodesh. This room remained closed nearly all week, because all knew that it had been earmarked for Shabbos kodesh. When his wife removed the special dishes and set them on the table along with the seven white flowers she placed there every Shabbos, an aura of kedusha enveloped the house -- mei'ein Olom Habo.

When he was only a young man of twenty, he composed a prayer in the form of a poem, based on the kabbalistic ten sefiros, and on the verse in Tehillim, "Remove my soul from confinement." This prayer was the guiding light of his life, and he would recite it on erev Yom Kippur after mincha. During the final year of his life, he sent a copy of that prayer to all his sons.

From a very young age, he would cry out and plead, "Remove my soul from confinement," and would constantly toil to reach the level of a chariot for the Shechina. R' Chaim Brim relates: "People who knew R' Chaim Aryeh as a child, testify that in his early youth he began to concentrate on the structured avoda cited in the Beraisa of Rabi Pinchas ben Yair, and that from that time on, he climbed the mesilas yeshorim, rung after rung, on the way to Beis Elokim.

A Tzaddik in Switzerland

When R' Chaim was still young, the Imrei Emmes of Gur recognized the youth's great spiritual stature. The Imrei Emmes' attitude toward him became known, when some noticed that he particularly admired and respected the young Chaim. (When Chaim would enter the Admor's study, the Admor would rise to his full height in his honor.)

When asked to explain the reason for the behavior of the Imrei Emmes, the Beis Yisroel said: "There are a few tzaddikim whom Hakodosh Boruch Hu planted in each generation. One of them is in Switzerland."

Nonetheless, why?

In his youth, R' Chaim had written a letter to the Imrei Emmes, who read it and immediately showed it to his son, the Beis Yisroel, saying with wonder: "See what some young men ask for, even in our times?"

The Beis Yisroel related that his father had instructed him to save this letter, so that ensuing generations would know what one should request in a kvittel "And this was no insignificant thing," the Beis Yisroel once told his follower, R' Refoel Horowitz, "because out of the tens of thousands of letters which my father received, he instructed me to save only two letters, one from his eldest son Hy'd, and the other written in 5705 by a bochur from Switzerland, Chaim Erlanger."

R' Chaim's son once asked his father, in a casual manner, what he had written in that letter, and he replied that he had asked for these things: to attain various levels; to rectify the four letters of Hashem's Name which pertain to the root of his soul, and to be a chair and chariot for the Shechina.

A man from Lugano who would occasionally visit the Steipler Rav, would always be greeted by the question: "How is the mekubal?"

That is how he was identified. That is how he was known by the gedolei hador.

Certain people once told the Admor of Satmar, the author of Va'yoel Moshe, that they didn't understand how so young a person could involve himself in kaboloh. "Leave him alone. He is worthy of it," the Admor replied.

Indeed, when he was still a young man, he made chidushim in the secrets of the Torah, even though very few books of kabboloh were in his possession. Scores of years later, many of his explanations were found to be explicitly stated in the writings of the Arizal and in other works of the greatest kabbalsits.

Throughout his life, he immersed himself in the penetrating study of the inner recesses of the Torah, and left behind many writings on kabbalistic subjects. He published two books during his life: Meiras Einayim LeRabbenu Yitzchok Demin Acco, on the secrets of the Rambam on the Torah with the commentary of Yefeh Einayim (in gematria: Chaim Aryeh) and the book, Shaar Horozin LeRabbenu Todros (also Chaim Aryeh in gematria).

He approached his studies of the Torah's inner secrets with the same seriousness with which he delved into the halacho and the analysis of the topics of the gemora. He studied the kabboloh with an added sense of responsibility, and with awe and trepidation. He told his brother that before preparing his Yefeh Einayim on the Meiras Einayim, he had studied more than 30 kabbalistic works of our rishonim, so that his ideas would coincide with the thought trends of the rishonim.

Despite all this, he warned others not to engage in the study of kabboloh before being ripe for such a pursuit, as far as one's level of faith and lifestyle are concerned. As we have said, he explained to his son that "one needn't study the hidden meanings of the Torah, but must rather be an `acting nistar.'

Learning and Doing

A talmid chochom once asked him whether it was fitting to join shiurim where the intentions of the prayers (kavonos) are studied. R' Chaim replied: "I feel that it is permitted to make kavonos and yichudim only if at the time one makes them, he actually feels that a shechita knife has been placed on his heart and that he is prepared to sacrifice his life for the honor of Hashem Yisborach. Only then can he grasp the genuine kabbalistic intentions and intend to the yichudim of Hashem's sacred Names."

He also disapproved of the transforming of the inner aspects of the Torah to a popular type of study in which all could engage. He often expressed his fears that the popular study of kabboloh causes supernal concepts to become tangible and mundane. He felt that if a person doesn't succeed in ascending to the level of a kabbalistic concept, he lowers it to the level of his limited understanding and misconstrues it in a serious manner. In particular, he warned against those who feign to be masters of the kabboloh, when they really lack the foundations of pure faith, and violate the Torah prohibition against flattering the wicked. "Our main purpose is to cull the good from the bad, and all of the avoda of one whose viewpoints are faulty or who collaborates with the wicked, is doubtful." (His insistence on purity of hashkofo and his zeal for sheim Shamayim, were well known, and were the sources of his great admiration of the Brisker dynasty and the Admor of Satmar.)

He said that one cannot grasp exalted conceptions if they are unaccompanied by actual deeds. In his introduction to Shaar Horozin, he cites the explanation of the practice of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, who would distribute all of his money to tzedoko, until there was barely a penny in his home. The Divrei Chaim, who was blessed with an exceptionally brilliant mind and grasped new concepts on a daily basis, feared that his wisdom might exceed his good deeds, he explained. He felt that the only way he could prevent such a situation and ensure that his deeds hopefully exceeded his wisdom, was by distributing charity all day.

R' Chaim perceived this basic matter on his own. He once told his close acquaintances that after he had become well- versed in kabboloh, he felt that the secret of the 12 challos on Shabbos (from the writings of the Arizal) was difficult for him to grasp. Nonetheless, he relied on the words of the Shaarei Teshuva that one who isn't acquainted with the kavonos, yet wants to rectify his deeds and direct his heart toward Shomayim, may adopt these kavonos nonetheless.

He began to behave that way in 5728, and from that time on, allusions to the matter were revealed to him every year, until he finally understood 17 different ways of explaining the matter in its deepest aspects

Na'aseh venishma.

R' Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, who came to console the mourners, listened for a long time to the accounts of the remarkable life of R' Chaim, and then read through his written seforim. He then explained: "The deeds aren't the result of the seforim. The opposite is true. The seforim are the results of the deeds."

For this reason, R' Chaim remonstrated against those people who donned false Chassidic mantles, of which they were unworthy. Precisely because he was a staunch adherent of the writings of the students of the Besht, he was not accommodating to those who, under the guise of supposed "Chassidus," wanted to justify behavior which did not conform to the clear-cut halocho and the pure truth. In his opinion, this factor caused a decrease in the virtue of genuine piety in the world (as the Mesilas Yeshorim says in its introduction).

Along with his great mastery of the Toras hanistar, he devoted many hours to the in-depth study of the revealed Torah. In Lugano, he delivered gemoro discourses on very complex sugyos, as well as halachic shiurim in works of the Chofetz Chaim, the Mishne Brurah and Shmiras Haloshon.

When he was asked who were his mentors, he replied: "The works of the Chofetz Chaim." The reason for this reply was that each time he had a doubt regarding a certain manner of conduct, he would study the works of the Chofetz Chaim, with which he was thoroughly familiar from the time he was young, and would find in them the answer to his question.

In addition, he had a special study session at ten at night, of the chidushim of Rabbenu Chaim Halevi, which he studied in-depth and with sharp penetration, even though he had spent a long and arduous day involved in various forms of toil.

A certain talmid chochom once asked him how he succeeded in clarifying difficult sugyos when he lived so far away from Torah centers, and had no one with whom to speak in learning.

R' Chaim's answer startled the questioner: "In such a case," R' Chaim said, "I weep and plead with the Creator of the universe to guide me along the true path. After this, I approach the bookshelf, take out a book, open it, and see the explanation of the issue before my eyes."

Working and Serving Hashem

R' Chaim was immersed in Torah study every moment of his life. Even when he stood in his shop, when he earned his livelihood, he continued to pursue his Torah studies and thoughts. He did this not only between serving customers, but also while calculating their bills.

Glancing through a packet of his father's chidushei Torah, his son noticed that some of them had been jotted down on the back of these bills. When his son asked why he didn't write them down on a neat piece of paper, he replied that sometimes, while beginning to add up a customer's debt, a chidush would cross his mind, and he would jot it down on the back of the bill so that he wouldn't forget it.

Thus we see that he not only transformed his home into a beis medrash -- as testified to by its walls and its content -- but also his place of business.

While standing in his shop, he continued to meditate in Torah, and to keep all of his special hanhagos, without forgoing even one. He maintained maximal shemiras ho'einayim even in his shop. When he sold merchandise to women, he didn't raise his eyes. A steady worker in his store testified that during the scores of years in which she had been employed by him, he had never looked at her, even though he had to turn to her on business matters many times a day.

R' Chaim devised may ways which enabled him to maintain his shemiras einayim. In his store, he would wear very thick framed glasses, which he would perch on the edge of his nose. He explained the reason for this practice, saying: "Sometimes women come in to buy merchandise. Despite my efforts not to raise my eyes, there are times when I have no choice. These glasses have a very thick frame, and lie on my nose, in a manner in which the frame obstructs my view, so that I can't see the person standing in front of me."

That wasn't all . . .

His grandson once stood beside him in the store, and noticed that while measuring the cloth, R' Chaim was murmuring something. The grandson drew closer and heard him whispering: "Ono beko'ach gedulas yemincho . . ."

"Chanoch sewed shoes and with every stitch performed yichudim which linked him to his Creator," say Chazal. R' Chaim Erlanger was a cloth merchant, and with every piece of cloth he measured, he would concentrate on the prayer, Ono beko'ach (which contains allusions to one of the sacred Names of Hashem.)

The prices which he displayed in the store's window were calculated in manners which represented the gematrios of the sacred Names of Hashem ( such as multiples of 26). He explained this practice saying that the prices caused him to recall Hashem's sacred Names, and in that manner he fulfilled the verse, "Shivisi Hashem lenegdi tomid."

"We saw hashgocho protis in the store with every step we took," he said. His wife added that she had seen Hashem's hand in the concentration camp in Auschwitz, but had experienced overt miracles in the store.

R' Chaim compiled the facts in a special kuntress, on whose front cover he wrote, "Ki Le'olom Chasdo "( which is Chaim Aryeh in gematria).

During the early years of his shop, there were sometimes days in which no one visited it, and there was no parnossa. At such times, he would take his sefer Tehillim, go alone to the river, and pour out his heart to his Maker. When he returned to the store, he would be told that while he was away, many people had suddenly come into the store to buy merchandise.

During his very first year in business, he didn't earn a thing, and for a number of months was unable to pay his rent. One day the landlord warned him that if the rent was not paid by evening, he and all of his merchandise would be thrown out of the shop. R' Chaim began to recite Tehillim very tearfully for a number of hours. Toward evening, a person whom R' Chaim didn't even know, came into the store and said that he wanted to leave him a deposit for an unlimited amount of time, on the condition that R' Chaim would use it for his needs. The sum of the deposit was precisely equal to the amount R' Chaim needed for his rent. The man, though, never returned for the deposit.

On another occasion when he needed money, he prayed to Hashem, reciting the kapitel in which the words, "mei'ayin yovo ezri" appear. Suddenly a drunkard arrived in the store and, swaying back and forth, marched through the display of furniture, claiming that he wanted to buy a sofa at a good price. R' Chaim asked for his address, but the drunkard could not specify the name of his street nor the number of his home. He told R' Chaim to follow him to his "house" and to take the sofa with him. After a long trek by foot, they reached a barn. R' Chaim put down the sofa, and the drunkard took out a packet of cash, and paid for the sofa in full.

Hashem has many ways. There were instances in which merchandise stood in the store for a long time, without being sold. But when R' Chaim would pour out his heart to Hashem in prayer, the merchandise would be damaged by natural causes (floods etc.), and the cost of the damaged merchandise, which he had not been able to sell, would be paid by the insurance company.

Immediately after the petirah of his wife, he had to use a certain machine in the store. However his wife was the only one who had known how to operate it. That day, he received a telephone call from a former worker who had left her place of employment ten years beforehand, and wanted to return to work immediately.

The woman excitedly related that for three consecutive days she had dreamt that R' Chaim's wife was grabbing her by the hand and telling her: "Come with me immediately." On the third day, the woman and her family were involved in a serious car accident. By a miracle, they weren't hurt. The car, though, was totally smashed. After this event, she felt certain that the merit of the Erlanger family had saved her, and she decided to return to work. The day she returned was the day on which R' Chaim needed her help.

Such stories, and many more like them, fill the pages of the kuntress in which R' Chaim recorded many amazing facts about the hasghocho protis he saw in every step he took in his shop.

On motzei Shabbos, the 15th of Kislev, 5748, he was killed in a tragic accident, With his very body, he fulfilled kabolas daled misos, a matter over which he had toiled throughout his life and had spoken about many times.

When his sons entered his study, whose table was still covered by a white Shabbos cloth, they found thirty books of kabboloh on it, each with a note in it, which served as a bookmark. The Zohar Hakodosh lay near his chair. The bookmark had been placed in parshas Achrei Mos.

When the will he had written in 5725 was opened, his family particularly noted these words:

"Try and impart as many divrei Torah or words of mussar which I innovated or said during my life, and try to relate how meticulous I was, in line with the verse, "Ogura be'oholecho" (which is Chaim Aryeh in gematria). However do not ascribe any title to me, which might embarrass or disgrace me Above. Only say that I longed to be a loyal servant to Hashem and to the Torah hakedosha, and that in the very depths of my soul, there exists a longing and a thirst to draw closer to Hashem and to be a tzaddik, a chassid and an upright person, beloved and genial, and by this to cause nachas ruach to the Creator."

His Life

The gaon, the tzaddik, the mekubal, R' Chaim Aryeh Erlanger was born in Lucerne Switzerland on shevi'i shel Pesach, 5694. His father was R' Shimshon Refoel Erlanger, and his grandfather R' Avrohom Erlanger, who raised an illustrious family in the spiritual desert which prevailed in Switzerland at that time, was a very respected figure in his place of residence. The head of the government in the Lucerne canton publicized an article in which he wrote that when Mr. Avrohom Erlanger comes to the government offices with a request, it is totally impossible to turn him away, because of the esteem in which he is held.

R' Shimshon Refoel, R' Avrohom's son, continued in his father's footsteps, and raised a large Torah family. R' Refoel's wife was also known as an extraordinary person and a yiras Elokim. R' Chaim Ozer told her husband during the Knessia Hagedola: "If you are that woman's husband, then one must rise in your presence. She is a secret. She is not known."

R' Chaim grew up in this illustrious home. Throughout his life, he said that he felt deeply attached to the root of his mother's soul, and stressed that she had bequeathed parts of her lofty soul to him, in order to enable him to perceive deep matters. In his notebook, he specified that certain chidushim and spiritual hasagos had been revealed to him in a dream by his mother, o"h.

As a youth, he studied in the yeshiva in Montreux. Even then, it was obvious that he was destined for greatness, due to his remarkable diligence and lofty aspirations. In 5706, he became a counselor for the survivors of the Holocaust, strengthening and encouraging them and instilling them with the will to live.

In 5707, he married Yehudis, the daughter of R' Avrohom Yehoshua Ratek, Hy'd (av beis din of Nadi-Halas of Hungary). Even as a youth, Yehudis was known for her righteousness, which was especially evident in the concentration camps where she observed all of the mitzvos meticulously, under impossible conditions, and strengthened her companions in emunah. She stood by her husband's side her entire life, and helped him raise their children bederech Hashem. As a result, she merited sons and chassonim who are well known talmidei chachomim. She passed away on the 25th of Sivan, 5734, after having suffered greatly.

R' Chaim settled in Lugano, where he continued in his avodas Hashem. Although he earned his livelihood from selling cloth, he spent most of the day studying Toras hanigleh and Toras hanistar with great diligence. He wrote a commentary on the sacred sefer, Me'iras Einayim, of Rabbenu Yitzchok Demin Acco, called Pesach Einayim-Yefeh Einayim, as well as a commentary, Chaim Lemotz'eihem on Shaar Horozin of Rabbenu Todros Halevi Abulafia. R' Chaim's piety and tefilla were renowned, and many turned to him, asking that he pray for them and bless him.

The gedolei hador who knew him, held him in high esteem, especially the Admor of Satmar, author of Vayo'el Moshe, who knew R' Chaim when the latter was a child. The Admor even gave him the outer coat the Admor wore when he visited the sacred sites and the graves of tzaddikim. R' Chaim would wear this coat only on special occasions: on the Yomim Nora'im, at the Seder, and while writing the kesuvos of his sons.

On motzei Shabbos, parshas Vayishlach, 15 Kislev 5748, he emerged from the beis medrash after ma'ariv, and headed home in order to recite havdolo. However he was struck by a car, which hit him in a fatal and terrible manner. Soon afterward he returned his pure soul to its Maker.

He is buried on Har Hamenuchos. His levaya was attended by a large throng. The gedolei haTorah who delivered hespedim in his memory, bemoaned the great loss.

He is survived by his second wife, and by his sons, R' Avrohom Yehoshua, R' Yisroel Meir, R' Sender Yitzchok, and a daughter, who is married to R' Moshe Uri Shlesinger of London.


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