Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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12 Elul 5772 - August 30, 2012 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Chaim Dov Altusky zt"l

by Yechiel Sever and Mordecai Plaut

The Torah world mourned the passing of HaRav Chaim Dov Altusky zt"l, son-in-law of HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg zt"l and one of the roshei yeshiva of yeshivas Torah Ore. He was the author of the series of seforim known as Chiddushei Basra that deal with all parts of Shas and many other parts of Torah as well. A great masmid, he taught many talmidim both in America and in Israel. He finally succumbed to a sickness that had plagued him for more than a decade.

HaRav Altusky was born on 27 Tammuz 5687 (1927) in the USA. His father was HaRav Yehuda Altusky zt"l who was a talmid of the Chofetz Chaim and of HaRav Naftoli Trop zt"l. HaRav Yehuda Altusky was a prominent rov in America who served for many years as the vice chairman of the Agudas HaRabbonim. His mother was Chaya Ruchama o"h, the daughter of HaRav Avrohom Moshe Gorelick zt"l, the rov of Rudka.

HaRav Yehuda Altusky had learned for a time in the kollel of the Brisker Rov and he told his grandchildren about the weekly shiur that the Rov gave. Before the shiur, the Rov would ask each of the kollel members about the problems they had with the sugya being learned. They were advanced learners and it is natural that they each had several questions to ask. After asking everyone, there were about thirty questions that had been asked. The Rov would then proceed to learn the sugya, gemora, Rashi and Tosafos, and sometimes some rishonim, taking care to ensure that each question was answered in the course of the shiur. He did not make a point of saying explicitly that he was answering a particular question, but the kollel members had no doubt that their questions were answered. HaRav Mordechai Altusky said that apparently the Rov wanted to show how, if the gemora is learned properly, the questions do not arise.

Chaim Dov learned in Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yisroel Salanter in the Bronx and later in Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim of Forest Hills under HaRav Chanoch Leibowitz zt"l. For a short time he learned under HaRav Aharon Kotler zt"l in Lakewood.

He married Fruma Rochel tichye, the oldest daughter of HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg zt"l, who was then the mashgiach of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim of Forest Hills. After marriage he continued learning in the kollel of Chofetz Chaim with outstanding hasmodoh. He later helped found the high school of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, and also served as a ram in Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yaakov Yosef (RJJ) in Manhattan.

In 5721 he helped his father-in-law found Yeshivas Torah Ore in the US. Four years later he accompanied his father-in-law in his move to Yerushalayim where they founded Yeshivas Torah Ore that eventually located in the Mattersdorf neighborhood where it continues to this day. HaRav Altusky zt"l gave regular shiurim and mussar shmuessim there for decades.

He soon began publishing his chidushim on Shas which he called Chiddushei Basra. In his hesped, HaRav Yisroel Gans noted that they first volume (on Bovo Basra) was published in 5727 and has a letter from the Steipler Gaon who calls him a gaon and a tzaddik, and says that he is like the voice of the shofar that awakens people from their slumber through the power of his toil and diligence in Torah. He went on the publish chiddushim on all the masechtos of Shas as well as subjects in halochoh and aggodoh. He also used to give shiurim on Nach and Medrash that were written up and distributed in English. All told, he published 44 volumes of Chiddushei Basra that encompassed 60 different seforim. For many years he used to publish two volumes a year.

HaRav Altusky was a man of conviction and action, in addition to his dedication to Torah. His son HaRav Yisroel said that around 1948 when the State of Israel was founded, there was a lot of concern that the yeshivas of Eretz Yisroel were struggling and they were certainly not being supported properly. HaRav Chaim Dov, together with a group of young men, asked HaRav Aharon Kotler if it was permissible for them to collect money for Israeli Torah institutions by asking people to donate for the protection of Israel. HaRav Aharon said that it is permissible since the Torah is the best protection that the community in Eretz Yisroel could have. They set up a collection table at a prominent location in New York City, and over several days they collected a significant sum.

They sent all the money to Torah institutions in Eretz Yisroel. Soon after, word must have gotten out of the project because HaRav Altusky got a threatening telegram saying that he should not do such a thing again. It was signed "HaYad Hashechorah" - the Black Hand. This was the name adopted by a group of Israeli Leftist hooligans, said to be associated with the Haganah Party. They were rumored to have murdered R' Yisroel Yaakov DeHaan, and a threat from them was not taken lightly.

He was well known for his unusual hasmodoh in Torah. He inspired many who saw him learning steadily from morning to night, wearing tefillin throughout the day. About ten years ago he became seriously ill and suffered many yissurim. In the last month his condition deteriorated.

His levaya left Yeshivas Torah Ore on Wednesday 11 Elul. Among the maspidim were his brother-in-law the rosh yeshiva of Torah Ore, HaRav Simcha Scheinberg, HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi, one of the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir, HaRav Yisroel Gans, his neighbor and the rov of Mattersdorf and a ram in the yeshiva ketana of Yeshivas Kol Torah, HaRav Yitzchok Ehrenfeld, rosh yeshivas Beis Shmuel, his oldest son HaRav Yisroel, rosh kollel in Yeshivas Torah Ore, his son HaRav Mordechai, a rosh yeshiva in Torah Ore, and his son HaRav Yaakov Yitzchok.

After the burial, the maspidim were his son-in-law HaRav Yehoshua Chaitovsky, a rosh yeshiva in Torah Ore, and his son-in-law HaRav Yisroel Yaakov Pincus, rov of the chareidi community in Ofakim.

He is survived by his wife, Rebbetzin Fruma Rochel tichye, his sons HaRav Yisroel, HaRav Mordechai, HaRav Naftoli, HaRav Avrohom Moshe of London, HaRav Yaakov Yitzchok, as well as sons-in-law HaRav Yehoshua Chaitovsky, HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, HaRav Avrohom Pines, and HaRav Yisroel Yaakov Pincus, as well as a brother HaRav Yaakov from America. He is also survived by many grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are following the path he blazed.


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