A pallor of mourning descended on chareidi Jewry with the
news of the sudden histalkus of HaRav Moshe
Halberstam, a member of the Eida Chareidis Beis Din and rosh
yeshiva of Yeshivas Tshakawe. One of the great Torah figures
of our generation, he passed away last Wednesday afternoon,
26 Nisan, at the age of 74.
An enormous crowd including Maran HaRav Eliashiv
shlita, roshei yeshivos, rabbonim, dayonim and
admorim accompanied the aron from his home in
Meah Shearim via Zupnik Square to Har Hazeisim.
Moshe Halberstam was born on 8 Nisan 5692 (1932) in the town
of Tshakawe, Galicia to HaRav Yaakov Halberstam, av beis
din of Tshakawe. He was the great-great-great grandson of
the Divrei Chaim of Sanz and the great-great grandson of
HaRav Boruch of Gorlitz. He moved to Eretz Yisroel
with his father at the age of three, a few years before
the war broke out in Europe.
As a child he was tutored and edified by the Admor HaRav M.
C. of Slonim and later studied at Yeshivas Beis Avrohom
Slonim under the Nesivos Sholom of Slonim, together with the
Admor of Bobov HaRav Naftoli Tzvi, and ylct"a HaRav
Yaakov Meir Shechter, who had very close ties with him.
Later he went to Bnei Brak to study at the yeshiva of HaRav
Shmuel Halevi Wosner, forming close bonds with him. On
Shabbos he would daven with the Chazon Ish, who often
honored him with an aliyoh, saying that he was
destined for gadlus in Torah.
He also had a special bond with the Tchebiner Rov. For years
they had a regular time set aside to discuss halachic
matters. He was also close to the Admor HaRav Aharon of Belz,
who gave him the honor of reciting Bircas Hamozone
while he was still a bochur. He was very close to
his grandfather, the Admor of Shatz, who offered him guidance
after he lost his mother and later willed him the menorah
he used on Chanukah.
In 5712 (1952) he married the daughter of HaRav Hillel
Schlesinger in Jerusalem. Together they built a home of Torah
and chessed that was open day and night to anyone with
halachic questions. Meanwhile he kept learning with
tremendous shekeidoh. He received semichoh from
HaRav Pinchos Epstein zt"l and in 5727 (1967) was
admitted as a moreh horo'oh (motz) of the Eida
HaChareidis. In 5757 (1997) he was appointed a member of the
Badatz, while continuing to serve as a marbitz Torah
in various fields.
HaRav Halberstam published a collection of responsa called
Divrei Moshe and just two days before his
petiroh he discussed with his grandson plans to
publish his book on Yoreh Deah, examining the
manuscript, making a number of corrections and engaging his
grandson in pilpul on several halachic points.
Numerous people would come to his home and the nearby beis
horo'oh, including many doctors and others with halachic
questions related to medicine. Healthcare professionals were
often astounded by his profound understanding of medical
He treated every Jew with great respect and made special
efforts to gladden people by attending their simchas,
despite his full schedule.
He carefully adhered to the finest details of halochoh, never
consenting to compromise or stray in the least from the
Shulchan Oruch. Prominent halochoh authorities relied
on his rulings and he was known for his close ties with
gedolei Yisroel and gedolei haposkim. He used
to be a neighbor of ylct"a Maran HaRav Eliashiv
shlita, maintaining a friendship and regularly
conversing with Maran ever since then. When his first
grandson reached the age of bar mitzvah HaRav Halberstam took
him to Bnei Brak to ask for a brochoh from Maran HaRav
Shach zt"l, with whom he delved into divrei
Torah at length.
HaRav Halberstam worked to promote various tzedokoh
and chessed organizations, including four decades at
the head of the R' Meir Baal Haness Foundation, dedicating
hours of his time to help the poor of Eretz Yisroel. He also
served as nosi of Hatzoloh Yisroel, constantly guiding
the directors of the organization in halachic matters. Just a
few weeks ago he worked with HaRav Yehoshua Neuwirth, author
of Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchoso, to clarify a series of
questions Hatzoloh volunteers often face on Shabbos.
HaRav Halberstam also served as the spiritual authority at
Bikur Cholim Hospital, standing by the hospital during hard
times. He would take part in various hospital events and
provide staff physicians with an attentive ear. Prof. Shmuel
Gottlieb, director of the intensive care unit and HaRav
Halberstam's personal physician, was one of the last people
to speak with him before his petiroh at 8 in the
Two hours later he felt weak. Shortly after he had left his
home, Hatzoloh Yisroel Chairman R' Dovid Greenwald was called
back and he ordered him transported by ambulance to Bikur
Cholim Hospital immediately. He arrived in the emergency room
semiconscious and soon lost consciousness and stopped
breathing. A team of senior physicians summoned to his
bedside performed resuscitation immediately, managing to
stabilize him. Shortly after being transferred to the cardiac
intensive care ward, his condition deteriorated severely.
After prolonged attempts to resuscitate him, HaRav
Halberstam's pure soul left him with family members,
talmidim and acquaintances at his bedside saying
Shema Yisroel and reciting Tehillim
Shortly after the petiroh the mittoh was
brought to the Tshakawe beis medrash on Rechov Yonah,
where Tehillim were recited mournfully and short words
of parting were said. Then the mittoh was taken to the
beis horo'oh on Rechov Hoshei'a and to his apartment
on Rechov Yoel.
The hespeidim got underway at 3:30 p.m. at Zupnik
Square on Rechov Yeshayohu. The first of the eulogizers were
HaRav Halberstam's two brothers, the Admor of Tshakawe-Bnei
Brak and the Admor of Tshakawe, who lamented his loss.
HaRav Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss, Gavad of the Eida
Chareidis of Jerusalem, said HaRav Halberstam often made use
of his vast Torah knowledge to make peace bein odom
HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner shlita, Gavad of
Zichron Meir, said the deceased was an emblem of unity among
all of the various facets of chareidi Jewry. He recalled that
for over 50 years his talmid would call him every
Friday afternoon to wish him a "gut Shabbos" and then
the two would converse on halachic matters.
HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, ravad of the Eida Chareidis,
said Yerushalayim without Rav Moshe wouldn't be the same.
Eida Chareidis Beis Din member HaRav Meir Bransdorfer,
speaking from the US via satellite connection, recalled how
in his youth HaRav Halberstam would learn up to 10 hours
without interruption. Only through this tremendous
hasmodoh, said HaRav Bransdorfer, did he achieve
gadlus in Torah.
HaRav Yaakov Blau, also a member of the Eida Chareidis Beis
Din, noted the niftar was involved in every problem
and misfortune that came to Jerusalem and the rest of Eretz
Yisroel. Not just his home was open to all, he added, but his
heart as well.
Other maspidim included HaRav Shlomo Zalman Ulman,
also a member of the Eida Chareidis Beis Din, the deceased's
son HaRav Zalman, a dayan in Williamsburg who spoke by
live broadcast, his son-in-law HaRav Mattisyohu Deutsch, a
rov and moreh tzedek in Ramat Shlomo, his son HaRav
Yaakov Dovid Halberstam, rosh kollel of Kollel Toldos
Elozor in Jerusalem, and his son HaRav Shimon Shmuel
Halberstam, a rosh kollel of Kollel Choshen Mishpat in
Maran HaRav Eliashiv shlita joined the procession when
it reached the end of Rechov Meah Shearim.
HaRav Moshe Halberstam zt"l is survived by his sons,
HaRav Zalman, HaRav Yaakov Dovid and HaRav Shimon Shmuel; his
sons-in-law, HaRav Mattisyohu Deutsch, HaRav Yosef Panet,
rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Shaarei Chochmoh in Jerusalem, HaRav
Dovid Goldring, rov of Beis Knesses Heichal Aharon in
Jerusalem, and HaRav Chaim Tzvi Davidovitz, a ram at
Kollel Shomrei Hachomos; grandchildren and great-
grandchildren, all following in his path of Torah and