Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

23 Tammuz 5759 - July 7, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, zt"l

by S. Baruchi and Mordecai Plaut

This past Thursday, the 17th of Tammuz, Torah Jewry mourned the petirah of the gaon, HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, the rosh yeshiva of Ner Yisroel of Baltimore, and one of the greatest roshei yeshiva in the United States.

As a youth, HaRav Weinberg studied in the Rabbenu Chaim Berlin yeshiva in New York City under HaRav Yitzchok Hutner, where he was well known for his remarkable hasmodoh, his conduct, his special hanhogos, and his in-depth learning. Even when he was still young, he yearned to study Torah and, due to his tremendous diligence and exertion he achieved astounding bekius. "Bor sud she'eino me'abed tipah," was the dictum used to describe him them.

Reb Shmuel Yaakov pored over his studies day and night without pause, expanding his Torah knowledge further and further, out of purity of character and soul. He was an outstanding student of his mentor, HaRav Yitzchok Hutner, himself in turn a star talmid of the Alter of Slobodke from Europe and Eretz Yisroel, from whom he acquired the foundations and principles of Torah thought and mussar.

He married the only daughter of HaRav Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman, the rosh yeshiva of Ner Yisroel of Baltimore and another star talmid of the Alter from Europe.

After his marriage, he continued to pore over his studies in his father-in-law's yeshiva. He began to reach out to the younger students, and all the top talmidim of the yeshiva were attracted to him. His prodigious intellect and thorough commitment to truth and honesty and his deep Torah roots, coupled with his penetrating understanding of the mind and soul of American youth, gave him an ability to touch the young American talmidim in ways that were rare in those days.

In 5724 (1964), his father-in-law sent him to Toronto, to preside as the rosh yeshiva of a branch that Ner Yisroel had established there several years earlier. He brought an energy and excitement to the yeshiva that attracted even those who would otherwise have had no thought of attending a yeshiva. Also, talmidim from Baltimore would go to Toronto especially to spend time learning under him.

He was like a compassionate father to his students, and was deeply concerned for the personal development of each and every one of them, offering them individual guidance, and dedicating every fiber of his soul to their progress. Talmidim fondly recall his Chumash shiurim in those days, in which he learned Chumash slowly, showing the importance of each word and the way to seriously analyze the holy words of the Torah.

In 5732, when the yeshiva in Toronto decided to become independent, he returned to Baltimore.

Shortly before the petirah of his father-in-law in 5747 (1987), HaRav Weinberg was asked to preside as the rosh yeshiva of Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, one of the major yeshivas in the United States. The shiurim which he delivered there for over fifteen years, gained wide repute for their tremendous depth. In these shiurim, he provided the bnei yeshiva with guidelines on how to approach and clarify a sugya.

He had a deep impact on his students and on all who heard his shiurim, and it was from him that they acquired the eternal kinyonim of Torah, halocho, and pure yiras Shomayim. They regarded him, too, as a paragon of an oveid Hashem, whose entire life was devoted to Torah dissemination and as a father image, whose was deeply concerned for their spiritual welfare and sought to guide them along the path leading to Beis Hashem, according to the traditions transmitted to him from the gedolim of previous generations.

His home was a beacon for Torah scholars and Torah seekers. He received everyone warmly, genially, and with remarkable nobility of soul, which aroused tremendous admiration for him.

As an outstanding orator, HaRav Weinberg was always one of the main speakers at public affairs of chareidi Jewry in the Untied States. He felt duty-bound to go to wherever he was invited, to spread Torah. His fervent words, which emanated from a pure heart, had a tremendous impact on his listeners. His compelling and eloquent speech influenced many to return to their roots and to draw closer to the Torah world. With his broad knowledge and persuasive manner of expression, he was able to touch the hearts of many.

He was a member of the Moetzes Roshei Hayeshivos of Torah Umesorah for many years, and was very active in expanding the projects of this important organization, known for its many endeavors for the chinuch of so many Jewish children.

His sons, sons-in-law and daughters are all important people in the Torah community, deeply involved in spreading the word of Hashem.

The levaya set out from the Ner Yisroel yeshiva of Baltimore towards the evening, and HaRav Weinberg was buried beside his illustrious father-in-law, HaRav Ruderman. The levaya was transmitted in a direct broadcast to the Eish HaTorah yeshiva in Jerusalem, headed by his brother, HaRav Noach Weinberg who considered himself a talmid of his older brother. Throngs of the niftar's students from all over Eretz Yisroel came to Eish HaTorah to listen to the hespedim.

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