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28 Nissan 5760 - May 3, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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HaRav Simcha Ziskind Broide zt"l

by Betzalel Kahn

On Sunday the third day of chol hamoed Pesach, a huge throng estimated by police to be around 100,000, headed by Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, roshei yeshiva, ramim, marbitzei Torah and bnei Torah, participated in the levaya of HaRav Simcha Ziskind Broide, rosh yeshiva of yeshivas Knesses Yisroel -- Chevron for forty years, and a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah.

HaRav Broide was one of the most venerable roshei yeshiva of our times, he educated thousands of students. He was 88 at the time of his petirah on erev Shabbos chol hamoed.

A huge throng gathered on Sunday morning outside the yeshiva in the Givat Mordechai neighborhood of Jerusalem, since the yeshiva's large main study hall, to where the aron was brought, was too small to hold them all.

Students and former students arrived from all over the country. They were joined by tens of thousands of bnei Torah, yeshiva students and avreichim.

Before the hespedim began, HaRav Broide's aron was brought to his room in the yeshiva where he studied for many years.

Maran HaGaon HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv shlita permitted hespedim about the Rosh Yeshiva to be delivered in his presence, even though the Acharonim say that in our days we do not have a din talmid chochom for this (as explained in Biur Halocho 547), nonetheless a talmid chochom and gaon who spread Torah and educated thousands of talmidim is different. This is somewhat similar to the sevora brought in Teshuva Mei'ahava (I, 207). Still, HaRav Eliashiv ruled that the hespedim should be brief.

Hespedim were delivered by HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman, HaRav Yechiel Michel Lefkowitz, HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum rosh yeshivas Mir-New York, HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, rosh yeshivas Mir-Jerusalem, HaRav Boruch Shimon Solomon, rosh yeshivas Nachlas Dovid and Chief Rabbi of Petach Tikvah, HaRav Moshe Mordechai Farbstein and HaRav Dovid Cohen roshei yeshivas Chevron Givat Mordechai, and by HaRav Simcha Zissel Broide's son-in-law, HaRav Shmuel Segal.

At the end of the hespedim the entourage proceeded from the yeshiva by foot along the Begin Highway and then via Sarei Yisroel and Malchei Yisroel Streets to Kikar Shabbos and Mea Shearim, which teemed with thousands who waited for the aron which was borne by his students. The procession passed by the Hevron Geula yeshiva where the niftar had taught and served as a rosh yeshiva until the yeshiva transferred to Givat Mordechai. The entourage continued to the cemetery on Har Hazeisim, where words of parting were delivered beside the grave by HaRav Moshe Mordechai Chadash, the rosh yeshiva of Or Elchonon.

According to police estimates, approximately 100,000 people participated in the levaya.


HaRav Simcha Mordechai Ziskind Broide zt"l, son of HaRav Chizkiyahu Avrohom, was born in Yerushalayim in Adar, 5672, in the famous Chotzer Straus (Straus Court), and grew up in the proximity of great tzaddikim and baalei mussar.

Four generations, all of whom followed the tradition of the Alter of Kelm, lived together under one roof in that modest home in Chotzer Straus: the great-grandfather HaRav Arye Leib, brother of the Alter of Kelm, who had been the head of the famed Talmud Torah of Kelm for three years after the Alter's petirah, the grandfather HaRav Nochum Yitzchok, the father, HaRav Chizkiyohu Avrohom, and the young Simcha Zissel.

Among the other residents of this famed courtyard were HaRav Naftoli Amsterdam and HaRav Itzeleh Blazer, the illustrious disciples of the founder of the mussar movement HaRav Yisroel Salanter, as well as other great and venerable talmidei chachomim of Yerushalayim. The entire courtyard was one yeshiva shel ma'alah.

As a child, Reb Simcha Zissel studied in the Eitz Chaim Talmud Torah in Yerushalayim.

At the age of fourteen (in 1926-5686) he was accepted by the Alter of Slobodke as a student in yeshivas Knesses Yisroel- Chevron, located, at that time, in the city of Chevron, having recently moved there from Europe.

For nine years he learned with remarkable, boundless diligence. In a number of his later mussar discourses he said that during his first winter zman in the yeshiva he reached daf 90b in the masechta he was studying, including Tosafos and rishonim. This learning, he said, was extensive and in-depth and included a deep understanding of pshat.

Along with his tremendous diligence, he grew in his character, yiras Shomayim and humility, and was a paradigm of an outstanding lamdan with extensive knowledge.

In the hesped which he delivered at the yeshiva, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz said that when HaRav Simcha Ziskind was still young, the other students already viewed him as a "rosh yeshiva" and as Chevron's leading student. All questions which required decisions were brought to him and he resolved them in his uniquely humble and genial manner.

During the 1929 pogrom he was at home in Yerushalayim and was thus saved.

In the summer of 1934, the Mir rosh yeshiva HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel came to Eretz Yisroel and on his return to Europe he took along HaRav Simcha Zissel with him to learn in the Slobodke yeshiva for the winter zman.

During the Yomim Noraim of that year, R' Simcha Zissel went to the Talmud Torah in Kelm to study under HaRav Doniel Mowshowitz and HaRav Gershon Maidenik, and he often spoke about the tremendous impact this period had on him. In one of his recent mussar discourses in the yeshiva he repeated thoughts which he had heard at that time from HaRav Doniel Mowshowitz Hy"d.

On his way to Slobodke with his friend HaRav Simcha Pines, he stopped off in Dvinsk in order to visit the Rogotchover Gaon. When he entered the room, the Rogotchover told him that he was bewildered by the fact that the sugya on daf 38 in Kesuvos, Im yesh boger bakever, is contradicted by an explicit mishna in Taharos.

HaRav Simcha Zissel knew precisely how to resolve the problem and he was able to pinpoint the mishna in Keilim to which the Rogotchover referred.

The Rogotchover was amazed by the reply of HaRav Simcha Zissel, asked him to pay him another visit on the way back to Eretz Yisroel. Later on he once asked, "Where are the yeshiva students from Eretz Yisroel?" referring to R' Simcha Zissel and showing what an impression he had left. Also when HaRav Dov Zochovksy (Berel Yanover), one of the greatest disciples of the Alter of Slobodke, visited the Rogotchover, the latter also told him how he marveled over the astuteness of the young R' Simcha Zissel.

In the winter of 1935 (5695) R' Simcha Zissel went to Petach Tikvah to study and was one of the founders of the Toras Eretz Yisroel yeshiva there. During that period he lived in Bnei Brak at the home of his sister which was on Givat Rokach near the home of the Chazon Ish, and he would often speak with him in learning.

When he returned to the Chevron yeshiva in Yerushalayim he remained very close with the Chazon Ish and for a long period he traveled to Bnei Brak every Friday in order to speak with him in learning.

Kovetz Iggros of the Chazon Ish contains a letter to HaRav Simcha Zissel using the phrase "vesholom Toraso," a phrase reserved only for a select few. In that letter, the Chazon Ish, among other things, says: "I am familiar with your purity of heart and nobility of spirit."

While studying in Chevron, HaRav Simcha Zissel was a talmid chover of HaRav Reuven Trop, son of HaRav Naftoli Trop the rosh yeshiva of Radin. He was also very close with HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer with whom he studied on a steady basis.

HaRav Isser Zalman highly praised HaRav Simcha Zissel's swift grasp and depth and once told Reb Simcha Zissel's father: "They say that the olom enjoys my shiurim because of their ease, yashrus and clarity. But know that your son (Reb Simcha Zissel) has, in addition to all these traits, a remarkable innovative ability."

R' Simcha Zissel's brother, HaRav Zvi Broide zt"l, once quoted HaRav Isser Zalman as saying: "I have no doubt that HaRav Simcha Zissel will be one of the gedolei hador."

Once every two weeks he would visit HaRav Yechezkel Abramski after the latter moved to Eretz Yisroel, and they would study together most of the day. He was also very close with HaRav Isaac Sher, the rosh yeshiva of Slobodke who, after the Holocaust, lived in Yerushalayim for a while. HaRav Simcha Zissel would attend HaRav's Sher's discourses, which had a tremendous impact on him.

In the summer of 1941 (5701) he married Golda Miriam o"h, daughter of HaRav Moshe and Soro Zlata Finkel. HaRav Moshe was the son of the Alter of Slobodke and Soro Zlata was the daughter of HaRav Moshe Mordechai Epstein, the rosh yeshiva of Slobodke Yeshiva.

At R' Simcha Zissel's engagement HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, the rosh yeshiva of Chevron, called him bechir hayeshiva "the choicest student of the yeshiva," adding that while there were other students who could be called "among the yeshiva's best," only Reb Simcha Zissel could be called "bechir hayeshiva."

A short time after his marriage, he was appointed to the position of ram in the yeshiva and began to deliver shiurim in the illustrious Chevron -- Knesses Yisroel yeshiva in Yerushalayim.

In time, these shiurim became known throughout the Torah world for their profundity, and for Reb Simcha Zissel's unique ability to define and clarify the various approaches of the rishonim in any given sugya.

In the summer of 1961 he and HaRav Avrohom Yehuda Farbstein were appointed roshei yeshiva of Chevron, and in 1969 he was appointed a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah.

His joy of learning and his great ahavas Torah were well known. For scores of years in addition to his shiurim in the yeshiva he would study bechavrusa with students of the yeshiva from dawn until shacharis. During these sessions, they would study masechtos which were generally not studied in the regular sedorim of the yeshiva.

He was also known for his remarkable hasmodoh, and would continue his studies in his room in the yeshiva at all times, even during bein hazmanim.

HaRav Nochum Partzowitz, the rosh yeshiva of the Mir, once called him "the shakdan of the generation." Even in his later years he continued to study gemora and Tosafos in depth, with verve, love and sweetness, from the aspect of "vehoyu be'einecho kechadoshim."

In 1971 he published an edition of Chiddushei HaMeiri on Eruvin (three volumes) in which he revealed some of his unique greatness with thousands of succinct explanations and references in his accompanying notes. In addition he included material which expanded on the Meiri with hundreds of profound chiddushim, presented with deep understanding and deliberation on the approaches of all of the rishonim on the sugyos on every single page of Eruvin.

As a result many questions on the most serious issues in Eruvin were sent to him from all over the world, and a number of the greatest halachic authorities of our times sent him their chiddushim on this tractate.

For over thirty years he delivered a weekly shiur in mussar, based on the Ramban on the Torah. In this shiur, which he cherished very highly, he would guide the students of the yeshiva in probing and understanding Chumash with Ramban and expand upon the principles of emunah and mussar as explained by the Ramban and Chazal. These shiurim gained worldwide fame for their original and penetrating ideas, and were given in addition to the discourses he delivered from time to time in the yeshiva on Shabbosim and prior to yomim tovim.

He was exemplary in his character traits, his nobility of soul and his relationships with his fellow. When he heard others speak loshon hora or denigrate someone, he would immediately silence them and tell them to stop, refusing to listen.

He was blessed with a remarkable ayin tova and in every account or story he heard would always find the positive and good side.

He was famed for the respect he showed everyone, no matter their stature, and would fulfill Chazal's dictum: "Greater is one who shows his fellow white teeth [i.e. smiles at him] than one who serves him milk." He greeted everyone warmly but was particularly known for his love and warmth toward his students, whom he honored and drew closer in a remarkable manner, even after they matured and married.

His mottoes in the yeshiva were Chazal's dictums about the our great obligation to be upright and honest and to fulfill the Torah's command of "and you shall do the good and the upright," as well as on the obligation to be careful in matter of kovod haTorah and kovod chaveiro.

He educated thousands of students, many of whom are currently gedolei haTorah and roshei yeshiva, dayanim and rabbonim.

He left thousands of unpublished shiurim and chiddushim in all areas of Shas, as well as shiurim and commentaries on the Torah and the Ramban.

The margins of the volumes of the Shas "from Brochos to Niddah" in which he studied from the time of his marriage, contain comments and references on nearly every page. By the same token, all of the margins of the mishnayos as well as the Tur Shulchan Oruch, and the sifrei rishonim which he studied, are graced with chiddushim in his own handwriting.

In recent years, he published a small part of his chiddushim on Shas and on the commentary of the Ramban on the Torah in a series called Shom Derech.

Last summer he still delivered the opening shiur on Nedarim in the yeshiva. After that though, he became very weak, and it was with great mesiras nefesh that he came to the yeshiva to deliver shmuessim on erev Rosh Hashana and erev Yom Kippur.

In the beginning of this year's winter zman he came to the yeshiva and delivered two mussar discourses. The last shiur he delivered was at a Chanukah celebration.

In Teves, when his brother HaRav Tzvi was niftar, he began to deliver a hesped during the levaya, but was so overcome that he had to stop in the middle.

At the end of the shiva he delivered a hesped on his brother in the Beis Medrash HaGra in Bayit Vegan.

Two months ago he suffered a heart attack, and since then he remained in the Bikur Cholim hospital in Yerushalayim. From the onset of his illness students all over the world beseeched Hashem to grant him a speedy recovery. However, on erev Shabbos morning the first day of chol hamoed Pesach (in Eretz Yisroel), he suffered another heart attack. Shortly before Shabbos surrounded by a minyan of family members and students who recited the verses of kabolas ol malchus Shomayim, he returned his pure soul to its Maker. The news spread swiftly by word of mouth through the chareidi community.

HaRav Simcha Zissel Broide's wife passed away three days after his petirah. He is survived by his son, HaRav Moshe and his daughter who is married to HaRav Shmuel Segal, as well as by grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are following in the path he charted for them.

With the petirah of the rosh yeshiva of Hevron, HaRav Simcha Zissel Broide, the Torah world has lost one of the most remarkable figures of this generation, who taught Torah to thousands of students: an illustrious talmid chochom with rare, unique character traits who reestablished the Torah world in Eretz Yisroel in our generation. His many students bitterly bemoan his petirah.

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