A large crowd led by gedolei Torah and gedolei
Chassidus brought to rest the Admor of Rachmastrivka,
HaRav Yisroel Mordechai Twersky zt"l in Jerusalem on
Erev Shabbos parshas Shlach.
The Admor was born in Jerusalem on motzei Shavuos 5689
(1929), the son of the Admor of Rachmastrivka HaRav Yochonon,
the grandson of the Admor of Rachmastrivka HaRav Dovid and
the great-grandson of the Admor of Rachmastrivka HaRav
HaRav Yisroel Mordechai had his bris performed on the knees
of his great-grandfather HaRav Nochum. The mohel was
the Admor of Slonim, the Beis Avrohom, who had traveled from
Poland to Eretz Yisroel for a visit. Yisroel Mordechai was
named after the Baal Shem Tov and also after HaRav Mottele of
Zaltopli, who had passed away a short time earlier.
The young Yisroel Mordechai had the merit of spending another
seven years on his great-grandfather's knee, taking in his
light and holiness and receiving his blessings. Throughout
his lifetime HaRav Yisroel Mordechai would fondly recall
those years with his great-grandfather, who kept a watchful
eye on him and guarded his every step.
The night before HaRav Nochum's petiroh on 28 Shevat
5696 (1936) he said the day would come when Yisroel Mordechai
would become a great rebbe.
From his early youth HaRav Yisroel Mordechai was ensconced in
the tents of Torah and avodoh. From a tender age he
was never exposed to mundane affairs but devoted his time and
attention solely to Torah study. One of his melamdim
recalled seeing the boy crying beside the aron kodesh.
Rushing to him in alarm Yisroel Mordechai explained that he
could not understand the words of a Tosafos and was pleading
with Borei Olom to grant him insight.
He studied at Yeshivas Chayei Olom and Yeshivas Sfas Emes and
later at Kollel DeChassidei Gur and Kollel Chayei Olom in
Jerusalem. Everywhere he went he brought with him his
tremendous hasmodoh and total dedication to Torah
learning. Sleeping as little as possible, his day was packed
with chavrusas, each of them unaware of the next, and
at night he would make the rounds of several botei
During times of strife and war, with a palpable threat of
shelling, he would continue studying nights in the beis
medrash. When his father HaRav Yochonon complained to his
own father HaRav Dovid that his son was sitting in the
beis medrash at night while shells were whistling
past, the latter said, "What you did to me as a young man he
is doing to you now."
HaRav Yisroel Mordechai's tefillos were remarkable. He
would spend long hours praying with tremendous
deveikus. Sometimes while he stood in the corner of
Beis Knesses Zichron Moshe wrapped in his tallis Jews
would come watch him from the side. As a boy he once wept
with yearning for the day when he would begin laying
tefillin to arrive.
He was very close to gedolei hador including the Gavad
of Brisk, the admorim of Gur, Belz, Husiatin and others, who
all spoke highly of him. When the Admor of Machnovka crowned
him in place of his father as the head of Rachmastrivka he
said that even at the Tchernobel Court 80 years earlier when
it had thousands of chassidim and Jews connected to
the court, he would have been a novelty.
When the time came for him to wed, R' Yisroel Mordechai was
chosen as the son-in-law of HaRav Sender Uri. During the
Sheva Brochos the Admor of Belz, HaRav Aharon, took
part in one of the seudas. While still an avreich,
gedolei Yisroel noted he was destined to achieve
prominence. On 13 Tammuz 5710 (1950) his grandfather passed
away and his father became the admor.
Torah was the focal point of his life. While learning he
would forget about basic necessities such as food and sleep.
On Shabbos Night he would say over and delve into his
father's teachings and later he would give a shiur on
Ma'or Einayim. Late at night he would walk somebody
home and then run to a nearby beis medrash to learn
all night. He took part in the founding of Yeshivas
Rachmastrivka in Jerusalem and would give shiurim
there and engage in discussions with the talmidim.
On 20 Kislev 5642 (1982) his father passed away. The
chassidim wanted to place the mantle of leadership on
him but they knew he was resistant to honor, wanting only
Toras Hashem. During the hespeidim for his
father the Admor of Machnovka said, "We crown Rebbe, on whom
it is incumbent to continue his forefathers' ways," and when
HaRav Yisroel Mordechai declined by making a hand gesture the
Machnovker Rebbe added, " . . . whether he wants to or
HaRav Yisroel Mordechai worked for the sake of Klal
Yisroel with mesirus nefesh. Sometimes during his
reception hours he would step out to a nearby Sephardic
beis knesses to learn for an hour or an hour-and-a-
half. Humble and simple by nature, he continued to avoid
royal treatment. Once when a hachnosas sefer Torah
ceremony was held in his beis medrash, seeing somebody
planned to hang up colored lights he asked him not to.
Thirteen years ago, on 17 Tammuz, he broke his leg. The
accident took place on a Shabbos Kodesh and he adamantly
refused to travel to the hospital despite his terrible pain.
Lying down and unable to move his leg, he began to learn in
depth with a chavrusa the halochos regarding caring
for the sick on Shabbos. After Shabbos, when he woke up
following the operation on his leg, his first concern was to
check whether he was wearing a tallis kotton.
The doctors suggested exercises to improve his ability to
walk, but he refused saying, "As long as I can walk from the
table to the bookcase to take down a gemora, I don't
need anything else." Throughout his years of suffering nobody
knew when we felt pain, for he never mentioned it.
Recently he grew extremely weak, but continued his holy
avodoh with exalted mesirus nefesh. Many prayed
for his recovery, but on Friday morning with many people at
his bedside at Shaarei Chessed Hospital reciting Shema
Yisroel, he returned his pure soul to his Maker.
His aron was brought to the Rachmastrivka mikveh
on Rechov Sefas Emes in Jerusalem where the purification
was performed. From there he was brought into the old beis
medrash on Rechov Dovid Yellin where the paroches
was removed as the onlookers wept bitterly. Afterwards the
aron was brought to his beis medrash in Givat
Moshe where thousands of Jews were waiting for it to
His uncle, the Admor of Rachmastrivka in the US, gave
divrei chizuk and called on the kahal kadosh to
unite under the leadership of his son, HaRav Dovid.
The massive levaya proceeded from Givat Moshe to Kikar
HaShabbat, where another large crowd had gathered along
Rechov Meah Shearim and walked to the Mount of Olives.
Thousands were on hand at the burial, held at the
Rachmastrivka ohel at 4:30.