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12 Iyar 5762 - April 24, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Home and Family
HaRav Refoel Binyomin Levine zt"l
by Betzalel Kahn

This past Thursday afternoon (8 Iyar), a vast throng, headed by maranan verabonon, gedolei haTorah and roshei yeshiva and led by Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, accompanied HaRav Refoel Levine zt"l on his last earthly journey. Rav Refoel, who was the son of the tzaddik, HaRav Aryeh Levine, passed away unexpectedly Thursday morning in Bikur Cholim hospital. He was rushed to the hospital early in the morning when, while davening shacharis kevosikin in Beis Knesses Zoharei Chamoh, he felt ill.

HaRav Refoel Levine was the son of the famous tzaddik, HaRav Aryeh Levine and the righteous Moras Tzipora Channah, the daughter of HaRav A. D. Shapira, av beis din of Kovna. HaRav Levine was born on the 11th of Kislev, 5685 (1925) in Yerushalayim. The author of the Leshem was the sandak at his bris.

HaRav Refoel studied in the Eitz Chaim Talmud Torah, and was very close to its rosh yeshiva, HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer. From there, he continued his studies in the Chevron yeshiva in Yerushalayim and the Lomza yeshiva in Petach Tikvah, where he studied bechavrusa with HaRav Reuven Katz zt"l, the rov of Petach Tikva, and was meshamesh HaRav Eliyahu Dushnitzer zt"l.

He married the righteous Channah Liba she'tichye, daughter of HaRav Chaim Shraga Feivel Frank, the rav of the Yemin Moshe neighborhood in Yerushalayim and author of Toldos Zeev. Rebbetzin Levine assisted her husband with great mesiras nefesh throughout their marriage.

After his marriage, he continued his studies in the Mirrer yeshiva, and was one of the most outstanding students of HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, who once said: "Rav Refoel is my beloved talmid."

At the request of the Chazon Ish he served as a ram in the Eitz Chaim yeshiva for ten years, producing numerous students, many of whom are currently outstanding talmidei chachomim and dayanim. It is known that the Chazon Ish advised a number of students to pursue their studies under HaRav Refoel.

When the Beis Aryeh yeshiva opened, HaRav Refoel's father, HaRav Aryeh Levine asked him to serve as its menahel ruchani, a position he occupied until his final day. He was also a dayan in the beis din tzeddek of the Ashkenaz-Perushim community founded by HaRav Shmuel Salant.

He was famed for his unique avodas Hashem and his daily schedule began three hours before the netz. He would come to the Zoharei Chamoh shul where he was a rov, very early. It is related that no one ever arrived in shul before him. He enunciated each word of his tefillos slowly and meticulously, like one counting coins. One time, he told his grandson that he was very upset by the fact that a certain person had approached him while he was still in the middle of Oleinu. Regarding this, he said: "In this tefillah we daven before Melech Malchei Hamelochim and praise Him. That person didn't let me recite that important prayer with the proper intent."

For many years after his father's petiroh, he continued to deliver his father's shiur in the Ohel Rochel shul in the Knesset neighborhood, completing the Shas a number of times. He presented these shiurim in so enjoyable and arousing a manner, that students would come from out-of- town to hear them. He also left behind handwritten chiddushim on sheets of paper which he attached to the masechtos of the Shas he studied.

His tzidkus and humility were well known. He greeted all with unusual simchah and with a warm and smiling expression. He honored all, drawing people closer in a unique manner which made everyone feel like a family member. Many flocked to his home or to the Beis Aryeh yeshiva for counsel and brochos which he would dispense with unusual warmth, which stemmed from his deep ahavas Yisroel and his concern for each and every Jew. He was pained by the sorrow of his fellow, and would try to encourage the broken- hearted and to help them in whatever way possible.

HaRav Avrohom Chaim Brim zt"l said of him: "No one in the entire generation may be compared to him as far as giving and foregoing are concerned. No one every managed to precede him with a `sholom.' "

His nullification to talmidei chachomim, and the gedolei hador in particular, was well-known. When he encountered a talmid chochom, he would embrace and kiss him. He would also visit his brother-in-law, the pillar of halachic authority, Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, every motzei Shabbos on the way back from the Kosel. On those occasions he would present the sfeikos and shailos he had encountered throughout the week. When he was young, he studied bechavrusa with Maran HaRav Eliashiv for many years, and corresponded with him in Torah and halochoh as a bochur.

At the levaya, which set out from his home, a hesped was delivered by his mechuton HaRav Mordechai Zuckerman, the rav of the Perushim shul in Givat Shaul, who bitterly mourned the great loss, calling him "a genuine ohev Yisroel."

In his hesped, HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu said: "With Rav Refoel's petiroh, humility, chesed and tzidkus have been canceled. Woe to Eretz Yisroel over the loss of so great a man."

HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg called out: " `Hatzvi Yisroel al bomosecho chalal'. Bomosecho is the plural of bomoh. With Rav Refoel's petiroh, a great void has been formed, one of many bomos."

His friend from youth, HaRav Yaakov Marcus, one of the most prominent members of the Zoharei Chamoh shul weepingly described the niftar's unique avodas Hashem and outstanding piety.

The niftar's brother, HaRav Simcha Shlomo mentioned that the Shaagas Aryeh had no time to say vidui before his petiroh because he used every moment of his time for Torah study. "The same may be said about Rav Refoel, who used every moment for Torah and chesed," he concluded.

The niftar's brother-in-law, HaRav M. M. Rosental, the rov of Shikun HaRabbonim in Yerushalayim, cited the words of the gemara in reference to HaRav Refoel: "A person should always be soft as a reed, and not hard as a cedar. He should greet every one pleasantly, and draw people closer to Torah."

Words of parting were delivered by the niftar's oldest son, HaRav Avrohom Dov, a ram in the Mishkan Aryeh yeshiva, who cried out: " ` Dodi yorad legano,' " and described the extent of his father's participation in the sorrow of Yisroel.

The niftar's son-in-law, HaRav Nechemia Zuckerman said: " `Chacahm leiv yikach mitzvos,' " describing how Rav Refoel wisely engaged in the three aspects on which the world stands and which average people regard lightly.

The niftar's son, Rav Yosef Eliyahu, rosh yeshiva of the Parmishlan yeshiva, parted from him, stressing his trait of emes.

He is survived by his wife, who throughout their marriage was a full partner in all of his outstanding endeavors and in the chinuch of their children. He is also survived by sons, daughters and sons-in-law, all of whom are following the path he charted for them.


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