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11 Cheshvan 5770 - October 29, 2009 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Rebbetzin Basha Scheinberg o"h

By Yechiel Sever

Gedolei Torah, roshei yeshivos, rabbonim, dayonim and innumerable Yeshivas Torah Ohr alumni took part in the levaya last week for Rebbetzin Basha Scheinberg o"h, the wife of HaRav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg ylct"a, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Torah Ohr, who devoted her entire life to fostering her husband's harbotzas Torah until her petiroh at the age of 96.

The Rebbetzin was born to Rav Yaakov Yosef Herman, the subject of the book All for the Boss, in the US before the Holocaust. As a girl she had the merit of seeing many gedolei Yisroel who stayed as guests in her parents' home, including HaRav Boruch Ber Leibowitz zt"l.

Her father, Rav Yaakov Yosef Herman, sent her husband-to-be to study in yeshiva and, 80 years ago at the age of 19-and-a-half, chose him to marry his daughter Basha (Bessie). Soon after his marriage, HaRav Scheinberg received semichoh from Torah luminaries of the pre-War generation after demonstrating great mastery of the entire Shas and Shulchan Oruch.

Shortly after their wedding the couple left the US for the town of Mir. Though she grew up in an affluent home in the US, she was willing to make do with substandard living conditions in order to allow her husband to thoroughly apply himself to his learning. Whenever asked why she had consented to go to the other end of the earth she would reply that she would be willing to go anywhere for the sake of her husband's Torah study.

Her emunoh and bitochon were so great that although doctors told her following her eldest daughter's birth that she would no longer be able to bear children, she merited four more children.

After a few years in Mir they were forced to return to the US when their visas expired. In the US they were supported by her father, Rav Herman, but when he encountered financial difficulties, the Rebbetzin began searching for a position for her husband and he was asked to serve as the mashgiach of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, a post he held for 25 years. During that period he also served as the rov of the Ostrov Synagogue.

Throughout those years she would send her husband off to yeshiva early in the morning and wait for him to come home in the evening. She handled all of the household matters and would not allow him to get involved in routine household and financial affairs, insisting he focus solely on Torah.

During their first year in Mir, despite the long, arduous journey, she insisted they travel to Radin to ask the Chofetz Chaim for a brochoh. Later she would recall that the Chofetz Chaim's remarks left an imprint on her for the rest of her life. After telling the Chofetz Chaim they had left everything behind in America to study Torah in Mir, he replied, "If HaKadosh Boruch Hu came down from Heaven to earth to give the Torah, certainly you can come from America to Mir to learn Torah." The chizuk he imparted gave her a sense of the value of Torah that would always remain with her.

Five decades ago, a few months after resigning from his position at Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, the Rebbetzin worked with her brother-in-law HaRav Shmuel Scheinberg to set up Yeshivas Ohr Torah in the US.

In 5725 (1965), five years after the yeshiva's founding, she insisted on moving to Eretz Yisroel together with the talmidim. She packed everything herself and together they set off for Eretz Yisroel to continue the Torah enterprise they had begun.

At first they lived in Jerusalem's Kiryat Yovel neighborhood, but to her great disappointment, shortly after their arrival in Eretz Yisroel, the Rebbetzin had to return to the US for six months to undergo surgery. She regretted being unable to assist her husband in pursuing his Torah studies during that period.

During their first few years in Eretz Yisroel the yeshiva was housed in the Diskin building in Givat Shaul; five years later, when construction was complete, the students moved to the new yeshiva building on Rechov Sorotzkin.

The Rebbetzin's dedication to the yeshiva was remarkable. She handled all of the administrative work and saw to it that the bochurim were fed and their needs taken care of so that they could apply themselves to their studies undisturbed.

Every year, when her husband had to travel to the US on fundraising trips, she would accompany him in order to enable him to continue studying while away from home. She would not allow anyone to disturb her husband while he was studying, screening visitors to ensure only those with pressing questions be allowed to interrupt his learning.

Their home, a bastion of Torah and chessed, was open day and night to all those in need — orphans and widows, the blind and the deaf, and anyone else in need of support, advice or guidance. From the start of their marriage during the Mir years, their home was open to all. Their son HaRav Simchah was sent to Yeshivas Telz at an early age to make room for all those who turned to them for help. After he went off to yeshiva the Rebbetzin used his room to receive people seeking help. She also prepared meals for the sick and needy, and to ensure they were not ashamed she would send girls to lay the meals on the doorstep.

She continued with these special efforts for decades despite health problems that required a number of surgeries. She even showed concern for the hospital nurses, finding out what a given nurse needed and sending someone to buy the item for her.

One morning, 15 years ago, she woke up to find she could not eat or speak. At the hospital it was determined she had suffered a stroke that had affected her throat. She was sent to Herzog Hospital for geriatric care since the doctors felt she had little chance of recovery. But through chasdei Shomayim and tefillas rabbim, after a long series of treatments she was eventually discharged.

Upon returning home she was only able to eat through a feeding tube and her speech was impaired, but she made every effort to walk downstairs to greet her husband upon his return from the yeshiva every day, because she wanted to fulfill — in the best possible way — the teaching of Chazal in Maseches Brochos: "How do women merit [their portion in the World to Come]? By taking their sons to shul and sending their husbands to the house of study and waiting for them to return from the house of study."

Two years ago, during the Yomim Noraim, her health took a turn for the worse. She suffered greatly, but insisted on continuing to support her husband's learning, even though she had to travel to the hospital three times a week for treatments.

A year-and-a-half ago, when her condition worsened, HaRav Scheinberg told family members, "Her mesirus nefesh and chessed will bring her back home healthy. The very fact that she left behind creature comforts and took care of the needs of those surrounding her and saw to it that I would come to Eretz Yisroel to learn Torah and stayed home alone — these acts will bring her back home." And his prediction came true.

Every year on Motzei Simchas Torah, as he walked home, the yeshiva students would dance around him, despite his objections. Upon returning home he would say to the Rebbetzin, "Do you see this? You've earned it. You and the merit of your Torah definitely calls for dancing. It's thanks to you that I'm here." But this year, when he came home and the Rebbetzin was in the hospital, he lamented that she could not see the fruits of the trees she had planted.

Six months ago she was hospitalized at Hadassah Ein Kerem and later transferred to Shaarei Tzedek. The doctors gave her 24 hours to live, but her husband said doctors cannot determine who will live and who will die, and to their astonishment she recuperated and was sent home.

On Rosh Hashanah she was taken to the hospital due to shortness of breath, was connected to a respirator and never recovered. On Monday afternoon last week, 1 Cheshvan, she passed away.

Thousands were on hand when the levaya set out from Yeshivas Torah Ohr on Rechov Sorotzkin in Jerusalem, led by HaRav Scheinberg, HaRav Shmuel Auerbach and other roshei yeshivos.

Eulogies were delivered by her son, HaRav Simchah, her son-in-law, HaRav Dovid Weinberger, a rov in Lawrence, New York, HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi, one of the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir, and HaRav Yisroel Gans. Wednesday night she was buried at Har Hazeisim.

Rebbetzin Basha Scheinberg is survived by her husband, son, daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, all following in the path she set throughout her lifetime.


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