On Wednesday 20 Cheshvan, HaRav Dov Tzvi Karelenstein zt"l, known as a prominent gaon and marbitz Torah who educated thousands of talmidim over more than half a century and authored many Torah works, was niftar after a long illness at the age of 81.
He was born in Jerusalem in the Shaarei Chesed neighborhood on 17 Tammuz, 5694 (1934). His father was HaRav Yeruchom Fishel Karelenstein zt"l and his mother was Rebbetzin Ashira Devorah Reichel, the daughter of HaRav Menachem Mendel Porush zt"l who was the main shochet of Yerushalayim in those days. He was named after his paternal great-grandfather who had come to Yerushalayim from Poland with great mesiras nefesh and served the community as a dayan and marbitz Torah.
His parents moved to Bnei Brak when he was very young. His father founded the talmud Torah Rabbi Akiva in Zichron Meir there, and the youth learned there.
Even when he was very young, he was zoche to be close to the Chazon Ish, and they even learned together for a time. Throughout his long career in chinuch he used to recall his memories of learning together with the Chazon Ish.
There was once a serious question of his health as a child. The doctors recommended an operation to save his life, but his father asked the Chazon Ish for advice. The Chazon Ish said not to do an operation, and this turned out to be the correct decision.
On another occasion he was hospitalized with severe pain. The Chazon Ish came to visit him and said, "Tzvi'le, the more suffering you have the more Torah you will merit."
At the age of nine he entered the Tiferes Tzion yeshiva and became close to its rosh yeshiva, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz zt"l. When he was only twelve, the Chazon Ish recommended that he go to learn with HaRav Shabsai Yogel zt"l, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Slonim in Ramat Gan. The Chazon Ish sent a letter to the rosh yeshiva which said, "I wish to recommend my dear... who was a student in yeshivas... and now I think it is proper for him to enter your holy yeshiva. Even though he is young in years, based on his abilities they will certainly have benefit from him."
Later he learned for a half year in Yeshivas Slobodka.
His main learning was in Ponovezh Yeshiva which he entered while still quite young. He quickly became attached to the Ponovezher Rav and to HaRav Shmuel Rozovsky zt"l, and later to Maran HaRav Shach zt"l.
Throughout his life he considered the Ponovezher Rav to have been his rebbe muvhak. He noted this in the introductory notes to his first sefer. The Rav also wrote in his letter about the sefer, "I see greatness in his future to enhance Torah and to strengthen it. He is a pleasant fount from which to slake the herds to give blessing in Israel."
When HaRav Boruch Dov Povarsky shlita was appointed to give shiurim in Ponovezh, he was in the first group to hear his shiurim. HaRav Povarsky recently went to visit him in the Maayenei Hayeshua hospital.
On Rosh Chodesh Elul 5714 he married Rebbetzin Pesha Pessia o"h, the daughter of HaRav Shmuel Boruch Werner zt"l, the rav of Tel Aviv and the son-in-law of HaRav Yaakov Moshe Charlap zt"l.
The Mashgiach HaRav Yechezkel Lewenstein zt"l had an ironclad rule not to attend any weddings during Elul. At the eirusin when they read the tenoim which mentioned that the wedding would be held in the month of Elul, the Mashgiach's reaction to that mention was noticeable, even though the eirusin were many months ahead of those days. When HaRav Karelenstein went to invite the Mashgiach to his wedding, the Mashgiach answered that he could not participate because it was to be during Chodesh Elul. The Chosson said that it was on the first day of Rosh Chodesh (30 Av) when they do not yet say, "LeDovid Hashem Ori Veyish'i." The Mashgiach answered that if so iy"H he will participate but just up until the sun sets. And that is what happened. The Mashgiach took part in the chuppah, but when the sun set he left.
The Rebbetzin was killed tragically on her way to her teaching job in Shevat 5756.
In 5726 the Ponovezher Rav founded the Grodno Yeshiva in Bnei Brak and then on 19 Shvat, 5727 moved it to Ashdod. As the roshei yeshiva, the Rav appointed HaRav Karelenstein together with, ylct"a, HaRav Tzvi Drabkin and HaRav Yitzchok Hakker, the son-in-law of HaRav Shmuel Rozovsky zt"l. From then on HaRav Karelenstein used to drink a lechaim every year on 19 Shvat.
In Elul 5722 he published the first volume of his Maagalei Tzedek on Challah and Megilla, with the haskomos of the Tchebinner Rov, the Ponovezher Rov, the Steipler Gaon and HaRav Shmuel Rozovsky. Over the years he published many more volumes of chidushim from all over Shas. He also published, under the name of Siach Yitzchok, collections of sichos and maamorim. His droshos were known to be inspiring and he travelled all around the country speaking to many different kinds of audiences.
In 5759 his only son, HaRav Chanoch Henich Karelenstein was niftar. In his last years he suffered many painful conditions, but it was not evident on his appearance, and he continued to strive in Torah and avodoh.
At the levaya in Ashdod, he had asked that there be no divrei hesped. The large crowd said Tehillim responsively. HaRav Shmuel Auerbach shlita delivered divrei kinnah and his'orerus, bemoaning the loss of his great voice. His son-in-law, HaRav M. Shmidah, read from his will, in which he asked everyone who felt some hakoras hatov towards him to try to learn at least two mishnayos every day in his merit, at least during the first year. He asked that bochurim learn Mishna Berurah and Shemiras Haloshon, and asked for mechiloh from anyone whom he had offended, and asked that the person express this explicitly.
The levaya then stopped in Yerushalayim at the Pressburg yeshiva on its way to Har Hamenuchos, where he was buried next to his wife and son. He is survived by many children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and talmidim who continue in his path.