Tens of thousands of the Torah world attended the levaya of HaRav Shmuel Auerbach zt"l in Jerusalem on Sunday 10 Adar February 25.
HaRav Auerbach was niftar suddenly late on Friday night parshas Tetzaveh 9 Adar at the age of 86 of a heart attack.
HaRav Shmuel Auerbach zt"l
Everything seemed normal during the tefillos and the seudah of leil Shabbos. HaRav Shmuel sat at his place in the beis medrash and learned Medrash Rabbah on the parshah. The seudah was perfectly normal with zemiros and divrei Torah. After the seudah the rosh yeshiva learned the Zohar on the parshah and around 11 p.m. his mashbak, HaRav Biderman, accompanied him to bed. Some time later, the mashbak heard noises coming from the room. He went in to investigate and it was immediately apparent that the Rosh Yeshiva was in distress. He immediately summoned Hatzoloh, who arrived and managed to restore the Rosh Yeshiva's pulse. As a result they took him to Shaarei Tzedek hospital, but soon after he arrived he suffered another heart attack and returned his holy soul to his Maker.
The levaya began on time on Sunday morning at 11 am. The mittoh stood in the Gra Shul in Shaarei Chesed, where the Maalos HaTorah yeshiva has been located for many years. Thousands came to participate in the levaya of one of the gedolei hador.
The maspidim were: his brother HaRav Avraham Dov Auerbach, rov of Tiveria, HaRav Tzvi Friedman, his brother HaRav Azriel Auerbach, the rov of Bayit Vegan, HaRav Yisrael Kalmanovitz, his brother HaRav Mordechai Auerbach, the rov of the Abir Yaakov Shul in Tel Aviv, HaRav Boruch Shmuel Deutsch of the Kol Torah Yeshiva, HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, ravad of the Eida Chareidis, HaRav Tzvi Vidar, the rov of Kiryat Yovel in Jerusalem and one of the most prominent talmidim, and R' Yosef Petrov, one of the activists closest to him.
The hespedim were from 11 am to about 1 p.m., and then the massive crowd slowly began to move towards Har Hamenuchot. HaRav Shmuel zt"l was buried next to his wife.
R' Shmuel was born on Yom Kippur 5692 (1931) in Shaarei Chesed. He was the bechor of HaRav Shlomo Zalman, rosh yeshiva of Kol Torah and a great posek, and his wife Moras Chaya Rivka, the daughter of HaRav Leib Ruchamkin, a well-known teacher of young children. His grandfather was HaRav Chaim Leib Auerbach, the founder of the Shaarei Shomayim yeshiva in Jerusalem.
HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l
His early education was in the Eitz Chaim yeshiva in Jerusalem, where he was already known for his hasmodoh. As his classmates went out to play, he would continue to study diligently.
In the neighborhood of Shaarei Chesed, one of the famous Yerushalmi areas populated by members-in-good-standing of Yerushalayim shel Maalah, the young Shmuel was spoken of for his special dedication to Torah. Torah was the only thing in his life, and everyone was certain that he would grow and blossom in to a gaon in Torah and have many talmidim.
As he grew up, he went from the Eitz Chaim Talmud Torah to its yeshiva, where he continued along the path of Torah that he had begun. He developed a deep relationship with HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer, the rosh yeshiva. His reputation grew as a great masmid and perceptive thinker.
His chavrusa at the time was HaRav Efraim Zalesnik zt"l. He once said that one Hoshanoh Rabbah the Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Isser Zalman asked HaRav Zalesnik where he was planning to go for hakofos for Simchas Torah. When he answered that he would probably go to Chevron Yeshiva to experience Simchas Torah, his Rosh Yeshiva that if he learns with R' Shmuel bechavrusa they do not need to go anywhere else for hakofos. The Torah that they learn together is a great thing.
His father was already a prominent posek. Many gedolei Torah would come to visit and speak over matters with his father. The young Shmuel would listen and sometimes participate in the discussions, impressing the visitors with his abilities even then.
He also had extensive ties with the Tchebiner Rov, who was a neighbor of their in Shaarei Chesed. The two used to talk in learning extensively, and often, when the young Shmuel would tell him the issues that had arisen for him while learning, the Rov would sit down and learn the sugya with the young boy, until it became fully clarified.
When he came of age he married Rebbetzin Rochel o"h the daughter of HaRav Pinchas Eliezer Paksher zt"l one of the Yerushalmi gedolim. At first they lived on Gesher HaChaim street, and their home became a beacon of Torah, as R' Shmuel would learn intensely day and night, and his wife was completely dedicated to his success and always strove to see that he was successful in growing in Torah with tremendous mesiras nefesh. All his life HaRav Shmuel would recall the many years of her dedication, and he often said to his talmidim that the situation was just like Rabbi Akiva declared: His Torah and theirs were really hers.
A short time after the wedding, he was asked to serve as rosh yeshiva of yeshivas Sheim Olom of Amshinov. He was very successful as a mechanech, inspiring his talmidim to grow in learning and using his considerable abilities and the force of his personality to push them higher. His talmidim became very dedicated to him.
In 5728 he was asked to head the kollel Anshei Shem that was sponsored by the Musayoff family and located in the Bucharim neighborhood. They said that the Sephardic kollel members of that prominent kollel wanted to absorb the traditional Lithuanian approach, to learn how to learn each sugya in depth according to the path laid down by the Acharonim of recent generations. Understanding and agreeing that this was a very important goal, R' Shmuel agreed to the challenge and met it very successfully.
Some time later, HaRav Mordechai Elefant asked him to come as Ram to Yeshivas Itri which was then at the peak of its popularity, and drew students from Israel and from all over the world. He came and gave his shiurim that penetrated to the core of each sevara and sugya.
His talmidim from that period developed a very strong relationship with him. They saw in him a moreh derech who could give over to them the way to reach success in learning Torah and to plumb its greatest depths. The reputation of his shiurim spread far and people came from outside the yeshiva to hear them. He remained at Itri until 5737.
In that period many talmidei chachomim used to come to his home on Gesher Chaim Street to speak with him in learning and often he would hold forth with chaburos on many aspects of Torah learning. Talmidim say that they came to talk with him even in areas that he had not learned recently, and they were very impressed with how, after a few minutes, he could discuss these matters with knowledge and authority. He would say over the Torah of the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rov with such clarity that it seemed that he had just learned them.
After this he was called to me marbitz Torah at Yeshivas Kol Torah, where his father, HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l, served as rosh yeshiva. He was a very popular maggid shiur, and the talmidim enjoyed his broad knowledge and his in-depth presentations of sugyas. He guided them in the proper way to grow in Torah.
In Iyar 5742 he founded the Maalos HaTorah yeshiva in the Shaarei Chesed neighborhood of Yerushalayim where he had grown up. It was always a yeshiva based fully on HaRav Shmuel, and it provided a way for him to guide his talmidim and for them to imbibe the maximum benefit in Torah learning as well as in yiras Shomayim and general derech eretz. From its founding, HaRav Shmuel gave regular shiurim in the yeshiva in the masechta being learned, as well as in other subjects by special request.
To learn in "Maalos" was to have a special opportunity to be exposed to a true godol beTorah and to have him provide guidance and advice on everything.
He learned in yeshivas Shaar HaShomayim founded by his grandfather. In his hesped HaRav Shmuel Deutsch said that he was boki in Kisvei HaArizal. In recent years he became the Nosi of that yeshiva.
In 5763 he was appointed to the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Degel HaTorah, in which he was very active. In 5768 he was appointed a director of the Vaad Hayeshivos and later he was also appointed to the committee that runs the Chinuch Atzmai.
Torah and just Torah
He published several collections of chidushei Torah. Notable is the sefer Darchei Shmuel on maseches Oholos which was graced with an unusually enthusiastic letter from HaRav Shach zt"l. He also published a series of seforim entitled Ohel Rochel, named after his late wife.
His talmidim say that he was always able to isolate the core idea of each sugya and to focus on it without distractions from other issues that were present.
He used to show his talmidim how to learn acharonim and poskim, and what special lessons to take out from them.
He also used to take the ideas of his talmidim and develop them, showing how they could be applied properly and how they should not be applied.
Even though he had no children, many of his talmidim say that they feel that he built them up entirely from the ground up and is in that sense their father.
He is survived by several brother and sisters and thousands of talmidim who feel his loss deeply. At the levaya many talmidim were seen to tear their clothes in mourning the big loss.