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13 Elul 5759 - August 25, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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A Smile in the Shadow of Death: The Bochur, Chaim Yeshayahu Neuman z"l

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Last Monday, a shocked, saddened crowd accompanied Chaim Yeshayahu Neuman, z"l, on his last earthly journey. One of the most outstanding students of Yeshivas Or Elchonon, Chaim Yeshayahu, victim of a heart attack, was only 21 at the time of his petirah.

He was the son of Reb Yosef Neuman, a prominent resident of Jerusalem's Bayit Vegan neighborhood.

Chaim Yeshayahu's remarkable talents and hasmodoh were already evident when he was very young. He studied in the Leuchter Talmud Torah in Bayit Vegan, later in a yeshiva ketana in Kiryat Herzog in Bnei Brak, and then in Or Yehuda and Or Elchonon. His parents chose to send him to those yeshivos, which were far from his home, because it was much easier for him to study in small settings due to his heart problems.

Rosh chodesh Elul, 5751, is a day his parents will never forget, because it was then that he was diagnosed as having a heart ailment, the result of a virus he had contracted. Two- and-a-half weeks later, on the 18th of Elul, he and his family celebrated his bar mitzvah in the hospital

By Rosh Hashanah of that year, his situation was diagnosed as critical. His heart was barely functioning, and doctors predicted that he had only a few more days to live. Prayers were said for his recovery in all of the country's yeshivos, and he was given the additional name of Chaim. The day following Rosh Hashanah, his condition improved radically. This had a tremendous impact on the senior doctors involved in his case, who sensed that the Borei olom had wrought a miracle. Before that, his situation had been so critical that the doctors were even afraid to fly him to Belgium for a heart transplant.

His family held a seudas hodoyoh a short while afterward, and HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach came to cheer him. During that time, his parents and doctors consulted HaRav Auerbach, who told them to seek the advice of Reb Binyomin Fisher, chairman of the Mogein LeCholeh organization, who was very helpful to them, and offered them many valuable suggestions regarding treatment.

A year after completing his treatments, the heart infection recurred, and the doctors warned that he was liable to suffer heart arrest at any time. Nonetheless, he continued his regular routine, and was always considered the most cheerful student wherever he studied.

This past bein hazmanim, he preferred to spend most of his time in Or Elchonon, where he had been studying for a number of years, in order not to distress his parents. When he reached the age of 18 and had the power to do so, he forbade the doctors to tell his parents about his true situation. Once, however, the doctors overlooked his request. When he learned of this, he sent them a letter of complaint. A short while later, the doctors sent him a written letter of apology.

One of his rabbonim relates: "Whenever I had to resolve a kushya in Nesivos or Ketzos HaChoshen, I would call Chaim Yeshayahu, because he was the only one with whom I could take apart part a kushya."

During the recent bein hazmanim, he published an entire pamphlet on Perek Merubeh of Bava Kama. He was an outstanding masmid, but as he studied, he knew that the shadow of death hovered over him. No one else, however, was aware of his true condition.

This past Tisha B'Av, a friend who had studied with him six years ago in yeshiva ketana called to invite him to his wedding. Chaim Yeshayahu's mother asked the chosson how he remembered him after so many years. The friend explained: "Tisha B'Av, six years ago, the entire yeshiva was moved to tears because of Chaim Yeshayahu's stirring rendition of Eicho. Since then, I recall him every year on that day, and that is why today, Tisha B'Av, I remembered to invite him to my wedding."

Chaim Yeshayahu was a tremendous baal chessed. Every Shabbos he would visit hospitals in the city in order to help and cheer the patients. When HaRav Avrohom Farbstein, rosh yeshiva of Chevron, was hospitalized, Chaim Yeshayahu helped him and his family. He did the same when the admor of Toldos Aharon was ill.

He would always "scold" his friends in yeshiva for not smiling and being happy. He was given an important job in Or Elchonon: that of welcoming the new students who were entering after having just completed yeshiva ketana. He would tell them: "No one enters the beis medrash without a smile on his face."

On rosh chodesh Elul this year, he came an hour before the new students arrived in order to be able to greet them at the yeshiva's gates. At six in the evening, after he had spent the entire day welcoming new students, he went to his room to rest. But his heart failed. Two hours later, he was found in his bed.

His levaya, held late that night, was attended by a large crowd. Hespedim were delivered by HaRav Ezriel Auerbach, rav of Chanichei Hayeshivos in Bayit Vegan; HaRav Moshe Mordechai Chodosh, the rosh yeshiva of Or Elchonon; HaRav Yitzchok Lorincz, one of the roshei yeshiva of Kol Torah; Reb Chaim Mondrei, Chaim Yeshayahu's uncle, and Reb Yosef, Chaim Yeshayahu's father.

Chaval al de'abdin velo mishtakchin.

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