Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Kislev 5770 - November 19, 2009 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Rebbetzin Itka Berman o"h

By Yechiel Sever

Led by gedolei Torah, roshei yeshivos, rabbonim and dayonim, thousands laid to rest Rebbetzin Itka Berman o"h, the widow of HaRav Abba Berman, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Iyun HaTalmud. She passed away at the age of 75.

Itka Berman was born in 5695 (1935) to R' Avrohom Greenberg, who toiled hard to earn a living for his family and who was infused with a strong sense of esteem for lomdei Torah and provided his services for free to bnei Torah.

When HaRav Reuven Grozovsky visited the US her mother, Chaya Musha, worked hard to organize evening benefits for the yeshiva. When she once asked to be blessed with grandchildren who were talmidei chachomim he inquired why she didn't ask for sons-in-law who were talmidei chachomim (they had no sons). She replied that she didn't dare ask for so much, but as it turned out she did merit sons-in-law who were gedolei Torah.

When their daughter Itka married HaRav Abba Berman, who then opened Yeshivas Iyun HaTalmud in the US, they sold their house to help fund the yeshiva of their son-in-law and rented for the rest of their lives.

Rebbetzin Berman had a fervent sense of ahavas Torah from early childhood. At a time when even shomer Shabbos Jews were few and far between in the US, she had high aspirations. She would pray in earnest to have the merit to marry a godol beTorah, and after school — she attended one of the first Bais Yaakov schools in the US — she would go off to work, giving all of her wages to a poor talmid chochom in the hopes that the zchus would earn her a godol beTorah as a husband.

When her sister married a Mir student from Shanghai, HaRav Yaakov Moshe Lazerson, who went on to become the mashgiach of Yeshivas Torah Vodaas, she would press him for information on the top students at the yeshiva.

Upon hearing the name of HaRav Abba Berman, who was already teaching at Mir-Brooklyn at the time, she asked her brother-in-law about him, but he dismissed the idea, saying that R' Abba was out of her league. His reply merely convinced her that she had found the chosson she was looking for.

Because of the large age gap between them (he was 32 while she was only 17) she knew he would be reluctant, so she asked her teacher to propose the match and "exaggerate" a bit regarding her age.

Efforts were made to discourage her from pursuing the match since HaRav Berman was known to suffer health problems and his family had perished in the Holocaust, but she remained fixed on her goal. After the wedding, she fully dedicated herself to her husband's omol Torah and harbotzas Torah, constantly trying to prevent worldly affairs from distracting him. Even when she gave birth to her daughters she went to the hospital on her own, not notifying her husband until after the birth to avoid disrupting his studies in the least.

One night she came home late and found the door locked, but decided to spend the night on the stairwell to avoid waking him up because she worried the lack of sleep would affect his learning the next day.

When her husband started Yeshivas Iyun Hatalmud she would work from morning to night, sometimes at difficult jobs, to help support the yeshiva. She was also devoted to the students' needs. For years she did the cooking in the yeshiva kitchen, sometimes even cooking food for the avreichim to take home.

She frequently went to pray at the Kosel Maarovi and taught thousands of Jewish girls, instilling them with ahavas Torah and yiras Shomayim.

When she was diagnosed with cancer immediately after her husband passed away, her initial reaction was gratitude to Hashem for enabling her to support her husband's learning through the end of his lifetime.

Despite undergoing chemotherapy treatments she would wash the floors of her grandsons' apartments, saying that after her husband's passing the only zchus she still had was helping lomdei Torah.

She passed away at Maayanei Hayeshua Hospital in Bnei Brak last week. Before the levaya set out from Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem, eulogies were given by her sons-in-law, HaRav Avrohom Orenstein, one of the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Merkaz HaTorah in Beitar, HaRav Moshe Twersky, a ram at Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Jerusalem, HaRav Eliyohu Feldman, a notable talmid chochom in Jerusalem; as well as HaRav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, a rov in Beit Shemesh, and HaRav Moshe Wolpin, a rosh yeshiva at Yeshivas Beis Yosef Novardok in Jerusalem. Parting words were said by her grandson, HaRav Nachum Rosengarten.

She was buried alongside her husband's gravesite in the rabbinical section of Har Hamenuchos Cemetery. Based on a special psak halacha, she was buried with a copy of her husband's sefer, Shiurei Iyun HaTalmud, on Seder Kodshim.


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