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








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Hespedim for HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, zt"l, and the Appointment of his Son HaRav Yisroel Yaakov in His Stead
by B. Rabinowitz

A public gathering for hespeidim and his'orerus following the tragic deaths of HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, rav of the chareidi community of Ofakim, his wife, Rebbetzin Chaya Mindel, o"h, and their daughter Miriam, o"h, was held in Ofakim last week with maranan verabonon, roshei yeshiva, roshei kollel, marbitzei Torah and public figures from Ofakim and throughout the Negev in attendance.

With the warm blessings of leading Torah figures, his firstborn son, HaRav Yisroel Yaakov was appointed to the position of moro de'asra of Ofakim's chareidi community, previously held by his father, zt"l.

The appointment was signed by maranan verabonon: HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapira, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, HaRav Nissim Karelitz, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky and HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, who were joined by leading roshei yeshiva, marbitzei haTorah and the heads of Kahal Am Kodosh of the Ofakim kehilla.

A huge crowd of thousands streamed toward Ofakim's main center for Torah and tefilloh, Kivisi Hashem, filling all of the botei knesses and the large squares to overflow capacity. The gathering opened with Tehillim recited by HaRav Shlomo Ya'acovitz for the recovery of Ruchama Rochel bas Chaya Mindel who is still hospitalized in critical condition at the Intensive Care Unit of the Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, and is in need of rachmei shomayim for her complete recovery, besoch sha'ar cholei Yisroel.

HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman said: "Undoubtedly hespeidim have already been made and we hope that he has been eulogized as the halochoh requires for a talmid chochom. I am not practiced in eulogizing and am not worthy of it, but the idea is not just to eulogize and weep, but rather the living must be encouraged to continue to sustain the family and the community, which is an act of chesed towards both the living and the dead.

Acts of chesed towards the living must of course be performed to sustain the broken family, and toward the broken kehilla as well, and it is essential to elevate them and bolster them to enable them to continue. Continuation is also necessary for the sake of "honoring him in death as in life," and is a part of honoring the dead. When the son perpetuates the ways of the father this is also a form of honor, and demonstrates that just as it is an act of chesed, it is also an act of kovod. As far as chesed is concerned, each and every one of you knows that Torah and chesed are the main pillars supporting the entire world, and therefore I would like to speak on the topic of kibud horav.

"In the parsha of the korbon oshom tolui it says, `Velo yoda ve'osheim venoso avono.' Rashi brings a quote from Chazal that reads, `Rabi Yossi Haglili says, the Torah punishes he who did not know, all the more so does it punish he who did know.' Why does Rabi Yossi Haglili have to mention the fact that it would apply all the more so to he who did know? The Torah says explicitly that if an individual committed a transgression knowingly, he will be punished, so what is the point of the kal vochomer here?

"Rather, we do not need a kal vochomer to tell us the fact. However, even when someone knows, he may not sense the severity of the transgression, and how much prudence is called for. But when he hears this kal vochomer, this adds to what he already knows in most cases. Although this is simple, one can come to feel it more when this is laid out before him in this way.

"Yalkut Shimoni Yehoshua (23) quotes Chazal on the verse, Vesheim Chevron lifnim Kiryas Arba ho'odom hagodol ba'anokim hu, veho'oretz shokto mimilchomo, saying, "Rabi Yossi Haglili says the verse compares the deeds of those in Eretz Yisroel with the deeds of those in Egypt, stating, kema'aseih Eretz Mitzrayim. Why did the Canaanites have the merit to dwell on their land for 47 years (as it is written, VeChevron sheva shonim nivneso lifnei Tzo'an Mitzrayim)? Because they gave honor unto Avrohom Ovinu by saying Nesi Elokim atoh besocheinu, they had the merit to dwell on their land. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said in the name of Rav Yehuda ben Lokish, it says ho'odom hagodol ba'anokim--veho'oretz shoktoh mimilchomoh, this refers to the Canaanites who honored Avrohom Ovinu and thereby merited peace in their land. What is the connection between "the great man among giants" and "peace reigned in the land"? This comes to teach us that the war ceased only in the merit of Avrohom Ovinu whom the Canaanites honored by telling him, `You are a nesi Elokim sent to dwell among us . . .'

"Those who honored Avrohom were the Sons of Cheis and not all of the Canaanites or the Amorites or Sichon and Og, yet this merit was so great that as a result, peace reigned in all the land. The Seven Nations, who regularly practiced avoda zora, were so nefarious that HaKodosh Boruch Hu said, `Do not allow a soul to live,' because they were such horrendous people, and nevertheless since the people of Chevron alone said nesi Elokim atoh besocheinu all of the nations, not just the people of Chevron, merited peace for 47 years and were spared from all sorrows and all punishments. Why? Because they showed honor to Avrohom Ovinu.

"From here we can learn the significance of kibud horav -- honoring a rov. If we see that even the Sons of Ches who were horrible people, who also practiced avoda zora, and nevertheless since they said nesi Elokim atoh besocheinu the merit was enough so that all of the Seven Nations lived for 47 years without war and were able to live off the fat of the land, all because they honored the aged Avrohom Ovinu. If this is the case for idol worshipers, all the more does it apply to Jews who keep Torah and mitzvos--this important kehilla--who honor the rov and accord him this honor that his son will be given the privilege of serving in his stead. Certainly this merit will give the family and all of the members of the kehilla the merit to continue living and to stride forward, and may it bring nachas ruach to the Rov in the Upper World, and he will certainly be happy about this, and thus Klal Yisroel will rebuild what has been destroyed, will rebuild and add on to what existed previously. And may HaKodosh Boruch Hu help this kehilla continue on the right path and increase their Torah and mitzvos, and all will reap the benefits, both in this world and the World to Come."

HaRav Nissim Karelitz, who made the effort to come following requests by the rabbonim and roshei kehilla, quoted the gemora, saying, "Learning Torah is set aside in order to remove the dead. The gemora asks, `How many people must stop learning? As many as necessary. Rav Yochonon says 600,000. Its removal should be according to how it was given. Since it was given to 600,000, then its removal should also be with 600,000. Says Rashi: Matan Torah was before 600,000 people, so its removal should be the same. This is referring to a talmid chochom who dies and his learning ceases. It does not say that Torah was given over to 600,000 people, but rather that Torah was given over to each and every individual before 600,000 people. This is the way Torah was given. The gemora then continues, saying, `This applies to one who learned individually (mikroh and gemora), but for one who taught others, there is no limit. Even being honored before 600,000 is not considered sufficient honor.

"Furthermore it says in Ovos DeRabi Nosson, `Chesed chofatzti velo zevach, veda'as Elokim mei'olos. HaKodosh Boruch Hu says chesed is more important to me than a korbon shlomim and da'as Elokim is more important to me than a korbon oloh. An oloh is more important than shlomim since it goes up in its entirety to Hashem, and talmud Torah is more important to HaKodosh Boruch Hu than an oloh, because he who learns Torah knows da'ato shel Mokom.'

"Rabi Nosson continues, saying, `From here we learn that a chochom who sits and teaches is compared to one who sacrifices cheilev and blood on the altar. This raises a question for previously we said that a talmid chochom is greater than a sacrifice. The answer is that this has two different levels. Previously we spoke about someone who offers an oloh, and said that a talmid chochom is more important, but here we are talking about the Cohen who performs the service which provides atonement for he who brought the offering, or with a korbon tsibur where the Cohen performs the service and the entire congregation is granted atonement. This is what applies to a chochom who sits and teaches: he teaches and the entire congregation is granted atonement.

"It was already mentioned previously that the Rov left a son to replace him. The halochoh states that when a leader passes away, if he left a son to replace him and the son is suitable both in terms of his Torah knowledge and his yiras Shomayim, then he has priority over others. This is a din that obligates the congregation, it does not stem from the individuals involved. Yet we still find by Dovid Hamelech that he was promised that the kingship would be passed on to his son. We see from here that it is a zechus from someone that his kingship-- the rule of Torah within Am Yisroel--be perpetuated. When his sons continue along his path, part of him carries on! We would like to give the merit to the Rov, from whom we received so much, by appointing his son as the rov, to continue with the work for which he too, is fit. And this is a merit for him. May it be His will that this place be reinvigorated after the great blow that has been struck."

The rosh yeshiva of Ofakim, HaRav Chaim Hacohen Kamil, quoted the gemora that says the Angel of Death was sent to take the soul of Rabi Chiya and failed, so he returned as an indigent and asked Rabi Chiya for a piece of bread, and Rabi Chiya gave it to him. Said the Angel of Death, `You feel pity for the poor, so why don't you take pity on me? I was sent to take your soul, and I am unable to do so!' Without hesitation Rabi Chiya handed over his soul.

"Mori verabi HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt"l explained that Rav Chiya's practice of giving tzedoko was in the manner of vesofeik loro'eiv nafshecho. And the same is true of our recent loss, of whom it can truly be said that he gave his entire soul to every Jew.

"In the Responsa of the Geonim (178), it says that Rav practiced ten principles of piety and when he passed away, his talmidim were unable to maintain all of them. The talmidim gathered together and each of them accepted upon himself one of the ten principles. This is our task. Of course we will be unable to fill his place. His level of harbotzas Torah, which knew no bounds, and his level of chesed. But I would like to mention one point that really is one of his most cherished principals.

"Within the kehilla we felt the power of the Rov's emunah. All of the children got a sense of what real emunah is, what real yiras Shomayim is, what real tefilloh is. Like in the Responsa of the Geonim, which describes how together the talmidim were able to reach Rav's level, but alone it was impossible. Thus Yaakov Ovinu is still with us...this is our task.

"On the verse that says Choshav Hashem lehashchis Bas Tzion noto kav the Alshich asks, `When you build a building, lines must be drawn, but when the building is torn down, are the lines drawn?' Says the Alshich, `When it refers to HaKodosh Boruch Hu we do have noto kav!' Here, too, we have building! My dear brethren of the holy community of Ofakim, this is our task: to take on his mailos and his midos.

"Once, when the Rov was still a bochur, he came up to me before the blowing of the shofar and said to me, `There's a hiddur practiced by the Briskers to hear the brochos from the shaliach tsibur along with all of the tekios so that the brochos are said on the tekios, but his custom was to prolong his tefilloh. How could both of these elements be carried out?' I couldn't give him an answer to his question, and after much deliberation, the Rov decided that prolonging his tefilloh was preferable. For him tefilloh was real work. We are obligated to take on this midda . . .

"Another incident from his days as a bochur: One Shabbos he accidentally touched muktze. Afterwards he knew no rest. He took upon himself not to visit in any home until he had reviewed hilchos muktze. I would like to repeat that the main point is not the incident itself, the story, but rather the great kedusha that he had, his yiras Shomayim, his tefilloh. May HaKodosh Boruch Hu help us to learn from his ways, and may his son and successor lead us be'ezras Hashem. May HaKodosh Boruch Hu console him and the entire family over their loss, and may we merit the rebuilding of Zion and Jerusalem speedily in our days."

Rosh Yeshivas Hanegev, Rav Issachar Meir, said that what had taken place was certainly a decree on Klal Yisroel and not on an individual or an individual family. He went on to say that the tragedy could not be taken lightly, but must be received with seriousness, in order to bring about an elevation.

"The gemora relates that the baby of the melamed of the son of Reish Lokish died, and Reish Lokish sent his meturgeman to offer consolations. When the meturgeman arrived he told the melamed, `Vayar Hashem veyin'atz mika'as bonov uvenosov. When the fathers of a generation show scorn to HaKodosh Boruch Hu, He releases his wrath on their sons and daughters, and they die at a young age.' The gemora then asks, `He came to console him and in the end he caused him grief and despair!?' And the gemora answers, `He was saying: You are important enough to suffer for the entire generation.' This is what I would like to say to this kehilla kedosha: this is a decree on Klal Yisroel and you are suffering for the entire generation.

"It is crucial not to stop for distractions during learning, to prevent Torah learning from getting broken up into separate segments. What is the idea behind this? There is a mitzvah of talmud Torah and there is a mitzvah of deveikus beTorah. If one learns throughout a seder uninterrupted, he performs the mitzvah of deveikus beTorah, but if one stops in the middle, although he is performing the mitzvah of talmud Torah, the deveikus is lacking, which is what it means to break up your learning into separate segments lacking the `glue.'

"This should remind us to recall chasdei Shomayim every day. And the days we have been given as a gift, to take advantage of them, and not to waste them in idle activities. Who can say whether this great sacrifice won't bring us salvation, b'ezras Hashem? We have faith that if we rouse ourselves, HaKodosh Boruch Hu will destroy our enemies entirely and the everlasting salvation will arrive. May there be consolation to the family and to Am Yisroel.

Rav Yehuda Tshezner, moreh tzedek of Ofakim, quoted Chazal's maxim, "`The death of tzadikim is as difficult as the burning of Beis Elokeinu.' Not only the tzaddik but his family as well. Three pure and holy souls. We cannot comprehend this, but we must accept the decree.

"The Kol Bo asks, When we say Kaddish we say, 'bechayeichon uveyomeichon uvechayei dechol beis Yisroel!' How does that apply here? This is essentially a prayer said because when the moshiach arrives and His name is hallowed and sanctified in the world, there will be so many sorrows and so many losses, that we pray that we will be among those who live until the days of the moshiach. How many losses we have suffered! But Chazal say whoever leaves behind a son to take his place is not said to be `dead' but rather `lying down.' The Maharasha says it's as if he went to sleep.

"The Ya'aros Dvash explains that when a tzaddik passes away, his various practices and other spiritual tools that he took on during his lifetime are all left hefker, and anyone can claim them, but it requires mesirus nefesh to maintain them, through hasmodoh, harbotzas haTorah, chesed, taharoh, kedushah, ahavas sholom bein odom lechavero, nosei be'ol im chaveiro, lehovin nefesh hasheini. Each and every one of us must take on one of these attributes, or increase his learning or gemilus chesed or the help he proffers to others; there is no lack of attributes Rabbenu exemplified for us to accept upon ourselves.

The rav of Ofakim, HaRav Amram Ohayon delivered a hesped in a voice tinged with bitter sorrow. "How could someone like myself come and eulogize the giant among giants, gaon hador in every sense of the term, whether in Torah or yiras cheit! His entire being was holy, a burning flame! He was entirely ablaze. I saw him on Rosh Chodesh Nisan saying Bircas Ho'ilanos wearing tallis and tefillin and I stood and watched the Rov: half an hour went by, forty minutes, and the Rov stood there in full concentration, making the blessing. His Bircas Ho'ilanos was like our Ne'ila. This is what our holy Rov was like, this is the sefer Torah we have lost.

"In Bava Basra it says Avrohom Ovinu had a precious stone around his neck, and anyone who was sick who gazed at it would be cured. Baalei hamusar say this precious stone was Avrohom Ovinu. Emunah was bursting through him, ho'emunah ho'Elokis, and this is what would cure every ailing soul. We offer our blessings to the firstborn son, HaRav Yisroel Yaakov, who is stepping in to replace his father, it is pleasant and fitting to crown him with the crown of Torah, and may HaKodosh Boruch Hu be at his side."

The director and founder of Yeshivas Ofakim, Rav Yosef Goldental, opened his hesped with bitter tears, saying, "I remember the night he was sitting in his succah and we proposed that he come to Ofakim. He told us he would think about it and send us his reply. At the time he was Rosh Yeshiva in Satmar, and they were reluctant to give him up. They went to a din Torah to the Steipler, who told Satmar that they would be able to find someone to replace him, but Ofakim would not be able to find someone else! They picked up their suitcases and came to the Negev--eretz lo zoru'a in terms of Torah."

The younger brother of the deceased, ylt"a, HaRav Avner Pincus, spoke about the mitzvah of a rav's love for his talmid, which prevents the talmid from growing disappointed. "I think that this is one of the main things that all of us saw in him, that when he delivered a drosho, every one of the listeners felt and knew that he loved him personally, and therefore accepted his words with a correct understanding, so that he did not lead anyone to stumble."

HaRav Reuven Karelenstein quoted Parsha Shemini where it says, "Vekol Yisroel yivku es hasreifa asher soraf Hashem. Were Nodov and Avihu `a fire?' With Rav Shimshon we felt the flame, the holy fire. He blazed in all of his holy undertakings, he himself was `a fire' and all of Beis Yisroel will weep for the fire--for Rav Shimshon was himself a blazing fire.

"The Rebbetzin had two sides to her: she was the wife of a chayal, the Rov, who was a soldier in Hashem's army, and she herself was an eishes chayil. Her primary characteristic was modesty and she took such pains to maintain modesty. Morai verabosai, let us bolster our modesty, as gedolei Yisroel have directed us to do. Gird yourselves and gather strength in this matter." In his closing remarks he offered his blessing for success to Rav Yisroel Yaakov.

HaRav Yisroel Yaakov Pincus opened his remarks, saying, "Father can be eulogized from so many different angles: Torah, chesed. In every dimension that we speak of him will be some aspect of the rabbonus.

"Elisha would yell, `My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its rider.' The gemora in Moed Koton says: `My father, my father' refers to his father and his mother, for with Eliyahu Hanovi, Elisha felt an element of his father and mother along with an element of `the chariot of Israel and its rider.' What this comes to say is that Eliyahu's leadership was the leadership of all of Israel as well as the leadership of the individual. And as part of the same leadership of each individual was the leadership in the aspect of his father and his mother.

What defines a mother? My father, zt"l, would say (and this appears in his sefer Tifferes Torah, in Parshas Shemos) that the Torah refers to Yocheved and Miriam as Shifra and Pu'ah. Shifra, because she improves [meshaperes] the unborn child, and Pu'ah, because she murmurs [po'ah] and talks to the unborn child. And why doesn't the Torah refer to them according to their real names? Father would explain that this can be likened to a child who is hospitalized. Everyone gathers around in an effort to save its life. But who thinks of wiping the child's nose? Only the mother, who is constantly thinking about the little things as well, in order to improve the child, however she can. They (Yocheved and Miriam) had this attitude towards each and every one, and therefore they were given "homes," in effect mothers of all of Israel.

"Within this holy kehilla we have witnessed not only the leadership of `the chariot of Israel and its rider,' but also the leadership of every individual not just as a father, but also as a mother, with everyone being treated as if he were a son in every respect. This was the way both Abba, zt"l, and Ima, o"h, treated people. The same was true of Miriam, o"h, for whom acts of chesed with individuals was a way of life, besides the acts of chesed she did for the entire community--and this is what we mourn.

"Since we are standing here, HaRav, Abba zt"l, is here with us now. This is the time to ask: Abba! Be an advocate for your kehilloh that it may continue along the path you marked for us, the path of the Torah, the path of holiness, the path of modesty, so that all of your efforts over the course of twenty years will not have been made in vain and will not go to waste."

At the conclusion of the hespeidim, Kaddish and Kel Molei Rachamim were recited and the crowning ceremony for Rav Yisroel Yaakov Pincus, the moro de'asra of Eidas Hachareidim in Ofakim, was held.

HaRav Chaim Hacohen Kamil spoke and the father of the deceased, HaRav Chaim Avrohom Pincus, spoke with great emotion saying, "This is a great zechus for my son, to have a son who is able to fill his post. Therefore I, along with the entire kehilla, bless the Rov, that his days be long and his years filled with success and nachas, and this will be a consolation for the entire family, and a zechus for my son, zichrono livrochoh."

The ksav hahachtarah was read aloud by HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman and afterwards he handed the document to the new moro de'asra and bestowed upon him a warm blessing, that he meet great success in strengthening the kehilla in every respect. At the conclusion of the gathering the crowd burst out singing "Yomim al yemei Melech Tosif."


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