Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Iyar 5761 - May 2, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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HaRav Chaim Dov Rabinowitz zt"l
by Betzalel Kahn

Chaim Dov Rabinowitz zt"l, author of Da'as Sofrim on Tanach, was niftar in the 90th year of his life on 25 Nisan. Masses of people, headed by gedolei haTorah, accompanied him on his last earthly journey.

HaRav Rabinowitz was born on the 24th of Teves, 5669, in the town of Isblin in the Grodno district. He was the son of HaRav Shraga Feivel Rabinowitz, rav of the town where many gedolei Yisroel presided as rabbonim, among them HaRav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, the Ridvaz of Slutsk and others.

As a youth, he studied under HaRav Elchonon Wassermann, Hy"d, and later went to distant Grodno to study under HaRav Shimon Shkop, who gave him smicha. He also drew close to the mashgiach, HaRav Shlomo Harkavi, Hy"d, and transcribed his discourses. In time, he used those notes in order to publish the discourses of the mashgiach of Grodno.

When seeking admission to the Grodno yeshiva, along with his father, he approached HaRav Shimon Shkop, who had been born in Toretz, Reb Chaim Dov's father's birthplace. Rav Chaim's father began to speak in learning with HaRav Shimon. Suddenly the young Chaim whispered to his father that there is a Ketzos on the subject under discussion. Chaim's father told HaRav Shimon, "My son says that there is a Ketzos on this topic." HaRav Shimon Shkop asked to see it, and the young Chaim showed him the Ketzos. Reb Chaim was accepted into the yeshiva and HaRav Shimon arranged lodgings for him.

After his marriage to Soroh Rivka, o"h, daughter of HaRav Chaim Mordechai Bronrot, the ga'avad of Tchechenov and the ravad of Tel Aviv, he moved to Eretz Yisroel in 5697 (1937), settling in Tel Aviv. There he directed the Ohel Yaakov Talmud Torah, the first chareidi talmud Torah in that city.

In Eretz Yisroel, he was very close to the Chazon Ish, who would greet him warmly. Rav Chaim Dov had a remarkable memory and recalled many facts about the gedolei Yisroel from previous generations, and many hanhagos of the Chazon Ish were made known through him. He was also very close with Maran HaRav Eliezer Menachem Shach, shlita.

Upon the establishment of the State, HaRav Yitzchok Mayer Levin, chairman of Agudas Yisroel, recruited Rav Chaim Dov to work in the Welfare Ministry, where Rav Chaim Dov was very active on behalf of the immigrants in the transit camps.

Rav Chaim Dov's life's work was the monumental Da'as Sofrim on Tanach, a twenty-volume commentary based on the Rishonim. He invested all of his energy and more than sixty years of his life into compiling this commentary. Every time he would publish a new volume, he would present it to the Brisker Rov, who would study and comment on it. Once he asked the Chazon Ish for his opinion on the seforim, and the Chazon Ish replied, "Chazoko al chover." Approbations of HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer, the Admor of Ozherov and others grace these seforim.

For many years, he lived near the Telshe yeshiva in Cleveland, where he delivered shiurim in Torah and hashkofo. The heads of the yeshiva held him in high esteem and HaRav Mordechai Gifter once sent him an ardent letter in praise of the seforim.

His seforim serve as basic works for the study of Tanach and are used by the greatest mechanchim throughout the world. Many talmidei chachomim study Tanach according to Da'as Sofrim. The books have been distributed all over the world and have been translated into English. When he completed Da'as Sofrim on the Tanach, he began to compile Da'as Sofrim on Midrash Tanchuma, and merited to publish editions on the three first Chumashim. An uncompleted commentary on Bamidbor remains in manuscript form.

In addition, he published articles in chareidi newspapers in Eretz Yisroel and throughout the world on Jewish thought. He also compiled a book about the European yeshivos of previous generations and a work about the beginning of the chareidi settlement in Eretz Yisroel.

Two years ago, his oldest son, HaRav Zecharya, was niftar, and he justified the din. A month ago, while he was involved in his writing, he fell ill, and last week he returned his pure soul to its Maker.

His levaya, held on 25 Nisan in Jerusalem, was attended by many bnei Yerushalayim. A hesped was delivered by his cousin, HaRav Tzvi Markowitz, rosh yeshiva of the Karlin yeshiva. He spoke of their mutual study in the yeshiva of Grodno where the niftar was a very great masmid who based his life on mussar. A hesped was delivered by HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, the rosh yeshiva of Maalos HaTorah, who said that the niftar had been very close to HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (HaRav Shmuel Auerbach's father). He also described the great impression made by the niftar's prayers and by his seforim, which are replete with wisdom. The niftar's grandson, HaRav Yehoshofat Rabinowitz, parted from him in the name of the entire family.

He is survived by his second wife, the granddaughter of HaRav Aharon Marcus, author of Sefer Hachassidus, as well as by his daughter, who is married to HaRav Avrohom Lerman, a ram in Tifferes Yerushalayim, and another daughter who is married to HaRav Chaim Mintz, the menahel ruchani of Tifferes Yerushalayim, as well as by grandchildren and great- grandchildren, all of whom are bnei Torah and are following in his footsteps.


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