Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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6 Teves 5763 - December 11, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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HaRav Zusha Waltner zt"l
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

The entire Torah world was saddened to hear of the petiroh of HaRav Zusha Waltner zt"l, late of Bayit Vegan and formerly of Morocco, Sunderland and Gateshead, England.

He was born in Bekestchaber, Hungary in Tishrei, 5679 (1918). At the age of 13 he went to yeshiva and was later brought to Switzerland in 1936 by the Erlanger family in Lucerne to serve as the private melamed of their son. From there with evident Hashgocho protis he escaped to England before the outbreak of war. There he was first in London where he became close to Rabbi Rabinov and then to Rabbi Eliezer Dessler whom he accompanied everywhere on his travels. During the war years when Rabbi Dessler was separated from his family who were in Australia, Rabbi Dessler stayed with the Waltner family.

HaRav Waltner was one of the founding members of the famous Gateshead Kollel. After the war he went to Hungary to bring out young survivors. He managed to bring out 100 orphans who survived the Holocaust and, despite danger to himself, brought them with mesiras nefesh to Sunderland near Gateshead where they formed the core of the yeshiva he founded.

When there were no more boys in Hungary, he traveled to Morocco to help Jewry there and to bring bochurim for his yeshiva. In 1952 he was asked by a Mr. Toledano, an architect who lived in Tangiers, to come to save Moroccan Jewry from assimilation. It was then a 10 day trip by boat and no simple journey. Nonetheless he set off for Tangiers with three little children, on the advice of Rabbi Dessler and the Chazon Ish.

There he set up a yeshiva called Eitz Chaim. He traveled all over Morocco and brought the children at the ages of 9 or 10 to Tangiers to the yeshiva. He was like a father to them. He later set up a seminary as well. This went on for some 24 years until it became too dangerous to stay on. There are thousands of bnei Torah and religious balabatim today who freely acknowledge that he is responsible for their spiritual life.

He was not only a rosh yeshiva but a father to thousands. In addition to his own mosdos he also set up Otzar Hatorah institutions in Morocco.

The levaya was on erev Shabbos parshas Mikeitz in Yerushalayim and he was buried on Har Hamenuchos.

He is survived by his wife tlct"a, sons, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as by his thousands of talmidim and their families, who continue along the path he showed them.


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