Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Adar 5761 - March 14, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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HaRav Moshe Chaim Katznelbogen zt"l
by Betzalel Kahn

Thousands of Jerusalem residents headed by rabbonim and roshei yeshiva brokenheartedly accompanied one of Jerusalem's finest, HaRav Moshe Chaim Halevi Katznelbogen, zt"l, on his last earthly journey.

HaRav Moshe Chaim, son of HaRav Refoel Katznelbogen and Moras Tzvia, daughter of HaRav Mordechai Leib Rubin, an av beis din in Jerusalem, was born in Jerusalem in 5687 (1927).

The Katznelbogen family has been well known in the annals of the Jewish nation for the past five hundred years. The first in the dynasty, HaRav Mayer Katznelbogen, author of Shut Maharam Padova, was named after the city of his birth, the German city of Katznelbogen.

Reb Refoel, father of the niftar, was one of the sons of the dynasty of HaRav Avrohom Moshe Katznelbogen, the student of HaRav Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk. Reb Refoel was known for his brilliance and astounding bekius and occupies a top-ranking place in the ranks of the geonim and sages of Jerusalem.

HaRav Refoel Katznelbogen founded his home in the old Jerusalem neighborhood of Mazkeret Moshe, raising his nine children in a one room home saturated with Torah and yiras Shomayim. His son, Moshe Chaim, studied with great hasmodoh in the Eitz Chaim yeshiva, where he was tested by heart on whole masechtos. While Reb Moshe Chaim was still young, HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer asked him to be the yeshiva's baal tokea.

After his marriage to Ora, the daughter of ish Yerushalayim HaRav Gershon Roth, he continued to study in Toras Chaim.

He began his avodas hakodesh of preparation of works of the rishonim for publication at Mossad HaRav Kook, a labor to which he dedicated his entire life. With great toil, he published the Rambam's Sefer Hamado with shinui nuscha'os. He was later chosen to serve as e director of Mossad HaRav Kook, and was responsible for the publication of the works of the Rashbo, the Ritvo, Chiddushei Haran and other chiddushim by the rishonim and acharonim.

Bnei Torah the world over owe him a debt of gratitude for the care he took to publish the works of our great sages in such beautiful formats, in which the words of the rishonim are surrounded by comments and illuminations: magnificent Torah in a splendid vessel.

He was also one of the heads of the Kiryat Shmuel neighborhood community of Jerusalem, where he made sure that tradition and halocho were strictly observed. Reb Moshe Chaim was well known for his sagacity, and many would seek his advice.

A number of weeks ago, he fell ill. Thursday 29 Shevat, he underwent an operation and was niftar during the operation. At his levaya, which took place on the night of rosh chodesh Adar, brief hespedim were delivered. Among the maspidim were his mechuton, HaRav Shimon Usher Goldberg, one of the roshei yeshiva of Porat Yosef; his mechuton, HaRav Yitzchok Hacker, a rosh yeshiva of Grodno Yismach Moshe; HaRav Yisroel Mayer Homnick, the menahel ruchani of Yad Aharon; and HaRav Yosef Movshowitz, the rav of Kiryat Moshe. Stirring words of parting were delivered by his son, HaRav Yechiel Tzvi. All of the maspidim stressed the greatness of the niftar and his multifaceted personality.

He is survived by his wife, who helped him with great mesiras nefesh in all of his endeavors; his brother, HaRav Yaakov Gershon; his sisters, all of whom are married to talmidei chachomim; his sons, HaRav Mordechai Leib, HaRav Mayer Yehoshua, HaRav Yechiel Tzvi, and his daughter who is married to HaRav Mordechai Marcus, as well as by grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom are pursing Hashem's path.


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