The Torah world fell into deep mourning with the
petirah of one of the greatest marbitzei Torah
and most venerable roshei yeshiva of our time, HaRav
Binyomin Paller, zt"l, the rosh yeshiva of
Mekor Chaim in Boro Park, New York. His levaya in
Yerushalayim was attended by HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro and
HaRav Shmuel Auerbach as well as by many roshei
yeshiva and thousands of bnei Torah. It took place
both in the United States and Jerusalem.
HaRav Binyomin Paller was born in Brisk. His father, HaRav
Yitzchok, was a descendant of HaRav Moshe of Kobrin and one
of the most prominent talmidei chachomim in Brisk. His
mother was from the illustrious family of Rabbi Moshe
Isserles, the Rama.
As a youth he studied in Toras Chessed of HaRav Moshe
Sokolovski, author of the Imrei Moshe. In 5691 (1931)
he transferred to the yeshiva of the Griz, HaRav Velvel
Soloveitchik, the rav of Brisk, and attended his shiur
on a permanent basis. He was one of his outstanding students.
Until the outbreak of World War II he was very close to the
Griz, adopting his special in-depth, straightforward approach
to Torah study.
He learned on the Torah-reading bimah in the beis
hamedrash, where he would pour over his studies with
tremendous diligence for many hours without pause. He chose
that place, he said, because he was certain that no one would
dare disturb him there by speaking devorim beteilim.
For a time he studied bechavrusa with HaRav Dov
Halevi, son of the Griz, covering eight pages of
gemora a day.
A number of times, those close to the Griz heard him express
his deep respect for his student, Reb Binyomin. Among other
things, the Griz said, "He has an open mind. He knows the
With the outbreak of the war, R' Binyomin fled to Vilna,
where he continued to visit the Griz who was there as a
refugee from Brisk at the beginning of the war. In Vilna he
also attended the Griz's shiurim on a regular basis.
He later joined the Mirrer Yeshiva, which had moved to
Kaidan, and after a prolonged period of wandering, he
traveled with them to the safe shores of Shanghai where they
were forced to stay for a number of years. He was considered
one of the best students in the yeshiva.
During that period, he drew close to the mashgiach,
HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, and was deeply inspired by his
Torah and yirah. When the Japanese authorities in
Shanghai ordered the yeshiva students to keep their passports
with them at all hours of the day, a halachic question arose
regarding carrying the passports on Shabbos. The Mashgiach
was consulted and he instructed Reb Binyomin and Reb Arye
Leib Malin, two of his finest students, to clarify the issue.
After they had clarified every aspect of the question they
decided that it was permissible to carry the passports on
Shabbos. Every student in the yeshiva abided by their
After the war, he arrived in the United Sates alone and began
to study with a group of gedolei HaTorah who had
studied in the Mirrer in Europe and founded the Beis HaTalmud
yeshiva in Brooklyn, New York. Soon afterward he married the
righteous daughter of HaRav Shmuel Ehrenfeld, the
gaavad of Mattersdorf. In a letter of blessing which
the Griz sent to the gaavad of Mattersdorf in honor of
the wedding, he noted that the chosson, Reb Binyomin,
was thoroughly familiar with most of the parts of the Rambam.
After his marriage, his father-in-law, president of the
Chasam Sofer yeshiva, appointed him rosh yeshiva.
In 5727 (1967), he founded the Mekor Chaim yeshiva, where he
taught for over thirty years, producing hundreds of students,
most of whom preside as marbitzei Torah in the United
States. As one who had basked in the light of the great
gedolim of the previous generation, he attracted many
outstanding students who thirstily imbibed his words, seeking
to acquire the foundations for in-depth understanding of
Torah in his unique manner based on the Torah of his
Until his final days he overflowed with chiddushei
Torah and toiled in Torah with every fiber of his soul in
his deep but straightforward manner. He was amazingly well
versed in every aspect of the Torah, including halocho,
aggodoh, and mussar.
He began to feel very weak in recent months, and with every
passing day his condition grew worse until 5 Av, when he
returned his pure soul to its Maker.
The huge levaya left his yeshiva in Brooklyn the next
day, on 6 Av. It was attended by all of the gedolei
haTorah and roshei yeshiva in the United
The first hesped was delivered by his brother- in-law,
HaRav Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld, rosh yeshiva of the
Chasam Sofer yeshiva and gaavad of Mattersdorf. At the
end of the hesped he announced that the three sons of
the niftar would replace him as rosh yeshiva,
led by the eldest son, HaRav Yitzchok.
Hespedim were then delivered by his brother- in-law,
HaRav Simcha Shustel, the rosh yeshiva of Beis
Binyomin; HaRav Shmuel Birnbaum, the rosh yeshiva of
the Mirrer; HaRav Eliyahu Svei, the rosh yeshiva of
Yeshivas Philadelphia; HaRav Binyomin Tzeilberger, the
rosh yeshiva of Beis HaTalmud in America; HaRav
Malkiel Kotler, the rosh yeshiva of Lakewood; the
niftar's son, HaRav Yitzchok, the rosh yeshiva
of Mekor Chaim and the niftar's son-in-law, HaRav
Shmuel Abba Olshin, rosh yeshiva of Emek HaTalmud.
HaRav Shimon Olster, one of the roshei yeshiva of the
Long Beach Yeshiva, and HaRav Moshe Schreiber weepingly
parted from him in the name of the yeshiva students.
At the end of the hespedim, the levaya left
with an entourage to Kennedy airport, from which the
aron was flown to Eretz Yisroel. It was accompanied by
family members and fifteen of the niftar's students.
The aron was received at Ben Gurion Airport by a group
of students who bemoaned the loss of their illustrious rav
who had lit up their eyes in Torah.
The aron was then brought to the Beis Shmuel Yeshiva
in Kiryat Mattersdorf, Jerusalem. Thousands of bnei
Torah headed by the gedolei haTorah, roshei yeshiva,
rabbonim and dayanim and many of the
niftar's students, awaited the arrival.
The hespedim were begun by the niftar's brother-
in-law, HaRav Akiva Ehrenfeld, president of Kiryat
Mattersdorf and its institutions, who wept over the great
loss to the Torah world. In his hesped he stressed the
great dedication of the niftar to toil in Torah at all
times and under all circumstances.
HaRav Boruch Dov Povarski, one of the roshei yeshiva
of Ponovezh, noted that the niftar was a vestige of
the great geonim of the previous generation. He
bequeathed to this generation the Torah of the gedolim
of the pre- Holocaust era.
The Mirrer rosh yeshiva, HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel,
read the verse, "Sar vegodol nofal hayom beYisroel,"
while lamenting the great void created in the world with
HaRav Binyomin Paller's demise.
HaRav Boruch Rosenberg, the rosh yeshiva of Slobodke
who knew the niftar as a youth in Brisk, bitterly
bemoaned the loss of the great gaon who combined
outstanding brilliance in all aspects of the Torah with piety
and pure yiras Shomayim.
HaRav Yitzchok Ehrenfeld, the rosh yeshiva of Beis
Shmuel who merited to study under the niftar, spoke
about his great innovative powers. HaRav Moshe Schlesinger,
the rosh yeshiva of the Maaneh Simcha Yeshiva,
described the unique personality of the niftar who was
a living example of the odom hasholeim.
HaRav Avrohom Steinfeld, a ram in Kol Torah, delivered
a hesped in the name of the students. HaRav Simcha
Bunim, one of the roshei yeshiva of Mekor Chaim,
parted from him in the name of the family, along with the
niftar's son-in-law, HaRav Simcha Horowitz, the
rosh yeshiva of Emek HaTalmud.
At the end of the hespedim the levaya headed
towards Har Hamenuchos for burial. The students lingered
beside the fresh grave long after it was sealed, unable to
part from their beloved and esteemed rav.
He is survived by his wife, his three sons, HaRav Yitzchok,
HaRav Simcha Bunim and HaRav Zecharia, as well as by his two
daughters, one of whom is married to HaRav Shmuel Abba
Olshin, and the other to HaRav Shmuel Simcha Horowitz.