Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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26 Iyar 5766 - May 24, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Kasriel Kaplan zt"l

By Betzalel Kahn

HaRav Kasriel Kaplan zt"l, known as a marbitz Torah and a dayan in London for 35 years before moving to Jerusalem, passed away at the age of 74.

Kasriel Dovid Kaplan was born in London to R' Noach, who was born in Jerusalem. At a young age his talent for learning became apparent and he began cleaving to prominent Torah figures. Whenever he heard an odom godol had arrived in London, he would rush to pay him a visit.

During the Holocaust years he stayed in a town outside of London where several gedolei olom were living among the refugee community, including HaRav Eliyoh Lopian, HaRav Yechezkel Abramsky and a number of admorim. He took advantage of the opportunity to learn from their conduct and teachings; for the rest of his life he recalled the treasures he was able to glean during this period. Meanwhile these gedolei olom were highly impressed with the boy's aptitude and treated him warmly, forming bonds that lasted for many years.

In 5712 (1952) he came to Jerusalem to study at Yeshivas Chevron, making the most of his years there to form ties with the Torah greats of that era, including HaRav Issar Zalman Meltzer zt"l, who gave him semichoh and an enthusiastic approbation for his chiddushei Torah. He also received semichoh from HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank, the rov of Jerusalem, as well as other rabbonim. Often he would travel to Bnei Brak to speak with the Chazon Ish zt"l and other Torah luminaries from that generation.

HaRav Kaplan also maintained ties with leading admorim such as HaRav Aharon, the Admor of Belz, and the Beis Yisroel.

After several years of learning in Eretz Yisroel he returned to England, where he became a prominent avreich at the Gateshead Kollel, where the other avreichim knew they could turn to him to resolve difficulties in their learning.

In 5720 (1960) he married the daughter of R' Aharon Zucker, known as a great baal chessed in London. Once married he continued his learning at the rabbinical kollel in Gateshead. Their home was open to guests, including prominent rabbonim visiting from Eretz Yisroel as shluchei derabbonon.

In 5725 (1965) they moved to London, where a short time later he was asked to serve as a dayan in the local kehilloh, a post he continued to occupy for the next 35 years. As his genius and gadlus gained renown his opinion was sought by individuals around the world, particularly regarding difficult questions such as freeing agunos.

All of the leading poskim respected his opinion, even quoting his rulings in their books. HaRav Kaplan kept many important letters that he had received from gedolei Yisroel around the world, including correspondences with HaRav Moshe Feinstein, HaRav Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss, the author of Minchas Yitzchok, and ylct"a HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv.

HaRav Kaplan also served as the rov of Beis Knesses Shomrei Hadas and as a rosh kollel in London, and often gave shiurim on every area of Torah.

In 5759 (1999) he moved to Eretz Yisroel, settling in Jerusalem's Bayit Vegan neighborhood. Although at first he did not accept any post many people, including prominent rabbonim, would consult with him on halachic matters. Soon he agreed to give daily shiurim at Yeshivas Toras Chochom, headed by HaRav Yitzchok Meir Morgenstern, a long- time acquaintance from London. HaRav Kaplan also served as the head of a halochoh kollel where he was well liked by the avreichim, who particularly enjoyed hearing his recollections of gedolei Yisroel.

In recent months he began to feel weak but did not alter his daily schedule. A week before Pesach he flew to England to spend the holiday with his children, but had to be hospitalized the day after his arrival. In his sickbed he continued to speak divrei Torah; even in his last week, after his condition had deteriorated severely, his family members once noticed he had been listening intently to their Torah conversation and whispered a citation from the Tosafos. His mind remained clear until the end and his soul departed after instructing those at his bedside to say the verses of accepting the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven.

His funeral in London last week on 17 Iyar drew a large crowd and eulogies were delivered by HaRav Elchonon Halperin, HaRav Ephraim Padwa, gavad of London, HaRav Chaim Samat, rov of Beis Medrash Golders Green, his eldest son HaRav Shimon Kaplan, a ram at Yeshivas Shaarei Torah in Manchester, and two other family members.

At night the aron was brought to Eretz Yisroel, where a large crowd was waiting outside Yeshivas Torah Chochom despite the late hour. HaRav Tuvioh Yitzchok Weiss, gavad of the Eidoh Chareidis of Jerusalem and the deceased's friend years ago at Yeshivas Gateshead, spoke of his great strength in Torah, the esteem in which gedolei Yisroel held him and the great loss of a prodigious talmid chochom in our generation. Eulogies were also given by HaRav Y.A. Weiss, av beis din of Hordenka in Manchester and HaRav Yitzchok Meir Morgenstern. He was buried at Mount of Olives Cemetery.

HaRav Kasriel Kaplan zt"l is survived by his wife, sons, and sons-in-law, including marbitzei Torah, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


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