On Wednesday afternoon the Torah world lost one of its most senior roshei yeshiva with the passing of HaRav Chaim Stein, zt"l, rosh yeshivas Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland, a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America, the elder rosh yeshiva of America and one of the greatest marbitzei Torah of recent times. He was a remnant of the Lithuanian Torah world, who had studied under the gedolei hador of an earlier generation and was one of the founders of the Torah world in America through his work in Cleveland where he taught thousands of talmidim over a sixty year career.
In recent days intense prayers were offered for his recovery after he became ill. News of his condition spread throughout the American Torah world, and many prayers were said to beseech his full recovery. Nonetheless, Wednesday afternoon, 27 Sivan 5771, he returned his pure soul to his maker, accompanied by the cries of his family and talmidim of "Shema Yisroel."
HaRav Chaim Stein zt"l was born ninety-eight years ago on 29 Adar II, 5673. His father was HaRav Binyomin Moshe zt"l, the rov of the Lithuanian town of Opina and one of the leading rabbis in Lithuania.
Even in his youth his lifelong qualities of hasmodoh and perception were evident. His leadership ability and his noble soul were also clear to all.
He studied in the yeshiva ketanoh in Kelm, and later went to the great yeshiva in Telshe in 5688 when he was only 15. He became very close to the roshei yeshiva HaRav Chaim Telzer and HaRav Avrohom Yitzchok Bloch zt"l. He was also close to HaRav Mordechai Pogramonsky zt"l who was in Telshe at that time. In particular he considered HaRav Chaim Telzer to be his rebbe muvhak. He used to conduct a public review of the shiur of HaRav Chaim. After the passing of HaRav Chaim he became close to HaRav Bloch, and was even zoche to learn with him bechavrusa.
With the outbreak of World War II the Telshe Yeshiva split up. A group of talmidim fled deep into Russia, going to Siberia and eventually winding up in Bucharia. HaRav Stein was one of the leaders of this group. It was there that he married his Rebbetzin Freidel o"h.
After the war he went to the United States where he joined HaRav Eliahu Meir Bloch zt"l and HaRav Chaim Mordechai Katz zt"l at the Telshe Yeshiva they had founded in America. In 5707 he started to say shiurim and to serve as the mashgiach of the yeshiva.
With the passing of HaRav Katz zt"l, he was appointed rosh yeshiva together with HaRav Mordechai Gifter and HaRav Boruch Sorotzkin zt"l.
HaRav Stein left a strong impression on all of his talmidim, to whom he imparted a derech in Torah and halochoh as well as pure yiras Shomayim. His entire life was dedicated to serving Hashem and increasing kovod Shomayim along the path he acquired from his great rabbonim.
His shiurim were admired and enjoyed widely and many learned from him how to analyze a sugya. He greeted all who came to him with his noble demeanor, and his simplicity and pleasant manner charmed all those who met him.
His talmidim maintained a lifelong relationship with him. He shared in their happiness and in their tragedies and shed many tears in supplication for them.
He published the sefer Mekor Boruch written by his uncle HaRav Boruch Ginsberg zt"l and also added his own chiddushim entitled Bircas Chaim.
He served for decades on the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, where the Torah world and the American Jewish community general benefited from his wise counsel on the issues of the day.
About a year and a half ago he fell, and since then his health has been fragile.
The levaya is scheduled to start from Cleveland at 9 am on Thursday morning. Then the aron will be transported to Brooklyn, and there are scheduled to be hespedim at the Telshe Beis Medrash in Boro Park. From there it will go to Eretz Yisroel where the funeral is scheduled for Friday afternoon in Har Hamenuchos. He is to be laid to rest next to his son zt"l.
He is survived by his son HaRav Binyomin Moshe, one of the roshei yeshiva of Telshe Yeshiva, his son HaRav Shmuel Zalman, rosh yeshivas Bircas Chaim in Lakewood, his son-in-law HaRav Matisyohu Weinberg of Yerushalayim, his son-in-law HaRav Menachem Levine, a ram in Telshe Yeshiva, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren and thousands of talmidim who all mourn his passing.