Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Elul 5772 - August 23, 2012 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Akiva Ehrenfeld zt"l

By Yechiel Sever

In a massive funeral attended by gedolei Yisroel, roshei yeshiva, rabbonim and dayanim and a huge public of bnei Torah, Torah disseminators and their students, HaRav Akiva Ehrenfeld, president of the Chasam Sofer Institutions in the U.S. and President of Kiryat Mattersdorf and its many institutions in Eretz Yisroel, was brought to his final resting place in his ninetieth year.

HaRav Akiva Ehrenfeld was born in Nisan, 5683, in the famous and illustrious European town of Mattersdorf to his father, HaRav Shmuel, Gavad of Mattersdorf and son of HaRav Simcha Bunim, author of Maane Simcha, and to his mother, the righteous Rachel, daughter of HaRav Dovid Tzvi Ehrenfeld. He was named after their grandfather, Rabbenu Akiva Eiger.

In 1938, after the Nazi rise to power and their invasion of Austria with the famous Anschluss, and with the proliferation of harsh anti-Semitic decrees, especially against Torah leaders, his father, the Gavad of Mattersdorf, was forced to flee with his family to America, arriving there penniless.

During the first period, HaRav Akiva studied in Yeshivas Torah Vodaas, primarily by HaRav Shlomo Heiman. He later joined his father's yeshiva, Chasam Sofer, after it became firmly established. His father had been teaching Torah there since immediately upon his arrival, not missing out on a single day; HaRav Akiva remained at his father's right side thereafter.

Upon reaching marriageable age, he married the daughter of R' Chaim Tzvi Kruger, rov of Brussels.

From early youth, he was consumed with a deep love for Eretz Yisroel and its settlers, and a burning desire to take part in building the land and establishing Torah institutions on its holy soil.

He paid his first visit to Eretz Yisroel in 1954 and basked in the proximity of the Gavad of Brisk, the Chebiner Rav, the Belzer Rebbe and many other famous figures.

During this selfsame visit, he established a cheder in Petach Tikva, which has since produced flocks upon flocks of young men imbued with Torah and mitzvos.

This visit also saw the weaving of a visionary scheme to create a chareidi housing project within Yerushalayim, which began to be realized in the succeeding decade. Kiryat Mattersdorf was the first of the chareidi neighborhoods which today hug the entire northern part of the city.

In the course of the following years, he dedicated heart and soul to realizing his vision, from foundation to rafters, creating Torah institutions, beginning with the Maane Simcha yeshiva, headed by his noted son-in-law, HaRav Moshe Schlesinger, and later, establishing his pride and joy, Yeshivas Beis Shmuel, founded in the name of his father, the Gavad of Mattersdorf. It is headed by his only son, HaRav Yitzchok Yechiel. He also established the Neveh Simcha Old Age Home.

His last few years were riddled with pain and suffering, augmented by the passing of his son-in-law, HaRav Yosef Farbstein, one of heads of Yeshivas Ohr Elchonon, and afterwards, the death of a beloved daughter in the prime of her life, Rebbetzin Golda Schlesinger. Notwithstanding, he continued pursuing his worthy endeavors with full vigor, maintaining and strengthening the Mattersdorf institutions.

On the eve of this past Tisha B'Av, in the middle of reciting the Kinos, he was rushed to the hospital, where his condition only grew worse. He finally succumbed, to the deep sorrow of his family and all of his acquaintances and admirers.

HaRav Akiva Ehrenfeld leaves behind a very illustrious family. His only son, HaRav Yitzchok Yechiel, is rosh yeshivas Beis Shmuel. His sons-in-law are HaRav Moshe Schlesinger, Rosh Yeshivas Maane Simcha; the deceased HaRav Yosef Farbstein, a former Rosh Yeshiva in Ohr Elchonon; HaRav Yitzchok Miller, Rosh Kollel Taharos and member of the administration of Kollel Shomrei Hachomos; HaRav Mordechai Rotenberg of Antwerp; HaRav Mordechai Kanner, rav of the Toronto Kehilla; grandchildren and great-grandchildren, today famous Torah figures and the elite of bnei yeshiva and kollel avreichim in Eretz Yisroel.


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