Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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25 Kislev 5765 - December 8, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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R' Yisroel HaKohen Bloom, z"l

by Rav Nosson Einfeld

US Jewry lost a rare gemstone with the passing of R' Yisroel HaKohen Bloom z"l, founder of Yeshivas Darkei Torah in Far Rockaway, who passed away on Erev Yom Kippur. Reflecting a life of good deeds and elevated character the words "Yisroel asher becho espo'er" were inscribed on his gravestone.

His essence is encapsulated in the gemora describing Hashem's delight at the arrival of a clean and righteous soul (Moed Koton 25b). This gemora begs deeper scrutiny. Are the terms "clean" and "righteous" two separate attributes? If the individual is free of transgression, of course he is righteous as well; and if he is righteous, likewise he must be untainted by transgression.

A similar question is raised in maseches Kiddushin (40a). A verse in Yeshayohu reads, "Say of the righteous that he is good" (3:10). "And is there a righteous man who is not good?" asks the gemora. "Good for Heaven and good for mankind—this is a righteous man who is good. Good for Heaven and bad for mankind—this is a righteous man who is not good."

Yet even these definitions call for elucidation. What does "bad for mankind" refer to? One who harms his fellow man is a thoroughly wicked man, not merely a righteous man who is less than completely righteous. Therefore we must interpret the gemora to mean "bad for mankind" refers to a righteous man who is remiss in doing enough chessed with mankind though he is righteous in his ways and avoids sin.

We can now also explain the concept of "clean and righteous" along similar lines: "clean" of transgressions and completely "righteous"—a man who is both good for mankind and does much chessed with HaKodosh Boruch Hu's beloved progeny.

All who knew the deceased will attest that both the crowns of "clean" and "righteous" adorned his head. He was a man of Torah who spent his youth immersed in his learning at the holy Yeshivas Ponovezh, cleaving to the roshei yeshiva and most of all the Mashgiach, HaRav Levenstein, whom he served faithfully. During his final illness he even posted a picture of the Mashgiach on the wall beside his hospital bed.

He was eager and generous in supporting Torah study, particularly at Kollel Chazon Ish in Bnei Brak, and was considered one of the prominent Torah benefactors of our time. The energy and money he invested in helping Torah institutions is inestimable. He was known to spend long hours visiting philanthropists to provide them the opportunity to take part in this treasured mitzvah, saying that every day he devoted to Kollel Chazon Ish was a day of joy and celebration for him.

He was blessed with a rare streak of pleasantness and kindness. Says the gemora, "R' Chamo bar Pappo said, `Every man who has graciousness is known to have yiras Shomayim, as is written, "Vechessed Hashem mei'olom ve'ad olom al yerei'ov"'" (Succah 49b). On the surface this is hard to understand, for where does this verse hint at graciousness? The Maharashoh explains, "chessed Hashem" is based on the idea of finding favor in Hashem's eyes, i.e. "chessed Hashem al yerei'ov" is the blessing of graciousness, which not everyone merits but which R' Yisroel Bloom—as all of his many acquaintances and admirers will attest—attained.

His pleasant personality defied description—a sort of otherworldly spiritual beauty. The gleam of graciousness radiating from his face endeared him to all who saw him. He had a rare and noble graciousness generally reserved for royalty and very unique individuals like himself.

R' Bloom's petiroh while in his sixties is clearly a difficult loss for his wife tlc"a, his children and grandchildren, his siblings and the entire family. The words of an ordinary mortal fail to console and strengthen the brokenhearted. Only HaKodosh Boruch Hu, Baal Hanechomos, has the ability to heal the grief-stricken, as is written, "Onochi Onochi Hu menachamechem," and "Nachamu nachamu ami yomar Elokeichem," and "Ki Atoh Hu baal hayeshuos uvaal hanechomos."

Nothing can replace such a cherished man, the pride and joy of the family. The blessing Chazal formulated, HaMokom yenachem eschem, is very apt, for only HaKodosh Boruch Hu has the power to console them, from His giving and full hand, as is written, "Mochatzti va'Ani erpo" ("I have struck the blow and I will heal"). This is the blessing we extend to the entire eminent family: that they find consolation in G-d's kindness and may they no longer know sorrow, may only goodness and kindness pursue them throughout their days, may only gladness and joy reach them.

This writer was a friend to R' Yisroel and knew well how much he loved the Torah and constantly endeavored in Torah himself, how he deferred and clung to chachomim and their talmidim, how he yearned to do acts of kindness and charity in secret, how he ran all of his business affairs with honesty and integrity and how truth and peace were his guiding light. The unique combination of his traits created the splendid personality we knew, and hearts cry out over the lovely human being the earth has swallowed up.

I will always remember our last meeting. As he lay on his deathbed in great suffering, R' Yisroel turned to me and said from the depths of his heart, "I accept all of the suffering with love." Who can forget such words? The Creator is perfect in His ways. Hashem has descended to His Garden to gather roses and to delight in the company of his beloved in Gan Eden.

May his offspring have the merit to perpetuate their father's fabulous legacy of providing for the poor and supporting talmidei chachomim and hard-working Torah scholars, of bringing joy to the despondent and propping up all in need of kindness and help. Maasei ovos simon lebonim. And may he be a meilitz yosher for them in the Heavens until those lying in the ground rise up and sing, speedily in our days.


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