Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

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








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HaRav Avraham Shrim zt"l
by Betzalel Kahn

Seventy-eight year-old HaRav Avraham Shrim, director of the Porat Yosef yeshiva network, was niftar last week in Jerusalem. Born in 5683 (1923), he was the son of HaRav Ezra Shrim and the grandson of HaRav Yitzchak Shrim, one of Jerusalem's well-known rabbonim.

In 5708 (1948), the Porat Yosef yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Jordanian Legion, along with its branches and its rare library. The yeshiva was forced to relocate to various synagogues in Western Jerusalem. The rabbonim and the students were scattered in various locations. HaRav Ezra Shrim and his son HaRav Avraham eventually built permanent quarters to house the yeshiva there.

In his concern for Klal Yisroel, Reb Avraham encouraged and urged his friends in the yeshiva to assume rabbinical positions in Jewish communities in Eretz Yisroel and abroad. He appointed rabbonim to positions in central as well as outlying cities, such as Rechovot, Magdiel, Acco, Eilat, Netanya, Ashdod, Kiryat Ono, Kfar Sava, Rishon Letzion, Petach Tikvah and scores of other cities and settlements. Many of the finest rabbonim from the yeshiva who went to the United States, England, Argentina, Panama, Columbia, Peru and other places were helped, encouraged and advised by Reb Avraham.

He was genuinely concerned for the Jewish communities in the Diaspora, bitterly decrying assimilation and the loss of Torah and Jewish values. "Who will be taken to task for this?" he would ask. "Who can say: `My hands did not spill this blood'?"

When thousands of youth from the Diaspora made aliyah, HaRav Shrim decided to seek the help of his colleagues, HaRav Shimon Badani and HaRav Shalom Cohen, and together they founded a branch of the yeshiva in Jerusalem's old Katamon neighborhood. Energetically, he organized buildings and dormitory rooms in order to absorb hundreds of arriving youngsters. Today, most of that first wave of students are gedolei haTorah in Eretz Yisroel and abroad.

In 5714 (1954), a suitable plot of land was found near the Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem. HaRav Avraham, along with his father HaRav Ezra, established a communal committee called Vaad Keren Habinyan to assist in building the yeshiva. The great rabbonim of the time appealed to Jews all over to donate no less than the cost of one stone -- costing one lira -- to construction of the yeshiva. HaRav Yehuda Tzadka went to London to raise funds, and HaRav Avraham and his father to America and Europe. The cornerstone was laid in 5714, and the building was dedicated a few years later.

Maintaining the yeshiva involved seeing to the needs of a yeshiva of 30 mekubalim, a kollel of 250 avreichim, 30 staff members, including ramim and mashgichim, and 1000 students. The entire burden was shouldered by HaRav Ezra Shrim and his son, HaRav Avraham. Regarding HaRav Avraham's mesirus nefesh on behalf of the yeshiva, HaRav Ben Tsion Mutzafi related: "HaRav Avraham once said, `My wife hasn't heard kiddush from me on Rosh Hashanah night for fifteen years, because at this time I am always abroad seeing to the overall maintenance of the yeshiva."

With the petirah of HaRav Ezra in 5723 (1963), the entire maintenance of the yeshiva fell onto the shoulders of Rav Avraham and his brother. In 5727 (1967), when the Old City was recaptured, Rav Avraham waged a stubborn war with the authorities to transfer ownership of the plot and the ruins of the yeshiva to him, and then another battle with the Antiquities Authority, which wanted to conduct excavations on the site. Many battles were waged with municipal and regional committees as well. HaRav Avraham hired world- renowned architects, and together with them planned every detail of the complex of the yeshiva in the Old City.

In addition to his dedication to the yeshiva, he was well known for his many remarkable acts of chesed, about which he told no one.

Last week, he returned his pure soul to its Maker, and was accompanied on his last earthly journey by a large throng of current and former students of Porat Yosef. Hespedim were delivered by HaRav Shmuel Betzalel, HaRav Shalom Cohen, HaRav Yehuda Mu'alem, HaRav Yehuda Addes, HaRav Moshe Tzadka, HaRav Eliyahu Shrim, the niftar's brother and HaRav Mordechai Shrim, the niftar's son.

He is survived by two sons and three daughters, as well as by sons-in-laws and grandchildren, all of whom are pursuing Torah's path.


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