British Jewry was cast into a deep pall of mourning, upon
learning of the sudden petirah of the esteemed HaRav
Chanoch Dov Padwa, zt"l, the rav of the largest
chareidi community in London. He was 94 at the time of his
His aron was flown to Eretz Yisroel on Thursday, 16
Menachem Av, and left at eleven AM from the Perushim
synagogue in the Botei Ungarin plaza on its way to Har
With his petirah, chareidi Jewry lost one of the
greatest poskim of the generation -- a giant in
yiras Shomayim and piety, a man of noble spiritual
stature, whose glowing character traits had a profound
influence on his surroundings.
HaRav Padwa was born in the town of Busk, near Alesk,
His father, Reb Eliezer Wolf, who died at a very old age in
Jerusalem, named him after the rav of Alesk.
Even as a child, Chanoch Dov was outstanding in his love of
Torah and his yiras Shomayim.
As a young man he studied in the yeshiva in Tzelim, and then
in the Belz shteibel in Cracow. In 5687 (1927), he
travelled from Cracow in order to participate in the
levaya of the Admor of Belz, HaRav Yissochor Dov.
In time, his family moved to Vienna where he drew very close
to HaRav Chaim Pinter, the rav of Bukovsk, who became his
rav muvhak. He was also close to the rov of Tchebin
and the rov of Teplik.
After the Anschluss, when Austria was annexed and fell into
the hands of the Nazis, he was trapped in Vienna.
The Altstater Rav told him that he should travel even on
Shabbos due to pikuach nefesh. HaRav Chanoch Dov
heeded the advice, and with Hashem's help he arrived in
Jerusalem where he continued to devote himself to Torah and
From 5700 (1940), for a 15 year period, he served as the rav
of the Botei Rand neighborhood of Jerusalem.
His first wife was the daughter of Reb Naftali Viener
Gottesman. She was niftar in 5706 (1946), leaving him
with five children. In 5707 he married Yehudis, the daughter
of HaRav Avrohom Aharon Sonnenfeld, the eldest son of HaRav
Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, the moro de'asra of Jerusalem,
and she raised his children as her own, even marrying them
After her petirah in 5743 (1983) he once more
remarried and his wife, shetichye -- eishes chayil atteres
ba'aloh, stood by his side until his final day.
While he was living in Jerusalem, the heads of the Union of
Orthodox Hebrew Congregations in London asked the gaon of
Tchebin to recommend a godol beTorah to be their
moro de'asra and lead their community. He recommended
HaRav Chanoch Dov Padwa, and from that time on -- a period of
nearly fifty years -- he was the pride of the community.
For decades, he assumed the burden of leading the large Union
community of London, yet his influence was felt not only in
that city, but throughout all Europe.
The outstanding Kedassia hechsher of the Hisachdus
Kehillas Hachareidim is accepted as a leading kashrus
network and even those who are meticulous in their kashrus
observance rely on it.
HaRav Padwa was known for his outstanding ability to issue
halachic rulings, as well as for his ability to solve complex
halachic problems on matters of issur and
He was considered a koach dehetera due to his vast
expertise in practical areas of life, and his broad knowledge
in all aspects of the Torah. On the other hand, he was
considered a great machmir in the laws of Shabbos.
Some of his many halachic rulings have appeared in print in
the three volumes of this work, Cheshev Ho'ephod.
He was a model of a rav beYisroel, who knew how to
relate to everyone. He had a common language with all and
over scores of years, many of them stormy and replete with
upheavals, he remained above dissension and was accepted by
all of the communities and streams.
In his special manner, he strengthened his community and its
spiritual stature. Whoever visited London found a warm and
compassionate community, attentive to the needs of every
It is a hospitable community, which welcomes people in need
in the most genial manner possible. A glimpse of the
community reveals that it is based on modesty and simplicity,
with a avoidance of ostentation, surely due to the influence
of the moro de'asra.
The day before his petirah (Wednesday 15 Av), he even
went to daven shacharis in the Satmar beis
medrash in Stamford Hill. On his way home he collapsed
and was rushed to the hospital, where he returned his pure
soul to its maker.
Thousands participated in his levaya in London, among
them roshei yeshiva, rabbonim and communal leaders who
came from afar, despite that fact that it was vacation.
Hespedim were delivered by his oldest son, HaRav
Ephraim, then by his other son the dayan HaRav Yosef,
and his son-in-law, HaRav Sholom Friedman.
The final hesped was delivered by HaRav Zeev Feldman,
the rav of the Eitz Chaim community of London.
The Levaya in Yerushalayim
The aron arrived in Eretz Yisroel on Thursday morning
16 Av accompanied by a group of about thirty family members
and community leaders from London, including his sons and
The levaya left Kiryat Belz in Jerusalem at 11 AM,
where many residents of the Kirya, headed by the Admor of
Belz, had gathered. From there it continued to the Perushim
beis medrash in the Botei Ungarin complex in Mea
Shearim, where a massive throng, headed by roshei yeshiva,
admorim and rabbonim from the entire chareidi community.
Prominent among them were former residents of London who
currently live in Israel and who came to accord their final
respects to their beloved and esteemed rav who had led their
community for more than fifty years.
The main hesped was delivered by HaRav Shmuel Halevi
Wosner who noted the strong bond of friendship which had
existed between them for seventy years, ever since he had
known the niftar in Vienna. He stressed that great
poskim of the former generation greatly admired HaRav
Chanoch Henich, and mentioned the fact that HaRav Chanoch
Henich had been especially close to the gaavad of
Jerusalem HaRav Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, and to the Gaon of
Tchebin and how he had done shimush under them which
greatly enhanced his profound abilities as a posek.
The next hesped was delivered by the rov of Golders
Green and the president of the Hisachdus Kehillos Hachareidim
in London, HaRav Elchonon Halperin, who described how fond
the gedolei hador of the previous generation had been
of HaRav Chanoch Henich, and the special relationship he had
with HaRav Aharon of Belz. He also spoke of HaRav Chanoch
Henich's special ability to issue halachic rulings and to
lead the chareidi community of London. He closed by blessing
HaRav Chanoch Henich's sons that they merit to continue in
the footsteps of their father, as poskim and leaders.
He then blessed HaRav Ephraim, who was appointed to replace
his father as the gaavad of London.
HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, a member of the Badatz of the Eida
HaChareidis, delivered short words of parting. After him, the
gaavad of the Eida HaChareidis HaRav Yisroel
Dushinsky, who had studied under the niftar when the
latter had lived in Jerusalem, spoke. At the end of the
hespedim, HaRav Chanoch Henich's sons parted from
their father with emotion-filled words.
Then the levaya set out by foot to Har Hamenuchos,
where he was buried in the Rabbinical Section in a plot he
had purchased for himself. It is located beside the grave of
his father, HaRav Eliezer Zeev of Padwa.
He is survived by his eldest son, HaRav Yehoshua Heschel of
Manchester, as well as by his sons HaRav Yosef a dayan
and member of the Badatz of the Hisachdus Kehillos, and
his son HaRav Moshe Chaim Ephraim, who will replace him. His
sons-in-law are HaRav Sholom Friedman, a dayan and
moreh tzedek and member of the Badatz of the Hisachdus
Kehillos, and HaRav Avrohom Yitzchok Engel of Antwerp.