One of the most outstanding and remarkable personages of out
time, hatzaddik Reb Dovid Leib Schwartz, zt"l, of
Kiryat Vizhnitz, Bnei Brak, was niftar last Friday at
the age of 77.
Thousands of Bnei Brak residents, led by the Admor of
Vizhnitz, participated in the levaya.
Reb Dovid Leib, an eminent talmid chochom with noble
character traits, was the embodiment of the true gabbai
tzedoko for fifty years. He dedicated every fiber of his
soul to the poor and unfortunate.
Not all knew him by his family name, but thousands knew the
name "Reb Dovid Leib."
He was born in Volosho-Yarmet in Hungary, the son of Reb
Osher, one of the most prominent students of the Ben
Garni. When he was bar mitzvah, he was examined on the
whole of hilchos Shabbos and was thoroughly versed in
Mogen Avrohom on Hilchos Shabbos.
As a youth he experienced the horrors of the Holocaust, but
displayed mesiras nefesh for the sanctity of Shabbos.
He said that he was prepared to be murdered, but would not
desecrate the Shabbos. He devised many schemes in order to
secure lechem mishneh every Shabbos, and baked
matzos for Pesach at the risk of his life.
After the war, he moved from place to place in Europe along
with other refugees, until he reached Italy.
In 5706 (1946), the Yeshiva Me'or Hagolah was founded in Rome
for Holocaust survivors. Five hundred survivors studied
there. During its five years of existence, Reb Dovid Leib was
one of its outstanding students. He toiled over his Torah
studies and was especially versed in maseches Shabbos
and hilchos Shabbos. He had a remarkable command of
Shas and the Zohar.
In Italy, he married the daughter of the prominent Beck
family. Throughout her life, his wife helped him in his
numerous charitable endeavors.
When he came to Eretz Yisroel in 5708 (1948), he settled in
Kiryat Vizhnitz, where he studied in Kollel Volozhin. Later
on, he served as ram in the Yeshiva Vizhnitz in Tel
He was especially beloved by the Admor, the Imrei Chaim,
zt"l, and by the current Admor of Vizhnitz, yibodel
lechaim, as well as by Rav Yehud'le Horowitz, zt"l,
and gedolei HaTorah from all circles.
He devoted many hours a day to Torah learning and
davening. For many years he slept on a wooden bench in
the Beis Hillel beis medrash in Kiryat Vizhnitz.
On Thursday nights he would go to the Kosel, where he would
pray for donors who gave him tzedoko to distribute and
also for Jews who had given him kvitlach. Since the Six
Day War over 32 years ago, he did not miss a single Thursday
night at the Kosel.
He was a close confidante of the Imrei Chaim on matters of
tzedoko and chessed, and very dedicated to him.
He became a gabbai tzedoko at the behest of the Rebbe,
who had asked for his help in marrying off refugees.
At first he raised funds on erev Shabbos in
neighborhood stores. When he saw the need for more funds, he
broadened the circle of his activities.
He married off Holocaust survivors and personally provided
for their wedding. In his deep esteem of Reb Dovid Leib's
dedication, the Imrei Chaim told him, "You are the `uncle' of
the generation of refugees."
Over the years, many began to call him "der fetter,"
(the uncle), while his righteous wife was called "der
mumme" (the aunt).
Once during the seder,the Imrei Chaim raised Reb
Dovid's cup and made kiddush over it.
The joy which constantly enveloped him, under all
circumstances, was infectious. Collection of donations, penny
by penny, was for him meleches Hakodesh, which he did
out of great love for every Jew. His faced always beamed with
joy. No one ever saw him in an angry or tense frame of mind.
If a Jew happened to refuse his request for money with a
shrug of the shoulder, saying that he had none, Reb Dovid
would warmly bless him, "May you have."
When children were sent by their parents to give donations,
he would bless them in Yiddish, saying somewhat whimsically:
"May your parents have much nachas and may you become
a grosse choniok (extremely religious).
He devoted his entire life to his fellow Jew, while for
himself he needed nothing. The walls of his very simple home
testify to this. But from that one room apartment, hundreds
of other homes were built: homes of orphans, the
impoverished, the unfortunate. To others, he gave generously.
He would go from simcha to simcha and raise money
from the participants, who knew to whom they were giving and
responded warmly. People literally ran to give him money,
because they felt that it was a great zechus. They knew
that all of it went directly to the poor, and that Reb Dovid
Leib took nothing for himself. He had nothing for himself.
He not only gave up this world for others, but also his
Olam Haboh. A childless couple once asked him to pray
for them. He replied: "I'll give up all my Olam Haboh
so that you should have children." And they did.
His heart-rending cry of "tzedoko tatzil mimoves"
accompanied Bnei Brak levayas for scores of years, and
the tzedoko which was collected and the teshuva
which people did upon hearing his cry -- which surely
reminded them of yom hamiso -- is certainly credited to
He was also an active member of the Bikur Cholim society of
Vizhnitz, and every erev Shabbos he would go to
hospitals to distribute sweets to patients.
He would fondly call out to every Jewish child he saw, "di
heiliger tzaddik." In time, the children of the talmud
Torah in Kiryat Vizhnitz began to call him "di heiliger
Many stories are told about him. Once Reb Dovid collected
money at the wedding of the daughter of a very wealthy man.
When the father of the kallah saw Reb Dovid, he slapped
him in the face. Reb Dovid didn't lose his equanimity, and
told him. "That was for me. Now what do you give the poor?"
The man begged forgiveness and donated a large sum.
Honor was not important to him. He would turn to the donors
in a festive way, saying, "Der shnorrer is do (The
shnorrer is here)" and ask them to donate in a most clever,
When giving change, he didn't ask them to increase the
donation, but that they shouldn't go to too much trouble
counting the coins. Sometimes, he would ask those who were
collecting their change, if they had also become
A few years ago he suffered a stroke. However he recovered
and continued to function despite his weakness. A few months
ago he collapsed and since then he lay unconscious. The
entire time, prayers were recited for his recovery in all of
the yeshivas. While he was in that state, his wife passed
He is survived by a brother, Reb Meir, in London.
People are asked to study mishnayos le'ilui nishmas Reb
Dovid Yehuda ben Reb Osher.