Thousands of bnei Torah, including leading roshei
yeshivos and talmidei chachomim from Jerusalem,
participated in the levaya for HaRav Efraim Zalesnick,
zt"l, who passed away at the age of 74 on 25
Rav Efraim Zalesnick was born in Av 5691 in Jerusalem to
HaRav Shlomo Zalman, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Eitz Chaim.
His mother was Leah, a descendant of the Levush. The young
Efraim studied at Eitz Chaim from a tender age, continuing
there through yeshiva gedoloh.
When the yeshiva studied maseches Nedorim, R' Efraim's
fellow students said he studied the maseches 16 times,
and when they studied Pesochim he went through it
In 5716 (1956) he transferred to Yeshivas Brisk, where he was
among HaRav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik's first students while the
Brisker Rov, HaRav Yitzchok Ze'ev, was still alive. HaRav
Yitzchok Ze'ev once said that R' Efraim's comments and
questions were worth dwelling on. R' Efraim's fellow students
at the yeshiva envied his close relationship with the Brisker
R' Efraim also had close ties with HaRav Isser Zalman
Meltzer, whose home he slept in for a certain period of time.
On Leil Shabbos he would arrive in the middle of the
seudah and speak about his learning with HaRav
Meltzer, who said the young man had great yiras
Shomayim. HaRav Yitzchok Zalesnick, the deceased's late
brother, was HaRav Isser Zalman's talmid muvhok and
shamash for many years until his histaklus.
After his wedding HaRav Efraim Zalesnick continued his
studies at the Yeshivas Brisk kollel and in the winter
of 5726 (1966) he began giving shiurim at Yeshivas
Hametzuyonim in Jerusalem. Later he began giving
shiurim at Yeshivas Eretz Tzvi under HaRav Mendel
Atik, establishing it as his place of learning. He continued
to deliver shiurim there until his very last days.
At Eitz Chaim, as a boy and later as a bochur, he
learned bechavrusa with HaRav Shmuel Auerbach
ylct"a. Years later when he published his book
Darkei Shmuel, HaRav Zalesnick sent a messenger to buy
a copy but HaRav Auerbach insisted on delivering the book to
his friend himself.
In their youth they once went to the Chazon Ish to ask
questions on their learning and the Chazon Ish asked for his
mother's name to daven for his success.
Shortly after his wedding HaRav Yitzchok Ze'ev saw he was
concerned over his spiritual state and said he had nothing to
worry about since marriage is a good thing, and he later said
that apparently the Brisker Rov had read his mind.
HaRav Shach was also very fond of him and was always glad to
receive him whenever he came to Bnei Brak.
Over the course of several years he regularly went to see
Maran HaRav Eliashiv shlita to discuss various
halachic questions with him and Maran held him in high
Renowned for his hasmodoh HaRav Efraim would stay up
whole nights learning. He would retire at dawn then rise up
like a lion a short time later, go to the mikveh and
tefilloh and then give his shiur at the
He was afraid of sin and totally dedicated to
kedushoh, tohoroh and prishus. Once his
family members bought him a new mattress, but he complained
that it was the yetzer hora itself and was loathe to
sleep on it. When his son bought him a chair with armrests in
his latter years he said it would encourage the yetzer
hora. His son replied that his brother, HaRav Avrohom
Yaakov, had had a similar chair for years.
"How can you draw a comparison?" demanded HaRav Efraim. "My
brother does not even have a yetzer hora!"
He always refused to sit in the Mizrach and eventually
stopped attending bar mitzvas because he did not want to be
forced to sit at the table of honor.
HaRav Efraim's friend since childhood, HaRav Avrohom
Erlanger, said he wanted to learn with the deceased
bechavrusa because if he was tied to him in This World
surely he would have a chance of being with him in the World
to Come. It was impossible to interrupt his learning,
recounted HaRav Erlanger, because he would do a taanis
dibbur throughout the time he allocated for Torah
Several years ago a godol beTorah arrived at his home
and asked his son-in-law to write HaRav Efraim a note to
inform him of his arrival. But HaRav Efraim wrote back an
apology saying since he was in the middle of learning he
would pay him a return visit later, though it would entail a
trip outside the city.
Every day he would learn uninterrupted from 3:00 p.m. until
7:45 p.m., asking any visitors to leave a note. Often he was
so engrossed in his learning that he did not even notice when
somebody slipped him a note. Only at the end of this session
when he sifted through his pockets did he see who had come to
In 5727 during the Six-Day War he remained at home most of
the time because he could not concentrate on his learning
while sitting in the rooms reinforced with sandbags. When
fighting broke out, his wife did not come home for a day-and-
a half. When she finally returned he did not exchange a word
with her until the end of his learning session in order to
avoid interrupting his learning even for a moment.
The concept of bekius was unknown to him. He would
study in intense concentration and remained totally severed
from mundane affairs. His sons recount how once, upon
returning home, he commented on a notice posted along the way
saying that Prime Minister Shamir was scheduled to take part
in a certain event at a beis knesses. "How can they
bring a man like that into the beis knesses?" he
wondered. "And anyway, isn't Begin prime minister?"
Ramim often asked to borrow his written notes on
various sugyos, which have yet to be published, saying
that they contained fabulous chiddushim not found
When his wife wanted to bless him for success on Erev Yom
Kippur he said he only needed blessings for good health. His
condition suddenly declined and after just a few days in the
hospital he passed away last Friday 25 Shevat in the
At the levaya, which set out on Erev Shabbos from his
home on Rechov Ralbach in Jerusalem's Geula neighborhood,
brief words of parting were offered by his brother, HaRav
Avrohom Yaakov Zalesnick, and tearful hespeidim were
delivered by HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, HaRav Avrohom Erlanger,
HaRav Eliashiv's son-in-law Elchonon Berlin, HaRav Yehoshua
Dovid Turchin, HaRav Don Segal, his brother-in-law HaRav
Zevulun Shub and his son HaRav Yitzchok Ze'ev.
HaRav Efraim Zalesnick zt"l is survived by his sons,
HaRav Yitzchok Ze'ev, HaRav Avrohom Yeshayoh, HaRav Chaim,
HaRav Isser Dov, HaRav Yom Tov and HaRav Aryeh Leib, his son-
in-law HaRav Moshe Yaakov Eisenberg, and grandchildren, all
following in his path of Torah.