Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Shevat 5769 - February 12, 2009 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











HaRav Yosef Yisroel Yisraelson zt"l

By S. Bruchi

Thousands of bnei Torah from around the country, led by the Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman and the brother-in-law of the niftar, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, turned out on Wednesday, 10 Shevat, to lay to rest HaRav Yisroel Yosef Yisraelson zt"l, the rosh kollel of Kollel Bar Shaul and the son-in-law of Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv ylct"a.

Yosef Yisroel Yisraelson was born in 5690 (1930) in Baranowitz to HaRav Dov Hy"d, the mashgiach of Yeshivas Toras Chessed in Baranowitz, and to his mother Hy"d, the daughter of HaRav Tzvi Hirsch Gutman, menahel ruchani of Yeshivas Ohel Torah in Baranowitz.

As a boy he once stepped into a shiur given by HaRav Elchonon Wassermann Hy"d. "Who are you?" asked the rov, surprised to see such a young student. The boy replied innocently and upon hearing his name HaRav Wassermann allowed him to stay.

When the Nazis began to extend their power over Europe he escaped to Siberia at the age of 11. Miraculously he survived five years of physical and spiritual torment, eventually making his way to Eretz Hakodesh in 5706 (1946).

At first the orphaned young man lived at the home of HaRav Shmuel Pellman, the rov of Tel Aviv's Heichal Meir neighborhood. The Rebbetzin took him in like one of her own sons, taking care of his needs.

Upon arrival he was asked whether he would like to continue on to the US, where some of his relatives lived. "I've had enough of golus," he replied. "I want to go study in yeshiva." Soon he was learning at Yeshivas Ponovezh, where he cleaved to the Ponevezher Rav, HaRav Shach, HaRav Dovid Povarsky and HaRav Shmuel Rozovsky.

When he came of age he married the daughter of HaRav Eliashiv shlita in a match arranged by HaRav Dov Freidin and HaRav Pellman.

He spent several years learning at the kollel run by Yeshivas Ponovezh and remained in close contact with the Ponovezher Rav.

Eventually he was asked to head Kollel Bar Shaul in Rechovot, where he spent the next four decades leading the kollel and the city's bnei Torah kehilloh.

Today's bnei Torah in Rechovot, numbering hundreds of families, owe much of their spiritual life to HaRav Yisraelson, who guided the growing community in developing a refined worldview and in heeding daas Torah. He was held in high regard by city residents of every type of background, who discerned his genius in Torah, exemplary character and mental clarity.

For decades the kollel held an annual one-day Bar Bei Rav event during Aseres Yemei Teshuvoh, which drew hundreds of local residents. For over 40 years HaRav Yisraelson also gave a shiur every morning at Beis Knesses Divrei Shir in Bnei Brak. When Yated Ne'eman was founded HaRav Shach zt"l appointed him to serve as a member of the Vaad Ruchani, a post he held ever since.

Towards the end of Teves he suffered a heart attack and passed away on Wednesday, 10 Shevat.

The levaya set out from Beis Knesses Divrei Shir, where he prayed and gave a Daf Yomi shiur over the course of 40 years. Before the procession began, eulogies were given by HaRav Simchoh HaKohen Kook, the rov of Rechovot, his brother- in-law HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, the rov of Ramat Elchonon and the rosh kollel of Kollel Beis Dovid in Holon, and HaRav Yehuda Aryeh Dunner, the rov of Beis Knesses Divrei Shir.

Following the hespeidim the funeral proceeded on foot to Netzivei Yeshivas Ponovezh Cemetery in Bnei Brak, where he was buried at sunset.

HaRav Yosef Yisroel Yisraelson zt"l is survived by his wife, his sons and a daughter married to Rav Sofer, along with hundreds of avreichim mourning the histaklus of their guide.


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