Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Elul 5765 - September 21, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Dov Cohen, zt"l

by Betzalel Kahn

HaRav Dov Cohen zt"l, was laid to rest in Jerusalem on motzei Shabbos Parshas Shofetim at the age of 93. The author of the Seder Hashulchon series, HaRav Cohen was among the last remnants of the previous generation of Torah scholars and a prodigy of Yeshivas Chevron in Chevron from the era of the Alter of Slobodka.

Born in Seattle in 5672 (1912), Dov Cohen was sent to Eretz Yisroel by his mother, Bashe Rosa, at a young age to study in yeshiva following her disappointment with American education. She searched for a holy yeshiva until she came to Knesses Yisroel, then located in Chevron, the city of our holy forefathers.

Since the boy was all alone, the Alter of Slobodka took the young American under his wing, saying that in light of his mother's mesirus nefesh he was sure to succeed in his studies and was destined for greatness. Even during his last days as he was lying on his deathbed the Rosh Yeshiva inquired about the progress of "the American bochur."

To encourage his development, the Alter of Slobodka immediately placed him among the top students, including HaRav Ephraim Garbuz, HaRav Aharon Cohen and HaRav Shmuel Abramovitz zt"l, who were all older than he. When the Chevron Riots of 5689 (1929) erupted a few years later, Dov Cohen, then 17, emerged unscathed bechasdei Hashem.

He married the daughter of HaRav Chaim Rakover, a prominent Jerusalem figure from the Rakover, Mandelbaum and Epstein families. Over the years he served as rov of a number of botei knesses and institutions, working extensively to strengthen kashrus and religion and proper bris miloh.

He also started numerous shiurim throughout Eretz Yisroel throughout his lifetime. Over 60 years ago, before the founding of the State, he set up Agudas HaTorah years before the Pe'ilim began to bring youth closer to our Father in Heaven. During this period he formed a bond with HaRav Sholom Schwadron, who encouraged him to present his message to the public.

Before the founding of the State, HaRav Cohen was active in buttressing the walls of Shabbos. He participated in protests against Shabbos desecration in Jerusalem and was even arrested on one occasion.

He served as Israeli Air Force Chief Rabbi for five years, working with another group of chareidi rabbonim to promote Torah-based spiritual activities in military camps.

In 5711 (1951) the first group of Yemenite immigrants arrived in Israel. It was a very harsh winter with snowfall even in Tel Aviv. Seeing that the State was not providing proper education for their children, he arranged to house hundreds of the immigrants at an empty Air Force base at Tel Nof, recruited well-known rabbonim and set up a talmud Torah for the boys and a Bais Yaakov school for the girls.

Even after he finished his work there, HaRav Cohen continued to help the students and many of them went on to study in yeshivas. While walking in Tel Aviv years later a Yemenite Jew came up to him and began to kiss him, saying that only in the merit of Rebbe Dov did he remain an observant Jew.

Later HaRav Cohen directed the department for public services at the Ministry of Religious Affairs. His department was responsible for arranging to perform bris miloh on the Rumanian immigrants arriving in Eretz Yisroel during that period and for government kashrus. Since part of his job was to ensure that the doctors performing the miloh were really Jewish, he began to organize the secret lists of psulei chitun which were then passed on to dayonim.

During the period of the Six-Day War in 5727 (1967) together with other government ministries he organized courses for religious cooks and kashrus supervisors in order to maintain kashrus standards at government and military facilities.

He never ceased studying mussar and constantly worked on himself to apply what he learned. Students at Yeshivas Kol Torah and Yeshivas Chevron saw him during recent periods poring over Shaarei Teshuvoh and Mesillas Yeshorim during the mussar seder.

He never spoke badly about another person and never complained about anything. He was constantly heard saying, Hodu leHashem ki tov and that loving one's fellow man is the path to true ahavas Hashem.

The Seder Hashulchon series he published lays out the Shulchan Oruch and the Ramo along with conclusions of the nosei keilim and poskim. Although well into his nineties, HaRav Cohen continued his avodas hakodesh with a clear mind and a sound body.

In recent months he suffered two strokes and his condition deteriorated. Shortly before Shabbos parshas Shofetim he unexpectedly returned his soul to his Maker. The levaya, which began outside Beis Knesses HaGra in Bayit Vegan, drew many neighborhood residents, talmidim, friends, acquaintances and family members. Eulogies were delivered by the deceased's sons and sons-in- law and he was buried at Har Hamenuchos before midnight.

HaRav Dov Cohen was survived by his sons, HaRav Simchoh, one of the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Netivot Olam in Bnei Brak and an important figure in the Teshuvoh Movement, HaRav Tzvi, the rov of Bnei Brak's Avrohom neighborhood and the western portion of the city as well as the author of Tevillas Keilim, Hag'olas Keilim and other important books, HaRav Yekusiel, an av beis din in Ashdod, HaRav Avrohom, one of the members of Otzar Haposkim, HaRav Nachum, rosh kollel of Kollel Beis Hamedrash and author of Zahav Tahor, HaRav Uziel of Yeshivas Mishneh Torah; his sons-in-law HaRav Yehuda Addes, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Kol Yaakov, and HaRav Moshe Olshtein; grandchildren and great- grandchildren following in his path of Torah, yir'oh and Mussar.


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