Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Kislev 5762 - December 12, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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HaRav Yitzchok HaKohen Halberstadt, zt"l
by S. Bruchi

The sheloshim of HaRav Halberstadt was recently marked by gatherings of his'orerus. HaRav Halberstadt's levaya was on 13 Cheshvan.

He was rav of the Ahavas Chessed shul in Bnei Brak. In his capacity as mechanech he taught many students and inspired many girls with the ideal of building homes based on Torah and yiras Shomayim. He was also a trusted emissary of maranan verabonon. He was niftar following an illness in his 80th year.

HaRav Yitzchok Halberstadt was born in Berlin on 7 Shevat, 5682 (1922). His father, HaRav Michoel Zev, was one of the heads of the city's Adas Yisroel community and was in charge of the local chareidi school. Growing up in a home so dedicated to Jewish values and the chinuch of Jewish children, Rav Yitzchok absorbed a vast love of Torah and an uncompromising attitude toward Yiddishkeit, along with experience in issues of Jewish education.

He lost both his parents while still young. At the onset of the Second World War he managed to escape to England. He then fled to Australia on a boat that was nearly bombed by the Germans. When he arrived in Australia the temperature was almost fifty degrees centigrade (122 F) and on Yom Kippur (in the summer there) the debilitated refugees lay on the floor while water was sprayed on them. That Yom Kippur he accomplished a remarkable feat by serving as chazan the entire day.

In 5704 (1944) he reached Eretz Yisroel, where he had neither relatives nor acquaintances. He studied for a brief period in the Hevron yeshiva in Jerusalem and then in Ponevezh where he was one of its first students. The Ponevezher Rov welcomed him into the yeshiva and showered him with love and affection. In the yeshiva he learned many pages of gemora and many mishnayos by heart and was outstanding in his hasmodoh.

In 5707 (1947) he married the daughter of HaRav Avrohom Dov Weissfish, a talmid chochom from Yerushalayim. After his marriage, he studied in the kollel that later became known as Kollel Chazon Ish. Years later, he was invited to teach in the Yesodei HaTorah and Yavneh talmudei Torah, where he endeared Torah to his students. He was one of the founders and educational guides of the Toras Emes Talmud Torah in Bnei Brak.

HaRav Halberstadt was also among the founders of the Rav Wolf Seminary for girls in Bnei Brak and taught there for many years. He also taught in the Petach Tikvah seminary and in the girls' seminary in Ashdod, a Ponevezh institution.

His books, Shoshanas Ha'amokim on shmittah and Shnei Sorei Kodesh on the yomim tovim have become basic textbooks in educational institutions.

Rav Halberstadt was the Chazon Ish's shaliach in many communal matters, especially in the battle against the draft of young women. He was moser nefesh to rescue girls from conscription sometimes devoting many days in order to save a single girl. The Chazon Ish also consulted him on matters pertaining to kiddush hachodesh.

Following the petiroh of the Chazon Ish, he became close with the Steipler Rav and with Maran HaRav Elozor Menachem Man Shach serving as their loyal emissary in many issues regarding the chinuch of Jewish girls.

He was a member of the Bnei Brak Municipal Council and served the bnei Torah community loyally in his position as deputy mayor. He always consulted Maran HaRav Shach on public issues.

He served as rov of the Ahavas Chessed beis medrash of the Adas Yisroel Ashkenazi community for forty years, transforming it into a place where Torah was studied at all hours. For scores of years, he delivered shiurim in gemara there, completing the Shas a number of times with the shul members. He also delivered shiurim in Torah, Nach, halocho and Mishnah.

Recently, he said that he had merited to complete the entire Mishnah twenty-four times, and that he knew the entire Mishnah by heart. When he was no longer able to sit up or to study, he asked his family to read mishnayos to him, correcting them every time they erred or skipped a line.

For many years, he delivered shiurim in the Itzkowitz shul and in a shul in Ramat Gan. When his family asked him to assign the task to someone else, he replied, "The Rov of Ponevezh appointed me to deliver these shiurim, and as his loyal representative, I must carry out his shlichus until my final day."

He studied Torah diligently throughout his entire life, and no one ever saw him unoccupied. His days were replete with Torah study and dissemination, chinuch, tzedoko, chessed and activities on behalf of Klal Yisroel.

He was highly respected by all who knew him. His co-workers in chinuch called him a model of the trait of emes and a paradigm of middos tovos.

He performed chessed in an unassuming manner. As a gabbai tzedoko he was trusted by all of the gedolei haTorah and dispensed sizable sums of money to needy families.

His health deteriorated and for the past six months he was treated by the medical staff of Ma'ayanei Hayeshua. He was niftar on Thursday night, the 9th of Cheshvan. He was buried in the Segulah cemetery in Petach Tikvah.

In his last will and testament, he asked that all say that they are mochel him.


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