A pall of grief was cast over the yeshiva world upon
receiving news of the histalkus of one the leading
marbitzei Torah and mussar greats of the last
generation, rosh yeshivas Beis Yehuda HaRav Yechiel Michel
Feinstein, zt'l, on motzei Shabbos.
A tremendous gaon with mastery in all fields of Torah
knowledge, his home holds over forty volumes filled with his
chiddushim on Shas and still more volumes on
Chumash, as well as a booklet ready for print entitled
Chai Dovor on seder Taharos.
For over seventy years and into the last week of his life, he
delivered regular shiurim and sichos that
touched the depths of the soul, paving the way to beis
Hashem. His very being and carriage lit the way for his
His talmidim note that even recently when they came to
his home they would find him standing and learning intensely.
When one of them asked why he did not sit he replied,
"Choliloh! Sitting at the table one might fall
His Torah and yir'oh made a deep impression on
thousands of talmidim who benefited from his words of
advice and resourcefulness, acquiring lifelong
kinyonim in Torah, halochoh and yiras Shomayim,
and who saw him as an exemplar of the complete oved
Hashem. HaRav Feinstein's entire life was singularly
devoted to the task of serving Hashem with all his heart and
soul and elevating kovod Shomayim.
His home was a beacon for those seeking Torah and mussar.
Everyone received a warm welcome there, greeted by HaRav
Feinstein's radiance and distinguished manners. His simple
ways and pleasant countenance spread their light on all who
entered his home and brought him the admiration of thousands
Late Shabbos afternoon, the peak time for Heavenly grace,
HaRav Feinstein's heart failed. After Hatzoloh paramedics
performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation he was taken to Tel
Hashomer Hospital where he returned his pure soul to his
Maker on motzei Shabbos.
The bitter news of his passing spread quickly, striking
hearts with grief over the loss of one of the luminaries of
the previous generation.
That night the aron was brought to his home on HaRav
Kahaneman Street in Bnei Brak, the home that had been such a
citadel for his innumerable talmidim. The home that
had shone forth so much Torah light now emitted the sounds of
weeping over the departure of a gaon and
Before the immense levaya set out from his home on
HaRav Kahaneman Street in Bnei Brak, HaRav Menachem Tzvi
Berlin, rosh yeshivas Rabbenu Chaim Ozer recited several
chapters of Tehillim. From there the levaya
continued down Ezra Street to the Yeshivas Beis Yehuda
building, which HaRav Feinstein built and where he dedicated
several decades of his life to harbotzas Torah.
The first of the eulogizers was the moro d'asro of
Zichron Meir and rosh yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, HaRav Shmuel
"According to Toras Kohanim, HaKodosh Boruch Hu yearns
to see Yisroel toiling in Torah, and HaKodosh Boruch
Hu knows that this is the only way to defeat the
yetzer hora. All goodness and happiness is derived
from toiling in Torah. Who among us is greater than R'
Michel, one of the greatest and most well-born figures in our
generation, who plumbed the depths and strained himself
despite all of his trials and suffering, and throughout his
lifetime killed himself in the tents of Torah?"
HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapira followed him saying, "First of all
I want to say that when HaRav Michel, zichro livrocho,
became the son-in-law of the Brisker Rov, someone sat there
and praised R' Michel. Said the Brisker Rov to him, `You want
to tell me who R' Michel is?' It seems to me that these words
by the Brisker Rav are a sufficient indication of who R'
Michel was and that we do not have the power to add a
"As I said we do not have the power to eulogize, but I'd just
like to recount a bit about HaGaon R' Michel more than 60
years ago at Yeshivas Mir. While he was at Mir there were
four hundred talmidim of whom about 50 were worthy of
being great roshei yeshivos and R' Michel was distinct among
all of the yeshiva's talmidim. There were always
bochurim standing around Rav Michel to talk over their
learning with him. Because of his Torah knowledge and his
pleasant countenance and the way he received the
bochurim to talk about their learning.
"I cannot forget the period when R' Michel was the center of
the yeshiva and everyone gathered around him to receive Torah
from him and they would go out happy and glad for the
clarification they got from him in learning and from the
closeness he extended to each and every one of them..."
His son Rav Chaim, rosh yeshivas Beis Yehuda, cited the
saying by Chazal that the departure of tzaddikim is
like the burning of Beis Hamikdosh. "We have no concept of
his gadlus in Torah. Were a man to give all of his
wealth for the love Abba had for the Torah, he would do it a
dishonor. All of his vitality was in Torah. He gave
shiurim for four consecutive hours, two hours followed
by another two hours, all with the same joy. Every day Torah
was new to him. The complete man in Torah and mitzvos and
midos," he said, trailing off in tears.
His son Rav Dovid, one of the roshei yeshivos at Yeshivas
Beis Yehuda, said, "There is nobody who can eulogize Abba,
zt'l. There are those who are great in quantity. Any
quantity can be assessed. This is something that can be
grasped. But nobody knows how to assess depth, for no matter
how much you think you are deep and have reached the maximum,
he was much deeper than everybody else."
"Once he made a siyum on maseches Bovo Kama,"
recounted his son-in-law HaRav Tzvi Kaplan. "I asked him
[why] and he said, `This is a special siyum. This is a
siyum on Bovo Kama with Rashbo.' Then I asked him,
`But when you learn you always learn with all of the
meforshim?' `True,' he said, `but this time I learned
Bovo Kama the way the Rashbo learned it, from start to
finish.' Now we are parting from a complete man, who passed
through all of the stumbling blocks of This World exerting
himself in immeasurable, boundless Torah."
Once the hespeidim and his'orerus were
completed the funeral procession left for the holy city of
Jerusalem, where the levaya was to continue from
Yeshivas Eitz Chaim.
The Funeral Procession in Jerusalem
A large crowd of distinguished bnei Torah, headed by
Maran HaRav Sholom Yosef Eliashiv, shlita, had
gathered at Yeshivas Eitz Chaim in the Machaneh Yehuda
neighborhood. Jaffa Street was closed and the thousands of
accompaniers packed the street during the eulogizing.
HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Bornstein, one of the roshei yeshivos at
Yeshivas Chevron in Geula, opened with chapters of
Tehillim, one verse at a time, the Thirteen Attributes
and Acheinu Kol Beis Yisroel.
The first of the eulogizers was HaRav Meshulom Dovid
Soloveitchik, rosh yeshivas Brisk, who said for HaRav
Feinstein the Torah was of primary importance and was above
all else. "He was a marbitz Torah and his main
principle was a lifetime of hasmodoh with great toil.
And through this he reached high levels. All of his life was
toil in Torah . . . "
HaRav Meir Soloveitchik said, "The death of tzaddikim
is equivalent to the burning of Beis Hamikdosh," and cited
the verse, "Moh ohavti Sorasecho, kol hayom hi
sichosi." "He had nothing in his world besides kushio,
terutz, sevoro. He had a true love of Torah."
HaRav Boruch Dov Povarsky, one of the roshei yeshivos at
Yeshivas Ponevezh, opened, "'Torah, Torah, don sackcloth,
wallow in the dirt, . . . ' When Moshe Rabbenu departed
everybody did his own crying. For thousands of
talmidim, for each of them this is his own private
mourner, his own connection. This is his father and he is an
only son. This is the true way of harbotzas Torah.
Every talmid is an only son and thus it becomes a
Rav Yeruchom Kaplan cited Chazal's saying, "There is no aged
man except for he who acquires wisdom." "Rav Yechiel Michel
Feinstein's conduct was always, when he would prepare a
shiur, to set before his eyes an image of his rebbe
standing before him and saying the chiddush, and if he
felt he accepted the chiddush he would say it to the
talmidim. But if not, he would store the
chiddush away in his heart."
Immediately upon the completion of the hespeidim the
crowd of thousands accompanied the aron of HaRav
Yechiel Michel Feinstein zt'l to Har Hamenuchos where
he was buried in the afternoon, near the grave of his father-
in-law, the Brisker Rov. Thousands of his talmidim
were overcome with bitter tears as the grave was covered
He is survived by sons and a son-in-law who are Torah and
mussar greats in their own right: his sons, Rav Chaim
and Rav Dovid, both roshei yeshivos at Beis Yehuda, and Rav
Avrohom, and his son-in-law Rav Tzvi Kaplan, a rosh yeshiva
in Jerusalem. Other survivors include the Rebbetzin and his
grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who perpetuate his
by S. Baruchi
HaRav Yechiel Michel Feinstein, zt'l, was born to
HaRav Avrohom Yitzchok on 4 Tammuz 5666 (1906) in the town of
Uzda, Lithuania. At the age of seven Yechiel Michel lost his
father and went to live with his grandfather, HaRav Dovid
Feinstein zt'l, the rov of Stravin, Byelorussia. There
he learned with his grandfather and uncles, HaRav Moshe
zt'l and HaRav Mordechai Hy'd.
Yechiel Michel's prodigious character and the cornerstones of
his inner spirit--innate aptitude, hasmodoh, purity
and refinement, noble conduct and kindness--took shape in his
At the age of ten he was tested orally by his uncles on
various parts of Nezikin--gemora with Rashi and
Tosafos. While he was still at a tender age, during the
course of a din Torah conducted at his grandfather's
house, his grandfather asked him to bring a proof from the
Tosafos on Bovo Kama relevant to the matter, and he
indeed brought a proof that was to form the basis for the
psak din. All of the gedolei hador who came to
his grandfather's house said he was a vessel waiting to take
in Torah, and noted his industriousness in Torah study.
After his bar mitzvah he traveled to Slutsk to learn under
HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer zt'l, who tested him on the
Tosafos on maseches Bovo Basra. After the examination
he said, "This boy says sevoras like HaRav Naftoli
Trop zt'l." From the time of his arrival in Slutsk,
HaRav Meltzer watched over him and cherished him like his own
When the Bolsheviks arrived, the yeshiva was forced to flee
Lithuania. Before setting out for Kletsk, Poland, HaRav
Meltzer went to the boy's mother to ask permission to take
him along, promising to take care of his every need. She gave
her consent and they crossed the border illegally, heading
for Kletsk. Upon arrival the young Yechiel Michel resumed his
learning with fabulous hasmodoh, attending
shiurim given by his rabbonim, HaRav Meltzer and HaRav
Aharon Kotler zt'l.
For three years he imbibed their Torah knowledge at Yeshivas
Kletsk, after which he transferred to Yeshivas Mir where he
clung tightly to his esteemed rav muvhok, HaRav
Yeruchom Leibovitz zt'l. Eventually he became one of
his leading talmidim. At Mir, Yechiel Michel shared
sleeping quarters with HaRav Dovid Povarsky zt'l.
Upon Yechiel Michel's arrival, the Mashgiach arranged for him
to learn with another Yechiel, HaRav Yechiel Michel
Schlesinger, rosh yeshivas Kol Torah zt'l. He was also
paired with HaRav Yonah Minsker Hy'd, author of
Yonas Ileim, and HaRav Shlomo Chomsker Hy'd.
Within a short time he was considered one of the leading
bochurim at Mir.
During this period the lions of the Torah world were studying
at Mir, including HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz and HaRav Leib
Malin zt'l. Yechiel Michel was thought of as the
genius of the yeshiva and all of the members of the yeshiva
gathered around him to hear his chiddushim. Soon he
came to be known as one of the yeshiva's top
On one occasion he traveled with his rebbe, the Mashgiach, to
the chanukas habayis in Kletsk, where he met his
rebbe, HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer, who had come specially
from Eretz Yisroel. He suggested that he go to study under
the Brisker Rov. "Go learn by him because Rav Velvel has a
clear head" ["Rav Velvel hot a reina kop"]. HaRav
Meltzer gave Yechiel Michel a letter of recommendation full
of extraordinary praise, requesting that he be accepted as a
talmid. Yechiel Michel traveled straight to Brisk
where he soon became one of the leading talmidim.
Upon his arrival the Brisker Rav began to speak with him on
his learning. At the end of the conversation he told his
wife, "Did you hear the bochur who was here today? Did
you hear how he speaks on divrei Torah? We have to
start taking him into consideration."
Shortly thereafter the threat of army induction lurked and he
traveled to Grodno to visit a doctor who would fabricate
medical forms certifying the candidate was unfit for military
service. On his way he passed through Radin to see the
Chofetz Chaim. When one of the people on hand told him the
young man was learning Kodshim, the Chofetz Chaim
asked him, "Noshim and Nezikim you've already
learned?" He replying in the affirmative. The Chofetz Chaim
gave him a blessing: "May he know how to learn." Later HaRav
Yechiel Michel Feinstein said that when he had stood before
the Chofetz Chaim he already knew Taharos as well, but
he did not say so because it is forbidden to boast.
He remained in Grodno for about six months, where he attended
shiurim given by HaRav Shimon Shkop zt'l, and
soon afterwards returned to Brisk. The Brisker Rov was very
fond of him and even showed him letters written by his great
father. Once Rav Yechiel Michel showed the Brisker Rav his
chiddushim on appointed appointing and inaugurating a
Kohen Godol. Upon looking them over the Brisker Rov
said to those surrounding him, "This shtikel Torah
does not have a single extra word or a single missing
During his tutelage in Torah and yir'oh under the
Brisker Rov, he would spend the summer months and Elul at
Yeshivas Mir. When World War II broke out he went to Vilna
together with the other talmidim from Mir and
immediately upon the Brisker Rov's arrival in Vilna he
organized a group to attend shiurim given by the
During his time in Vilna he went to speak about his learning
with HaRav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky zt'l, presenting him
with his chiddushim. HaRav Grodzensky spent 45 minutes
perusing them and then lavished Yechiel Michel with praise
for his gadlus in Torah and his splendid
From Vilna he joined the yeshiva in exile on its long journey
to Japan, working for the yeshiva and even meeting with an
ambassador to ask him to assist the refugees arriving in
Japan. After obtaining an exit visa to leave for the US, in
5701 (1941) he traveled together with HaRav Aharon Kotler and
HaRav Yeruchom's son. Upon his arrival he opened a yeshiva in
Boston for the talmidim of Yeshivas Mir.
Some six months later his uncle, HaRav Moshe Feinstein,
summoned Rav Yechiel Michel to serve at his side as head of
Yeshivas Tiferes Yerushalayim in New York. He was to spend
the next sixty years continuously engaged in harbotzas
His shiurim gained acclaim. With scrutinizing analysis
and great clarity he paved a path in each and every
sugya, straightening out all the bumps along the way.
Often he would continue for hours on end without noticing,
his entire being absorbed in Torah, laboring to plumb its
He was appointed a member of the Agudas HaRabbonim and was
asked by the Vaad Hatzoloh to help in rescue. As part of his
efforts he traveled to France to assist war refugees.
In 5706 (1946) he arrived in Eretz Hakodesh. Immediately upon
his arrival he went to Jerusalem to see his rebbe, the
Brisker Rov. "It's good you came. Now I'll have somebody to
talk to in learning." On the 17th of Av 5706 he married the
Brisker Rov's daughter Lifsha. His rebbe, HaRav Meltzer, was
Following the wedding he returned to the US to continue
serving as rosh yeshiva at Yeshivas Tiferes Yerushalayim,
remaining until 5712 (1952). Back Eretz Hakodesh once again
he set up Yeshivas Beis Yehuda in Tel Aviv, where he gave
shiurim on every maseches as well as mussar
talks based on the teachings of Rav Yeruchom. He often
went to see the Chazon Ish and to discuss divrei Torah
with him. On one occasion, when his wife stepped into the
house the Chazon Ish stood up, saying that, as an eishes
chover and the daughter of a talmid chochom, he
was obligated to rise before her.
During this period HaRav Kotler summoned him to serve as a
member of Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, but this never came to
fruition. Yet he did take an active leadership role in many
of the battles then waged for Yiddishkeit in Eretz
After his daughter's petiroh in 5736 he moved to Bnei
Brak, transferring the yeshiva to Beis Medrash Antania. In
5744 (1984) he inaugurated the new yeshiva building, where he
gave more than 17 shiurim per week, both shiurim
klolim and shiurim for hundreds of
avreichim who drank in his words of Torah. Late at
night he would give shiurim in his home on
He taught with tremendous enthusiasm, making it apparent to
all that he drew his life-breath from teaching Torah and
severing himself from all other matters. His zerizus
and dikduk in performing mitzvos were a marvel for his
entire generation, up until his last day when he returned his
pure soul to his Maker.
The Light of Knowledge has Gone
My hand trembles as I set out to write a few lines about the
heartbreaking news of the aliyoh besaaro haShomayimo
of the tremendous gaon, one of the "elder statesmen"
among roshei yeshivos, Rabbenu Yechiel Michel Feinstein
zt'l. From the days of his early youth he fully
dedicated his life to Torah. Were a man to trade in all of
his possessions for the great love he held for the Torah he
would do it a dishonor.
He was among the lions at Yeshivas Mir in Lithuania and from
there he rose up to become the son-in-law of Maran the
He was a standout in his generation for his tremendous
hasmodoh and harbotzas haTorah with vitality
and kedushoh. Stripped clean of gashmiyus, he
constantly taught his talmidim the straight path of
learning with a boundless love for truth and casting off of
any traces of distortion. He was one of the greats of his
generation in dispelling the Torah hashkofo he
received from his holy forefathers and rabbonim, the
luminaries of our people.
He penetrated secular Tel Aviv with the yoke of Torah and
ingrained a love for Torah and industrious Torah learning in
all who saw and knew him and were witness to the holy fire of
Torah burning in him.
And who can describe his noble and holy middos and
good- heartedness, always helping bear the load. It is very
difficult to elaborate in detail at a time when the great and
holy man lies before us, his soul departed.
May Hashem Yisborach heal this crushing blow to our
hearts and may we soon merit seeing his shining face upon the
Resurrection of His people, Am Yisroel, in His compassion.
Signing in tears,
a diminutive figure among your thousands of
Nosson Chaim Einfeld