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16 Shevat 5765 - January 26, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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HaRav Naftoli Carlebach, zt"l

By Betzalel Kahn

HaRav Naftoli Carlebach, zt"l, a talmid chochom from a famous German family, passed away in Jerusalem following a prolonged illness.

The deceased was born in the city of Leipzig in 5676 (1916) to Hechover R' Moshe, the son of HaRav Shlomo Carlebach, the av beis din of Lubbeck. His mother was Rochel, the daughter of HaRav Yosef Cohen, the av beis din of Eschwege. His father was a merchant known for his virtue, integrity and yiras Shomayim.

In 5693 (1933) Naftoli's parents sent him to study at Yeshivas Telz in Lithuania, an act of mesirus nefesh since during this period German Jews rarely sent a 16-year- old boy away from home to study Torah. During his three years at the yeshiva the young talmid also showed mesirus nefesh, using his talents and a drive for self-elevation to become a genuine ben Torah.

He was particularly close to the rosh yeshiva, HaRav Eliyohu Meir Bloch, taking careful notes on his shiurim on Mishlei. HaRav Bloch himself later edited these notes and recently they were published in book form by his talmidim to commemorate his 50th yahrtzeit.

When R' Naftoli transferred to Yeshivas Mir he was received as an accomplished talmid. Upon his arrival in Mir his brother-in-law, HaRav Shimshon Rafael Weiss, asked his father- in-law (the deceased's father) to send his personal physician in Leipzig, the famous Dr. Adler, to treat his rebbe, HaRav Yeruchom, who was suffering from his final illness. To show his gratitude, HaRav Yeruchom invited R' Naftoli to join a special group of talmidim who attended his mussar vaadim. Though this was just a few weeks before the Mashgiach's histalkus this brief period of time was enough to leave an enduring imprint on the young man. For the rest of his life he would study HaRav Yeruchom's books and quote him in his droshos.

Toward the end of 5698 (1938) he studied issur veheter and was given semichoh by his rabbonim, the roshei yeshivos of Telz and Mir, as well as other prominent rabbonim. One of these semichos, which he held particularly dear, was given by the elderly dayan of Brisk, HaRav Simchoh Zelig Riger. Later HaRav Carlebach would describe how he sat in the beis horo'oh of Brisk for two days, answering questions under HaRav Simchoh Zelig's supervision.

During this period R' Naftoli's father grew ill, and he was compelled to leave Poland and to return home to Germany. As a German citizen, on the eve of the war he could not obtain a visa to return to Yeshivas Mir in Poland. When he managed to secure a US entry visa through a friend from the yeshiva, HaRav Naftoli Neuberger, the Menahel of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, he saw this as Hashgochoh protis to save him from the jaws of death. As soon as he could he embarked on a ship, arriving in Baltimore in Shevat 5699 (1939).

A year later he married Gittel Gutman, who had also arrived from Germany during this period, and together they built a home known as a lighthouse of Torah and chessed. After his wedding, with the encouragement of the rosh yeshiva, HaRav Yitzchok Yaakov Ruderman zt"l, HaRav Carlebach was appointed rov of the city of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

After two years they moved to Detroit, where he worked in education and in the rabbinate. He once had the privilege of hosting HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, rosh yeshivas Mir in Poland and Jerusalem, in Detroit over Pesach. Later he handed over the rabbinate to his uncle, an elderly rov and a Holocaust survivor with no means of support. For various reasons he then sought other employment, working with integrity until he moved to Eretz Yisroel in 5739 (1979).

During his free time HaRav Carlebach would take up his studies, often with his childhood friend, HaRav Leib Baksht, the late rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Detroit. When he moved to Brooklyn he made the Mir Minyan of Boro Park, renowned as a magnet for talmidei chachomim, his set place for tefilloh and Torah study.

At the levaya one of HaRav Carlebach's friends recalled an incident that showed his adherence to halochoh. One Friday his bus got caught in a traffic jam that lasted for several hours. When candlelighting time began to draw near he got off the bus in rainy weather, preparing to spend Shabbos along the roadside far away from the nearest town. After stashing away his belongings he continued on foot until he suddenly came across a small convalescent home under Jewish ownership. He spent Shabbos there eating matzoh and vegetables.

HaRav Carlebach and his wife tlc"a, worked hard to raise their children to Torah. Though Detroit was almost barren of Torah at the time, they managed not only to teach their children to keep the embers of Yiddishkeit alive, but to instill them with ahavas Torah and a drive to grow in Torah. In 5709 (1949) while parting from HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel following his stay in their home in Detroit, the Rebbetzin asked for a brochoh to raise their children for lives of Torah. Said the Rosh Yeshiva, "Children grow on zechuyos, not on brochos."

When HaRav Carlebach moved to Eretz Yisroel, in an effort to increase his Torah learning he set up sedorim during various periods at Yeshivas Mir, Yeshivas Kamenitz and near his home. For a period of eight years he studied Tur and Beis Yosef every morning with his friend, the late HaRav Simchoh Wassermann, the son of HaRav Elchonon Wassermann Hy"d. With his talented pen he wrote various articles and translated articles by gedolei Yisroel.

A few years ago he had to reduce his learning schedule due to deteriorating health. Recently he had to be hospitalized and on the 4th of Shevat he returned his pure soul to his Maker, surrounded by his many bnei Torah family members.

At a large levaya held on Erev Shabbos Parshas Bo he was eulogized by HaRav Yaakov Kruger, the rov of Beis Knesses Kehillas Chaim, HaRav Aryeh Finkel, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir-Brachfeld, HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi, one of the roshei yeshivos of Yeshivas Mir-Jerusalem, and his sons and sons-in-law, marbitzei Torah in Jerusalem.

HaRav Naftoli Carlebach is survived by his wife, his sons, HaRav Moshe of Jerusalem, HaRav Doniel Yeruchom of Brooklyn, HaRav Binyomin of Jerusalem, HaRav Shlomo Ze'ev, his daughter the wife of HaRav Gedaliah Finkel of Jerusalem, his sister Mrs. Halbershtadt of Brooklyn, his grandsons and great- grandsons, all following the path of Torah.


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