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29 Kislev 5760 - December 8, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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HaRav Dovid Leib Schwartz, zt"l

by A. Cohen

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 Aviv.

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 him.

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 tzaddik."

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, endearing manner.

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 shnorrers.

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 away.

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.

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