The bnei Torah of Bnei Brak filled the streets on
Friday to take part in the levaya of HaRav Yitzchok
Shlomo Unger zt"l, gavad of Chug Chasam Sofer
and founder and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Machaneh Avrohom,
who passed away Friday morning follow a bout with illness at
the age of 83.
Thousands accompanied the mittoh as it was carried out
of the beis medrash of his yeshiva on Rechov Maimon,
the place where he taught Torah for over 50 years. Thousands
joined as the procession made its way through the streets of
Bnei Brak to the Vishnitz section of the Bnei Brak
HaRav Yitzchok Shlomo Unger was born to HaRav Avrohom Tzvi
Unger Hy"d the author of Machaneh Avrohom and a
descendent of the Ponim Meiros and Ari Hakodosh, and to his
mother Chavoh Leah.
In 5686 (1926) his father was asked to serve as rov of a the
kehilloh in Kapavar, Hungary. The Reform Movement had
begun to hold sway in the city, causing a decline in the
local Jewish school. Young Yitzchok Shlomo was the only boy
who wore a yarmulke all day with special permission
from the top supervisor. As a result of his father's
influence the kehilloh underwent dramatic change.
Yitzchok Shlomo was raised in this home of Torah and yiras
Shomayim, the local headquarters for waging the battles
of milchamos Hashem. As a young man his father sent
him to learn under the gavad of Papa, the author of
Veyageid Yaakov. During this period he learned
constantly and cleaved to his rabbonim.
He also forged ties with the gedolei hador in Hungary.
While still a bochur he went to the gavad of
Shimani to receive semichoh. The gavad took him
to a secluded place and spent four days testing him on the
four parts of the Shulchan Oruch. "You are worthy of
horo'oh," he said at the end of the exam, "but I don't
give semichoh to bochurim."
Only when Yitzchok Shlomo's father contracted a serious
illness did the gavad send him a semichoh
certificate in the mail. In his letter the gavad
explained that he was departing from his normal practice
because under the circumstances Yitzchok Shlomo would have to
assist his father in running community affairs and giving
When the Nazis reached Hungary, before his father, HaRav
Avrohom Tzvi, was taken to the concentration camps he said,
"Know that of the family members you and another four will
survive through Hashem's chessed. I would like you to
carry on the tradition in a holy yeshiva and teach Torah to
talmidim." Later Yitzchok Shlomo carried out this final
request by founding Yeshivas Machaneh Avrohom.
During the Holocaust he was sent to various concentration
camps, including a period of time with the Admor of
Klausenburg. Eventually he wound up in Bergen-Belsen where he
contracted typhus and was near death. Assuming he was already
gone the camp commanders threw him in among the dead until a
Jew saw him convulsing and brought him to the hospital, where
he spent six months recuperating.
In 5708 (1948) he married and moved to Eretz Hakodesh with
his wife Rochel o"h. Upon arrival, based on advice
from the Gavad of Pressburg, he accepted a post as the rov of
Jerusalem's Dir-Yassin neighborhood (later Givat Shaul Beit).
During this period he maintained ties with the Chazon Ish,
HaRav I. Z. Meltzer, HaRav Z. R. Bengis, the Ponevezher Rov
and the Tchebiner Rav. He also kept in contact with the Admor
of Belz, who praised him highly for his greatness in Torah
In 5715 (1955) he was asked to serve as rov of the Chug
Chasam Sofer kehilloh in Bnei Brak. He went to his
rov, the Admor of Belz, to ask whether he should accept the
post even though the kehilloh followed minhag
Ashkenaz whereas he followed Chassidic minhagim.
The Belzer Rebbe told him to accept the position with pride
since the kehilloh carried the name of Rabban Shel Kol
Yisroel Baal Hechasam Sofer, zechuso yogen oleinu.
For the next 50 years he led the kehilloh, setting up
a kashrus organization he oversaw himself. The machine matzoh
baked under his supervision was once considered the most
In 5724 (1964) he carried out his father's will by setting up
Yeshivas Machaneh Avrohom, starting with eight
bochurim which increased to 12 after two months. HaRav
Unger gave the iyun shiurim himself. He personally
oversaw the spiritual progress of each of his young
Other roshei yeshivos and menahelim ruchanim later
joined him in turning out talmidim who went on to
become prominent talmidei chachomim, including roshei
yeshivos, rabbonim and dayanim. After four years he began a
yeshiva gedoloh. He assumed the brunt of maintaining
the yeshiva, seeing to all the needs of the
In addition to heading the yeshiva and leading the Chug
Chasam Sofer, HaRav Unger also served as a dayan at
HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner's beis din together with
ylct"a HaRav Nosson Geshtetner.
His droshos on Shabbos Hagodol and Shabbos Teshuvoh
were packed. He also knew how to speak out against every
breach liable to have a detrimental effect on religious
Recently he became sick and returned his soul to his Maker on
Friday morning, erev Shabbos parshas Shlach. When the
mittoh was brought into his beis medrash Friday
afternoon the paroches was removed as hundreds of his
weeping talmidim recited Tehillim. Some of them
even did kriyoh.
At 1:00 p.m. the levaya began with a hesped by
HaRav Wosner, gavad of Zichron Meir, who mourned his
friend of 60 years who bore the burden of the rabbinate and
of both the klal and the prat in Bnei Brak,
particularly as a member of the beis din. Despite his
suffering he exerted himself to carry the weight of Torah.
"Just this week when I visited him he asked for a
brochoh that he might be able to resume learning, for
that was the center of his life," said HaRav Wosner.
The deceased's brother, HaRav Yechiel Michel Unger, noted his
mesirus nefesh during the Holocaust, saying that even
with the threat of death hanging overhead he would learn
Torah orally and made great efforts to bury the Jewish dead
at Bergen-Belsen. Later he continued his father's legacy by
taking part in the rabbinate, he added.
His brother-in-law, HaRav Aharon Yaakobovitz, av beis
din of Wadkrat and a dayan at Machzikei Hadas,
also spoke. "For some people a gravestone is erected on their
grave, but for other people the eidoh is their
gravestone," he said, citing the verse, Eid hagal hazeh
ve'eidoh hamatzevoh (Bereishis 31:48). "The
fabulous eidoh and the fabulous yeshiva with thousands
of talmidim perpetuate his pure memory."
The gavad of Shikun Agudas Yisroel HaRav Nosson
Geshtetner cited the verse, Hinei mitoso sheliShlomo,
shishim giborim soviv loh migiborei Yisroel (Shir
Hashirim 3:7). "Sixty years of bravery in upholding Torah
and horo'oh in Yisroel. How humble and modest and
diffident he was, and even while bearing his pain he toiled
HaRav Yosef Meir Altman, menahel ruchani at Yeshivas
Machaneh Avrohom, noted his devotion to his talmidim,
saying he served as a living example of the verse,
Yasor yisrani Koh velemoves lo nesononi, all his life.
He also described how his tears would flow during the prayers
of the Yomim Noraim like a servant standing before his
master, and what an impact the sight had on his many
After the hespeidim the procession set out for the
cemetery, where he was buried in a plot he purchased during
HaRav Yitzchok Shlomo Unger zt"l is survived by his
wife, his brother and sister and relatives and thousands of
talmidim like sons bitterly mourning the loss of their