Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Ellul 5767 - September 7, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











HaRav Avrohom Zeidel Epstein zt"l

By S. Bruchi

A cloak of heavy mourning descended on the yeshiva world upon hearing about the histalkus of HaRav Avrohom Yaakov Zeidel Epstein zt"l, menahel ruchani at Yeshivas Torah Ohr and one of the great mashgichim of our generation, who returned his refined soul to his Maker on Tuesday.

He was a talmid muvhok of HaRav Shimon Shkop zt"l and the Mashgiach HaRav Shlomo Harkaby Hy"d.

When his health began to fail on Monday he was taken to Shaarei Tzedek Hospital and his soul departed heavenward early Tuesday morning as his talmidim accepted Ol Malchus Shomayim at his bedside.

Starting at Yeshivas Torah Ohr, where he taught Torah and mussar for the past 30 years, the levaya was attended by roshei yeshivos, rabbonim, dayonim and thousands of his talmidim spanning several generations.

The streets turned black early Tuesday afternoon as an endless stream of avreichim and bnei Torah gathered near the holy yeshiva.

The first of the hespeidim was given by the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Torah Ohr, HaRav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg, who lamented the loss of the Mashgiach. Citing the verse, "Veho'ish Moshe onov me'od mikol ho'odom asher al pnei ho'adomoh" (Bamidbor 12:3), he said, "The Mashgiach zt"l was a godol beTorah, but despite his tremendous greatness he remained humble, always relating to others in a down-to-earth manner. We must learn from his ways and this will bring tremendous merit in his memory."

HaRav Michel Zilber also spoke of his humility, saying HaRav Zeidel had reached the state mentioned in Chovos Halevovos, where honor and insult are one and the same.

Next HaRav Yaakov Hillel said the verse, "Hanistoros leHashem Elokeinu vehaniglos lonu ulevoneinu" (Devorim 29:28) applied to the niftar. He said there were many facets to HaRav Epstein that were known only to HaKodosh Boruch Hu, but that those aspects of him that were known to all — such as his elevated middos and his exceptional hakoras hatov — should serve as an example. He recalled how even at an advanced age he would bring joy to every chosson and kallah as if he were a young man. He also said every day he would study hidden aspects of the Torah at Yeshivas Ahavas Shalom, taking pains to conceal his knowledge in both nigleh and nistar.

HaRav Yisroel Gans said that HaRav Epstein's entire life was a foundation of complete faith in HaKodosh Boruch Hu and his final words were, "Rabboh emunosechoh." He recalled that at the funeral for HaRav Meir Chodosh zt"l, HaRav Wolbe zt"l said that the generation had three mashgichim — HaRav Meir Chodosh, HaRav Zeidel Epstein and ylct"a HaRav Gedaliah Eismann — and now only two remained. Thus, concluded HaRav Gans, today only one remains.

HaRav Yisroel Aharon Kopshitz said HaRav Epstein was an heir to the legacy of Aharon HaKohen — "oheiv sholom verodef sholom." Hespeidim were also given by the deceased's son, HaRav Meir, and his grandson, HaRav Moshe Ben Tzion.

The levaya then set out on foot for Har Hazeisim. After stimas hagolel a eulogy was delivered by HaRav Simcha Scheinberg, who said since his arrival at the yeshiva 30 years ago HaRav Zeidel refused to accept any compensation for serving as mashgiach. He had an intimate friendship with the Rosh Yeshiva ylct"a until his final day on earth. He also recalled that while HaRav Epstein was living in the US he maintained the same deveikus, unassuming ways and modesty as during his days as a bochur in Grodno.

HaRav Avrohom Yaakov Zeidel Epstein zt"l lost his eldest son, HaRav Shimon Yehuda, six years ago, and is survived by his sons, HaRav Chaim Yisroel, HaRav Boruch, HaRav Meir and HaRav Dovid, his daughter, who is married to HaRav Chaim Twersky, and thousands of talmidim mourning the loss of their rebbe.

(We hope to publish more about HaRav Epstein next week, iy"H.)


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