On motzei Shabbos parshas Lech Lecho a hesped
for Rabbi Neuberger zt"l was held in the Friedman Beis
Medrash of Yeshivas Mir.
The first speaker was HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi. He asked why in
general does a son have to say Kaddish? He answered
that it is to fill the void in Kiddush Hashem that was
left in the passing of his father. He noted that for someone
like R' Naftoli Neuberger, who was responsible for so much
Kiddush Hashem in the world, everyone has to pitch in
to fill the void in Kiddush Hashem that he left
The next speaker was HaRav Aharon Feldman, rosh
yeshivas Ner Israel in Baltimore. He said that R' Naftoli
ben R Meir was a father to widows, orphans, and to entire
American communities. He said that his efforts in Iran had
nothing to do with the yeshiva; all his prodigious efforts
were entirely out of selfless concern about the future of
Iranian Jewry which he saw had no Jewish leaders. His
involvement began under the Shah, and continued under the
Islamic regime that overthrew the Shah. At one point when
Jews had to leave illegally through Afghanistan he had to
answer the phone on Shabbos because of the dangers
At a time when other yeshivas struggled to absorb a handful
of Iranians, Ner Israel took in 100. Many had serious
reservations, but R' Naftoli insisted that it would be a
success. And it was. Virtually the entire connection the
Iranian community today in the US has to Torah is due to
graduates of Ner Israel. Even today there are 70 Iranians in
HaRav Feldman said that in one town there was a machlokes
that could have destroyed the Yiddishkeit of the
entire city. R' Naftoli flew in and spoke to the rov of the
town at the airport for 20 minutes and outlined a course of
action to defuse the entire affair. The rov took the advice
and R' Naftoli's advice proved effective.
HaRav Aviezer Piltz, the rosh yeshiva of Tifrach, said that
he had met Rabbi Neuberger some 40 years previously. He said
that he had created a true Torah malchus. In contrast
to the power structures of most of the world which are
characterized by their riches and ostentation, a Torah
malchus is typified by the statement of the Bas Kol:
"Kol ho'olom kulo nizon bishvil Chanino beni, veChanino beni
dai lo bekav charuvim mei'erev Shabbos le'erev Shabbos
— The entire world is sustained through the merits of
my son Chanino, but my son Chanino has enough with a few
pounds of carobs a week" (Taanis 24b). The builders
are totally uninterested in personal advancement.
He noted that Torah institutions are not built up in the same
way that other institutions are built. The adonim of
the Mishkon, the foundation upon which the
Mishkon stood, were made from pure silver — not
iron and steel such as is used in the foundations of
conventional structures. Visaditich besapirim
(Yeshayohu 54:11) — the foundations are precious
stones. Middos and tzidkus are the proper
foundations for Torah buildings.
If we see hatzlochoh in a yeshiva, especially in the
America of half-a-century ago, said HaRav Piltz, it cannot
be only because of its gadlus in Torah. It must also
have been properly founded upon foundations of gold and
silver and precious stones.
When Dovid Hamelech finished Tehillim he said, "Is
there a creature that says better shiros and
tishbochos than I?"
A frog came and challenged him, saying that it says greater
shiros and tishbochos than Dovid Hamelech.
This, HaRav Piltz explained, means all of the creatures who
by their very existence are a praise of the Creator, even
without saying anything: Ein omer, ve'ein devorim. Bli
nishmo kolom. Nonetheless, Bechol ho'oretz yotzo kavom
. . . Tehillim 19:4-5). And not only that, said the frog,
I do a great mitzvoh since there is a creature in the ocean
that has no food and I let him eat me.
The lesson of the frog is that such mitzvos are greater than
the shiros of the frog that are in turn greater than
the shiros of Dovid Hamelech.
Rav Yosef Kalman Neuberger, grandson of the niftar,
said that achrayus was burning inside of his
grandfather. It was a word that was always on his lips.
He said that once someone called him and said that he had a
medical problem with his daughter. As soon as his grandfather
got off the phone he went into action. He called doctors and
asked them about the disease and about treatment. He bought a
book about the disease and read it through. He called in his
granddaughters to ask them about the disease. In short he
threw himself into finding a way to help this man and his
daughter as if it were his own daughter.
He noted that it mentions Noach three times at the beginning
of parshas Noach. Chazal say that this is because he
lived in three different worlds: before the Flood, the Flood
itself and after the Flood. Noach brought the quality of life
that he had seen in the world before the Flood, when the
creation was close to its Creator, through to the world after
the Flood. In a similar way, Rabbi Neuberger took the lessons
and approach that he had learned from HaRav Leizer Yudel
Finkel while he was at Mir yeshiva in Poland, and brought
them through to America.