Thousands of Jerusalem residents headed by rabbonim and
roshei yeshiva brokenheartedly accompanied one of
Jerusalem's finest, HaRav Moshe Chaim Halevi Katznelbogen,
zt"l, on his last earthly journey.
HaRav Moshe Chaim, son of HaRav Refoel Katznelbogen and
Moras Tzvia, daughter of HaRav Mordechai Leib Rubin, an
av beis din in Jerusalem, was born in Jerusalem in
The Katznelbogen family has been well known in the annals of
the Jewish nation for the past five hundred years. The first
in the dynasty, HaRav Mayer Katznelbogen, author of Shut
Maharam Padova, was named after the city of his birth,
the German city of Katznelbogen.
Reb Refoel, father of the niftar, was one of the sons
of the dynasty of HaRav Avrohom Moshe Katznelbogen, the
student of HaRav Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk. Reb Refoel was
known for his brilliance and astounding bekius and
occupies a top-ranking place in the ranks of the
geonim and sages of Jerusalem.
HaRav Refoel Katznelbogen founded his home in the old
Jerusalem neighborhood of Mazkeret Moshe, raising his nine
children in a one room home saturated with Torah and
yiras Shomayim. His son, Moshe Chaim, studied with
great hasmodoh in the Eitz Chaim yeshiva, where he
was tested by heart on whole masechtos. While Reb
Moshe Chaim was still young, HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer
asked him to be the yeshiva's baal tokea.
After his marriage to Ora, the daughter of ish
Yerushalayim HaRav Gershon Roth, he continued to study
in Toras Chaim.
He began his avodas hakodesh of preparation of works
of the rishonim for publication at Mossad HaRav Kook,
a labor to which he dedicated his entire life. With great
toil, he published the Rambam's Sefer Hamado with
shinui nuscha'os. He was later chosen to serve as e
director of Mossad HaRav Kook, and was responsible for the
publication of the works of the Rashbo, the Ritvo,
Chiddushei Haran and other chiddushim by the
rishonim and acharonim.
Bnei Torah the world over owe him a debt of gratitude
for the care he took to publish the works of our great sages
in such beautiful formats, in which the words of the
rishonim are surrounded by comments and
illuminations: magnificent Torah in a splendid vessel.
He was also one of the heads of the Kiryat Shmuel
neighborhood community of Jerusalem, where he made sure that
tradition and halocho were strictly observed. Reb
Moshe Chaim was well known for his sagacity, and many would
seek his advice.
A number of weeks ago, he fell ill. Thursday 29 Shevat, he
underwent an operation and was niftar during the
operation. At his levaya, which took place on the
night of rosh chodesh Adar, brief hespedim
were delivered. Among the maspidim were his
mechuton, HaRav Shimon Usher Goldberg, one of the
roshei yeshiva of Porat Yosef; his mechuton, HaRav
Yitzchok Hacker, a rosh yeshiva of Grodno Yismach Moshe;
HaRav Yisroel Mayer Homnick, the menahel ruchani of
Yad Aharon; and HaRav Yosef Movshowitz, the rav of Kiryat
Moshe. Stirring words of parting were delivered by his son,
HaRav Yechiel Tzvi. All of the maspidim stressed the
greatness of the niftar and his multifaceted
He is survived by his wife, who helped him with great
mesiras nefesh in all of his endeavors; his brother,
HaRav Yaakov Gershon; his sisters, all of whom are married
to talmidei chachomim; his sons, HaRav Mordechai
Leib, HaRav Mayer Yehoshua, HaRav Yechiel Tzvi, and his
daughter who is married to HaRav Mordechai Marcus, as well
as by grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom are
pursing Hashem's path.