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
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
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
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
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