HaRav Yosef Nosson Lieberman, ztvk"l
by the Family
Although a month has passed since the petiroh of Rabbi
Lieberman zt"l the loss of such an eminent talmid
chochom is still keenly felt in Golders Green and
He was born on 1st Av 5688 (July 1928) in Vienna, Austria, to
R' Nesanel and Fraidel. He had few memories of those prewar
years and rarely discussed his childhood. He was sent away to
England at the age of 9 with his older, and only, brother R'
Yitzchok zt"l with Dr. Schonfeld's kindertransport,
arriving in Dover in December 1938. His parents were
taken to Auschwitz. In 1942, the young brothers received a
short letter from them that, Boruch Hashem, everything
is all right with them! This was the last they heard from
their parents, Hy"d.
As a foreign-child-refugee he was placed in various Jewish
hostels, learning in the J.F.S. in the East End. In September
1939, when all school children were evacuated to the
countryside to avoid the flying bombs, he was sent away as
well. The young Yosef was sent to a non-Jewish farmer in
Chetrix. Not wishing to remain in a non-Jewish household,
fearing the non-kosher food, he fled and met up with other
young boys in the same predicament. Together they went to
their Jewish teacher and boarded with him at the home of the
local priest for a few days, until they moved on to Ely,
where the Sassover Rebbe ztvk"l set up a hostel for
Jewish children. The Sassover Rebbe held him, even then, in
high esteem, and noticed signs of greatness even in his early
years. This was heard from the Sassover Rebbe a number of
He completed his secular education and with the encouragement
and support of his brother Yitzchok zt"l, he continued
on to the Gateshead Yeshiva, where he learned together with
R' Meir Tzvi Ehrentreu zt"l, R' Binyomin Posen
zt"l, and others, setting an example for all the other
bochurim. His diligence in learning was outstanding.
Even during the Purim seudah he was found learning in
the beis medrash. Being an orphan, the Mishnah
Berurah became his Father and mentor, and he followed
every din to the last detail. Nothing was too
difficult for him.
R' Yosef also headed T.A.T. at one point, the student
Tomchei Torah Fund of Gateshead, providing basics for
impoverished students many of whom were refugees. He himself
was a penniless orphan, but would not avail himself of these
funds and taught a student privately in order to earn a
As an older bochur, he joined the Gateshead Kollel,
begun a number of years earlier by Rabbi Dessler zt"l.
He received semichoh from Rabbi Rabinour zt"l,
having learned Yoreh Deah with a chaburoh in
the evenings. At one point he was asked to give the
shiur of HaRav Ze'ev Cohen shlita in the
yeshiva for two months while R' Ze'ev replaced HaRav Leib
Gurwicz zt"l, who was away at the time.
In 1954 Rabbi Lieberman married the daughter of R' Alter
Wahrhaftig zt"l, and continued learning in the
Gateshead Kollel until 1959. Upon the advice of the
Ponevezher Rov zt"l, Rabbi Wahrhaftig invited his son-
in-law to give a shiur in Yeshivas Chayei Olom, which
he had recently set up in Golders Green to imbue the local
boys with Torah-true values. The young family thus left
Gateshead and established their Torah home in Golders Green,
where Rabbi Lieberman joined the rosh yeshiva, R' Ben Zion
Rakow zt"l, in guiding the yeshiva for many years.
After R' Wahrhaftig's sudden passing in 1961, Rabbi Lieberman
also shouldered the yeshiva's financial obligations to ensure
its smooth running. He taught hundreds of bochurim
throughout the years with his shiurim, some years
giving two shiurim daily: one in the morning and the
other in the afternoon. He was a role model for them all in
learning, yiras Shomayim, and middos tovos.
His talmidim recall being woken up each morning by
Rabbi Lieberman's irresistible chant, "Hisgaber ka'ari
la'avodas haBorei." He felt it a privilege to wake up the
talmidim, saying that R' Eliyohu Lopian zt"l
also had the same zchus.
He was the ba'al tefilloh for many years on Yomim
Noraim, davening with great feeling. He was the ba'al
tefilloh forKol Nidrei, musaf and Ne'iloh
on Yom HaKippurim, and maintained that the
davening gave him strength.
He also took upon himself many dikdukei halocho, not
disclosing them to others, living with the middoh of
hatznei'a leches. He kept all the hanhogos he
had established in his young years in Gateshead Yeshiva, not
changing anything, even through his later years in London.
A few examples are: saying a din at each meal of the
day, fasting half-a-day on BeHaB in Iyar and
MarCheshvan. Long before concern of bugs in fruit and
vegetables was widespread, Rabbi Lieberman simply refrained
from eating any possibly-infected foods. Whatever he did was
epitomized by hatznei'a leches, quietly and without
He never looked for kovod. When speaking in public on
behalf of the yeshiva, he consistently gave credit to his
father-in-law who had founded the yeshiva, though he himself
had nurtured the tender sapling for decades while his
shver had only lived a couple of years after
establishing the yeshiva.
He invested time and effort in his children's education,
learning with them every Shabbos. Throughout the holidays,
there was learning each day, and also during the daily walks,
fulfilling uvelechtecho vaderech. He was a very
devoted father to all his children, always making himself
available in spite of his busy schedule. He also endeared
himself and took great interest in his grandchildren. It
always gave him great pleasure to hear from his children and
grandchildren, a shtikkel Torah, a kushya, or a
he'oroh, at all times.
His commitment to tefillos betzibbur was unshakable.
One year, while on holiday, the family happily walked over an
hour in each direction on Shabbos, in order to join a
minyan. Even in his later years when each step was an
effort, he still exerted himself walking to a
Nothing was too difficult or inconvenient when a mitzvoh was
involved and his simchah was apparent and affected all
those around him. He was always seen with a pleasant and
genial smile, greeting everyone with a kind word. He was
loved and respected by Jews and non-Jews alike. Each one felt
the smile was personal to them.
Though living many years in Golders Green, Rabbi Lieberman's
lifestyle was not influenced. He lived simply within his
financial means except for devorim shel mitzvoh when
he would extend himself to acquire the most mehudar
that was available.
His bitochon was evident in his calm acceptance of
life's difficulties, accepting the will of Hashem at all
times. He never worried about meeting the yeshiva's budget,
saying, "Worrying does not help," and his life reflected this
Over the last few years there was a decline in his health,
but the inner simchas hachaim was always evident and
remained within him. Although frail, limud haTorah was
still the focus of his life and gave him great joy and
pleasure. When receiving a lift from neighbors and friends,
mokirei Torah, he always paid for the favor by sharing
a dvar Torah on the parsha with them. He was
always pleased to hear a gut vort or a
He was very devotedly cared for by his Rebbetzin
tlct"a until he passed away on 27 Tammuz this year and
was brought to kevuroh in Yerushalayim.
Hespedim were delivered to a large crowd at the
levayos in Golders Green and in Yerushalayim. Further
hespedim were given in the yeshiva at the end of the
shiva, and also in Manchester on Tisha B'Av.
May he be a meilitz yoshor for his Rebbetzin, family
and all of his talmidim, ad bi'as Moshiach Tzidkeinu
bimheiroh beyomeinu. Omen.
Related at the Levaya by one of His Sons|
My father zt"l used to go annually before Pesach to
bake his own hand matzos. After joining yeshiva, I was
privileged to accompany him.
Shortly after we arrived at the bakery, there was a loud
commotion. The previous Yid had requested to leave over some
of his own, shemuroh flour for his Erev Pesach matzos.
Inadvertently, all the flour had already been used for
matzos. This meant that there would be no Erev Pesach matzos
for this person this year. The Yid was extremely upset. His
Leil Haseder would not be the same as in previous
years. When my father became aware of the man's plight, he
immediately said, "You can take my flour for your Erev Pesach
matzos, and I will take your matzos in return."
Although my father zt"l had always been very careful
to eat his own hand-baked matzos over Pesach, he was willing
to eat someone else's matzos this year. He felt that to
settle a machlokes and to make two people happy takes
preference. This Yid would have his Erev Pesach matzos, and
the kneiter would be relieved from his mistake.
My father understood what the Ribono Shel Olom would
prefer. In line with his middoh of hatznei'a
leches my father never made any mention of this episode,
not even to family members.
I have long forgotten the lessons on how to bake matzos which
I learned at the time, but this limud of bein odom
lechavero has remained with me for life.
Letter Received from an Avreich in Eretz Yisroel|
I would like to inform the family about the terrific
chizuk I received from your father zt"l in my
young school years. I still recall this vividly today,
although it happened about 35 years ago.
One Sunday afternoon, I came to your house to play with my
friend, one of the Lieberman boys. I watched your father
sitting and learning with a sefer Chazon Ish open in
front of him. It appeared that he was preparing a shiur.
I saw the radiance on his face, and the great internal
simchah that he was deriving from the sefer Chazon
Ish. I then thought to myself "Eh! When I grow up, I
daven and hope that I should also be able to learn and
understand the precious words of the great Chazon Ish and get
This Yungerman is now sitting and learning in a kollel
in Eretz Yisroel, and is a mechaber seforim and
a true ben Torah of high caliber.
Concern for his Bochurim|
The morning after a severe rain storm, R' Yosef Nosson
zt"l asked a bochur in yeshiva how he had slept
the previous night. The bochur replied that he had not
slept well. R' Yosef Nosson then related, "I also didn't
sleep well, but it was not the storm that disturbed me. I was
concerned for you and the bochurim who sleep with you.
I was aware of the leak in your room and have been trying to
get it repaired, but the workers who promised to come let us
down. I just could not sleep peacefully knowing that it may
have been raining in the room."
A letter Received from Eretz Yisroel|
I would like to notify the family about my personal
experience, which I believe is known to others.
A number of years ago, I was in Golders Green over Elul. I
had been married for several years and had not yet been
zoche to children. I plucked up my courage and dared
to go to R' Yosef Nosson zt"l to ask for the
aliyah of maftir Channah in yeshivas Chayei
Olom on the first day of Rosh Hashonoh, a well known
seguloh for children. The answer was a definite YES.
R' Yosef Nosson zt"l then said, "However we have to
arrange it in a way that it should not look strange to
others, as this is usually reserved for one of the
hanholoh (probably himself)."
He continued: "I have an idea. The person who usually davens
Pesukei Dezimroh is an ovel this year. I will
let you daven Pesukei Dezimroh both days Rosh Hashonoh
and also on Yom Kippur and, as a form of hakoras tovoh
I will give you maftir Channah. Do you know the
nusach of Adon Olom and Yigdal for Yomim
When I replied in the negative, he said, "Come to my house
with a tape recorder and I will teach you the
All this was done without mentioning a word to anyone. You
cannot imagine my inner feeling at that moment. Be'eizer
Hashem within the year I was zocheh to a healthy
child, and more children over the following years."
The gadlus was the immediate "yes," and only then the