Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

13 Teves 5760 - December 22, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Rebbetzin Tzivia Walkin o"h

by Betzalel Kahn

A massive throng , both in the United States and Eretz Yisroel, accompanied the righteous Rebbetzin Tzivia Walkin o"h, wife of HaRav Shmuel Dovid Walkin, and mother of HaRav Chaim Walkin, the menahel ruchani of yeshivas Ateres Yisroel, on her last earthly journey on Chanukah, 29 Kislev. She was 85 at the time of her petirah.

Rebbetzin Walkin was born in Radin. Her father was R' Avrohom Sachrof, the son-in-law of HaRav Moshe Landinski, the rosh yeshiva of Radin. In this outstanding Torah home, she imbibed true Torah values.

As a child she was very close with the family of the Chofetz Chaim, since her home adjoined his. Her father studied in a shul in a city near Radin and she made numerous visits to the home the Chofetz Chaim, where she was received with warmth. When she came of age, she married HaRav Shmuel Dovid Walkin, the son of the Beis Aharon. After their marriage they moved to the city of Trab, where her father officiated as rav. She lived through the Holocaust and most of the members of her family were killed by the Nazis. Despite the travails and the wars, her spirit remained staunch.

She fled with her husband to Vilna, and from there they escaped to Shanghai along with the thousands of students of the Mirrer yeshiva. In Shanghai, where the students remained until the end of the war, she was a mother figure for the students and many refugees turned to her for succor and comfort.

At the end of the war she and her husband arrived in the United States, where she helped the hundreds of refugees from China rehabilitate. She made shidduchim for 75 of the refugees, who for years after their marriages regarded her as their mother. For a long period, she found little time for her own personal needs, not even for orderly meals, her sole concern being to help the refugees find food and shelter.

She was kuloh chessed and let everyone feel like her only child. She related to everyone, even non-Jews, with special warmth and consideration. Her home was steeped in the atmosphere she had brought with her from Radin. It was a home which teemed with people, a home of hachnosas orchim.

Her husband zt"l funded a shul in their spacious home, and it continued to function vibrantly after his petirah. Roshei yeshiva in America said that she was "a walking Shulchan Oruch" of good deeds, and gedolei haTorah who came to America from Eretz Yisroel to the United States would stay at her home.

America's eminent roshei yeshiva came to comfort the family in the United States, among them the rosh yeshiva of the Mir, HaRav Shmuel Birnbaum, who cried for a long time. He said that all American Jewry owes her a debt of gratitude, and that it was she who safeguarded Torah while the students of the Mir were in China.

Her pleasant disposition was well known. She never raised her voice, and never displayed anger. Many years ago, one of her grandchildren slackened a bit in Yiddishkeit, and came to her home dressed in an un-yeshivishe manner. With a glowing face, she asked him: "How are you?"

The grandchild who was overcome, fled to one of the rooms and changed his attire. Today he is a rav in an important community in the United States.

She was a role model of caution in shemiras haloshon. She would say that she was so careful about shemiras haloshon not because she had grown up in the home of the Chofetz Chaim, but because she simply didn't see anything wrong in others and thus had no loshon hora to relate.

With the collapse of the Iron Curtain, many of the Russians who came to the United States found temporary lodgings in her home. She and her husband adopted many of them. Today, twenty of those Russian immigrants are currently dayanim, and many others study in kollelim and yeshivos.

Although she was a healthy person, she suffered a heart attack a few days before her passing. After she entered the ambulance, she asked to return home to take a checkbook so that she could distribute Chanukah gelt to her grandchildren, and take a special sefer someone had wanted to borrow. "He might come to the hospital for it," she said.

At the levaya in America, hespedim were delivered by HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, who said that she has the din of chochom befonov, an eishes chover whom we are obligated to eulogize even during Chanukah. Hespedim were also delivered by HaRav Moshe Ginsberg and her son, HaRav Moshe Yoel Walkin, and two of her grandchildren.

In Jerusalem, her levaya left from Ateres Yisrael. Hespedim were delivered by HaRav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, the rosh yeshiva of Ateres Yisroel; her son, HaRav Chaim Walkin, the menahel ruchani of Ateres Yisroel; her son HaRav Moshe Yoel Walkin; HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Bornstein, one of the roshei yeshiva of Chevron Geula; HaRav Boruch Shimon Solomon, the rosh yeshiva of Nachlas Dovid and the Chief rabbi of Petach Tikvah; and HaRav Benzion Ezrachi, a ram in Ateres Yisroel.

She is survived by two sons and three daughters, who are married, respectively, to HaRav Shlomo Pupko, HaRav Yehuda Kelemer, and HaRav Michel Samuel of Chicago. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren are all following along the path she charted for them.

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