Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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30 Tishrei 5762 - October 17, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Rebbetzin Henia Rochel Edelstein, o"h
by S. Bruchi

On erev Succos, a pained, shocked throng of thousands, including students and alumni of Yeshivas Ponevezh, accompanied Rebbetzin Henia Rochel Edelstein, o"h, on her last earthly journey. She was eishes chover to HaRav Yerachmiel Gershon Edelstein, yibodel lechayim tovim ve'arukim, one of the roshei yeshiva of Ponovezh. The levaya was headed by roshei yeshiva and dayonim. Rebbetzin Henia Rochel was 75 years old at the time of her petiroh.

Henia Rochel Edelstein, born in 5687 (1927) in the Russian city of Paislev, was the daughter of HaRav Yehoshua Zelig Diskin zt"l, later the rov of Pardes Channah in Israel. Her warm and refined personality and her lofty, pure aspirations were shaped in her parents' home, which was saturated with Torah and yiras Shomayim. It was there that she learned to love Torah and to do chessed.

In 5692 (1932), she moved to Eretz Yisroel with her parents, who established their home in Tel Aviv. After studying in Tel Aviv for some time, she transferred to the Beis Yaakov seminary in Jerusalem.

In 5708 (1948) she married HaRav Yerachmiel Gershon Edelstein, currently one of the roshei yeshiva of Ponovezh. Together, they founded a genuine Torah home.

After their marriage, they moved to Kiryas Yeshivas Ponevezh. There she assumed full responsibility for the finances of the household so that her husband could devote himself to Torah undisturbed. Serving as a teacher in Bnei Brak's Beis Yaakov school, she taught thousands of girls, inculcating them with pure yiras Shomayim and love of Torah.

Immediately after their marriage, her husband began to deliver shiurim in Ponevezh. In 5711 (1951) he was appointed a ram in the yeshiva. Quite soon, their home in Kiryas Hayeshiva became a veritable beis medrash, where her husband would deliver shiurim and chaburos to groups of bnei yeshiva on a daily basis. Although the house was filled with small children, the rebbetzin encouraged her husband to deliver shiurim there, so that the walls of the household would absorb Torah.

The yeshiva students often consulted their mentor and rav on various matters, including shidduchim, and the rebbetzin, in her warm, motherly manner, would do her utmost to help them.

Out of concern for the quality of her husband's learning, she did not allow household matters to interfere with his davening and shiurim. During the recent period, she concealed the fact that she was so ill from the students, fearing that if they knew of her situation, they wouldn't come to the shiurim at her home. Her true condition remained a secret until Aseres Yemei Teshuvoh. During the most difficult stage of her illness, she still made certain that her husband would continue delivering shiurim without interruption.

Her devotion to unfortunate and sick women whom she visited in their own homes or in old age homes was a unique chapter in her life. She also volunteered for Ezer Mitzion, and would invite sick and elderly people to her home for meals, giving them the feeling that they were benefiting her by their visits. With every fiber of her soul, she fulfilled the dictum, "Open wide your home and let the poor be members of your household."

On motzei Shabbos Teshuva, her health took a drastic downward turn, and she was hospitalized in Maayanei Hayeshua. On erev Succos she passed away in the presence of her family, who recited Shema Yisroel as her soul returned to its Maker.

The levaya that left her home and headed toward the Ponevezh yeshiva, was attended by thousands of Bnei Brak residents. Heading the large throng were HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Steinman, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, HaRav Yechiel Michel Feinstein, HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, HaRav Nissim Karelitz and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky.

The first to deliver a hesped was HaRav Eliezer Kahaneman, who described the suffering of the Edelstein family when the yeshiva was in its initial stages. During that period, he said, Rebbetzin Edelstein supported the family and saw to all of its needs, fulfilling the words of the verse, "lechteich Acharai bamidbar be'eretz lo zoru'a." For over fifty years she continued to accompany the yeshiva that her husband helped establish.

HaRav Boruch Dov Povarsky said that the verses of Eishes Chayil refer to the Torah, and that whoever knew the rebbetzin knew that she was the isho sheleimoh, epitomizing the genuine eishes chayil.

Her brother-in-law HaRav Yaakov Edelstein opened his hesped with the words, "piho poscho bechochmo viToras chessed al leshonoh," saying that the Torah of the thousands of her husband's students may be credited to her. He also said that every word she uttered was sagacious and measured.

Her husband HaRav Yerachmiel Gershon Edelstein spoke about his wife's nobility of character, describing her firm belief that everything that happens to a person is middoh keneged middoh. He noted that she would always attribute her suffering to spiritual causes, even during her recent, most arduous illness. He then added that she often spoke about the obligation to be oiver al hamiddos, saying that once when someone had sharply offended her, she had said, "Now is the time to be oiver al hamiddos."

Her son Rav Yisroel said that his mother was a living Shulchan Oruch with respect to warmly welcoming guests and visitors, and that when she learned that a person was sick, she would make every effort to fulfill the mitzvah of caring for the sick.

At the end of the hespedim the levaya proceeded to the Netzivei Yeshivas Ponevezh cemetery, where she was buried shortly before the onset of Succos. During the brief hour prior to yom tov, thousands streamed to the home of HaRav Gershon Edelstein to comfort him.

She is survived by an illustrious family of gedolei Torah.


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