Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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1 Cheshvan 5769 - October 31, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Rebbetzin Lifsha Feinstein o"h

By S. Bruchi

Thousands of Bnei Brak and Jerusalem residents headed by maranan verabonon, roshei yeshivos and other bnei Torah took part in the funeral for Rebbetzin Lifsha Feinstein o"h, the widow of HaRav Yechiel Michel Feinstein, on Sunday. She passed away at the age of 90.

The Rebbetzin was born in Sivan 5678 (1918) to HaRav Yitzchok Halevi Soloveitchik (Reb Velvel) in the city of Brisk, two months before her grandfather, Reb Chaim Brisker, passed away. When she was born her grandfather was in Minsk and sent a letter to Warsaw saying he had a granddaughter born to him and from the light on her little face it was clear she was bright.

When the pedagogical inspector for the province of Brisk arrived in town he was very impressed by her grade on a geography test. When he recommended she be granted a special scholarship and sent to university, Reb Velvel had her withdrawn from the school immediately.

He then sent a letter to Mrs. Soroh Schenirer asking her to send a teacher to the city of Brisk for the sake of the girls in the town, and within days a teacher arrived, setting up a class that eventually became the town's Bais Yaakov school.

When the Nazis rose to power the Brisker Rov had to move to Vilna, while his family members remained in Brisk, waiting for instructions.

Based on explicit instructions from HaRav Boruch Ber Leibowitz zt"l, the adults in the family moved to Vilna, while those who had not yet reached the age of chinuch remained in Brisk.

The young Lifsha parted from her mother, taking with her two of the Brisker Rov's children: her brother Rav Meir, and her sister Rebbetzin Schiff. Upon parting, her mother gave her a gold necklace and earrings, saying they might never meet again.

When she reached the town of Lida to cross the border illegally she joined a group of two wagons, but when her wagon lost contact with the lead wagon, she and the other passengers were caught by the Russians, who confiscated the jewelry she was carrying and forced her to sign the confiscation form. She refused to sign to avoid chilul Shabbos, despite the danger her refusal involved.

One day a wagon driver, who had been sent by her father, arrived to smuggle her across the border. But she was not home at the time and a young refugee girls claiming to be the Rov's daughter took her place.

Eventually, months later, the young Lifsha rejoined her father and her siblings in Vilna.

In 5700 (1940) she moved to Eretz Hakodesh with her father, settling in Jerusalem, where she was entrusted with the task of running the Brisker Rov's household, both in terms of kashrus (including the task of koshering chickens) and raising her younger siblings.

In 5706 (1946) she married HaRav Michel Feinstein and the two moved to Tel Aviv where their home, as a center for the city's Torah activities, became a focal point for chinuch and yiras Shomayim.

With her brother's guidance she set up a talmud Torah and paid the salary of the melamdim every month.

Based on her father's instructions she would address her questions to the Chazon Ish. On one of the occasions when she went to speak with him, the Chazon Ish stood up in her honor, saying she should be accorded respect for two reasons — as a bas chover and as an eishes chover.

She recalled that the Chazon Ish asked her how they used to check for chometz in her father's home, as well as various other practices, saying every word her father spoke is Torah and halochoh. During the War of 1948 the Chazon Ish sent her matzoh for the Seder Night.

When her husband started his renowned kollel at Beis Knesses Rama in Tel Aviv she was totally dedicated to the kollel's success, seeing to the needs of every avreich, distributing not only the monthly stipends, but clothing and bonuses for special family occasions as well. She also worked hard to accommodate the shiurim her husband gave, including Fridays during the winter months, erev chag and Motzei Shabbos.

In 5736 (1976) the family moved to Bnei Brak, where they were greeted by the Steipler Rav upon their arrival. Her husband moved the kollel to Rechov Ben Yaakov, and in order to allow more avreichim to join, she would write fundraising letters. Her efforts to promote and run the kollel continued until her dying day.

She set up a bridal gemach at a time when that was a rarity. In response to her inquiries, the Chazon Ish replied in writing that it was a fine idea, and her father praised her efforts as well.

She always prayed three times a day and on Shabbos would constantly recite Tehillim, Shir Hashirim and Maamadot. Every Erev Rosh Chodesh she would go to the Kosel to pray, even later in life when the trip was difficult for her.

Last Shabbos afternoon she collapsed unexpectedly. Ezer Mitzion paramedics performed CPR and the medical staff at Maayanei Hayeshua Medical Center managed to stabilize her condition, but Sunday morning she returned her soul to her Maker with her family members at her bedside.

When news of her petiroh spread, students from Yeshivas Beis Yehuda gathered outside her home. The levaya proceeded to the yeshiva, where she was eulogized by her brother, HaRav M.D. Halevi Soloveitchik, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Brisk, her sons, HaRav Chaim Feinstein and HaRav Dovid Feinstein, who also serve as roshei yeshiva at Yeshivas Brisk, and HaRav Boruch Dov Povarsky.

The levaya continued at the deceased's daughter's home in Jerusalem, where gedolei Yisroel and roshei yeshivos were joined by thousands of bnei Torah. Hespeidim were delivered by her brother, HaRav Meir Soloveitchik, her son-in-law, HaRav T. Kaplan, and HaRav Y. Kaplan.

She was buried shortly before sunset near the gravesites of her husband, HaRav Michel Feinstein, and her father, the Brisker Rov zt"l.

Rebbetzin Lifsha Feinstein o"h is survived by her sons and sons-in-law, who are gedolei Torah and gedolei Mussar, grandchildren and great-grandchildren continuing her prodigious spiritual legacy.


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