On Shabbos Kodesh parshas Chukas, HaRav Gershon
Cahen, zt"l, director of the Chachmei Tsorfat
institutions in Aix-les-Bains and a mainstay of the Torah
world in France was niftar after a difficult illness.
He was 68 at the time of his petirah.
HaRav Gershon Cahen, son of Reb Avrohom, was born in France
in 5683 (1923). As a youth, he studied in the Chachmei
Tsorfat yeshiva, where he was one of the yeshiva's
outstanding students. He was close to HaRav Nosson Weil,
zt"l, and HaRav Mordechai Pogremansky zt"l.
His yearning to rise in Torah and avodas Hashem
through toil as well as his striving to attain pure yiras
Shomayim were evident even at this early stage.
During the Holocaust, he was drafted into the liberation
army. He sanctified Shem Shomayim in all of his
activities throughout the Holocaust and afterwards. In 5710
(1950), after his marriage, he assumed the burden of
directing the Chachmei Tsorfat institutions in Aix-les-
In addition to attending to the yeshiva's finances and the
students' material needs, he delivered mussar
discussions to the students. He merited to produce many
students who regarded him as a unique personality who had
profound influence on everyone he met, strengthening so many
people with his natural warmth and unassuming manner.
He later moved to Strasbourg, where he delivered Torah
shiurim to a large groups of laymen whom he guided in
their daily lives and spiritual progress.
His life was one long saga of efforts to increase kovod
Shomayim. He was one of the first to become involved in
kiruv activity in France, and he succeeded to draw
many closer to Torah with his pleasant manner of
He was a respected personage in France and in many issues
crucial to the development of French Jewry his opinion was
decisive. Many French Jews owe him their spiritual
existence. He personally accompanied his students throughout
their lives, offering them both guidance in Torah and
He was beloved by all who knew him, and his associates
regarded him as the epitome of good middos, greatness
and pleasant ways. He constantly sought the golden mean in
every issue, while staunch in his adherence to derech
Yisroel Saba, particularly where Torah chinuch
was involved. Due to his humility, warmth and unassuming
manner, he had many admirers who approached him with their
problems. He in turn shared their simchas and was
grieved by their distress.
Two-and-a-half years ago, he fell ill with a serious
disease. On Shabbos parshas Chukas he returned his
pure soul, refined by much suffering, to its Maker.
Levaya in Eretz Yisroel
His levaya was held on 10 Tammuz in Bnei Brak. It
left from the Lederman shul on Rechov Rashbam to the
cemetery in Bnei Brak.
Thousands from all over the country arrived at the Lederman
shul on Rashbam Street in Bnei Brak, from where the
whom they received spiritual guidance. A large number of
those in attendance were baalei teshuva, who owe him
a deep debt of gratitude for having been instrumental in
their return to Yiddishkeit.
Before the levaya left for the cemetery, mournful
hespedim were delivered by roshei yeshiva and
rabbonim. First to speak was HaRav Yitzchok Weil, the rosh
yeshiva of Chachmei Tsorfat, who bemoaned the loss of the
niftar who had directed the yeshiva for fifty years.
He said: "We were privileged to know him as a tzaddik
with numerous merits. He was complete in Torah, avoda
and gemilas chassodim, a wise man who was moser
nefesh to Torah and to upholding the Torah world.
Despite these burdens, he maintained steady sedorim
in Torah learning and delivered many shiurim. His
prayers were well known, and emerged from the depths of his
heart. He did chesed with all, especially with the
yeshiva students. His wife, tibodel lechayim tovim
ve'arukim stood by his side his entire life, encouraging
him in his many efforts on behalf of Torah, chesed
and kiruv. There is no doubt that he will enter the
Heichal Hatzaddikim, where he will meet with his
close friend, the rosh hayeshiva, HaRav Chaikin, with whom
he worked for fifty years."
HaRav Yitzchok Wassermann cried out: "No matter how much we
eulogize him, we will not succeed in doing so properly,
because it is impossible to grasp his greatness. He was
unique in his avodas Hashem, which he learned from
his mentor, HaRav Chaikin. He was a role model of mesiras
nefesh, alacrity, self-nullification, taharoh and
kedusha. Shayif ayal veshayif nofik. He accomplished
in one day, what others accomplish in a week. His entire
life was dedicated to the klal, and when he appears
before the Throne of Glory, may he be a good interceder on
behalf of klal Yisroel."
HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi lamented: "He sanctified Shem
Shomayim, and there is no one more dear to HaKodosh
Boruch Hu than a shliach mitzvah, who does his
earthly mission. All of his deeds were one loyal
shlichus of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and his sole
purpose was to make His Name beloved on earth. He was the
pillar of truth, who produced many students, and his share
in the rescue of French Jewry and worldwide Jewry is
Other hespedim were delivered by HaRav Gavriel
Toledano; HaRav Bamberger, the niftar's son-in-law;
HaRav Tzvi Chaikin one of the roshei yeshiva of Chachmei
Tsorfat; HaRav Yosef Nidam, the director of the yeshiva and
by HaRav Yisroel Cahen, the niftar's son. All of them
described the niftar's great share in strengthening
Torah in France and insuring its continuation.
Before the closing of the grave, the niftar's son,
HaRav Todros Cahen, spoke about his father's great
mesiras nefesh, saying that with HaRav Gershon's
petirah, France Jewry has lost a person of great
spiritual stature and with great mesiras nefesh to
He is survived by his wife, his sons: HaRav Todros and HaRav
Yisroel, and his sons-in-law, HaRav Moshe Aryeh Bamberger,
HaRav Yosef Mayer, HaRav Yehuda Shmuel, HaRav Naftali
Goldberg, HaRav Yehuda Rosenblum, HaRav Eliyahu Benishu,
HaRav Meir Simcha Karnovski, HaRav Mayer Visman, all of whom
are outstanding talmidei chachomim, roshei yeshiva
and roshei kollel.