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22 Av 5760 - August 23, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
HaRav Chanoch Dov Padwa zt"l
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

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 petirah.

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 Hamenuchos.

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, Galicia.

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 avodas Hashem.

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 off.

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 heter.

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 Jew.

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 sons-in-law.

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.


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