Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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










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Rebbetzin Channah Rochel Turchin o"h

by Betzalel Kahn

Rebbetzin Channah Rochel Turchin o"h, the wife of HaRav Yonah Turchin, the rov of Yehud and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ohr Yitzchok, passed away on 6 Iyar at the age of 57.

Channah Rochel was born on 24 Kislev 5709 (1949) to HaRav Meir Mallin, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Knesses Yehuda. Infused with ahavas Torah from a young age she was disturbed over attending public school in Washington DC and would even avoid classes. When her father enjoined her to attend, saying she had the spiritual fortitude not to be harmed by them, she agreed with him but said her peers would conclude that these studies were permitted lechatchiloh and therefore she did not think it right that she go to a non-Jewish public school.

At the age of ten she left home to study at a chareidi school run by the son-in-law of HaRav Yaakov Kamenetsky. When she moved to Eretz Yisroel with her parents during the Six-Day War she wrote to a friend in the US a letter so filled with emunoh and bitachon that copies of it were posted at botei knesses in Baltimore.

Even at that young age the beauty and refinement of her prayers was an inspiration to others. She worked as a teller at the Bank of Israel and when her manager told her to come to work during Chol Hamoed she refused, saying that no losses would come from keeping mitzvas. She was dismissed but soon afterwards got hired by Dr. Aviezri Cohen, the late director of Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center. Working at the hospital she had numerous opportunities to do acts of chessed and helped the hospital adhere to halochoh.

Once married she wholly dedicated herself to Torah and chessed. While her husband was still learning at Yeshivas Mir they would open their home to bochurim and other needy people who lacked living quarters and she would ensure that all of them were fed, clothed and had a place to sleep. She would also take in orphaned girls and when they came of age would help them find a shidduch. Even after they were married she would look after them as if they were her own daughters.

When her husband started a yeshiva for bochurim unable to find a suitable study framework, pairing every talmid with an avreich, concerns arose that if the students went home for dinner they would not come back for the Night Seder, so she decided to prepare dinner for all 25 talmidim. When her family would ask why she made such an extraordinary effort she would say it was all worth it if the bochurim spent another hour learning.

When her husband became rov of Yehud following the passing of his father, HaRav Nisan, she did not take advantage of her status but rather engaged in outreach and teaching Torah. With her warmth and congeniality she was able to bring many girls back to our Father in Heaven. When a girl dressed immodestly once came to their door to conduct a survey, her children shut the door, but she brought the girl into the living room and spoke to her at length about the emptiness of This World and the joys of Jewish spiritual life. By opening the door of her home she essentially opened a door for this girl to eventually do teshuvoh. In many instances she proved the verity of her father's remark that she surpassed him in terms of emunoh and bitochon.

Rebbetzin Turchin was noted for her ahavas chessed. Whenever she heard about a family of limited means she would cook extra Shabbos food and send it to them on Friday. One Erev Pesach, recalling that one of the young women she had brought close to Yiddishkeit did not have anything to wear for Yom Tov, she dropped everything and went shopping for her, although it took hours to find a dress.

The deceased also stood out for her ahavas Torah. When the members of the family took a trip during a bein hazmanim vacation, coming home at night they found her in tears because they had not been in the beis medrash all day even as they went around davening at the various holy kevorim. Hearing how distraught she was they immediately filed into the beis medrash for a special learning session.

Once she spent Shabbos at the home of one of her sons and when another of her sons called on Motzei Shabbos to ask if she had enjoyed herself, she said she had felt fabulous when the young man ran off to the beis medrash as soon as the seudah was over.

After the yeshiva building in Yehud collapsed the whole family and the talmidim were deeply upset. "Rather than thinking about our own sorrow," she said, "think of the sorrow of the Shechinoh, Whose house has been destroyed."

When the family of one of the yeshiva students began becoming observant and the son transferred to one of the holy yeshivas in Jerusalem, he would eat and sleep at her home and was treated like one of her own sons. When the time came for him to go to yeshiva gedoloh he was not accepted at the yeshiva of his choice — despite numerous efforts on his behalf — until she called the Rosh Yeshiva herself and tearfully asked him to accept the young man. When the time came for him to move into the dorms the Rebbetzin told the student's parents she felt as if one of her own children had left home.

Her neighbors would send their daughters to sit near her in the ezras noshim on Shabbos to see how a proper tefilloh looks. One neighbor once missed the tefilloh she normally attended and went to the beis knesses the Rebbetzin attended. When her husband later asked whether she had arrived on time she said she missed the tefilloh but was well compensated for the loss by the opportunity to see Rebbetzin Turchin recite Hallel.

After her petiroh a sheet of paper was found near her bed reading, "Daf kesher between us and Borei Olom. Happy is he who has a kesher with HaKodosh Boruch Hu and speaks to Him in prayer."

A few days before her demise, stepping into their home the secretary of the yeshiva found her extremely pale and suffering terribly. He brought her a glass of water but she made gestures indicating she was between Krias Shema and Shemoneh Esrei. One of her sons who lived nearby was summoned right away, but by then she was already engaged in Shemoneh Esrei. Later he realized the tefilloh gave her strength, but she was in very bad condition.

At the levaya eulogies were given by HaRav Aryeh Finkel, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir-Brachfeld, HaRav Yehoshua Dovid Turchin, HaRav Isser Yehuda Mallin, a ram at Yeshivas Knesses Yehuda, and her two sons, HaRav Chaim Aharon and HaRav Isser Yehuda.

Rebbetzin Channah Rochel Turchin o"h was buried at Har HaZeisim Cemetery near her father. She is survived by her husband, HaRav Yonah Turchin and her 13 children, all following her path of Torah and yir'oh.


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