Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Tishrei 5763 - October 2, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











HaRav Yisroel Yaakov Aisenstark z'l
by Betzalel Kahn

Gedolei Torah, roshei yeshivos, rabbonim and hundreds of bnei Torah participated in the levaya last Tuesday chol hamoed Succos of HaRav Yisroel Yaakov Aisenstark, 29, a prominent avreich in Beitar Illit and chairman of that city's Degel Hatorah branch, who died in a tragic car accident en route to the levaya of Rav Shlomo Yitzchok Shapira Hy'd.

Born on the 28th of Tishrei 5734 to Rav Moshe Yosef Aisenstark ylt'a of Maalot Dafna in Jerusalem, he studied at Talmud Torah Hadar Tzion where he was known as an able talmid and was regarded fondly by his rabbonim. He continued his studies at Yeshivas Hadaras Yerushalayim and later at Yeshivas Birkas Moshe.

He married the daughter of Rav Zalman Ettinger and soon after the wedding settled in Beitar Illit, where he continued his learning at Kollel Beis Yitzchok and dedicated all of his free time to public affairs. His life was an unbroken tapestry of devoted Torah study and zehirus in mitzvos, interwoven with acts of tzedoko and chessed while faithfully attending to public needs. Following the levaya many of those who had benefited from his assistance told surviving family members of his discrete and unassuming efforts to help them.

Others described his leading role as a community leader in matters of gashmius as well as ruchnius, and his constant efforts to uphold religious affairs-- eiruvin, mikvo'os, tznius, chinuch and other realms-- as a faithful servant of the city's rabbonim. He was among the founders of two talmudei Torah, a yeshiva ketanoh, a kollel and a pair of kindergartens called Ateres Dina, named after Rebbetsen Dina Berlin a'h, daughter of HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv ylt'a. On Erev Sukkos he set up a beis horo'o for daled minim. Following several tragedies that have befallen the city, under the guidance of gedolei Yisroel, an evening kollel has been set up for the study of Toras ha'aretz.

His dedicated efforts for the sake of the entire Beitar Illit kehilloh made R' Aisenstark an obvious choice to serve as chairman of the city's Degel Hatorah branch and to serve on the city council.

As a bochur R' Aisenstark regularly consulted with HaRav Eliashiv shlita on halachic matters and he continued to seek his advice once he became involved in public affairs.

When HaRav Eliashiv arrived at his chuppoh to serve as mesader kedushin he added the title "HaRav" to the chosson's name on the kesubo, showing the fondness and esteem he held for his talmid. Whenever R' Aisenstark came to the Eliashiv home he would ask for a brochoh for his wife.

Two days before he was cut down in his prime, one of his friends spoke with R' Aisenstark about a place to daven on Hoshannoh Rabnoh. R' Aisenstark said he planned to daven in HaRav Eliashiv's beis medrash to gather some of the leaves of his hoshanos, which are held to be a segulo to protect against car accidents. "Those leaves protect me, my family and all of the city's residents," he said. But he did not merit collecting the leaves as in previous years for he died in a car accident at the beginning of Chol Hamoed.

On the night of his death he took part in a Simchas Beis Hasho'evo in one of the city's botei medrash and was even honored with the recital of one of the Shir Hamaalos. One of the verses he was given to recite was "Shir hamaalos leDovid, Hashem lo gova libi velo romu einai, velo hilachti begedolos uveniflo'os mimeni" (131:1). A few minutes later he was about to set out for Jerusalem together with his close friend Rav Yitzchok Ravitz to attend the levaya of Rav Shlomo Yitzchok Shapira, when he decided to travel in two separate cars so he could take two avreichim who could not fit into the single car.

On the Tunnel Highway his car collided head-on with a truck. R' Aisenstark was brought to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in fatal condition. His family and close friends stood at his bedside as he returned his soul to his Maker a short time later.

When HaRav Eliashiv was notified of the tragedy the next morning he expressed heartfelt sorrow over a righteous man who had gone to beis olomo.

Thousands of people from Beitar Illit and Jerusalem attended the levaya with heavy hearts and bleary eyes, mourning the sudden death of a tzaddik who walked a straight path and was noach leShomayim venoach lebrios.

Before the procession set out from Yeshivas HaRan in Beitar, hespeidim were delivered by the city's chief rabbonim, HaRav Dovid Tzvi Ordentlich and HaRav Yaakov Avizari Tufik; the rov of Shechunat Hadekel, HaRav Meir Simchoh Auerbach; the rov of Maalot Dafna and family friend HaRav Nochum Eisenstein; and Beitar Mayor R' Yitzchok Pindrus. All of the speakers noted R' Aisenstark's enormous contribution to spiritual matters in the city.

The large procession continued at the Shamgar Funeral Center in Jerusalem, where police closed main thoroughfares to allow the procession to pass. There words of parting were said by HaRav Yosef Efrati, head of the Beis Medrash Lehalocho Behisyashvus and HaRav Avrohom Mendelssohn, rosh yeshivas Birkas Moshe. Despite high temperatures a large crowd continued to Har Hamenuchos in Jerusalem, where he was buried within sight of the grave of R' Shlomo Yitzchok Shapira, after meeting his death on the way to the latter's funeral.

R' Aisenstark is survived by his two parents and sisters and brothers, a wife and his children, who are continuing in his path of Torah and yiroh.


Based on directives of rabbonim, a fund has been set up for the surviving widow and orphans. Contributions can be deposited at Mercantile Discount Bank, Branch 635, Account Number 295647 in the name of K. Aisenstark; POB 589, Beitar Illit 99879; or through Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Tzedoko by dialing 1-800-22-36-36 and donating to the Aisenstark Fund, Number 1506.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.