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









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HaRav Lipa Zilberman, zt"l

By Betzalel Kahn

A crowd of thousands headed by gedolei Yisroel shlita, roshei yeshivos, rabbonim, ramim, dayonim and thousands of talmidim brought to rest on the Tuesday before Shabbos Shiroh (8 Shvat, 5765) HaRav Lipa Zilberman zt"l, menahel ruchani of Talmud Torah Kamenitz in Jerusalem, who passed away suddenly at the age of 68.

HaRav Zilberman was born on 20 Iyar 5696 (1936) in Jerusalem's Shaarei Chessed neighborhood to HaRav Shmuel Zilberman, the son of HaRav Yisroel Yitzchok, a moreh tzedek in Jerusalem. He attended Talmud Torah Eitz Chaim and Yeshivas Chevron in Jerusalem. With his prodigious memory, years later he was able to repeat entire talks given by HaRav Yechezkel Sarna zt"l. He also heard talks by HaRav Elya Lopian zt"l.

His prospective father-in-law, HaRav Michoel Dov Weingut, the rov of Metullah, asked him to obtain a heter horo'oh before the wedding. HaRav Zilberman set about studying Yoreh Dei'ah intensively and received semichoh from his rabbonim before his wedding, but he never used it.

For the next several years he was fully absorbed in his studies at Kollel Ohel Torah, where he formed a strong bond with the rosh kollel, HaRav Aharon Bialistotzky, a talmid of the Chofetz Chaim. In the afternoon hours, he studied at Kollel Beis Yosef Novardok and gave shiurim to baalei batim. He also gave shiurim on the Daf Yomi early in the morning at the main beis knesses in Zichron Moshe, drawing numerous listeners.

In 5736 (1976) he was asked by the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Kamenitz, HaRav Yitzchok Scheiner, to serve as menahel ruchani of the talmud Torah. From that point on he never missed a day at the talmud Torah until the very end of his life. Thousands of talmidim passed through the gates, forming strong bonds of affection with HaRav Zilberman. Even years later when he happened to meet one of them he would speak to him as if he were still at Kamenitz. Also many of the parents formed bonds with him as a result of his dedicated service to their children.

He was totally dedicated to overseeing the talmud Torah. At any given moment he knew how every talmid was doing and could tell when a talmid was upset. Any time a talmid was absent, he would find someone to help him make up the material. A few years ago, when one of the boys failed to come for two days, HaRav Lipa went to the boy's home to show an interest in him and encourage him to return.

With his elevated middos he respected all of the students. He never spoke badly of anyone, always flashing a smile. Sometimes he suffered insult, but he never spoke out. Once HaRav Scheiner said he would like to be his neighbor in Gan Eden, saying that sometimes he could not understand how HaRav Lipa managed to restrain himself.

Exceptionally humble in his ways, he was a man of simplicity and deep faith. His tefillos were remarkable, to see and he always recited brochos slowly and carefully.

He chose not to carry a key to the talmud Torah offices, saying he was not the baal habayis. When he had to place a call he would use the public phone, commenting that the calling card in his pocket was for use by talmidim who wanted to call home.

He would use all of his free time to study with talmidim. On Shabbos there was a long line of talmidim — and not just from Kamenitz — who wanted to learn with him bechavrusa. He was gracious to all and would explain a sugya over and over again with limitless patience. He devoted over 25 years to the task of teaching Torah to thousands of Jerusalem talmidim who held him in high esteem and sought his advice for years after leaving the talmud Torah.

HaRav Lipa had a close relationship with gedolei Yisroel zt"l vylct"a. He was particularly close to Maran HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l, and consulted him on many matters, as his son, HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, attested during his hesped. He was also had a close friendship with HaRav Chaim Kamil and other gedolei Torah. When the Taryag Mitzvahs Project was set up several months ago, Maran HaRav Eliashiv shlita said that if HaRav Lipa was among the members of the project's education committee he had full confidence in it.

Last week he danced with his son at a chalakeh celebration for his grandson. That night he delivered a talk to students at Talmud Torah Toldos Aharon. As he was testing them he suddenly began to suffer from a severe headache and went home. In the middle of the night his family members found him lifeless. Hatzoloh and Magen David Adom paramedics were summoned, but were unable to resuscitate him.

At the levaya, which set out from the courtyard of Yeshivas Kamenitz on Rechov Yechezkel in Jerusalem, the first of the maspidim was the rosh yeshiva, HaRav Yitzchok Scheiner, who said that until the Moshiach arrives the world will not see a man with such elevated middos. Bemoaning his sudden passing he said that thousands of talmidim owe their growth in yiras Shomayim and success in Torah to HaRav Lipa.

HaRav Yitzchok Tuvioh Weiss, gavad of the Eida Chareidis, compared the deceased to the Tanna R' Shmuel Bar Shilas whose talmidim occupied his thoughts even when he was out in the field.

HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, who knew HaRav Lipa since childhood, said, "Today, when [government authorities] are fighting against us and trying to uproot the Torah and alter the form of the talmudei Torah, much rachamei Shomayim is needed and he, R' Lipa, who ran a talmud Torah all his life in the true spirit of Jewish heritage and fought not to change the tradition, is a man suited to stand Above and pray that the pure tradition will be preserved in education."

The deceased's son, HaRav Yisroel Yitzchok Zilberman, a ram at the Kamenitz yeshiva ketanoh, spoke of his gentle way with children as a man of truth, a man of elevated character who could never have a bad thought about another person, and the mussar talks he gave the talmidim on a regular basis. "The gemora says that a person must be sick to write a will and since he was not sick, apparently his whole life was one long will."

HaRav Lipa's son-in-law, HaRav Yosef Sholom Hirshprung, author of Bircas Sholom, spoke of his kindheartedness and the gracious way he would relate to every individual, saying that HaKodosh Boruch Hu is delighted at the arrival of a clean and righteous soul. He added that HaRav Lipa passed away during a time when babies who had not tasted sin were being plucked away in Eretz Yisroel, and offered a prayer that the passing of a pure tzaddik would atone for the pure souls of the sick babies—yovo'u tehorim veyichapru al tehorim.

The funeral procession then made its way to the new talmud Torah building on Rechov David, where thousands of mourning children were gathered. The melamdim said that the children had not stopped weeping all morning and could not focus on their learning. "Where is the principal to tell everyone to go into the cheder?" asked one innocent first-grader.

Outside the talmud Torah HaRav Lipa was eulogized by HaRav Binyomin Kahn and HaRav Yehuda Leib Frank, who noted that his passing represented the end of an era for Kamenitz and the beginning of a new era without HaRav Lipa, "who was the father of the talmud Torah, not a principal."

HaRav Yaakov Osher Feldman, the rosh kollel of Kollel Sadigora who learned with the deceased bechavrusa for many years, spoke of his hasmodoh and dedication to Torah learning and the pains he took never to interrupt or shorten a learning session. Parting words were delivered by HaRav Yaakov Salant.

HaRav Lipa Zilberman, zt"l, is survived by sons and sons-in-law who are rabbonim and talmidei chachomim, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren following his path of Torah and yir'oh.


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