Bereaved and crushed, thousands bnei Torah, students and alumni of Yeshivas Beis Binyamin in Stamford, alongside gedolei Yisroel and roshei yeshiva, accompanied the remains of HaRav Simcha Shustal zt"l, one of the elder roshei yeshiva in the U.S. and foremost Torah disseminators of this present generation, to his final rest. A disciple of the great Torah scholars and roshei yeshiva of the past generation, he was the rosh yeshiva of Beis Binyamin and author of Chemed Simcha, two volumes on Shas and Seder Kodshim, and produced tens of thousands of talmidim over many decades. He passed away after suffering from illness these past several months, to the distress of his myriads of disciples in the U.S. and throughout the world. The funeral left from Yeshivas Lakewood Tuesday morning and continued on to Yeshivas Beis Binyamin, which he led. Wednesday afternoon, it resumed from Yeshivas Beis Shmuel, Jerusalem, en route to Har Hazeisim.
HaRav Elya Simcha Shustal zt"l was born in the U.S. in 5683 to his parents, R' Tuvya Yeruchom Fishel zt"l and his mother a"h. In this youth, he studied in Yeshivas Tiferes Yerushalayim until the age of 15, after which he entered Yeshivas Torah Vodaas, studying under his master and teacher, HaRav Shlomo Heiman zt"l. He was one of the outstanding students in the yeshiva, earning the pronounced esteem of his teachers and the affection of his fellow students.
After the passing of HaRav Shlomo Heiman, HaRav Refael Mendelowitz zt"l, one of the roshei yeshiva of Torah Vodaas, founded Yeshivas Beis Medrash Elyon in Spring Valley, New York, together with HaRav Reuven Grozovsky zt"l, son-in-law of Maran HaRav Boruch Ber Leibowitz zt"l. At the onset of this yeshiva, R' Mendelowitz said that all he needed was two students: R' Simcha Shustal and R' Don Ungarisher zt"l. He then added that since this did not constitute a minyan, the yeshiva needed eight more students. And this was the humble beginning of one of the most illustrious yeshivas in the Torah world of America which produced many of the gedolei Torah, roshei yeshiva and Torah scholars of this generation.
In his yeshiva years, he toiled in Torah indefatigably, acquiring vast Torah expertise in all of its branches. The Rosh Yeshiva, R' Reuven Grozovsky, used to continue his shiur from the middle of the week during Shabbos seuda shlishis, but when he was unable to deliver the shiur, he would ask R' Simcha to fill in for him while he presented aggadata on the weekly parsha.
When he came of age, R' Shustal married Sarah tichye, daughter of the Gavad of Mattersdorf, HaRav Shmuel Ehrenfeld zt"l. As a young man, he already founded and headed the kollel of Beis Medrash Elyon, which boasted scholarly avreichim before whom he gave his shiurim until 5736. In this year, he founded his own yeshiva, Beis Binyamin, together with ylct"a, HaRav Moshe Shapira shlita, which he headed until his last day.
Throughout the decades at the helm of the yeshiva, he produced tens of thousands of students. Many came from outside the yeshiva to hear his profound shiurim. Two volumes of his numerous chiddushim, Chemed Simcha, have already been published, one on Shas and the other on Seder Kodshim. In addition, he delivered chaburos in Yeshivas Beis Medrash Elyon on Kodshim, also giving rousing mussar shmuessen at seuda shlishis in yeshiva, as well as vaadim in his home during the long summer Shabbosim.
In the mornings, the Rosh Yeshiva would study in the beis medrash together with the students, repeatedly amazing one and all at how a venerable Rosh Yeshiva discussed heatedly and intensely with young students.
His entire life was one continuous stretch of study. Often one would see him totally engrossed in his study, forgetting the world around him. He once ordered a taxi to take him to nichum aveilim, but he was so wrapped up in study that after waiting an hour for him, the driver simply drove off.
He earned the high esteem of all the gedolim in America. HaRav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt"l once said of him that he was the most glorious product of America. Maran HaRav Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman zt"l also praised him profusely, but R' Simcha Shustal always fled from honor and was a very humble person.
He grew weak of late but continued to deliver his shiurim. He was hospitalized on Sunday, returning his pure soul to the Creator early yesterday morning. The funeral began at Yeshivas Lakewood, attended by thousands of bnei Torah.
He was bitterly eulogized by the Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Malkiel Kotler shlita; his son, HaRav Dovid Shustal, one of the roshei yeshiva; HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Philadelphia, and many other roshei yeshiva and rabbonim, who designated the great loss to American Torah Jewry with the passing of the Rosh Yeshiva who was one of the elders of this generation's roshei yeshiva and Torah disseminators.
The funeral continued on to Beis Binyamin in Stamford, where he served as Rosh Yeshiva for many decades. The aron arrived in Israel early Wednesday afternoon. The funeral was held at three o'clock at the Beis Shmuel yeshiva in Mattersdorf, Jerusalem, en route to the Har Hazeisim cemetery.
He left behind sons and sons-in-law who are famous Torah disseminators: R' Dovid Shustal shlita, one of the roshei yeshiva of Lakewood Yeshiva and son-in-law of HaRav Shneur Kotler zt"l; R' Shlomo Feivel shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Torah Temima in Flatbush; R' Tuvya shlita, Ram in Yeshivas Ateres HaTorah, headed by HaRav Yosef Raful shlita; his sons-in- law, R' Yerachmiel Ungarisher shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Nachlas Yisroel in Lakewood; R' Binyamin Halperin shlita, Ram in a shul in Lakewood; R' Yeruchom Tzeilberger shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Beis HaTalmud in Brooklyn; R' Michael Bender shlita, R"m in Yeshivas Stamford and grandsons and great- grandsons all following proudly in his path.