Rabbi Matis Weinberg - Family Tree
(AKA: Reb Matisse, Rabbi Matisse Weinberg)
Ner Israel Yeshiva - Baltimore, MD
Kerem Yeshiva - Santa Clara, California (1980's)
Derech Etz Chaim - Har Nof, Jerusalem, Israel (2003)
The following is for informational purposes only. The Awareness Center is providing the following to help the average reader better understand the political arena the alleged survivors, witnesses and victim advocates have been subject to.
The majority of individuals around the world are unfamiliar with Rabbi Matis Weinberg, his family and or the political influences that have surrounded his life.
As in most cases, it is a very difficult to deal with situations of sexual violence when a loved one is the alleged or convicted sex offender. Think about itwhat would you do if you suspected that someone you are related to or are friends with is sexually inappropriate? Would you talk to him/her about it? Would you tell another family member or friend? Would you share it with your rabbi? Would your rabbi know what to do? Would you seek professional help or advice? Should you keep quiet to protect your family member or sound the whistle to protect another? How would your community react if they knew someone in your family allegedly sexually victimized another? Would your community's expected reaction influence any decision you'd make? These are just few of the numerous dilemmas and questions regularly posted to The Awareness Center.
Dealing with alleged and convicted sex offenders and their family members presents complex ethical issues. What can be harder than being the mother or the father of a sex offender?
Denial is clearly the first line of defense, because who in their right mind wants to believe that their offspring, someone they love and care for, could hurt a child? How can a parent even think of supposedly relinquishing their instinct to protect their child by reporting him or her to the authorities? It is a terrible dilemma. Could you as a parent turn your child over to the police? Could you force an adult child of yours into sex offender treatment? And what would friends and other family members think if they learned that you were the parent of a sexual predator? A similar between a rock and a hard place is the reality for people who are married to sex offenders.
What about the stigma and shame if anyone learned your secret, learned that you married, live with and or bed such a person? And what about the children of a sex offenderhow would you feel if you were one? How would you face your friends, schoolmates, or co-workers once your parent's criminal behavior was made public? Would you still be allowed in your friends' homes? Would you still have friends? Would you and your siblings face shunning and stigma come marriage age?
These heartbreaking and complicated issues are real, and need to be addressed. We need to address them as a community. Every alleged and convicted sex offender has parents, family, friends and colleaguespeople who are close to him/her and are faced with this reality, often unprepared, and in many ways, also victimized, hurt, confused, disillusioned, and ashamed.
Do you know of a family member or friend of an alleged or convicted sex offender? It is critical that you don't turn your backs on them. They need your support. Put yourself in their place. If you were one, what would you need?
The spouse of an alleged and/or convicted sex offender may need financial support while the offender is in prison and or treatment. If there are children in the home, the non-abusive spouse may have to keep them away from the offender to keep them safe. Can you imagine the feelings of anger, shame, guilt, and fear that the non-offending parent will need to deal with?
Every member of a family of alleged and/or convicted sex offenders will need the community's emotional, financial, and spiritual support. And what a difference such support can make in the healing process of non-offending family members; versus them being shunned for their "association" with a sexual predator and/or for helping to stop the abuse.
There is no doubt that we all have a moral obligation to help stop sexual violence so that offenders cease to victimize and the victims receive the healing they deserve. Whether we know the offender or not, hiding, denying and covering up his or her actions make us accomplices to the crime. At the same time, the pain of having a family member or friend who is an alleged or convicted sex offender has to be one of the hardest pains to bear. It is also our moral obligation, as a community, to offer a holding environment (not shunning and shame) for all families torn by abusethose of the victims, and that of the offender.
Your Financial Support is Needed! Make a Donation
Email Groups for the Awareness Center This link will bring you to a list of different mailing lists offered by The Awareness Center. We offers several different email groups,which include our general mailing list, press-releases, Jewish survivors of childhood sexual abuse, Parents of children who were molested, Family members of sex offenders, etc.
Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs.
Table of Contents:
History of Ner Israel Yeshvia - Baltimore, MD
Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman, Ner Israel's founder and first rosh yeshiva of Ner Israel (Dean)
Leader Among Us - Rabbi Herman Neuberger's influence on the city, the state, the world (09/02/2005)
Ner Israel Searches For New Head (12/022/2000)
Weinberg Family Members
The Slonimer Rebbe (Great-Great Grandfather of Rabbi Matis Weinberg)
Rabbi (HaRav)Yisroel Yaakov Lubchansky, the mashgiach of the Baranowitz yeshiva (Great-Great-Great Uncle of Rabbi Matis Weinberg)
Rabbi (HaRav) Yitzchok Mattisyohu Weinberg (Great Grandfather of Rabbi Matis Weinberg)
Rabbi Noach Weinberg (Grandson of the Slonimer Rebbe, Grandfather of Rabbi Matis Weinberg)
Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg - married to Chana Weinberg; father of Rabbi Matis Weinberg)
HaRav Yaakov Weinberg, became rosh yeshiva (Dean of religious seminary ) of Ner Israel Yeshiva in Baltimore. He is the son of HaRav Yitzchok Mattisyohu Weinberg
Profile: Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, zt'l: A loving daughter speaks of "the power of his mind, the softness of his heart"
Rebbi for America: HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, zt'l - Part 1
Rebbi for America: HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, zt'l - Part 2
Profile: Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, zt'l: A loving daughter speaks of "the power of his mind, the softness of his heart"
By Dr. Aviva Weisbord
PDF File: http://www.ou.org/publications/ja/5760winter/weinberg%20profile.pdf
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Rebbi for America: HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, zt'l
by Mordecai Plaut
The Mishnah (Bovo Metzia 33a) says that one should return a lost object to one's rebbi before returning the lost object of his father, "for his father brought him to this world, but his rebbe, who taught him chochmah, brings him to the life of Olom Haboh."
In our times, children grow up in environments that are suffused with Torah and yiras Shomayim. In Yerushalayim, Lakewood, Bnei Brak and Baltimore, and many other communities, with Hashem's mercy, the children of the chareidi community today can imbibe the basics of the path to Olom Haboh from numerous sources.
In the postwar generation, many of those who grew up and came of age in the 50's, the 60's and even the 70's, were not so fortunate. Even those who grew up in homes where they were educated to keep Torah and mitzvos and did not lose their basic observance along the way, could go through life without having tasted the sweetness and truth of Torah and without truly recognizing and following the real derech Hashem.
Those who came to maturity in those days and were zoche to become bnei Torah, know and understand from their own experiences what it means to have a rebbi who brought them to chayei Olom Haboh. Most can think back and see how things could have turned out terribly different, if the right rebbe had not brought them to the derech Hashem.
Outside culture was powerful and the Jewish community then was weak. The lure of the street and the university was strong. The temptation of American wealth was almost overwhelming. The vital links to the deep Torah tradition were in ruins. The Jewish community was dominated by the secular and anti-religious. The emes was truly rare and almost impossible to find.
It was in this context that the Rosh Yeshiva zt"l, HaRav Yaakov Weinberg, Rebbi, stepped in and brought so many to chayei Olom Haboh, who would have otherwise almost certainly have joined the American rat race to the be'er shachas.
Speaking at the 53rd annual convention of Agudas Yisroel of America in November 1975 (and later reprinted from the Jewish Observer in ArtScroll's A Path Through the Ashes), the Rosh Yeshiva observed: "Since 1945, Klal Yisroel can never be the same. Our areas of function, the nature of our feelings, the nature of our problems, the methods we employ to solve them, even our very feelings have undergone a permanent change because of Churban Europe. Not only has the focal point of Klal Yisroel been transferred from Europe to Eretz Yisroel, which brings with it a host of challenges, problems and shifts in perspective; not only have we lost our centers of vibrant Jewish life, with all the ramifications this must have on ourselves and our children for all generations to come; but we have lost our prime source of living Yiddishkeit. We must now struggle on a different level not only to understand the hashkafah, the philosophic outlook of Torah, but even to properly experience the simple awareness of our existence as Jews. Thus, our children are more impoverished than all preceding generations, for they cannot draw from this reservoir of a continuous, ongoing Jewish existence per se. The continuity has weakened and we must now recreate it."
And that is exactly what he did.
His Links to the Past
For the postwar generation, the Rosh Yeshiva reconstructed the link between American Jewish youth and the flow of tradition, the living Jewish essence that had been so cruelly and suddenly cut off by the Nazi legions. It is this link to the vital core of Torah life that is so important; and it is by no means guaranteed even among those who keep mitzvos.
It is, as he might have said, perfectly clear that he could not serve to link the younger generation to the mesora without being thoroughly grounded in it himself. In fact, his own connection was very broad and very deep.
The Weinberg family is from the Slonimer chassidic dynasty, a Lithuanian chassidus. The approach and relationship of the Slonim chassidim to Torah has been similar to the classical Litvishe approach. The founder of the dynasty was HaRav Avrohom ben Yitzchok Mattisyohu Weinberg, the author of Chesed LeAvrohom and Yesod Ho'avodah, who was the rosh yeshiva in Slonim before he became rebbi. His teachers in chassidus were HaRav Noach of Lachowitch and HaRav Moshe of Kobrin.
The Slonimers always had a special closeness to Eretz Yisroel. Every erev Shabbos, and on other occasions, they made a special collection of Eretz Yisroel gelt to support the yishuv there.
Even before he was bar mitzvah, the Rebbi sent his grandson Noach, along with a group of "Anash" from Slonimer chassidim, to Tiveriya in Eretz Yisroel in order to build a Torah yishuv.
The project took hold in Tiveriya. The chassidim contributed to the Torah development of the whole area. R' Noach grew up in Tiveriya. He became engaged in Tammuz, 5631 (1871), and in the "Roshei Perokim" drawn up on 3 Tammuz of that year, his future father-in-law promised him five years of kest. The wedding was on erev Shabbos parshas Toldos 5632 (1872).
On his engagement, his grandfather, the first Slonimer Rebbe, wrote him a note with important advice: "To my grandson the chosson Noach n"y. Mazel tov to you. From now on strengthen yourself and forcefully brace yourself to enter into avodas Hashem, as the posuk says: ". . . Bnei Yisroel are avodim to me." And this is impossible without the gevurah of conquering your yetzer. The main thing is first of all to purify your thought, and to worship Hashem with deed, word and thought. Temimus, simcha and zerizus are the guardians of avoda; yirah and ta'anug are the wings of avoda; and prayer from the heart and toil and steady learning of Torah are the gates to Heaven. But with all this [you need] entreating and supplicating before Hashem yisborach. There is no need write more because you have, Thank G-d, your teachers in front of you. And the foundation stone is to be shomer habris. (signed) AB"Z (Ovicho Zekeinecho) Avrohom
Among R' Noach's children were R' Yitzchok Mattisyohu, R' Avrohom (who was born in 1889 and became the Slonimer Rebbe in 5715-1955) and a sister Bubba who married R' Yoel Ashkenazi who was related to the Satmar family. R' Noach was niftar in 5687 (1927).
R' Yitzchok Mattisyohu had an intensive Torah education from a very early age. He was a big ba'al kishron and a talmid chochom, but also very practical.
He married at a very young age and his first wife passed away while giving birth to his son Yosef. His second wife bore him another son, Avrohom, before they were divorced. He struggled for several years raising his family by himself, but then he heard of a great tzaddik and talmid chochom who lived in Tzfas named Rav Avner Lorberbaum, a direct descendent of the famed Nesivos Hamishpot, whose oldest daughter Hinda was ready to be married. R' Mattis went to Tzfas to speak to him, and ended up marrying the daughter himself. He was in his early thirties at the time.
He married off his oldest son soon after. R' Chaim Yosef Dovid ("Yossel") married Pearl Lider of Yerushalayim in Adar, 5672 (1912). In those days and in that community, everyone married young. R' Chaim Yosef Dovid was about 16 years old at his marriage.
R' Mattis had a son and daughter by his second wife in relatively tranquil times. Chava, that daughter (today she is Rebbetzin Pincus), says that she does not know exactly how old she is, but they kept better track of the age of her older brother R' Moshe who was born in 1910, and she is a bit younger than he. Her treasured first memory is of her father and grandfather R' Avner learning together while rocking her.
World War I was raging in Europe, and times were very rough for the yishuv in Eretz Yisroel. A significant portion of the regular income of the Jews of Eretz Yisroel was composed of donations from chutz la'aretz such as the Eretz Yisroel gelt collected in Slonim. The severe disruption of the communities that was caused by the war made it difficult to collect the regular monies and impossible to send whatever was collected to its intended recipients.
Life in Eretz Yisroel was also disrupted as the Turks, who were allied with the Germans, used the area as a base of operations, and the presence of the army and its movements were very disruptive. The Turks also imposed taxes and other restrictions on Jews, especially those who were citizens of hostile powers.
R' Mattis had built a mill on the Jordan River near Tiveriya. His main customers were the kibbutzim in the area -- some of the earliest -- who brought in their wheat for milling.
Many of the area kibbutzim were far from religion. R' Mattis had a horse and he used to visit the kibbutzim to circumcise the children, unannounced. Although the kibbutzniks would not call a mohel, they did not usually refuse his services when they were proffered for free.
The Slonim community in Tiveriya founded a learning kollel near the hot springs there and the tomb of Rav Meir Ba'al Haness. Rav Noach was involved as was R' Mattis and other members of the Slonim community in Tiveriya, including R' Mattis' good friend R' Osher Werner. The mill was powered by the waters of the Jordan. Where the water entered the mill to turn the water wheel, it flowed strong and fast. The currents apparently brought fish to the area, as they had a perennial problem with the Arabkes (Arab women) who came to sneak in to catch fish. R' Mattis was concerned that someone might get hurt and he posted signs and even mashgichim whose job it was to keep out the Arabkes. All this did not prevent one of them from getting her hair caught in the machinery and getting severely injured or killed. This brought the wrath of the Turkish authorities down on R' Mattis, despite his efforts to avoid just such an accident.
Some said that the Turkish authorities had their eyes on the mill even before the incident. In any case, this incident gave them an opportunity: If they executed the owner they could take over his property. R' Noach's second wife, Mumma ("Aunt") Brocho, was a citizen of Russia, and she wasted no time in traveling to Yerushalayim where she prevailed upon the Russian consul to go to Tiveriya to free her step- grandson -- which he was able to do.
The European powers had all established consuls in Eretz Yisroel as part of their grand designs on the crumbling Ottoman Turkish Empire. Each consul had wide powers under Turkish law, and they watched over their citizens jealously.
Once World War I began, however, and the Ottoman Turks were at war with the European powers, all of the old power that European consuls enjoyed disappeared. The authorities began to arrest those who had been freed because of the intervention of a foreign consul, and R' Yitzchok Mattisyohu hastily fled for Alexandria with his close friend R' Osher Werner. This was in 1915.
From the relative safety of the Egyptian port (which was under British control) they wrote to the Slonimer Rebbe for advice. R' Mattis thought that the war would not last long, and he wanted to sit it out in Alexandria and return to his family and community in Tiveriya after it was over.
The Rebbe wrote him back that he was mistaken. The war would be a long one, and he should not expect to be able to return soon. He advised him to take the next ship out for America.
It is hard to imagine any other circumstances that would have brought R' Mattis to America. Although the streets of America held a strong attraction to many who were concerned about parnossa and material wealth, for a Yid like R' Mattis the well-known spiritual dangers of America made it very unattractive, to say the least. However, under the circumstances he had little choice, and on top of that he had the advice of the Rebbe. The Torah community of America and the English-speaking world was immeasurably enriched by his move.
The trip took a long time under the wartime conditions. They had little to eat, but R' Mattis and R' Osher had a gemora and they did not care if the food was sparse or monotonous.
R' Mattis' family was left behind, and things were not easy for them. There was real famine in Eretz Yisroel, and thousands of Jews died of hunger. This was true all over Eretz Yisroel. The Yerushalayim community in particular has bitter memories of that period, as the Zionists seized control of all the money that did trickle through from chutz la'aretz and refused to release it to those who remained faithful to the traditional ways.
In Tiveriya, Rebbetzin Hinda Weinberg proved bold and resourceful, perhaps pushed by the circumstances. Her sister Esther got her a machine for making woolen stockings and other warm clothing. It gets quite cold in those areas in the winter, and there was a big demand for warm clothing. After making them, she took them herself, at great risk, to Syria to sell. She came back with flour, a scarce and precious commodity in those days in Eretz Yisroel. They used the flour to bake large loaves and measure the pieces into which they cut them, so that everyone could be fed.
Living in Tzfas
Left alone, Rebbetzin Weinberg spent most of her time in Tzfas with her own family. Chava's childhood memories are not of a harsh or difficult time. She remembers sitting in those days on Shabbos afternoon in the large window of their house that led out to the courtyard, as her mother, grandmother and aunt softly sang G-tt fun Avrohom at shalos seudas time.
She also remembers the early snows of the winters in Tzfas. Tucked warmly into her mother's fur jacket, she would listen for her older brother Moshe walking home from cheder in the dark. The cheder boys were nervous about walking home by themselves in the dark, and they used to carry torches and sing Ho'aderes veho'emuna to keep up their spirits.
From time to time the family went to visit their relatives in Tiveriya. To do so, they had to organize a shayoro, a small caravan to travel by mule or donkey. These caravans were led by local Arabs or by one of the Sephardic Jews. The family had to be ready early in the morning, for the journey took them a full day (today it takes less than an hour). As evening fell they could just make out the twinkling lights of Tiveriya in the distance.
The Struggle in America
R' Yitzchok Mattisyohu had to struggle to establish himself in America. Working on Shabbos was out of the question for him, but it was not easy to find work during the rest of the week for someone who was not willing to come in on Shabbos. In those days all of America worked five and a half days, including half a day on Saturday. It was not until much later, in the 1940's, that America went on the current five day workweek that made things so much easier for those who keep Shabbos.
So R' Mattis tried many things. One of his ideas was to start a small dairy to supply cholov Yisroel. He found someone who had a place in the mountains that he called "Har Sinai." That man used to rent out rooms in the summer to those from the city who wanted to escape the oppressive heat. R' Mattis tried keeping some cows on his place, but it did not work out.
After many trials, R' Mattis eventually opened a wholesale trimmings store on the Lower East Side on Bleeker Street. Since he owned his own business, no one could tell him to stay open on Shabbos. He became known for his scrupulous honesty in business.
But it was not only shemiras Shabbos that was important to him. R' Mattis was determined to live even in America just like he had in Tzfas and Tiveriya, in terms of kedusha and taharo, and in this he very much succeeded.
Still, it was six long years, and 1921, before he could send for his family to join him.
Today, Rebbetzin Pincus still remembers the trip well. They first went to Jaffa where they stayed a few nights at a hotel near the beach. They boarded the ship for the two-week trip to America. On board they had to make do with salads and eggs.
As they approached the American shore, the young Chava recognized her father waiting for them. Although she had been too young to remember him the last time she saw him, before he fled, the resemblance between him and her older half- brother Yossel was so strong that his identity was unmistakable.
The reunited family set about building Yiddishkeit in America, both on a personal level and in the community.
R' Mattis was described by his son-in-law, Rav Avrohom Pincus, as a kodosh and a tohor. He was determined to live in the arba amos shel halacha even in America of those days, when shemiras Shabbos was the big nisoyon for many Jews, and there was not even any dream left of such rarefied kedusha. R' Mattis created and lived in a veritable teivas Noach in the turbulent waters of the yetzer hora of America.
As one stunning indication of his achievements, he did not look out of his own arba amos. He lived within the arba amos of Hashem and learned Torah constantly. There are many anecdotes connected with this, and as incredible as it seems to one who did not know him, it was part of life for his family. The Rosh Yeshiva used to tell how he always knew that he could avoid his father if he remained silent in his vicinity. R' Mattis would simply walk right by, completely unaware that his son was standing there.
Rebbetzin Pincus tells that she once left their house just as her father was approaching. In a mischievous mood, she blocked his path. Her father moved to one side to go around her. She quickly moved over as well. R' Mattis tried once more, but then suspected something. He looked up, saw that the woman was his daughter, and they both had a laugh.
R' Mattis learned at every opportunity that he had. In between customers in his store, he opened a sefer.
On Sundays, which was not a business day in those days, he used to go around to collect Eretz Yisroel gelt, with a leather valise. While speaking with people about the money, he also spoke to them about Shabbos, learning and kashrus.
He was also deeply committed to bringing up his children in the path of Yisroel Saba, and did not spare effort nor expense to realize this.
His daughter was the only American to go learn with Soroh Schenirer in Cracow. R' Mattis wanted to send her almost as soon as she arrived in America, but her mother insisted that she wait until she was 18. Rebbetzin Pincus remembers that her father used to pay her a dollar for each perek of Pirkei Ovos that she learned -- and that was in the days that a dollar was a dollar.
Showing his combination of business acumen and commitment to Torah learning, R' Mattis developed this approach of giving rewards for his children's learning, and to each the offer was different, as they discovered only years later when they compared notes. R' Noach remembers that he was also offered a dollar a perek, though his sister Chaya was offered the princely sum of five dollars. Recognizing his older son's abilities, R' Mattis offered R' Yaakov only ten cents a perek!
He felt this a very effective method of chinuch and wrote his son Yosef in Eretz Yisroel to offer his own children financial incentives to learn Torah (their families were both about the same age).
One can imagine that the sons got a lot of attention. Although he sent them to the best schools he could find, he did not spare himself in learning with them as much as possible. On leil Shabbos they davened in the Nine Unninetzik shul on the Lower East Side, and R' Mattis learned with his sons for two to three hours before they all went home to their seudas Shabbos.
A Trip to Eretz Yisroel
In 1931 (5691), Mrs. Weinberg went to Eretz Yisroel to visit her family. She left her oldest son Moshe in America. Her daughter Chava was in Cracow, the only American student of Soroh Schenirer. She took her two younger sons with her, R' Yaakov, who was eight at the time, and R' Noach, who was just a baby.
In Tiveriya, the young Yaakov was tested by his father's family almost as soon as he arrived. They were surprised to see that he had mastered two masechtos. When he was asked who taught him, he answered, "My father."
At first he went to cheder in Tiveriya, until a certain incident that he often retold in later years. Outside the cheder one day, a woman's clothing caught fire and she screamed for help. She burned to death. The rebbi of his class said they could not go to help her because she was a woman. The young Yaakov refused to go back to learn with that rebbe, since he displayed the obvious trait of a chossid shote, and he could not bear to learn Torah from such a person. "This is not Torah," he said. "If he does not do what the Ribono Shel Olom wants, I cannot learn with him."
Altogether, they spent three years in Eretz Yisroel. For a time R' Yaakov learned in the famous Yerushalayim cheder Eitz Chaim.
He was young and at first the yeshiva did not want to even interview him. For one thing, they said, he is American. For another, he is very young. They could not do anything about the first but to at least make the second less obvious his mother bought him an older boys' type hat (a cappalootch or "super"), so that he would not appear so out of place.
Materially the life was very simple, even as it was spiritually rich. It was still the time of the old-time Yerushalayim shel ma'alo.
The young boy lived with his older half-brother. He slept on the floor. The school day was from eight in the morning until eight at night. He used to say that breakfast in those days was bread and onions, while supper was onions and bread. Even in later years, material comforts meant nothing to him and those years certainly taught him that one can survive without material comforts.
Back in America, he went to Torah Vodaas, and then to the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva started by HaRav Dovid Leibowitz, now in Forest Hills. R' Mattis liked the fact that they hardly had any bein hazmanim, learning through Tisha B'Av, just like in Eretz Yisroel.
When he got older he went to Yeshivas Rabbenu Chaim Berlin under HaRav Yitzchok Hutner, zt"l, where he became a star talmid.
Rav Hutner said of him that he has a tefisa and a schnellkeit in kishron that are unparalleled. HaRav Aharon Schechter quoted HaRav Hutner as saying that he had a shtarker kop.
Rav Emanuel Feldman, formerly of Atlanta and now of Yerushalayim, recalls that when he went to the high school of Yeshivas Chaim Berlin in 1942-43, Rav Hutner gave him special attention since he knew his father from Slobodke. Every young bochur was assigned an older bochur who took care of him, making sure that his needs were met. The younger boys had their older mentors to turn to when anything bothered them. Because of Rav Hutner's special relationship with the senior Rav Feldman, Rav Hutner assigned R' Yaakov Weinberg to be R' Emanuel's mentor.
When R' Emanuel arrived and went to greet Rav Hutner, the rosh yeshiva told him, "I have arranged for you a special young man to take care of you." Then he introduced him to R' Yaakov, the top bochur in the beis medrash.
R' Emanuel Feldman eventually met up with R' Yaakov later at Ner Israel in Baltimore, and much later they became mechutonim when R' Yaakov's daughter Miriam married R' Emanuel's son Ilan, now the rabbi of his father's former shul in Atlanta.
As the star talmid of HaRav Hutner, R' Yaakov was sent to a weekend rabbonus at the tender age of 19. He received semichah from his rosh yeshiva in 1944, at the age of 21.
Rebbi for America: HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, zt'l
by Mordecai Plaut
A Time of Transition
In June of 1945 (5705), R' Yaakov Weinberg wed Chana, the only daughter of HaRav Yaakov Yitzchok Halevi Ruderman, zt"l, one of the Alter of Slobodke's star talmidim, who had founded the Ner Israel Yeshiva in Baltimore. Only a few weeks later, R' Yaakov's father Rav Mattis was niftar at the too-young age of 68.
R' Yaakov moved to Baltimore and his father-in-law's yeshiva, where he spent the rest of his life in harbotzas Torah, aside from a seven year period in the branch of the yeshiva in Toronto. His brother R' Noach, who later founded his own yeshiva Aish Hatorah in Yerushalayim, regarded his older brother as his rebbi and followed him to Baltimore.
R' Yaakov continued learning and soon began to say shiurim in Ner Israel. R' Nachman Kline, a close talmid of HaRav Ruderman in those days, recalls that the Rosh Yeshiva told him that he should go to his son-in- law's shiur. "You will hear things like you never heard before." He told other people that others make two or three shiurim from what his son-in-law says in only one shiur.
During the shiva, the family received a letter from a woman who lives in an isolated community in St. Mary's County, Maryland, a two hour drive from Baltimore. The correspondent was the daughter of someone who heard classes from Rav Weinberg more than 40 years ago. For seven years the young Weinberg couple would drive two hours each way to give classes (both of them) in that isolated Jewish community. The writer merely wanted to express her gratitude for that effort so long ago, and to say that there are now three frum generations as a result of that effort.
In those days the community in St. Mary's County built a shul. Everyone pitched in and even Rav Weinberg climbed up to bang in some nails on the roof. He never held himself above or aloof, but was a part of things with everyone else.
Once Rav Weinberg's son asked his father which were the best times in his life. Without hesitation he answered the period of the Chabura in Ner Israel and the years in Toronto.
By any measure, the Chabura was a remarkable phenomenon. A group of about 18 outstanding young students were selected, and put together in a special room with a devoted rebbe to learn and develop. They spent the whole day together, but separate from the rest of the yeshiva. HaRav Weinberg said shiurim in Bovo Kama and in Pirkei Ovos with the commentary of the Chossid Yaavetz. Everyone who participated remembers it as a time of tremendous, stimulating growth.
It is evident from a partial list of the talmidim just how much they grew, for many went on to great achievements of their own: HaRav Yochanan Zweig (rosh yeshiva in Miami), HaRav Moshe Hochman (a rosh yeshiva in Toronto), HaRav Nochum Lansky, HaRav Simcha Soloveitchik, and HaRav Uziel Milevsky, zt"l. This, again, is only a partial list.
In 1964 (5724), HaRav Weinberg went to the branch of Yeshivas Ner Israel that had been established a few years earlier in Toronto where he served as rosh yeshiva until 1971 (5731).
During that period many talmidim from the main yeshiva in Baltimore went to Toronto for various periods in order to learn with the Rosh Yeshiva there. He said many shiurim including, for a time, a daily shiur in Chumash in which he went slowly, posuk by posuk, analyzing and treating everything carefully and thoroughly. It was a relatively small yeshiva (the high school was the larger component) and there was an opportunity for those who wanted to learn from the Rosh Yeshiva to do so.
After that he returned to Baltimore, as the Toronto yeshiva became independent. He spent the next 28 years in the Ner Israel yeshiva in Baltimore, the last 12 of them as rosh yeshiva after his great father-in-law was niftar in 1987 (5747).
As the American Torah community developed, the function mentioned at the beginning of the first part, of linking those who grew up in America with the living wellsprings of the Jewish mesora, became less critical because now there are so many different ways in which everyone is connected. However, he had much more to give, and in his whole life he constantly gave more and more to his talmidim and everyone who came in contact with him.
A Selfless Individual
With his remarkable intellectual gifts, it would have been easy for him to dominate people. Thus, it is all the more impressive that no one ever felt that the Rosh Yeshiva was imposing himself on them even in the slightest way.
The fact is that his whole approach to living was based on a thoroughgoing and deeply rooted conviction and understanding that his efforts should be properly directed towards the outside, towards others. He stressed and lived the fact that a person's overall goal is to be an eved Hashem, a human tool of Hashem who lives to fulfill Hashem's will. Translated to the interpersonal level, this meant that he lived for his talmidim and was interested only in their benefit.
He once told a talmid: "You are interested in `why,' but I am interested only in `what.' "
"Why" did not matter to him. He made himself like a midbar to simply accept whatever Hashem wants, without question, without seeking any further basis behind it. Even to search for a "why" implies that there is some other standard, some other measure for what to do, and this is often where a person's self comes in. For him, there was nothing there.
He was an original thinker and had many ideas, and conceived many plans. However, once he was convinced that rotzon Hashem was otherwise, he accepted that and simply worked with the situation as it was. He no longer harbored any thoughts of "what if" or "if only." Once it was clear to him what the rotzon Hashem was in a given situation, he did it with all his powers and to the fullest of his abilities.
As one example that was cited by several people, when he came to their chasuna, he came early and stayed on. No one doubts that he had other things to do, other pursuits that might seem to be "higher" or "better" than sitting at a chasuna. But once it was clear that he was going, he went to fulfill the rotzon Hashem behidur, not grudgingly or sparingly.
There were some ways in which he was very different from our generation. He was so abstracted from his physical needs, so far removed from normal physical desires, that in this aspect he seemed not of our times.
Once, when giving a shmuess in Mesilas Yeshorim, he was talking about a certain taava, a physical desire. He said that it was an absurd taava, something beyond the desire of normal people. Searching for a proper analogy, he finally came up with, "It is as absurd as saying, `He sat down and ate a quart of ice cream by himself.'"
This certainly caused some raised eyebrows among the talmidim listening to him. They understood the point he was trying to make, but the example he chose taught them more about the Rosh Yeshiva than about the Mesilas Yeshorim.
He Used to Say...
It is important not only to give a sense of who he was, but also, in memoriam, to try to give over some of the important lessons that he taught. Certainly all of his students carry these ideas with them in everything they do, but this is an appropriate venue to set them down so that they will be more widely available. Especially in view of the fact that he left so few written works, is it important to try to record and publish some of the valuable insights he taught.
Many of these teachings were so important to him that they could be prefaced with the introduction of so many mishnayos of Pirkei Ovos: Hu hoyo omeir . . . Almost everyone who had significant contact with him has heard them. Others, however, were not as widely known. All are nonetheless part of an integrated, consistent, coherent approach to his life's task of being an eved Hashem.
There is a story told about Vilna of more than 200 years ago. In those days it was often difficult to get arba minim for Succos, which had to be imported over long distances from other climes.
One year, it was almost impossible to get an esrog in Vilna. In fact, there was only one. The Vilna Gaon was the unquestioned godol hador and even he did not have an esrog for Succos. His talmidim did their best to secure the esrog for their master. They offered the possessor of the single Vilna esrog that year large sums of money -- but he turned them down. He did, however, make them a counteroffer: He would give the Gaon his esrog, if the reward for the Gaon's fulfillment of the mitzvo went to him, instead of to the Gaon!
It was a steep price and a very unusual one. The talmidim were not sure how their master would react. When they told him of the price for the esrog, he accepted immediately and radiated great joy, exclaiming, "Now I will be able to fulfill this mitzvo completely lishmo!"
Another, similar, story is told about a great Chassidic Rebbe. One time he announced to his followers that it was decreed in Heaven that they had, for one reason or another, lost all chance of any reward in Olom Haboh. The Rebbe declared his happiness about this state of affairs to all of his followers, for the reason that henceforth he could worship Hashem purely lishmo.
The Rosh Yeshiva would explain that he has no historical information about either of them, but based on the content of the stories the first is proper and correct, but he could not accept the second as valid.
Hashem created the world in order to give us reward, he explained. This is the purpose of His Creation, and this purpose must be fulfilled. But Kaviyochol had no particular person in mind when creating the world, and it makes no difference for His purpose who receives the sechar. Thus, it serves Hashem's purpose just as well if the original owner of the esrog receives the reward for a mitzva as if the Vilna Gaon himself receives the reward. Nothing is lost; the mitzva is fulfilled and Hashem gives someone the reward for that mitzva. The Gaon, who was only concerned with what Hashem wants without any concern for himself, could properly rejoice that he could do the mitzva purely lishmo, as long as someone was getting the reward.
If the reward is lost entirely, if no one gets it as in the second story, then Hashem's purpose in Creation of giving out sechar is not brought to fruition. If the reward for the good deeds is simply lost, then this is occasion for mourning not rejoicing, since Hashem's purpose has been frustrated, not fulfilled.
Sechar is Our Relationship
Since the desire to reward us is the basis of Creation, its nature and procedures are important. The Rosh Yeshiva insisted that the reward that we get for the good things that we do is not a "mechanical" sort of built-in response to our deeds, but rather a reflection of the consequent nature of our relationship to the Ribono Shel Olom after we have done what He bid us do.
Some say that the world is simply set up in such a way that there is an automatic response, in the spiritual realms, to our deeds. When we do what Hashem wants us to do, we are showered with the reward for their performance. The Ramban, however, says that the reward that we get for mitzvos is really a neiss.
The Rosh Yeshiva taught and explained that when we do Hashem's will, it enhances our relationship with Him. The reward that we get comes from this enhanced relationship.
The reward is there, and we must strive toward it. Yet we strive for it not in order for us to have it, but in order that the Ribono Shel Olom can give it to us, as we know that he wishes to do. When the Vilna Gaon fulfilled the mitzva of arba minim he knew that there was an attached reward and that Hashem wanted to give this reward. Yet it was not important to him that he be the recipient of the reward.
This is a complex idea, but the Rosh Yeshiva once illustrated it himself beautifully.
For the Sechar or Because of the Sechar?
A talmid once asked him about the posuk in parshas Vayeiro (Bereishis 18, 19) in which Hashem says of Avrohom Ovinu: "For I know of him that he will command his children and his household after him, that they will keep the derech Hashem to do tzedokoh and mishpot in order that Hashem can bring upon Avrohom all that he has spoken about."
This posuk, the talmid wondered, seems to fly in the face of the well-known principle that we should serve Hashem as slaves who work without thought of reward. Hashem commends Avrohom Ovinu because He knows that Avrohom Ovinu will send his children along the derech Hashem so that they will get rewarded. How is that reconciled with the charge to serve Hashem as an eved who serves without wanting any reward?
HaRav Weinberg explained it by analogy. He goes to visit his mother in Williamsburg, and whenever he comes, she insists on feeding him and obviously takes great pleasure in doing so. At first he protested. "Mother, why do you insist on serving me? I've already eaten enough."
"Do you think I want to feed you just because you are my son?" she asked rhetorically. "Not at all! I want to give you to eat because you are a talmid chochom!"
"If my mother were only interested in feeding me because I am her son, then if I have had enough to eat, she would have no interest in feeding me. It is all the same to her, as long as if I have enough to eat. However, since she wants to feed me in order to give pleasure to a talmid chochom, then she must be the one to feed me. I must eat her food.
"Since then," he told the talmid, "I make sure to finish every morsel of food. I am eating because it brings my mother pleasure for me to eat her food, but I am not eating for the pleasure of the good food." (Heard from HaRav Eliyohu Baumwolspiner)
Chazal say that the relationship between parents and children is analogous to the relationship between people and Hashem, and that is what we are trying to exploit here. We must serve Hashem in order that Hashem may give us the reward that He has promised, but we do not serve for the reward itself but in order to fulfill the will of Hashem which is that we receive the reward.
On the Subject of Sechar . . .
In the third perek of Hilchos Teshuvah the Rambam discusses the fact that everyone has zechiyos and avonos, and the way these are weighted and counted against each other, so that an individual and a country and the whole world are either tzadikim -- if they have more zechiyos -- or reshoim -- if they have more avonos.
In the third halocho the Rambam writes: "Whoever regrets the mitzvos that he did, and waives the zechiyos and says to himself, `What have I benefited in that I did them? Would that I had not done them,' has lost them all, and they do not mention for him any merit in the world, as it says, `The righteousness of the tzaddik will not save him on the day of his rish'o' (Yechezkel 33) -- this must be referring to none other than one who regrets his earlier actions."
What could this mean? Chazal always say what a great chiddush it is that teshuvah erases the sin, but here we apparently see that it applies to mitzvos as well. Moreover, generally Hakodosh Boruch Hu's consideration of good deeds is greater than His punishment for bad deeds (middo tovoh merubo). So how can it be that simply regretting one's mitzvos will fully cancel them out?
Consistent with his understanding of sechar as being of fundamental importance in the Creation, the Rosh Yeshiva learned here that the Rambam does not mean to say that the person loses the sechar of his good deeds if he regrets them, only that in such a case they are not taken into account when reckoning his status as a tzaddik or a rosho. The original sechar is preserved for him and will be given to him in one form or another, but once he rejects his earlier acts they are no longer included in the balance of all his deeds.
This is in fact evident from a closer reading of the Rambam. He writes: ". . . and they do not mention for him any merit . . ." This "mentioning" refers to the accounting that is done for each person, to determine whether he is a tzaddik or a rosho. Also, the posuk refers to "the day of his rish'o" which is consistent with this interpretation, meaning the day on which he is judged a rosho, the day on which an accounting is made of his zechiyos and avonos, and he is found a rosho since he loses those zechiyos that he regrets. (Heard from HaRav Simcha Cook.)
Only the Truth
The Rosh Yeshiva was always focused on the truth, even when it may not have been the most comfortable way to look at things. He was prepared to talk and act in ways that often sounded strange to others, when he knew that his way was the truth.
One instance was the case of a particular shidduch. The parents of a girl of marriageable age came to ask him about a particular young man, and he told them it was a good shidduch and they should pursue it. Someone from the side of the bochur came to ask about the same shidduch, but the Rosh Yeshiva told him that he did not know if he should pursue that offer.
Those who heard about both answers thought that the combination was strange, but the answer was simple: it was clearly good for the young lady, but not so clear that it was good for the young man. It was not a case of the Rosh Yeshiva taking a bold stand for truth, but simply that he was unwilling to answer any other way than to tell each what was exactly best for him or her.
To Reach the Soul
His goal with his talmidim was not just to impart knowledge but to elevate them. The truth that he wanted to give over was much deeper than what many people give over.
At one time, a certain talmid used to go to him to ask him questions consistently after every shiur that he gave. He confided in someone that the talmid was very krum and he thought that he could straighten him out, but he was not sure if he had the time and strength that were necessary for the task.
This is not the worry of someone who could not answer the questions that he was being asked, even to the satisfaction of the questioner. HaRav Weinberg certainly had no difficulty in merely answering the surface questions posed by that bochur. It is clear that his eye was on something deeper: he wanted to reach out to the talmid and to correct the roots in him that were leading him to ask such unnecessary or misguided questions.
Sometimes he volunteered remarks that seemed unprompted and unmotivated, almost like an oracle. He once told me, "You know Mordechai, you have to keep on thinking. Don't stop, but always push on and deeper."
I did not see why he said that. I did not understand what he could have seen in me that showed him I had such a problem, if I did in fact have such a problem.
However, I accepted the criticism and worked in the direction he indicated. Many months later I did see the wisdom of his remark and how it was excellent and important advice for me -- though I could never figure out how he could have known to tell me.
What is the Mitzva of Emunah?
The Rambam counts the mitzva of emunah as the first of the 613 mitzvos. As the Ramban explains, the gemora seems to imply this in saying that the two mitzvos we heard from the Ribono Shel Olom (and not Moshe Rabbenu who told us 611) were Onochi and Lo yihiye. The Bahag, however, does not count this mitzvo as one of the 613. The Ramban explains that this is because it is the presupposition of all mitzvos. How can there be a mitzvo without a metzave? Thus it cannot be an individual mitzva by itself.
What does Rambam hold?
The Rosh Yeshiva said that the emunah that is presupposed by all the mitzvos is not the content of this mitzva. Rather that emunah is presupposed by this mitzva as it is by all other mitzvos. This first mitzva however, is to make our emunah stronger and stronger. To work on our emunah and to develop it. This is something that can be done without limit. (Heard from HaRav Moshe Hochman)
The Rosh Yeshiva in particular worked very hard on the Rambam in all the halochos in Sefer Maddo among which the mitzva of emunoh certainly occupies a prominent position.
He worked on emunoh but it was within Torah and bederech HaTorah and not relying on any outside tools.
He once commented to a talmid that there are many people who are temimusdik in their approach to emunoh. They simply have emunoh peshuta and do not ask any questions. They simply are mevateil da'as to the Ribono Shel Olom. This approach we can understand.
But someone like the Chazon Ish, he explained, is amazing. He knew all the questions and worked on them, but still came out after all that with such a perfect and wholesome emunoh. This is truly remarkable. (Heard from HaRav Nochum Lansky)
Time and again the Rosh Yeshiva would stun us. One could never know how he would react. One could have prepared a gemora so carefully, and worked on it so hard, only to sit on it with him and find out that he missed the main point. As HaRav Mordechai Blumenfeld put it, no matter how much you had prepared, "He would show that you hadn't begun to think about it."
But this did not only apply to divrei Torah. It was also true in derech eretz. Telling him over the apparently simplest story could be an adventure. He would often find some completely overlooked aspect that was critical, and put the whole thing in a new and surprising light.
This was a consequence of the fact that his yiro preceded his chochmah, as Chazal say it must. His wisdom was based on his fear of G-d, and grounded in everyday life, where this is important. His chochmah showed him not just how to think, and not just how to act, but even simply how to be. He created full, wholesome and "real" people. (Heard from HaRav Yochanan Zweig)
No, Yitzchok, You're Wrong
One of the most elusive, but significant, elements of the avoda of the Rosh Yeshiva was his constant, patient chinuch of his talmidim. It was something he was always ready to do, and something that he did willingly, over and over, whenever he had the opportunity. He would speak with them, elicit their comments, patiently analyze them, and develop the ideas that he wanted to convey using them. There was an interplay between the rebbe and the talmid that was, however, extremely elusive and difficult to capture. It was not the sort of thing that one took notes of, nor even recorded on tape.
Nothing can better convey this experience than an example. However, these were usually personal lessons, tailored to the talmid in question and the circumstances that were at hand, and by their very nature they did not lend themselves to any sort of recording or preservation.
I have, with considerable thought and effort, constructed an illustrative example. It is an imaginary dialogue in which a talmid of the Rosh Yeshiva is trying to convey some basic ideas about his rebbi to a student of his own. The talmid, in talking with his own talmid, uses the techniques that he learned and absorbed from his own rebbi, the Rosh Yeshiva. It is based on a story about the Rosh Yeshiva that several people who were very close to him told me, assuming that it happened as given here, and certain that in any case it reflects the way he acted. This exercise displays the Rosh Yeshiva and how he lived -- and what we can learn from him in our own lives. (I will note the true facts at the end.)
Yitzchok, I want you to think about the following story. Now listen carefully.
Some years ago, a relative of the Rosh Yeshiva lost a son who passed away well before his time, leaving behind a young family ranging from 2 to 10 years old.
The Rosh Yeshiva and the Rebbetzin went to be menacheim ovel. There were other people there when they arrived. After sitting for some time, the Rosh Yeshiva rose and said, "I have some people to talk to," and left the room.
No one knew where he went. He was gone for a considerable time. Only later did they find out that he had sought out the little orphans, and taken them to a room where he sat with them and discussed what had happened to them at their own level.
Now, Yitzchok, I want you to think carefully about this story. What do you think it shows?
-- I think that it is a beautiful story that shows that the Rosh Yeshiva was a man of deep feeling.
If that is what you think, Yitzchok, then you are wrong. Completely wrong.
If that is what you understand, Yitzchok, then you do not understand the first thing about the Rosh Yeshiva.
It is so clear, Yitzchok, that this story shows something entirely different. This incident shows the Rosh Yeshiva's brilliance.
It shows how he was able to grasp a situation, to see it from all sides, and to find the key point, that crucial element that everyone else missed, but that is -- once he showed it to us -- absolutely essential to a proper understanding of the situation and, now in retrospect, we feel should have been obvious to everyone.
Surely you see that, Yitzchok. Obviously the ones most in need of attention and the gemilus chassodim that is the very essence of nichum aveilim which was the whole purpose of the Rosh Yeshiva's trip, were the young orphans. Yet everyone is naturally distracted because they know the adults better.
Even hearing about the story we are stunned and impressed. That is brilliance, Yitzchok, absolute brilliance.
But now, is that all you see in that story, Yitzchok? Don't you see anything else? Is it just pure brilliance? Is that all you see here?
It's not enough. Yitzchok, you must go deeper. If you stop here, you've left the Rebbi in the league of brilliant minds, but it could still be with thinkers like Aristotle, who were geniuses but could at the same time be corrupt and degenerate. If that's where you stop, Yitzchok, you have not yet captured his essence.
What is remarkable here is the object of Rebbi's brilliance. It is not an abstract principle that he discovered, in the realm of pure knowledge, that can be polished and displayed and repeatedly admired, but it is a truth of life, a truth of deed, a truth that left the world a better place after it was discovered.
The Real Story
This story that was told about the Rosh Yeshiva was based on a similar true event, however in fact the idea of speaking with the young orphans was not the Rosh Yeshiva's but his daughters'. They thought about it in advance and arranged it as soon as he came.
The Rosh Yeshiva went to them in a side room, he made the children at ease and invited them to ask him whatever was on their mind. The children were most concerned about their departed father. Is he happy? they wanted to know.
This was a difficult question. It would obviously pain them to know that their father was unhappy, but on the other hand how could he leave them? The Rosh Yeshiva told them that their father was happy, but he missed them.
This went on for some time. The children asked; the Rosh Yeshiva comforted and explained.
At the end the young widow, who was present, exclaimed, "I know it helped the kids, but it helped me more." The young children later said that the Rosh Yeshiva sat with them with kindness and patience, and talked about their new situation and their father.
The truth is certainly beautiful enough.
To Call Out Besheim Hashem
At the Chag Hasemicha the Rosh Yeshiva spoke about the nature of a yeshiva, based on the Rambam in Hilchos Avodas Kochovim (1:3). It is the chapter in which the Rambam recounts the history of the idea of avoda zorah and the way Avrohom Ovinu developed on his own and recognized the truth of his Creator at the age of 40. As soon as Avrohom Ovinu recognized this he started to argue with the people of his city, Ur Kasdim. He was miraculously saved from the king there who wanted to kill him, "and he got up and called out to the whole world loudly to tell them that there is one G-d for the whole world who should be worshiped." He eventually reached tens of thousands whom he taught, each according to his own understanding, and "he implanted in their hearts this great principle."
Avrohom passed on this task to Yitzchok who in turn passed it on to Yaakov. "And Yaakov Ovinu taught all of his children, set Levi aside, and appointed him the head, and set him in a yeshiva to teach the derech Hashem and to keep the mitzvos of Avrohom."
This was what the Rosh Yeshiva saw as the purpose of a yeshiva: to teach the derech Hashem. All must be brought closer and upward. The staff of the yeshiva must spread this great idea and implant it deep in the hearts of the talmidim. Kiruv kerovim, reaching those who need to be reached, is as important as kiruv rechokim.
This is what a person must dedicate himself to do. To serve Hashem, by being an eved Hashem and prominently by calling out to the whole world in general and to each talmid in particular, to bring him to the derech Hashem. (Heard from HaRav Nochum Lansky)
There is certainly much more to say, and perhaps there will be other occasions. The avodas Hashem of an odom godol in more than 75 years can certainly not be contained in 10,000 words. Chaval al de'avdin, velo mishtakchin.
Tehei nishmoso tzerura betzror hachaim.
A Window into the Chareidi World - IN-DEPTH FEATURES
Rebbetzin Chava Pincus -- Sara Schenirer's American Disciple
by M. Samsonowitz
Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight - 8 Adar 5762 - February 20, 2002
When Chava Pincus passed away suddenly on January 26 (13 Shvat) this year, the life of a spirited, unflagging servant of Hashem, whose career spanned four continents and the vicissitudes of the religious community of the past century, came to a glorious close. She left behind her a large, distinguished family of bnei Torah and Jewish educators, and thousands of teachers she had trained who revolutionized the Jewish world and made it into the vibrant religious community we know today.
Early Years in the Galil
Chava Leah Pincus was born in December around 1914, to HaRav Yitzchok Mattisyohu Weinberg in Tiveria. R' Mattis was the son of Rav Noach Weinberg, the grandson of the Slonimer Rebbe, who had been sent to establish a chassidic enclave in the Holy Land in the mid 1800s with other Slonimer chassidim.
Chava's maternal grandfather, HaRav Avner Lorberbaum, was a great talmid chochom in Tzfas descended from the author of the Chavos Daas and the Nesivos Mishpot, whose family had already been in the Holy Land for many generations. Chava's earliest days were thus infused with the flavor and purity of her chassidic, Eretz Hakodesh roots.
This story has been told in greater detail in Yated Ne'eman of parshas Re'ei, 5759 (1999) in Part One of the feature articles about Rebbetzin Pincus's brother, HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, zt"l, of Baltimore.
During World War I, HaRav Yitzchok Mattisyohu Weinberg had to flee to America, at the advice of the Slonimer Rebbe. He eventually opened a store of notions in Bleecker Street. His wife and two children resided in the grandparents' home in Tzfas for the duration of the war. Many years later, aware of the deprivation and want which Palestine residents suffered at the time, Rebbetzin Pincus nonetheless said that she only had positive memories of the period.
In 1921, with the cannons of World War I behind them, R' Mattis's family traveled to the U.S. to join him. The reunited family set about building Yiddishkeit in America, both on a personal level and in the community. R' Mattis was a kodosh and a tohor whose entire day was centered on his Torah study and avodas Hashem. Members of the unassuming but high- spirited Weinberg family were to become innovators in Jewish education who made immense contributions to the Jewish world.
In later years, R' Mattis's wife Hinda founded the first Bais Yaakov-style school on the Lower East Side: the Esther Schoenfeld School. His son HaRav Yaakov Weinberg, became rosh yeshiva of Ner Israel Yeshiva in Baltimore. His youngest son HaRav Noach Weinberg is founder and rosh yeshiva of Aish Hatorah Yeshiva in Yerushalayim and allied institutions around the world.
Chava's life too was a series of innovations and "firsts" in drawing the Jewish people back to their roots. R' Mattis sent his sons to the best Jewish schools he could find and learned with all his children as much as possible. Chava also wanted more Jewish learning and if it had been up to her, she would have gone with them to learn in a yeshiva.
Her father wouldn't let her attend the local schools for girls because they were Zionist-oriented and run by people lacking yiras Shomayim. But he encouraged her to study on her own. Rebbetzin Pincus remembered that her father used to pay her a dollar for each perek of Pirkei Ovos that she learned -- and that was in the days that a dollar was a dollar.
Chava's great desire to learn remained for her entire life. She always told her daughters and students to keep learning. She would tell them that wealth and joy lie in learning. "You have fulfilled your role as wife and mother by encouraging your husband and sons in learning," she said. "But to personally enrich your own lives, you to must develop and retain your interest in learning."
The Cracow Seminary
One day R' Mattis read in the Polish Agudas Yisroel journal about a woman called Sara Schenirer who had opened a seminary in Poland to teach high-level Jewish studies to Jewish women, with the backing of most of the leading Torah sages. Right then R' Mattis wanted to send his oldest daughter to study there, but his practical-minded wife refused since Chava was too young.
When Chava graduated high school, R' Mattis again proposed that she go study in the Cracow Seminary. Chava was willing. Her father promised to buy her a return ticket which she could use whenever she wanted, and all the arrangements were quickly made.
As it turned out, she was the only American student ever to study under Sara Schenirer. Her father sent a letter to Frau Schenirer that in retrospect seems prophetic. "Elisha Hanovi asked for a double portion of the prophecy which Eliyahu Hanovi had. Why did he need more than his teacher Eliyahu? Because his generation's level was much lower than Eliyahu Hanovi's generation, Elisha Hanovi understood that he needed more than his teacher to properly lead his generation.
"Frau Schenirer," R' Mattis concluded, "Poland is under your influence. My daughter has to come back to the United States to lead the generation here. So give her double of your yiras Shomayim, tzniyus, and knowledge, so she can lead the generation in America."
Chava received a warm send-off from her friends in Bnos and Zeirei Agudas Yisroel, and in Tammuz embarked on a ship for Europe. The six-day trip passed quickly, and she traveled by train from Bremen to Cracow. She received her first jolt concerning European antisemitism already on the train to Poland: a train conductor began beating a chassidic Jew who he assumed had made a mess in the third-class cabin. She fearlessly stood up and told the conductor in English, "Get your hands off that man! I was here all this time and the man did not make the mess!"
She was alone in a new country and didn't even know the language, but that didn't stop her from standing up to protect the innocent.
Chava's dismay was great when she arrived in Cracow on Thursday and there was no one to meet her. Taking the initiative, she hired a porter to take her belongings and found a Jew in the street who could direct her to the seminary.
Another disappointment awaited her there. The students had gone on a trip and the school was empty, besides the kitchen help and a few girls who weren't able to go. She anxiously clutched her return ticket, and made plans to return. But then the seminary students returned on Friday, and Chava found herself a small sensation. The girl who had traveled halfway around the world from America aroused wonder and admiration from the other girls. Soon she was busy with Shabbos preparations like the other girls and finally, Shabbos arrived.
Electrified by Sara Schenirer
It was a Shabbos like none other she had experienced. She joined all the girls in the school's large hall and met Sara Schenirer, the famous principal of the school. Chava immediately felt that she was in the presence of a great woman. Frau Schenirer's face shone with a fiery light and her eyes were mild and loving. Chava was not even offended when the great principal fixed her neckline which was considered kosher in America, but didn't hold up to Sara Schenirer's halachic standards. Years later, when describing the incident to her daughter, she added, "I felt she pinned a medal on me."
Her children always interpreted this incident as indicative of their mother's gadlus as much as testimony to Sarah Schenirer's shleimus.
Chava found Shabbos inspiring. The students davened all three prayers and ate together. By the time Shabbos was over, Chava was sold on her new school.
She had to go through a set of adaptation difficulties. The classes were in German and Galician Yiddish, which was very different from the Lithuanian Yiddish that she knew. With time she mastered the German and picked up the Polish Yiddish.
The students spent the summer in the Carpathian mountains. Here she met Dr. Shmuel (Leo) Deutschlander, who headed the Bais Yaakov movement from Vienna. She was impressed with this G-d-fearing, educated Jew, who combined Western culture with a burning love for Torah and Klal Yisroel. He spent most of the year getting support and funds for Keren Hatorah which supported talmudei Torah, chadorim and Bais Yaakov schools.
Chava had arrived at the beginning of the summer. During Elul and Tishrei, she traveled with Fraulein Esther Hamburger, one of the school's instructors, throughout Jewish communities in Poland. They went to Lublin, where they saw Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin and met HaRav Meir Shapira. Then they went to Warsaw and Gur.
They spent Rosh Hashonoh in Gur, where they saw thousands of chassidim converging on the Rebbe's court. She received a personal invitation from the Rebbetzin to hear the Rebbe's kiddush.
In Warsaw, she davened on Yom Kippur in the beis midrash of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, HaRav Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson.
After Yom Kippur, she visited the famous Mirrer Yeshiva where she was received by the rosh yeshiva, HaRav Eliezer Yudel Finkel, and the mashgiach, HaRav Yeruchom Levovitz.
This journey through Jewish Poland finally ended in Baranowitz, where she spent Succos with the Slonimer Rebbe's family who were her relatives. Baranowitz gave her the opportunity to become better acquainted with Vichna, Sara Schenirer's star disciple who then lived with her uncle, HaRav Yisroel Yaakov Lubchansky, the mashgiach of the Baranowitz yeshiva. She also met the rosh yeshiva of the Baranowitz yeshiva HaRav Elchonon Wasserman, who later spent two years in the U.S. collecting for his yeshiva and guiding her friends in Zeirei Agudas Yisroel.
Vichna later married an American who had come to study in the Mirrer yeshiva, HaRav Boruch Kaplan, and when they went back she transported the Bais Yaakov movement to American soil. Chava Weinberg was to become her faithful partner in building Torah education in New York City.
Another brave and unusual step Chava took while in Cracow was to travel to Palestine to join her mother and brothers who were visiting her family there, for the month of Nisan. She went with the Frankfurt Agudas Yisroel delegation which was traveling in 1933 to Israel through Switzerland and Italy, and embarked at Messina for the trip by boat to Eretz Yisroel.
Though she originally had planned to stay only a year, Chava remained in the Cracow Seminary for close to two years. Sara Schenirer was unusually welcoming to her and she became one of her close students. In addition to her studies in the seminary, Chava was also involved in Sara Schenirer's charity projects and helped collect funds for them.
Chava was with Frau Schenirer during her last days. Throughout 1934, the great teacher suffered from a debilitating disease. Although she never said a word of complaint, her heartbroken students saw her wasting away. The day before her passing, Chava broke down next to her bedside in tears, but her mentor just caressed and comforted her and told her not to cry. The next day, after lighting Shabbos candles, Frau Sara Schenirer returned her pure soul to her Maker.
Soon after Chava returned to New York, imbued with a desire to bring Bais Yaakov to American shores. Her youngest brother Noach was so excited by her vision and single-mindedness that he told her that if he had a million dollars, he would build a building for her school.
Chava got to work convincing families of kindergarten children of the importance of a Bais Yaakov. Although she mustered a class of 12 children, the initiative didn't continue until the following year.
Her first teaching position was as a teacher in the West Side Institutional Synagogue Talmud Torah. She wrote many years later about that experience: "I was there only a short time and my advice to the rabbi was that if he wanted his boys to grow into knowledgeable and religious Jews, he should get them to go to a yeshiva. He knew as well as I that the future of Jewish education is only through yeshivos, but his congregants were already preoccupied with thoughts of their children's future careers. They considered the Talmud Torah's instruction in Yiddishkeit sufficient."
Chava searched for a school where she could put into practice more of her idealism for a Bais Yaakov school. An elementary school called Bais Sara had opened in Williamsburg and it hired her to teach Jewish studies in the afternoon.
She later assumed the position of head teacher/principal of the new Shulamis school in Boro Park. The latter had a more modern slant, but the principal reassured her that there was room there to implement a "Bais Yaakov" agenda. Privately, the young Chava organized a group of 15-16 year old girls to teach them hashkofoh. It was incredibly bold for the young seminary graduate to try to inculcate these Americanized but well-meaning Jewish girls with genuine, timeless Jewish values, but the young Chava was up to the challenge.
She wrote about these classes many years later: "I had a difficult time getting them to see that a godol beTorah can be a world Jewish leader, able to lead, advise, and represent us before governments with credit and honor. They could not understand why, for example, Stephen S. Wise and others like him were not acceptable to us. They argued that they have the language, polish and knowledge of diplomacy and other assets needed for leadership in our times. They could not see how a godol in learning could handle and resolve the many modern problems.
"We attempted to point out to them that `Hashem looked into the Torah and created the world,' and consequently, there cannot be a question or problem that may arise, whether political, social, or economical, whose answer and solution cannot be found in the Torah."
These girls became the nucleus of the first class of the new Bais Yaakov school which met in Rebbetzin Vichna Kaplan's house. Chava was also the first teacher that Rebbetzin Kaplan hired to teach in her new school.
Rabbi Avrohom Pincus was among the few American boys who had gone to Europe to study in the Mirrer Yeshiva in the 30s. Shortly before World War II he returned to the U.S. and took a position as rabbi of the Five Corners Congregation in Jersey City. Chava was introduced to him by mutual friends and they wed on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, 1940.
The couple was imbued with dreams of bringing authentic Judaism to America. They were part of the select group of idealistic young Jews affiliated with Zeirei Agudas Yisroel that was composed of individuals such as HaRav Pam, Mike Tress, Rav Anshel Fink and Rabbi Moshe Sherer. Although these individuals are famous today, at the time they were just inspired youths and friends who dreamed of accomplishing their ideals. HaRav Yitzchok Hutner was the rav who guided them. The young rabbi and rebbetzin were busy leading their congregation and building their home.
Rabbi Pincus accepted a new position as rabbi in Englewood, New Jersey. Their life took a turn one December day in 1945, when their 4-year old daughter returned home and cried that a non-Jewish friend said she wasn't American because she doesn't have a holly branch on the door. The final blow came when their daughter returned on Shabbos from a friend's house -- a prominent Jewish family known to be religious -- and said she had been offered a fried egg.
Despite their congregants' energetic protests, the Pincuses packed up and left for Williamsburg where their children would have a better religious education and friends. HaRav Pincus became rabbi of the South 5th Street shul in Williamsburg at less than half of his former salary. Instead of a lavish suburban home, the family lived in a typical Williamsburg dwelling.
A Key Position in the Bais Yaakov Seminary
Rebbetzin Pincus was snapped up by her close friend and Seminary colleague Reb. Vichna Kaplan to teach in the Williamsburg Bais Yaakov. She was one of a handful of teachers -- that included the Rebbetzins Vichna, Basya Bender, Chava Wachtfogel, Rivka Springer, Chana Rottenberg, Rochel Cizner, Shifra Yudasin, Batsheva Hutner and Leah Goldstein -- who built up the Bais Yaakov movement in America.
She taught thousands of students, many of whom went on to become teachers themselves. Her students were eagerly sought by the new Bais Yaakovs opening up all over New York.
Even as a young girl, Rebbetzin Pincus's spunk, spirit, charm and articulate speech commanded everyone's attention when she joined a group. As a teacher, her students were in awe of her because of her vivacity, bright delivery of ideas, and her wonderful personality. Each student felt that Rebbetzin Pincus was focusing particularly on her.
She taught Novi and Hebrew. Her lectures on Mishlei, the sefer which she particularly loved, were famous.
After several years, Rebbetzin Kaplan felt that the school needed a more intensive and organized course in methodology. She asked Rebbetzin Pincus to create the curriculum and to supervise the teaching of methods. Rebbetzin Pincus was busy enough with her regular teaching, her husband's rabbinical position, his new position as principal of Torah Vodaas, and raising their family of nine children. She at first tried to turn down the request -- but there was no refusing Reb. Kaplan. She became heavily involved in supervising student teaching in various schools and observing model lessons.
On the first day of a methodology class, Rebbetzin Pincus challenged her students: "What's the most important part of your first lesson?"
The students were quick to suggest different aspects of educational theory, but she replied, "Wear bright clothes and lipstick, and come in with a big smile."
Home and Community
Rebbetzin Pincus knew how to successfully integrate the intellect with the emotional. When her children were babies, she sang to them. She had special songs for different things. She would sit and tell the children stories. She taught the children numerous things, fostering in them the wonder of learning. She played piano and her Succah was full of her artistic decorations. At the same time, she read voluminous amounts. She saw everything as an opportunity for learning.
People remember walking into the house and virtually always seeing a sefer in her hands. She studied Mishlei and Tehillim, the latter of which she knew by heart. She knew many chapters of nevi'im by heart and studied the parsha every week. She treasured her solitude, and utilized it to gain more knowledge and enrich herself.
One of her favorite seforim was the Chochmas Hamatzpun commentary on Chumash which is an anthology of deep comments by mussar leaders from Rav Yisroel Salanter and on. She often read it on Shabbos. She once told her oldest granddaughter, "One of the most precious times in my life was when the children were small. After I put them to sleep, I went through the whole Nevi'im Rishonim." Learning was her excitement, passion, pastime, and way to relax all rolled into one.
Despite her heavy schedule, she still found time to help others. The Pincuses adopted 10-12 families over the years, treating them as if they were family. They were always available to help solve their problems, provide funds, even to give marriage counselling.
One of Rebbetzin Pincus's classmates from the Cracow Seminary who had survived the Holocaust, arrived penniless in the U.S. When Rebbetzin Pincus discovered her, she treated her like family. The financial support she gave her "families" was substantial. When one of them became a kallah, Rebbetzin Pincus had her own children go through their clothes closets to search for quality clothes for her.
Struggling With Pain and Illness
Health problems beset Rebbetzin Pincus throughout her life. Shortly after marriage, she began to suffer from arthritis in her extremities, which became crippling after the age of 35. Although the condition left her in constant pain, she rarely talked about it nor did she project the "mentality" of an invalid.
She would talk so calmly to her doctors about how to tackle the disease that they couldn't believe the vibrant woman before them was in such pain.
In her later years, when she was confined to a wheelchair, she would apologize lightly -- "Just today my foot is acting up" -- for not standing up and accompanying her guests to the door.
She rejoiced with the physical capabilities she possessed, and carefully guarded her health. Rebbetzin Pincus sought natural ways of healing her condition well before alternative medicine became popular. She kept a strict vegetarian diet that required tremendous willpower. She kept up a strict diet regimen for decades, to the end of her life.
Although she was strict with herself, she had treats ready for her grandchildren who came to visit, and would tell them, laughing, "I'm enjoying it vicariously."
The Pincuses were also among the first families in New York to forego English studies for their sons so they could spend more time on their Jewish studies. They put their sons in a special intensive Talmudic Studies class run by HaRav Yosef Liss so they would develop into first-rate Torah scholars. Once when they were taken to court for their sons' truancy, the Pincuses told the judge, "Do these boys look like juvenile delinquents?" The judge acquitted them.
They also sent their sons to study in the Bais HaTalmud yeshiva where a small group of select students studied in a challenging European-style yeshiva atmosphere, led by Rav Pincus's friend from the European Mirrer yeshiva, HaRav Leib Malin. Their sons then went to study in the Brisk yeshiva in Jerusalem in the 1960s, long before study in Israeli yeshivos became so popular for Americans.
Move to Israel
In 1971, when six of the Pincus's children were married and living in Israel, they decided to move to Bnei Brak. Their stunning decision caused an uproar in their circle of friends, but as usual, the Pincuses went about doing things their own way, which often ended up setting a trend for others.
Shortly after arriving in Israel, Rebbetzin Pincus was offered a position with Chinuch Atzmai, supervising teachers. She supervised three schools in Bnei Brak, three in Tiveria and three in Haifa.
With much excitement she traveled to her beloved Tiveria for the first time in almost 40 years, and found that it had changed tremendously. Although the Chinuch Atzmai school in Tiveria had hundreds of students, it was not easy to convince parents to send their children there because of the secular brainwashing. Rebbetzin Pincus supervised the school's curriculum, dealt with problematic kids, taught the teachers how to correct the children's wrong hashkofos, and weighed the pros and cons of new teaching methods being considered.
In one class, she heard a kid snickering that she has "metal teeth." Rather than take offense, she decided to utilize the opportunity to give the class a lesson in proper nutrition. "Do you know why I have metal teeth? Because when I was a young child, I didn't know that too much sugar and junk food is no good for you." She then taught the class the importance of a healthy diet.
The Pincuses moved to Jerusalem in 1976, when HaRav Pincus became principal of Kamenetz Yeshiva. From that point on, Rebbetzin Pincus stopped working for Chinuch Atzmai, although she continued to give shiurim in her home and taught small groups.
Heading the Kollel in Santiago, Chile
Most people of their age and health would have been satisfied with a graceful retirement. But even though they were in their 70s, the Pincuses were still young in spirit. So when their son R' Shimshon asked them if they would go to Santiago, Chile to become rosh kollel, they decided to accept.
When Reb Shimshon spoke to the five kollel members about his parents joining them in Chile, he assured them: "I'm giving you my mother and she'll be a mother to you." Those few words pithily summed up the Pincuses' four-and-a- half year stay in Santiago. HaRav Pincus was the rosh kollel and Rebbetzin Pincus engaged in kiruv work.
Above all, they were father and mother to everyone. At the time, the only Jewish spiritual leaders in Santiago were three Reform rabbis who were doing their worst. Temples with choirs and organs, "dialogue" with Christian priests, and non- halachic conversions and divorces were the norm.
When the Pincuses arrived in Chile in December, 1983, the kollel had five avreichim learning two full sedorim in the day. Night seder was devoted to studying with local Jews.
There were no cheering crowds to greet the Pincuses when they arrived. People told them frankly, "You're 30- 40 years too late! You can go back to where you came from!" Intermarriage was a tragic 80 percent.
But Rebbetzin Pincus had already seen spiritual revolutions happen before her eyes, with her taking no small part in them. Undaunted, she wrote letters, made calls and personally contacted people to come to classes and events. She started studying Spanish and within a few months, she was able to communicate in that language and, she even gave a few shiurim in it.
When Adar approached, Rebbetzin Pincus decided to celebrate Sara Schenirer's yahrtzeit with a grand event for women, hoping to use it as a springboard to attract them to classes. The other kollel women baked goodies and set beautiful tables.
Only five people showed up. Among them were two young girls whom the other kollel wives were already trying to be mekarev, their mother, and two new faces: the Israeli consul's wife and Janine Levi.
Rebbetzin Pincus was not disheartened. "This is a good beginning," she said.
Janine became a close student, eventually helped her publish the El Kollel quarterly bulletins with interesting stories, information and important holiday halachos for the Jewish community. Janine eventually married and settled in New York.
To reach the widest number of Jewish women, Rebbetzin Pincus attended a local meeting of WIZO women, the largest Jewish women's organization in Chile. She told the women about the kollel and the classes being offered. Some women approached her after the meeting and asked if they could attend.
She formed a group and they began to study Pirkei Ovos. She began to explain the uniqueness of Judaism and Jewry, starting from the basics. The Pincuses made some inroads in teaching individuals of the importance of halacha, especially in those subjects which frequently beset assimilated communities.
In her lectures, Rebbetzin Pincus spoke about the problem of nonhalachic conversions. Many women now became aware that the phony conversions performed by the Reform rabbis had accomplished nothing. A doctor whose wife had "converted" and bore him two daughters, approached the Pincuses in misery and asked what he could do about their Jewishness. The family eventually moved to Israel where the wife and daughters converted properly.
They also emphasized the importance of kosher gittin and kiddushin. The day finally came when a couple getting divorced insisted on having the kollel arrange it. The case was sent to the beis din in Buenos Aires, which performed it according to halacha. Some people insisted on having their wedding performed by the kollel.
When it was discovered that the two "kosher" butchers were selling treif meat, a kollel member and local baal habayis opened a new butcher store under the supervision of the kollel. The number of people keeping kosher began to grow.
The young women in the community were more interested in Judaism than their husbands. They were devoted to Rebbetzin Pincus, but after four years intense activity in Santiago, illness forced their return to Israel.
In the four years that the Pincuses were in Santiago they influenced a number of people to become religious, and were instrumental in sending several boys to study in yeshivos in Israel and the U.S.
Enriching Personal Relationships
Rebbetzin Pincus's life of accomplishment was far from over. Now she was able to devote herself to her dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, with all of whom she had an extraordinary relationship. In fact, each child was convinced that his or her relationship was more special than the others. She was the loving grandmother and wise matriarch who endowed her winning smile and full attention on each one.
In earlier years, her American grandchildren were filled with excitement when Savta and Zeidi came to visit. She took each grandchild aside and showed a keen interest about what was going on in his or her life. She knew how to talk with such concern and love that they felt thrilled to speak with her.
One of the happiest moments in Rabbi and Rebbetzin Pincus's life was their surprise 50th anniversary celebration 12 years ago which all nine children planned together. The five children then living abroad surreptitiously traveled in from Los Angeles and New York to join their siblings in Israel.
It is impossible to adequately describe the scene when Rabbi and Rebbetzen Pincus looked up to see all of their children suddenly appear together in their living room.
That Shabbos night, their son, HaRav Shimshon (zt"l), said, "This is how I picture kibbutz goluyos and greeting the Shechina. This is the ecstasy that Jews will feel."
On this moving occasion, Rebbetzin Pincus spoke feelingly to her children, telling them how much she had revered their father. She had always made sure her husband was learning and that nothing disturbed him. Also she reiterated her strong belief in the enriching power of learning for women. "Even 15 or 20 minutes a day set aside for learning will enhance your life immeasurably."
Rebbetzin Pincus devoted herself to her family and her large extended family. People came to the Pincus home throughout the day. Her days were spent talking and advising people, learning with chavrusas or learning alone in mussar seforim and Tanach.
On Shabbos, January 26, close to Sholosh Seudos, her daughter was helping her mother into a wheelchair when Rebbetzin Pincus suddenly lost consciousness. Her petirah was described as a misas neshikoh.
Her levaya was held next to Yeshivas Torah Or on motzei Shabbos. Although the family only had a few hours to notify people, many hundreds attended. The Aron passed by her home, which is an eidus to her tznius, yiras Shomayim, love of Torah and her success as a true ezer kenegdo. She was eulogized by her sons HaRav Avner and HaRav Yosef Binyomin, by her son-in- law Rav Yosef Savitzky, by her nephew Rav Zelig Weinberg, and by Rav Yisroel Yaakov Pincus, the oldest son of her son HaRav Shimshon.
She was buried in Har Hamenuchos next to her illustrious son HaRav Shimshon and his wife and their daughter, who were tragically killed in a car accident less that a year ago.
She is survived by over a hundred descendants in Israel and the U.S., first-class bnei Torah, Jewish educators, and exemplary Torah Jews, who have all enriched the Torah world while following in their parents' and ancestors' paths.
Rabbi Noah Weinberg
About Aish HaTorah
Rabbi Noah Weinberg sailed from New York in 1953 with little more than a suitcase full of dreams; one man determined to turn world Jewry away from assimilation and back to Jewish pride. In 1974, he founded Aish HaTorah in the Old City of Jerusalem with a handful of students. Together, they grappled with the basic questions of Jewish identity: How is Judaism relevant to my life? Who is G-d? Why should I marry a Jew?
The formula worked, and today, Aish HaTorah is the premier resource for Jews with a thirst for knowledge and a longing for intelligent answers. Over 120 cities worldwide host Aish HaTorah programs, with full-time outreach centers everywhere from Toronto to Moscow to Australia.
Whether through our flagship Discovery seminar, or the popular Jerusalem Fellowships college program, Aish HaTorah's success is due largely to its unique approach: it provides an environment where questions, curiosities and misconceptions about Judaism are resolved.
Aish HaTorah students are young men and women who have pursued successful careers in medicine, business, law, education and the arts - and are now discovering their connection to the Jewish people. From all over the world and from all backgrounds - Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform, we have come together for a common cause: to reach out to the next generation and chart a brighter future for our people.
In recognition of these outstanding efforts, the Israeli government awarded Aish HaTorah - for the price of one shekel - the last remaining property directly facing the Western Wall. In 1995, Aish HaTorah's World Center (the Dan Family Building) opened, featuring the world's only glass Holy Ark. Today a second building, the multi-million dollar Aish HaTorah Outreach Center is currently under construction.
The name Aish HaTorah, literally "Fire of Torah," was inspired by the story of Rebbe Akiva, a 40-year-old shepherd who could not even read the Aleph-Bet. One day, he came across a stone that had been holed out by a constant drip of water. He concluded: If something as soft as water could carve a hole in solid rock, then how much more so can Torah - which is fire-- make an indelible impression on my heart. Rebbe Akiva committed himself to study Torah, and went on to become the greatest sage of his generation, with 24,000 students learning under him at one time.
Rabbi Weinberg believes each Jew could achieve similar results, if given the chance. He says: "If 20,000 Jewish kids were being killed each year, you'd be jolted into action and launch a movement to save them. Today, we're losing 20,000 Jewish kids each year through assimilation."
Aish HaTorah has a clear plan: Tie every Jew to a pride in his heritage, to a confidence in our future, and to an appreciation of how precious his involvement with the Jewish people can be for himself, his children, grandchildren, and all humanity. Says Rabbi Weinberg: "By working together, with the help of the Almighty, we will succeed."
Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman
Rebbetzin Chana Weinberg (mother of Rabbi Matis Weinberg)
Condemning Abuse - Weinberg Family takes Action to protect victims of abuse. (05/01/2003)
10 Years For Domestic Abuse Prevention Group
Bikur Cholim of Baltimore
Condemning Abuse - Weinberg family takes action to protect victims of abuse.
Phil Jacobs, Editor
Baltimore Jewish Times - May 1, 2003
On a mantel in Rebbetzin Chana Weinberg's home on the Ner Israel Rabbinical College campus sits an inscribed award. Called the Ima Shel Malchus (Mother of Royalty) Award, it was presented to Mrs. Weinberg in March by the National Council of Young Israel.
One particular line on the plaque stands out: "Klal Yisroel owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Rebbetzin Weinberg for raising the painful issue of domestic violence in the Orthodox community, both locally in her home city of Baltimore and nationwide. This widespread problem was kept hidden for too long by our own denial, but Rebbetzin Weinberg confronted the issue in a quiet, dignified and practical way, and rabbis, organizational leadership and lay people are now responding and taking action."
On a cool spring day when the founder and trailblazer of the Jewish domestic abuse organization CHANA and her therapist daughter, Dr. Aviva Weisbord, would have rather been talking about the upcoming Passover holidays, the discussions turned painfully too close to home.
"We strongly condemn any and all abuse by anybody against anybody at any time in any place in any form," said Mrs. Weinberg.
Her statement came amid the backdrop of improprieties allegedly committed by her son, Rabbi Matis Weinberg. (see main story) Her family is participating in the process of putting together a panel of rabbis and heads of yeshivot both in the United States and Israel to act as a clearinghouse for victims of abuse.
The Weinbergs, along with the rabbis, plan to produce a central phone number that can be used by those who feel victimized so that cases can be heard and investigated. "The idea is to protect people and to make them feel they can come forward," said Dr. Weisbord.
Note from Vicki Polin:
The Awareness Center wants to point out that there are inherent problems with the approach of dealing with allegations of sexual abuse suggested by the Weinbergs. We are firm believer that in any community (including the observant world), when an individual suspects child abuse and/or neglect, they should be mandated to call child abuse hot-lines in their community immediately. This will insure that evidence does not become contaminated.
Calling law enforcement officals is the only way to be sure that there are no cover-ups or biases. This is one way to insure that individuals do not investigate allegations against friends, colleagues, and/or family members). Child Protection workers are highly skilled, highly trained professionals who know how to collect forensic evidence to determine if a case is valid and/or if there is enough evidence to press criminal charges. Child Protection workers know how to do forensic victim-sensitive interviews with victims of all ages (without accidentally asking leading questions).
It makes sense that variousJewish community may want to develop some sort of liason relationship with the child protection agency in their area. This is one way to insure that the workers have an understanding of our cultural differences For the sake of our children, we need to use the systems that are in place.
Vicki Polin, MA, ATR, LCPC
Executive Director - The Awareness Center
Aviva (Weinberg) Weisbord, PhD (Rabbi Matis Weinberg's brother)
Case of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau
New JBBL Head
By Phil Jacobs
Baltimore Jewish Times - MAY 19, 2006
"I'm there for everybody." Dr. Aviva Weisbord
Dr. Aviva Weisbord has been there for everybody for almost 25 years, working with her patients in her psychology practice.
The truth is, Dr. Weisbord, the wife of Ner Israel Rabbinical College's Rabbi Beryl Weisbord and daughter of the late rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Yaakov S. Weinberg, and community pillar Rebbetzin Hannah Weinberg, has never not been there for this community.
But now that status is going to take a huge, perhaps more public, change.
As of June 1, Dr. Weisbord, who is known for her warm, friendly smile, will start as the new head of the Jewish Big Brother and Big Sister League (JBBL) and its Jewish Addiction Services program. JBBL is a constituent agency of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
Dr. Weisbord succeeds Lou Jacobs, who left the agency last March after 18 years of leading the JBBL to start a private practice in psychotherapy for adolescents, adults and couples.
A Pikesville resident, Dr. Weisbord has for seven years served on the JBBL board, and for four years served as an officer. She was actually on the search committee to find a replacement for Mr. Jacobs. She becomes the first Orthodox woman in recent memory to head an Associated constituent agency.
Dr. Weisbord first became connected to the league when Mr. Jacobs asked her some 10 years ago to help the agency with staff development.
"I didn't know what I was getting into," she said with a smile. "I didn't know I'd fall in love with this agency."
Dr. Weisbord said that the mission of the league is an exact mirror of how Jews are supposed to take care of and look out for one another.
"This is how we're supposed to live," she said. "This is the ultimate chesed organization.
"My immediate goal," Dr. Weisbord said, "is to get the community more familiar with what we do. A lot of people will ask me what the league does. I think we have to get the word out more specifically. The Associated is right there with us and for us to help get that message out there."
It's a cool, rainy spring May day. Dr. Weisbord is interviewed at an outdoor table at the Festival at Woodholme. Pedestrians run from their cars to avoid the rain. Some know her and smile, others wave.
Dr. Weisbord will be transitioning out of psychology practice, keeping on a small number of clients while moving into her new position. That job will still involve the management of the well-received JBBL programs.
"For every mentor we get started, we need two more," she said of the community need for the league. "And there are still many who don't know to call on us."
Dr. Weisbord will manage a 15-person staff that she says is doing a marvelous job. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," she said of the personnel. "Lou put together a top-notch agency."
She also said that volunteering for the league has been an eye-opening experience as far as the work done by the Associated.
"Before I joined the board, I just saw the Associated as some sort of monolithic organization raising money," she said. "But I've learned it's more than I ever thought. The volunteers and professionals are really there to take care of us and our community."
JBBL board member Larry Seegul said Dr. Weisbord brings to the league "tremendous passion and commitment. Give credit to Lou. He was a top-notch professional. When you go to the dictionary and look up professional, he's your guy. But she brings different skill sets. She will bring an excitement and a vitality that is always needed. She'll make a great director."
Rabbi Simcha Weinberg (Rabbi Matis Weinberg's brother)
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Last Updated: 05/18/2006
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