Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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12 Tishrei 5761 - October 11, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
HaRav Shlomo Min-Hahar zt"l
by Betzalel Kahn

HaRav Shlomo Zalman Min-Hahar zt"l, who served as the rav of the Bayit Vegan neighborhood for many years, was brought to his final resting place in Jerusalem in the week of selichos. He was 89 years old at the time of his petirah.

HaRav Min-Hahar, the son of HaRav Chaim Yehuda, was born in 5671 (1911). As a child, he studied in the Eitz Chaim Talmud Torah. In the year 5680 (1920), the Nurenberg community asked Jerusalem's rabbonim to appoint a talmid chochom to serve as a dayan in their city. The rabbonim chose HaRav Chaim Yehuda, who fulfilled this function for twenty years. While the family was in Germany, HaRav Elya Lopian, who had come to Nurenberg for his yeshiva, stayed in their home. In the evenings, HaRav Elya would study gemora with the twelve-year-old Shlomo, and in the mornings, he would test him. HaRav Elya was amazed by the youth's knowledge.

From the age of twelve on, the young Shlomo studied in many of Lithuania's yeshivos among them Kelm, Telz, Mir and Ponovezh, where he amassed much knowledge in Shas and poskim. During all of his years in the yeshiva, and until his final day, he studied constantly. Due to his remarkable diligence and vast bekius in Orach Chaim, he became an address for bnei yeshiva with halachic questions. In Telz he was the outstanding student of the famed gaon HaRav Mordechai Pogramanski and throughout his life related chiddushim which he had heard from him. In Mir, he received smicha from HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel.

In 5695 (1935) he returned to Eretz Yisroel and married the daughter of R' Menachem Mendel Agasi, one of the eminent talmidei chachomim of the Toras Chaim yeshiva in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem he studied under HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank, the rav of Jerusalem, and under an uncle, HaRav Y.Z. Mintzberg, one of Jerusalem's rabbonim who also gave him smicha. In 5705 (1945), he received an offer to serve as a ram in a yeshiva. However, HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank advised him to serve as a posek, saying that Reb Shlomo's mission in life was to issue halachic rulings.

During the siege of the Old City, when the starving residents clustered in makeshift shelters, he volunteered to provide them with bread. Making use of the small amount of flour that remained in the bakery, his family prepared pitas for the hungry residents of the Old City. However he told his wife, "Take bread for the family only after everyone else has received their share."

Thus the Min-Hahar family with its seven members received two pitas, while he bore the responsibility of sharing the burden of his fellow with integrity and uprightness.

He was taken with a group of civilians to Jordanian captivity, where the captives and the authorities recognized him as a rav. While there, he prepared a yearly calendar from memory according to his knowledge of the halocho, thereby enabling the captives to celebrate Rosh Hashonoh, Yom Kippur and other holidays at the right time.

Although they were taken captive in the middle of Iyar, Reb Shlomo had already then made sure that the captives would have a place to celebrate Succos. How did he prepare a Succah in captivity? He was responsible for the cartons in which provisions were sent to the captives. After unpacking them, he would save them in order to use them as a succah, for which schach which was kosher bedi'eved was obtained. In the end, they had a kosher succah, however the captives were permitted to stay only until evening. In order to fulfill the mitzvah of sleeping in a succah, he dug a ditch and covered it with the kosher schach which had been brought to the camp, and there he slept.

Very often he went without food, due to the fear that the food was infested with worms. When he returned from captivity, his sunken cheeks and lowered height were silent testimony to this mesiras nefesh. However, all those difficulties did no prevent him from encouraging his wife and dear ones who had remained behind in Jerusalem.

In 5720 (1960), he began to preside as the rav of the Bait Vegan neighborhood, and he issued halachic rulings to many. The telephone in his home never stopped ringing in his home, and he did not let his family take out the phone even during afternoon rest hours. He highly venerated HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l and Maran HaRav Yosef Chaim Eliashiv yibodel lechaim arukim, and often consulted them on halachic issues.

His levaya, which took place in Bayit Vegan, was attended by many. Hespedim were delivered by HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu, HaRav Shimshon Epstein, HaRav Avigdor Nevenzhal, as well as by HaRav Min-Hahar's son-in-law Rav Chaim Steiner, and his son Rav Chaim Min-Hahar, and his grandson, HaRav Amitai Cohen.


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