Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Av 5761 - August 1, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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HaRav Shmuel Lieberman, zt"l
by A. Cohen

On 5 Menachem Av, HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky joined many other gedolei Yisroel, hundreds of bnei Torah and residents of the Bnei Brak Zichron Meir neighborhood to accompany one of its most venerable residents, HaRav Shmuel Halevi Lieberman, zt"l, on his last earthly journey. HaRav Lieberman was a talmid muvhak of HaRav Elchonon Wassermann and HaRav Boruch Ber Leibowitz, and had studied for many years in the Yarchei Kallah Beis Medrash in Bnei Brak.

The niftar, son of Reb Avrohom Lieberman, came from an illustrious family that left Galicia in the height of the First World War. From the day he was born, his parents put aside money, penny by penny, so that they would be able buy him a Shas for his bar mitzvah, a very costly item during that period.

As a child, he displayed rare talents and outstanding character traits. When he was a youth, he yearned to study Torah al taharas Hakodesh, and traveled to Baranowitz, becoming very close with HaRav Elchonon Wassermann and HaRav Boruch Ber Leibowitz.

After moving to Eretz Yisrael, he began to study in the Lomze yeshiva in Petach Tikvah, and he married one of the daughters of the Guggenheim family. After the petiroh of his father, he had to work to support his family. However, Torah study remained his main occupation. His day, replete with Torah and mitzvos, would begin at three in the morning, with many hours of uninterrupted study.

For the past forty years he lived in the building next to the Yarchei Kallah kollel in the yeshiva square in Bnei Brak. He was one of the kollel's mainstays, studying there for hours on end. For scores of years he participated in the famous Daf Yomi shiur delivered there by HaRav Moshe Mordechai Shulsinger.

He was known by all as a very special person, who loved peace, pursued peace, was humble and genial to all and helped many others in a dedicated, unassuming manner.

During his final months he suffered from a serious debilitating illness. However, he continued to pray and to study with superhuman strength in the Yarchei Kallah shul, concealing his suffering and maintaining a happy disposition.

He was devastated two weeks ago when his son-in-law, the avreich, HaRav Pinchas Farber was niftar, leaving behind a large family.

Last week his situation grew worse and on Wednesday night, 5 Av he was niftar.

In the late morning, his bier was brought into the Yarchei Kallah beis medrash. After the recitation of Tehillim, HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, rav and av beis din of Zichron Meir, delivered a hesped in which he cited the trait of "holech tomim ufo'el tzedek"(honesty and integrity) in which the niftar excelled. He cited the fact that the niftar made the Yarchei Kallah shul and beis medrash his home, noting that one can recognize tzaddikim by their places of dwelling.

"I knew him for fifty years," HaRav Wosner said, "and he was remarkable in his humility and simplicity, traits which enabled him to reach the position in which he served the great Torah sages of our times."

HaRav Zalman Drori, who parted from him in the name of the members of the shul, noted his outstanding honesty and the cordial manner in which he greeted every visitor to the beis medrash.

HaRav Eliezer Turk spoke about the friendship between the niftar and his father, HaRav Moshe Turk. He noted the fact that Rav Shmuel was niftar on the yahrtzeit of HaRav Chaim Ozer, zt"l. When Reb Shmuel was young, HaRav Chaim told him, "Come to me with whatever you need." He then cried out, "The walls of Yarchei Kallah must weep, because your glory, splendor and radiance have departed."

The niftar's son, HaRav Eliezer Lieberman, parted from him with emotion, saying: "I never heard him say anything derogatory about anyone, even when someone mistreated him. He always thought only about others. I remember that when he would return from abroad with a valise, filled with items he had bought there cheaply, he would distribute everything and not leave us a thing. He was satisfied with the bare essentials in all that pertained to material needs. He once told me: `Imagine how we would feel if Rav Elchonon came in now, and saw that we had such luxuries.' He was a very charitable person.

"One very hot day when I was a child I accompanied him to Yerushalayim in order to collect money for the wedding of an orphan. When I asked him if we could take a bus instead of walking, he said that we should not use the money. After a few minutes, we saw the chosson hailing a taxi, I said, `We're collecting for him, and he stops a cab?' He replied in a happy tone, which reflected his joy at doing a mitzvah: `The effort is worth it, and I am happy that I am a giver and not a recipient.' "

He then spoke at length about the niftar's trait of hakoras hatov, and about his longing to dwell in the House of Hashem under all circumstances and at all times.

The final hesped was delivered by HaRav Moshe Mordechai Shulsinger, who cried out with tears, "Veneir Elokim terem yichbeh, uShmuel shocheiv beheichal Hashem, asher shom Aron hoElokim," saying that although our physical powers wane, the spiritual powers of Torah and prayer are constantly renewed, and even increase.

"We are too small to eulogize so great and holy a man whose daily life was permeated with reflection about the greatest of two generations of Torah, yir'oh, Yiddishkeit and chessed, one for whom the images of his sacred teachers, HaRav Elchonon and HaRav Boruch Ber were ever- present."

He had heard HaRav Boruch Ber say that it is forbidden to say that Torah is the oxygen of life, because then one is implying that life and Torah are separate entities and that the Torah breathes air into life. It is forbidden to say that, for Torah is life, and there is nothing else beside it.

From Rav Elchonon he always heard: "Sof dovor hakol nishmo es hoElokim yerei ki zeh kol ho'odom." This means that a person is measured only by the degree of his yiras Shomayim. If his yiras Shomayim is great, then he is a great man. If his yiras Shomayim is minimal, he is a small man, and if he has no yiras Shomayim, he can't be called, "a person lacking yiras Shomayim." He is not a person at all.

"These two sacred principals were the guidelines of the entire avodas Hashem of the niftar. His interpersonal relations were outstanding. He never became angry, was never offended by anyone, and greeted everyone warmly. He was totally dedicated to Torah study, studying all day with chavrusas, by himself and in shiurim."

From the beis medrash of Yarchei Kallah, the levaya proceeded toward the Chazon Ish Kollel, where he had prayed on Shabbosim for scores of years. HaRav Moshe Aharon Rosental delivered a hesped, stressing the niftar's greatness in Torah, yir'oh, avodas Hashem and chessed.

He was buried in the Shomrei Shabbos Halperin cemetery at the outskirts of Zichron Meir. After the closing of the grave, his nephew, HaRav Avrohom Kuperman, parted from him.

He is survived by his wife, his sons, a son-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom are following in the path he charted for them.


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