The Torah world and all of the Jewish people suffered a great blow with the passing of HaRav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg zt"l, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Torah Or, Tuesday night. A member of Degel HaTorah's Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah and the rov of Jerusalem's Mattersdorf neighborhood, he was a pillar of Torah and halacha, a prolific author of profound writings on various masechtos and for seven decades served as a guide and teacher for innumerable students, many of whom went on to assume prominent positions in the Torah world. As a young man he himself had the merit of forming bonds with HaRav Yeruchom Levovitz and HaRav Shimon Shkop zt"l.
The levaya was on Wednesday morning at the Torah Or yeshiva which the niftar founded some fifty years ago. It was opened with a few perakim of Tehillim, 13 Middos and Kabolas Ol Malchus Shomayim. The maspidim included HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, HaRav Yitzchok Scheiner, HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, HaRav Dov Yaffeh, HaRav Dovid Weiner, a son-in-law, the Mashgiach HaRav Don Segal, HaRav Yitzchok Ehrenfeld, HaRav Aviezer Piltz, HaRav Mordechai Altusky, a grandson, and HaRav Simcha Scheinberg, a son. HaRav Scheiner said he was some years younger than HaRav Scheinberg zt"l, but he remembers the family from his youth as being lovers of Torah. He said that in those days it was unusual for a child to grow up to be shomer Shabbos and there was no thought of raising a godol beTorah.
The levaya left Mattersdorf around 2 p.m. and went on foot to Har HaZeisim, where he was buried in the Chelkas Neviim, near the grave of the Leshem, just before shekia. There were further hespedim at the gravesite.
Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg was born on 27 Elul 5670 (1910) to Yaakov Yitzchok and Yospa in the city of Ostrow, Poland. The home was full of Torah learning and love of Torah. Soon after he was born, the First World War began and his father fled to American to avoid the draft, leaving his family behind.
With great mesirus nefesh, his mother raised him to Torah and yiras Shomayim. She used to go out every night to a neighboring village to supervise milking the cows, and in the morning she would return to Ostrow and sell the cholov Yisroel. She used her earnings to pay for a private melamed for her son, even though he also learned in the local cheder. Throughout his life the Rosh Yeshiva would recall her great sacrifices for him and he credited his Torah success to the merit of her mesiras nefesh.
On her most recent yahrtzeit, as a minyan of talmidim accompanied him to his mother's grave on Har Hamenuchos, he told them a story to explain why he is particular to go to her grave despite his great age and weakness. He said that one night after she went to supervise the milking, it began to rain very hard. She and a friend who was with her, asked a neighboring farmer if they could lie down in his hay to shelter themselves from the pouring rain.
In the middle of the night, suddenly there was a bright flash of lightning and a great clap of thunder, which woke them up. To their horror, they could see the goy farmer approaching them with a large ax with an obvious murderous intent. They fled for their lives and were forever grateful to Hashem for their great deliverance.
When Chaim Pinchas was nine, the family was reunited as he, his brother and sister, and his mother and grandmother joined his father in America.
At the age of 14 he enrolled at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yaakov Yosef (RJJ). Later he transferred to the New Haven Yeshiva, then under HaRav Lowenberg. Later he learned at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon, the forerunner of Yeshiva University. He became close to the rosh yeshiva HaRav Moshe Soloveitchik zt"l (son of HaRav Chaim Soloveitchik zt"l) and he also learned with HaRav Shimon Shkop when he was in America.
When he was 19, he married one of the daughters of Rav Yaakov Yosef Herman zt"l, Basha o"h. While under the chuppah he was granted semichoh from his rov, HaRav Moshe Soloveitchik, and a few weeks later was given semichoh by HaRav Boruch Ber Leibowitz.
For a short time after the wedding the couple lived in the town of Mir. Years later he recounted to his students that while he was living in Mir he went to the Chofetz Chaim for a brochoh, and upon stepping into his room a young man said very loudly into his ear — since by that time the Chofetz Chaim was hard of hearing — that a group of Americans from the Mirrer Yeshiva had come to ask for a brochoh. The Chofetz Chaim lifted his head, and gazing at the students, said, "If HaKadosh Boruch Hu could come to Mount Sinai and descend to Earth to give us His Torah, you can come from America to Yeshivas Mir to study the Torah."
Time after time HaRav Scheinberg recounted that visit and the profound impact it had on him. While the students thought the Chofetz Chaim would be impressed by their willingness to leave behind all the creature comforts to be had in the U.S. and to come to Mir — where even heating and other minimal necessities were sorely lacking — in fact his remark showed a very different perspective. At the end of the visit the Chofetz Chaim blessed them that they would have good children.
During his years at Yeshivas Mir R' Scheinberg had a chavrusa on Seder Taharos with HaRav Michel Feinstein zt"l, and the two of them once traveled to Brisk to speak with the Brisker Rav, who remarked that the young R' Scheinberg was a true lamdan with clear thinking. During his five years at the yeshiva he became one of the top students.
After five years of constant study, he returned to the U.S., where he was appointed menahel ruchani of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, under HaRav Dovid Leibowitz, the founder of the yeshiva and the father of HaRav Henoch Leibowitz. Over the course of 25 years he taught Torah and gave talks, serving as an exemplar of omol Torah to his students.
In 5711 he published his sefer Taba'as Hachoshen for the first time. Based on the Ketzos Hachoshen, it dealt with the laws of Choshen Mishpot. From this work his lamdonus and beki'us in all areas of Torah and halochoh were evident. The work received letters of approbation from HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer, HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel and the Tchebiner Rov zt"l. HaRav Isser Zalman wrote in his haskomoh that the author was fluent in all areas of the Torah.
He served for about twenty-five years as mashgiach in Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim of Forest Hills, Queens. At that point he decided to go out on his own and he founded the yeshiva Torah Ohr in America. After about five years he moved his yeshiva to Eretz Yisroel.
At first the yeshiva was in the Diskin Orphanage building in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Jerusalem, but it soon moved to its permanent building at the end of Sorotzkin Street in the Mattersdorf neighborhood of Jerusalem. At that time, before the Six Day War, the neighborhood was right on the border and was threatened by Jordanian soldiers on neighboring hills.
At first the yeshiva included mainly American bochurim, but later it expanded to include many Israelis as well. The Rosh Yeshiva had literally thousands of talmidim over the years, many of whom spent decades at his feet. Many went on to become marbitzei Torah and gedolei horo'oh. Even after many years had gone by, he remembered every one by name.
The Rosh Yeshiva was a very warm person, and each talmid felt like his only child. His home was always open to them and several times the Rosh Yeshiva made of point of saying that he had never locked his home. His home was public property, and everyone was welcome to come in for advice or even to eat with them. He and his wife threw their home open to all talmidim and to all Klal Yisroel. He always wore many tzitzis garments, and was known for wearing tefillin for much of the time as well.
His shiurim were known far and wide. Every Thursday night, he would give a special Shiur Mishmar which attracted many top lomdim from all over. He used to raise a very sharp question and then lead a discussion on it for about two hours. Those attending the shiur would continue discussing the issue and the beis medrash would resound to the rischah deOraisa. After some time had gone by, the Rosh Yeshiva would bang on his shtender, after which he would announce his own answer to the question, which was usually a surprise to the beis medrash, and that would spark renewed discussion. Many of these shiurim were published in a series of seforim called Mishmeres Chaim that became well-known in the yeshiva world.
In addition to his excellence in lomdus, he also had a great power of psak. He was familiar with the extensive halachic literature, and for many years he convened a beis din in his home. For many years he gave a daily Mishnah Berurah shiur in which he learned carefully the text with important diyukim. Sometimes he gave a shiur in Mishnah Berurah twice daily. This shiur drew many who did not otherwise learn in the yeshiva, and many credit it with giving them a derech in psak.
He was moser nefesh for the yeshiva, and even at an advanced age he would travel yearly to America in order to collect money to keep the yeshiva going. He once said that he would be willing to die for the yeshiva. He used to take along maseches Niddah for learning on the transatlantic flight, and during the entire flight he would not look up from the sefer. At the end of the flight he would finish the masechta, both going and coming.
He had regular sedorim in various seforim at unique times. During krias haTorah bein-gavra-legavra he used to learn Oruch Hashulchon. On car trips within Yerushalayim he used to learn Kehillos Yaakov. On Friday night between Kabolas Shabbos and Ma'ariv he would learn Mikdosh Dovid. This is just a sample.
He authored many seforim, including Taba'as Hachoshen, five volumes on the Ketzos Hachoshen, Igra Deshmaitsa five volumes on the Shev Shmaitsa, Milu'ei Even four volumes on the Avnei Miluim, Imrei Chaim on Niddah, Mishmeres Chaim three volumes, as well as volumes of shiurim on Shas and divrei mussar on Chumash.
He had a wonderful relationship with his wife, o"h. From every simcha, large and small, he would bring her a plate of cakes, even though she did not eat them. When he would come home he said, "Rebbetzin, Rebbetzin. I thought about you throughout the bris [for example] and I brought you cake."
After Yom Kippur he would not eat anything in the yeshiva until he came home to eat with the Rebbetzin.
When his daughter was four years old she became seriously ill. He made a neder for her recovery that he would not speak devorim beteilim on Shabbos Kodesh. For the long years of the rest of his life, including his last Shabbos, he was extremely careful not to utter even one unnecessary word on Shabbos Kodesh.
For many years dozens of people would go up to his home on leil Shabbos to greet him and to receive his brochos. He always received everyone with warmth and meor ponim, even when he was very weak. He had a very unassuming manner and all those who came to speak with him, on any occasion, always felt comfortable in his presence.
He is survived by his son HaRav Simchah, who gives shiurim and is responsible for the yeshiva, and four daughters. His sons-in-law are HaRav Chaim Dov Altusky, author of the series of seforim Chidushei Basra, HaRav Nisan Alpert zt"l one of the great talmidim of HaRav Moshe Feinstein, HaRav Shimon Rosengarten shlita a rov in Monsey, and HaRav Dovid Weiner shlita a ram in Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim of Forest Hills. He also has many other descendants, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, as well as thousands of talmidim who mourn the passing of their great Rebbi zt"l.