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19 Iyar 5766 - May 17, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Admor of Kretchinev zt"l

By Betzalel Kahn

A crowd of thousands led by gedolei Torah, roshei yeshivos, admorim and rabbonim laid HaRav Tzvi Hirsch Rosenbaum, the Admor of Kretchinev zt"l, to rest in Jerusalem at the age of 86. His histalkus meant the loss of a great tzaddik and godol beTorah who rebuilt Kretchinev Chassidus after the Holocaust.

Tzvi Hirsch was born on Erev Shabbos, 14 Cheshvan 5680 (1920) in his grandfather's home in the town of Sighet, located in Romania's Marmuresh Region, to HaRav Nisan Chaim, the eldest son of the Admor, HaRav Eliezer Zeev of Kretchinev.

When refugees began to reestablish themselves after World War I, HaRav Eliezer Zeev moved from Kretchinev to Sighet. In 5684 (1924) Tzvi Hirsch's father was appointed av beis din of Bradshin, a town located near Stanislav, Poland.

Recognizing his exceptional abilities his grandfather sent the boy to study under the town's leading melamdim. From a young age he formed a close bond with his grandfather and looked to him as his rebbe and his main wellspring of Torah and yir'oh.

At the age of 13 he went to study at Yeshivas Ohr Torah in Stanislav under HaRav Dovid Halevy Ish Horowitz, the av beis din of Stanislav and author of Imrei Dovid.

In the winter of 5697 (1937) he traveled to the city of Satmar, not far from Sighet, where he learned under his uncle, HaRav Meir Dayan. While there he received semichoh from the Gavad of Riskeve and other gedolei Yisroel and formed ties with the Gavad of Satmar, HaRav Yoel Teitelbaum. In the summer of 5697 he returned to his grandfather's courtyard, not leaving his side.

During World War II, when Polish and Galician refugees began to arrive, he made every effort to help them, despite the danger it entailed.

The day after Purim 5704 (1944) the Germans entered Sighet, quickly setting up a ghetto. On 3 Iyar 5704 (1944) the Nazis took away his grandfather, the Admor of Kretchinev and all of the members of the household, putting them on a train to Auschwitz. After six weeks in Auschwitz he was transferred to the forced labor camp in Shuterberg. Through a series of miracles he managed to get a kitchen job, which allowed him to avoid non-kosher foods. On several occasions he was caught trying to smuggle food to his fellow Jews.

Every Shabbos night he would make Kiddush on bread before hundreds of Jews and he made extraordinary efforts to keep the mitzvah of tefillin. He had a pair of tefillin he kept hidden and would lend them to other Jews who wanted to lay tefillin early in the morning before reporting to work.

In Auschwitz he risked his life to save his brother-in-law and uncle, later the Admor of Kretchinev-Rechovot. He managed to send whole packages from one camp to another. Once he got caught by the camp commander carrying food out of the kitchen. When the commander discovered he had taken more than just potatoes, as he claimed, he was already reciting Vidui when suddenly one of the commanders came by, saying, "He's a good worker. You shouldn't kill him." Thus he was miraculously spared from the jaws of death.

After his release from Buchenwald he immediately set about mending the brokenhearted. Hundreds of young men gathered around him. On 28 Tammuz they were released and taken to a place near Paris where he began to disseminate Torah and heal the wounds of Holocaust refugees.

On 28 Tammuz 5705 (1945) he arrived in Eretz Yisroel leading a group of young men. The next year he married the daughter of his uncle, the Admor of Nadvorna, who was still in Romania.

With the encouragement of the Admor of Belz HaRav Aharon, and his brother, the Rov of Bilgorei, he opened his first beis medrash in his home in Botei Ungarin and prayers were held there daily. After the wedding he continued giving shiurim to the group of young men who had come with him to Eretz Yisroel. During this period he renewed his ties with the Satmar Rov, the author of Vayoel Moshe, who was living in Jerusalem at the time, as well as with the gavad of the Eida Chareidis, HaRav Reuven Zelig Bengis, with the Imrei Emes of Gur and with HaRav Aharon Roth of Shomrei Emunim.

After Chanukah 5708 (1947) he joined his Chassidim in Haifa and the North, making his home in Kfar Ata. He rented a hut at Rechov Hameyasdim 1, which served as his home and beis medrash for several years until a proper beis medrash and talmud Torah were built.

He went on to build a housing complex for Kretchinev Chassidim, a girls' school and other communal institutions. In 5735 (1975) he built his beis medrash in Bnei Brak and in 5740 (1980) built another beis medrash in Jerusalem on Rechov Avinoam Yellin.

In recent months the Admor fell ill. When word was received that he was in critical condition on Motzei Shabbos hundreds of talmidim and Chassidim began to stream toward the Tel Hashomer Medical Center to pray for him and be near his room during his final moments. His sons and several admorim stood at his bedside, with hundreds of Chassidim filling the corridors and singing niggunim at his request.

After reciting Nishmas Kol Chai suddenly a great cry of Shema Yisroel burst forth as his pure soul departed Heavenward.

When the mittoh arrived at his beis medrash in Jerusalem, Tehillim, selichos and piyutim were recited as a large crowd filled the nearby streets.

Words of parting were offered by his faithful shamash and talmid, HaRav Simchoh Hershkovitz. Based on the wishes of the deceased and the Kretchinev community, his eldest son HaRav Nisan was appointed to head his beis medrash in Jerusalem and his son HaRav Zeida Eliezer Zeev was appointed to replace his father as head of the beis medrash in Brooklyn.

The levaya proceeded on foot, headed by gedolei Yisroel shlita, admorim rabbonim, dayonim and masses of Beis Yisroel. HaRav Yitzchok Aryeh Weiss, av beis din of Kol Rinoh Horodenka in Manchester, delivered words of parting in the name of the Kretchinev Chassidim of Europe at Chelkas Kretchinev at Mount of Olives Cemetery.


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